Sicily Travel Guide

A free online travel guide to Sicily, with sightseeing ideas and practical tips

Some inspiration for your Sicilian bucket list

Sicily is a place where you can walk around a bank vault containing the most precious collection of coins in the world (Siracusa) or meet a real life knight in shining armour (Caccamo).

You can taste the biblical food manna (in Castelbuono), feast on a spleen sandwich (Palermo) and other street foods, or buy cactus fruits in a street market founded over 1,000 years ago by North Africans (Il Capo, Palermo). 

If you don’t enjoy swimming with turtles (Lampedusa), you might prefer to walk into the crater of Europe’s largest volcano (Etna). 

Is there anywhere else you can see a cathedral which has a passage of the Koran carved into its wall (Palermo)? If that’s not unusual enough, how about visiting a church crypt (in Gangi) where they have mummified every priest since medieval times and propped him up against the wall? Too creepy? Maybe you would prefer to attend mass in an underground cathedral carved entirely out of salt (in Realmonte)?

Practical tips and safety

We all want to feel prepared for a holiday to a new place, whether it’s knowing what to wear, how to get around or simply where to go. 

Practical Tips for Trips to Sicily

Sicily is a really friendly and safe place, but when you visit a different culture, it’s best for everyone if you find out the rules that the locals live by. 

A Dozen Safety Tips for a Holiday in Sicily

Single Woman in Italy? The Sicilian Housewife’s Guide to Italian Men

Official highlights: Sicily’s seven UNESCO world heritage sites

UNESCO heritage sites are categorised as cultural heritage, or natural wonders. Italy has more world heritage sites than any other country in the world.

With seven sites of its own, Sicily dominates and dazzles in both categories. Some of the sites in Sicily are literally lists of whole cities lumped together. If you separated them out, Sicily would have more than the rest of Italy. 

Sicily’s UNESCO world heritage sites

Sightseeing by region

Palermo Province

Sightseeing ideas in the Palermo area

Trapani province

Sightseeing ideas in the Trapani area

Agrigento Province

Sightseeing ideas in Sciacca

Catania Province

Sightseeing ideas in the Catania area

Siracusa & Ragusa

Sightseeing ideas in Siracusa & Ragusa

Holiday themes and ideas

History and culture

Sicily has been the heart of thirteen empires and was always the focus of development and innovation. The amount of history around you in the buildings and the living culture can almost become overwhelming. You can make sense of it when you start noticing that there’s the ancient Sicily of the Phoenicians, Greeks and Roman; The medieval Sicily of the Arabs and Normans;  the baroque Sicily of the Spanish conquistadors. 

  1. Experiences of Ancient History on holidays in Sicily
  2. Medieval Sicily and where to see it
  3. Brilliant Baroque Sicily
  4. Art to see on holidays in Sicily

Nature and outdoors activities

Sicily is full of nature reserves, with stunning beaches, breathtaking mountains and exciting wild flowers wherever you look. The beaches are obviously most enjoyable in summer but you can plan a great winter walking holiday that includes exploring the countryside on foot and staying on ‘agriturismo’ farms. 

  1. The best beaches in Sicily
  2. Nature loving and wild natural places to visit in Sicily
  3. Sporty things to do on holidays in Sicily

Travelling with children

Sicilians love to make a fuss of all children. They will ask permission to kiss your baby (on the top of their head for the sake of hygiene!), rearrange their restaurant to make space for your child’s high chair, and delight in making them laugh and showering them with compliments.

There are fun things to do with children scattered across the island and special events during the year. 

Holidays in Sicily with children

Winter holidays

The weather can be really mild in winter and rarely goes below 12 degrees. Sicily makes a great winter holiday destination, whether you want to sit people-watching at a pavement cafe in December, enjoy crowd-free sightseeing or enjoy some of the special winter festivals. 

Sicilian winter holiday ideas

Cathedrals & religious festivals

Sicily has more than its fair share of cathedrals. Read about the history of why there are so many cathedrals in Sicily and find a list of links to features on each of them. 

Cathedrals in Sicily:

  1. Palermo Cathedral
  2. Monreale Cathedral
  3. A festival at Noto Cathedral
  4. Marsala and its cathedral
  5. Siracusa and its cathedral

Religion is deeply important to Sicilians and religious festivals, as well as routine Sunday mass, are the most important ways that the community gathers together, stays in touch and reinforces social ties and connections. 

The history of Sicily means that the churches are art galleries and the festivals are performance art.

Religious Sicily – mostly Catholic but also Muslim, Jewish and ancient!

Browse some articles on religious culture in Sicily. 

Sicilian food & what to eat

Sicilians are absolutely all “foodies” and Sicily is truly a food-lovers’ paradise. The modern cuisine of Sicily is the original fusion cuisine, being a unique mix of ingredients and cooking techniques from the thirteen different cultures that established their plants, animals and tastes on the island.  

