It’s surprisingly easy to get from Palermo to Monreale by bus. However, you’d never know this with all the outdated and confusing information online. I traveled from Palermo to Monreale by bus in Summer 2021, visiting the famous Monreale Cathedral upon arrival, and I took photos of everything along the way to show you exactly how to make the same trip, with no hassles and no wasted time.
Since I know you might be reading this from under a tree in Palermo, trying to find the right bus stop, I’ll start with the bus information first, and then I’ll tell you a bit about what it’s like to visit Monreale for the day. But first, the bus!
Which Bus Goes from Palermo to Monreale?
The bus from Palermo to Monreale (and back) is #389, operated by AMAT (Palermo’s public bus company). Google Maps doesn’t always recognize #389 and might try to suggest you take a different bus and then walk the final 500 meters. Do not do this! The end part of that route is a straight vertical ascent up a steep hill, mostly by narrow stone stairs or narrow, twisting roads where you’ll have to dodge cars and buses. Only take Bus #389!
Palermo to Monreale Bus Stop
There is a popular website claiming that the public bus to Monreale departs from Palermo Centrale Station. This is not correct. Buses actually depart from Piazza Indipendenza, which is about one kilometer from the city center.
Piazza Indipendenza has a few different bus stops around its perimeter. You’re looking for the one by the big stone wall (part of Palazzo dei Normani) and about ten meters from the blue ticket booth. You should see #389 on the AMAT sign (though it might be on the back). I took this photo exactly where you need to wait for the bus to Monreale!
Palermo to Monreale Bus Price
Because #389 is a regular city bus, you can use a regular AMAT ticket on this route. There was a ticket booth right at the bus stop on the day I traveled, but I don’t know the office’s hours. I recommend you pick up two tickets (one for each direction) at the first tobacconist you see en route to the piazza. Almost any tobacconist will have AMAT tickets. The cost per ticket is €1.40 and it’s valid for 90 minutes, including transfers. Make sure you validate your ticket when you board the bus.
Palermo to Monreale Bus Schedule
Bus #389 from Palermo to Monreale (and back) departs every 75 minutes throughout the day. Unlike other buses in Palermo, it is quite reliable. The ticket booth at Piazza Indipendenza had a schedule showing the departure times at both ends of the route, which you can see above. Once the bus departs, it takes about thirty to forty minutes (depending on traffic) to reach Monreale. Again, this photo is from Summer 2021, but I know the schedule has not changed in several years.
How Much Time in Monreale?
Personally, I took the 11:15 bus to Monreale and returned on the 16:55 bus. This allowed me time to see the whole cathedral complex, have a nice lunch, wander around town and have a granita before returning to Palermo. If I’d skipped the wander and the granita I could have returned at 15:40. But…
If I were going again, I would choose the 10:00 am bus to avoid the early-afternoon cathedral closure. The cathedral closes around 12:30 or 12:45 and re-opens at 14:00. While it’s closed, you can still visit the cloisters (they’re open all day), but you can’t re-enter the Cathedral in the afternoon if you first enter in the morning.
Where to Get Off the Bus in Monreale
You’ll want to take #389 all the way to the end of the line. From here, it’s a five-minute walk up the hill right in front of you to the cathedral. Follow the street called Via Palermo for about three hundred meters and you’ll be there!
Monreale to Palermo Bus Information
For your return journey, you’ll catch bus #389 at the same stop as you got off (not the stop on the other side of the street!). Again, it’s clearly marked with an AMAT sign showing the bus number, and chance are good the bus will be there at least five minutes before it is scheduled to depart.
You’ll need a new bus ticket for the return trip. If you didn’t buy a ticket back in Palermo, the cafes on the main square in Monreale also sell tickets at the cashiers inside.
The final bus stop in Palermo is on Piazza Indipendenza, but on the opposite side. You’ll need to walk across the piazza to get back to the stone wall where you caught the #389 bus earlier.
Visiting the Cathedral of Monreale
Tickets and Prices
Cathedral of Monreale prices (as of Summer 2021) are shown above. If you can pay with cash you can move to the front of the queue, so it’s a good time-saver (especially if you came on that 11:15 bus). I did the full monumental package and was glad that I included a visit to both the terraces and the cloister, as to me they were highlights of my visit.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on Arab-Norman architecture. If you want to know all about the design of this UNESCO World Heritage Site cathedral, grab an audio guide when you buy your ticket. Basically, in laywoman’s terms, the huge cathedral is absolutely full of beautiful golden mosaics showing scenes from the Old Testament and the New Testament, including things that even atheists will recognize, like Noah’s Ark and the Garden of Eden. It’s pretty spectacular.
For me, the terraces were a highlight. They form a full loop around the exterior of the cathedral, allowing panoramic views of Monreale, Palermo, the surrounding hills and the domes outside the church.
It was forty-four degrees in Palermo on the day I visited Monreale by bus, and while there was a bit of a breeze up in the hills it was still scorching. It was lovely to spend half an hour wandering around the cathedral’s shady cloister, admiring the gardens and the mosaics on the columns.
Lunch in Monreale
I highly recommend that you stop for lunch at Le Barrique (signed as Taverna del Pavone) when you visit Monreale. They have a pretty outdoor terrace and one of the best menus I saw in Palermo, featuring lots of light lunch options on top of your standard primi and secondi. As you can see, I opted for a caprese salad with buffalo mozzarella, and their vegan panini wth grilled vegetables, mashed chickpeas and walnuts.
Monreale is a quiet little town just outside of Palermo. Besides the cathedral complex there isn’t much to see or do, but I’m always happy to wander around for an hour and snap pictures of pretty staircases, oh-so-Italian Vespas and balconies spilling with vines and flowers. If that sounds up your alley, leave a little time for exploring in your Monreale itinerary.
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