Ultimate Sicily Itinerary Based On Your Length Of Stay And Type Of Experience
In this guide, you’ll discover everything you need to know about creating a Sicily itinerary, including maps and day-by-day activities to discover the best towns, beaches, trekking, and local culture.
I have travelled all around this lovely island, both along the coast and the interior too. It is so easy to get lost in the huge variety of attractions and destinations.
Based on my experience, I have planned below a few possible itineraries based on the time you have (from 3 days to 2 weeks), the mean of transportation (rented car or bus/train) and the experiences you want to have, like swimming and chilling out on the most amazing beaches of Sicily, trekking on the Etna Volcano, exploring historical sites like the Valley of the Temples, and so much more.
And remember to leave a comment if you still have any questions. I am always happy to help out
But now let’s dig into it
Table of Contents
- 1 How many days in Sicily for an itinerary
- 2 Best Sicily Itinerary – In a nutshell
- 3 Should I rent a car in Sicily for an itinerary?
- 4 Sicily Itinerary in 3 days
- 5 Sicily Itinerary in 5 days
- 6 Sicily Itinerary in 7 days
- 7 Sicily Itinerary in 10 days
- 8 Sicily Itinerary in 2 weeks, and over
- 9 Itinerary for beaches with only one base
- 10 Sicily Itinerary for families with only one base
- 11 Unmissable places to see in Sicily
- 12 FAQ for a Sicily itinerary
- 13 Photos of Sicily
How many days in Sicily for an itinerary
Shortly, you can have a great overview of the island in 2 weeks. You can get around Sicily with public transportation or a vehicle.
You will get to see most of the iconic attractions, towns and historical sites in 10 days. However, in this case, I highly suggest hiring a car in Sicily as soon as you arrive at the airport. You will be more flexible and you will save a ton of time (trains and buses are not as reliable)
In one week you should decide to experience either the north-west or the east of the island. If you fly to Catania, then stay on the east coast, well connected by trains and buses. If you fly to Palermo, visit the north-west, probably not as well connected but still very doable.
In 5 days you can explore the top 3-4 attractions. Plan a stay in 2 destinations
Stay in Catania or stay in Palermo if you have just 3 days. You can also think to stay in Taormina if you organise a pick-up service from the Catania airport.
This is the most common question I receive, by the way.
My suggestion here is to stay at least one week in Sicily, even better 10 or 14 days, but of course, the lack of time is one of the biggest problems we have in our society, isn’t it?
Best Sicily Itinerary – In a nutshell
Here are a few quick points, however, keep reading for more detailed information
- Sicily Itinerary in 3 days: being this island so big I would stay in the city of the airport you will arrive or a nearby location. Three great places are Palermo, with the biggest Old Centre in Europe, Taormina, a lovely town perched on the hill facing the east coast, or Catania, a great base for so many activities. There are however other options. Read below for more details on 3 days in Sicily
- Sicily Itinerary in 5 days: with 5 days you can even think to plan your holiday between two locations to see more of the island. You can choose between a romantic itinerary or a family-oriented one or why not a beach full immersion? You can read all the options below in the 5 days sections
- Sicily Itinerary in one week: 7 days will be enough time to experience a good selection of iconic attractions. However, decide either to stay east or west of the island. No point to waste time on long trips between the two sides of the island. You can also think to rent a car in Sicily and make the most out of it or use the public buses that can take you pretty much everywhere. Read more below on my 7 days options below
- Itinerary in 10 days: this is enough time to plan a big loop of the island or a small one in case you prefer to have more of a relaxed time in Sicily. You can even think to change accommodation every day or so to experience the lot. Read more below on my 10 days options below
- Itinerary in 2 weeks: two weeks is ideal if you wish to cover a great deal of Sicily. You can travel all around the coast as well as experience a few characteristic inland villages like Corleone or the ghost town of Poggioreale. You can even think to travel to one of the small Sicilian islands like Favignana. Read more below on a 2 weeks itinerary
- Sicily Itinerary for beaches with only one base: you have a few options if you want to book and stay in only one accommodation and experience a few great beaches of Sicily. San Vito Lo Capo is probably the most famous of all but I have another few that may work as well. Read more below on a stay for beaches
- Sicily Itinerary for families with only one base: travelling with kids can be quite tiring, I just finished a month in Sicily with a 9-year-old. There are a few great towns in Sicily that work fantastically well for families, great bases to explore the region with a few half-day or full-day trips. Read more below on a stay for families
- Must-see 5 places in Sicily: hard to pick only 5, in fact, I will expand this list below. Shortly: Palermo, Valley of the Temples, Etna Volcano, Noto and Taormina. These places will give you a great overview of the island together with a few beaches. I have organised at the end of this post a list of must-experience destinations
Should I rent a car in Sicily for an itinerary?
