Last updated on February 18, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Sicily

Top 6 Scenic Drives in Sicily You Need to Experience

This Mediterranean gem, laden with natural beauty and rich history, opens up best when experiencing one of the scenic drives of Sicily that I have listed below.

Renting a car in Sicily provides unmatched freedom and flexibility, allowing you to explore this diverse island at your own pace.

From the sun-kissed coastlines to baroque hilltop towns and the mighty Mount Etna, each drive is a unique adventure.

My suggestion here is to hire a car in Sicily, and experience at least a couple of these routes. You will not regret it.

I usually rent my cars through DiscoverCars, a trusted platform known for its wide selection, competitive rates and reviews of the rental agencies made by real customers (a sort of AirBnb for renting cars).

Understanding car insurance in Italy is never easy but what about if you can have full insurance (zero excess) for less than 8 Euros/day? Yes, you can do that with DiscoverCars and that is why it is today my go-to website to hire a car.

6 best scenic drives of Sicily – In a nutshell

Here is a quick table summarizing the scenic drives of Sicily. Click on the name for a full description, including km and time between stops. Keep in mind that I originally started this article with 5 drives but I am adding up as I find new interesting ones, like the UNESCO sites itinerary.

Swift left or right on the mobile to read the entire table

Scenic Drives of SicilyNumber of KMTotal Driving TimeNumber of StopsList of StopsShort DescriptionBest For
Taormina to Savoca63 km1h 55m4Taormina, Castelmola, Savoca, Forza d’AgròA scenic drive through the East Coast, exploring charming villages, historic sites, and stunning coastal views.History lovers, movie buffs, those seeking stunning views
Palermo to Cefalù76 km1h 40m4Palermo, Santa Flavia, Capo Zafferano & Sant’Elia, CefalùAn exploration of the North Coast, featuring stunning sea views, archaeological sites, and enchanting coastal towns.History enthusiasts, beach lovers, those seeking scenic views
Agrigento to Capo Bianco48 km1h 15m5Agrigento, Porto Empedocle, Scala dei Turchi, Le Pergole Beach, Capo Bianco & Archaeological Area of Eraclea MinoaA journey through history and nature, combining ancient temples, charming port towns, and pristine beaches.History and nature lovers, beachgoers, families
The Baroque towns of Val di Noto88 km2h4Avola, Noto, Modica, Ragusa, ScicliA drive through the UNESCO World Heritage site of Val di Noto, featuring exquisite Baroque architecture and captivating landscapes.History and architecture enthusiasts, wine and chocolate lovers
Mount Etna and the Alcantara Gorges147 km3h 20m4Catania, Zafferana Etnea, Rifugio Sapienza, Alcantara GorgesAn awe-inspiring journey through nature’s raw magnificence, featuring a mighty Mount Etna tour and the stunning Alcantara Gorges.Adventurers, nature lovers, seeking breathtaking landscapes
Itinerary Through 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites700-800 km10 days7-8Palermo, Monreale, Cefalu, Etna, Syracuse, Necropolis of Pantalica, val di Noto, Scicli, Villa Romana del Casale, Valley of the TemplesAn amazing drive through all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of SicilyHistory and architecture
6 best scenic drives of Sicily

Please note that “Total Driving Time” includes only the driving portion of the trip and not the time spent at each stop.

Taormina to Savoca (63km or 39 miles) – A short scenic drive to explore the East Coast

Taormina - View from the top of the cable car
Taormina – View from the top of the north coast down to Savoca
Total
Distance
Drive TimeAttractionDescription
00hTaorminaCoastal town with ancient Greek theatre and stunning views of the Ionian Sea.
7km15mCastelmolaHilltop village with narrow streets, castle ruins, and panoramic vistas.
32km45mSavocaCharming village famous for its role in “The Godfather”, with historic churches and atmosphere.
45km25mForza d’Agrò (detour)Enchanting village with a rich history, castle ruins, and stunning coastal views.
62km30mTaorminaReturn to the vibrant coastal town and reminisce on your unforgettable scenic drive.
Taormina To Savoca

Taking a scenic drive in Sicily is an unforgettable adventure, and one of the most enchanting routes you can embark on is the captivating journey from Taormina to Savoca. 

Starting from the vibrant coastal town of Taormina, renowned for its azure waters and ancient Greek theatre, you’ll soon find yourself meandering through verdant hills adorned with olive groves and lemon trees.

If you are wondering where to stay in Taormina, I personally suggest booking your accommodation in the Old Town and Villa Schuler is one of THE special places to stay in this enchanting town.

Don’t forget to capture the stunning vistas across the Ionian Sea on camera. This road trip offers the perfect blend of Sicily’s natural beauty and its rich history and culture.

