Where to Visit in Sicily

Cathedral in Palermo - the must-see attraction of Sicily

What to see in Sicily and where to visit: in a few days or a week? Route, distances, prices for entrance tickets, hotels and excursions 2023. Description of interesting sights in Sicily, where to stay for the night – in the good Time for Trip review.

In recent years, Sicily has been slowly but steadily gaining points in the ranking of tourist popularity. Perhaps because it clearly does not strive to be in the top of the most popular destinations. Most of all appreciates calmness and values ​​that have been established over the centuries.

In addition, some potential travelers are scared away by gloomy legends about the mafia. Others simply do not see the point in traveling so far, to the southernmost crow of Italy. When it is much easier and more convenient to get to Tuscany, visit Abruzzo, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont.

However, it is still worth spending time and seeing 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 is extremely hot here: +35 ° C and above. And this is on a stable, in fact, daily basis.

Obviously, this kind of weather is not suitable even for a long stay on the beach! About the sights, most tourists in such conditions ask not to stutter them. After all, it is unlikely that you will enthusiastically consider an ancient city or ancient ruins in the hot sun?!

Therefore, it is most reasonable to come to Sicily in May and June – it will turn out to swim and loiter. The local September-October also looks like a good, very comfortable period. Allowing 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 is most convenient to consider Sicily in detail 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.

We will move counterclockwise – it makes more sense.

Top Attractions in Sicily

Let’s start, of course, with 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

Palermo

The local Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary literally caresses the look expressed by southern, Mauritanian-Spanish architecture. And it is 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 decoration 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. And the local parliament sits today in the hall of Hercules.

  • A ticket for an adult costs 19 €, children under 13 are admitted free of charge!

It is 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 church of Santa Maria del Ammirallo attracts tourists with perfectly preserved mosaics of the 11th-12th centuries. It is better known as Martorana (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, not to taste pizza in Italy, but in Sicily, original sweets, are literally a crime.

The nearest beach to the capital is Mondello. It is 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.

Mondello is not one of the best resorts in Italy. Although, in general, it is 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

We don’t linger. And we advise you to definitely see the outstanding cathedral in the capital of Sicily, one of the top attractions of the country as a whole. It is located really in the suburbs, the town of Monreale.

Monreale cathedral is one of the main attractions of Sicily

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 you 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 today 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 to the town of Cefalu. Distance from Palermo – 70 km to the east. You will have to get no more than an hour by train or car.

The place is popular among holidaymakers and travelers, so we recommend visiting strictly during the off-season. Otherwise, head-on collisions with the same tourists 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.

Trapani

The city is not as famous as the village of Erice in the rocks nearby (12 km along a winding mountain serpentine). It 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 is 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 will cost 70-80 €. Another prominent attraction in the province of Trapani!

According to archaeologists, Segesta was founded not even by the Greeks, but by the Trojans. Brought here by unknown winds. The local temple 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 are vacationing in Sicily in September and love to swim.

Where to Stay

From inexpensive places with a good rating, we highlight Baglio del Mulino a Vento. With clean and even “cozy” rooms. A bakery is across the street, a supermarket is nearby. To the sea on foot – a few minutes!

In Trapani itself, do not forget to visit the salt fields with windmills, the symbol of the city. And also drink a glass of marsala – the original Sicilian fortified wine.

The Selinunte Archaeological Park on the south coast of the province is not the most mentioned tourist attraction. Although it is 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 get there using public transport.

Agrigento

By car from Palermo it takes only 2.5 hours (distance – 130 km). The motivation for such a trip is obvious – the Valley of the Temples is one of the main tourist attractions in Sicily.

It is located very close to Agrigento. You can also get there 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 sight of the province, but already miraculous, is the Staircase of the Turks (Scala dei Turchi). And it is 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.

You must see Staircase of the Turks in Sicily

Modica and Ragusa

These towns are not located on the coast. But they are justifiably considered one of the main tourist sights in Sicily: the local buildings in the original Baroque style are too beautiful. By the way, UNESCO considers them an architectural monument of the World Heritage level.

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 cities were literally rebuilt

In general, if you love old Italian towns with their yellow-ocher walls, shuttered windows, pavement pavement, you will definitely be fascinated.

Syracuse

The rich ancient heritage plus the Latomia quarries with the famous acoustic gallery of the Ear of Dionysius are the hallmarks of the city. 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 is reason enough to stay here for a couple of days.

Moreover, here you can rent cozy apartments for very little money. Residence Emozioni Ortigia is one of the best (booking rating 9).

It is also useful to participate in some kind of educational excursion. Not too expensive – up to €70 per person. But clearly justifies the money invested in it!

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 did not 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 …

Catania

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 walk around the city. For a very modest amount – in Italy, not everything is expensive. In particular, you will not have to overpay for food and excursions!

Taormina

It is considered primarily a seaside resort, the most famous in Sicily. Already in the 19th century, respectable European gentlemen ate 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 own attraction, packed with tourists during the season, like a jar of olives. And the old town is very nice.

In general, it is better to stay here for a few days. And see the sights, and relax on the shores of the warm Ionian Sea!

Aeolian Islands

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 or Aeolian Islands, and the main one – Stromboli with a volcano of the correct pyramidal shape – every guidebook strongly recommends seeing it 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!

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