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Palermo may not be an obvious tourist destination like other major Italian cities, but this Sicilian capital certainly has a lot to offer its visitors. Dig beneath the surface and you will find vivacious locals, an unbeatable Mediterranean atmosphere and a city with real character. Let's not forget the variety of cultural and historical attractions, from centuries-old churches to lively museums to stunning coastal views. If you make the most of your time, you'll be dutifully rewarded.
From the UK, direct flights to Palermo generally take about three hours (based on London to Palermo). While there is not a huge amount of airlines that run routes between Palermo and the UK, low-cost airlines such as Ryanair, easyJet and Brussels Airlines do have select flights. Be sure to get in early to get the lowest airfares possible!
Flights to Palermo land at Palermo International Airport, also known as Falcone-Borsellino Airport. The airport's name is a source of interesting history: it is named after two judges (Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino) who were killed by the Sicilian mafia due to their anti-mafia stances. Palermo is located about forty minutes away from the airport and there is a train that links the airport to Palermo Central station; trains usually run every half hour.
Those who choose to hire a car in Palermo should prepare themselves for busy roads and a manic local driving style! If you are not a confident driver, it is probably best to leave the driving to the locals.
In terms of public transport, the local buses should get you around to anywhere you want to go. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, as the buses are unfortunate victims of the city's congestion. To get around with the least amount of stress, just choose to walk from place to place.
Palermo's Cathedral is many centuries old and one of the best examples of historical architecture in the city. Situated just off Via Vittorio Emanuele, the sand-coloured Cathedral is immediately eye-catching: the intricate designs of the walls, the towering arches and the pointed spires all serve to transport you to the past. To the north-east, about a 15-minute walk away, is the Chiesa di San Domenico. This 17th century church has been the burial place for many famous Italians, such as politicians and arts. Just like the Cathedral, the Chiesa di San Domenico has a striking appearance; its gold and white facade certainly stands out in the little square where it is located.
For a more morbid religious experience, make your way to the Catacombe dei Cappuccini. The facade of the entrance will certainly not win you over; the area is suitably bleak and decayed given what you are visiting for! It is here that over 8,000 mummified bodies and skeletons lie, residents of Palermo throughout the years.
To continue with the unique things to do trend, pay a visit to the Museo Internazionale delle Marionette. The museum is located right near the elegant waterfront, so it makes for a nice distraction. Home to over 3,500 puppets, the collection features contributions from countries all over the world, including China, India and Turkey. You'll no doubt be fascinated as you glide from room to room, gazing at these hand-made antique creatures.