Vertically aligned ZnO nanowires (NWs) with a length of 1.5–10 µm and a mean diameter of ca. 150 nm were grown by chemical vapour deposition onto a c-oriented ZnO seed layer which was deposited by atomic layer deposition on Si substrates. The substrates were then spin-coated with an ethanol solution containing Pd nanoparticles with an average size of 2.7 and 4.5 nm. A homogeneous distribution of the Pd nanoparticles on ZnO NWs has been obtained using both Pd particle series. The catalytic activity of the ZnO NWs and Pd/ZnO NWs catalysts was measured in the semihydrogenation of 2-methyl-3-butyn-2-ol at 303-343 K and a pressure of 2–10 bar. The effect of the solvent used on the catalytic performance of the Pd/ZnO NWs catalyst was studied. The Pd/ZnO catalysts showed alkene selectivity of up to 95% at an alkyne conversion of 99%. A kinetic model is proposed to explain the activity and selectivity of the ZnO support and Pd/ZnO catalysts.