Where to stay in Sicily
You may not know that Sicily is quite a big island, not as big as England, however almost as big as Belgium.
This is why it is so important to plan where to stay in Sicily considering the time you will spend there as well as the airport you will arrive.
In this guide, you will find the 7 best areas to stay in Sicily you either travel with family or a romantic gateway as a couple, for the best beaches or the historical sites, nightlife or just a chilled-out time, and so many other options
But let’s go straight into it
Table of Contents
- 1 Where to stay in Sicily for couples, family and nightlife – in a nutshell
- 2 Palermo – Best place to stay in Sicily for a short trip
- 3 West Coast – Best place to stay in Sicily for beaches and history
- 4 Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples – Best area for history
- 5 South-Eastern – Unique history and beaches
- 6 East Coast – Best place to stay in Sicily for day trips and scenic view
- 7 The Aeolian Islands – Best place to stay in Sicily on a second or third visit
- 8 Cefalù – Best hidden gem stay in Sicily
- 9 The 7 Best areas to stay in Sicily
- 10 FAQ for where to stay in Sicily
More reading on Sicily
- Best places to visit in Sicily, including unique and hidden gems
- Three days in Sicily
- All you need to know about a Mount Etna Tour – do it yourself, with a car or with an organised trip
- How expensive is Sicily, with a daily budget table
Where to stay in Sicily for couples, family and nightlife – in a nutshell
In the section below you will most probably find the answer to your question. A more detailed description of the areas follows next or click directly on the link
- Best areas to stay in Sicily: It’s always hard to select an area in any place I write about. More so in Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, so spectacular that would deserve plenty of time. For this post, I selected 6 areas and a little gem that may work, or not, based on the type of trip you have in mind (family, couples, nightlife, trekking, etc). Read more below on the quick list of the areas.
- Where to stay in Sicily first time: It really depends on the kind of trip you want to do. Historical sites or beaches? Or a mix? If you are planning on just 2 places to experience then the city of Palermo and Trapani are perfect. They both have a lovely historical centre and access to beautiful beaches. Taormina on the East Coast of Sicily is the winner if you fly to Catania. It’s not only about the gorgeous town, it’s also about the proximity to Giardini Naxos for some beach time. This is certainly not the cheapest place in Sicily, however, there are some amazing areas to stay in Taormina, even on a budget.
- Where to stay in Sicily for best beaches: there are many lovely beaches in Sicily however San Vito Lo Capo really stands out as one of the best not only in Sicily but also in Europe. Another great advantage is the proximity to the Riserva Dello Zingaro, a famous trekking area along the coast with plenty of hidden beaches and coves. On the west side of Sicily, you should check out Fontane Bianche, a quiet town with a chilled-out beach, the perfect spot for a relaxed holiday.
- Best place to stay in Sicily without a car: my favourite spot is Catania. It is well connected by train to Taormina and the Baroque towns of Noto, Siracusa and Ragusa, beside the many beaches around. There are a plethora of day trips starting from Catania (I mentioned a few great places to visit in Sicily in another post) and you can organise your own day-trip tour to the Etna Volcano. Palermo itself is also perfect for a short stay (in case you fly there). You have access to Mondello Beach (one of the best), plenty of history and in 50 minutes by train, you are in Cefalù. You can also organise a few day trips from Palermo too, although not as many options as in Catania.
- Best places to stay in Sicily for couples: It mostly depends on your arrival airport. If you fly to Palermo then I would suggest 3 areas that could be part also of an itinerary. Palermo city is a must-visit, such a beautiful city. Perfect for a short stay. Another suggested place is Trapani, a great base to explore the west side of Sicily and a few smaller islands. And then there is the little gem of Cefalù with the romantic Old Town. If you fly to Catania, then I suggest staying in the Taormina area or one of the three beautiful baroque towns southern of Catania (Ragusa, Noto and Ortigia Island). They are all such romantic places to spend a few days, especially if you love architecture.
