Adventures in Sicily
This article aims to be a valuable tool for anyone looking for accurate, first-hand information on active holidays in Sicily. I do not wish to sell you a product but rather to give you the tools to choose and understand the diversity and complexity of Sicily. Together with this guide, I will share with you my local knowledge, an overview of the best outdoor activities available in Sicily, such as Cycling Holidays , Walking Holidays, Body Rafting Adventures, Sea Kayaking Tours and many other tours. After a rough summary of Sicily, I will make a general list of 10 tours before creating a detailed chapter for each of the four regions of Sicily: Eastern Sicily, South coast, North coast and West coast. At the end of this extensive article I will answer four of the most frequently asked questions about traveling to Sicily. Hi, I'm Ivano Lupini, a Sicilian mountain and river guide with thirty years of experience in the tourism sector. Stay tuned to discover my private guide and my favorite things to discover Sicily!
Sicily is the largest Italian region and also the largest island in the Mediterranean. To give you an idea of the actual size, Sicily is slightly larger than Wales or Massachusetts (USA). Sicily's biodiversity is surprising and unexpected for many tourists. There are three main mountain ranges, thirteen smaller islands, seven of which form the volcanic archipelago of the Aeolian Islands listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sicily has three active volcanoes; the most famous is mt. Etna, active volcano that rises over 3300 meters. This island is 1500 km long. of coastline with both, the Ionian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea with a series of sandy beaches and small coves (a guide to the best beaches in Sicily). The interior of Sicily is arid and sparsely populated, made of gentle golden hills dotted with large solitary trees and ancient buildings that break the pleasant monotony of the rural landscape. This beautiful island has its culture and historical roots in ancient Greece. Sicily has an endless list of historical sites to keep any traveler busy for weeks. Among the most famous is the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily, south coast. There are also natural reserves, to mention some: "Zingaro nature reserve" and the Alcantara Gorges River Park. For food enthusiasts and cooking classes, Sicily is the place to go! Sicilian cuisine is incredibly vast and has in its flavors and variety of dishes the genes of the many populations that have conquered and occupied the island in the last 3500 years. The Baroque towns between the districts of Ragusa and Syracuse are among the best to enjoy a cooking class. The capital Palermo is the cradle of Sicilian street food. Sicilians themselves are welcoming, nervous behind the wheel, but in everyday life they are never too stressed and have their own rhythms. If during your trip to Sicily you need help you can count on the Sicilians, they will compete to give you a hand. If you are planning a road trip to Sicily keep in mind that the roads can be small and winding and people are not very friendly when driving. Sicilians love cash and practically hate credit cards. I hope your next trip takes you to Sicily.
Sicily Bucket list Adventure
Let's find out my favourite guided tours in Sicily. From kayaking in the volcanic islands of the Aeolian Archipelago to the walking tour through the lunar landscapes of Etna Volcano! After reading this chapter you are going to have a better idea about your next adventure in Sicily!
Top ten outdoor Activities in Sicily
1 Day trip Climbing Mount Etna
Where: Sicily East coast
When: May to October
Why: Visit the highest active volcano on the European continent.
Carefull: Transport, shoes, Cable car ticket, Off-road jeep must be included in the price
This daily guided tour is the last and most desired excursion available on Etna. The experience lasts about ten hours and goes from sea level to the highest peak in Sicily. The first stop on this tour passes through the Etna cable car and a large off-road vehicle that crosses the lava desert and some ancient volcanic craters. Once out of the off-road Unimog, a mountain guide will lead the walking tour from 2900 meters to the summit craters of Etna over 3300 meters. Once at the top, you will admire breathtaking views, you will hear the explosions of the craters, for an unforgettable experience. The lucky ones during the eruptions with evening excursions manage to get close to the lava. Remember that Etna is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet.
2 Kayaking tour in the Aeolian islands
Where: Aeolians Island Sicily North Coast
When: All year
Why: The Aeolian Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage
The Aeolian archipelago includes seven volcanic islands, each one different from the other. Vulcano and Stromboli have active volcanoes within their territory; Filicudi and Alicdu are the farthest and, without a doubt, the wildest of the seven islands. Rich offer for Kayaking Tours in the Aeolian Islands Archipelago. Make sure you choose a good provider who can guarantee you the insurance. Personally the islands that I prefer to visit with the Kayak Tours are Vulcano and Salina. But don't trust my words too much. each person has personal tastes. If you are thinking of traveling to the Aeolian Islands, I recommend that you do a thorough research on the places you are about to visit.
3 Scuba diving in Ustica Island
Where: Ustica Island Sicily North Coast
When: April to November
Why: Among the top 3 scuba diving spots in the mediterranean sea
The island of Ustica is not the easiest to reach, but if you are a scuba diver enthusiastic, this is the place for you. The distance from Sicily mainland is a turn down for many tourists, and that is one of the reasons why the sea bottom of the island of Ustica is abundant with marine life and treasure many hidden gems. There are scuba diving centers in the islands that offer daily tours to get a PADI license. With up to 16 diving spots, these islands will keep busy, even the most experienced divers.
