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

Sicily Or Puglia – Which One Is Better in 15 key differences

It is always hard to compare two destinations, even more so with two regions of Italy like Sicily and Puglia.

They are both so beautiful, picturesque and stunning, although in their own way.

If you still can’t decide between Sicily or Puglia for your next trip, then you are in the right place because here you will see a full comparison based on over 15 subjects, you either have a trip with your family, a romantic getaway, planning on using only public transportation or renting a car, and I could keep going.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Polignano a Mare - Sunset at Cala Paura gulf with Bastione di Santo Stefano - Puglia
Polignano a Mare – Sunset at Cala Paura gulf with Bastione di Santo Stefano – Puglia

Sicily or Puglia – A quick comparison table

Here below is a comparative table for a quick overview of the differences. But keep reading for more information.

You can click on the subject for more details.

SubjectSicilyPugliaMy favouriteWhy
For FamiliesDiverse activities for all agesUnique architecture, beautiful beachesSicilyMore varied experiences for families
For CouplesIdyllic coastal townsCharming region, laid-back atmospherePugliaMore intimate and relaxed vibe
7 to 10-Day ItineraryRich history, diverse landscapesBeautiful beaches, UNESCO sitesSicilyWell-rounded and unforgettable adventure
WeatherWarmer and sunnierWarm but windierSicilyMore sunshine and warmth
ArchitectureMix of cultural influencesDistinctive trulli, Baroque styleTieBoth offer amazing architecture
FoodFresh seafood, sweet treatsRustic dishes, homemade pastaSicilyBoth regions have mouthwatering cuisine, however, Sicily offers more variety
BeachesAmazingOutstandingTieBoth regions offer outstanding beaches
NatureDiverse landscapes, Mount EtnaOlive groves, rugged cliffsSicilyGreat for walking and trekking. Mount Etna is unique
NightlifeVibrant nightlife in Catania & PalermoLaid-back and beach clubsSicilyMore nightlife in the two major cities. Puglia is best for beach clubs (Gallipoli)
HoneymoonRomantic and luxuriousCharming and intimatePugliaBetter for seclusion and unique stay
BudgetAffordableGreat value for moneyPugliaBy a tiny margin and feeling
SizeOver 25K sq kmBelow 20K sq kmSicilySicily is bigger, however Puglia is longer
Festivals & Cultural EventsFilm festivals, religious processionsMusic festivals, light festivalTieBoth regions have a variety of exciting events
AccessibilityIsland location, higher costsMainland location, more affordable by bus and trainPugliaMore accessible and budget-friendly
Local Public TransportationExtensive train network, busesReliable trains, busesPugliaBetter train network for exploring the region
Renting a CarWinding mountain roads inlandLong drive North to SouthTieBoth regions have unique driving challenges, both offer amazing adventures
Sicily or Puglia – Comparison table

The best way to explore both regions is by renting a car. Public transportation is available but punctuality is an issue and buses/trains connect mostly the main cities and towns.

With a car, you will be able to experience so much more, besides reaching hidden gems otherwise impossible to get to. I am thinking here of places like Castel del Monte and Grotte di Castellana in Puglia, or the Riserva Naturale Cavagrande and the Stagnone Nature Reserve in Sicily.

I usually rent my cars on DiscoverCars, a great website that compares the prices of most global and local rental agencies, providing the best options.

There are two things that I love about DiscoverCars: they provide a rating of the rental agencies based on customer feedback (a sort of Airbnb of car rentals), so useful, and they offer full insurance for just 7€/day, essential for peace of mind (streets can be very narrow in Puglia).

Castel del Monte - Historic castle in Puglia
Castel del Monte – Historic castle in Puglia

Sicily or Puglia for Families

Having travelled with my family to both destinations, I can confidently say that each offers a fantastic experience for families.

Sicily, with its stunning beaches and picturesque landscapes, provides ample opportunities for beach time, hiking (the trekking to the Etna volcano is amazing), and exploring ancient ruins.

