Travel Guide to Sicily

Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island, is just off the "toe" of Italy's "boot." Its rich history is reflected in sites like the Valley of the Temples, the well-preserved ruins of 7 monumental, Doric-style Greek temples, and in the Byzantine mosaics at the Cappella Palatina, a former royal chapel in the capital city Palermo. On Sicily’s eastern edge is Mount Etna, one of Europe’s highest active volcanoes.

We visited sunny Sicily during the bank holiday weekend, so an extended weekend trip took us on the roads of Palermo, Cefalu and Temples. Other things you should not miss whilst visiting Sicily is to try out Sicialian limoncellos,  Arancini – Stuffed Rice Balls and traditional Cannoli – Sicilian Pasty!

Travel Guide to Sicily

WHAT TO DO & SEE

1. Palermo

This is a city at the edge of Europe and at the centre of the ancient world. Palermo is the capital of the Italian island of Sicily. The 12th-century Palermo Cathedral houses royal tombs, while the huge neoclassical Teatro Massimo is known for opera performances.  It is a city rich in history, culture, art, music and food. You'll find here the famous Opera house, Palermo cathedral or many street markets.

Travel Guide to Sicily

Travel Guide to Sicily

Travel Guide to Sicily

Travel Guide to Sicily

Travel Guide to Sicily

2. Mondelo Beach
If you are staying in Palermo and looking for a nearby escape, check out Modelo beach. It is close to the city and offers a stunning sandy beach and turquoise water.

3. Temple of Segesta
Segesta was one of the major cities of the Elymians, one of the three indigenous peoples of Sicily. A hill overlooking the Gulf of Castellammare, just outside the ruins of the ancient city of Segesta, is a wonderfully well preserved Doric temple. The old structure is thought to have been built around 420 BC by an architect from Athens and is regularly deemed the best surviving example of Doric architecture in Europe.

4. Saline of the Laguna Marsala
If you are looking for something different to temples, beaches and cities, go explore the nature reserve of Saline of the Laguna Marsala which offers tours and museums to learn more about the process of salt harvesting.

5. Selinute Archeological Park
Selinute was an ancient Greek city on the south-western coast of Sicily in Italy. It was situated between the valleys of the Cottone and Modione rivers. It now lies in the comune Castelvetrano, between the frazioni of Triscina di Selinunte in the west and Marinella di Selinunte in the east. The archaeological site contains five temples centred on an acropolis.

6. Stairs of the Turks
The Scala dei Turchi is a rocky cliff on the coast of Realmonte, near Porto Empedocle, southern Sicily, Italy. It is a wall of calcareous marl which is blinding white in colour, and composed of limestone and clay. This breathtaking beauty was fairly untouched and visited only by a few local bathers until just a few years ago. Recently it is a very popular destination for tourists, so expect the cliffs and beaches to be packed.

Travel Guide to Sicily

Travel Guide to Sicily

7. Valley of Temples in Agrigento
Valley of the Temples, is an archaeological site in Agrigento, Sicily. It is one of the most outstanding examples of Magna Graecia art and architecture and is one of the main attractions of Sicily. In an almost enchanted valley, full of almond trees in bloom, it is the most impressive group of monuments of the Hellenic architecture in Sicily. The unique charm of this site is in this blend of cultural environment and natural landscape.

Travel Guide to Sicily

Travel Guide to Sicily

8. Punta Bianca
The city of Agrigento it encloses in its territory a set of enchanting places, in which stands out, among the many, the Punta Bianca Nature Reserve, a wonderful natural landscape characterized by a totally white rock spur that plunges into a beautiful crystalline sea.

9. Cefalu
Cefal├╣ is a coastal city in northern Sicily, Italy. It’s known for its Norman cathedral, a 12th-century fortress-like structure with elaborate Byzantine mosaics and soaring twin towers. Cefal├╣ offers a great deal, sandy beaches, Mediaeval streets and excellent restaurants serving the freshest fish but first, its unique Norman cathedral.