4 Hike and Wine tasting Tour
Where: East Coast
When: All year
Why: Visit an active Volcano and taste the wine produced on his flanks
Careful: Must be a Jeep tour and pass through the town of Castiglione
Ok, I agree at first sight you might say what the heck of an adventure is a wine tasting? Mount Etna is an active volcano, The sixty-minute walk, the descent into a cave, and the visit to one of Italy's most beautiful villages before lunch will spice up this unforgettable Etna wine tasting tour. Even if this Hike and wine tour does not reach the summit of Mt. Etna, it includes the visit to a series of craters included in the UNESCO World Heritage to admire panoramic views of great beauty. The wine producers on Mount Etna have created a surprisingly complex and sophisticated series of red and white wines.
5 Quad tours/ Cycling tours on the Nebrodi Mountain range
Where: East coast, Nebrodi Mountains
When: All year
Why: See Sicily off the beaten path
The Nebrodi Mountain range is the less visited place of Sicily, and it's a pity since this region has its own charm too often overlooked by travelers. This Mountain range stretches over three districts ( Messina, Catania, and Enna), and it is the largest natural reserve of Sicily. Within this large portion of territory, there are a series of lakes, large expanses of forests, a sleepy villages away from the main tourist itinerary, and genuinely welcoming people. If you are a traveler willing to get off the beaten path, the Nebrodi is the place for you. I'm not going to describe a specific outdoor activity in detail but rather tell you a few places on the Nebrodi that I love Myself. Whatever you wish to cycle or roam on top of a quad, I suggest visiting: The Argimusco plane, Malabotta forest, and the village of Montalbano d'Elicona. These three places mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg, the Nebrodi mountain range has much more to see than my list, but those few places that I have pointed out are a good starting point.
6 Alcantara Body Rafting Tours
Where: East coast, Alcantara Reserve
Why: An Adventure in the most beautiful Sicilian River.
People too often confuse the Alcantara Gorge with the Alcantara River Park. The difference between the two has to be precise. The Alcantara Gorges are a tiny part of the Alcantara Reserve that is quite big, stretching across two Sicilian districts and goes from 1900 meters, to sea level. Most of the tourist advertising around Taormina, Giardini Naxos, or Catania is about The Alcantara Gorges, nothing wrong with it. Still, the place for a real Body rafting or Canyoning adventure is two kilometers north in an area virtually unknown to tourists and Sicilian alike. For a real Alcantara Body Rafting experience, the Gurne, a series of breathtaking natural pools is the place to go.. After wearing all the technical gear (wet suit, helmet, river footwear, and life jacket), leaded by a guide you jump into the crystal clear waters of the Alcantara River for a true adventure. Along the trail, you have to overcome jumps up to seven meters high, swim, and use your body as a Raft to slide along the Alcantara river rapids.
7 Walking Tour Zingaro Nature Reserve
Where: West coast, Trapani
When: All year
Why: A trekking trail between sea and Mountains
If you are after a walking holiday this is one the best place in Sicily after Mount Etna. We will summarize, giving you practical and useful advice to walk in total safety along the paths of the Riserva Dello Zingaro. Remember that you will be alone, without a guide! The first tip is to have trekking shoes or sneakers and long pants with you in every season. It is not uncommon, in fact, to meet thorny bushes or shrubs and insects. Always carry supplies of water with you and protect your head with a hat. The sun is high and hot, even in the mildest seasons. There are two main entrances to access the Reserve: the north side, from San Vito Lo Capo, and the south side, from Scopello (Castellammare del Golfo). Entering from the north side you will meet a cove of pebbles caressed by a crystalline sea, an ideal place for a swim. The North entrance can be reached starting from San Vito Lo Capo. Entering the paths, you will find quieter coves: Cala dell'Uzzo, Cala Marinella, Cala Beretta, Cala Della Disa, Cala del Varo, and finally Cala Capreria, the first you meet if you choose the south entrance. The natural reserve of the Zingari reaches 800 meters above sea level, and has four main paths and some caves. If you wish to more informations about this stunning Sicilian nature reserve visit the park official web page.
8 Skydive in Siracuse
Where: East coast
When: All year
Why: Pure Adrenaline
This Adventure near Syracuse on Sicily's east coast is ideal for those looking for a pure adrenaline rush. Accompanied by an instructor, you will launch in tandem from a height of 4000 meters. After 60 seconds, the instructor will open the parachute, and you can enjoy the thrill of flying above the coast of Syracuse with Mount Etna on the north side.
9 Mountain Bike Tours on Etna
Where: east coast
When: April / November
Why: Wild Adventure
Price: 59 € / 89 €
The number of cycle paths on Etna is vast, and on two wheels, especially with an electric mountain bike, you can reach over 3000 meters above sea level. The North side of Etna with its expanses of woods, the many craters and the view of the Mediterranean Sea offers the best opportunity to experience an unforgettable mountain bike adventure. If I choose only one itinerary, I will opt for the Etna bike tour which follows the fantastic path from the south side to the north side, known as the Alta Montana Mtb trail, 42 kilometers of pure adventure fantastic landscapes on the side of the mt. Etna.
