The most scenic road trips in Sicily: volcanoes, baroque beauty and fabulous food

Nov 18, 2021 • 5 min read

Explore the beauty of Sicily with our pick of the best road trips on the island

Explore the beauty of Sicily with our pick of the best road trips on the island © Martyn Goddard / Getty Images

Sicily’s mountainous interior and craggy coast are dotted with beautiful villages, ancient sites and natural wonders like active volcanoes.

Distances aren’t lengthy, which leaves more time to savor your discoveries. On these road trips (four by land, one by sea) you’ll fully explore the very best of Sicily . One constant on each of these adventures is fabulous food and drink.

West Sicily

Best for families.

Palermo–Marsala; 116 miles [186km]; allow 2–3 days

This drive, which has something for all ages, begins in Palermo . Follow the coast road in the west until you veer inland for Segesta . The famous archeological site here features a hauntingly beautiful Doric temple and a hilltop amphitheater with sweeping views of the Mediterranean.

Back on the sea, the delightful end-of-the-road village Scopello is the gateway to the Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro . It’s a wonderland of hikes to hidden beaches, coves and steep headlands. Next, cut due west to Erice , perched high above a fairytale coastal landscape. Pause to try the locally famous lemon and almond pastries.

Down on the coast, don’t miss the legendary fish couscous in Trapani , where the historic harbor is part of the sickle-shaped spit of land occupied by the old town.

The Saline di Trapani has been a center for salt production since ancient times. Give your car a rest and take a short boat ride to the island of Mozia , home to one of Europe’s finest Phoenician archaeological sites. 

Finish the road trip in Marsala , renowned for its fortified wines both sweet and dry.

Around Mt Etna

Best for hillside culture.

Enna–Catania; 98 miles [158km]; allow 2–3 days

Begin your road trip in the imposing hill town of Enna , smack in Sicily’s geographic center. A climb to the Castello di Lombardia at the top of town affords fine views over the rolling landscape to the north, which you’ll soon be traveling through. 

Nearby, Calascibetta’s most impressive sight is its landmark cathedral, the 14th-century Chiesa Madre . Just northwest is the Necropoli di Realmese , boasting some 300 rock tombs dating from 850 BCE. 

An attractive baroque town further north, Leonforte’s drawcard is the lavish 1651 Granfonte fountain. Amidst four hills, the town of Nicosia revolves around central Piazza Garibaldi. Check out the churches and palazzi (mansions). Southeast, lovely Agira is a sloping hillside village capped by a medieval Norman castle.

Centuripe is a small town whose grandstand views of Mt Etna have earned it the nickname ‘il Balcone di Sicilia’ (the Balcony of Sicily). Stop in for tastings of local honey, pistachios and wine across the flanks of Mt Etna . Finish in cosmopolitan Catania , where edgy bars enliven Unesco-recognized baroque piazzas.

Woman admiring the church of Santa Maria dell'Itria and Ragusa Ibla in the background, Ragusa, Sicily

Mediterranean coast wonders

Best for ancient spectacles.

Syracuse–Marsala; 234 miles [376km]; allow 3–5 days

Start this trip in Syracuse and drive west, never straying far from the Mediterranean as you drive between beautiful cities and beguiling ruins.

First up, Noto’s golden-hued sandstone buildings make it the finest baroque town in Sicily. Due west, medieval Modica climbs steeply up both sides of a deep gorge. Take time to discover its Unesco-listed treasures. Set amid rocky peaks, Ragusa’s sloping tangle of a historic center is etched into the hillside.

Right below Agrigento , the splendid Valley of the Temples boasts the best-preserved Doric temples outside of Greece and is one of Sicily’s unmissable highlights. Seaside Sciacca dates to the 5th century BCE – today it’s a laid-back town with an attractive medieval core and excellent seafood restaurants. Just south and built on a promontory overlooking the sea, the mysterious Greek ruins of Selinunte are among the island’s most impressive, dating to around the 7th century BCE.

Finish the trip at Marsala, an elegant town of stately baroque buildings within a perfect square of Phoenician-era city walls. Its eponymous sweet dessert wines are the ideal end to the journey.

 Ortigia, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy

Mountainous Sicily

Best for traditional towns.

Round trip from Cefalù; 188 miles [303km]; allow 2–3 days

Discover Sicily’s more traditional side along the beautiful back roads of the Madonie and Nebrodi Mountains. From Cefalù head east along the coast, then climb towards the mountain town of Mistretta. Here, grand views of the little-visited Nebrodi Mountains and a distant Mt Etna unfold. After exploring the medieval village of Nicosia, continue south to Enna , a handsome hill town that marks Sicily’s geographic center. 

Snake back north via Gangi into the heart of the Parco Naturale Regionale delle Madonie, a magnificent natural landscape dotted with hazelnut orchards, ash forests and photogenic hilltop towns. Centered around pretty Piazza del Popolo, Petralia Soprana (1147m) is the Madonie’s highest village. Explore the old stone streets and churches here and in nearby Petralia Sottana. A bit west, Polizzi Generosa is now best known as a trekking base for the Madonie.

Medieval Collesano features the Targa Florio museum , which celebrates the history of the Madonie’s storied mountain road race. Due east, Castelbuono is presided over by its magnificent 14th-century castle. Return north to the coast and Cefalù. 

Aeolian Islands

Great for island-hopping.

Milazzo–Alicudi; 116 miles [187km]; allow 2–6 days

One of Sicily’s best road trips barely includes any roads. Leave the car behind and hop a boat for this island-hopping adventure through the Aeolian Islands – seven volcanic beauties with seven distinct personalities, all connected by ferry and hydrofoil to Sicily’s north coast. 

Begin by cruising across the Tyrrhenian from Milazzo to Lipari , home to the islands’ only sizable town. Split your time between urban pleasures and excursions to the beaches and walking trails outside town. 

From Lipari, fast and slow boats fan out to the other six islands. Vulcano is just south and features black-sand beaches, mud baths and the signature smoking crater. Next up is lush green Salina , home to vineyards and famous capers. Further along, remote Filicudi features a hilltop ruin of a Bronze Age village, Alicudi is wonderfully off-the-beaten-track, and  Panarea has whitewashed villages. Save the most dramatic island for last: ever-erupting Stromboli , which offers superb hiking.

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Ragusa Ilba as seen from above in the Val di Noto, a must-see place during a Sicily road trip itinerary

The Ultimate Sicily Road Trip: An Epic 10 Days in Sicily Itinerary

Beautiful, mysterious Sicily, with its looming volcano, sparkling azure waters, and hilltop villages, is one of those travel destinations that I have spent most of my life dreaming about. After finally taking a Sicily road trip, I can say confidently that the island was worth the wait… and that we’ll be working our way through another Sicily itinerary before too long.

The largest island in the Mediterranean truly does have it all: whether you’re looking to lounge on a beach, dive headfirst into the cuisine, explore the Roman (or Greek, or Norman, or Arab, or Byzantine) history, or visit famous Mount Etna, a Sicily road trip has something to offer.

Planning your own trip to Sicily and not sure exactly where to go?

We’ve put together this 10 days in Sicily itinerary for first-timers to the island–this is how to make the most of your first Sicily road trip!

Table of Contents

Why to Take a Sicily Road Trip

How we structured this 10 day sicily itinerary, a note on the language of the island, the ultimate 10 day sicily road trip itinerary, other places to visit on your sicily road trip, sicily road trip itinerary map, what to know about driving in sicily, the best time to visit sicily, what to pack for sicily.

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm in the Greek Theatre of Taormina Sicily

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Sicily was made for road tripping: with plenty of wide-open spaces, beautiful natural spots, and tiny towns worth visiting, there are few places in Italy more worthy of hitting the open road than Sicily.

Add in a less-than-ideal public transportation system, and a Sicily road trip quickly emerges as the clear best way to explore the island–but you need to be prepared in order to make the most of it.

Mosaics on the ceiling of the Church of Martorana, Things to See in Palermo Sicily

You could easily create a month-long Sicily itinerary and still leave the island with stones unturned–but let’s face it, most people won’t have that long to spend on the island.

Our Sicily road trip itinerary is designed to hit all the best spots on the island for first-timers to visit, allowing you to get a taste of many different parts of Sicily: complicated yet lovely Palermo, beautiful beaches, and hilltop villages are all covered, as well as some of the most popular cities in Sicily.

Next to each location, we’ve noted the minimum number of full days (so, not counting a day you arrive at 4pm, for example) we’d recommend spending in each location. 

