Last updated on June 27, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Sicily

4 or 5 days in Sicily itinerary [best 5 options with maps]

This island offers some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy and some of the best hiking and historical sites in the country.

But can you do it all with just 4 or 5 days in Sicily?

I am honest with you. For Sicily to be fully experienced, you will need at least 2-3 weeks. This is by far the largest island in the Mediterranean.

However, it goes without saying that if you plan well in advance, you will be surprised at the number of things you can do and the number of places you can take in throughout your short stay in Sicily.

This guide will help you plan your itinerary to suit your interests, whether you are looking for romantic spots, family adventures, or historical sites and trekking.

Now let’s get started

Four or 5 days Sicily Itinerary – in a nutshell

In my personal opinion, if you are only staying for four or five days, try not to switch locations more than once.

As a result, you will avoid the time-consuming process of packing and unpacking apart from checking in and out from hotels and Airbnb.

There are two major airports in Sicily: Palermo and Catania. A small airport is also located in Trapani but is mostly used for national flights. 

I have drafted an island map, below, along with the major towns and attractions that I will describe in this post.

For every plan I describe in this post, I have added an optional day in case you want to squeeze the 5 days in Sicily into just four.

Map of Sicily with major attractions
Map of Sicily with major attractions
  • 4 or five days in Sicily for beaches: There are a couple of options based on your entry point. If you fly to Palermo, then you may want to stay in Mondello and possibly spend also one or two nights in Cefalù. The other option, in case you fly to Catania, is to spend your time south of Siracusa, in Fontane Bianche where you can visit a few beaches and also have a walk in the beautiful Noto and/or Ortigia, just minutes away. Read more below on a 4 or 5 days beach itinerary in Sicily
  • Five days in Sicily for couples: Your choice of romantic destinations depends on your landing airport. If flying to Palermo, consider spending your time between Palermo and Cefalù, one of the most romantic destinations in Sicily. If flying to Catania, then share your time with the beautiful Taormina, maybe adding a day trip or two. Read more below on a full romantic itinerary
  • Five days in Sicily for families: For a four or five-day holiday, I recommend selecting a town not too far from the airport, with a nice beach and the opportunity to organise easy half-day trips. Both San Vito Lo Capo, west of Palermo, and Lido di Noto, in the southeast coast, fit the bill. Read more below on a family itinerary
  • For history: Sicily has so many historical attractions that you could spend there weeks if not months. The Valley of the Temples is probably the most famous one that should be on anyone’s must-see list. In this section, I personally suggest staying in Palermo/Trapani and Catania/Baroque Towns based on your airport of arrival. Read more below for the history 4 or 5 days plan
  • For a bit of everything: These two itineraries provide you with a range of activities such as trekking, history, and a few swimming options. Read below for more details

Still unsure if it’s better to fly to Palermo or Catania?

The main differences between the two are that Palermo is more charming, more characteristic and with access to one of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily, Mondello.

Catania is more city, with a smaller Old Centre, easier to navigate around, with one of the best nightlife scenes on the island and direct connections to Taormina and the Etna Volcano for some trekking.

With such a short stay I suggest renting a car in Sicily whenever you leave the major cities. It will make your life so much easier and you won’t waste time in stations. I usually hire my vehicles at DiscoverCars, an Airbnb for cars with some great deals and full insurance for just 7 Euros/day, which is a real bargain.

If you prefer using public transportation, in my itineraries below I have mentioned, where applicable, the name of the bus provider for every trip.

Four or 5 days in Sicily itinerary for beaches

The area around Palermo has some of the most amazing beaches that you can experience in Sicily.

The island has many amazing beaches along its southern coastline, however, if you only have a short stay, I wouldn’t suggest travelling there

4 or 5 days in Sicily for beaches
Itinerary for beaches

Palermo and the west

Flying to Palermo for 5 days and not experiencing San Vito Lo Capo Beach, one of the most beautiful in Sicily and Europe would be a “crime

Renting a car would help immensely in this area, however, it can be done also by bus.

The Mondello neighbourhood of Palermo has a beautiful beach, the perfect spot to start your holiday where you can book the first part of your breakaway

This itinerary also includes some sightseeing in the city.

