Last updated on January 31, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Sicily

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

Sicily or Sardinia, which one is better? This is the typical holiday question I get asked quite often. Both islands, located in the Mediterranean Sea, are so beautiful, the perfect spot for a holiday full of sun, sea, and culture.

In true honesty, it is impossible to give a definitive answer because it really depends on the type of trip you intend to have.

The major Sicilian cities as Palermo, Catania, and Siracusa, are unbeatable for history and culture. Sardinia, on the other hand, is one of the best places in the world for stunning and unreal beaches, such as La Pelosa or Cala Luna.

Both islands have something to offer for everyone, whether you’re after a romantic getaway, a honeymoon or a family holiday.

In this post, I go through the 15 main differences and similarities between Sicily and Sardinia, including the best places to stay, the cost of living, the weather, the nightlife scene and so much more.

But let’s dive into the 15 points.

The Greek Theatre in Taormina
The Greek Theatre in Taormina

Sicily or Sardinia – In a nutshell

Here below I have organised a quick and easy table that summarizes the major differences between Sicily and Sardinia.

Click on the subject to read more about it

SubjectSicilySardiniaFavourite
FamiliesBeaches, history, food, cultureAmazing and unique beaches, water sportsSardinia
(beaches)
CouplesRomantic towns, islands, beaches, foodLuxury resorts, secluded beaches, food, wineSicily
(mix experiences)
HoneymoonCharming towns, beaches, wine, foodSecluded beaches, luxury resorts, exclusive serviceSardinia
(exclusivity)
3-Day Itinerary– Palermo, Modello, Cefalù, Zingaro
– Catania, Taormina, Etna, Syracuse
Costa Smeralda, La Maddalena, beaches and covesSicily
(more variety)
Where to stayPalermo: Natoli Apartments
Catania: B&B Palazzo Bruca
Taormina: Villa Schuler
– Cefalu’:  Casanova Rooms
– San Vito: Villaggio Cala Mancina
More amazing areas to stay in Sicily
– Olbia: L’Essenza Hotel
– San Teodoro: Hotel Bonsai
– Stintino: 103 Boutique Hotel
– Cagliari: Residenza le Scalette
– Chia Coast: Hotel Su Giudeu
More amazing areas to stay in Sardinia
Check more options:
Sicily
Sardinia
WeatherHotter, drierMilder, more rainfallTie
ArchitectureGreek, Roman, Baroque, Norman, ArabianNuraghe and GothicSicily
(more variety)
FoodSeafood, pasta alla Norma, arancini, cannoliPorceddu, pane carasau, malloreddus, seadas, bottargaTie
BeachesIsola Bella, San Vito Lo Capo, MondelloCosta Smeralda, Chia, La Pelosa, Porto GiuncoSardinia
NatureEtna, Aeolian Islands, Zingaro Nature ReserveAsinara National Park, Grotta di Nettuno, Arcipelago di La MaddalenaTie
NightlifePalermo, Catania, TaorminaCosta Smeralda, Olbia, AlgheroTie but
read more below
Festivals and Cultural EventsCarnival of Acireale,
Taormina Greek Theatre Festival
Sardinia Jazz Festival, Sagra di Sant’EfisioTie
AccessDirect flights to Palermo, Catania and TrapaniDirect flights to Cagliari, Olbia and AlgheroSicily
Transportation and renting a carGood road network, car rentals easily available, buses/trainsPublic transport, car rentals recommendedSicily for public transportation
CostAffordable region of ItalyIt can be pricey, with luxury resorts and exclusive diningSicily on budget
Sardinia exclusive
SizeLargest island in the MediterraneanSecond largest island in the MediterraneanSicily

Sicily or Sardinia for families

Sicily

Sicily is an excellent destination for families with kids of all ages.

The island offers a wide variety of activities that are sure to please both parents and children.

One of the highlights of Sicily for families is its beautiful beaches. Sicilian beaches are perfect for children, with shallow, crystal-clear waters that are ideal for swimming and playing.

Some of the best beaches for families include San Vito Lo Capo, Mondello, and Fontane Bianche.

Another attraction that kids will love is the Etnaland water park, which is located near Catania. This park offers a range of water-based rides and attractions, including a wave pool, a lazy river, and several water slides.

A day trip to the Etna Volcano is another winner. I did that on my last trip to Sicily with my 9 years old boy and he loved the experience so much.

Sardinia

Sardinia is also a great destination for families.

The island’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean, and there are plenty of family-friendly resorts and hotels to choose from.