- Best place to stay in Sicily with a family: Also in this case, it really depends on your arrival city. If you fly to Palermo then I would suggest staying in San Vito Lo Capo for its spectacular unique beach. If you want also a lovely old town beside a long wide beach then you should check out Cefalù. Should you stay in Palermo Old Centre? What area works best for a stay in Palermo?It is a bit chaotic for children, however, you can book your stay in the Mondello beach neighbourhood, just 8km from the city center. If you fly to Catania, then I suggest checking Giardini Naxos, with a great beach and a stone away from Taormina, or Fontane Bianche, for the beach and day trips to the Baroque towns of Ragusa, Noto and Ortigia Island
- Where to stay in Sicily for a week: in a 7 days trip I would suggest picking at most 2 places to stay and from there visit around. If flying to Palermo, I would spend a few days in Palermo (Old Town and Mondello Beach) and then move to Trapani (Old Town, Erice and Favignana Island) to spend the second part of the week. If flying to Catania, I would spend some time in Catania (Etna, Noto, Ortigia Island) and then move to Taormina (scenic town, Giardini Naxos). There are differences between Catania and Taormina, and that is why I suggest staying in both.
- Where to stay in Sicily for nightlife: every major centre has some nightlife, however, Catania is probably the most well known for the never-ending nights. Plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants. Palermo is also a great choice. Panarea in the Aeolian Islands is also a famous spot thanks to the VIPs that usually hang out there (Dolce& Gabbana have a well known holiday house there).
- Best area to stay in Sicily for history: pretty much everywhere. In saying that, there are a couple of places that really stand out. The first one is the Valley of the Temples in the Agrigento area for the amazing buildings from the ancient Greeks. The other one is the South-East area with the baroque towns of Noto, Ragusa and Siracusa/Ortigia Island.
- Best area in Sicily for trekking: the Etna Volcano on the East Coast is a must-visit destination, one of the most active volcanos on the planet. The Aeolian Islands are also famous for trekking with Stromboli the most well-known of all islands thanks to its active volcano. Another place I would suggest is the Riserva Dello Zingaro, on the West Coast, with a marked trail that follows the coast and it goes through a few hidden coves and boutique beaches.
- Best AirBnb to stay in Sicily: Le Chalet Palermo Centro is fantastic accommodation, right in the heart of the city of Palermo. The Amartìa Apartment has one of the best views in Taormina with a lovely modern interior. The Ficu Pala AirBnb in Noto is a beautifully refurbished apartment in the perfect location to explore the world-famous baroque town.
- Best places to stay in Palermo: Novecento is a well-priced Bed & Breakfast in the centre of Palermo. The Alma Hotel is a great value hotel also very well positioned.
- Amazing places to stay in Taormina: I would suggest the Rocca Castello B&B for a beautiful family stay and the Hotel Villa Schuler for the amazing view around a tropical garden.
- Best hotels in Sicily for romantic couples: The Villa Neri Resort & Spa is an amazing hotel close to Mount Etna and Taormina (great location). Perfect for couples and honeymooners looking for a special occasion stay. On the other side of the island of Sicily, close to Marsala on the West Coast, you can book at the Hotel Baglio Oneto dei Principi di San Lorenzo, an amazing old winery set around a former feudal dwelling. So romantic.
- Amazing place to stay in Sicily with a family: The Villaggio Cala Mancina, located in San Vito Lo Capo is an awesome resort with children facilities facing one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It can’t really get better than that.
- Sicilian cuisine is to die for. Must-try dishes are the arancini, sardines pasta, granita and Sicilian Cassata. You can read more on this Wiki page.
- Unmissable places to visit: the Valley of the Temples near Agrigento, the baroque village of Noto and the Cathedral of Monreale near Palermo. But there are so many amazing destinations. You can read more on my post on the top places to see in Sicily
- Best organised experiences: if you are in Catania or Taormina you should not miss the Godfather vs Mafia Tour (with Sicilian lunch). In Palermo join the Street Food and History Walking Tour, all you need to know about Sicilian food and gastronomy in 3 hours.
- Best day tour in Sicily: this has to be the trip to Mount Etna, absolutely spectacular. I wrote a full post about doing it on your own or with an organised tour from Catania, Palermo or Taormina. Read more here.