It’s a great idea. It’s easy to drive around (except in the cities) and you can decide where to stay in Sicily, even in the small towns, experiencing more of the local life.
It is definitely convenient to rent a car in Sicily, however, there are a few drawbacks and you can read them in my guide to renting a car in Sicily.
An important thing, for example, is to understand how rental insurances work in Italy. Shortly, streets and parking are very narrow. It’s not unusual to scratch and dent the car. That is why I always suggest full insurance, no excess. That will avoid paying possibly a considerable damage charge at the end of the rental period. Such a peace of mind.
When I rent a car I usually get the best price on DiscoverCars.com, a website that provides the cheapest price and the best quality, comparing both local and global rentals. Moreover, they can provide no excess insurance for just 7 Euros, a real bargain.
Do you really need to hire a car in Sicily?
You will be maybe less flexible and you will not be able to stop and enjoy other attractions during the trip to the next destination, however, I am sure you will also be more relaxed seating on a bus or train than driving a car.
One of the issues with public transportation is that there is no central website to book the buses (there is one for the train though).
There are in fact over 10 companies running buses, all in different areas of Sicily. It can be a nightmare unless you know which website to check based on the trip you want to take.
For this reason, I have written this guide to get around Sicily without a car with all my notes on the companies and the routes. Essential for any trip I take to Sicily.
Sicily Itinerary in 3 days
This is a very short stay in Sicily, an island almost as big as Belgium.
Personally, I would suggest staying in only one location and exploring the nearby attractions.
Ideally, you should be based near your airport of arrival, either Palermo or Catania.
If you have to travel further from the airport, this would simply eat up all your holiday time.
Giardini Naxos and Mondello are both great bases to visit at least 1 of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily.
Taormina and Palermo are great for a romantic stay for couples
Cefalù and Fontane Bianche are ideal for families with children, thanks to their great beach.
This itinerary of Sicily below works great if you land in Palermo and you are keen to break your stay between two destinations, Palermo and Cefalu’.
|Day 1||Morning||Old town of Palermo||Explore the historic and charming old town of Palermo. Walk around, appreciate the architecture and soak up the atmosphere.|
|Mid-day||Ballaro’ Market, Palermo||Visit the bustling Ballaro’ Market. Here, you can enjoy a diverse range of street foods that provide a taste of the local culture.|
|Afternoon||Mondello, Palermo||Head to Mondello for some beach time. This spot is known for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. Relax and soak up the sun.|
|Day 2||Morning to Mid-day||Monreale Cathedral, Monreale||Take a public bus #389P from Indipendenza Square to Monreale Cathedral, known for its grandeur and beautiful mosaics. Explore the town of Monreale.|
|Lunch||Le Bontà Di Peppe, Monreale||Have lunch at the popular deli Le Bontà Di Peppe. Known for its delectable local cuisine, it’s the perfect place to rest and refuel.|
|Afternoon to Evening||Cefalù||Catch the train to Cefalù (45 min journey). Spend the night in this picturesque coastal town.|
|Day 3||Morning||Old town of Cefalù||Spend the morning exploring the historic old town of Cefalù. Take a hike to the castle on the top of the hill for some spectacular views.|
|Afternoon||Town beach, Cefalù||Spend the afternoon relaxing at the beautiful town beach. This spot is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and simply enjoying the serene environment.|
You can also think to stay in Palermo and visit Cefalu’ on a day trip. The train journey takes around 1 hour.
Based on my experience in Sicily I have organised other five possible options for a 3-day itinerary in Sicily based on the type of holiday (beaches, couples, families, history, trekking), including maps as well as photos.
3 days itinerary guide to Sicily
Sicily Itinerary in 5 days
In just 5 days, there is enough time in Sicily to plan a small moving itinerary centred around 2 spots from which to explore nearby attractions.
You can also opt for a more relaxing break by staying in one location and exploring the attractions from there (beaches, trekking, and historical sites).
Due to its charming old centre and the things to do, Palermo is still one of my favourite bases.
