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Transportation & Sightseeing
From the airport: The simplest transportation is by bus. Buses depart every 30 minutes. The fare to Palermo is around €7. From the city of Palermo, the Prestia Comandé airport buses depart from the square in front of the main train station, with a stop at Politeama (for buses en route to the airport the stop is indicated by a sign at the corner of Via Libertà in front of Prada); presently (July 2012) there are departures for the airport from Politeama from 4:15 AM to 11:15 PM. The bus company's phone number is 091 586 351 and they have a website (though last we checked it had no English text). Travel time averages 40 minutes but delays along the route are commonplace. A train (the "Trinacria Express") serves the route between the Palermo airport and the main railway station, departing every hour or so, but travel time can be ridiculously long, sometimes over 60 minutes; a ticket costs six euros. (Taxis are not recommended as you'll probably be grossly overcharged, paying at least 50 euros for the ride into the city, and even higher rates after 8 PM. If you must use one, negotiate the fare with the driver in advance, never en route or at the journey's end.)
Intercity Buses: Most buses from other parts of Sicily (Catania, Siracusa, Trapani) arrive and depart from Piazza Cairoli, reached on foot via a walkway located in the main train station near the post office and the platform of Track 1. Pedestrians must enter the station to get to the walkway.
In the city: A ticket for the orange buses (operated by AMAT), available from tobacco vendors, some bars and some news agents (or the AMAT kiosk in Via Libertà next to Politeama), costs €1.30 (one euro thirty cents) and is valid for 90 (ninety) minutes. You must stamp the ticket in one of the machines near the entrances of the vehicle upon boarding the first bus you take using that ticket. (There is a fine of €52 for failure to comply.) A simple summary of a few local bus routes (by number):
• Monreale via Corso Calatafimi from Piazza Indipendenza and return - 389;
For more information, including maps and bus routes, visit the AMAT website.
Sightseeing: City Sightseeing operates double-deck tour buses along two routes in the old part of the city and occasional departures for hilltop Monreale. A one-day ticket permits you to hop on or off the bus at any designated stop. Visit their website for details, rates and a brochure in PDF format. While this isn't the same thing as having a qualified licensed tour guide, it's convenient if you're touring on your own on foot.
Equally important is what kind of sightseeing to avoid. Taxis are expensive, so get the price from the driver before entering. The horse carriages are infamously expensive, so here too you should get the price for your itinerary before entering the carriage. The three-wheel vehicles driven - in many cases - by younger people are never recommended! If, despite our advice to the contrary, you decide to see Palermo this way, for your safety at least choose a vehicle driven by one of the older drivers (one who looks to be over 40).
Automobile Rental: Agencies are located on the airport's lower level. Be warned that driving in Palermo's chaos can be challenging.
Ships, Ferries, Hydrofoils: Tirrenia is the principal operator servicing Sicily, with daily departures to Lipari, Naples, Genoa, Tunis and Sardinia. Snav has faster ships and a fleet of hydrofoils (service is seasonal). Or try Siremar. For travel to Malta, check out Virtu Ferries.
Trains: The national railway, Trenitalia, provides service to Palermo from other cities.
Airlines: Here are a few that fly into Palermo or Catania (Italics indicate those requiring connections from Milan or Rome):
Air Europe (Volare) 199 414 500. aireurope.it
Air Italy 899 666 844. airitaly.it
Air One 199 207 080 (pay-by-minute). flyairone.it
Alpi Eagles 899 500 058 (pay-by-minute). alpieagles.com
Eurofly 199 509 960. eurofly.it
Helvetic 02 696 82684 helvetic.com
Meridiana 199 111 333. meridiana.it
My Air 899 500 060 (pay-by-minute). myair.com
Volare (Air Europe) 199 414 500. aireurope.it
Air France 848 884 466. airfrance.com
Air Malta 095 345 311 (Catania), 091 652 5616 (Palermo). airmalta.com
American 02 6968 2464 (Milan), 06 6605 3169 (Rome). aa.com
British 199 712 266. britishairways.com
Continental 02 6963 3256. continental.com
Delta 800 477 999. delta.com
HLX 199 192 692. hlx.com
Lufthansa 06 6568 4004. lufthansa.com
JAL Japan Airlines 848 874 700 (Italian), 848 874 777 (Japanese). jal.co.jp
Ryan Air. ryanair.com
Virgin Express 848 390 109. virgin-express.com
While every attempt has been made to obtain current and accurate information, we can accept no responsibility whatsoever for errors or omissions, or for any expenses incurred in dialling.
© 2008-2012 Best of Sicily Travel Guide. Used by permission.