This works out to be quick-paced but reasonable 10 day Sicily itinerary–but if you’re lucky enough to have more time to spend in Sicily, you can extend it far longer, both by increasing the number of days spent in each location and adding new destinations (we’ll provide some suggestions for those below as well).

empty beach as seen on a sunny day in avola sicily with sea on the right side of the photo, as seen as part of a sicily road trip

Though Italian is the official language in Sicily, Sicilian dialect–which is related and yet distinctly different, to the point where Italian speakers will have a hard time understanding it–is widely spoken in Sicily.

In the destinations covered on this Sicily road trip itinerary, you won’t run into many people (especially those who work with or near tourists) who don’t comfortably speak Italian–but if you stop off in smaller towns along the way, you’ll start to hear (and even see, on menus and such) more and more dialect.

As for English, well–like most places in the world, you can get by among those working in the tourism industry by using it, but it’ll be a bit harder here than in most of Italy.

We strongly recommend learning at least some basic Italian phrases before taking your Sicily road trip–the more Italian you speak, the easier your Sicily travels will be.

I don’t speak much Italian, but knowing enough to ask for (and receive) directions, order food in out-of-the-way places, read basic signs, speak with taxi drivers, etc, made our trip a bit simpler.

Kate Storm sitting a table at BamBar in Taormina. There's an orange granita in front of her and yellow tile work behind her. Visiting BamBar is absolutely one of the best things to do in Taormina Sicily!

Palermo: 2 Days

The capital of Sicily is known for being a bit of a rundown place–and though in some ways it is, it’s also a beautiful, laid-back, and endlessly engrossing city. 

We spent an entire week in Palermo and still weren’t ready to leave when it was over, but 2 days in Palermo will be enough to give you a taste of the major sights and start your 10 days in Sicily itinerary off on a great foot.

What to Do in Palermo

Step inside the magnificent palermo cathedral..

Dating back to the 12th century and built in a variety of architectural styles, the beautiful and distinctive Palermo Cathedral is one of the most important religious buildings in the city.

It’s also home to some very unique touches, like a sundial on the floor marked with zodiac signs and an inscription from the Quran on one of the columns near the entrance–both highly unusual for a Catholic church!

Palermo Cathedral as seen from across the street, a wonderful place to start your 10 days in Sicily itinerary

Take a walking + food tour in order to see some of Palermo’s best highlights, fast.

Taking a Palermo food and walking tour on one of the first days of your Sicily travels is an excellent way to orient yourself both to the city and to the island as a whole.

Explore historical landmarks, markets, and cuisine while also getting a taste of what Palermo is all about with a fabulous food and walking tour.

We took this fun tour during our trip to Palermo and absolutely loved it!

Book your Palermo food + walking tour today!

Outdoor Capo Market food stalls, Best Things to Do in Palermo

Visit the mummies at the Capuchin Crypt of Palermo.

From the 17th to the 19th century in Palermo, increasing numbers of people were mummified in these catacombs–first naturally, and later intentionally, preserving them for all eternity.

The walls of the catacombs are lined with clothed bodies that have their full skeletons intact, staring down at visitors with sometimes disturbingly aware facial features.

No photos are allowed inside, but I can’t impress enough the creepiness of this place–I think it has something to do with the fact that these people are preserved as themselves that adds an extra layer of disturbing to it all, as opposed to places like the catacombs of Paris where the bones are more or less repurposed into artwork using human remains.

If you find catacombs interesting, we highly recommend visiting these during your trip to Sicily–they are, hands down, the most bizarre and fascinating catacombs we have ever seen.

Palermo Travel Tips

You probably don’t need a car here..

Palermo is one of the two major airport hubs in Sicily (Catania is the other), and if you arrive to the island here, we recommend not picking up your rental car until you’re ready to head to Cefalù–it’ll save you both a bit of cash on your rental bill, and a bit of a headache, as you won’t have to worry about parking it.

3 tuk tuks on the street in Palermo, Sicily

The easiest way to get from the airport to the city center is the train.

It costs 5 Euros, avoids the hassle of a taxi, and is perfectly comfortable!

Stay in an ideal location, and you should be able to walk everywhere in Palermo.

This is the biggest reason not to kick off your Sicily road trip until after to leave Palermo: here, a car is a liability but doesn’t really add much of a benefit.

You can walk between all of Palermo’s best things to do, so opt for that instead!

Pretoria Fountain of Palermo Sicily from above, one of the best places to visit in Sicily itinerary

Where to Stay in Palermo

Il Lapino  — Home to simple rooms (some with shared bathrooms) and located only a 10-minute walk from the Palermo Cathedral, Il Lapino is very well-reviewed and is an excellent place to stay in Palermo for those on a budget.

Check rates & book your stay at Il Lapino!

Ciuri Ciuri B&B  — Featuring spacious rooms, included breakfast, and an excellent location, mid-range travelers can’t go wrong with a stay at Ciuri Ciuri B&B while in Palermo!

Check rates & book your stay at Ciuri Ciuri B&B!

Palazzo Natoli Boutique Hotel  — Boasting near-perfect reviews, Palazzo Natoli is located in the heart of Palermo, just steps from some of the city’s best highlights. Private balcony views, exceptional customer service, and a delicious daily breakfast are all included here–if you’re looking for the ultimate relaxing stay in Palermo, this is it!

Check rates & book your stay at Palazzo Natoli Boutique Hotel!

Square in Palermo: Best Things to Do in Palermo Sicily

Cefalù : 2 Days

Of all the places to visit in Sicily, this is the one outlined on this Sicily road trip itinerary that we personally have the most unfinished business with.

We squeezed a quick visit to Cefalù into one day, but this magnificent seaside town captured our hearts and absolutely deserves more time than that–as we strolled the streets of Cefalù, we fantasized about one day returning here for a month!

In other words, don’t rush: you won’t regret taking two of your 10 days in Sicily to enjoy this beautiful place.

Jeremy Storm sitting on a wall overlooking Cefalu beach, a fabulous stop during a Sicily road trip itinerary

What to Do in Cefalù

Climb to the top of la rocca..

Climbing high over Cefalù to La Rocca takes less than an hour but rewards you with stupendous views over Cefalù and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as providing some interesting stops along the way (namely, the ruins of the Temple of Diana).

Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and ideally, complete this climb in the morning or early evening–the midday sun is brutal up here!

Check out the Cefalù Cathedral.

Not many villages as small as Cefalù have cathedrals as impressive–dating back even further than Palermo’s Cathedral, the Cefalù Duomo is absolutely worth visiting during your Sicily road trip, and if the views at La Rocca weren’t enough for you, you can even climb to the top!

Cefalu Cathedral with a vespa parked in front of it, one of the best things to see on a Sicily road trip itinerary

Enjoy being a beach bum.

One of the best things to do in Cefalù is simply to enjoy its beach that is conveniently located right outside of the old town, where you’re never far from gelato or a granita.

Pull up a stretch of sand, dip your toes in the water, and enjoy the beauty of Cefalù without stress.

Cefalu Beach in Sicily Italy, with towels for sale on the right and the sea visible on the left, one of the best places to visit in Sicily travel

Cefalù Travel Tips

Savor getting lost here..

The small streets and occasional unexpected sea views give Cefalù a delightful charm that completely captivated us during our Sicily travels–this small village is worth wandering aimlessly, and due to its small size, it’s impossible to get too lost along the way.

Small street of Cefalu Sicily with cars parked alongside it

Where to Stay in Cefalù

Sweet Home Cefalù  — Located practically next door to Cefalù’s beach and complete with both a balcony and a small kitchen, Sweet Home Cefalù gets rave reviews and is the perfect option for budget travelers in Cefalù.

Check rates & book your stay at Sweet Home Cefalù !

Marina House — What’s better than a well-reviewed apartment in the heart of Cefalù? One that’s located right on the water and includes a balcony overlooking the sea!

Check rates & book your stay at Marina House!

Casa Barone Agnello — Housed in an antique home in the center of Cefalù, this impeccably decorated and well-reviewed apartment is perfect for travelers looking for a bit of old-world charm during their trip to Cefalù.

Check rates & book your stay at Casa Barone Agnello!

Restaurant with outdoor tables shaded by awnings outdoors in Piazza Duomo in Cefalu, as seen on a Sicily road trip

Taormina: 2 Days

Taormina is probably the most touristic place on this Sicily itinerary, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth adding to your Sicily travels.

Boasting phenomenal views of both Mount Etna and the sparkling Ionian Sea, great swimming nearby, and an incredible Greek theatre, Taormina is hard not to love.