On the other hand, Puglia is known for its unique architecture (trulli) and amazing beaches. The Gargano area, up in the north of Puglia, is one of the natural wonders of Italy, with awesome walking possibilities and lovely sandy beaches.

Winner: Sicily – I give Sicily a slight edge for families due to its diverse range of activities that cater to all ages, ensuring everyone has a memorable experience.

Sicily or Puglia for Couples

Both Sicily and Puglia are romantic destinations.

Sicily is home to idyllic coastal towns like Taormina and Cefalù, where couples can enjoy picturesque walks and candlelit dinners.

Puglia, with its charming whitewashed towns such as Alberobello and Ostuni, offers a more laid-back atmosphere, perfect for strolling hand-in-hand or sipping wine at a local enoteca.

Winner: Puglia – Although both regions are ideal for couples, Puglia wins my heart for its relaxed, intimate vibe, making it perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle.

All you need to know to plan a Mount Etna Tour
All you need to know to plan a Mount Etna Tour

Sicily Vs Puglia for a 7 to 10-Day Itinerary

A week-long trip to either Sicily or Puglia can be filled with amazing experiences. Even more so if you plan 10 days or 2 weeks.

In a 7-day Sicily itinerary, you can explore the bustling city of Catania with its many places to stay and visit, explore ancient Greek temples in Agrigento, and hike Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano.

With a Sicily itinerary of 10 days, you can even think to include Palermo and Cefalu. You can read more on my suggested Sicilian itineraries.

In a 7-day Puglia itinerary, you can plan to include the unique trulli of Alberobello, the “white towns” and the Salento area.

In 10 days in Puglia, you can even add UNESCO World Heritage sites like Castel del Monte, and the beautiful nature and beaches of Gargano.

Winner: Sicily – With its diverse landscapes and rich history, Sicily takes the cake for a 7 to 10-day itinerary, providing a well-rounded and unforgettable adventure.

Sicily and Puglia Weather

The weather in both Sicily and Puglia is typically Mediterranean, with hot summers and mild winters.

However, Sicily has a slightly warmer climate due to its southern location, while Puglia can be cooler and windier, especially along the coast.

It must be said that temperatures in August can be really hot in Sicily, well over 40°C (105°F)

Winner: Sicily – For those seeking more sunshine and warmth, Sicily is the better option. If visiting in August, then Puglia is probably a better bet unless you like the hot dry climate.

Best Sicily Itineraries
Best Sicily Itineraries

Architecture in Sicily and Puglia

When it comes to architecture, both regions boast unique and captivating styles.

I was surprised by how many architectural styles you can find in Sicily, from Greek to Roman, from Arab to Norman.

You’ll find Baroque buildings like in the stunning Noto, ancient Greek temples like in Agrigento, and stunning Norman cathedrals like in Palermo.

Puglia, on the other hand, is famous for its trulli, the unique cone-shaped dwellings found in Alberobello, and the ornate Baroque architecture of Lecce.

Winner: Tie – Puglia has the distinctive trulli and the elegance of Lecce. Sicily has a great mix of styles and amazing Baroque towns on the east coast, which are really unique in both quantity and quality.

Food in Puglia Vs Sicily

Italian cuisine is renowned worldwide, and both Sicily and Puglia have their own mouthwatering dishes.

Sicilian cuisine is a blend of Mediterranean and Middle East flavours, based on seafood and not only.

Some iconic Sicilian dishes include arancini, caponata, and cannoli.

Puglian cuisine is more influenced by nearby Greece with a focus on simple ingredients like olives, tomatoes, and local cheeses.

Orecchiette pasta and the decadent burrata cheese are just a couple of Puglian specialities.

Winner: Sicily – While both regions have delectable cuisine, Sicily’s diverse and vibrant flavours give it a slight edge over Puglia. Street food in Sicily, and more specifically in Palermo, was the highlight of my last trip.