Read about The history of Sicilian cuisine in 13 invasions, or take an overview of some of the most exciting ideas on What to eat and “foodie” things to do on holiday in Sicily.

Here’s my collection of foodie experiences and the best eating in Sicily:

Food in Sicily

Sicily taster photo gallery

28 Comments Add yours

  1. Steve Gorban says:

    Great info Would Menfi be a good place to use as a vase to see and relax for four days before going to rest in Taormina, a p,ace we love?

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    1. I don’t really know Menfi well but as far as I am aware there is nothing in particular there to do. Personally I would prefer nearby sciacca as a base instead.

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  2. We are 7 friends (3 couples+one) who come from across the USA and Australia. We plan to arrive Palermo 10/17 and depart from there 10/24 and 10/26. Enjoy seeing some “big” sights, but also eating local, staying out of real touristy places and experiencing the country. We plan to rent 2 cars at the airport and drive ourselves. Our initial plan was Cefalu 2-3 nights (explore environs) or CastelBuono (3 nights) w Funghi Fest (?), then see Piazza Amerina on our way to Mandranova (3-4 nights) see Agrigento, Selinunte, Marsala, Erice, Segesta, etc. For the last 2-3 nights, we want to be close to or in Palermo both for sightseeing and ease of departure. We are a group that likes to hang out with each other and not spend all our time in the car. Does this itinerary make sense, or are there adjustments that would improve it? Many thanks, Godmother, you may be the answer to our Prayers! Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VH says:

      I think the plan sounds great, so long as you are all well organised and will get up early and pack in the action so you can fit it all in! You have picked out some of the best places on the island so I think you will have a great time!

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  3. “Godmother,” which do you think is the better option for us, Cefalu or Castelbuono? We prefer to stay in only a few places and not change “hotels” more than 3 times. Thanks for reassurances on our itinerary, it really sets our mind at ease. Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VH says:

      Cefalù is definitely the place to stay if you want lively nightlife on your doorstep and a lovely beach. It is really full of foreign tourists but they only enhance its great atmosphere. Castelbuono is a much more peaceful place in the mountains and a real hub for foodies. Foreigners are rare as it is more of a Sicilian food enthusiasts gathering place. Cefalù is better connected to other places by train and road, and it would be my personal preference as a base.

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  4. John DeLorenzo says:

    I am taking my first trip to Sicily this coming spring to see where both sets of my grandparents were born. Is there anything you can recommend to do in Sciacca? Thanks!

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    1. VH says:

      Beach, shopping, eating, repeat! It is gorgeous there, you will have a great time

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      1. John DeLorenzo says:

        Thanks! I am REALLY looking forward to it! I have an aunt there I haven’t seen since I was 5, and cousins and uncles I have never met, I think reading your book helped to prep me for what to expect! Lol!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeannie says:

    Thank you so much for the information, its extremely helpful. I know you mentioned not to visit in August but this was our only opportunity. We leave this coming Sunday from Luxembourg. Should we be completely worried we will be there in August?

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    1. VH says:

      Don’t worry. The time when everything is truly closed is ferragosto, and that has passed now. More and more places do stay open in August so you should be fine, especially if you stick to the more touristy places to stay and eat.
      Have a lovely holiday!

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  6. Anonymous says:

    An exceptional blog – really helpful in planning our holiday in Sicily (before tackling Naples en route onwards in Italy).
    The more I read the longer the holiday in Sicily becomes. I am retired so I do not need to rush back to work! I will not drive + therefore need to find other ways of getting around. I find that organised tours do not give me enough time to experience places, churches, architecture and works of art. What I have been thinking about is using private drivers – 1. for a number of day trips from Palermo + 2. to get me to Siracusa from Palermo. With your experience could you possibly point me in the right direction? I am in my 70’s + use a walking stick – is the train from Palermo to Siracusa ok for me? One last question: which is a safe area in which to find a self-catering apartment? I expect to stay in Palermo for 2 weeks. Sorry to burden you with all of this. Paula

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VH says:

      Thank you! I am very glad you’re enjoying my blog 😀

      I think a private driver would be expensive, and for the distance from Palermo to Siracusa, very much so. The coach is very good, and cheaper than the train. However, if you’re someone like me who wants to be able to move around and use the toilet whenever you wish, then you may prefer the slower train. Sicilians complain their trains are antiquated, but I am English and find them quite modern looking!!

      I would suggest asking your hotels to suggest private drivers whom they know. Always get an all-in price in writing up front.

      I recommend triptipp.com for self catering accommodation in the Palermo area. Lots of their apartments are located outside the town centre, near beaches and in more tranquil neighbourhoods. This site is run by German friends of mine and I know their apartments are clean and nice – if you have any issues just let me know.
      The website has brilliant information on all public transport and allows you to plan the trip to the minutest detail. It’s all very German!!!