  • Day 1: Chill out in Mondello. Spend the evening in the Old Centre of Palermo. You can get there by bus (#806 in 30 minutes) or taxi (20 minutes).
  • Day 2: it’s time for a day trip to Cefalù by train(50 minutes). This town is the hidden Sicilian secret with a lovely long and wide beach that becomes small and tiny next to the old town (visit the impressive Norman Cathedral), a boutique experience
  • Day 3: Spend the morning in Palermo visiting Ballarò, one of the best street markets in Sicily. After lunch head to the local Spiaggia dell’Arenella for some beach time. This is a free pebble beach, recently cleaned (hopefully it will stay that way), with amazing turquoise water. 
  • Day 4: rent a car or take the bus (Russo Autoservizi) to San Vito Lo Capo (1.5 hours by car or almost 3 hours by bus) for the unique incredible beach, you will not regret it. 
  • Day 5: Chill out at the local Spiaggia. If you feel, have a lovely walk to the Torre dell’Usciere
  • Only 4 days? Skip day 3, visit the Ballarò Market on day 1 and spend the afternoon/evening in Mondello

Accommodations:

Fontane Bianche and the South-East

Fontane Bianche is a small coastal village 1 hour south of the Catania Airport, by car.

It’s also well connected by train (2-2.5 hours) with frequent runs

Additionally, Fontane Bianche’s proximity to Noto and Ortigia Island makes it a perfect location to mix beach time with short trips.

The beach is sandy, in part organised with sunbeds.

  • Day 1: Enjoy the local beach in Fontane Bianche and plan dinner in town at La Capannina.
  • Day 2: Take a taxi or drive to Spiaggia Marchesa, just 3.5 Km from Fontane Bianche. It’s a free beach, although you pay for parking, used mostly by locals when Fontane Bianche gets too busy in summer.
  • Day 3: Take the train to Avola (10 minutes, just one stop) and walk down to Spiaggia Patanello, another jewel of Sicily. Take the train from Avola to Noto (7 minutes, only one stop) for sunset and dinner in one of the most beautiful baroque towns in the world
  • Day 4: Take a taxi or drive south to Spiaggia Eloro, around 20 km from Fontane Bianche. This is a beautiful sandy one, completely unspoilt, in fact, you need to take your water and food. Within walking distance, you can also find a nudist area.
  • Day 5: Enjoy a stroll in Ortigia, Syracuse‘s Old Centre before having a dive at the Vigliena Fortress where the locals go.
  • Only 4 days? Skip day 5, Ortigia is a little gem but the rocky coast is not the best

Accommodations in Fontane Bianche:

Read more options on where to stay on the East Coast of Sicily.

Ortigia Island in Syracuse, Sicily
Ortigia Island in Siracusa, Sicily

Sicily in 5 days for couples

This island is one of the most romantic regions of Italy. 

Here are two different itineraries with your partner (that you can squeeze into 4 days if needed).

As for me, I can’t choose a favourite because they are both so great.

4 or 5 days in Sicily for couples
Itinerary for couples

Palermo & Cefalù

The perfect option if you plan to fly to Palermo of course.

  • Day 1: Wonder around the old town of Palermo. Check out the Ballarò Market, eat some street food and in the afternoon join this exclusive Palermo Art Tour to explore the best of the city with a licensed guide.
  • Day 2: Take the public bus #389P from Indipendenza Square to the magnificent Monreale Cathedral. Wonder around the town and have lunch at the deli Le Bontà Di Peppe. In the afternoon head down to Mondello for some relaxing time by the water.
  • Day 3: Take some time off in the morning for the last attractions of Palermo and in the afternoon catch the train to Cefalù (45 minutes) where you will spend the night. Alternatively, you can leave Palermo in the morning and spend more time in the romantic town of Cefalù
  • Day 4: it’s time to get lost in the old town of Cefalù and climb up to the castle on the top of the hill. After lunch, it’s time to chill out at the beautiful local beach. Back to Palermo for the last day
  • Day 5rent a car or take the bus (Russo Autoservizi) to Scopello, a lovely village along the North-West coast. Spend the afternoon at the local beach or follow the north trail to visit and spend some time in one of many coves.
  • Only 4 days? you can either think to skip Day 2 (if you are not really into historical sites) or Day 5 (if the day seems too tiring)

Accommodations:

Time in Catania and Taormina

Taormina is one of the most popular travel destinations in Sicily, and for a good reason, it’s so charming and romantic

For lunch or dinner in Taormina go to the Rosmarino Restaurant, so romantic.