Some of the best beaches for families include La Pelosa, Cala Brandinchi, and Spiaggia del Principe. All with beautiful turquoise water so shallow that you can leave your kids playing without any worry.

One of the main attractions for families in Sardinia is the Blue Marino Caves, which are located on the island’s northeast coast. These caves can only be accessed by boat and your kids will love the experience, so much fun.

Diverland, a waterpark just outside Cagliari, is another winner for families with kids.

My Favorite

While both Sicily and Sardinia are great options for families, my favourite is Sardinia, but by a very tiny margin, especially if you want to spend most of your time at the beach with your kids. Sardinia beaches are usually so family-friendly.

Beautiful water of Sardinia near San Teodoro
Beautiful water of Sardinia near San Teodoro

Sardinia Vs. Sicily for couples

Sicily

Sicily is a romantic destination that is perfect for couples.

The island’s charming villages, historic sites, and beautiful landscapes make it an ideal place for a romantic getaway.

One of the highlights of Sicily for couples is, of course, Taormina, a picturesque town with stunning views of both the east coast and the Etna Volcano.

Not to talk about a sunset cocktail in the amazing Stagnone Nature Reserve. That was the highlight of my last visit to Sicily.

For a more secluded and relaxed stay, head to the Aeolian Islands, off the coast of Sicily, a paradise for nature lovers with outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, and snorkelling.

Sardinia

Sardinia is also a great destination for couples.

The island is known for its crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, and stunning landscapes.

One of the highlights for couples in Sardinia is Neptune’s Grotto, which is located near Alghero. This natural cave is filled with stalactites and stalagmites and can only be accessed by boat or on foot.

Some of the most romantic places in Sardinia include the Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo, and the Maddalena Archipelago.

My favourite

As a romantic destination, both Sicily and Sardinia are great options. However, my favourite is Sicily. I love the charming villages and historic sites, as well as the beautiful landscapes and outdoor activities that the island offers. Sicily has a great mix of historical towns/attractions and lovely beaches.

Amazing view of Giardini Naxos coast from Taormina
Amazing view of Giardini Naxos coast from Taormina

Sicily or Sardinia for Honeymoon

Sicily

Sicily is an ideal destination for a honeymoon with its enchanting landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque towns.

The historic city of Taormina, with its stunning views of Mount Etna, is a popular choice for honeymooners.

The city boasts several romantic spots, such as the famous Greek Theatre, which is a perfect spot to watch the sunset.

Sardinia

Sardinia is another great option for a honeymoon.

The island’s clear turquoise waters, rugged coastline, and sandy beaches make it an excellent destination for romantic and secluded getaways.

The island has many picturesque villages to explore, such as Castelsardo and Bosa, which offer breathtaking views of the sea and surrounding landscapes.

My favourite

Both islands are great choices for honeymooners, but my personal favourite is Sardinia. On this island, you can find some unique exclusive resorts and hotels, especially around the Costa Smeralda and Porto Cervo area. You can have a secluded stay during the day, and a special evening/night in one of the many upscale Sardinia clubs.

Exploring La Maddalena
Exploring La Maddalena

3-Day Itinerary in Sardinia and Sicily

Sicily

If you only have three days to explore Sicily, it’s best to focus on one area, either Palermo or Catania.

A great option would be to base yourself in Palermo and spend day one exploring the city’s historic landmarks and vibrant street markets.

On the second day, take a day trip to the nearby towns of Monreale or Cefalù, where you can see stunning cathedrals and enjoy the picturesque coastal scenery.

On the third day, head to the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento to see some of the best-preserved ancient Greek ruins in the world. Keep in mind that the trip itself takes around 2 hours one way.

Alternatively, enjoy some beach time in Mondello or organise a day of trekking in the Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro.

I have created almost 30 possible itineraries of Sicily based on the length of the stay and the things to do (beach, historical sites, family time, adventure, etc). Plenty of information for 3 days, 5 days, 7 days, 10 days or 2 weeks in Sicily.

Sardinia

Similarly to Sicily, also Sardinia is a large island, so you really need to focus on only one area of the island.

One option is to base yourself in the north of the island and explore the beaches and towns in the Costa Smeralda area, including the towns of Porto Cervo and Porto Rotondo.

On the second day, take a boat tour to the Maddalena Archipelago, a group of stunning islands with crystal-clear waters.

On the third day, head inland to the charming town of Tempio Pausania to see some traditional Sardinian architecture and enjoy the beautiful countryside.

My favourite

It’s a tough call, but I would have to give the edge to Sicily for a three-day itinerary. There is simply so much to see and do in a relatively compact area, either in Palermo or in Catania with the Etna Volcano a must-experience.

