Are you going to visit Sicily, Italy sometime soon? We couldn’t think of a more brilliant idea!
The perfect mix of breathtaking beach resorts, nature preserves with volcanic scenery, grand Greek and Roman ruins, captivating cities filled with historical marvels – not to mention delicious food and wonderful wines. We can help make your plans a reality: from logistics to the best activities in Sicily –including tips for first-timers– find all that you need to know on planning an incredible trip around this beautiful part of Italy!
A trip to Sicily – Things to know before you go
Should I rent a car or travel by public transportation? Where can I land in Sicily? How many days should I stay in Sicily? If it’s you’re first time in Sicily, no worries, we’ll get all of your questions answered!
Check out these logistics tips to know more on how to plan your trip in Sicily.
How to get to Sicily
There are different scenarios and ways to reach the largest island of Italy. It will mainly depend on your trip-itinerary, and if you are looking to stay a few weeks in Sicily, or rather do a one-day trip there from another Italian city, like Reggio Calabria for example. In any case, here are your options:
By plain: for international departures, you’ll find flights to Sicily international airports:
- Catania Airpot – only 15 minutes away from the center of Catania.
- Palermo-Punta Raisin Airport – located 33km from the city-center.
- Trapani-Birgi Airport – located 8 km out from Trapani.
- Comiso Airport – 5km away from the city of Comiso.
As a tip, it’s good to know that there are no direct flights to Sicily from these following countries: USA, Canada, New Zeeland and Australia. Usually, there are stopovers in Milan or Rome.
For departures from Italy, you can find flights to Sicily at the national airports of:
- Lampedusa Airport
- Pantelleria Airport
Once you have landed, you will find many means of transport to reach your final destination in Sicily: rental cars, airport transfers, buses, trains and taxis. For Example, you can reach Palermo from Catania by bus during a 2:30 hour trip.
By train: Sicily’s train network is well-developed across the island, and main cities are connected with other major inland capitals. For example, you can find direct train trips from Rome and Naples to Palermo and Messina.
By ferry: if you already are near Sicily and wish to reach the island by ferry, it is of course possible. The most usual ferry trip is from Reggio Calabria to Messina that takes less than 30 minutes. To reach Palermo, you can take the ferry from Genoa, Civitavecchia, Naples and Cagliara.
How to get around Sicily
If you wish to visit Sicily by exploring the island and traveling from on point to another, you’ll have a great trip! Sicily holds many wonders and splendid areas that are not always close to cities. As a result, you can consider traveling around Sicily:
By car: renting a car is a great choice is you feel like traveling around Sicily by car, and don’t mind driving. You won’t have to worry about time-schedule and the exactitude of your itinerary. You’ll freely discover what Sicily hides and even find remote areas that are all the more beautiful! Find out more about car rentals in Sicily.
By train: a lot of Sicily’s cities are well-connected with direct train trips or bus lines, which make it easy to travel around without renting a car. However, you must pay extra attention to schedules, especially for bus lines that don’t always drive until the evening. Make sure you have a come-back to ticket!
Should I hire a private chauffeur for guided tours in Sicily?
This is your choice to make. Like any other destinations, guided tours are comfortable if you wish to move around quite a bit. If you don’t feel like traveling to Sicily by planning an itinerary on your own, with the risk of being disappointed and missing important spots, it’s best to tour Sicily with a professional. Also, it can feel tiring to travel around Sicily by car, as the island is quite broad and points of interest are not necessarily close.
How long should I plan my stay in Sicily?
The length of time of your trip to Sicily depends on the vacation you wish for. If you are up to traveling around the island and visiting several cities, you can easily plan staying two weeks. If you stay one week, you will still have time to visit main cultural spots, beaches and one main city. Staying just a couple of days is also possible, but you will only have time to visit one city and might regret not discovering more of beautiful Sicily.
Main cities to visit in Sicily – Top 3
1. Visiting and settling at Palermo
Known as the “Kingdom of the Sun”, Sicily’s capital city is a great destination for tourists. A melting pot between several cultures, traditions and peoples – in Palermo you will visit most beautiful monuments, taste most diverse and excellent food, and enjoy a dynamic Sicilian life.
What else can we say about Palermo? Oh yes, incredible beaches with crystal clear waters! You can easily plan staying 3 to 4 days just in Palermo, just enough for some ridiculously splendid sight-seeing mornings, and long afternoons enjoying the Sicilian coast’s beauty. Discover more about Palermo and why you should go there!
Also, you can find out where to stay in Palermo Italy.
2. Visiting and settling at Messina
Clear on the north-east side of Sicily, Messina is the closest city to Italy, only 30 minutes away from Reggio Calabria by ferry. Back in the day, Messina was a glorious city: the capital of the powerful Kingdom of Sicily, before the country of Italy was united. Rich in history, challenged by many invasions and battles, the city of Messina is both a testimony of ancient times and a modern Italian metropolis.
From impressive Cathedrals, Temples to fabulous events and parades during the year, Messina is a great place to settle if you want to travel to Sicily. Discover more about Messina, top things to do in the city, and where to stay in Messin.