To make it a fantastic drive, I suggest first making your way to the charming village of Castelmola, nestled on a hilltop just above Taormina (7km or 15 minutes).

Take a break here to savour a coffee or a refreshing granita, and wander through the narrow streets towards the castle ruins, where jaw-dropping panoramas await.

Make your way back to Taormina to take the SS (Strada Statale) 114 direction Messina (north) till you see a signal for Savoca (Strada Provinciale 19)

As you ascend the steep and winding road to Savoca, prepare for increasingly spectacular views with each twist and turn.

Pressing on, you’ll eventually arrive at the picturesque village of Savoca (25 Km or 45 minutes).

You’ll instantly understand why this location was chosen for scenes in the iconic film “The Godfather”, with its rustic charm and atmospheric streets transporting you back in time.

Be sure to visit the renowned Bar Vitelli, featured in the movie, and indulge in a drink or a snack on the terrace, basking in the unique ambience.

Spend some time exploring the historic churches and medieval ruins that dot the village, including the Chiesa Madre and the Capuchin Monastery, home to ancient mummies.

On your return to Taormina, consider taking a side trip to Forza d’Agrò (13km or 25 minutes), another enchanting village boasting narrow streets, spellbinding views, and a storied past.

The vistas from the castle ruins are nothing short of extraordinary, encompassing the coastline and the imposing Mount Etna in the distance.

This mesmerising drive from Taormina to Savoca is an essential experience for anyone visiting Sicily.

With its breathtaking scenery, delightful villages, and intriguing historical sites, it’s a memory you’ll treasure forever.

Palermo to Cefalù (76 Km) – A scenic drive to explore the North Coast

The beautiful Cefalu
The beautiful Cefalu Old Town Beach
Total
Distance
Drive TimeAttractionDescription
00hPalermoBustling capital of Sicily with diverse architecture and rich history.
18km30mSanta FlaviaPicturesque village with the Soluntum archaeological site and beautiful sea views.
22km10mCapo Zafferano & Sant’EliaStunning viewpoint offering panoramic views of the coastline, cliffs, and rolling hills.
76km1hCefalùEnchanting coastal town with medieval streets, Norman cathedral, and gorgeous beaches.
Palermo to Cefalù

Kick off your adventure in Palermo, the bustling and vibrant capital of Sicily, where an intriguing blend of Arab, Norman, and Baroque architecture awaits.

If you are wondering where to stay in Palermo, I personally suggest booking your accommodation in the Old Town and B&B Gallidoro is one of my favourite places.

As you set out from the city, you’ll be greeted by the shimmering Tyrrhenian Sea, which lines the entire route, providing a picturesque backdrop throughout the journey.

Following the coastal road (SS113), you’ll encounter a variety of charming seaside towns and hidden coves, perfect for a refreshing dip in the crystalline waters or a leisurely lunch by the shore.

Make sure to visit the picturesque village of Santa Flavia (18km or 25-30 minutes), where you can admire the imposing Soluntum archaeological site, a testament to Sicily’s rich and diverse history.

From Santa Flavia make a detour along the coast (SP 23) to the Capo Zafferano (4Km or 5-10 minutes), a breathtaking viewpoint where you can capture the perfect panorama of the azure sea, rugged cliffs, and rolling hills.

On the way stop at Sant’Elia, right between Capo Zafferano and Santa Flavia.

You will find a beautiful cove with a unique view and a boutique beach to have a quick dive. So romantic!

As you approach Cefalù, the landscape becomes even more dramatic, with sheer cliffs plunging into the sea and the towering La Rocca acting as a natural fortress for this enchanting coastal town.

With its charming medieval streets, stunning Norman cathedral, and picture-perfect beaches, Cefalù is a true gem of Sicily and a must-visit destination.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural exploration, this unforgettable drive from Palermo to Cefalù has it all.

Agrigento to Capo Bianco (48 Km) – Amazing nature and historical sites

Exploring the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento
Exploring the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento
Total DistanceDrive TimeAttractionDescription
00hAgrigentoThe historic city known for the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
10km15mPorto EmpedocleA charming port town with beautiful beaches and delicious local cuisine.
15km10mScala dei TurchiA stunning natural formation of white marl cliffs that resemble a staircase, leading down to the turquoise sea.
23km15mLe Pergole BeachA tranquil beach with golden sand, clear waters, and a backdrop of fragrant pine woods.
46km30mSpiaggia di Eraclea MinoaAnother beautiful beach offering a peaceful retreat from the more crowded tourist spots.
48km5mCapo Bianco & Archaeological Area of ​​Eraclea MinoaA picturesque beach location where white cliffs meet crystal-clear waters. The nearby archaeological site offers a fascinating glimpse into Sicily’s ancient past, adding a dose of history to this scenic drive.
Agrigento to Capo Bianco

Get ready to embark on another enchanting scenic drive in Sicily, taking you from the ancient grandeur of Agrigento to the sun-kissed beaches of Capo Bianco.