Travel Guide to Sicily

Travel Guide to Sicily

Travel Guide to Sicily

Travel Guide to Sicily

Travel Guide to Sicily

10. Gangi
Gangi is a small town on a promontory near Palermo that became famous after being named the most Beautiful village in Italy. It is a little gem, rich of history and traditions, that has its origins in the mythical city of Engyon, which, according to the legend, was founded by the Cretans near the homonymous water source.

11.Taormina
Taormina is a hilltop town on the east coast of Sicily. It sits near Mount Etna, an active volcano with trails leading to the summit. The town is known for the Teatro Antico di Taormina, an ancient Greco-­Roman theatre still used today. Near the theatre, cliffs drop to the sea forming coves with sandy beaches. A narrow stretch of sand connects to Isola Bella, a tiny island and nature reserve.

12. Mount Etna
Mount Etna, or simply Etna, is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, Italy, in the Metropolitan City of Catania, between the cities of Messina and Catania. It lies above the convergent plate margin between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate. Since 2013 Mount Etna is in Unesco’s World Heritage List for its geological peculiarities of planetary relevance. The various hiking routes climb along the nature trails of Etna Park, among woods and verdant orchards, up to the highest altitudes with fascinating views of lunar landscapes, ancient lava flows, caves and active fumaroles, revealing the charm of this extraordinary natural oasis.


Travel Guide to Sicily


13. Catania
Catania is an ancient port city on Sicily's east coast and the second-largest metropolitan city in Sicily. It sits at the foot of Mt. Etna, an active volcano with trails leading up to the summit. The city's wide central square, Piazza del Duomo, features the whimsical Fontana dell'Elefante statue and richly decorated Catania Cathedral. Visiting Catania is quite easy, as the old town centre is relatively small. An ideal starting point would be the main square, Piazza Duomo. 

14. Syracuse
Syracuse is a city on the Ionian coast of Sicily, Italy. It's known for its ancient ruins. The central Archaeological Park Neapolis comprises the Roman Amphitheater, the Teatro Greco and the Orecchio di Dionisio, a limestone cave shaped like a human ear. The Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi exhibits terracotta artefacts, Roman portraits and Old Testament scenes carved into white marble. The archaeological site, situated in the northwest of the town, is home to a staggering number of well-preserved Greek (and Roman) remains. The main attraction is undoubtedly the Greek theatre that dates back at least until the 5th century BCE. Its cavea is amongst the largest ever built: its 59 rows could accommodate up to 15,000 spectators. The theatre is still used for an annual Greek theatre festival running from the middle of May to the end of June.

Travel Guide to Sicily


15. Noto
Noto is an architectural supermodel, a baroque belle so gorgeous you might mistake it for a film set. Noto is a city in southeastern Sicily, Italy. It’s known for its baroque architecture, including the reconstructed 18th-century Noto Cathedral. Across the street is the Palazzo Ducezio, now the town hall, with the Hall of Mirrors embellished by gilding and stuccos. Nearby, the Palazzo Nicolaci has richly decorated balconies. Resembling a triumphal arch, the 19th-century Porta Reale marks the entrance to the city. 

16. Marzameni
A few kilometres up the coast from Italy's southernmost point is one of Sicily's prettiest seaside villages. Marzamemi is a southern Italian hamlet of Pachino and Noto, two municipalities part of the Province of Syracuse, Sicily. Marzamemi is located by the Ionian Sea coast of the island of Sicily and is 3.97 kilometres from Pachino. 

17. Modica
Modica is the custodian of a 400-year tradition of Sicilian chocolate-making.  Modica is a city in southeast Sicily, Italy. It’s known for its Baroque buildings, like the Cathedral of St. George. Featuring a working lab, the Chocolate Museum explores the city's history of chocolate-making. Casa Natale Salvatore Quasimodo, where the 20th-century poet was born, is now a museum with his books and furniture. Among the displays at the Museo Civico F.L. Belgiorno is a 3rd-century B.C. bronze statue.

Travel Guide to Sicily

How to get around?

The easiest way to get around is by hiring a car as it will give you the flexibility to travel to wherever you want and travel at your own speed. 

There are two major airports in Sicily - Palermo Airport and Catania Airport from where you get to hire a car. 

Alternatively, if you decide to spend majority of the day in a resort/hotel and do occasional trips, you'll be able to find tourist buses and tours to get you around.

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