What to see in Sicily and where to visit in 2023: in a few days or a week? Route, distances, entrance tickets, hotels and excursions prices. Description of interesting sights in Sicily, where to stay – in the good Time for Trip review.
In recent years, Sicily has been steadily but slowly gaining points in the ranking of tourist popularity. Doing that in such a way perhaps because it clearly doesn’t strive to be in the top of the most popular destinations in Italy. Most of all appreciates calmness and values that have been established here over the centuries…
In addition, some potential travelers are scared away by gloomy legends about the Sicililian mafia. Others simply don’t see the point in traveling so far, to the southernmost crow of Italy. When it is much easier and more convenient to visit Venice or Milan, Florence or Rome!
However, it’s worth spending time and come to see Sicily! After all, here even time flows differently. Not at all like in the rest, even southern Italy.
And the whole way of life, traditions and beliefs make you look at yourself and your place in the Universe from a different angle!
Best Time to Go
Sicily is almost Africa, the island is only 160 km away from the sands of the Sahara. Therefore, at the peak of summer it’s extremely hot here: +35 ° C and above. This is on a stable, in fact, daily basis.
Obviously, this kind of weather isn’t suitable for a long stay on the beach! As for the famous Sicilian attractions, most tourists in such weather conditions ask not to stutter them. After all, it’s unlikely that you will enthusiastically explore an medieval city or ancient ruins, just wander streets in the hot sun?!
Therefore, it’s most reasonable to come to Sicily in May or June – it will turn out to swim and loiter. Also looks like a good, very comfortable period and the local September-October. That allow you not to worry at all until the onset of severe autumn rains and Mediterranean storms.
However, enough words – let’s go. In the most literal sense. After all, it’s most convenient to visit main Sicily sights by car.
Usually rented right at the airport. But we believe that someone will want and be able to get to Sicily on their own machine!
Moreover, traveling around Italy by car is a pleasure. A little expensive, but promising an indescribable experience!
Top Attractions in Sicily
We will move counterclockwise – it makes more sense.
And will start we, of course, from Palermo. Moreover, in 2018 the city was the cultural capital of Italy. That is, briefly got out of semi-forgetfulness…
The assignment of an honorary title, of course, was facilitated by the presence in the Sicilian capital of really extraordinary historical monuments of architecture and art. As, however, and because of the obvious desire of officials to revive not too stormy tourist demand.
Although there are enough decent attractions in
What to Visit in Palermo
The local Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary literally caresses the look expressed by southern, Mauritanian-Spanish architecture. And it’s considered the most recognizable landmark of Sicily – be sure to bring from Italy a souvenir, decorated with the image of this architectural masterpiece!
The Palatine Chapel is also extremely famous, elaborately and richly decorated with mosaics – its composition and interior refer to the times of the Byzantine Empire.
The court chapel is located where it should be – in the Palazzo Normanni. Buildings of unusual, castle-palace architecture. And of difficult fate.
Inside, the royal apartments have been preserved. The local parliament sits today in the hall of Hercules.
- A ticket for an adult costs 19 €, kids under 13 are admitted free of charge!
It’s quite difficult to get acquainted with practical information on the official website in detail. For at times it lies and does not let anyone in – federicosecondo.org/en/welcome-2/.
Which doesn’t seem to be of much concern to those in charge. And it’s completely Italian – no one is in a hurry here!
The another famous church in Palermo, Santa Maria del Ammirallo attracts tourists with perfectly preserved mosaics of the 11th-12th centuries. Note, that it’s better known just as Martorana (exact address Piazza Bellini, 3).
Guidebooks not unreasonably advise visiting the carved Baroque church of the Gesu or Casa Professa (Piazza Casa Professa, 21). And in general, spend a day only to study the richest baroque heritage of Palermo.
And in the evening, finish a hard day at a local restaurant. After all, there is literally a crime not to taste pizza in Italy, and in Sicily – original local sweets.
Swimming in the Sea
The nearest beach to the Sicily capital is Mondello. It’s best to cool your head after an overabundance of city impressions there. Although at the peak of the season, you will almost certainly have to complain about the lack of free space on the beach.
Mondello isn’t one of the best seaside resorts in Italy. Although, in general, it’s not clear why – the sandy arc of the coast hugs a scenic turquoise bay. With very clean – except during peak months – water!
Monreale and Cefalu
Well, we’re going on. And advise you to definitely visit near the capital of Sicily the outstanding cathedral, one of the top attractions of the country as a whole. It’s located in the suburbs, in the town Montreal.
Public transport can only be reached with transfers. From the Palermo main train station, take the Amat bus number 109 to Piazza Indipendenza. And there change to number 389 of the same company.
Cathedral opening hours:
- on weekdays: from 8.30 to 12.30, from 14.30 to 17.00
- on holidays: from 8.00 to 9.30, from 14.30 to 17.00
For a visit you need to pay 4 € (children under 10 years old – free of charge). Official website: www.monrealeduomo.it/page.php?21.
If time permits, take a trip from Palermo to the coastal town Cefalu. Distance – 70 km to the east. You will have to get no more than an hour by train or car.
Cefalu is popular among holidaymakers and travelers, so we strictly recommend visiting it during the off-season – there is quite warm in Sicily and in October. If you will come here in summer, head-on collisions with the same tourists in the streets are not excluded.
The highlight of the extra-beach program is the city’s cathedral. According to legend, it was built by the Norman king Roger II in gratitude for saving him during a severe storm.
Quite famous is the little town Erice on the rock (there is a cableway from Trapani). Which has two castles at once: Pepoli and Venus. As well as a mass of well-preserved old houses. The main attraction is unparalleled views of the surrounding area.
