Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. It has a stunning volcanic landscape, seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a long history stretching right back to the ancient Greeks. With so much to choose from, what are some of the best things to do in Sicily?
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1. Mount Etna
Mount Etna is probably the most famous sight on Sicily, and a must-see destination for visitors. Visible from all around the eastern part of the island, the mountain rises 3,357m above sea level, its upper slopes often covered in snow and ice. It is also the most active volcano in Europe.
Take the cable car to the top for the scenery and the views. Or enjoy a hike to the summit or on the mountain slopes. Read more about Visiting Mount Etna, The Largest Volcano In Sicily.
One of the best things to do in Sicily is visiting the island of Favignana. The island is located just a few kilometres from the coast and it is a beautiful place known for its idyllic beaches. With turquoise waters, hot summer days and charming towns, Favignana is a great spot if you are a snorkelling enthusiast or just want a relaxing vacation.
Favignana is solely accessible by shuttle boat. You will need to fly or train into Sicily and then take the ferry from Trapani. Cars are rare on the island, as the municipality has restrictions in place during the summer: only a certain number of cars are allowed. As the island isn’t very big, walking and cycling are great ways to get around. Buses also run to the towns and beaches, although they can be a bit unreliable!
Some of the most famous beaches in Favignana are Cala Azzurra and Cala Rossa. The fishing port, the market and the main square of the town are also of interest. If you want to explore beyond Favignana, day trips to the island of Marettimo are regularly organised. You can also make a reservation to have lunch on a cruise boat while checking out wild dolphins!
(Contributed by Mary of Be Right Back)
3. The Alcantara Gorge
One of Sicily’s foremost natural sites is the dramatic Alcantara Gorge. Formed by rocks from the eruption of nearby Mount Etna, this is a deep chasm lined by trees and with a river at its base. Unsurprisingly, given its imposing appearance, it is also the subject of some ancient legends…
Visit for the hiking and the natural scenery, to paddle in the water, or to put on boots and wade along the river. Read more about the gorge and how to visit – The Dramatic Scenery Of The Alcantara Gorge.
4. Valley Of The Temples
Even before the arrival of the Romans, the Greeks had settled in Sicily. Many of their buildings are now lost, but the Valley of the Temples, near Agrigento on the south coast, remains a classic Greek landscape. Here you can explore the remains of seven temples and a necropolis.
Read more about Visiting The Valley Of The Temples.
Located on Sicily’s northwest coast, Trapani makes an excellent base for exploring this part of the island. There is plenty to keep you entertained, from beaches, historic towns, and day trips to nearby islands and medieval hilltop villages.
The old town of Trapani is just beautiful. Take time to lose yourself in the back streets and alleys, admiring the historic architecture and visiting the fabulous churches. Don’t miss the Church of the Holy Souls of Purgatory for its incredible sculptures of the Passion of Christ, which are paraded through the streets of Trapani every Good Friday. Don’t forget to visit the morning fish market – it’s loud, it’s smelly but a fantastic way to experience local life.
From the port of Trapani, take one of the ferries to the nearby Egadi Islands – an absolute must for beach lovers. Or take the cable car up to Erice and explore this charming, hilltop town. In the evenings, head just out of town to visit the salt pans. Keep an eye out for the flamingos. Then head back to the old city for some fabulous Sicilian food.
Getting to Trapani is easy. Low-cost airlines fly into Trapani Airport from many European cities or if you are coming from elsewhere on the island, simply take the train, bus or car.
(Contributed by Sarah of Life Part 2 And Beyond)
Another place to explore Greek history is in the city of Syracuse, in the southeast of Sicily. You’ll also find Roman remains, a historic town centre, and a Byzantine cathedral.
Located in the west of the island of Sicily, Erice is one of the most beautiful destinations in Italy. The town is perched high at a height of 750m above sea level and surprises visitors with its well-preserved medieval core. Switch off Maps and dare yourself to find your way through the maze of streets, it’s all fun! Then take a breather on Piazza Umberto I, the central square, a perfect place to dine and unwind.