Vieste - Beautiful coastal town on the rocks in Gargano - Puglia
Vieste – Beautiful coastal town on the rocks in Gargano – Puglia

Beaches in Puglia and Sicily

Both Sicily and Puglia are home to spectacular beaches.

In Sicily, you’ll find pristine white sand beaches like San Vito Lo Capo, crystal-clear waters at Isola Bella, and the unique black sand beaches of Vulcano Island.

Puglia boasts the stunning cliffs of Polignano a Mare, the turquoise waters of Pescoluse and most of the Salento area, and the dramatic rocky coastline of Otranto.

Winner: Tie – It’s impossible to choose a winner between Sicily and Puglia when it comes to beaches, as both regions offer a variety of breathtaking coastal landscapes.

Nature in Puglia Vs Sicily

Nature lovers will be in awe of both Sicily and Puglia.

Sicily’s diverse landscapes include the dramatic Mount Etna, lush forests, and rolling hills dotted with vineyards.

Puglia, with its olive groves, rugged cliffs, and the unique Itria Valley, provides a serene and picturesque setting for outdoor enthusiasts.

Winner: Sicily – The awe-inspiring Mount Etna and the varied landscapes of Sicily make it a more enticing destination for nature lovers. I loved so much my trekking in the Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro, highly suggested.

Polignano a Mare - The beach of Lama Monachile - Puglia
Polignano a Mare – The beach of Lama Monachile – Puglia

Nightlife: Puglia or Sicily?

In terms of nightlife, both Sicily and Puglia have something to offer.

Sicily’s larger cities, Palermo and Catania, although very different, they are both known for their vibrant club scene and lively bars.

Puglia has a more laid-back nightlife vibe, with charming wine bars and beachside clubs in towns like Gallipoli and Monopoli.

Winner: Sicily – For those seeking a more energetic and diverse nightlife, Sicily is the better choice. In saying that the beach clubs of Gallipoli are really something else, on par with Ibiza and Mykonos.

Honeymoon in Sicily or Puglia?

Deciding between Sicily or Puglia for a honeymoon can be a tough choice.

Sicily offers a mix of romantic coastal towns, luxurious resorts, and unforgettable culinary experiences.

One of the best places to stay in Sicily is Taormina, where you will find some boutique and luxurious places.

Puglia, with its charming trulli and intimate atmosphere, provides a unique and memorable setting for newlyweds.

One of the best places to stay in Puglia for a few days is Alberobello, but don’t discount Gallipoli for some fun at the famous beach clubs

Winner: Puglia – For its enchanting landscapes and intimate vibe, Puglia is my top choice for a honeymoon destination. Add Alberobello to your holiday for a unique time.

Alberobello - Street view of the typical Trulli - Puglia
Alberobello – Street view of the typical Trulli – Puglia

Is Sicily or Puglia Cheaper?

Both Sicily and Puglia offer a range of accommodation, dining, and activity options to suit various budgets.

Is Sicily an expensive destination? Or is Puglia getting now more expensive now that the VIPs started to take holidays there?

Well, Puglia is generally considered to be more affordable than Sicily, with lower-priced accommodations and dining options.

Between the two regions, Taormina is probably the most expensive town.

Winner: Puglia – For budget-conscious travellers, Puglia is the more wallet-friendly option.

What Region is Bigger in Size, Sicily or Puglia

When I compared Sicily to Sardinia, I already mentioned that Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.

Sicily covers almost 26,000 square kilometres (10,000 square miles) meanwhile Puglia, located in the “heel” of Italy’s boot, covers an area of just over 19,000 square kilometres (7,300 square miles).

An interesting point to highlight, especially if you are planning an itinerary, is that Puglia is much narrower and longer, with an approximate length of 400 kilometres (248 miles) from north to south along the eastern coastline.

You would need 5 to 6 hours, for example, to drive from the Salento to the Gargano area.

Winner: Sicily – The bigger of the two regions.