- Rental car: I would probably not suggest driving in Catania o Palermo, they are both chaotic cities. In saying that, hiring a car in Sicily is the best way to explore the island and have a taste of the local life, even in small off-radar villages and towns. The website DiscoverCars.com tends to have the best prices in Sicily.
- Do you want to go straight to your hotel? Pre-order an airport transfer in Catania or Palermo that will wait for you directly at the airport. So easy.
Keep reading for more info on the areas to stay, the difference between them, the best places to eat, have a coffee or a drink, including a few secret restaurants.
|PALERMO IS A GREAT PLACE TO STAY IN SICILY FOR
Palermo is such a romantic city, a bit melancholic and definitely chaotic but always full of surprises.
You can easily access the city from Falcone-Borsellino Airport, which is around 30km from the city.
You can choose between a train (every 90 minutes) or a bus (every 30 minutes) to get into the city centre (40 minutes trip). A taxi will cost around 50 Euro (make sure the taxi meter is working).
Palermo has been able to maintain its own Sicilian identity without being “corrupted” by the globalization process that has invested most of the cities around the world.
It’s the perfect destination to stay if you are on a short trip like a long weekend.
The city offers plenty of attractions to wander around (keep reading below for my suggestions) and also the possibility for a few day trips either with organised tours or on your own (just 50 minutes trip to Cefalu train station, for example).
If you are wondering where to stay in Palermo, I suggest starting with the historical centre, a maze of lanes where you will find also the famous street market Ballaro’, one of the most characteristic markets in Italy.
If you are still wondering where to stay in Sicily for couples then you will find Palermo as the best answer for a few days in a romantic city environment.
Wondering in the old centre with your partner will be a unique experience.
If you are travelling with kids then you should check out the area of Mondello, the beach neighbourhood, 8-10km north of the city centre, easily reachable by public transport (bus #806 in 30 minutes) or taxi (20 minutes).
Mondello Beach is one of the most beautiful in Sicily, long and wide, with shallow water, perfect for some time with the kids, mixing some sunbathing time during the day with a city exploration, either in the early morning or late afternoon.
About your stay, if you are looking for a family-run b&b then Medusa is one of the best in the city, in a beautiful historic building, a short walk from many attractions.
Alessandra always goes well beyond her host figure to provide the best stay in Palermo. She has plenty of tips, even on places off the radar.
Breakfast is great and fresh and there is air conditioning in the room, which is a lifesaver on those hot summer days.
The Alma Hotel is a great alternative, with more of a hotel feeling. The breakfast is buffet style in a colourful room.
The rooms are super clean and of good size. The location is just perfect. They have some good specials from time to time.
For a romantic boutique stay, you should check out
- Casa Nostra Boutique Hotel, for its lovely outdoor pool and King Suite with Spa on the balcony (see photos here)
- La Terrazza sul Centro, for the spectacular views from the balcony area (see photos here)
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
- Villa Cinzia is an amazing and lovely holiday villa that can host up to 6 people (see photos here)
|THE WEST-COAST IS A GREAT PLACE TO STAY IN SICILY FOR
This part of Sicily is the real treasure of this beautiful region.
And you know the best part?
Most of the attractions are within 1 hour by bus or rented car, or a short ride with a cable car.
The only airport in this region is in Trapani. It’s a small one with mostly flights from within Italy (but it’s opening up to international tourism).
You can also take a flight to Palermo and from there you can catch a bus or rent a car to explore Sicily (1.5-2 hours).
If you are planning a stay at the beach then you should check out San Vito Lo Capo, for one of the best sandy beaches in Sicily and possibly Europe.
The only drawback of having your hotel in San Vito Lo Capo is that you need to hire a car if you want to explore the nearby attractions and towns as public transportation is not the best.
San Vito Lo Capo is also one of the best places to stay in Sicily for family, thanks to its long and wide beach with shallow super clear water, a real haven.
If you are flying to Palermo I suggest booking here your direct transportation to/from the airport. Unfortunately, San Vito Lo Capo is not well connected to Palermo.
If you are wondering where to stay in Sicily for history besides Palermo then the Trapani Old Town should be your destination.