For beaches, besides Mondello in Palermo, I would suggest also Fontane Bianche and Avola, 2 towns south of Catania very well connected by train.
For couples, take a trip that includes two other beautiful towns like the romantic Cefalù, beside Palermo, and the lovely Taormina, beside Catania.
San Vito Lo Capo and Lido di Noto are two great villages to stay with kids, both awesome locations to enjoy the marvellous beach and explore the surrounding areas (Riserva del Zingaro, Noto, Siracusa and more)
This is a great 5-day Sicily itinerary in case you land at Catania Airport.
|Day 1||Morning to Afternoon||Taormina||Start your journey by exploring the romantic town of Taormina. Wander through its charming streets and take in the scenic views.|
|Afternoon||Lido La Pigna, Taormina||Spend the hot part of the day at the boutique beach of Lido La Pigna. Connected to Taormina by cable car, this beach offers a unique experience of luxury and relaxation. Alternatively, walk 100 metres down to the scenic free beach of Isola Bella.|
|Day 2||All Day||Taormina / Etna Volcano||Book an organized tour to visit the local wineries around Etna Volcano for some wine tasting or explore Sicilian history and culture with a unique Godfather/Mafia Tour.|
|Day 3||Morning to Afternoon||Giardini Naxos||Take a 2 km walk down to Giardini Naxos town. Spend time relaxing on the beach, and explore the coast and the boutique Isola Bella (Beautiful Island) by boat.|
|Day 4||All Day||Catania||Time to move to Catania. It’s a short 50-minute train ride. Explore the old town of this vibrant city and enjoy the unique blend of ancient and modern cultures. Visit the Duomo and the unfinished Church of San Nicolò l’Arena. Have a stroll in the evening in the popular Via Etnea|
|Day 5||Morning to Afternoon||Catania||Go to the vibrant fish market first thing in the morning. Then experience authentic Italian cuisine. Join the Street Food Tour or a Private Home Cooking Class with a certified local cook. It’s an immersive experience of Italian food culture.|
|Afternoon to Evening||Catania||Explore the Greek-Roman theatre and book your final dinner at A Putia Dell’Ostello next to the underground river in the cellar of the restaurant, a unique experience.|
You can reach Taormina directly from the Catania Airport. Read all details in my guide on getting around Sicily.
Based on my experience, I have organised another 4 possible options for a 5-day Sicily itinerary in Sicily with more space for beaches, couples, families, history and trekking).
5 days itinerary guide to Sicily
Sicily Itinerary in 7 days
You will have so many more options with 7 days at your disposal.
With 1 week in Sicily, I would suggest either focusing on the east or the west of the island based on where you fly in, Catania or Palermo.
In the west, you will be able to experience some of the most amazing beaches in Europe like Mondello, San Vito Lo Capo and Cefalù.
In the east, drive or take a bus to Avola and from there you can explore other pristine beaches like Fontane Bianche, Lido di Noto and much more.
For couples, Palermo-Cefalù and Catania-Taormina are still my favourite two itinerary options, however, for active couples, you may be able to squeeze in another unique destination.
Here below is a 7-day itinerary of the west side of Sicily that I have organised on my last trip there.
|Day 1||Morning to Afternoon||Mondello Beach, Palermo||Start your journey with a relaxing day at the beautiful Mondello beach. Enjoy the sunshine, crystal-clear waters and white sand.|
|Evening||Old Centre of Palermo||Take a bus (#806) or a taxi to the old centre of Palermo for a delicious dinner amidst historic settings.|
|Day 2||All Day||Cefalù||Take a quick train ride (50 min) to Cefalù. Explore the old town and enjoy the romantic beach in the old port. If you prefer a larger beach, walk down to the new part of town for the 1km long beach.|
|Day 3||Morning to Afternoon||Ballaro’ Market, Palermo||Spend the morning exploring the bustling Ballaro’ Market known for its delectable street food. After lunch, head to one of the local beaches such as Spiaggia dell’Arenella, the Lido di Sferracavallo or the Rocky Beach of Mondello.|
|Day 4||All Day||San Vito Lo Capo||Time to move to San Vito Lo Capo, known for one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. You can rent a car in Italy or take a bus (Russo Autoservizi) for the journey. Spend the afternoon at the beach and plan dinner at Poldo 2 for a fantastic view and great food.|
|Day 5||All Day||San Vito Lo Capo||Relax at the beach in San Vito Lo Capo. If you’re up for a little activity, consider taking a scenic walk to the Torre dell’Usciere.|
|Day 6||All Day||Riserva del Zingaro||Take a shuttle bus or drive your rented car to Riserva del Zingaro, a beautiful national park in Sicily renowned for its coves and small beaches. Spend your day in this picturesque location.|
|Day 7||All Day||Blue Marino Beach / Macari Beach||Drive or rent a bike to visit Blue Marino Beach and/or Macari Beach, located 5km south of San Vito Lo Capo. Both are stunning beach spots to enjoy your last day.|
I have written this ultimate guide to one week in Sicily where you can see day-by-day plans based on your type of holiday (beaches, families, couples, adventurous trip). It’s a great reference with maps and photos.