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      1. Anonymous says:

        Many thanks for your quick response.
        Appreciatively – Paula

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  7. Sharon says:

    Hi

    I only discovered this site recently, absolutely love it, very witty and very helpful.

    I was hoping you would be able to assist me please…..

    I very recently decided to give up my job and come to Sicilia, I had never been to Sicilia before and I don’t know anyone here…but I decided to seize the moment now my three children have flown the nest. So, mi sono in Marsala per tre mesi…. I am then hoping to relocate to a different part of the island. I love Marsala and it is the right place for me to be at the moment, as it affords me the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture, study the language, io parlo un po d’italiano (although I am studying hard as not many people here to speak English) In September I am thinking of moving somewhere perhaps a little more lively than Marsala, also where people speak a little more English.

    I was hoping you may be able to advise we where to go next. I have a back injury so walking long distances can prove very difficult, therefore I would ideally like to be within a 20-30 min walk to a nice sandy beach, the local supermarkets, cafes and restaurants – somewhere where it is safe to walk alone in the early evening. At present I am renting through Airbnb, but I’m thinking it may be cheaper to rent direct, rather than go through a third party. Could you please recommend a site where I could find reasonably priced properties

    I was also hoping you could advise me how to go about finding a local Italian language class, and also how much it is likely to cost?

    Sorry to bother you with all the above, but any help you can give would be very much appreciated.

    Grazie
    Ciao
    S

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VH says:

      I think you will have a great time!
      I recommend you go to either Taormina, Siracusa or Cefalù.
      These are lively places with plenty of language schools, movement of people and opportunities for you to build yourself a social life at any age.

      Like

      1. Sharon says:

        Grazie mille for getting back to me so quickly. I will definitely look for an apartment in one of these locations. Do you know of any good property agencies I could use?

        Grazie tante,
        Ciao
        S 🙂

        Like

  8. Chrissy says:

    Hi 🙂 Can you tell me where would be an ideal location for a short 4-5 stay in December? I’m looking for good food, some ruins/historical sites and a little nightlife. I will be travelling with my sister and husband, we live in Latvia so looking to escape to somewhere a little warmer for that time of year..Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VH says:

      I would suggest either Sciacca, a nice town with an interesting centre which is close enough to visit the amazing ancient Greek city of Agrigento.
      Or Siracusa, which has its own Greek town with a theatre, other history and fabulous restaurants. It is also close enough to Etna to visit the volcano for a day trip.
      Have a lovely holiday!

      Like

  9. Patricia says:

    Hello
    This site is a wealth of knowledge.
    I was wondering if some questions could be answered.
    We are travelling to Palermo, Cefalu, San Vito Lo Capo & Teromina.
    We will be renting a car.
    Will we encounter any Toll Bridges, or toll stops on our route to these destinations?
    What would the cost be per person at these points be or an estimate.
    Thanks kindly for your help.⚘⚘
    Patricia

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VH says:

      It depends which roads you take but there are very few toll roads and they cost very little. You definitely don’t need to be working out a budget for them.

      Like

    2. VH says:

      Btw between Palermo, San Vito and Cefalù there are definitely no tol roads at all

      Like

  10. Patricia says:

    Dear VH
    Thank you for your reply.
    Greatly appreciated your information regarding toll costs.
    ⚘⚘

    Like

  11. Patricia says:

    ⚘⚘

    Like

  12. Patricia says:

    Re-Typing my message. Did not connect.
    We will be driving to Teremni Imerse.
    Is there any establishment there that I can ask information regarding my Grandfather’s birth certificate. I will have it with me.
    Baptized 1901 in Teremni trying to locate the Church.
    Thanks kindly
    Patricia

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    1. VH says:

      I am not an expert on this, but I believe many churches still have records of births from the past. For more recent births, everything is registered in the council office (comune) in the ufficio anagrafe. I personally would start there.
      There are LOTS of churches in Termini and some are derelict, but when you get there the locals will be able to help you find it.
      Talk to everyone you meet, tell them his name and tell them the name of other family members you know of. Termini Imerese js quite a big town, but Sicilians are such good networkers they will help you.
      Good luck.

      Like

  13. Margot says:

    Wow! I am coming to Sicily for three weeks in Oct/Nov with my adult daughter and have just stumbled across your blog while trying to find out about the public holiday at the beginning of Nov which Is mucking up out plans a bit! We don’t really celebrate All saints/All souls/Halloween in Australia so I wasn’t switched on but now I get it. Looking forward to getting your book and exploring your blog before we arrive!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VDG says:

      I’m glad you’re finding it useful!

      Like

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