10 Snorkeling in favignana
Where: West coast/ Aegadian islands
When: April / October
Why: Best Sea of Sicily
Price: €35/ €50
The archipelago of the Aegadian Islands shares with the island of Lampedusa the primacy of the most enchanting sea in Sicily, and this alone is already a reason to put this snorkeling tour in this top ten of outdoor activities in Sicily. This archipelago on the west coast of Sicily in the Trapani district has three major islands: Favignana, Levanzo, and Marettimo, very close to each other. Each island has a not-too-deep seabed rich in flora and fauna that lends itself to having fun with a snorkeling tour. You might want to check our article on "Sicily best snorkeling"
11 Cycling coast to coast
Where: South to North
When: all year
Why: See the inner land of Sicily
This adventure needs to be organized independently, and it will take you from the not highly developed south coast to the North coast. This mountain bike trip will take you to the heart of Sicily, away from any tourist path. You will feel the island's wild, lonely rural soul every second of the tour. The 283 kilometers and the 4300 mt of positive gain are mostly on dirt roads in the countryside, almost always far from inhabited centers. You will need a tent with you. Plan carefully for this five days Mountain bike adventure in Sicily.
What is the most beautiful part of Sicily?
I cannot reply to this question with a straightforward answer. The island is big, with a vast bio diversity and offers different vacation's solutions. It all depends on what a traveler is looking for and what arehis favourite things to do. I'm going to develop four brief chapters about the four main areas of Sicily. I'll list the most famous things to see in each area, hopefully helping the reader to understand better where to go while traveling in Sicily. Needless to say, most of the island between June and August is unpleasantly busy, if you are not fired up by the idea of sharing a place with a hords of noisy tourists, take into account of traveling to Sicily off-season. April to the beginning of June and again from mid-September to October. It is not unusual in Sicily to have a temperature of 20° Celcius, even in December.
Sicily east coast
As you can see from my bucket list of the top 10 adventures in Sicily, 6 out of ten are based on Sicily's eastern coast. The east coast of Sicily has the major international airport of the island in Catania, plus a second one in Comiso. This district of Sicily has four regional parks, all bordering each other. In a single day trip, anybody can hike Etna nature park, marvel at the geology of the Alcantara gorge river park, and finish the day with some snorkeling in the crystal waters of Taormina Isola Bella Marine reserve. Also the less known Nebrodi nature park is on the east coast of Sicily. Catania and Siracuse are two cities rich in history and markets. The tourism industry is the oldest and most experienced on the island, offering plenty of choices for accommodations and food. I put the east coast of Sicily in the top spot when it comes to adventures holidays in Sicily, without any doubt about it. From Sky-diving and Body Rafting to Mountain bike tours and Hiking expeditions, it is all on Sicily's east coast.
Major turist attraction Sicily's East coast
- Mount etna
- Alcantara River Park
- Isola Bella Marine Reserve
- Nebrodi Regional Park
- Plemmirio Marine reserve
- Vendicari nature reserve
- Baroque district
- Mountain Villages
Sicily North coast
The north coast of Sicily has a solid experience in the hotel reception. The airport serving this region of Sicily is Palermo international hub. Even though Catania airport can be a good plan B, it also depends on which north coast area you wish to visit. The Aeolian islands are on Sicily's north coast, like Palermo, the stunning beach of San Vito Lo Capo, and the pretty sea town of Cefalù. If you see the Nebrodi Regional park also listed on Sicily's north coast attractions is not a mistake. This mountain range overlooks Sicily's north coast and can be reached from several locations on the island's north coast.
Major tourist attraction Sicily's North coast
- Aeolian Islands
- Madonie Regional Park
- Nebrodi Mountain Range
- Palermo and the street food
- San Vito Lo Capo
Sicily West Coast
Sicily West coast does not have a long history of hotel reception, but the dwellers of this side of the island compensate for the lack of experience with a sincere welcoming spirit. This district has the most incredible sea, good food, and Sicily's highest average temperatures. The closest airport is Trapani Birgi, even though many people use Palermo international airport.
Major tourist attraction Sicily's West coast
- Aegadian Islands
- Segesta archeological site
- Marsala'salt fields
- San Vito Lo capo beach
Sicily South Coast
Sicily's South coast does not offer much when it comes to adventures. This part of Sicily is the least developed, not just in terms of tourism but also for what concerns infrastructures; as a matter of fact, there are no airports. Unless you are looking for some deserted golden sandy beach and wish to visit some archeological sites, the South coast of Sicily is worth a visit with day trips from other sides of the island.
Major tourist attraction Sicily's South coast
- The Valley of Temples
- Selinunte archeological site
- Baroque towns
- Scala dei Turchi
The Inner land district of Sicily
Arid, lonely, wild, and romantic are just some of the adjectives that describe this sparsely populated area of Sicily. There are no airports, cities, or any tourist presence traces. This large area of Sicily is inhabited by Sicilians who deal with pastoralism and agriculture. However, those who decide to cross Sicily coast to coast will see landscapes of tremendous and disheartening beauty.