7 days itinerary guide to Sicily
Sicily Itinerary in 10 days
The number of things you can actually see and do in Sicily in 10 days will surprise you.
The most important thing is that you plan your itinerary in advance, to avoid wasting any time.
You can decide to rent a car in Italy, for more flexibility, or use only trains and busses, for more peace of mind.
Change your accommodation every day or so, to see more (active, however, tiring experience) or split your stay between 3/4 locations to have more of a relaxed adventure, still experiencing a lot of Sicily.
Or why not spend the whole holiday sunbathing on the most beautiful and unique Sicilian beaches?
In this 10-day itinerary of Sicily, you can visit some of the most iconic destinations using public transportation. I have started this journey from Palermo, however, being a loop, you can easily adapt it and start it from Taormina (connected by bus to the Catania Airport).
|Day 1||All Day||Palermo||Start with the vibrant Ballaro’ market. Join an exclusive Palermo Art Tour for a comprehensive city tour or explore the Old Centre on your own.|
|Day 2||Morning||Monreale Cathedral||Visit the famous Monreale Cathedral. Take a public bus (#389P) from Indipendenza Square to reach there. Lunch at the deli Le Bontà Di Peppe.|
|Afternoon to Evening||Mondello beach||Head down to Mondello Beach. Use bus #806 or a taxi for transport.|
|Day 2 (alternative)||All Day||Cefalù||Take a train for a day trip to Cefalù. Explore the charming old town and the beautiful beaches.|
|Day 3||All Day||Agrigento||Travel to Agrigento (Cuffaro Trasporti, 2 hours by bus). Spend the afternoon in the Old Centre.|
|Day 4||All Day||Valley of the Temples||Visit the historical site, Valley of the Temples. Buy tickets in advance with an audio guide or e-scooter/e-bike.|
|Day 5||All Day||Avola||Travel to Avola, south of Catania (SAIS Bus to Catania Airport, Interbus to Avola). Relax at the fabulous beach.|
|Day 6||Morning to Afternoon||Noto||Take the train to Noto. Explore the Baroque town and later take a bus to Lido di Noto for beach time.|
|Day 7||All Day||Siracusa||Visit Ortigia Island in Siracusa by train. In the afternoon, return to Avola Beach or stop at Fontane Bianche.|
|Day 8||All Day||Taormina||Move to Taormina by train. Enjoy the old town in the afternoon.|
|Day 9||All Day||Taormina / Etna Volcano||Day for an organised tour: local wineries around Etna Volcano or the unique Godfather/Mafia Tour. For trekking at Etna, join the Etna Tour with wine tasting.|
|Day 10||All Day||Taormina / Giardini Naxos||Enjoy the old town and local boutique beach. Take a cable car or walk to Giardini Naxos for exploring the coast and Isola Bella (Beautiful Island).|
Based on my experience, I have organised another 4 options for an itinerary of ten days in Sicily with a daily plan to get the most out of it, with or without a car.
10 days itinerary guide to Sicily
Sicily Itinerary in 2 weeks, and over
In two weeks, you can comfortably explore both sides of the island, the west and the east.
In addition to seeing the amazing beaches, exploring unique historical sites, trekking to the peak of a volcano and experiencing the local life, you can also take some relaxing time.
Among my favourite western towns with bustling old centres are Palermo, Cefalù, and Trapani.
On the east side, Taormina, Ortigia Island and Noto should not be missed.
