Holiday in Sicily
The aim of this brief and useful article, is to help you choosing an itinerary for a sicily holiday through a series of travel advises. I will not try to sell you any package holidays or flight inclusive holidays. I will describe four itineraries including Mount Etna, beach holidays without forgetting some of Sicily Unesco world heritage site. I'm ivano founder of Sicily Active, a tour operator based in Taormina with a thirty years experience in the travel industry.
About Holidays in sicily
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean sea and a favorite spot for European and American vacationers. In Sicily, in a single vacation, you can climb Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, and dive on a remote, smaller island like Ustica. If you love archeology and monuments, the island has plenty of sites to keep you busy for weeks to come. At the same time, there is no shortage of international festivals, just to name a few: the Taormina Film Festival and the International Jazz Festival. The island has many beaches, from sandy ones to secluded coves. Sicilian cuisine is surprisingly vast and unfamiliar to most people, but it does have some delicious food and wines. The region can be divided into four main areas: East coast, North coast, West coast and South coast, and all of them have beautiful scenery. Sicilians are very welcoming and always ready to help tourists in difficulty. The infrastructures in some parts of the island are old, the trains are slow but at least they are cheap. Taxis are costy and be ready to bargain. The island is safe with one of the lowest crime rate in Italy. If you wish to have a list of sicily's beaches check our dedicated article.
Travel tips for a Holiday in Sicily
1 Make a list of what you like to see and do on a trip.
Are we the types who like nature? Do we want to stuff ourselves with art and culture? Are we looking for food and wine experiences? Or do we want to see the sea and the most beautiful beaches in Sicily? Are we willing to drive and move every two days, or do we prefer to relax and enjoy the historic center of Palermo rather than excursions to the sea of Taormina? Make your orders and find the destinations that best suit your travel style.
2 Figure out the distances between the places you want to see
The second piece of advice I can offer you is to familiarize yourself with the map of the island and understand the distances that separate the cities you wish to visit. Sicily is the largest region in Italy, and you will be surprised, for example, how far Mt.Etna is from the island of Favignana.
3 Go beyond mainstream offerings
Through Google, you visit many sites, read, and go beyond the holiday offers of the big tour operators in Sicily. Google is the most powerful information tool humanity has ever had at its disposal; use it, squeeze it, and you will get amazing results. Using Google costs nothing..... or almost nothing.
4 Be realistic
Be realistic and plan according to the days available to you and your budget. If you have a week, do not put too many destinations in the itinerary but dedicate yourself to one or two provinces. Sicily can be visited more than once. Indeed, if you do not have a month available, you will not be able to see it all. If you decide to visit Eastern Sicily, do it thoroughly. Rather than staying 30 minutes in Syracuse, two hours in Taormina, and one night in Noto, calmly discover the charm of each place you visit.
5 Be relaxed and enjoy your vacation
I know that this last piece of advice may seem obvious, but believe me, every year I see many visitors who lose their temper for nothing and "pollute" their day with a bad mood. You are on vacation, and you have time to relax and enjoy your trip.
Sicily east coast
TAORMINA, CATANIA, NOTO, L'ETNA, SIRACUSA E LE GOLE ALCANTARA
Among all holidays destinations the itinerary in this chapter offers: Sea, Culture, History, Nature and, ..... prices accessible to all. All in a seven-day vacation? Yes, and I'm not exaggerating. The east coast of Sicily if you have only one week available, is the ideal place to start getting to know Sicily. The city of Catania has the international airport of Fontanarossa and excellent offers for renting a rental car. The historic center is incredibly rich in monuments, while the nightlife is lively and basically safe. The majestic Mount Etna can be reached in less than an hour and can be visited with hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. For those who want a stay surrounded by nature, the north side of Etna near Giardini Naxos offers the possibility of camping and bungalows. The surroundings of Taormina and the marine park of Isola Bella will keep you busy for a few days. Syracuse, the white city rich in classical art, hosts the archaeological park of Neapolis, the beautiful beach of Fontane Bianche, and the marine park of Plemmiro can keep you busy for several days. For trekking and nature lovers, the province of Syracuse has two suggestive places, the Necropolis of Pantalica and the Anapo Valley. In the last ten years, the Val di Noto and the Sicilian Baroque district (in the province of Syracuse) have also, thanks to the "Commissario Montalbano", have become an integral part of the itinerary of Eastern Sicily. The green Alcantara Valley, easily reachable from Taormina, is famous for the Alcantara Gorges. Around the Alcantara park, there are a series of hilltop villages charming, such as Castiglione di Sicilia, Randazzo, and Motta Camastra, which offer enchanting landscapes of rural Sicily. Body rafting is the ideal excursion for those who love adventure that will allow you to reach a stretch of the Alcantara river away from mass tourism in a suggestive and wild naturalistic context.
EASTERN SICILY NOT TO BE MISSED!