The amazing view down to Giardini Naxos from the Greek Theatre
Taormina – The amazing view down to Giardini Naxos from the Greek Theatre – Sicily

Festivals and Cultural Events in Sicily and Puglia

Sicily and Puglia both have rich cultural calendars with numerous events and festivals throughout the year.

Here are my top picks for each region:

Sicily:

  1. Taormina Film Festival (June) – A prestigious international film festival held in the beautiful town. I recommend booking your place to stay in Taormina well in advance.
  2. Feast of Saint Agatha (February) – One of the largest religious processions in Catania, celebrating the city’s patron saint.
  3. Cous Cous Fest (September) – A gastronomic festival in San Vito Lo Capo, showcasing couscous dishes from around the world.

Puglia:

  1. La Notte della Taranta (August) – A music festival dedicated to the traditional folk dance called “pizzica” in the Salento region.
  2. Alberobello Light Festival (July) – An enchanting event where Alberobello’s trulli are illuminated with colourful lights and projections.
  3. Saint Nicholas Festival (May) – A religious and cultural celebration in Bari, honouring the city’s patron saint.

Winner: Tie – Both Sicily and Puglia have a wide variety of exciting and unique events, making it impossible to choose a clear winner.

Is it Easier and Less Expensive to reach Puglia or Sicily?

Flight accessibility and cost depend on various factors, such as your departure point, time of year, and airline.

In general, flying to Sicily can be more expensive due to its island location.

Puglia, being part of mainland Italy, often has more affordable flight options and easier connections by bus and train.

Both regions have multiple airports, with Palermo and Catania being the main hubs for Sicily, while Bari and Brindisi serve Puglia.

Winner: Puglia – Although specific circumstances may vary, Puglia tends to be more accessible and budget-friendly when it comes to trains and buses. Flight prices are usually similar, if not cheaper for Puglia.

A panoramic shot of the Bari Cathedral surrounded by buildings and sea in Italy
A panoramic shot of the Bari Cathedral surrounded by buildings and sea in Puglia

Local Public Transportation in Puglia Vs Sicily

Public transportation in both Sicily and Puglia includes buses and trains, allowing you to travel between cities and towns.

Unfortunately, both regions suffer from a slow network for inland destinations.

Getting around Sicily without a car is not as simple, however doable.

The train network is ok, but buses may be a quicker option in some cases.

In Puglia, trains are generally more reliable, particularly along the coast, but can be slower than buses for certain routes.

Winner: Puglia – Puglia’s train network is more reliable and better suited for exploring the region, giving it the edge in public transportation. In saying that the bus network in Sicily works very well and in most cases is a better option than trains.

Renting a Car in Sicily Vs Puglia

Renting a car can be a convenient way to explore both Sicily and Puglia at your own pace. However, each region has its challenges when it comes to driving.

Getting around Sicily by car is a better and quicker option than by bus or train.

The drawback of driving? In Sicily, you’ll encounter winding mountain roads and busy city traffic, while in Puglia, narrow streets and limited parking can be problematic.

Car rental prices are generally similar in both regions.

Winner: Tie – Both Sicily and Puglia have their own driving challenges. In saying that, I highly suggest renting a car if you plan to visit either Puglia or Sicily. You will be surprised by how much you can visit in a Sicily itinerary or Puglia itinerary.

You should check out my favourite website for renting a car, DiscoverCars, where they compare the prices of most global and local rental agencies, providing the best options. For your peace of mind, remember to include the full insurance (usually around 7€/day)

Conclusion

In conclusion, choosing between Sicily and Puglia ultimately depends on your personal preferences and what you’re seeking from your vacation.

Both regions have their unique charms and attractions, making it difficult to declare a definitive winner.

Sicily shines with its diverse landscapes, rich history, and warmer weather, making it ideal for families and those with a week-long itinerary.

Puglia, on the other hand, captivates with its distinctive architecture, relaxed atmosphere, and accessibility, making it a top choice for couples and budget-conscious travellers.

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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