Here is a very comprehensive road trip of 14 days by car in Sicily to cover the most iconic destinations on the island.
|Day 1||Catania||Explore the Old Centre, and visit the fishing market and the underground foundations of the city. Join a Customized Private Walking Tour and enjoy the nightlife.|
|Day 2||Taormina||Rent a car and drive to Taormina. Explore the town and beaches.|
|Day 3||Taormina / Etna Volcano||Take a drive to visit the Etna Volcano. This is one of the most impressive day trips in Sicily that you can do on your own. The trekking is easy too. Most is covered by cable car and buses.|
|Day 4||Cefalù||Drive to Cefalù. Visit the Old Centre and the port area. Enjoy the beach. Possible beach stops at Spiaggia Baia Del Tono or Reserve of the Lakes of Marinello.|
|Day 5||Palermo||Drive to Palermo. Visit the Old Centre and the Ballaro’ market. Afternoon options: Palermo Art Tour or Mondello Beach.|
|Day 6||San Vito Lo Capo||Drive to San Vito Lo Capo. Enjoy the beach.|
|Day 7||San Vito Lo Capo / Riserva del Zingaro||Visit the Riserva del Zingaro Natural Park or relax at the local beach and drive to the Torre dell’Usciere for the view.|
|Day 8||Trapani / Temple of Segesta||Visit the Temple of Segesta, then head to Trapani. Explore the Old Town and possibly visit Blue Beach.|
|Day 9||Trapani / Erice||Visit the medieval village of Erice via cable car. Enjoy lunch at Gli Archi di San Carlo and later relax at San Giuliano Beach.|
|Day 10||Agrigento / Marsala / Scala dei Turchi||Drive to Agrigento with stops at the Salt Pans of Marsala, Marsala town for wine tasting, and Scala dei Turchi beach. Explore the old centre of Agrigento.|
|Day 11||Valley of the Temples / Cannatello Beach||Visit the Valley of the Temples. In the afternoon, relax at Cannatello Beach.|
|Day 12||Lido di Noto / Ragusa||Drive to Lido di Noto with a stop at Ragusa. Enjoy the beach at Lido di Noto or Black Stones Beach in Pozzallo. Have dinner at Noto.|
|Day 13||Noto / Siracusa||Visit Noto or Siracusa’s Ortigia Island. Consider a swim at Punta Carrozza, Lido di Arenella, or Fontane Bianche.|
|Day 14||Catania Airport||Relax at the beach and drive back to the Catania Airport for your flight home.|
As for the 4 days, this plan can be easily adapted with a start from Palermo airport.
I have enjoyed so much exploring Sicily, left and right, inside out. Based on my experience, I have organised another 4 possible options for a Sicily itinerary of 2 weeks, with maps and daily plans.
2 weeks itinerary guide to Sicily
Itinerary for beaches with only one base
Here are 3 locations easily reachable from the airport of Palermo (San Vito Lo Capo) and Catania (Fontane Bianche and Giardini Naxos)
San Vito Lo Capo (Palermo)
San Vito Lo Capo is a real jewel with an amazing coral sandy beach. This is a place I would recommend to any beach lover, especially if you land at Palermo airport.
From San Vito, you can also organise day excursions to Scopello, for the boutique town and the lovely sea, and to the Riserva Dello Zingaro for a walk and some time spent in one of many coves swimming in the turquoise water.
Other beaches nearby are Bue Marino Beach, Màcari Beach and the isolated ‘A Chianca Beach
Also consider a day trip to Favignana, a great destination for snorkelling.
To get to San Vito Lo Capo, you can either decide to rent a car or you can opt for a direct Shuttle bus to/from the airports of Palermo and Trapani.
- For couples: Acquarò Suite Rooms, for a romantic boutique stay or B&B Selene, just 100 metres from the beach and with a fantastic jacuzzi on the rooftop (see photos here). The lovely breakfast makes a fantastic start to the day.
- For Families: Piccola Stella (2BR) and Villa Agata (3BR up to 6 people) holiday homes/Airbnb or Villaggio Cala Mancina, a great resort for kids
Fontane Bianche (Catania)
Fontane Bianche is a great beach town south of Catania (2 hours by train) or just 50 minutes by car from the airport.
Absolutely pristine water with a white/brownish sandy beach. A dream destination.
From Fontane Bianche you can easily visit by train Pantanello Beach in Avola (10 minutes), Lido di Noto Beach (20 minutes by train to Noto and 7 minutes by local bus) or the local Marchesa Beach, just 3km south of Fontane Bianche, less busy, still so beautiful.
