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Traveling from Catania to Palermo

We will be on a RS tour in October 2022. We will be traveling from Catania to Palermo and are wondering what would be a good way to go. We were thinking a train would be nice or maybe a private car. What would be the most cost effective/fun way to travel for our group of four? We will have most of the day on the 19th to make the trip.

Posted by
2334 posts

Are you asking because your flight leaves from Palermo? We've been looking into various scenarios as well because we are hoping to do this tour in 2023. Even trying to find one way flights to Palermo and out of Catania on the same airline doesn't seem to be a simple option. We haven't come to a decision yet, but what we're leaning toward is ITA from Rome to Palermo and then Easy Jet from Catania to Naples (we're going to Sorrento after the tour).

But to your question, it appears to take 3.5 hours whether you drive or take the train, so it it's cost, I'd say train, if it's fun and you have all day, a car might make more sense so you can plans some stops during the day.

Posted by
6649 posts

There are buses as well. One which leaves from the Catania airport.

Posted by
7750 posts

Is this to start your tour in Palermo? You can fly there directly which we did and it is a much easier airport experience than Catania.
Otherwise, I would choose a car to give you opportunities to do some independent exploring. If you want to just go there directly, then take the train.

Posted by
3 posts

Yes, we will be flying in and out of Palermo. This seems to be the most cost effective way to fly. We are looking at the cities of Cefalu and Messina as beautiful places to stop on our drive or train trip to Palermo. Wondering about parking within the cities. Or, do the train stations have lockers for storing luggage for several hours?
Thank you for your helpful suggestions!!

Posted by
2987 posts

No lockers at train stations in Italy. There's an app called Radical Storage that allows you to store your luggage at local businesses but you must book in advance.

If you want to see things along the way you'll need a car, based on my own transit planning for Sicily.

Posted by
6872 posts

Trains don't make sense for that route, I don't think there is a train that criss-crosses the island that way. There are nice, modern, and inexpensive buses from Catania or the Catania Airport that could get you there - zero stress and nice views along the way. I don't know how much a private car would cost, I took buses in Siciliy and was happy with them. The trains, on the other hand, were quite old and slow (I took a train ride from Siracusa to Ragusa). Renting a car would also work, but driving in Palermo could be quite stressful unless you're a very confident and aggressive driver (by American standards).

Posted by
21087 posts

There are several trains a day cutting across the island between Catania and Palermo. All stop at least in Enna and Caltanisetta. Most of those trains take about 3-1/4 hours. Hugging the coast and going though Messina and Cefalu would take considerably longer. Between Messina and Cefalu I'd definitely choose Cefalu to visit; Messina seemed to have less charm.

On the cross-island route I spent more time in Enna. It's worth a look but if you hit it during the afternoon siesta, you may find it rather lifeless. Then again, my visit was during the heat of summer, and the locals had more sense than I did. Caltanisetta might have more to recommend it than Enna, but I had little time there.

And I'd agree about driving in Palermo. I can't imagine doing that. It was scary enough to be a pedestrian in that city. There aren't enough traffic signals, and I had the impression people didn't care much about lane markers.

Posted by
9 posts

We are on the tour that ends on Sept 12, but the cost of the flight we’ve looked at from Catania is more than double flying from Palermo, unless we want to take 20 plus hours to get back home. That is why we want to go back to Palermo to fly home.

Posted by
9 posts

Anyone here going on the Sicily tour that starts Sept 2? If so, we are wondering if anyone is traveling back to Palermo for their flight home, and how they plan to get from Catania to Palermo. We are thinking of hiring a driver because there are 2 towns we want to stop at on the way back.