Why choose for Sicily?
The Boot of Europe has so many other magnificent destinations such as Florence, Rome and Venice, all of which are easily accessible by car. Why would you fly all the way to Italy and then opt for a round trip in Sicily with a rental car? Because flights and a rental car aren’t that expensive at all! On top of that, your holidays will also be cheaper than in many other parts of the country, making Sicily the perfect destination!
How long do I have to travel around in Sicily?
Sicily is big, but not huge. It’s in fact 5000 km2 (about 3100 square miles) smaller than Belgium, but there is so much more to do! You can limit yourself to a part of the island and then you can easily fill up a week, but if you want to discover all the highlights (more or less), you should plan a 14-day itinerary for Sicily. If you don’t want to visit or do that much, then Palermo is also a fantastic destination for a city trip!
Yipee! A road trip to Sicily! What should I not miss?
- The capital: Palermo, where culture, gastronomy and history come together in a vibrant and chaotic mix that you will love.
- The still active volcano Etna that you can climb!
- The beautiful Aeolian Islands.
- The romantic Cefalu, where you can escape from all the hustle and bustle of the island.
- Agrigento or the Valley of the Temples.
Dirt cheap car hire in Sicily
Let me tell you immediately: driving a car in Sicily is not as scary as you sometimes hear. Agreed, sometimes the rules are broken. But I never felt unsafe on the road, and I’m not such a great driver now… My experience with driving in Sicily you can read here, by the way.
Renting a car in Sicily is ridiculously cheap. For one week you’ll only pay €150 ($190 or £120).
I can really recommend Sunnycars because the price includes a full insurance and often the cost of a second driver is included.
Hotels in Sicily
Sicily is attractive to tourists, so there is something for everyone. From cheap youth hostels to luxurious five-star accommodations with tropical pools. As a tourist you’ll always be pampered on this Italian island!
Check for availability, options and prices on these websites:
Excursions in Sicily
Although the beaches are tempting, I think you should also see something in Sicily. The (literally and figuratively) highlight of Sicily is of course the Etna volcano. A day trip to this alien landscape should definitely be on your schedule!
But spending a day in Cefalu, visiting Agrigento or visiting the historical buildings of Palermo are also some must do’s.
For an overview of excursions in Palermo + prices, look at these sites:
Sicily itinerary for 14 days
First of all, you will want to know whether you really need to book a rental car or whether you can also organize a road trip through Sicily by public transport. If you’re limited to the big cities (Palermo and Catania, for example), it’s perfectly manageable to travel by train or bus. However, if you want to have complete freedom of movement and not lose too much time, opt for a round trip in Sicily with a car. Like I showed a bit higher up in this article, in May you already have a rental car for two weeks for less than 200 euros (for 14 days)!
There are different airports in Sicily, but in fact the biggest airports are relatively close to some of the must-see sights, so you can really land wherever and adapt this itinerary. Most of the times, Catania is the cheapest (although Trapani has most low-cost airlines such as Ryanair), but it happens that Palermo becomes a lot cheaper too. It all depends from where exactly that you are flying.
From Belgium (where I live), flights were cheapest to Catania. So I flew to this airport. Therefore my itinerary for Sicily also starts from here.
Day 1: Catania
Catania is often (wrongly) overshadowed by his big brother, Palermo. That’s a bit of a shame, because it’s the second largest city in Sicily and you can easily spend a day there. I won’t mention all the main sights of Catania, but don’t skip the beautiful Palazzo degli Elefanti, the amphitheater and the cathedral when you visit!
Day 2: Mount Etna
This whopping 3300 meter high (10.826 ft) mountain is actually the highest active volcano in Europe and can be quite impressive. Don’t be afraid to climb this bad boy! The last eruption already dates back from several hundred years ago and on top of that, the volcanic activity is constantly being monitored. Moreover, you can easily reach Mount Etna from Catania by public transport. If you’re traveling by car, it’s worthwhile to pass the wine house of Vivera, where the grapes are cultivated on Mount Etna!
Day 3: Syracuse
On the third day of our round trip in Sicily, we head south from Catania, from here it’s only a one hour drive to Syracuse. Stroll through this charming port city and discover the catacombs, cathedral and one of the largest theaters of the Greek empire.
Day 4: Cavagrande del Cassibile and Noto
On the fourth day, it’s time to admire some natural beauty. In the national park Cavagrande del Cassibile, it takes about two hours to walk to the waterfalls, where you can cool off and splash around as long as you like. Next, we drive on to Noto, a picturesque village characterized by beautiful baroque architecture. No wonder it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2002.
Day 5: Ragusa and Agrigento
If you liked Noto, you should drive to Agrigento while passing Ragusa along the way. Ragusa is another great and cute village. In the afternoon you have time to admire the impressive Valley of the Temples.