The best way to see the Old Centre on a motorized vehicle
The best way to see the Palermo Old Centre on a motorized vehicle

Where to stay in Sicily and Sardinia

Sicily

I have written extensively about where to stay in Sicily and the best areas based on the type of holiday.

Here is a very quick table that summarizes my guide together with a map of Sicily

Area/TownBest forSuggested Hotel
East/CataniaCity, Base for Etna, CultureB&B Palazzo Bruca
More on the best places and areas to stay in CATANIA
East/TaorminaLuxury and RomanceHotel Villa Schuler
More on the best places and areas to stay in TAORMINA
East/Siracusa-OrtigiaAncient History, amazing Old Town and BeachesHotel Henry’s House
East/NotoHistoric ArchitectureFicu Pala
West/PalermoArt, Culture, and City ExplorationAlma Hotel
More on the best places and areas to stay in TAORMINA
West/CefalùSeaside RelaxationCasanova Rooms
West/TrapaniAncient Architecture and FoodCentral Gallery
West/San Vito Lo CapoBeaches and NatureAcquarò Suite Rooms
West/EriceMedieval History and ViewsBella Vista B&B
South/AgrigentoAncient Greek TemplesCentral Gallery Rooms
Map of Sicily with major attractions
Map of Sicily with major attractions

Sardinia

I have written a popular guide also about where to stay in Sardinia, with the best towns and hotels in the area.

Area/TownBest forSuggested Hotel
CagliariCity break, nightlife, historyArcobaleno Rooms
VillasimiusBeach holiday, family vacationResidence Fenicia
OlbiaBeach holiday, nightlifeOspitalita’ del Conte Hotel
San TeodoroCouples, nightlife but not crazyHotel Bonsai
Santa Teresa GalluraBeach holiday, family vacationVilla Gioietta
La Maddalena and CapreraNature, beach holiday, boatingIl giardino di Tatiana
Ogliastra Coast and ArbataxBeach holiday, nature, trekkingArbatax Park Resort

And here is a map with the best areas

Best areas to stay in Sardinia
Best areas to stay in Sardinia

weather: is Sicily hotter than Sardinia

Sicily

Sicily is known for its hot, sunny summers, with temperatures averaging around 30°C (86°F) from June to September. From mid-July to mid-August you can possibly experience extreme temperatures even above 40°C (105°F)

Winters are mild, with temperatures around 15°C (59°F) and occasional rain. The early morning can be quite chilly, even close to the 0°C (32°F)

Spring and autumn are ideal times to visit, with pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds.

Keep in mind that the Etna Volcano may have snow during winter (more often than not) and temperatures in summer can go down to 0°C (32°F).

On my last trip in mid-September, I experienced a beautiful sunny mild day and a t-shirt with a jumper was more than enough to hike the mountain, but I was lucky because the weather is really inconsistent (check out the video below).

Sardinia

Like Sicily, Sardinia has hot, dry summers with temperatures averaging around 30°C (86°F) from June to September.

Winters are cooler but still mild, with temperatures around 12°C (54°F) or above.

Spring and autumn are also great times to visit, with comfortable temperatures and fewer tourists.

Sardinia tends to be slightly cooler and more pleasant during the summer months due to the influence of the sea breeze, while Sicily can get quite hot and humid.

My favourite

When it comes to weather, it’s a tie between Sicily and Sardinia. Both islands offer hot, sunny summers and mild winters, with consistent weather and pleasant temperatures in spring and autumn.

Architecture in Sicily Vs. Sardinia

Sicily

Sicily experienced domination by various civilizations, from the Greeks and the Romans to the Arabs and the Normans.

It is in fact not so uncommon to meet real Sicilian with red or blonde hair, with family origin back to the Normans.

This unique blend of cultures has left a lasting mark on the island’s architecture, which can be seen in its historic buildings, churches, and monuments.

One of the most notable examples is of course the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, but there are other instances like the Greek-Roman Theatre in Taormina, a town famous also for its Medieval architecture. A town I highly suggest spending some time (so many beautiful places to stay in Taormina, even on a budget)

Sardinia

Sardinia’s architecture is also largely influenced by its rich history, particularly the island’s ancient Nuragic civilization and the Roman Empire.

You will be surprised by the many stone structures, that resemble towers, dating back to the Nuragic time (from the 23rd century BC – Bronze Age – to the Roman Empire in the 1st/2nd century AD)

Sardinia’s architecture also showcases influences from the Roman, Spanish, Catalan, and Italian cultures.