It’s an open-air museum based on a multitude of architecture. Byzantine, Arab and Baroque are the most striking.
Trapani is also the perfect place to stay for couples looking for romance and seclusion. Not as many travellers venture to this city, and they are missing out.
It’s also a great town to be based on if you are planning just 5-6 days in Sicily.
Besides the amazing view over Trapani and the west coast, I suggest getting lost within the historical street, lanes and alleys of this unique small town, absolutely a gem.
From Trapani, you can also get a 45 minutes ferry to the Island of Favignana, one of the best places to stay in Sicily for snorkelling and diving.
The turquoise colour of the water is really something it will be difficult to forget, for a long time.
Rent a bike if you want to explore it (easy flat ride). The beach is mostly a long stretch of rocks, not ideal for kids.
If you are planning some walks in Sicily then you should not miss the Riserva Dello Zingaro.
You will find a marked trail for some of the best trekking with a view over the Mediterranean sea.
When tired you can stop in one of the hidden beaches to swim (less hidden in July and August). Running shoes are enough for this walk
For this trekking, stay in Scopello, north of Castellammare del Golfo, a lovely ancient village with pristine beaches nestled in beautiful coves.
This is an area that was also used as a film set in the famous “Inspector Montalbano” TV series
I also suggest a day trip to Marsala, a nice small town famous for its fortified wine.
Have a taste session in one of the small bars around the centre. Just remember that the Marsala wine for the locals is not actually fortified, it’s more of an everyday wine, a bit sweet too.
For a stay in San Vito Lo Capo you should check out
- 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
For a stay with your partner in Trapani and Erice you should check out
- Trapani: Central Gallery Rooms (amazing view), Residence La Gancia (amazing rooftop breakfast), Cortile Azzurro (on a budget)
- Erice: Bella Vista b&b (great view) and Hotel Elimo (unique character)
For a stay in Scopello for beaches and trekking in the Riserva Dello Zingaro:
- Baglio Buccellato is one of the best value accommodations in the area. A very relaxing place close to the beach, to the Tonnara and the restaurants for a nice dinner. Check out the Panificio di Stabile e Anselmo for a real traditional Sicilian meal. Really to die for.
|AGRIGENTO IS A GREAT PLACE TO STAY IN SICILY FOR
The Valley of the Temples should be on everyone’s bucket list, especially if you are interested in archaeological sites.
One of the best things is that you can visit it also after sunset with a nice sea breeze and without the strong sun over you.
In fact, in July and August, I would probably not even suggest a visit during the day. It can be really hot.
I recommend visiting the Valley of the Temples website to pre-plan your visit, build your itinerary in this massive area and possibly join a guided tour.
The Valle of the Temples was also used as a film set for the popular “Inspector Montalbano” TV series.
The Agrigento Old Town is another gem in the area.
The best is just to wander around the maze of stairs and lanes and get surprised by the small tiny squares here and there
For the beautiful beaches and good nightlife head down to the town of San Leone, 10 minutes from Agrigento.
Another attraction in the area is the unique Scala Dei Turchi beach between white rock formations, a hidden gem that you should not miss out
If you are still asking yourself if it is worth renting a car in Sicily, well, I give you another great advantage.
If you have a rental car, take the local trip (1h30m) to see the Villa Romana del Casale, one of the most preserved ancient sites in Italy, dating back to the 4th century. Really, the best way to understand how life was for the aristocrats back in that era.
For a trip from Palermo or Catania budget 2-3 hours by car, a bit more by bus.
For this reason, I would personally suggest spending more than just a day in the area.
Visiting all in a day trip from Palermo or Catania is doable, however, it will be in a big rush and you would miss out on lots of things
In Agrigento, you should book your accommodation at the Terrazza di Empedocle. The owner Chiara is a real mine of information and a fantastic “breakfast organiser”.
The location is perfect for exploring the city and the Valley of the Temples.
Top 3 experiences once in Agrigento
- Electric Bike Rental in Historic Center: Exploring Agrigento by foot can be really tiring, you can rent a bicycle but get ready for many up and down. The easiest way? Rent an eBike for a day and move around at your own pace, visiting whatever you like. Priceless.