View of Taormina as seen from grounds of the Greek theatre. You can see the bottom of Mount Etna, the peak is covered by clouds.

What to Do in Taormina

Visit the greek theatre..

Of all the Greek theatres we have visited in world–including ones in Greece itself–this one is by far the prettiest we have ever seen, and a visit here absolutely belongs on your 10 day Sicily itinerary.

On a perfectly clear day, you’ll see an epic view of Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea behind the theatre–but even on a slightly cloudy day like when we visited (at least over Mount Etna, that is), the views are still pretty phenomenal.

Kate and Jeremy standing in Greek Theatre in Taormina--visiting this place is easily one of the best things to do in Taormina! Kate and Jeremy are facing each other, Kate is wearing a floral maxi dress.

Take a day trip to Mount Etna.

Want to add a little thrill to your list of things to do in Taormina? Book a day trip to the crater of an active volcano!

On a clear day, the views of  Mount Etna  from Taormina are fantastic–but there’s still nothing like standing on an active volcano with your own two feet.

Whether you want to book  a morning hike ,  a scenic tour , or  a full day trip  that also includes a visit to the beautiful Alcantara Canyons, you’re bound to find a visit to Mount Etna that appears to your travel style.

Book your day trip to Mount Etna today! Morning Hike  |  Scenic Tour  |  Full Day Trip

Go for a swim at Isola Bella.

Home to what are widely considered to be the best beaches in Taormina, summer visitors should definitely add a visit to Isola Bella to their Sicily road trip itinerary!

Though you can easily reach the island yourself from Taormina via the cable car,  a cruise along the coast  paired with visits to the island’s best swimming spots is an excellent day to spend a hot day in Taormina!

Book your  boat cruise around Isola Bella  today!

Photo of the Ionian Sea as seen from Taormina. There are cacti in the foreground of the photo.

Taormina Travel Tips

Not everything is within walking distance..

In order to visit some of Taormina’s most popular sights like Isola Bella, and its beaches in general, you’ll need to head down to the seaside via cable car.

Check the weather carefully.

If you’re in town for a couple of days and one day looks clearer than the other, use the clearer day to visit Mount Etna (or if you don’t want to head all the way to Mount Etna, admire views of it from the Greek Theatre).

kate storm sitting on a garden wall in taormina sicily overlooking the ionian sea, one of the best places to visit in italy summer

Where to Stay in Taormina

Hostel Taormina  — Boasting great reviews and a perfect location in Taormina’s Old Town, Hostel Taormina is the perfect place for budget travelers looking to keep costs down in what is arguably Sicily’s most expensive city.

Both private rooms and dorms are available, and a shared kitchen is located in the hostel.

The only downside? No parking options–so keep that in mind if you choose to book a stay here!

Check rates & book your stay at Hostel Taormina!

Photo of Piazza IX Aprile in Taormina Sicily

Hotel Natalina  — We had a great time at this little hotel!

The location is a short walk from Taormina’s Old Town, the included breakfast quite large by Italian standards, and the customer service excellent. The staff helped us park our rental car for free nearby, which we greatly appreciated!

The rooms are large, but a bit dated–this certainly isn’t a luxury hotel, but it’s definitely a cozy enough place to stay while visiting Taormina, and we’d be happy to stay again.

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Natalina!

Hotel Continental  — Want to admire the sea views that Taormina is famous for from the comfort of your hotel, while also staying in the lap of luxury?

If so, the Hotel Continental is for you!

Known for its superb location in the heart of Taormina, its views, and its wonderful included breakfast, luxury travelers can’t go wrong with a stay here.

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Continental!

Photo of a street in Taormina Sicily with cars parked on either side. There's a church visible toward the back of the photo.

Syracuse: 2 Days

Packed with ancient ruins, beautiful churches, and a maze of quiet streets, Syracuse (or Siracusa) is second only to Taormina in tourism popularity for Sicily vacations.

For your 2 days in Syracuse, we recommend focusing primarily on the island of Ortigia (or Ortygia), which is a small island right off the coast of Sicily (and I do mean right off the coast–no ferry necessary) that is essentially Syracuse’s lovely old town.

Parade in Syracuse Sicily with a drummer in the foreground looking away from the camera

What to Do in Syracuse

Check out castello maniace..

Located on the far edge of Ortigia, this citadel-slash-castle dates to the 13th century (an earlier castle on the site dated to the 11th) and boasts beautiful views over the Ionian Sea.

Stroll through the small streets of Ortigia.

Ortigia is a charming place, and we found that we loved it most when wandering the streets in search of coffee bars, churches (we stumbled across one with a festival going on inside!), and the island’s many ruins.

Be sure to make your way to the Piazza Duomo and the Fountain of Arethusa during your wandering!

small street in Syracuse Sicily with flags outside the shop windows

Marvel at the Temple of Apollo.

Of all the ancient ruins in Syracuse, the Temple of Apollo is considered the most important.

Dating to the 6th century BCE, the temple has served a whole host of functions over the centuries, including acting as a temple to both Apollo and Artemis, as a church (more than once), and as a mosque.

Syracuse Travel Tips

Stay in ortigia if you can..

This is essentially the old town of Syracuse and is set on an island nearby the main part of the modern city.

It’s beautiful, easy to get lost in, and delightfully fun to explore on foot, making it the perfect place to stay in Syracuse. 

The only catch is what to do with your car, which leads me to…

Church on the island of Ortigia in Syracuse Sicily, as seen on a Sicily road trip

Choose where you park in advance.

Parking is severely restricted on the island of Ortigia, and on our Sicily road trip we ended up driving in circles for a bit trying to find the right place to leave our car.

Learn from our mistakes and plan carefully beforehand!

Consider visiting the Greek Theatre on your way into or out of Syracuse.

Syracuse’s Greek Theatre is one of its most popular attractions, however, it’s completely across town from Ortigia.

It’s the perfect place to stop for a quick sightseeing break as you arrive in or leave the city, though.

Empty road in Sicily with green fields on either side

Where to Stay in Syracuse

Room Calafatari — Ortigia is peppered with dozens of small, simple apartments that are used as budget rentals, and Room Calafatari is both a great option and the perfect example of what to expect in Ortigia in a budget price range: no frills but a great location.

Check rates & book your stay at Room Calafatari!

Hotel Posta — With a fabulous location overlooking a port and within a short walk of many of Syracuse’s top attractions, Hotel Posta is a prime choice for mid-range travelers on their Sicily road trip.

Personally, we’d be tempted to upgrade to a room with a balcony–those views are just too good to pass up.

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Posta!

Hotel Livingston — With excellent reviews, and included breakfast, and a prime location on the edge of Ortigia (most rooms include a sea view!), luxury travelers (or just those looking for a splurge) can’t go wrong with a stay at 4-star Hotel Livingston during their 10 day Sicily itinerary!

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Livingston!

Pastry and cappuccino breakfast in Syracuse Sicily shot from above

Val di Noto: 2 Days

Sicily’s Val di Noto is littered with stunning Baroque towns, rolling hills, lovely wine country, and some of the best chocolate in the world–in other words, it’s definitely a place that belongs on your 10 days in Sicily itinerary.

What to Do in the Val di Noto

Hop between the beautiful baroque towns..

Eight of the towns in the Val di Noto are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their incredible Baroque architecture: Ragusa, Modica, Noto, Scicli, Palazzo Acreide, Caltagirone, Militello in Val di Catania, and finally, Catania itself.

Obviously, that is a bit much to cover with just 2 days of your trip to Sicily.

We recommend prioritizing Ragusa, Noto, Modica, and if you have time, Scicli.

Church in Ragusa Sicily set on a steep hill as seen during a Sicily travel itinerary

Admire views of Ragusa Ilba.

Beautiful Ragusa is divided into two sections: Ragusa Superiore (the upper town) and Ragusa Ilba (the lower town).

The views of Ragusa Ilba looking down from Ragusa Superiore may just be some of the best views in this entire Sicily itinerary, which is really saying something!

Kate Storm in a blue skirt overlooking Ragusa Ilba from Ragusa Superiore, one of the best views on this 10 days in Sicily itinerary

Snack on chocolate in Modica.

The beautiful town of Modica is world-famous for its chocolate, which boasts a recipe that originally hails from none other than the Aztecs.

The chocolate is created with “cold processing”, giving it a characteristic grainy texture, inconsistent color, and delicious taste.

Val di Noto Travel Tips

Choose where to stay carefully..

