Getting around Sicily – All you need to know
Getting around Sicily is not as easy unless you are familiar with all the bus companies running on the island, besides the public train and car renting options.
This is to say that there is not a central bus network or booking place where you can buy your ticket or check your route, unfortunately.
Renting a car in Sicily may sound like the best option. And it is if you prefer flexibility. Just keep in mind my suggestions and warning below.
Through the years I have built this guide that I am here sharing to help you have a smooth experience in beautiful Sicily.
But let’s dig into it
You can read also
- Where to stay in Sicily, the best (and worst) areas to book your holiday
- My suggested places to visit in Sicily, including a few hidden gems
- Is Sicily expensive?
- Best itineraries of Sicily for 3 days, 4 days, 5 days, 7 days, 10 day or 14 days (with maps and daily plans)
Getting around Sicily without a car
Getting around Sicily by train
The easiest option to move around from A to B is by train.
Unfortunately, the train network is not as extensive as you would hope for.
It does cover the major cities but sometimes not in an optimal way.
For example, for a trip from Agrigento to Trapani on the west coast, you would need to go first north to Palermo, then south to Mazara del Vallo and then north again to Trapani, making the trip as long as 8 hours by train, compared to 3.5 hours by bus or just over 2 hours by car
You can check all the train routes and prices on the Trenitalia website.
Keep also in mind that it’s not the quickest train you may expect and delays are not uncommon, although small ones.
Getting around Sicily by bus
Getting around Sicily by bus is the easiest of the options if you do not want to rent a car
The unfortunate thing about the bus network is that there is no central booking system.
There are in fact around 10 bus companies that run services, almost divided 50-50% between the east and the west of the island.
Here below is a list of all the companies that I am aware of (please drop me a message in case I have missed any)
Some of the bus companies do not have an English version of the website. Use instead the Chrome (or any other web browser) Translator extension.
Bus companies that cover mostly the westside of Sicily
- Cuffaro Trasporti connects Palermo to a few famous destinations within Sicily like Agrigento and Canicatti’
- Russo Autoservizi connects Palermo (Palermo Airport as well) to Castellammare, Scopello, San Vito Lo Capo and other destinations in the west.
- Lumia Autoservizi works from Agrigento towards Marsala, Trapani and other towns on the west side of the island
- Segesta Autolinee: works between Palermo and Trapani and also between Palermo and Siracusa/Ortigia Island, Noto, Avola and other destinations.
- San Vito Lo Capo Shuttles for shuttle buses to/from the airports of Palermo and Trapani
- Shuttles from San Vito Lo Capo to Riserva del Zingaro for the amazing walk and lovely coves
Bus companies that cover mostly the east side of Sicily
- Interbus travels to Catania (Airport as well), Avola, Nicosia, Noto, Regalbuto, Siracusa/Ortigia Island and other towns/villages
- Etna Trasporti travels to Catania (Airport as well), Taormina, Giardini Naxos, Recanati, Licata, Ragusa, Marina di Ragusa and other towns/villages.
- AST travels to Catania (Airport as well), Avola, Caltagirone, Modica, Noto, Scicli, Sigonella and other towns
- Giuntabus from Catania Airport to Milazzo for the Aeolian Islands
- Local Shuttle from Noto to Lido di Noto
Catania Airport is connected to the city by train (10 minutes)
How to get around in Agrigento and to the Valley of the Temples
In fact, even if you drive to Agrigento, it may be a good idea to leave your car at the accommodation and take the bus there.
The cost of the ticket is 1.10 euro if you buy it in advance or 1.50 euro if you buy it directly on the bus.
You can also think to buy a day ticket for unlimited runs in Agrigento and to the Valley of the Temples for only 3 euro.
You can usually buy the tickets from the kiosks and convenience stores
Most of the buses depart from Piazzale Rosselli, right in front of the train station.
You can get bus #1, #2 and #3. They have sometimes a “/” at the end. I am not sure about the difference, however, they have the same route, at least till the Valley of the Temples.
You can get off at the San Nicola stop if you are after the Archaeological Museum, and the Posto di Ristoro stop, for the ticket office in front of the temple of Hercules.
Remember to stamp the ticket once on the bus otherwise, you may get fined.
Getting around Sicily by car
There is no doubt that a rented car will give you so much more flexibility on your holiday in Sicily.
The travelling time will be also so much shorter, sometimes by up to 50%, unless there is a direct quick train connection, like from Palermo to Cefalu’.
Another great advantage is that you will get to enjoy not only the final destinations but also the trip and the stops in small villages along the route.
You can find more information also about parking in my Catania vs Palermo guide.
I have developed a full guide to rent a car in Sicily, including plenty of tips and possible scams that you can avoid, once you know them. In short:
- rent your car with full insurance. It’s not just for the possible accidents that may happen, as in any other part of the world. It’s mostly for minor damages, which happen more than often (mostly due to small streets and limited space for parking) and the rental agencies may charge you more than you think (not to say “more than it should be”).
- official parking is expensive, however, use it. Many beaches have private parking that costs from 5 euros to 20 euros. It may seem expensive, however, it is great peace of mind. Moreover, it is next to the beach. The alternative is to park far from it, without anyone looking after your car.
- do not leave anything visible in your car. Do not leave any bag visible in the car, even if empty. They break the glass to get it, leaving you with damage. I would personally not leave anything at all, even in the boot, especially if valuable. You never know.
