I can’t start with anything other than the capital of the island. Chances are that your Sicilian adventure starts here and I advise you to take all the time to explore this amazing city. The magnificent cathedral, the Palazzo dei Normanni, the catacombs, Teatro Massimo, … the list of sights in Palermo is almost endless. Just outside the city lies the charming Monreale (“the royal mountain”) that honors its name for sure! Palermo is definitely one of the best places to see in Sicily and should not be skipped.
From Palermo it’s only an hour’s drive to the beautiful Cefalù, without a doubt one of the most beautiful villages in Sicily. Climb ‘La Rocca’ and enjoy spectacular views. The contrast of the many red roofs with the azure sea has inspired many painters and it’s easy to understand why. After the ascent you can relax on the beach with or without a refreshing Aperol Spritz. La vita è bella in Sicilia!
A little further to the west lies Taormina where you also have a fantastic beach. The town itself is very charming and the ideal setting for a (romantic) walk. The crown jewel, however, is the Greek theater that was later transformed into a Roman theater. Thanks to an opening in the back you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape that reaches as far as Mount Etna.
4. Mount Etna
That brings us to one of the most famous things to see in Sicily: Mount Etna. This volcano is more than 3000 meters (almost 10,000 ft) high and the highest active volcano in Europe. The soil is extremely fertile, making it particularly suitable for agriculture and viticulture. I should thus also recommend a visit to the Vivera winery, where you can taste the best wine of Sicily! Also a guided tour on Mount Etna itself is great fun, here you get the opportunity to view the impressive landscapes (including lava if you’re very lucky!) in a safe way.
From Catania you can also arrange a day trip to Etna by public transport. You can read more about that in this article.
Catania is the second largest city in Sicily and needs a small warning. If you think that the drivers in Palermo are crazy, you’d better not drive around in Catania where gets even worse. Yet the city that lies in the shadow of Mount Etna is certainly worth a visit. The castle of Ursino, the Palazzo degli Elefanti with the accompanying Fontana dell’Elefanta, the cathedral and the amphitheater are just some of the many attractions.
6. The Aeolian Islands and the Stromboli
The Aeolian Islands are an archipelago northeast of the coast of Sicily. All seven are protected by UNESCO and are small paradises in themselves. Without a doubt, these are some of the best places to visit in Sicily and you shouldn’t miss them. Seriously.
The most famous island is Stromboli, named after the volcano with the same name. Up to a height of 400 meters (1312 ft) you can climb it yourself, if you want to reach the top (924 meters or 3031 ft) you have to do this with the help of a guide. A mini cruise around these magnificent islands is another recommendation and in the summer you even have a chance to see dolphins jumping next to you!
7. The Egadi Islands
Near Trapani you can find another impressive island group. The Egadi Islands are a half-hour boat ride from Trapani, and you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily here, which of course makes it one of the best places to visit. The calm islands are surrounded by clear blue water, floating boats and beautiful landscapes. There are three islands, but it’s mainly Favignana and Levanzo that attract tourists. Marettimo is a lot further and is less accessible.
The boat from Trapani costs about €10 (depending on which boat you take) for a single ticket to one of the islands.
Where should I start with summing up the sights of this port city? If you don’t know what to do in Sicily, you should be in Syracuse. You’ll find one of the largest theaters of the Greek Empire here, a magnificent cathedral, impressive catacombs larger than those in Rome, and so much more. Moreover, from here you can also make a day trip to Noto, one of the best kept secrets and most beautiful places in Sicily.
You probably already noticed that there are a lot of special temples in Sicily but Agrigento definitely wears the crown. Here lies Akragas or the Valley of the Temples, which is undoubtedly one of the most important tourist attractions of Sicily. You’ll find seven beautiful temples here, all in Doric style. In order not to miss out on the rich history dating back to 500 BC, I recommend taking a guided tour.
10. The gorge of Alcantara
After all those temples, it’s time for some action. Thousands of years ago the gorge of Alcantara was formed by Mount Etna and if you want to take it easy you can just admire the beauty of nature or head for a swim. If you want something a bit more adventurous, then I can absolutely recommend canyoning. You climb and swim your way through this rugged wilderness and at the same time, you’ll experience the landscape in a completely unique way.
11. The Scala dei Turchi
The Turks’ staircase owes its name because the Moors landed here quite a while ago. The beautiful mountain made of marl, a kind of white limestone, leaves you speechless. This impressive natural phenomenon is one of the most remarkable beaches in Sicily. A wonderful place to take a break after the abundance of history that you’ve already seen throughout the island.
Erice is one of the most beautiful villages in Sicily due to its medieval character. From a height of 800 meters (2624 ft), this town dominates the surrounding area with its castle. It’s the ideal place to escape from the hustle and bustle, and quietly stroll around. The genovesi ericeni are a local delicacy and this sweetness is wonderfully paired with a glass of Marsala wine. Literally and figuratively la dolce vita.
Take an extra sweater or coat with you just to be sure. The weather often changes here, and it can quickly become a few degrees cooler!
13. Cavagrande del Cassibile and il Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro
Both are national parks and people who love to hike can fully enjoy themselves here. If you have to choose between one of them, I would opt for Cavagrande because the nature is a bit more special here. After a brisk walking tour of about two kilometers (a bit more than a mile) you reach waterfalls where you can swim. In terms of nature this is in any case one of the best places to visit in Sicily.
14. The many beautiful beaches
Of course, the island also offers numerous magnificent beaches and the most beautiful of them are the following:
- San Vito Lo Capo: Beautiful turquoise water, pearl white sand and the Monte Monaco in the background gives the whole area an almost fairytale atmosphere. San Vito Lo Capo is enchantingly beautiful.
- If you find it too hectic in Palermo, you should drive for 20 minutes to Mondello where you can relax. If you drive a little further you come to Scopello, where it’s quieter and where you can swim between the rocks. Please note, the latter is not a sandy beach but there are sun loungers available.
- Calamosche is also a perfect place to lie on the beach and swim. There are no bars or ice cream sellers which makes this place heaven on earth. Fortunately, this place is not yet discovered by the crowds, so visit it now before it’s too late!
Already after one day on the island you’ll notice how different Sicily is from the rest of Italy. Because of its diversity, I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in Europe and you never really want to leave La Bella Sicilia. Every time you discover something new and that makes the island so amazing and great to visit.
Excursions in Sicily
For certain tourist attractions you have to rent a car in Sicily, if you prefer to arrange everything with excursions, there are also plenty of options. What about a day trip to Agrigento or Palermo? In any case, I recommend these tours:
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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.