Think about your travel style when you choose where to stay in the Val di Noto: do you want to be the heart of the action? Do you want to be able to do plenty of sightseeing without driving? Would you prefer a countryside stay so that you can easily come and go without worrying about parking or driving through a town to do so?

Personally, we chose to stay in Ragusa for its relative popularity and central location and were very happy with the choice.

Prosciutto and cheese platter with bread as seen from above--be sure to eat plenty of delicious food like this during your 10 days in Sicily!

Don’t try to see more than 1-2 towns a day.

The Baroque towns of the Val di Noto may look very close together on a map, but add in small, winding roads, the hassles of finding a place to park and making your way (often uphill) to the picturesque town centers, and the delights of savoring each spot, and it’s definitely best to limit your movements when possible.

We recommend sticking to seeing 1-2 towns per day in this section of your Sicily road trip itinerary.

Steep staircase in Ragusa with a church tower on the right and Ragusa Ilba visible in the distance

Where to Stay in Val di Noto

For the sake of simplicity, we’ve outlined a few well-reviewed places to stay in Ragusa here, but staying somewhere like Modica or Noto will also easily work with this 10 day Sicily itinerary!

SanVito Hostel — With excellent reviews, a prime location in Ragusa near Piazza San Giovanni, an included breakfast, and a gorgeous terrace offering panoramic views of the Val di Noto, SanVito Hostel is a phenomenal option for budget travelers during their Sicily road trip.

Check rates & book your stay at SanVito Hostel!

Hotel Il Barocco — Cozy and comfortable, this small hotel is located in a 19th-century building in central Ragusa, making it the perfect launching pad for your sightseeing. With excellent reviews and a fabulous included breakfast, Hotel Il Barocco is a reliable choice in Ragusa for your Sicily vacation.

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Il Barocco!

San Giorgio Palace — Located in the heart of Ragusa Ilba, popular San Giorgio Palace boasts very spacious rooms, as well as modern decor and amenities (including a very well-reviewed included breakfast) in a picture-perfect setting, with some rooms that overlook the valley.

Check rates & book your stay at San Giorgio Palace!

Plate of pasta in Sicily Italy as seen from above

If you’re lucky enough to have more than 10 days in Sicily–or you just prefer an even more fast-paced Sicily road trip–there are plenty more incredible places to visit in Sicily to add to your list!

Here are a few more beautiful places to see in Sicily that you might want to add to your itinerary.

View of Sicily with the Meditteranean Sea in the foreground, taken from a plane window

The ancient Valley of the Temples outside of Agrigento is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Sicily.

Once a thriving Ancient Greek city, these ruins are remarkably well-preserved and far less crowded than many better-known Greek ruins throughout Europe.

Located just outside of Palermo, Mondello is best known today for its long stretch of beach, which is one of the most popular places for beach days for both tourists and locals who are staying in Palermo.

This laid-back beach town is perfect for kicking back and enjoying long stretches of sandy beach–in fact, if you want a little more swimming to be included on your Sicily vacation beyond what’s outlined in this 10 day Sicily itinerary, you can even add a quick stop in Avola during your drive from Syracuse to the Baroque towns of the Val di Noto.

Long stretch of empty beach in Avola Sicily with the clear sea visible on the left, an excellent stop on any Sicily road trip itinerary

Aeolian Islands

Also sometimes called the Lipari Islands, this stunning volcanic island chain is a UNESCO World Heritage site and boasts some of the most magnificent sea views in all of Sicily (which is, as you can imagine, very high praise).

Located in the shadow of Mount Etna, Catania is Sicily’s second-largest city and second airport hub–you’ll likely fly into and out of either Palermo or Catania (in fact, for this Sicily road trip itinerary it’s easiest to fly into Palermo and out of Catania if you can swing it).

Though Catania is far from Sicily’s most popular tourist attraction, it’s definitely worth a bit of exploring if you happen to be passing through!

Take This Map With You! Click each highlight to pull up the name of the destination. To save this map to “Your Places” on Google Maps, click the star to the right of the title. You’ll then be able to find it under the Maps tab of your Google Maps account! To open the map in a new window, click the button on the top right of the map.

Driving in Sicily truly deserves its own post, but here are some essential tips to know before embarking on your Sicily road trip!

Shop around for your rental car.

There are dozens of rental car companies operating in Sicily, all with their own prices and rental agreements. We recommend shopping through Discover Cars in order to search through multiple companies at once.

Not only will you be able to compare prices easily, but you’ll also be able to compare rental inclusions (like insurance, kilometers allotted, etc.), which we found varied dramatically among different rental car companies in Sicily!

Price Sicily rental cars with Discover Cars today!

Jeremy Storm leaning against a small black Sicily rental car looking out over an empty road in Sicily

The driving honestly isn’t as bad as it is portrayed… but it’s not easy.

There’s no way around it: driving in Sicily has a pretty terrible reputation.

However, ultimately, we walked away feeling that driving in Sicily was easier than expected–but we fully admit this impression is likely partially because of how nervous we were about doing it.

The major roads in Sicily are perfectly well maintained–smaller roads, not so much, so beware of potholes. City driving is the trickiest while traveling between cities on major highways is fairly simple.

Drivers can be a bit aggressive, yes, but we wouldn’t say they were drastically more aggressive than in, say, Tuscany.

As much as Sicily has a reputation for being its own world, particularly when it comes to driving, driving in Sicily felt pretty much like driving anywhere else in Italy (which is, admittedly, a harder place to drive than some).

Bear in mind that we are coming at this from the perspective of people who drove daily for nearly a decade and have road-tripped through many countries, including Italy, before. You do need to be a confident, well-practiced driver to comfortably drive in Sicily.

Taking a Sicily road trip if driving makes you anxious, you’re out of practice, you don’t like to drive, or you’ve never driven outside your home country is likely not the best idea.

Also–this is not the place to learn to drive a manual. Unless you are very confident with one, we recommend paying extra for an automatic transmission.

Porta Nuova, Best Things to Do in Palermo Sicily

… But be sure you have insurance (preferably with no deductible/excess).

We didn’t incur any damage to our rental car in Sicily… but when we dropped it off, both rentals parked on either side of us had huge dents in them!

Due to the aggressive driving, small roads, and distances covered on this Sicily road trip, we’d recommend purchasing insurance with no deductible/excess for the time it takes you to work through this 10 day Sicily itinerary–it’s simply one less thing to worry about on the road.

Winding roads in Sicily with Ragusa Ilba visible in the background, a must-see during 10 days in Sicily

Rent the smallest car you can manage.

Tiny roads. Cramped historic centers. Parking lots where cars are parked a mere inch apart (and the lines denoting where the parking places should be seen as mere suggestions at best–people park over them regularly).

Truly, renting a big car in Sicily is a liability, not a benefit. 

We recommend renting the tiniest car you can squeeze your group + luggage into. If the rental desk suggests an upgrade? Turn it down.

Carry lots of coins.

You will pay tolls when driving in Sicily, especially in northern half of the island, so come prepared with a cupholder full of Euros.

Coast of Sicily near Avola with the sea visible on the right side of the photo, as seen on a Sicily road trip

Don’t underestimate the time it takes to drive between destinations.

There were days that we pulled into our hotel’s parking space exactly when Google Maps said that we would–and days (like the day we had to catch a flight) that we ended up way behind schedule due to road work and an unfortunate accident that we got stuck behind.

Definitely leave yourself plenty of extra time on days that you have somewhere to be at a specific time!

Quiet street in Francavilla Sicily on a rainy day with cars parked along the edge

July and August are peak tourism season in Sicily, and while the beaches will be warm and the sun shining, it’s best to avoid taking your Sicily road trip during those months if you hope to avoid peak crowds and prices.

Luckily, Sicily is characterized by its brilliant weather that allows for swimming over nearly half the year! 

Personally, we’d recommend aiming for a September or early October trip to Sicily if you hope to swim your heart out, and a late April or May trip if you want to avoid the worst of the heat and crowds while still thawing out after a long winter.

Over the winter, lots of small, tourist-focused businesses close and the island, especially in smaller towns, quiets down significantly–but if a slow-paced, off-season 10 days in Sicily itinerary sounds right up your alley, you’ll certainly find plenty of peaceful spots to savor.

View of a beach along the Ionian Sea as seen by peaking through a gate at Villa Comunale, one of the best places to visit in Taormina Sicily!