It’s most reasonable to visit Erice with a guide from local residents – you will simply learn more. And the prices are generally low: a day tour from Palermo here and to Segesta, another prominent attraction in the province of Trapani, will cost from 80 €.
According to archaeologists, Segesta was founded not even by the Greeks, but by the Trojans. That were brought here by unknown winds. The temple of Segesta now is considered one of the best surviving examples of ancient architecture.
Yes, it has no roof. But archaeologists say – it was intended!
The resort of San Vito Lo Capo is famous for its 3-kilometer beach. According to the unanimous assessment of travelers, it seems to have mistakenly entered the Old World from some tropical island.
People willingly come here for a weekend from Palermo. Still: the distance is only 110 km, and this is 2 hours on the road.
By the way, we advise you to stay in San Vito Lo Capo for a couple of days. Especially if you’re going to Sicily in September and love to swim.
Where to Stay
From inexpensive places with a good rating in San Vito Lo Capo, we highlight Baglio del Mulino a Vento. With clean and even “cozy” rooms. A bakery is across the street, a supermarket is nearby.
And the main thing – from here you can get to the seashore in a few minutes!
In Trapani itself, don’t forget to visit the salt fields with windmills, the symbol of the city. Also drink a glass of marsala – the original Sicilian fortified wine. Or even buy a bottle or two of it – they’ll be an excellent present!
The Selinunte Archaeological Park on the south coast of the province is not the most mentioned tourist attraction. Although it’s considered the largest in Europe. Since it has eight dilapidated Greek temples.
The easiest way to get there is by car (100-110 km from Palermo). But you can also reach this place using public transport.
- The ticket costs only 6 €, every first Sunday of the month is free – en.visitselinunte.com/archaeological-park/
You can get there by car from Palermo in only 2.5 hours (distance – 130 km). The motivation for such a (bit too long) trip is obvious – the local Valley of the Temples is one of the main tourist attractions in Sicily.
The sight is located very close to the village Agrigento. And from it you can also get to the Valley by public transport.
- The Valley is open daily, from 8.30 to 20.00.
- Tickets cost 12-17 € – children under 18 are exclusively free: parcovalledeitempli.it/en/
Another impressive attraction of the province of natural origin is the Staircase of the Turks (Scala dei Turchi), seaside limestone white rocks of a bizarre shape.
During the season, these terraces are crowded with curious people.
Scala dei Turchi is stationed on the coast between the towns of Realmonte and Porto Empedocle.
Modica and Ragusa
These towns are not located on the coast. But they are justifiably considered one of the main tourist attractions of Sicily: the local buildings in the original Baroque style are too beautiful. By the way, UNESCO included them in the World Heritage List.
The catalyst for the construction fever in Modica and Ragusa, which occurred at the turn of the 17th-18th centuries, was an earthquake. In 1693, a powerful jolt destroyed a significant part of the old buildings. And the towns were completely rebuilt.
In general, if you love old Italian style with their yellow-ocher walls, shuttered windows, pavement pavement, you will definitely be fascinated. By the way, excursions from Catania are brought here…
The rich ancient heritage plus the Latomia quarries with the famous acoustic gallery of the Ear of Dionysius are the hallmarks of Italian Syracuse. Where, by the way, the legendary Archimedes was born, lived and worked.
Several churches, catacombs with history plus the gorgeous old town on the island of Ortigia are the reason to stay here for a couple of days.
Moreover, here you can rent cozy apartments for very sane money. Residence Emozioni Ortigia is one of the best (booking rating 9).
It’s also useful to participate in some kind of educational excursion. Pretty expensive – from €70 per person – but clearly justifies the invested money!
Note that the local atmosphere sometimes softens you to a semi-jelly, completely relaxed, state of foreigners. Isn’t that what people actually want from a vacation?!
By the way, next to Syracuse – Archimedes was a big homebody and never travel outside of Sicily – the Greek genius set fire to the Roman fleet that attacked his homeland. And he did it with using some clever system of mirrors.
As you understand, even in ancient times there was enough solar energy here …
Known primarily as a starting point for the subsequent ascent to Etna. Interestingly, this city is sometimes called the “daughter” of the famous volcano.
However, in Catania itself there is something to see. There are several churches plus a powerful medieval fortress. As well as a rather large Roman amphitheater, squeezed by urban development.
A guide will tell you a lot of interesting things on a excursion around the city. For a modest amount – in Italy, not everything is expensive. In particular, you won’t have to overpay for food and – sometimes – excursions!
It’s considered primarily a seaside resort, the most famous in Sicily and one of the top beach destinations in Italy itself. Already in the 19th century, respectable European ladies and gentlemen drank marsala and coffee in local taverns, looking at the majestic cone of Etna. This city has seen many celebrities: royalty and even Russian emperors have been here!
The well-preserved Greek theater is Taormina’s best attraction, packed with tourists during the season, like a jar of olives. The local old town is also very beautiful and cozy.
In general, itэs better to stay here for a few days. To see the sights in a leisurely mode and relax on the shores of the warm Mediterranean Sea!
Messina is usually not included in the list of the most interesting places in Sicily. Mainly due to the earthquake that destroyed the city in 1908.
But the Aeolian Islands, and the main one – Stromboli with a volcano of the correct pyramidal shape – every guidebook strongly recommends seeing with your own eyes.
Visiting, however, comes with some risk. More recently, in July 2019, a 35-year-old Italian tourist died during a sudden eruption of Stromboli.
You can get to the Aeolian Islands by ferry from Messina and Milazzo. A regular route connects them even with Naples!