Accommodations and experiences:

View of Taormina
View from Taormina

Itinerary for Five days for families

San Vito Lo Capo and Lido di Noto are two of the best family-friendly areas that are not far from the main airports.

4 or 5 days in Sicily for families
Itinerary for families

San Vito Lo Capo (Palermo)

This town is nicely connected to both Trapani Airport (1 hour) and Palermo Airport (1h20m) by shuttle with multiple runs during the day

You can also organise an affordable private transfer if the shuttle timetable just does not work for you.

It’s a very quiet area and one of the most family-friendly towns in Sicily.

San Vito Lo Capo is of course world-famous for its outstanding beach, a long and wide one, with amazing turquoise water.

From there, I suggest renting a car and visiting Trapani and the old town of Erice perched on a steep hill and reachable also by cable car.

Another easy excursion, especially with grown-up kids is at the Riserva Dello Zingaro, a popular trekking area with beautiful hidden coves, or to Cala Mancina for some free climbing.

AirBnb/Holiday Homes in San Vito:

Lido di Noto (Catania)

Lido di Noto is another family-friendly beach town in Sicily, just 1 hour by car from the Airport.

If driving is not your thing then you can catch the Interbus from the Airport to Noto (1h30m), and from there the local bus or a taxi to the Lido.

The stretch of sand is over 1km long, one of the widest in Sicily. Plenty of space, partially organised with sunbeds.

And if the Lido is not enough, you can always think of walking down to Spiaggia Pizzuto or the unspoilt Spiaggia Eloro (remember to take water and food with you because you will not find any facility there).

From the Lido, you can organise easy half-day trips to Noto, one of the most beautiful baroque towns in the world, or the lovely Ortigia Island in Siracusa, 20 minutes by train from Noto.

AirBnb/Holiday Homes in Lido:

Four or 5 days in Sicily for history

It is amazing how many historical sites there are in Sicily. 

A trip of four or five days on the island will give you just an overview of its most popular historical attractions.

You can base yourself in Palermo or Catania and explore from there, or you can think of moving to a second destination, Agrigento, for a couple of days

Catania is well connected to most historical sites by train. 

In Palermo, you will have to rely on a rented car or you can join organised tours because public transportation is not that great

4 or 5 days in Sicily for history
Itinerary for history

Palermo and the Valley of the Temples

  • Day 1: On the first day, you will spend your time exploring Palermo‘s Old Town with a stop at the Teatro Massimo and the Ballarò Market to eat some of Sicily’s best street food. I have organised a list of things to do in Palermo here or you can take this exclusive art tour
  • Day 2: it’s time to visit the Valley of the Temples. You can think of actually taking a public bus (Cuffaro Trasporti) to Agrigento where you can book your accommodation there. Spend the afternoon/evening at the Valley (the best time of the day is at sunset, for its spectacular colours and nice sea breeze)
  • Day 3: Visit Agrigento Old Town, also called the Marvellous City. If you have some time left, make your way to the Scala Dei Turchi, unique for its white rock formation (unfortunately no access allowed, you can only see it from a viewing platform).
  • Day 4: Time to head back to Palermo. Spend the afternoon wandering in the Palermo Old Town, the biggest in Europe
  • Day 5: Sicily is also home to the Segesta Archeological Site, a must-see. The Salt Pans of Marsala and Erice‘s old town (perched on a hill and easily reachable by cable car) can be combined for a full day. Do it on your own and rent a car. Alternatively, chill out and join this great local tour.
  • Only 4 days? Stay in Palermo only (do not spend Day 3 and Day 4 in Agrigento). Take instead this Valley Tour from Palermo day tour. You will miss out on Agrigento, however, 4 days on the island is such a tight time schedule.

Accommodations and experiences:

Eastern Sicily

Catania is a great base for these 4 or 5 days of history and the best is that all the sites I mention below are easily reachable by public train.

You can of course also join organised trips to save time and avoid any stress with the train.