My favourite

Personally, I find Sicily‘s architecture mix more stimulating and diverse. Walking through the streets of Palermo is like having a lesson on architectural styles. From the Arabic neighbourhood of Kasla to the Greek and Roman theatres and structures in the Old Centre. You should definitely experience and stay in these beautiful areas of Palermo.

Who has the best Food, Sardinia or Sicily

Sicily

Sicilian cuisine is a fusion of various cultural influences, including Greek, Roman, Arab, and Spanish.

Some of the island’s most famous dishes include arancini (fried rice balls), pasta alla norma (pasta with eggplant), and cannoli (pastry tubes filled with sweet ricotta cheese).

Sicily is also known for its seafood, with fresh fish and shellfish being widely available in coastal towns and cities.

Sardinia

Sardinian cuisine is heavily influenced by the island’s geography, with an emphasis on rustic, hearty dishes made with local ingredients.

The island is known for its pecorino cheese, which is used in many traditional dishes, as well as its lamb and wild boar dishes.

Sardinia also boasts a unique type of bread, called pane carasau, which is paper-thin and crisp, similar to Arabic bread but drier.

My favourite

This one is tough, as both Sicily and Sardinia have delicious and unique cuisines. I tend to go for the Sicilian food variety with a wider range of flavours and influences. Or maybe it is a tie….so hard to give a preference here.

Street food in the Ballaro Market
Street food in the Ballaro Market

Sicily or Sardinia for beaches

Sicily

Sicily boasts an extensive coastline dotted with beautiful beaches that cater to all kinds of beachgoers.

From long stretches of golden sand to hidden coves with crystal-clear waters, there’s no shortage of options here.

One of the most popular spots is the beach town of Cefalù, which offers both a stunning beach and a picturesque old town.

Another standout is San Vito lo Capo, with its turquoise waters and dramatic mountain backdrop.

Sardinia

Sardinia is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe and the world, so in this case, the comparison is totally unfair.

The island is home to a wide variety of beaches, ranging from secluded coves to wide stretches of white sand.

One of the most famous beaches in Sardinia is La Pelosa, located in the northwestern part of the island. Its crystal-clear waters and fine white sand make it a popular destination.

Cala Goloritzè and Cala Luna are also must-visits. And honestly, I could extend this list to an almost never-ending book

My favourite

Sardinia is the clear winner here. And it’s not because Sicily does not have impressive beaches, it’s just that Sardinia is unbeatable, even against the idyllic beaches of the Caribbean, South East Asia or South America. You get the point.

There is, however, an important drawback. These beaches, especially the famous ones like La Pelosa can be so crowded in July and August that you can hardly find a spot to lie down!

A little cove in Orosei on the East Coast
A little cove in Orosei on the East Coast

Is Nature better in Sicily or Sardinia

Sicily

Sicily’s natural beauty is hard to beat.

From the amazing hike of Mount Etna to the lovely walk in the Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro, there’s something for everyone.

The island is also home to several nature reserves, including two hidden gems I was able to find on my last trip to Sicily, the Laghetti Cavagrande and Cape Milazzo (see video below).

Sardinia

Sardinia’s natural beauty is just as impressive as its beaches.

The island is home to several stunning natural landmarks, including the Grotta di Nettuno, a massive sea cave located on the northwest coast of the island.

The Parco Nazionale dell’Arcipelago di La Maddalena is another standout, with its crystal-clear waters, rugged coastline, and abundant wildlife.

My favourite

This one is a tie for me. Both Sicily and Sardinia have an incredible natural beauty to offer, and it’s hard to pick a clear winner. Sicily’s Mount Etna is of course a unique place to experience but so is the Grotta di Nettuno, an unforgettable experience. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference, and both islands offer plenty to explore and discover.

Sicily or Sardinia for Nightlife

Sicily

Sicily is known for its vibrant nightlife scene, particularly in popular destinations such as Palermo and Catania.

The island has a wide range of options for nightlife, from bars and pubs to clubs and discos.

In Palermo, you can find many bars and clubs in the Old Centre. In the summer, head to Mondello, famous for its beach parties.

San Berillo in Catania is my favourite area with restaurants and late drinks venues.

Finally, the exclusive beach clubs around Taormina will not disappoint you.

The island also has a strong tradition of live music, with many bars and clubs hosting performances by local musicians.

Sardinia

Costa Smeralda and Porto Cervo become in July and August the capitals of Italian nightlife with famous bars and clubs such as the Billionaire.