- Valley of the Temples Entrance Ticket & Audio Guide: I am sure you plan to visit Agrigento because of the Valley of the Temples. My tip: organise your ticket online, skip the line and get an audio guide. You will discover more than you think.
- Valley of the Temples E-Scooter Tour: A different way to see this amazing site. Highly recommended in summer and if you get tired quickly when walking.
|THE SOUTH-EAST IS A GREAT PLACE TO STAY IN SICILY FOR
This is a part of Sicily accessible from the Catania airport in just 1-2 hours by car.
If you are using only public transportation, then you will be happy to know that there is a train line that connects Catania to Siracusa/Ortigia, Noto and Ragusa
From Catania, you will be in 1.5 hours in Siracusa/Ortigia Island. Add another 30-40 minutes for Noto, one the most beatuful historic towns in Sicily, and 2 hours to Ragusa.
For history lovers, I would suggest at least staying/visiting 2 of the 3 towns.
If you are running out of time, a possibility would be to stay in Ortigia Island and visit Noto on a day trip with an easy 30minutes train trip.
However, in doing that you will lose Noto with the night street lights which is absolutely outstanding
If you can, plan at least one night in Noto and one night in Siracusa/Ortigia Island.
Being Ragusa farther away means that it is not as popular with travellers, however, it is as beautiful.
But why are these town so unique and amazing?
Because in 1693 this part of Sicily suffered a catastrophic earthquake that completely destroyed entire towns.
Back in that era, Baroque was the popular architectural style and for this reason, they rebuilt entire towns, as Noto, using Baroque for most of the buildings.
It’s honestly like walking in an open-air museum, so beautiful that the Val di Noto has been added as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
If you are travelling with your partner and you want to stay only in one place then I would suggest
- Noto, for one of the most romantic and unique experiences you can have in Sicily
- Ortigia Island, for the lovely town and easy access to a few boutique beaches
- Ragusa, for more seclusion
Where to stay with family and kids? My suggested place here is Fontane Bianche, one of the best coastal towns for a long and wide beach with shallow water.
The southern part of the beach is organised, even with a few water games, meanwhile, the northern part is free
Fontane Bianche and Punta Secca are also highly suggested if you are planning a trip for the best beaches in Sicily
If you are an Inspector Montalbano fan (TV Series) then plan a day trip to Modica and Scicli, both widely used as a film set for the Inspector Montalbano, both rebuilt in 1693 in beautiful baroque architecture.
For you stay in South-Eastern Sicily, you should check out
- Noto: Palazzo Tasca even if you are not staying there. It’s located in a beautiful baroque palace right in the centre of town. Daniela, the owner, is so proud of it and for a good reason. The building is just magnificent, once inside it’s like stepping back three centuries, with a lovely central yard and the adorned stairs (see photos here).
- Ortigia Island: Hotel Henry’s House (boutique and unique), Maison Ortigia (great value for money)
- Ragusa: Itria Palace (boutique at a great price), B&B Terra del Sole Ibla (amazing views)
- Fontane Bianche for families: L’uliveto sul mare (2BR up top 4 people) and Villa Sirio (3BR up to 6 people)
- Fontane Bianche for couples: White Bay (on the beach), White Beach BeB (amazing value for money)
|THE EAST COAST IS A GREAT PLACE TO STAY IN SICILY FOR
This is probably the most popular part of Sicily with the airport in Catania getting busier than ever with national and international flights.
There are local buses to the city (~1 euro) and to the major destinations in the area.
Catania itself is more city than Palermo, more chaotic but still a beautiful destination to visit and possibly be based in.
It’s the perfect spot for a short stay in Sicily if your flight lends in the Catania Airport
Start your visit to the city with the unique Fish Market, so noisy so characteristic.
The next stop is the Duomo, just meters away from the market, you will be impressed by the amazing baroque cathedral famous for its columned facade and frescoes.
From the Duomo square take the Via Etna to explore the ruins of antique Catania (free entrance).
