The 7 Best Things to Do in Sicily
Sicily is one of the most enchanting places in Italy, known for its ancient towns, gorgeous beaches and beautiful landscapes. The island has a wealth of must-see sites and tourist attractions which can make it difficult to decide what to do in the region.
While many come to Sicily to relax on the coast and enjoy the local cuisine, there are a wide variety of things to do that you may not have considered for your visit. Whether you’re keen to explore the spirited streets of Palermo or summit Mount Etna, you are sure to find an activity in Sicily that will be the highlight of your trip.
In this article, we discuss the best things to do in Sicily that will make your visit exceptional. From the best towns in Sicily to the top beach retreats and natural landscapes, we divulge a fantastic list of attractions that will delight anyone visiting this Italian hotspot.
Things to Do in Sicily: Visit the Stunning Cities and Towns
There are a variety of places to visit when you travel to Sicily which will add so much wonder to your trip. The island is flooded with history and culture which has turned its urban hubs into labyrinths of restaurants, bars and tourist attractions. Below, you will find some top suggestions for places to visit in Sicily that promise to tantalize visitors.
No visit to Sicily is complete without exploring the vibrant capital of the island. Palermo is situated on the northern coast and invites travelers with its vast array of culture, activities and sensory experiences. The city has over 2000 years of history, making it one of the best places in Sicily to absorb the culture and learn about the ancient past.
When exploring the bustling streets of Palermo, travelers can enjoy architectural marvels like The Norman Palace and Quattro Canti. The Norman Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is beautifully designed and enthralls visitors to this day. These stunning examples of ancient architecture make exploring Palermo a delightful experience as every corner is steeped in history.
One of the best things to do in Sicily is exploring the raucous markets in Palermo. The mazes of stalls at markets like Vuccira and Ballaro are great places to sample Sicilian seafood and devour local delicacies.
Also found on the north coast is the quaint yet charming coastal town of Cefalù. This idyllic town is a hotspot for tourists looking for unblemished beaches and historic streets. The spirited atmosphere of the town can be felt in every nook and corner, promising a Sicilian vacation unlike any other. Cefalù is one of the most beautiful places in Sicily and is a must-see for anyone who is considering visiting.
Some of the most incredible tourist attractions in Sicily can be found in Cefalù, making it a desirable spot for many visitors. La Rocca is a limestone rock formation that towers above the town and is a great spot for a morning hike and panoramic views of the island. Likewise, the Cefalù Cathedral is a gorgeous example of Norman architecture and another one of Sicily’s UNESCO sites.
When in Cefalù, visitors can explore the cobblestone streets of Old Town, where they will find local shops and eateries as well as whispers of the past etched into every wall. You can also explore the exhibits at the Museo Mandralisca, which has a diverse selection of archaeological finds and artifacts.
This thriving hilltop town in Sicily is situated on the east coast, north of Catania. It is blessed with breathtaking views of the Ionian Sea and in recent years has become a hotspot for arts and culture. You will find some of the best Sicilian cuisine here as well, like pasta alla Norma, arancini, and cannoli.
Taormina’s main attraction is the Ancient Theatre, which is exceptionally well-preserved and offers stunning views of the sea and Mount Etna. The theater is thought to date back to the 3rd Century BC and was expanded later by the Romans. These days it’s one of the must-see sites in Taormina and often hosts stage shows, orchestras and events, making it a great place to tap into the local arts scene.
If you’re looking for natural escapes and idyllic scenery, then Isola Bella is a great place to go in Taormina. This small island reserve is connected to the mainland by a fine stretch of beach and features ruined buildings, verdant trees and sea grottos that are perfect for beachgoers looking for something a little different.
Things to Do in Sicily: Relax on Sicily’s Inviting Beaches
Sicily attracts countless tourists thanks to its beautiful beaches and crystalline waters. Relaxing on the beach and exploring the island’s coastal hotspots is one of the best things to do in Sicily for any traveler who wants to enjoy the sunshine and relax in the soothing waters.
Below, we highlight some of the best beaches in Sicily and discuss the Aeolian islands, which are a great place to visit for island hopping adventures.
Beaches in Sicily
It’s no secret that Sicily has some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean, featuring soft golden sands, azure waters and a host of activities that are the perfect complement for some relaxing beach time. Beaches in Sicily are perfect for any traveler as they range from sand to pebble and popular to hidden gems, meaning everyone can find their perfect beach spot.
