Getting there & away
The main intercity bus station is on Via Paolo Balsamo, east of the train station. Sicily’s buses are privatised, and different routes are confusingly serviced by various companies, all with their own ticket offices and offices in the same area. Their contact details are listed in the Agenda Turismo, available from the tourist office.
Azienda Siciliana Trasporti (AST; 091 680 00 32; www.aziendasicilianatrasporti.it ; Via Rosario Gregorio 46) Services to Catania and the southeast including buses to Ragusa (€13.75, four hours, four daily Monday to Saturday, two on Sunday).
SAIS (091 617 11 41; Via Paolo Balsamo 20) Services to Cefalù (€4.40, one hour, two daily), Catania (€12.80, 2½ hours, 17 daily Monday to Saturday), Enna (€8.85, 1¾ hours, six daily) and Messina (€13.60, 3¼ hours, hourly).
Palermo is accessible on the A20-E90 toll road from Messina and the A19-E932 from Catania via Enna. Trapani and Marsala are also easily accessible from Palermo by motorway (A29), while Agrigento and Palermo are linked by the SS121, a good state road through the interior of the island.
Car hire is not cheap in Sicily and it pays to book your rental online before you leave home. A week’s car hire can cost anything from €250 to €500 so shop around. Often the larger companies offer good deals. All the hire companies are represented at the airport and listed in the tourist information booklet Agenda Turismo. Avis (www.avis.com ; airport 091 59 16 84; Via Francesco Crispi 091 58 69 40; Via Francesco Crispi 115) has a branch in town as does the less expensive Auto Europe (091 58 10 45; www.autoeuropa.it ; Via Mariano Stabile 6a). You can rent a scooter from the originally named Rent a Scooter (091 33 68 04; www.rentascooters.com ; Via Amari 63) for €25 per day.
Regular trains leave for Messina via Milazzo (€10.75 to €18.35, 3½ hours, every 30 minutes); Catania (€11.75 to €14.50, 3½ hours, two daily; some trains may require a change at Messina which can bump up the journey’s duration by around half an hour); Syracuse (€17.20 to €20.15, six to 10 hours, five daily) with a change at Messina or Catania; Agrigento (€6.85, 2½ hours, 11 daily); as well as nearby towns such as Cefalù (€4.35, 50 minutes, five daily). There are also intercity trains to Reggio di Calabria, Naples and Rome. Train timetable information is available in English at the station. In summer the train station ticket office (091 89 20 21; 7am-8.45pm) gets very busy, so allow enough time before you depart for purchasing tickets.
The ferry terminal is located off Via Francesco Crispi. Ferries depart regularly from Molo Vittorio Veneto for Cagliari and Naples. Ferries for Genoa and Livorno leave from Molo S Lucia. Buy tickets from any travel agency in town.
Tirrenia (081 017 19 98; www.tirrenia.it ; Calata Marinai d’Italia, Via del Mar; 8.30am-12.30pm & 3.30-8.45pm Mon-Fri, 3.30-8.45pm Sat, 5-8.45pm Sun) Services from Palermo to Cagliari (€42, 13 hours, one weekly) and an overnight ferry to Naples (€55, nine hours, one daily). The office is located at the port to the right of the main entrance.
Falcone-Borsellino airport (PMO; 091 702 01 11) is at Punta Raisi, 31km west of Palermo. For 24-hour information on international and domestic flights, contact Alitalia (091 601 92 50; www.alitalia.com).
Several no-frills airlines operate between major European cities and Palermo.Falcone-Borsellino is also the hub airport for regular domestic flights to the islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa (Isole Pelagie).