As you navigate this route, you’ll uncover the mesmerising blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that makes Sicily so special.

Start your journey in the historic city of Agrigento, one of the best places to stay in Sicily, home to the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Meander through the remnants of ancient Doric temples and soak up the captivating views of the city and sea (plan at least 2 hours for the visit to the Archeological Park).

As you leave the Valley, point your wheels towards the coast and Porto Empedocle (10km or 10-15 minutes).

This charming port town is the perfect spot for a leisurely lunch and a stroll along the beach.

From Porto Empedocle, a short drive takes you to the Scala dei Turchi, or “Stair of the Turks” (5km or 10 minutes), one of the best places to visit in Sicily.

This natural wonder, with its white marl cliffs and turquoise waters, is a sight to behold. A quick dip in the sea here is almost mandatory!

Keep in mind that the Scala dei Turchi is not any more accessible to preserve its beauty. There are a few viewpoints where you can admire the white wavy formation.

Next, your journey takes you to the stunning Le Pergole Beach (8Km or 15 minutes).

This pristine stretch of sand, backed by fragrant pine woods, offers a tranquil retreat from the bustling tourist spots.

Finally, your drive culminates at Capo Bianco and the Archaeological Area of ​​Eraclea Minoa (24km or 30 minutes).

Here, the crystal-clear waters meet the striking white cliffs, creating a picture-perfect setting for a day at the beach.

The Capo Bianco rock formation is still an unknown local attraction similar to Scala dei Turchi, however without any kind of mass tourism.

And if you’re still hungry for history, the nearby archaeological site offers a fascinating glimpse into Sicily’s ancient past.

For an amazing meal with a spectacular view, check out Lido Garibaldi, right at the beach. Fantastic food, although on the expensive side of the spectrum.

The Baroque towns of Val di Noto (88 km) – A must scenic drive of Sicily

View of Noto from the Chiesa di Montevergine
View of Noto from the Chiesa di Montevergine
Total Distance (km)Drive TimeAttractionDescription
00hAvolaA coastal town known for its superb wines and almonds.
10km15mNotoKnown as the ‘stone garden,’ it’s a Baroque masterpiece with honey-hued buildings and grand palazzos.
47km45mModicaA town split into two charming parts, home to the majestic Cathedral of San Giorgio and renowned Modica chocolate.
63km25mRagusaA Baroque jewel perched on a hilltop with a labyrinth of narrow streets and grand buildings.
88km35mScicliA town with traditional charm, grand architectural gems and panoramic views.
The Baroque towns of Val di Noto

Strap in for a splendid journey through the Baroque towns of Val di Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage site, starting from the picturesque coastal town of Avola.

Expect an immersion in exquisite architecture, rich history, and captivating landscapes that will leave you spellbound.

I have added this drive to most of my itineraries of Sicily. Even if you have limited time, you should visit at least one of these amazing historic towns.

Avola, your starting point, is known for its superb wines and almonds, so do grab a bottle or a bag before you set off.

Feel the warmth of the Sicilian sun as you head towards Noto, the ‘stone garden’ (10km or 15 minutes).

This Baroque masterpiece will leave you mesmerized with its honey-hued buildings and grand palazzos. The cathedral of San Nicolo is a must-see!

Next, drive towards Modica (37km or 45 minutes), a town split into two parts, each equally charming.

The highlight of your visit here would be the majestic Cathedral of San Giorgio, nestled atop a hill. And don’t forget to try the renowned Modica chocolate.

Your next stop is Ragusa (16km or 25 minutes), another Baroque jewel perched on a hilltop. Ragusa Ibla, the old town, is a labyrinth of narrow streets and grand buildings.

The cathedral of San Giorgio is worth a visit.

Finally, the road leads you to Scicli (25km or 35 minutes), a town that’s retained its traditional charm amidst the grandeur of its architectural gems.

The panoramic views from here are a fitting end to your journey through the Baroque heart of Sicily.

