Last updated on March 1, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Sicily

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

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.

The beautiful town of Cefalu
The beautiful town of Cefalù

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.

Sais Trasporti and Sais Autolinee connect Sicilian destinations as well as other cities in Italy, such as Roma or Napoli, and Europe too.

For your peace of mind, in all of my guides for itineraries in Sicily (3 days4 days5 days, 7 days, 10 and 14 days) I always mention the company you should book to get around Sicily.

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

Bus companies that cover mostly the east side of Sicily

Catania Airport is connected to the city by train (10 minutes)

How to get around in Agrigento and to the Valley of the Temples

The Valley of the Temples is well connected to the city of Agrigento.

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.

Valley of the Temples in Agrigento

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.

I would personally avoid altogether driving in Catania and Palermo, it can be quite chaotic, as well as in the old centres, lanes can get very small.

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.

Check best prices at DiscoverCars

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.

RouteDistance (km)Time with Public TransportationCost with Public TransportationTime with Rented CarCost with Rented Car
Catania-Palermo2102h 30min – 3h$12-$342h 15min$38-$55
Catania-Trapani3116h 30min – 8h 30min$21-$643h 30min$57-$82
Catania-Siracusa671h 15min – 1h 30min$4-$645min$10-$15
Catania-Noto911h 30min – 2h 30min$6-$191h$17-$24
Catania-Ragusa1041h 45min – 4h$7-$291h 30min$19-$28
Catania-Etna352h (1 bus/day)$72-$731h 30min$10-$15
Catania-Taormina561h – 1h 15min$4-$845min$11-$15
Catania-Agrigento1602h 45min – 4h 15min$9-$352h$30-$42
Palermo-Trapani1022h – 4h$9-$301h$19-$27
Palermo-Agrigento1292h$10-$202h$24-$34
Palermo-Cefalu741h – 1h 15min$5-$645min$14-$20
Palermo-Marsala1252h – 4h$8-$251h 30min$22-$32
Palermo-Erice1081h 45min – 2h 30min$19-$301h 15min$20-$29
Agrigento-Trapani1683h 15min – 7h 30min$13-$512h 30min$31-$44
Agrigento-Messina2534h 30min – 5h$12-$423h$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

Ortigia Island in Syracuse, Sicily
Ortigia Island in Syracuse, Sicily
Food is king in Sicily
Food is king in Sicily
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.

1 thought on “Getting around Sicily without a car and by car [what works best]”

  1. Off to Sicily next May 2023, couple of things, best public transport from Syracuse to Palermo and how far in advance can tickets be purchased. Also will be on the mainland (Bari), and was thinking about the bus to Catania from Bari…. any recommendations? Thanks Louise

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