3. Visiting and settling at Catania
Second largest city of the island, Catania Sicily is not part of this Top 3 selection for nothing. While Catania is not a very popular Italian city, especially next to Rome, Milan, Florence, Naples… (the lost of most amazing Italian cities is very long!) – Catania Italy is well-worth visiting. Indeed, you wouldn’t want to miss Piazza del Duomo for starters, where you will be surrounded by typical buildings of Sicilian Baroque architecture: Palazzo dei Chierici, Palazzo degli Elefanti, and of course, the Duomo. As for outdoor tours, you are served with most unique settings: Mount Etna and its surroundings.
You can find hotels in Catania Italy.
Why travel to Sicily Italy? Top 5 things to do in Sicily
The best way to travel to Sicily and make the most or your stay in this extensive island, is to plan ahead activities to have a better idea on how to schedule itineraries and organize everything. There is a lot of things to do in Sicily, but to save you time and energy, here is a selection of 5 ideas on what to do in Sicily for you to have a great Sicilian vacation!
1. Explore one of Sicilian’s terrific islands
Even if Sicily is an island in itself, it’s not the only one in the area! Plus, being on an island is not a reason to stay only there while other pieces of land between waters can charm you! The largest and most popular one for tourist is the one of Lipari, part of the volcanic Aeolian Island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The best way to understand this land and know more about its history, is to meet local winegrowers who know everything about their terroir by heart – driven by their passion and love of their roots. This is the commitment of the Tenuta Di Castellaro winery: open their doors to share the island’s story with you.
Book your next amazing Sicilian wine experience there!
2. Experience the authentic Sicilian experience at a food market
Visiting open-air markets in Sicily should absolutely be part of your checklist. If you settle in one of Sicily’s largest cities, you will be spoiled for choice – especially in Palermo. The region has kept peoples’ traditions and cooking specialties, which explains the difference of cultural influence from one market to another. Most famous markets in Palermo are:
- Ballaro’ – oldest and most renowned food market in Sicily.
- La Viccuara – North-African influenced.
- Il Capo – for a Middle Easter souk ambiance.
3. Spend long hours at heavenly beaches and dive in crystal clear waters
While Sicily is a large and wide island, it is also surrounded by several seas and offer a diversity of beaches – each more beautiful than the other. Whether you prefer remote wild settings, mountainous beaches, or more touristy resorts with restaurants and night life, Sicily has it all. To mention a few of the most popular and adored ones: Isola Bella, Mazzaro, Giardini Naxos and some close to Palermo (Mondello, Magaggiari, Cefalu).
4. Plan a day-trip to the Valley of the Temples
You don’t have to go to Greece to see impressive Greek temples, Sicily can do that too! Located 2 hours away from Palermo, you can find many guided tours that will take you to one of the most peculiar valleys you will ever come across: the Valley of the Temples. This open-air archeological park gathers no less than seven well-preserved temples that date back to the 6th Century, when Greek colonies settled in the area.
5. Discover Mount Etna land and wineries
When you think of Sicily, you must think of Mont Etna. One of the most popular volcano in the world, it offers terrific experiences to curious tourists: hikes, panoramic views, 4×4 jeep rides, guided tours & excursions… but also wine tourism! Because, if you think of Mont Etna, you must think of volcanic Etna wines of course. Etna wineries like Antichi Vinai 1877 and Emilio Sciacca Etna Wine estate will gladly welcome you to their estate to tell you more about Etna wines and what makes them so interesting.
If you are interested in discovering more Sicilian wine regions and understand what makes good wines from Sicily, check out this dedicated article!
Winalist is dedicated to making wine tourism accessible to all, by making it and easy and time-saving step during your holiday organization. From wine tastings, picnics in vineyards to cellar visits and tours, you can find all kinds of wine activities to do on your own, with friends, family or your + 1. You can pre-book the perfect wine experience next to where you are spending your vacation, and spend most exciting time with winegrowers at beautiful estates!
Enjoy your upcoming trip to Sicily!
If you’re visiting other cities or vineyards in Italy during your vacation to Italy, Winalist has you covered:
- The ultimate Tuscany travel guide
- Italy’s most stunning vineyards
- Messina Sicily things to do
- Piedmont must-sees
- Best Sicily vineyards to visit
- Winalist’s favorite things to do in famous Rome
- Arezzo Italy best things to do
- Best things to do in Chianti, Italy
- Amazing cities in Tuscany that you should visit
- What to see in Prosecco Italy
Sicily FAQ & Useful resources
What is the best month to visit Sicily?
The best months to visit Sicily are May/June and September/October especially because of nice temperatures and the region’s liveliness in terms of events and shows.
Is Sicily good for tourists?
Sicily is a great tourist destination with paradisiac beaches and resorts, as well as splendid cities characterized by Ancient Greek and Roman architectures.
Is Sicily better to visit than Italy?
Sicily is part of Italy, so like any other destination you may choose in Italy, it’s for you to find the ones that suits you most! Sicily is a beautiful large island, offering both coast ad inland experiences.
Do you need a car in Sicily?
As Sicily’s public transportation network is well-developed, you won’t have difficulties going from one point to another without a car. If however you wish to travel around the island to more remote areas and find spots that are not necessarily touristy, it’s best to rent a car.