There are a variety of beaches in Sicily which are perfect for anyone seeking some fun in the sun. Mondello Beach near Palermo, is a great place for families visiting Sicily as the waters are shallow and there are an array of beach clubs, restaurants and water sports operators. Likewise, San Vito Lo Capo on the northwestern side of the island is a small town with a beautiful stretch of coastline that provides a tranquil setting for beach relaxation.
During Italy’s peak season from May to August, Sicily’s beaches burst into life with tourists and locals alike who come to experience the lapping waves and sun-kissed sand. With over 930 miles of coastline, there is room for everyone and the beaches don’t feel overcrowded.
Travelers who enjoy taking day trips will relish the chance to visit the Aeolian Islands in Sicily. Situated in the Tyrrhenian Sea, this volcanic archipelago is renowned for its lush landscapes and captivating geological formations.
There are 7 main islands in the archipelago, making it a great place for island hopping in Italy. Lipari is the largest island and is blessed with white sand beaches which are perfect for lounging in the Italian sun.
On the other hand, Vulcano is a great place for anyone looking for unique environments and a refreshing swim. Due to its active volcano, the island has dramatic black sand beaches and healing mud baths, it’s one of the best things to do in Sicily for travelers eager to explore unrivaled natural beauty.
The Aeolian islands are easily accessible via ferry from coastal towns like Milazzo, Messina and Palermo. During peak tourist season in Sicily, the ferry services run very regularly so you can explore each island to your heart’s content. For a unique experience, consider booking one of our Aeolian Islands tours for a fully customized excursion to this Sicilian paradise.
Things to Do in Sicily: Explore Beautiful Sicilian Landscapes
Aside from its coastal wonders, Sicily is also blessed with sweeping natural landscapes that are truly breathtaking. Exploring the unique landscapes is one of the best activities in Sicily as you get to see a whole different side of the island.
From the vistas of Mount Etna to the verdant trails of Zingaro Nature Reserve, travelers can enjoy a whole host of natural beauty that offers a welcome escape from the bustling towns in Sicily.
Travelers looking for unique things to do in Sicily will relish the chance to explore the iconic Mount Etna. This is one of the most famous volcanoes in Italy and is the tallest active volcano in Europe. The summit reaches a height of 10,922 feet and features multiple craters.
Mount Etna is one of the best things to do in Sicily as it gives visitors the opportunity to explore the dramatic volcanic landscape and reconnect with nature. It is also famous for its vineyards, as the soil is extremely fertile from previous eruptions which has made it one of the best wine regions in Italy. It’s a very popular tourist attraction in Sicily, as it has extensive hiking trails that lead up to the summit, which is perfect for travelers who enjoy the outdoors.
Mount Etna is another of Sicily’s many UNESCO World Heritage sites and upon visiting this sweeping landscape you will understand why. If you are eager to summit the volcano, be sure to book a Mount Etna tour which will give you the best experience of this natural marvel.
Zingaro Nature Reserve
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Sicily for nature lovers is the Zingaro Nature Reserve. This pristine coastal reservation is located on the northwest coast of the island and is spread out over 1,600 hectares, meaning there is so much to explore. It is also a biodiversity hotspot, with hundreds of plant and animal species calling the reservation home.
Zingaro has many well-maintained hiking trails which are a great activity in Sicily, especially in the cooler months before and after summer. On the trails, hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the Tyrrhenian Sea, rocky cliffs and the rolling countryside. You can also find ancient ruins on the island, like prehistoric caves and old watchtowers, adding a sense of wonder to the experience.
There are 2 main entrances to the reserve, found at San Vito lo Capo and Scopello. Zingaro also includes a visitors center, which provides helpful information about the hiking routes and highlights the local flora and fauna. It’s a great place to start your trip and you can also learn how you can do your part to protect the local environment.
There are so many options when it comes to the best things to do in Sicily. History enthusiasts can explore the cobbled streets of the historic towns, sun seekers are spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches and the natural beauty of the island will appeal to those seeking outdoor adventures.
This list by no means covers all the things to do in Sicily, but provides a helpful starting point for travelers considering a trip to this majestic island. Whether you’re on a solo trip or visiting Sicily with family, there are plenty of things you can do that will make your Italian vacation exceptional.