- Visit Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe!
- Sunset Boat trip to Isola Bella!
- Dine in the alleys of Taormina!
- The Fish Market of Catania!
- Syracuse, Ortigia, and the Val di Noto!
- Adrenaline with a Body Rafting tour!
EASTERN SICILY ITINERARY
- Day 1 Arrival in Catania
- Day 2 Catania
- Day 3-4-5 Taormina / Etna / Alcantara Valley
- Day 6 Syracuse
- Day 7 in Noto
- Day 8 departure from Catania's airport
Tips: Catania and the Alcantara Valley offer a wide range of hotels, B & Bs, and farmhouses. If you are committed to research, even Taormina and Giardini Naxos offer hotels and accommodations at affordable prices. Try to go beyond the "offers" of the most clicked portals.
Sicily South Coast
RAGUSA, AGRIGENTO, the temples Valley and, PALERMO
This second travel itinerary in Sicily explores a part of the island less traveled by tourists, which offers sea, sandy beaches, archaeological sites, and art cities. Fontanarossa airport can be an excellent base of arrival, but try to look for the flights that land on Comiso will bring you closer to Ragusa Ibla, the starting point of this itinerary to discover the landscapes of southwestern Sicily. Ragusa enchants anyone who visits it; the cobbled streets overlook glimpses of bucolic and rugged landscapes that contrast with the rich Baroque architecture and the roofs covered with terracotta tiles. Also in the southern part of the Val di Noto you can visit Scicli, a Baroque city made famous by the T.V. "Il commissario Montalbano" and the golden sand of Donnalucata beach. Ragusa has a series of enchanting sandy beaches, the most distant but among the most beautiful is Porto Palo. Agrigento, the Valley of the Temples, and the Scala Dei Turchi are three places not to be missed along this holiday in southwestern Sicily. Agrigento has no attractions, while the beauty of the Valley of the Temples path, the temple of Concordia, the ruins of Magna Graecia, and the history of these places are unparalleled in all of Sicily the Mediterranean. We recommend finding a room or a hotel in Real Monte, the village closest to this white cliff that stands out between the sea and the sky, for those wishing to visit the Scala Dei Turchi. Agrigento has sandy beaches and a sea that few know. We recommend Eraclea Minoa, La Soletta, and Torre Salsa. The island of Lampedusa, famous for its Rabbit beach, is part of the province of Agrigento. From Agrigento, the next destination is the city of Palermo, the capital of modern and ancient Sicily. The road from Agrigento to Palermo crosses Sicily, arid, sparsely inhabited but with a magnetic and irresistible charm. The provincial roads are uncomfortable and small, but the gold-colored hills, the solitary carob trees, and the olive groves surrounded by dry white stone walls will make you feel the emotion of the exotic. Palermo is where Arab Sicily merges with Norman Sicily. A visit to the Palatine Chapel at the Norman Palace and the "Massimo" theater is a must for anyone visiting this city. Palermo is the capital of street food and noisy and colorful local markets. Among the itineraries in Palermo, we suggest you include that of the Ballarò and Vucciaria markets. Mondello beach is the closest to the city of Palermo.
SOUTH WESTERN SICILY NOT TO BE MISSED!
- Ragusa Ibla
- Porto Palo beach
- Greek Temples
- The beaches of Agrigento
- The sunset at the Scala dei Turchi
SOUTH WEST SICILY ITINERARY
- Day 1 Arrival in Comiso transfer to Ragusa Ibla
- Day 2/3 Ragusa Ibla / Beaches
- Day 4/5 Agrigento / Valley of the temples / Beaches
- Day 6/7 in Palermo
- Day 8 Departure from Palermo
- Spiaggia Giallonaro
- Eraclea Minoa
- Torre salsa
- La Soletta
Trapani, The salt fields, The aegadian islands and San Vito Lo Capo
Among all the destinations and itineraries in Sicily, this one we propose is the most exotic and distant journey, not only in geographical terms but also in cultural terms. The city of Trapani has the small airport of Birgi. Ideally, it would help if you landed here for this trip to Sicily. Trapani has a small but enchanting historic center, which testifies its ancient history. The itinerary that we suggest to go to the discovery of Trapani is the one that passes through Via Garibaldi, Via Torrearsa, and Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The sea in this island area is undoubtedly the most beautiful in Sicily, but for those who want to enjoy a dip without leaving the historic center, we recommend the "Beaches under the walls". The natural reserve of the Saline di Trapani and Paceco offers an enchanting landscape, where the dazzling white of the piles of salt contrasts with the blue skies and the beauty of the fiery red sunsets over the Egadi archipelago. By renting a bicycle, it is possible to discover the most picturesque salt pans near Trapani. At the same time, to visit Marsala's salt fields, I recommend you to see them with a boat ride that also touches the island of Mozia. An unmissable moment is a sunset at the Stagone that you can enjoy sitting at Mama Caura. The hilltop village of Erice and the Greek ruins of Selinunte are two places worth adding to the itinerary of western Sicily. The Egadi (Aegadian islands) islands with Favignana are among the most beautiful in Sicily. The breathtaking sea will satisfy even the most demanding travelers. Please do not underestimate the less visited island of Marettimo, which is not among the most popular destinations, but it is possible to take walking tours in the hills overlooking the Mediterranean sea and go to the discovery of places surrounded by wild nature. San Vito Lo Capo has one of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily and a considerable number of coves. The Zingaro nature reserve, which can also be accessed from Scopello, is ideal for trekking and swimming. Cala Uzzo is one of the most picturesque coves within the Zingaro reserve. Even in the evening, San Vito lo Capo offers many restaurants, while the offer for rooms and hotels is vast, with medium to high price ranges. This charming town hosts one of the largest couscous festivals in the Mediterranean in September, so if you plan to visit San Vito Lo Capo during the festival, be sure to book a hotel well in advance.