Travel Insurance — We don’t ever suggest traveling without travel insurance–anything can happen, and a fast-paced Sicily road trip is definitely better a case of safe than sorry. We use and recommend Safety Wing  for trips to Italy.

Cell Phone Holder — This is especially important if you don’t have a reliable co-pilot: the last thing you want to do is be fumbling with the GPS on your phone during your Sicily road trip. Pack a cell phone holder to attach to the car and you’ll be able to drive much more safely!

Additional Car Insurance — Whether you purchase a policy with World Nomads that covers car rental (only some of theirs do, so double-check!), purchase a policy through the rental car company, or something else, be sure you have coverage: in Sicily, it’s worth the peace of mine.

International Driving Permit — If you’re coming from outside the EU and plan to rent a car in Sicily, you’ll need to make sure to acquire an International Driving Permit in your home country, before coming to Italy. It is required for all car rentals in Italy, and while the rental company may not ask, it’s not worth the risk of being refused a car once you arrive or getting a fine if you’re pulled over to be without one. 

best road trip sicily

Comfortable Day Bag  — We currently use  Pacsafe’s sleek anti-theft backpack  and love it, but if you don’t want to shell out the cash for this trip, that’s totally understandable. Just aim for something comfortable to wear, not flashy, and medium-sized–we used a  Northface Jester backpack  for years and loved it as well.

best road trip sicily

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

7 thoughts on “The Ultimate Sicily Road Trip: An Epic 10 Days in Sicily Itinerary”

From someone who has family and typically visits for +30 days every other year, you did a very nice job with the article….many, many other wonder ful places to see and things to experience on the island, and the Eolian, and Egadi…..

Thanks Anthony! We can’t wait to make it back and explore more of Sicily.

Oh waooo Its amazing to know these valuable Information provided by you. Next month we have plan to visit Sicily and these information will be very helpfull. Thank you

Happy to hear that, Josef! Hope you guys have a great time in Sicily. 🙂

Wow! That was a very helpful article! I am bookmarking it multiple places so I don’t lose it before our trip in June. Thank you so much for your great tips and very practical advice.

Thanks, Vrinda! Hope you guys have a blast in Sicily!

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Two For The World

Sicily Road Trip: Plan The Ultimate 14 Day Sicily Itinerary 

29 jan 2024 25 jan 2024 | dan.

Big scenery, epic history, rich culture, amazing food and wine: this is road tripping at its very best. In this post, we share our ideal 14 Day Sicily Itinerary, taking in the top attractions right across the island for a Sicily road trip you won’t soon forget.  

Tucked off the tip of Italy’s boot, the island of Sicily has been luring people to her shores at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Sea for millennia.  

Throughout the ages, waves of people – Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, the list goes on – have all added their cultural spice to Sicily’s great mortar pot, creating the rich and vibrant society that exists today. They’ve also left an extraordinary legacy of living traditions, amazing historic sites and delicious flavours. 

Add to the mix golden sandy beaches and offshore isles lapped by azure seas, rustic villages where life goes on much as it has forever, beautiful Baroque cities and medieval old towns, monumental ancient temples, six World Heritage areas (with multiple sites to visit), sweeping mountains and valleys, and two of the world’s most active volcanoes. It’s little wonder Sicily continues to draw people from around the world today.  

For us, Sicily encapsulates everything we love about road tripping: roads through big, beautiful landscapes, layers of visible history, a vivid cultural scene and, best of all, pasta and vino!  

We came not knowing quite what to expect. We left knowing we have to come back. 

Our own Sicily road trip was just shy of two weeks and we loved it. With hindsight though, there are things we would do differently if we did this trip again.  

This is the result: a curated 2 week Sicily itinerary that takes on board our own learnings and experiences of exploring and driving in Sicily, and showcases the very best highlights around the island.  

A silver car in front of a black lava field with green grass patches on Mt Etna in east Sicily. 

Sicily Road Trip Snapshot Start & Finish: Palermo, Sicily  Distance: If you do everything in this itinerary, you’ll travel around 1,300km (810 miles) give or take; more if you do some of the suggested extra activities.   How long does it take? This is a self-drive 14 Day Sicily itinerary. See further on for our suggestions if you have less time or more time . Overnight stops: 3 nights in Palermo, 2 nights in Trapani, 1 night in Agrigento, 4 nights in Syracuse, 2 nights in Taormina and 1 night in Cefalù.   

What’s in this post?

Planning a Sicily Road Trip Getting to Sicily What’s the route? Best time to visit Sicily Where to stay in Sicily Driving in Sicily 14 Day Sicily Road Trip Itinerary Day 1 – Arrive Palermo Day 2 – Palermo Day 3 – Palermo Day 4 – Trapani via Segesta & Erice Day 5 – Trapani Day 6 – Selinunte & Agrigento Valley of the Temples Day 7 – Syracuse via Villa Romana del Casale Day 8 – Syracuse Day 9 – Day trip to Ragusa & Noto Day 10 – Day trip to Catania Day 11 – Taormina Day 12 – Day trip to Mount Etna Day 13 – Cefalù Day 14 – Depart Palermo

Planning a Sicily Road Trip

Getting to sicily.

Our Sicily travel itinerary starts and finishes in the city of Palermo on the island’s north-west coast. You can fly direct to Palermo’s Falcone-Borsellino Airport from various cities in Italy and other parts of Europe.   

As this is a looping itinerary, you could also fly into Catania in the east, or Trapani in the west, and set out from either of those cities. 

Alternatively, if you’re travelling by car from mainland Italy, you can take the 30-minute car ferry from Reggio Calabria in Italy’s south-west to the Sicilian port city of Messina on the island’s north-east, and make Taormina your starting point. 

What’s the route?

If you road trip Sicily with this itinerary, you’ll start with a couple of days in Palermo. From there, you’ll travel in an anti-clockwise loop around the island, finishing back in Palermo (for alternative start and finish points, take a look at the ‘Getting to Sicily’ section above).  

En route, you’ll experience the very best of Sicily’s natural, cultural and historic highlights: a mezze of charming villages, time capsule cities, ancient places, World Heritage sites, sensational food, and epic mountain and coastal scenery, including Mount Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanos.  

best road trip sicily

Is two weeks in Sicily enough for a whole-island road trip?   Two weeks is the very minimum we would recommend for an itinerary in Sicily that takes in the main sites and attractions across the island. This is, after all, the largest island in the Mediterranean. Our road trip covers a lot of ground, but we make up for the car stints with plenty of sightseeing and getting out and about.   Also, while Sicily has many lovely beaches, we should note that we haven’t included beach time in this itinerary (we’d personally rather explore a medieval town). If you’re keen for some sea and sand, there are opportunities along the way to swap out some activities with time on the beach. If you have less than two weeks in Sicily , we recommend you focus your road trip on either the east side of the island (Syracuse, Catania, Taormina and Etna) or the west side (Palermo, Trapani and Agrigento).   If you have more than two weeks , you can slow the pace and add some down time, beach time, or more activities along the way. Some of the things we’d do with more time include:  > Exploring Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve and San Vito Lo Capo in north western Sicily.  > Sailing out to the Aeolina Islands, an archipelago including Lipari and the active volcano, Stromboli.  > Visiting the Egadi Islands of Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo off Trapani.  > Spending more time exploring the Baroque cities of the Val di Noto . 

Sicily trip itinerary - View across the curving stone seats of the Greco-Roman Theatre at ancient Segesta.

Best time to visit Sicily

Sicily sits at the heart of the Mediterranean, which means hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.  

Like many places around the Med, summer sees a rush on Sicily’s coastal towns and beaches, and prices reflect it. We’re not big fans of high heat or crowded sites so we would personally steer clear of Sicily over the peak months of July to September, as well as holiday periods like Easter.   

During winter, the temps drop, it gets quiet and you’ll find many sites, restaurants and activities have shorter hours or close down entirely. You won’t find much happening outside of the major towns.  

Based on our personal experience of road tripping Sicily in April plus some research, the shoulder periods of April to June and October seem to be the best times of year to travel as the weather is milder but it’s still not too busy.  

Where to stay in Sicily

It’s easy with a big itinerary like this to wind up staying in a different town every night. When we’re road tripping though, our preference is to find a place we can stay for a couple of days and use that as a base for day trips in the car.  

It means we can settle into our stay, get a little familiar with the place, and we don’t have to stress about leaving luggage in the car while we’re out sightseeing.  

All of the overnight stops in this Sicily itinerary are in cities or decent-sized towns with a range of accommodation to suit various budgets and travel styles. 