- it is much quicker to visit attractions with the own vehicle than public transportation (unless the attractions are uniquely in the city)
- roads may be quite narrow and if you have a truck in front of you it may be hard to overtake it in some cases (no worries on the major roads)
- in Italy, they drive on the right side and usually, cars are not automatic (you need to request it)
I am not discouraging the idea to rent a car in Sicily. In fact, I believe it is the best way to explore and enjoy Sicily. Just take the right precautions and you will have a great experience.
I recommend using DiscoverCars.com. This is a website made to compare and provide the most competitive price (read the cheapest rates).
I personally avoid local no-name renters, especially when the cost is too cheap to be true.
Read more about Sicily
- Is Sicily part of Italy? The short and the long answer
- Renting a Car in Sicily: 25 Tips to Avoid Scams & Headaches
- The best Sicily itineraries you can do on the island
- Top 5 Scenic Drives in Sicily
- Is it worth renting a car in Sicily?
- Is Sicily Expensive
- Catania or Taormina, best and worst
- Catania or Palermo, best and worst
- Sicily or Puglia, the best and worst of the two regions
- Sicily or Sardinia, the best and worst of the two regions
Best way to get around Sicily – Public transportation Vs Rented car
I have organised this table with the most popular routes in Sicily and I have compared how long would it take with public transportation and with a rented car. I have added also an estimate of the cost.
This should help, based on the own itinerary of Sicily, to understand which means of transportation may work better.
|Route||Distance (km)||Time with Public Transportation||Cost with Public Transportation||Time with Rented Car||Cost with Rented Car|
|Catania-Palermo||210||2h 30min – 3h||$12-$34||2h 15min||$38-$55|
|Catania-Trapani||311||6h 30min – 8h 30min||$21-$64||3h 30min||$57-$82|
|Catania-Siracusa||67||1h 15min – 1h 30min||$4-$6||45min||$10-$15|
|Catania-Noto||91||1h 30min – 2h 30min||$6-$19||1h||$17-$24|
|Catania-Ragusa||104||1h 45min – 4h||$7-$29||1h 30min||$19-$28|
|Catania-Etna||35||2h (1 bus/day)||$72-$73||1h 30min||$10-$15|
|Catania-Taormina||56||1h – 1h 15min||$4-$8||45min||$11-$15|
|Catania-Agrigento||160||2h 45min – 4h 15min||$9-$35||2h||$30-$42|
|Palermo-Trapani||102||2h – 4h||$9-$30||1h||$19-$27|
|Palermo-Cefalu||74||1h – 1h 15min||$5-$6||45min||$14-$20|
|Palermo-Marsala||125||2h – 4h||$8-$25||1h 30min||$22-$32|
|Palermo-Erice||108||1h 45min – 2h 30min||$19-$30||1h 15min||$20-$29|
|Agrigento-Trapani||168||3h 15min – 7h 30min||$13-$51||2h 30min||$31-$44|
|Agrigento-Messina||253||4h 30min – 5h||$12-$42||3h||$46-$67|
When using public transportation, the cost is based on the tickets for buses or trains. These prices can vary depending on a multitude of factors (how long you book in advance, etc).
The fluctuation in the needed time depends mostly on the available connections and the time of the day you want to take your train/bus.
For rented cars, the cost estimate typically includes the daily rental fee for the car and the cost of fuel (you will share this cost if travelling with one or more people).
Also in this case the cost of renting a car can fluctuate. The fuel cost is included and estimated based on the distance of the journey.
Of course, these are rough estimates. However, I think they give a great indication of the cost of the two options. Moreover, they give you also an idea of how much more time you need to cover the same distance compared to a rented car, and this is not including possible delays and strikes (so annoying in Italy)
For the most accurate cost information, I recommend checking the prices directly with the transit provider or my favourite car rental platform DiscoverCars.com.
Finally, you should also consider other potential costs such as:
- possible taxis from the accommodation to the station
- parking fees for cars
- zone-based pricing for public transit in the city.
How to get around Sicily with these 5 useful Travel Apps
Getting around Sicily without a car can be challenging.
Based on my experience in the region, I have organised this list of useful Apps that help to make things a bit easier. I have added also a couple that are essential if you decide to drive around Sicily.
Trenitalia: This is the official app of Italy’s primary train operator. It allows you to check train times, buy tickets, and keep updated on any changes or delays. This can be particularly useful for navigating Sicily’s train system.
Moovit: This app provides real-time public transit information and can be very useful for navigating Sicily’s bus and train systems. It includes schedules, route maps, and arrival times.
Google Maps: This is a comprehensive navigation tool that is essential for any traveller. It provides detailed maps, driving directions (to make sure that your taxi driver is not taking the long route), public transportation routes, and walking paths. In Sicily, it can be particularly useful for navigating both urban areas like Palermo and Catania, as well as more rural regions. Google Maps also offers the ability to download maps for offline use, which is a great data saver. Additionally, it includes information about local points of interest, restaurants, and reviews, making it a versatile tool for both navigation and trip planning.
EasyPark (for driving): This app is a convenient solution for parking in Sicily’s cities. EasyPark allows you to find, pay, and manage parking directly from your phone. It provides information about parking availability, costs, and restrictions in real time. You can extend or end your parking session remotely, which can be particularly useful if your plans change or you’re running late. EasyPark is widely accepted in most of Sicily. It’s a great tool to avoid the hassle of parking meters and to ensure you always comply with local parking regulations.
Parkopedia (for driving): Finding parking can be a challenge in Sicily’s cities. Parkopedia can be useful when you are looking for parking, either free or with a charge. It does not offer at the moment the possibility to pay for parking in Sicily. However, it is so useful when you want to leave your car in a free parking spot