Day 6: The Scala dei Turchi
As you have already noticed, we are traveling around Sicily at a strong pace. We are almost half way through our trip and we can use a day of rest now. The Scala dei Turchi is the perfect place for that. The name means as much as the ‘Staircase of the Turks’ because the Moors landed here a long time ago. If you want to follow in their footsteps, you can also try to conquer Sicily, but I advise you to just relax on the beach.
Day 7+ 8: Palermo
We have spent the night in a different location everytime, and that can get tiring after a while. That is why we choose Palermo as a base for the next three days because there is so much fun things to do from here. From the Scala dei Turchi it’s just over two hours driving to the capital. Fans of the Godfather can make a small detour through Corleone, the village from where the fictional Mafia legend came from. In Palermo you can easily spend two to three days (and even longer). What you can do and visit in this wonderful city can be read here.
Culture enthusiasts should definitely attend an opera in the Teatro Massimo, the largest opera house of the country!
Day 9: Scopello / Mondello
If you still have enough energy to brave the local traffic, you can drive to the nice resort town of Scopello. Definitely plan a short stop in the beautiful Castellamare del Golfo. If you’d rather relax closer to Palermo on the beach, you should go to Mondello. Tip: you can also get there very easily (and pleasantly) by bike!
Day 10: Cefalu
This beautiful village is just over an hour away and is also very easy to reach by train. Climb La Rocca from where you have a breathtaking view of the red roofs and the azure blue sea. Afterwards you can splash into the water and enjoy a delicious pasta alla ricci (pasta with sea urchin, a local delicacy).
Day 11 + 12: The Aeolian Islands and the Stromboli
From Cefalu it’s a two-hour drive to Milazzo, where you can park your car (for a fee) in a parking lot. From here you take the boat to the enchanting Aeolian Islands. Lipari is the largest island, but you can also spend a wonderful night at Salina, where Il Postino was shot. If you want to climb the Stromboli after your visit to Mount Etna, you can do it individually up to an altitude of 400 meters (1312 ft), from then on you have to hire a guide. You can easily book a cruise on the spot.
Day 13: Messina / Taormina
If you want to stay a little longer on the Aeolian Islands, you can only take the boat to Milazzo in the afternoon. And from there it’s another 40 minutes drive to Messina. There is not much to do here, so I would drive a little further to the romantic Taormina. The absolute attraction here is the theater where you get a brilliant view of Mount Etna. Just relaxing can of course also be done on the beach afterwards…
Day 14: Gorge of Alcantara and / or Catania
If you want to end your trip in Sicily with some natural beauty, you can always pass by the gorge of Alcantara. The active people can even do canyoning here! If you prefer to end up a bit quieter, you can drive straight to Catania where unfortunately your plane is waiting for you.
Tips for traveling around Sicily
- Maybe you have already heard something about the driving skills of the Sicilians. “Cowboys on four wheels” is a nickname they sometimes get. In Palermo, and especially Catania, this is certainly the case. If you don’t want to stress out, you should perhaps take a complete insurance when you book a rental car. Outside the cities, however, it’s very easy and it is a joyous drive along the wonderful coastline.
- Don’t miss the street food. Especially in Palermo you can eat delicious street food. Try an arancina (fried rice ball with minced meat and vegetables), a panino al porchetta (suckling pig) or milza (spleen). Palermo was even declared the street food capital of Europe by Forbes in 2015!
- What about the Mafia in Sicily? Let us not be naive, of course there is Mafia in Sicily. But they can only benefit from the safety of tourists, so you certainly don’t have to worry about your safety. If you want to be sure that your hard-earned money doesn’t end up in the pockets of these naughty boys, then look for an orange circle around an x on the window displays, cut in half by the black letters “Addiopizzo”. Pizzo is the protection fee that many shop owners have to pay to the mafia, but fewer and fewer people are willing to do so in recent years. If you see this sticker, you can be sure that your money is in good hands!
- In Sicily they speak mainly Italian and the Sicilian dialect, but also French, German, Arabic or Romanian is spoken quite frequently.
Of course there is so much more to see in Sicily than what I’ve already listed here. Near Trapani (where it’s also very cheap to fly to) are the Egadi Islands and the beautiful resort town of San Vito Lo Capo. Or maybe you’ve already heard of the fairy-tale village of Erice? And what about Marsala, from where the eponymous wine comes? And what about the many, many beaches that are picture perfect? You could easily travel around Sicily for a month and then you still won’t have seen it all.
One thing is certain: from your first foot on Sicilian soil, this majestic island will never let you go. You immediately understand why so many people wanted to conquer it. Perhaps you can even opt for a lifelong round trip in Sicily and rent a beautiful villa here. La vita è sempre dolce qui!
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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.