WESTERN SICILY NOT TO BE MISSED!
- The sunset on the salt pans
- The Egadi Islands
- A trek to the Zingaro Reserve
WESTERN SICILY ITINERARY
- Day 1 Arrival Birgi Airport and visit Trapani
- Day 2 in Trapani salt fiels and Erice village
- Day 3 Marsala salt fields
- Day 4/5 Egadi Islands
- Day 6/7 San Vito Lo Capo / Riseva dello zingaro
- Day 8 Departure from Palermo
Sicily's North coast
Palermo, Cefalù and, the Aeolians Islands
As the starting point of this tour, the city of Palermo will offer you the opportunity to visit colorful markets, immerse yourself in the places of art, and taste the best street food in Sicily. If you are a beach lover, you can reach Mondello beach. Along this itinerary, the second stop is Cefalù, a small and picturesque seaside village with a delightful beach. Cefalù is worth two days, but one day will be enough to visit the historic center and the Cathedral full of Byzantine mosaics if you are short of time. If you are a walker, you can climb up to the fortress of Cefalù, which you will reach in thirty minutes through the path of the Saracens; the view from this vantage point is terrific. The sea of Cefalù is clear, and taking a dip or a boat ride to admire the town from a different point of view can give you moments of relaxation. If you are one of those travelers who put beach umbrellas and crystal clear waters first, I suggest you look at the beaches of Sant Ambrogio, Caldera beach, and Pollina. If you are traveling on a budget, I recommend that you look for a hotel or structure perhaps outside the walls of Cefalù and book well in advance. The Archipelago of the Aeolian Islands is listed in the UNESCO heritage. The only smell of capers that permeates the air and the exotic and evocative landscape views of these lands will dazzle you, and you will be grateful to have put this destination in the itinerary of your trip to Sicily. But where to start? And yes, because even if close to each other, the seven islands have different characteristics and atmospheres, so don't think about visiting one and seeing them all. I start with the island of Lipari because besides being the largest, having a wide choice of hotels and a series of beaches, Lipari is also the one that many tourists choose as a base for exploring the rest of the archipelago. Salina is the second-largest island in the archipelago. Thanks to the numerous freshwater sources, it is also the greenest and most luxuriant island of all. Half of the territory of Salina falls within a nature reserve, with a series of nature trails visited every year by thousands of trekking lovers. If you love wild beauty and little-traveled destinations, Alicudi and Filicudi are for you, even if they are the farthest from Milazzo, the port of embarkation. Panarea is the most expensive and fashionable, and it has the most famous and picturesque beach in the whole Archipelago, Cala Junco. Stromboli, the northernmost island of the archipelago with its active volcano that erupts every day, is perhaps the most famous. Vulcano is the first island of the archipelago that you encounter when arriving from Sicily. This island has an active crater that is easily accessible on foot. For those seeking tranquility and wanting to go on a trekking excursion, we recommend walking the five kilometers of the ancient "Via Reale," which culminates in a panoramic point overlooking a part of the Aeolian archipelago.
THE NORTH COAST AND THE AEOLIANS NOT TO BE MISSED!
- Palermo's markets and street food
- Cefalù and its alleys
- Stromboli eruption
- The Sunset from the crater of Vulcano
- Trekking in Salina
NORTH COAST AND AEOLIAN ITINERARY
- Day 1 arrival in Palermo
- Day 2/3 Palermo
- Day 4 in Cefalù
- Day 5/6/7 in the Aeolian Islands
- Day 8 Departure from Palermo or Catania
OTHER PLACES TO DISCOVER in Sicily
- Ustica the paradise of divers
- The Nebrodi Park and Trekking
- Piazza Armerina
- Pantelleria the distant island
- Caltagirone and the ceramics
- Cavagrande del Cassibile
- The Vendicari reserve
- The Etna wine district