We recommend you arrange your accommodation before you visit, especially if you’re heading to Sicily during a peak period.  

Sorting out accommodation and parking in advance also means far less hassle on arrival, particularly if you’re planning to stay in the historic centre of a town – many of Sicily’s historic centres have restricted traffic zones, meaning you can’t drive your car into them (read more about these in the ‘Driving in Sicily’ section below).   

Driving in Sicily

Having driven extensively on the Italian mainland, and having also read plenty of disconcerting reports, it’s fair to say we were a little apprehensive about driving in Sicily. As we were told on more than one occasion, ‘road rules are more like suggestions’ here.  

That said, once you get to grips with the ‘every person for themselves’ mentality on the road, navigating the local approach to driving becomes much easier. Just be ready for it, and drive defensively.   

In the meantime, here are some key considerations when you’re planning to road trip Sicily: 

> Book your car rental in advance – This goes for every place, but booking your hire car well before you go means you can wrangle a better deal, and that can make a big difference in this post-Covid era of high car rental costs. Go for a smaller car too if you can: you’ll thank us the first time you try to park it or drive down a village laneway.

If you follow this itinerary, you won’t need a hire car until Day 4 as you’ll be spending your first couple of days exploring the city of Palermo.  

> Download offline Google maps for Sicily – That way you’ll have GPS navigation even if you don’t have internet. Also, bring a car charger for your phone.  

> There are two toll roads on the island, the A18 and the A20 – If you end up on one, you’ll pass a ticket booth. Don’t drive through the raised barrier without taking a ticket. At the end of the toll road, there’ll be another ticket booth where you present the ticket and pay. On approach, keep an eye out for the cash and card lanes and avoid the Telepass (etag) lanes. 

> Avoid driving in the Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL) – You’ll encounter these limited traffic zones in most historic town centres across Sicily. Every entrance to a ZTL will be marked by a sign showing a red circle with a white centre. Some signs may indicate certain hours that the ZTL is active. We found it’s generally safer to just assume they’re always active and avoid them. You will be fined if you drive into a ZTL without a permit. 

A narrow road with a Zona Traffico Limitato sign marking the entrance to an historical town centre, a regular site when driving Sicily.

>   Plan your parking – To be honest, when you’re road tripping anywhere, but especially in places like Sicily, finding parking can make or break your day. You’ll save a whole lot of time and stress if you work out where you’re going to park before you visit a place. John is religious about this and always marks up several parking options on Google maps before we set out. It makes a massive difference. Have a backup or two just in case your first choice is full. 

  • Carparks and street parking – Many towns have dedicated carparks or parking garages, called parcheggios . These are usually paid car spaces.
  • Street parking – You’ll often see parking spaces on the street or in car parks marked with blue, white and yellow lines. You can park for a fee in parking spaces marked with blue lines. Check the signs as sometimes hours of operation apply. White lines mean either free parking or residents parking. Again, check signs before parking in white line spaces as you’ll be fined if you park in residents parking without a permit. Yellow lines are disabled parking spaces.  
  • Parking when visiting ZTLs: When visiting any town with a historic centre, find the nearest car park outside the old town and walk in. If your accommodation is located within a ZTL, ask your accommodation provider for their advice on where to park. 
  • Factor daily parking costs into your trip budget: You will be up for parking costs on a daily basis throughout this trip, with fees ranging from a couple of euros for a couple of hours to €20+ for overnight parking in some places.

> Don’t leave valuables in your car – This is common sense and a general rule of thumb. Sometimes it’s unavoidable though. In those cases, have everything you need ready to go with you in the car before you arrive somewhere (including valuables like passports), so you don’t need to open the car boot. Make sure everything else is tucked away out of sight and the car is locked.  

Sicily road trip – A road stretches away into the distance with cloud-capped mountains rising on the left.

14 Day Sicily Road Trip Itinerary

Day 1 – arrive palermo.

Highlights: Evening in Palermo’s Centro Storico Total driving distance: No driving today. As you’ll be visiting Palermo over the next couple of days, save on car hire fees and collect your hire car from the airport on the morning of Day 4.       Total driving time: No driving today . Overnight: Palermo

Palermo is the largest city in Sicily and the island’s capital. A port city since ancient times, Palermo’s architecture, culture and cuisine have evolved with a distinct imprint of the diverse civilisations that have conquered and ruled here. You’ll notice Arab and Norman influences, along with Byzantine, Lombard, French and others. 

Palermo is also home to the ‘Arab-Norman Palermo’ World Heritage area, which includes seven sites across the city, plus the cathedrals nearby at Cefalù and Monreale. You’ll have a chance to visit some of Palermo’s sites over the coming days.      

Travelling from the airport to Palermo

You can get from Palermo Airport to the city by bus, train and taxi.  

The shuttle bus is a comfortable, low-cost option. The bus company is called Prestia e Comandé and the journey from the airport to Palermo Central Station takes around 45 minutes to an hour.  

The train from Palermo Airport station to Palermo Centrale station is also a low-cost option and takes between 35 minutes and an hour depending on the service. Visit the Trenitalia website for information and tickets.

Taxis unfortunately have a bad rap in Palermo, with travellers often complaining of being scammed or overcharged. Uber Black launched in 2022 but is apparently expensive. There is no UberX.  

Benvenuti in Sicilia!  

Welcome to Sicily! Today is about arriving, settling into your accommodation, and getting ready to explore Palermo and road trip Sicily.  

Tonight, head to one of Palermo’s ambient squares, such as Piazza Olivella or Piazza Sant’Anna , for a wine or aperitivo, and plates of local Palermo specialities like arancini (rice balls) and pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines).  

Night falls over the circular Teatro Politeama, a highlight when visiting Palermo.

Where to stay in Palermo  

Palermo is a big city with all the diversity of accommodation options that brings.

As the next couple of days are all about Palermo’s highlights (and you don’t have to worry about parking just yet), we suggest staying in or near Palermo’s historic centre, the Centro Storico . There are four districts within this area: Castellamare, La Kalsa, Il Capo and Albergheria/Ballarò. You’ll find the major attractions around here, along with plenty of bars and restaurants.  

Sicily’s north west corner When we travelled, we stayed more than an hour away from Palermo in the village of Scopello. Our hotel was lovely and the coastal views were gorgeous, but unless you’re planning to explore the northwest tip of Sicily or you have a car to deal with, it’s far more convenient to stay in or close to Palermo. Scopello is actually the gateway to Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve , famed for its secluded beaches, rugged mountain scenery, walking and birding opportunities.   Lo Zingaro stretches away to the north and the town San Vito Lo Capo , which is said to be home to one of Sicily’s most beautiful beaches.   Sadly, we didn’t have time to explore this area when we visited and we haven’t included it in this itinerary. But if you have more than 2 weeks in Sicily , this is definitely an area worth devoting a couple of days to. Alternatively, if nature calls to you more loudly than towns, then you could swap out the days in Trapani for time here instead. 

Day 2 – Palermo

Highlights: Palermo’s Centro Storico Total driving distance: No driving today. Pick up your hire car from Palermo Airport on the morning of Day 4.   Total driving time: No driving today . Overnight: Palermo

Today is a packed day of sightseeing in Palermo.  

We love to get oriented in new places by joining a guided walking tour. There are a heap of walking tours you can take in Palermo, including city highlight tours and various themed tours covering topics like World Heritage, street food and Palermo’s anti-mafia movement.

A city tour will introduce you to some of Palermo’s top spots, give you an overview of the city’s rich history, and help you narrow down where you’d like to spend more time.  

Don’t miss the Palazzo dei Normanni (also known as the Royal Palace) and its exquisitely beautiful Palatine Chapel . Other must-sees are Palermo Cathedral (head to the roof for great views), the Byzantine mosaic masterpieces at the Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio , and the Arab-Norman Church of San Cataldo right next door.   

Also nearby is the 16th-century Fontana Pretoria , better known as the ‘Fountain of Shame’ on account of its marble nudes. The monastic neighbours of the day were apparently unamused. 

Marble statues of naked men and women adorn a fountain in Palermo Sicily.

Day 3 – Palermo

Highlights: Markets | Teatro Massimo | Capuchin Catacombs | Monreale Cathedral Total driving distance: No driving today. You’ll pick up your hire car from Palermo Airport tomorrow morning.   Total driving time: No driving today. Overnight: Palermo

Start today by immersing in the bustle of one of Palermo’s outdoor markets . These are a legacy of the city’s 9th century days under Arab rule as the capital of the Emirate of Sicily. There’s a market in each of the city’s four historic quarters. The most popular for tourists is Mercato di Ballarò . The markets are open daily except Sunday and they’re most buzzy in the mornings. As with all markets and busy places, watch your pockets and keep your valuables close.