For a quirky experience head to Stesicoro Square and visit the old streets and buildings under the city of Catania, a second underground establishment.
Catania is also a practical base to explore some of the most beautiful attractions that Sicily has to offer. I added in the next chapter a list of day trips from the city, like the amazing tour to the Etna volcano.
Catania is also well known as one of the best places to stay in Sicily for nightlife.
There are so many bars, restaurants and clubs to spend the night till the early hours in the morning.
Start your night in the Golden Square, between Piazza del Duomo, Piazza Teatro Massimo and Piazza Universita’.
Understanding where to stay in Catania can be overwhelming. Below I suggested a few options as well as in a dedicated guide.
My biggest tip here is to book in the Historical Centre.
On the east coast, you find also the most scenic town of Sicily, Taormina
You can reach Taormina by direct train from Catania (40 minutes) or you can organise your private transfer to make your life easier.
Taormina is a beautiful romantic town to visit and experience, certainly to share with many other tourists but this does not take anything away from its beauty.
It’s definitely the perfect place to stay in Sicily for couples.
There are so many walks you can do during the day both in Taormina and down to the beach, like for example to the boutique Isola Bella (Beautiful Island) or Giardini Naxos for a swim
And if it’s true that during the day the town can get quite busy with day trippers, at night Taormina gives its best in a more relaxed environment.
I have been asked a few times where to stay in Taormina, and what area works best for a family or a romantic trip.
A popular place to stay with family is the Giardini Naxos thanks to its great position and the beautiful long and wide beach.
Giardini Naxos is just 5 km from Taormina and 40 minutes by train to Catania.
A great spot to have some time at the beach with the kids mixed with short trips to Taormina and the other attractions around.
From Taormina, Giardini Naxos and Catania you can visit the Etna Volcano (you should read my full guide with all you need to know for a DIY or organised tour)
For you stay on the East Coast of Sicily, you should check out
- Catania: Scuto Home (value for money), B&B Palazzo Bruca (location and charming rooms), Duomo Luxury Suite (who doesn’t want a hot tub after a tiring day). I have organised here amazing places to stay in Catania.
- Giardini Naxos for a family stay: 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)
- Taormina: The Hotel Villa Schuler has, in my opinion, one of the best views in Sicily (see photos here) Moreover, it’s so well located in Taormina. The garden around the property is absolutely gorgeous, with mostly sub-tropical plants. The free breakfast is so delicious. You will not get an infinity pool at Villa Schuler but everything else is there. Another option is the Rocca Castello B&B. Philip and Umberto will make you feel at home. They do have also a great knowledge of Taormina and they are happy to share it with you. Breakfast is lovely. A great family-run accommodation. In this post have organised more amazing places to stay in Taormina
|THE AEOLIAN ISLANDS ARE A GREAT PLACE TO STAY IN SICILY FOR
This is probably an area of Sicily you would visit on a second or a third trip. Or maybe if you have a few days as part of a long stay in Sicily.
There are direct ferry boats from Milazzo, that will take you to Vulcano, the first island in the Aeolian archipelago, in about 2.5 hours.
This is a great island for trekking, beaches and mud baths.
The other islands are:
- Lipari, the main island with the biggest population, a popular place for a stay with family
- Salina, for a relaxing stay between locals. A great destination for a secluded getaway for couples
- Panarea, famous for its nightlife
- Stromboli, for the great volcano view
- Alicudi and Filicudi if you are looking for more of an isolated place
|CEFALU’ IS A GREAT PLACE TO STAY IN SICILY FOR
Cefalù is one of the best-kept secrets of Sicily, a large town (not really a city) on the northern coast.
There are tourists around, but they are nowhere in number near Taormina, Palermo or Noto.
The Old Town is absolutely stunning with plenty of small lanes, hidden stairs, secret corners and small family restaurants offering amazing food
An ancient castle sits on top of the hilltop town, making it the perfect romantic getaway for couples.
The beach is to die for, especially the section near the old town.
It does extend for over 1km, getting quite wide in a few sections, making it perfect for families with kids.
If you are travelling with your children then Cefalù is a great choice because you can alternate some time sunbathing and building castles with nice walks in the old town or up to the castle.