Both areas are very exclusive, which means it will not be a budget experience, in fact, it will be quite expensive.

However, once outside the northeast coast, you will find that Sardinia is more laid-back and relaxed.

While there are still options for those looking for a night out, the atmosphere is generally more low-key than in Sicily.

My favourite

They are both winners. For an extravagant and exclusive night out, Costa Smeralda and Porto Cervo are really unbeatable. However, for everything else, Sicily is a step ahead.

The unique A Putia Dell'Ostello restaurant - dining by an underground river
The unique A Putia Dell’Ostello restaurant in Catania – dining by an underground river

Festivals and cultural events in Sardinia and Sicily

Sicily

Sicily is a land of rich culture and history, and this is reflected in the island’s many festivals and cultural events.

From the famous Carnival of Acireale to the Feast of Santa Rosalia in Palermo, there are countless opportunities to experience the island’s traditions and customs.

The Greek Theatre in Taormina is also a popular venue for concerts and performances.

Sardinia

Sardinia is also rich in history and culture, with many festivals and events throughout the year.

One of the island’s most famous events is the Sagra di Sant’Efisio, taking place in Cagliari, usually at the beginning of May.  This is the longest and biggest procession in Europe (65 km in 4 days)

The island also hosts many music and dance festivals, such as the Time in Jazz festival in Berchidda.

My favourite

Both islands offer an abundance of cultural events and festivals, and also in this case it is a tie.

Via Etnea at night
Via Etnea at night

access to Sicily and Sardinia

Sicily

Palermo and Catania are the two major airports in Sicily, with both national and international flights. Trapani is opening up as the third international option, which is very handy if you plan to visit San Vito lo Capo.

The island is also easily accessible by ferry from mainland Italy, with regular services from Naples and Reggio Calabria.

The country of Malta is also connected by a daily ferry.

Sardinia

Sardinia has three international airports, Olbia and Alghero in the north and Cagliari in the south of the island.

There are regular flights from major cities in Europe, including many low-cost airlines.

It must be said that Sicily has a wider selection of connected cities and a higher number of flights too.

Sardinia is also accessible by ferry from mainland Italy, with regular services to Genoa, Livorno and Civitavecchia/Rome.

My favourite

Both islands are easy to access by air and sea, but Sicily has the advantage of having more frequent flight options.

Transportation and renting a car

Both regions have a good public transportation network made of trains and buses.

One thing I noticed is that public service is rarely on time, especially the train.

Both regions have also private bus companies covering the major destinations in the region.

Getting around Sicily without a car is not that complicated. The same can be said also for Sardinia.

However, renting a car will make your life so much easier and quicker too.

I usually rent my car through DiscoverCars, a great car rental aggregator that compares and provide the best prices in either Sicily or Sardinia.

What I love the most is that they rate all the rental companies based on the feedback, like an Airbnb of the cars.

My biggest tip here is to add full insurance to the car, it’s only €7/day, and totally worth it.

You can always find surprising cars on sale in Taormina
You can always find surprising cars on sale in Taormina

is Sardinia or Sicily more expensive

Sicily

How expensive is Sicily? Well, you will be glad to know that it is actually a budget-friendly destination compared to other Italian regions.

The cost of living in Sicily is lower than in many other parts of Italy, making it an affordable option for travellers.

Accommodations, food, and transportation are reasonably priced, which makes it an excellent option for budget-conscious travellers.

Sardinia

Sardinia is known for being an expensive destination, particularly during the summer season, and particularly in the northwest of the region, around the Costa Smeralda and Porto Cervo areas.

This is where the high-end resorts, fine dining restaurants, and luxury shopping options make it a favourite destination among the wealthy.

In saying that, there are still many budget-friendly options available on the island, especially on the south and west coast of Sardinia. Also, as a rule of thumb, the more you travel inside the island the cheaper it becomes.

My favourite

Sicily, on average, is more affordable. You will find reasonable prices for both food and accommodations. September is probably the best value month, with still great weather but almost half-priced accommodations (when compared to August, the most expensive month)

A lovely sunset on Mondello Beach
A lovely sunset on Mondello Beach

is Sicily or Sardinia bigger

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and Sardinia is the second biggest.

More precisely Sicily covers an area of 25,711 km2 (9,927 sq mi) and that is without the small islands in the region.

Sardinia covers an area of 24,100 km2 (9,305 sq mi).

For a better idea, both regions are slightly smaller than Belgium but much larger than Wales.

Places to visit and experience in Sicily
Places to visit and experience in Sicily
Best areas to stay in Sardinia
Best areas to stay in Sardinia
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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