Mount Etna and the Alcantara Gorges (147 KM) – The unique scenic drive of Sicily

Driving to the Etna Mountain with the lava all around - Very picturesque and unique
Driving to the Etna Mountain with the lava all around – Very picturesque and unique
Total Distance (km)Drive TimeAttractionDescription
00hCataniaA bustling city at the foot of Mount Etna with a vibrant fish market and baroque Piazza Duomo.
25km35mZafferana EtneaA picturesque hill town famous for its honey and stunning views of Mount Etna.
44km30mRifugio SapienzaThe main tourist hub on Mount Etna’s south side, offering cable car rides up the mountain.
97km1h 15mAlcantara GorgesAn extraordinary natural site with unique rock formations carved by the river.
147km1hCataniaEnd your scenic drive back in the city, enriched by the experiences of the day.
Mount Etna and the Alcantara Gorges

Prepare yourself for an extraordinary journey through nature’s raw magnificence, as you embark on one of the most scenic drives of Sicily covering Mount Etna and the Alcantara Gorges, starting from the bustling city of Catania.

This drive promises you an awe-inspiring experience, with breathtaking landscapes, daring ventures, and a dash of Sicilian charm.

Kick off your journey in Catania, a city nestled at the foot of Mount Etna.

Its vibrant fish market and the baroque Piazza Duomo are worth exploring before you start ascending towards the mount.

If you are wondering where to stay in Catania, I personally suggest booking your accommodation in the Historic Centre and B&B Palazzo Bruca is one of my favourite places.

Drive along the SP8 to your first stop, the picturesque hill town of Zafferana Etnea (25km or 35 minutes), famous for its honey and autumn food festival.

The panoramic views here are incredible, and they only get better as you head upwards.

Next up is Rifugio Sapienza (19km or 30 minutes), the main tourist hub on the south side of Mount Etna.

This is the base to organise your Mount Etna tour.

You can take a cable car up to an elevation of 2,500 metres, and then a special vehicle to 2,920 metres.

Alternatively, you can visit the nearby Silvestri Craters

Don’t forget to bring warm clothes, even in summer!

Your descent begins towards the stunning Alcantara Gorges (53km or 1h 15m).

Marvel at the extraordinary rock formations carved by the river and, if you’re feeling adventurous, take a dip in the icy waters.

Finish your loop back in Catania (50Km or 1h), enriched by the raw beauty of Mount Etna and the charm of Sicilian life.

Itinerary through 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Sicily

DestinationDistanceFamous ForInteresting Fact
PalermoStart pointArab-Norman architectureEurope’s oldest royal residence
Monreale CathedralDay trip from PalermoNorman Cathedral with mosaicsHouses a piece of the Holy Cross
Cefalù1 hour from Palermo by car/trainNorman Cathedral, seaside charmFeatures Christ Pantocrator mosaic
Mount EtnaApprox. 3.5 hours from Cefalu/PalermoEurope’s highest active volcanoDynamic history, mythological significance
Syracuse1.5-2 hours from EtnaAncient Greek history, Ortigia islandGreek Theatre in Neapolis Park
Necropolis of PantalicaDay trip from SyracusePrehistoric burial siteOver 5,000 ancient tombs
Val di Noto1 hour from SyracuseBaroque architectureUnique Noto town
ScicliLess than an hour from Syracuse/NotoBaroque architecture, less touristyFeatured in “Inspector Montalbano” TV series
Villa Romana del Casale2 hours from ScicliRoman mosaicsFamous “Bikini Girls” mosaic
Valley of the Temples2 hours from Villa Romana del CasaleAncient Greek templesBest-preserved Greek Temple of Concordia
Aeolian Islands
(Hidden gem)
Off the northern coastBreathtaking beauty, geological diversityUNESCO World Heritage Centre
Itinerary through the Sicily Unesco Sites

This is one of the most beautiful drives in Sicily and it can take between 7 and 10 days, or even 14 if you like to take it easy and enjoy more of the local life.

I extensively described the drive through the UNESCO site of Sicily in my dedicated guide. In short, the itinerary begins in Palermo, renowned for its Arab-Norman architecture, including Europe’s oldest royal residence.

A day trip to Monreale showcases the Norman cathedral’s magnificent mosaics. Next, Cefalù offers a Norman cathedral and seaside charm. Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano, follows, with its mythological significance.

Syracuse, rich in ancient Greek history, is next, including the famous Greek theatre. The Necropolis of Pantalica, a short drive from Syracuse, presents over 5,000 ancient tombs.

Noto and the Val di Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage site, display the best Baroque architecture in Sicily. Scicli, less touristy, is known for its Baroque architecture and appearance in the Inspector Montalbano series.

Villa Romana del Casale, two hours from Scicli, features renowned Roman mosaics. Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples, two hours from Villa Romana del Casale, is a testament to Ancient Greek civilization.

From Agrigento, you can make your way back to Palermo.

The itinerary through the Sicily Unesco Sites
The itinerary through the Sicily Unesco Sites (check the interactive Google map)
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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