Cefalù is also well connected to Palermo, with a direct train (50 minutes)
For you stay in Cefalu, you should check out
- For couples in the old Town: Casanova Rooms (amazing view), Balcone sulla spiaggia (facing the beach in the old town), Studio Da Nenè (on a budget)
- For families close to the beach: House Giardina (1BR up to 4 people, view of the beach), Casa Dada (large 2BR at a great price) and Amarea Casa Vacanze (3BR)
Here is a map which I suggest downloading and keep it as a reference.
I tried to group the best areas to stay in Sicily based on location. I also added the distances in hours. Keep it as an indication but not as a rule.
Obviously, you can build your own trip that goes through a few or all of these areas.
Here are the best areas to stay in Sicily starting from Palermo in an anticlockwise direction:
- Palermo: the capital of the island and probably the most beautiful city in Sicily. It’s a great place to spend a few days visiting the many historical sites and the famous Ballarò market. You have easy access to a few beaches, perfect for a weekend. Palermo has one of the two international airports (the other one is in Catania)
- West Coast: easy accessible either through the Palermo airport or the rather small Trapani airport. It’s one of the most beautiful and characteristic parts of Sicily. A few spectacular beaches like San Vito Lo Capo and interesting towns like Trapani and Erice. Easy 45m ferry to the island of Favignana for a day trip
- Agrigento and Valley of the Temples: the valley of the temples is one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in Italy and it should be on everyones’ bucket list. The city has such a fascinating rich history that goes through so many cultures like the Greek, the Normann, the Roman and the Arabian. The architecture is just a reflection of the different empires. So unique.
- South-East Coast: beautiful beaches and, again, amazing architecture. Noto and Siracusa, both in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their amazing baroque architecture, are such amazing destinations. Ortigia island, off Siracusa, is unmissable. This area is easily accessible through the Catania airport.
- East Coast: Catania has the best nightlife in Sicily (but nobody from Palermo would agree 🙂 ). You get more of a city feel, compared to Palermo. It’s a great base to visit the Etna volcano. Taormina is unmissable, probably the most popular town in Sicily and for a good reason, so beautiful.
- Aeolian Islands: this archipelago, just 2.5 hours from Milazzo, has everything in a micro cosmos. Amazing sea for both diving and snorkelling, easy and challenging trekking up to the volcano and exclusive locations (designers Dolce & Gabbana have here a holiday house). A real paradise for nature lovers.
- Cefalù: this is the little gem of Sicily. It’s probably the most kept secret of Sicily. Obviously, you will find many travellers around, but nothing like in Taormina or Palermo. It’s a romantic town perched on a hill with a castle on top, a perfect spot for couples. It has also a long and wide beach which works very well for a family stay
Where should I stay in Sicily for the first time?
I would personally suggest staying either on the east coast or the north coast.
If you fly to Palermo, then the city itself, as well as Cefalu’ or San Vito lo Capo, are great options.
If you fly to Catania, the city itself as well as Noto, Fontane Bianche and Taormina are fantastic destinations
What is the most beautiful part of Sicily?
There are rough areas in both Palermo and Catania, like in any city in the world.
Skip that, and any place will be awesome in its own way.
It depends also on how many available days you have.
With a short stay, I would consider booking my accommodation in Palermo and exploring from there
In a week or more, I would book in Ortigia Island, if travelling with my partner only, or Fontane Bianche with the kids (beautiful beach).
Is Catania or Palermo better?
This is one of the most common questions that I get.
For this reason, I wrote a complete comparison guide for Palermo vs Catania.
You will find there all you need to know.
Which is better Catania or Taormina?
It is very hard to stay if Catania or Taormina is better. They are very different. Catania is a city and Taormina is a town.
You get the point.
Which part of Sicily has the best beaches?
There are great beaches everywhere.
The south coast has the more secluded beaches, usually long and less organised with sunbeds.
The east coast has the most popular beaches. This is an area with plenty of tourism.
The north and north-west coast has some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy, like San Vito Lo Capo, but also in this case you will not be alone.