  • Day 1: Explore the city on your first day. There are so many things to see and do in the city, including the characteristic fishing market and the Duomo. For a more ad-hoc experience, join this Customized Private Walking Tour with a local guide.
  • Day 2: You can think of including also 2 days in Agrigento. SAIS Trasporti runs buses to Agrigento, the trip takes around 3 hours. The Valley of the Temples is best visited at the end of the day, especially in summer (great colours at sunset with a nice sea breeze)
  • Day 3: Spend the morning in the Old Town of Agrigento. Did you know that Agrigento is also called the Marvellous City? In the afternoon head back to Catania
  • Day 4: Take a train (45 minutes) to Taormina. The town itself has many attractions to visit, including the ruins of an ancient Greco-Roman amphitheatre. Feeling too hot? Head down to the coast for a swim by cable car, pretty unique hey!
  • Day 5: catch the early train to Siracusa (1.5 hours) to enjoy Ortigia Island in the morning. After lunch take the train to Noto (30 minutes) to visit one of the world’s most beautiful baroque towns, an open-air museum, a great way to spend the afternoon. Back to the city for dinner. Alternatively, join the Baroque Tour to experience also Modica and Ragusa.
  • Only 4 days? Stay in Catania only (do not spend Day 2 and Day 3 in Agrigento). Take instead this Valley Day Tour to visit it on a day trip. Agrigento is out of the picture, but 4 days on the island is such a short time frame.

Accommodations and experiences:

Ballaro' market in Palermo
Ballarò market in Palermo

Itinerary for 5 days to explore everything

Whether you want a beach getaway or a historical tour, these two itineraries have it all.

4 or 5 days in Sicily for everything
Itinerary to visit as much as possible

Palermo, Cefalù & Western Sicily

  • Day 1: it’s all about Palermo. After getting lost in the old town, head to the Ballarò Market for lunch with some street food. Enjoy the afternoon at the lovely Mondello Beach. If the weather is not great, or the beach is not your thing, take this exclusive art tour.
  • Day 2: Catch the train to Cefalù (50 minutes). Take time to explore the charming old town and enjoy the old town beach.
  • Day 3: Morning in Cefalù. Ascend the hill to reach the castle. Have lunch in the old centre and relax on the long beach, closer to the modern side of the town. Grab the train back to Palermo in the evening.
  • Day 4Rent a car to DIY or join this great local tour to visit Segesta, one of the must-see temple sites in Sicily. Combine it with a trip to the Salt Pans of Marsala and the old town of Erice, on top of the hill overlooking Trapani (reachable by cable car). 
  • Day 5rent a car or take the bus (Russo Autoservizi) to Scopello, a lovely village with a walled medieval tuna-fishing estate. Have a walk north along the coast for some of the best views in Sicily. Stop at any of the coves along the track for a dive
  • Only 4 days? Skip Day 4 or Day 5 based on your type of holiday (more on historical sites or natural wonders?)

Accommodations and experiences:

Catania, Mount Etna and Val di Noto

  • Day 1: it’s Catania day. Start the walk from the Piazza del Duomo where you will find the famous fishing market, the Basilica and the other attractions. You can also join this Customized Private Walking Tour for more guidance and local knowledge. After lunch, enjoy a sunny day at the local La Playa beach.
  • Day 2: A trip to Sicily should always include a hiking day at Mount Etna, a still active volcano. Read my guide here for a DIY experience or just join this organised tour.
  • Day 3: it’s a baroque day. Early in the morning, take the 1.5 hours train to Ortigia Island (a beautiful old town with a unique feel). Spend the afternoon exploring Noto, famous for its elegant baroque architecture, basically an open-air museum (30 minutes away by train).
  • Day 4: It’s time to move to Taormina, one of the most beautiful, charming, romantic Sicilian towns. Indeed it’s the most popular place in Sicily, so expect plenty of travellers there, but still, such an amazing destination. The advantage to spending the night there is that you can enjoy it without the day-trippers. You will have also access to the local small beach by cable car.
  • Day 5: Have a walk down to Isola Bella (Beautiful Island) and Giardini Naxos for a relaxing day at the beach. You can also think of exploring the coast and the boutique Isola Bella (Beautiful Island) by boat. Train back to the city
  • Only 4 days? Skip Day 2 or Day 5 based on your type of holiday (no trekking or no beach time?)

Accommodations and experiences:

The lovely Palermo
The lovely Palermo
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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