Or make it a day trip to Pozzallo for the lovely Black Stones Beach (you may want to visit the baroque town of Modica on the same day).
Fontane Bianche is also a great base to visit Siracusa and Ortigia Island (10 minutes by train), Noto (20 minutes), Modico (1.5 hours by train or 1 hour by car) or Ragusa (2 hours by train or just over 1 hour by car).
- For families: L’uliveto sul mare (2BR up to 4 people) and Villa Sirio (3BR up to 6 people)
- For couples: White Bay (on the beach), White Beach BeB (amazing value for money)
Giardini Naxos (Catania)
Giardini Naxos has one of the best beaches in Sicily, however, in true honesty not as amazing as the previous 2 destinations
The beach is long and wide, with beautiful water. Most of it is organised (15/20 euro for sunbeds) with a little space for the free area.
You can have nice walks to the Isola Bella for example or even further to a couple of coves.
You can also catch the train to Letojanni for the much wider and longer Mazzeo Beach (pebble beach)
The great thing about Giardini Naxos is its location, a stone away from the popular Taormina, one of the most charming towns in Sicily.
You can also easily organise a day trip to the Etna Volcano, one of the most active in the world (check out my DIY Guide to the Etna)
In 50 minutes by train, you can be in Catania and there is a direct bus (Etna Trasporti) from/to the Catania airport. So practical
- Casa mia (2BR with amazing view from the huge balcony) Villa Maria (4BR up to 9 people) and Residence Villa Giardini (1BR up to 4 people with pool)
Sicily Itinerary for families with only one base
Sicily is a great place for families. You will be surprised by how the locals are so open heart with the kids.
I personally like to move around to get the best out of a place I am visiting. In all of my Itineraries of 3 days, 5 days and 1 week in Sicily I have dedicated a section just to families with kids
However, I fully understand that this can be quite tiring, especially with smaller kids.
The two destinations below work great because:
- they are beach destinations, so you can mix sightseeing with building castles, having a dive and going for a swim.
- they are next to iconic places for a cultural experience
- you get the possibility to join day trips
- you can rent a car for easy day trips
- they are well connected to the two main airports, Palermo and Catania
Mondello is a neighbourhood north of Palermo famous for its amazing clean water and lovely white/brown sand.
It’s connected to the old town by a 45-minute direct bus or just 20 minutes by taxi, so easy to get around.
Besides enjoying the lovely beach, you can, of course, experience all that Palermo has to offer, with its wide Old Centre (the biggest in Europe) and the famous Ballaro’ Market.
You will have access to plenty of organised day trips or organise your own using public transportation, like:
- the 50 minutes train ride to Cefalù, one of the most charming towns in Sicily
- the 1.5 hours car drive to San Vito Lo Capo, for one of the best beaches in Europe
- the 1-hour car drive for some easy trekking to the Riserva del Zingaro
The Palermo airport is connected to Mondello by train & bus (1h20m) or to Palermo centre in just 50 minutes
For a family stay in Mondello, you should check out
- Appartamento a Mondello and Guest House Antichi Ulivi are both two great 2BR apartments/AirBnb that can host up to 4 people
- The Dreamy Villa is an amazing and lovely holiday villa that can host up to 7 people (see photos here)
Avola is an easy-going coastal town south of Catania, very well connected by train to some of the most beautiful destinations on the East Coast
The local beach is long and wide with shallow water, ideal for kids of any age.
In 10 minutes by train, you will have access to another great beach, Fontane Bianche, as well as one of the most spectacular baroque towns in the world, Noto
In 20 minutes by train, you will be in Siracusa and Ortigia Island, another spectacular destination to have a walk with your kids
You can also think to rent a car to explore Ragusa, Modica and the other lovely beaches south of Avola, like Eloro Beach and Pizzuta Beach, both very unspoilt (bring your own food and water)
The Catania airport is connected to Avola by direct bus (Interbus) in just 1 hour
For a family stay in Avola you should check out
- Villa dei Mori (3BR up to 8 people) and Casa Le Pigne (2BR very spacy), Villa Dell’Artista (2BR budget up to 4 people)
Unmissable places to see in Sicily
In my guide to the Sicilian attractions, I describe some of the best places to visit and experience, as well as some hidden gems and secret locations.
Here below, I have included a map and an overview of the attractions (for more photos and a full description, see my complete post).
The places that I consider must-sees are marked with a small star (*).