After the markets, maybe join a tour of the ornate Teatro Massimo , the third largest theatre in Europe. There’s also the morbidly fascinating Capuchin Catacombs , where thousands of mummified bodies line the walls. 

If you’re a World Heritage seeker like us, consider an afternoon trip to the World Heritage Monreale Cathedral . Take bus 389 from Piazza Indipendenza, behind the Palazzo dei Normanni and time your arrival for when the Cathedral reopens after lunch at 2pm (Sundays it’s only open in the afternoon).  

The golden stoned Palermo Cathedral is a top stop on a 14 Day Sicily Itinerary.

Day 4 – Trapani via Segesta & Erice  

Highlights: Segesta Archaeological Park | Erice ‘s medieval streets and views | Dinner in Trapani Total driving distance: appx. 115km (71 miles)   Total driving time: appx. 2 hours Overnight: Trapani

Pick up your hire car from Palermo Airport

Our Sicily road trip starts in earnest today and we recommend an early start. Get the shuttle bus back to Palermo Airport and head to the arrivals hall where the car rental companies are located.  

Once you have your hire car, set a course for Segesta Archaeological Park . It’s a drive of around 35-40 minutes from the airport. 

Morning at Segesta Archaeological Park

The extraordinary Doric Temple of Segesta is one of the best-preserved temples of its kind in the world. So we were surprised to learn it’s not a World Heritage site. However that fact, along with its location in a remote mountainous setting, probably explains why it’s a little less busy than some of Sicily’s other ancient sites. 

There’s a paid park-and-ride system in place here, so once you’ve found a parking spot and bought a ticket, take the shuttle bus up to the temple. The site opens from 9am and the shuttle buses run every 15 minutes or so. 

There’s also a stunningly-sited Greco-Roman Theatre nearby, tucked into the summit of Mount Barbaro and overlooking the Gulf of Castellamare. It’s also accessible by shuttle from the parking area, or you can hike up to it in around 30 minutes.  

The great Doric Temple at Segesta Archaeological Park, with green hills rising and falling in the background.

Afternoon in Erice  

Back in the car, set the GPS for Erice, a drive of around 45 minutes. 

Charming Erice is a medieval hill town overlooking the coastal city of Trapani. The switchback drive up the 750-metre-high mountain is an experience in itself! 

At the top, there are several paid parking areas located near the town’s gates, which served as the guarded entry points for the once-walled city.  

Erice is a compact town of cobblestone streets and pretty plazas made for meandering. Its long history is still evident in the remains of fortifications and architecture from Elymian and Phoenician through to Norman and more recent times.  

Sicily Itinerary – A narrow cobblestone street passes between the walls of houses with a clock tower rising above.

Check out the 12th century Castello di Venere (it’s currently closed but the sight of the fortress itself and its commanding views make this a highlight). Tucked into the mountain below the castle is the 19th century mini-fort, Torretta Pepoli . Also near the castle is the Garden of Balio , a peaceful place to pause.  

Erice has dozens and dozens of churches. In fact, there are so many there’s a cost-saving ‘Church Ticket’ if you’re planning to visit more than one with paid entry. If one is enough and you don’t know which to choose, we recommend the cathedral, Real Duomo .  

Don’t leave Erice without sampling some of its tasty almond pastries. You’ll find pastry shops ( pasticceria ) throughout the town, but most people make a beeline for Pasticceria Maria Grammatico , an institution since 1950. 

Lastly, views. Half the fun of wandering Erice is stumbling upon its many epic viewpoints . If you can, time your visit so that you’re there late afternoon as the sun drops and bathes the whole coast in a golden glow.

Views from Erice over the coast to the north and the switchback road up the mountain.

Kisses of Venus Crowning a mountaintop as it does, Erice is prone to an occasional foggy embrace. Locals charmingly call it ‘kisses of Venus’, but those kisses are a literal scene stealer. Once the cloud moves in, the views disappear. The fog may pass quickly but it can also hang around. If your visit to Erice looks to be under threat of weather or settled cloud, consider swapping your visit to tomorrow morning.

Evening in Trapani    

You can stay overnight in Erice, but it can get pretty quiet in the evenings, particularly out of peak season. For this reason, you might want to consider heading back down the mountain and spending the night in Trapani, where there are more accommodation options. 

Trapani is around 25-30 minutes from Erice. Once you’ve checked into your accommodation, head out for a wander and dinner. Via Garibaldi and Corso Vittorio Emanuele , which are among the city’s oldest streets, are particularly lovely for an evening meander. If you time it right, you may find yourself among throngs of locals out enjoying the very Italian tradition of passeggiatta (a leisurely evening stroll) with their family and friends. 

Trapani has been a fishing town for about as long as people have lived here, so you’re guaranteed to find a sensational seafood dinner tonight. Try a steaming bowl of fish couscous, it’s the town’s most famed dish.  

Where to stay in Trapani  

Trapani offers a range of accommodation choices at various price points. The historic centre is the more ambient part of the city to stay in, but prices are generally higher and you’ll need to park outside of the ZTL and walk in. There’s a large paid car park at Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele.

Day 5 – Trapani

Highlights: Trapani’s Centro Storico | Trapani Salt Pans Total driving distance: 16km (10 miles) return if just visiting the Salt Museum and surrounds, more if travelling further south towards Marsala Total driving time: appx. 30 minutes Overnight: Trapani

Morning and early afternoon in Trapani  

The coastal town of Trapani is the launchpad to some fantastic west Sicily adventures, like the Egadi Islands and Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve. But….these adventures will have to wait for your next Sicily trip. This morning, we’re exploring Trapani’s old town, the Centro Storico .  

Start with an early morning visit to the local fish market, Mercato del Pesce . Then wander out along the spit to the coastal watchtower, Torre di Ligny , for views back towards the city.  

Next, enjoy a stroll around the narrow streets of Trapani’s historic centre, the Centro Storico . Along the way, check out the Cathedral of San Lorenzo , the Baroque Church of the Holy Souls in Purgatory , and the Palazzo Senatorio .  

Also keep an eye out (and up) for the astrological clock on the city’s oldest gate, the Porta Oscura e Torre Dell’Orologio , next to Palazzo Senatorio. 

A street of old multi-level houses in Trapani stretches away above a sea wall lapped by water and a small pebbly beach. 

Late afternoon at the Trapani Salt Pans   

Later today, jump in the car and head south around 10 minutes to the Museo del Sale near the village of Nubia. This small museum with a 17th century windmill tells the story of the ancient salt pans stretching south from here to Marsala.

You can visit the salt pans independently or join one of the museum’s guided tours to learn about the long and sometimes spicy history of ’white gold’ production in western Sicily. Ancient traditions are still used in the salt extraction today.  

Afterwards, have a wander among the surrounding salt pans. The museum usually closes around 7pm but check in advance. 

A lovely way to finish today is to hit up one of the restaurants or bars along the stretch of coast here and enjoy an aperitivo, or perhaps dinner, as the sun sets over the sea. Something we wish we’d done!

Day 6 – Selinunte & Agrigento

Highlights: Ancient Selinunte | Valley of the Temples Agrigento Total driving distance: appx. 185km (115 miles)   Total driving time: appx. 3 hours Overnight: Agrigento

Today we farewell Trapani and head south then east to visit two more of Sicily’s epic ancient temple sites.  

Vast Selinunte Archaeological Park is spectacularly located by the sea. Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples is World Heritage and one of the most majestic Greek temple complexes still standing today.  

This is a BIG day and if two large ancient sites sounds like too much, you could make a later start from Trapani this morning and head straight to Agrigento, skipping Selinunte. If you had to choose one, go with the World Heritage Valley of the Temples. 

Having said that, for us, Selinunte – off the beaten track and peacefully ambient – was a surprise highlight of our 2 weeks in Sicily so if you love history, we reckon it’s worth the effort to visit both. If you do, be ready for lots of walking – wear comfy shoes and sun protection. 

Morning at Selinunte Archaeological Park  

If you do plan to visit both sites today, we recommend being on the road by 8am at latest . There are a couple of routes from Trapani to Selinunte. The fastest route is inland and south via the the SS113 and takes around 1hr15. Or you can follow the SS115 via Marsala, which takes around 1hr30.