Erice is popularly called the city of 100 churches, and more than sixty churches still exist here in this tiny hamlet. The two worth checking out are the Chiesa Madre and the Chiesa di San Giuliano. The former is worth seeing for its gothic architecture and the accompanying bell tower. While the latter houses a beautiful wooden sculpture of the legendary San Giuliano.
The town’s rich history dates back to the era when it was inhabited by the Elymians, well before the Greeks came. Throughout its existence Erice changed hands from one ruler to another – from Greeks to Norman everyone left their mark on the town. The Castello di Venere (Castle of Venus) is the landmark of Erice. Built under the rule of Normans, its name was inspired by the temple of Venus.
From the city walls, you will have some amazing views of Trapani and its coastline. And with a little bit of luck, on a clear day, you can see as far as the Egadi Islands. The most popular way to get to Erice is by taking the cable car from the town of Trapani. The 10 minute ride up the hill is worth it for the panoramic views alone!
(Contributed by Vidyut of Triplyzer)
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There are good reasons why Taormina is one of the most popular things to do in Sicily. It is a charming hill town with views across the countryside to Mount Etna. It has a massive – and well preserved – outdoor Roman theatre. And the smart town centre is full of restaurants and ice cream stalls.
Take the cable car to the town or, if you are feeling energetic, walk up the hill (not to be recommended on a hot day!). Read more about What To See And Do In Taormina.
9. Scala Dei Turchi
One of the most spectacular natural wonders to see in Sicily is the Scala dei Turchi, or “Steps of the Turks”. Located on the island’s southern coast in Realmonte, near Agrigento, the Scala dei Turchi is a stretch of striking cliffs that get their characteristic beaming white shade from marl and limestone, which looks incredible against the cerulean Mediterranean hugging its sandy shores.
You used to be able to walk on the Scala dei Turchi, but due to protection efforts, it is now prohibited. Don’t let that discourage you from visiting – you can still get incredible viewpoints from the beaches below and from the sea if you approach by boat. If you’re making it a beach day, don’t forget sunblock, as the white reflections can make the Sicilian sun even stronger. But unlike most Mediterranean beaches, these are sandy, so you can leave the water shoes at home.
Scala dei Turchi is easiest to reach by car, and you can easily find both street parking and paid car parks. The other simple way to reach this secluded spot is to take a group trip to the Valle dei Templi in Agrigento, which often includes a stop at the Scala dei Turchi.
(Contributed by Michela of She Goes The Distance)
Cefalù is a beautiful little town on the north coast of Sicily. Perfectly connected, you can reach it by car or train in around 1hr from Palermo. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a fantastic large beach and interesting cultural sights, making it a must-visit place.
The most outstanding building in the medieval city centre is the Arab-Norman cathedral. From its bell towers, you can enjoy some fabulous views over the ocean and the little, historic streets beneath you.
For an even better view, you will have to climb the Rocca di Cefalù, the mountain that dominates the town. The 30 minute hike is worth the sweat and the € 5.00 entrance fee. On top of the mountain you will find some castle and temple ruins, but most people come here for the panoramic views over the city and coastline.
To relax, there is nothing better than the large, sandy city beach. After an eventful day of sightseeing in Cefalù, you can sit and enjoy your Apéro in one of the many bars and restaurants along the beach front. Of course, the main beach is a perfect spot to watch the sunset. Another sunset option is the rocky coastal walk along the old city walls.
(Contributed by Linda of Hiking The Alps)
11. The Alagna Winery
If you love wine, check out the wine tasting on the West coast of the island. Located in Marsala, the Alagna Winery is easy for locals and tourists to visit. This beautiful winery provides tours for small and large groups, sharing their latest wines and the whole process of wine making. The factory has some interesting spots, such as the spiral stairs to the bottom of their cave area, where more than 30 barrels are stored.
Once you have finished the winery tour, you can taste their wines in a beautiful room full of photos, souvenirs and local trophies that they have won. They allow you to try a few wines as well, with snacks and nibbles between each drink.
After this, you also have the opportunity to buy some bottles to take away. This is a great opportunity to support the winery directly. I personally bought a few bottles to enjoy with friends during our visit, and also took two bottles home with me. If you liked the wines, you can even request for bottles to be shipped to you directly once you reach home.
(Contributed by Zoe of Together In Transit)