Places close to Palermo
- (*) Mondello: this is actually a neighbourhood of Palermo, 8km northwest of the Old Centre. Here you will find one of the best beaches in Sicily, quite amazing considering that Palermo is a city of over 600,000 inhabitants
- Monreale Cathedral: Monreale is a nice old town just 45 minutes south of Palermo, reachable with an inexpensive public bus. What makes it a great destination is the Cathedral of Monreale, one of the most iconic Norman cathedrals in the world
- (*) Cefalù: such a romantic town with the old centre perched on a small hill and a castle on top, just picture perfect. It’s easily reachable by train (50 minutes) from Palermo. Do not miss the beach in the old port, so lovely and charming
- Segesta Temple Area: this Greek Temple area is second only to the Valley of the Temple. Built in the 5th century BC, Segesta is only 1 hour by car from Palermo
- Zingaro Nature Reserve: one of the most scenic National Parks in Sicily that follow the coast south of San Vito Lo Capo (connected by shuttle bus). There is an easy track to follow that will take you to a series of small coves and boutique beaches. The view during the walk is stunning
- (*) San Vito Lo Capo: one of the best beaches not only in Sicily but also in Europe. It’s long, wide and with shallow turquoise water. Real heaven.
- Scopello: a medieval city famous for its incredible location and the enchanting Tonnara, the old fishing processing factory with a long history. From there you can also walk to the Zingaro Nature Reserve
Places close to Catania
- (*) Taormina: the most popular of all destinations in Sicily, and for a good reason, it’s an extraordinary and iconic Sicilian place. Getting lost in the maze of a small lane is the best way to actually visit it. Try to make at least one night there to enjoy the town by night and early morning, without the day-trippers. On a hot day, take the cable car to the boutique beach down at the coast
- Giardini Naxos & Isola Bella: most people know Giardini Naxos as the beachside of Taormina and that’s a pity because it offers more than you think, like the beautiful walk to the Isola Bella. The beach is sandy and wide, mostly organised with sunbeds.
- (*) Mount Etna: this is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. If you are lucky enough you may be able to experience even an eruption when travelling in Sicily. However, most of the time it will be safe to actually hike to the peak. You can also read my full guide for a DIY experience on both sides of the volcano.
- (*) Noto, Ragusa and Modica: these are the quintessential Baroque towns, a must-experience. A huge earthquake in 1693 completely destroyed these three towns which were fully rebuilt using the style popular in those days, Baroque. If you can make it to only one town, then make it to Noto.
- (*) Ortigia Island in Siracusa: the island of Ortigia is the old centre of Siracusa, a romantic, charming, picturesque maze of Greek, Medieval, Norman and Baroque buildings. It’s easily reachable by train in just 1 hour from Catania.
- (*) Fontane Bianche: one of the best beaches of Sicily, very popular with families thanks to the long, wide and sandy beach with turquoise shallow water.
- Avola: another great beach town south of Fontane Bianche very well connected by train to Noto and Ortigia Island, besides Fontane Bianche. It’s also directly connected by bus to the Airport of Catania. It’s a super handy location, especially for a short stay
Places close to Agrigento
- (*) Valley of the Temples: the biggest archaeological site in the world and the most iconic destination in Sicily. In addition to ancient Greek temples and sanctuaries, you can also visit the necropolis, antique fortifications, and more from the Greater Greece period.
- (*) Scala dei Turchi: a unique beach with a white wavy cliff, a rock formation used during the raids carried on by the Saracen pirates
- Licata: this is the town famous for being used multiple times during the filming of the Inspector Montalbano TV Series. Another great reason to visit it is the imposing wide beach.
Places close to Trapani
- (*) Erice: an ancient town founded by the Phoenicians that has gone through a series of transformations, from Greek to Arab, from Norman to Baroque. Walking in Erice is like reading a visual book of architectural styles
- Favignana: an island 30 minutes by ferry from Trapani, one of the best spots for snorkelling thanks to its amazing coastline and transparent water. There is not much sand around, and this is probably the only drawback.
- Marsala Salt Pans: try to visit it around sunset for the spectacular colours. An interesting fact is that the salt pans were built by the Phoenicians over 3,000 years ago and they are still working.
- Marsala: an old town off the touristy path famous for its local wine that you can taste in one of the many bars in the town centre.
Other hidden places
- Stromboli Volcano: located on the isolated island of Stromboli, with just 300 inhabitants, the volcano is as active as the Etna, if not more. It’s the perfect destination for adventurous travellers.
