For a long time swimming has been prohibited in the waterfront of Palermo city because the sea is polluted. But don't be discouraged, the sea is in Palermo even if sometimes you can’t see it! While waiting for many years for redevelopment, it is possible to reach amazing seaside locations from the city centre by car or public transports in just a matter of minutes.
You can reach Mondello in 15 minutes from the city centre, by car or by bus (bus 806 from Via Libertà). It is the most popular seaside destination of Palermo, thanks to its wonderful fine sandy beach, emerald-green sea and the wide choice of sea food in the many trattoria around the central square of the small village.
During the months of July and August, Mondello is full of beach goers, mostly from Palermo and a large part of the beach is occupied by wooden cabins which are rented as changing rooms. It is better to visit Mondello out of season, walking along the beautiful beach overlooked by elegant art nouveau villas and the period Charlestone beach resort, then having a long and relaxing swim in crystal clear waters even in October and November!
For those who prefer rocky beaches, following Mondello along the coast there are Capo Gallo and Barcarello. The area is a marine and terrestrial reserve, where you can walk on nature trails and dive into the sea full of plants and fish!
To reach Capo Gallo you follow the main road a few hundred meters past the main square of Mondello, until you arrive at the Hotel La Torre. From there continue on foot for a couple of kilometres along the road within the reserve, this is tarmac up to the lighthouse and then continues as a footpath through the rocks. Pay attention as the reserve is a public space but the access road is private and you could be asked to contribute a couple of Euros to enter by car.
You can reach Barcarello through the village of Sferracavallo, which if you find yourself there, don’t miss the chance to try watermelon or black cherry ice cream at the bar La Delizia, via Dammuso 57. The walk through the natural reserve of Barcarello is 2 km long and arrives at the Avamposto (the outpost), where you find a small rustic bar in summer and a comfortable platform for sunbathing in a unique setting, between mountain and sea. From here you can enjoy a magnificent sunset with the sun diving behind the Isola delle Femmine (Island of the Women). There are lots of flat rocks which are easy to reach from the footpath where you can relax under the sun in total peace, even in high season.
Another rocky beach popular amongst the people of Palermo is Addaura, on the coast between Palermo and Mondello. You can access the sea directly from the main road at many points, such as one sign posted as Acapulco.
Palermo recently dedicated an EcoMuseum to its sea, located in three different sites on the Palermo coast.