- Ustica: world-famous for its diving sites and reachable by ferry boat from Trapani
- Ghost Town of Poggioreale: located south of Palermo, this town was almost completely demolished by a deadly earthquake in 1968. Everyone left and Poggioreale is now a ghost town of unstable buildings. DO NOT step into any house, it can be really really dangerous.
- Corleone: made famous by the glamour Hollywood movies. You can visit here a museum about the Mafia, with plenty of documentation on the cruel activity of this criminal organisation.
To find out more about the places mentioned above and other secret corners of the island, check out this guide to the top attractions in Sicily
Read guide to the best attractions
More on beaches
This is my personal Google Map that I want to share with you with a list of over 30 great beaches all around Sicily.
FAQ for a Sicily itinerary
How Long Does It Take To Get Around Sicily?
You can do the full loop in 4 or 5 days with a rented car in Italy. However, to be really honest with you, it will be a trip in a rush. Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and you need time to visit it all. Plan at least 10 days, much better 2 or even 3 weeks.
Do they speak English in Sicily?
Most of the young generation has some basic English, not quite so the old generation. Most, if not all, of the people involved in tourism, speak reasonably good English.
Do I need a car in Sicily?
No, you don’t need a car. You will always find some form of public transportation between the major destinations. Of course, renting a car will save you lots of time and you will be able to stop in any of the villages along the trip, which is an experience in itself. Check out my guide to getting around Sicily.
Should I fly to Palermo or Catania?
It really depends on the available flights you have from your airport. If you can fly to both, you should check out my comparison guide between Catania and Palermo, with all you need to make the best choice
Are 2 Weeks In Sicily Too Long?
Which Side Of Sicily Is Better?
I would personally go to the northwest side for the beaches, Palermo, Cefalu’ and Trapani. I would stay on the east side for the beautiful destinations like Noto, Siracusa, Ortigia Island, Taormina, Catania, the Etna etc. I would opt for the south coast for the Valley of the Temples and the more secluded beaches
What Is The Best Time Of Year To Go To Sicily?
Of course, any time of the year is good. Although, August and late July are very busy and usually very hot, up to 40 degrees Celsius or even more. If you plan to trek the Etna Mountain, you should consider the spring and summer months as the winter can be very cold and with plenty of snow.
3 thoughts on “Best Sicily itinerary in 3, 5, 7, 10 or 14 days”
Hi Stefano, I love your blog, and your accommodation recommendations are fantastic! I am planning a 3 week trip to Sicily next year with my husband! I plan to fly into Palermo mid-may and stay for 7 nights, and then hire a car when leaving Palermo. In that 7 days in Palermo, I was hoping to travel by public transport to Monreale and Mondello – is this possible/easy? We will then grab the car and head towards San Vito Lo Capo for 2 nights, hoping to see Riserva del Zingara. We will then head to Agrigento for 2 nights, then Noto for 2 nights (I have previously stayed in Giardini Naxos in a villa for a week, so have seen Taormina, Ortygia, Syracuse and done an Etna Excursion- loved them!). I was then hoping to go to Salina for 3/4 nights, and finally a few nights in Cefalu before returning to fly our from Palermo. Does this sound like a good plan? Is there anything else you suggest I see? With Salina, do we leave our car at the port in Milazzo for the 4 nights – not sure if this is safe? My other alternative is to go back to Palermo after Cefalu, return the car, and then get a ferry to Salina from Palermo. However, I can’t seem to see when the ferry season starts – do you know (our dates for Salina would be 2.6.23-6.6.23)? Cheers, Karen (Australia)
Hi Karen, sorry for the late reply. On a trip myself and limited internet.
To Mondello bus 806 da piazzale Crispi, easy.
To Monreale it is a bit more complicated but doable. You have to take two buses. 108 to Indipendenza and from there the first bus to Monreale (ask, usually 389 or 380.
You have a great plan. Well done. Love it.
Check with your accommodation about the car parking. Just remember to leave nothing in the car, not even an empty bag.
Too early for the ferry. I suggest you booking the car, usually they have free cancellation policies till 1-2 days prior to start. Once the ferry schedule is out, you can decide if that is a better option based on your personal schedule.
I hope I was able to answer all your questions.
Have a fantastic trip!!
Hi Stefano, I left a comment/question last week – just wondering if you got it?