Selinunte was a thriving Greek colony from around the 7th century BC, set in a commanding location by the sea. Around 409BC, the Carthaginians invaded, killing most of Selinunte’s inhabitants and taking many away as slaves. The city never recovered and was totally destroyed 240 years later in the First Punic War. 

Despite its fall so long ago, there’s still plenty to see here, including the impressive Selinunte temples and acropolis (Temple E is the largest and best preserved), city wall remains, and the ruins of homes, shops and civic buildings.

What really struck us as we wandered the pathways here was the broken terracotta everywhere underfoot, and the giant piles of temple rubble. It really brought home the reality of Selinunte’s total destruction.  

Selinunte is open daily from 9am and closes at 5pm in winter and 7pm in summer. Allow around 3 hours here.

If you want to grab some lunch before heading on to Agrigento, there are a number of restaurants in Marinella, the town next door. 

A favourite place on our Sicily road trip – the ruins of one of the Selinunte temples rises above tall green grass backed by blue sea.

Detour via Sicily‘s White Cliffs    If you’re making good time today, there’s a small detour you can make around 15-20 minutes before you reach Agrigento: the Scala dei Turchi , or Stairs of the Turks, a stunning stretch of gleaming white, meringue-like cliffs.      For some reason, this place completely eluded our radar when we were planning our Sicily road trip and we’re kicking ourselves. We’ve since learned though that after years of human impact, and for its future preservation and protection, the Scala dei Turchi is no longer directly accessible.   However, you can still view the cliffs from lookouts such as the Belvedere Scala dei Turchi along Contrada Scavuzzo, or from Majata Beach . There’s free street-side parking if you can find it, or paid parking near Majata Beach.

Afternoon at Valley of the Temples, Agrigento

From Selinunte, the drive to Agrigento is an easy 1hr30 cruise along the SS115.

Agrigento was one of the most important cities of Magna Grecia (greater Greece) from the 6th century BC. To honour their gods, the people of the city built a number of imposing Doric temples along its southern edge in the 5th and 4th centuries BC.  

Like Selinunte, Agrigento was conquered over and over, before Rome sacked the city in 210BC. Yet somehow, despite pillage, earthquakes and the ravages of time, the temples here remain among the most impressive and best-preserved in the world.  

Ironically, the Valley of the Temples is on a ridge rather than in a valley. You’ll see some of the site’s temple columns rising above the landscape on the road approach to the archaeological area.  

We parked at Porta V along Viale Caduti di Marzabotto. As you’ll be coming from the south, this is the first parking area you’ll come across. This is a paid parking site with hourly rates and a maximum day rate. The ticket office is nearby.  

Agrigento Archaeological Park is huge and spreads out across western and eastern zones on either side of the Strada Provinciale 4, with a pedestrian overpass connecting the two zones. It’s around 2km from one end to the other and an electric shuttle bus runs between them, costing around €3.  

There are seven Doric-style temples to explore and they’re all worth visiting. The most complete and impressive is the Temple of Concordia in the eastern zone. The mostly ruined Temple of Dioscuri has a lovely backdrop of the surrounding valley and the city of Agrigento rising behind it. 

Aim to spend a couple of hours at the Valley of the Temples. If you can stretch your visit through sunset and into the evening, then definitely do – the setting sun makes the temples glow and they are beautifully lit up at night.  

The Valley of the Temples is open daily from 8.30am to 8pm, and till quite late during summer. Entry is free until 7pm on the first Sunday of the month. 

In the foreground, five mustard-coloured columns rise to a pediment while the modern city of Agrigento rises in the distance to the right.

Where to stay in Agrigento

There are plenty of places to stay in Agrigento city itself, a 5 minute drive north of the Valley of the Temples. Check with your accommodation about parking though as there is a ZTL in the city’s historic centre.  

We opted to stay around 5 minutes east of the Valley of the Temples in the suburb of Villaggio Mosè at the reasonably priced Villa Concordia B&B, with secure parking facilities.

Day 7 – Syracuse via Villa Romana del Casale

Highlights: Villa Romana del Casale | Ortigia’s Cittá Vecchia Total driving distance: appx. 225-245km (140-152 miles)   Total driving time: appx. 3.25 hours Overnight: Syracuse

Today, we’re heading towards Syracuse on Sicily’s east coast. This will be your base for the next four nights as you explore this evocative and historic city, and day trip to three spectacular Baroque towns in the Val di Noto region: Ragusa, Noto and Catania.  

First stop this morning though is the extraordinary Villa Romana del Casale, a drive of around 1hr15.  

Morning at Villa Romana del Casale  

If you see one excavated ancient Roman villa in your lifetime, make it this one. While there are various theories about who built this vast and lavish home on the slopes of Mount Mangone in the 4th century, whoever it was had some serious means.  

The Villa Romana del Casale has been designated World Heritage, in the main for its mosaic floors. No less than 3,500 square metres of mosaic masterpieces decorate the villa. Covered over time by mud from the mountain, they survived the ravages of invaders and the ages and today, they are considered among the best preserved and most beautiful in situ mosaics ever found . This is a must for your Sicily trip itinerary. 

All of the mosaics here wowed us, but we particularly loved the the Great Hunt mosaic . This 60-metre-long depiction of Romans hunting and capturing wild and exotic animals in Africa is truly epic, like an ancient tesserae version of a feature-length film. Also look out for the famous mosaic of bikini-clad women playing sport – an unexpected insight into the times. 

The Villa Romana del Casale is open daily from 9am to 5pm, and until 7pm during summer. There’s a car park on site that costs a couple of euros. Aim to spend around 2 hours here. 

We picked up some sandwiches from a local pasticceria before leaving Agrigento this morning. But if you want to stop for lunch after visiting the Villa, Trattoria La Ruota just 3 minutes up the road gets great reviews.

2 weeks in Sicily – An intricate mosaic of men loading a bird and a deer onto a boat decorates the floor of the Big Hunt hall at Villa Romana del Casale.

Leaving luggage in your car Villa Romana del Casale is one of several stops on this itinerary where you will be stopping to sightsee with luggage in your car. We generally try to avoid doing this as car break-ins are always a possibility, no matter where you are, and no one wants to spend their trip filing police reports, chasing insurance and buying new undies. If you don’t mind a bit of backtracking in some places, then you might prefer to drive to your accommodation, drop off your luggage and come back. This is not always an easy option though. Villa Romana, for example, is a long drive from both Agrigento and Syracuse. In these situations, we had everything important and valuable with us in our daypacks (which we carried with us), left nothing visible in the car and locked everything up tight. We had no issues throughout our trip. There are no guarantees in life though, all you can do is plan ahead, take precautions and have travel insurance!

Afternoon and evening in Ortigia, Syracuse  

From Villa Romana del Casale, set the GPS for Syracuse. The drive can take up to 2 hours depending on the route and traffic. 

The ancient city of Syracuse has a history spanning 3,000 years. Once the most powerful city state of Magna Graecia, it went on to become part of Rome and then capital of the Byzantine Empire in the 7th century. Along its journey to the present, it absorbed the weaves of various cultures from right around the Mediterranean. Today, Syracuse is a World Heritage site.    

The highlight of a visit to Syracuse is Ortigia Island . This tiny walled hamlet is Syracuse’s Cittá Vecchia , the Old City, and this is where the founding colony was established.  

Ortigia is beautifully Baroque and we really enjoyed just wandering the streets here. On this first afternoon, if you arrive in time, you might see if there’s a walking tour you can join. Or check out some of the city’s key highlights, like the Piazza Duomo and Syracuse Cathedral . There’s also the 6th century BC Temple of Apollo , said to be one of the oldest Greek temples in the world, and the ancient Fountain of Arethusa . 

Aim to be by the sea for a wander along the Lungomare Alfeo as the sun sets, then find somewhere for an aperitivo and dinner.  

Teal-coloured water laps at the yellow city sea walls of ancient Ortigia in Syracuse.

Where to stay in Syracuse

Charming Ortigia is definitely the accommodation drawcard for Syracuse and there are lots of lovely, boutique stays around the island. Unsurprisingly, it’s more expensive than mainland Syracuse but there are a couple of parcheggios on the island where you can park the car.

Alternatively, there are plenty of accommodation options in the area of Syracuse between Ortigia and Neapolis Archaeological Park. This is a handy part of town to stay as it’s about a 30 minute walk between the two spots.

There are also many lovely farm stays ( agriturismo ) around Syracuse if you’d prefer to stay out of town and drive in. We opted to stay around half an hour away from the city but with hindsight, given our personal preference to hang out in buzzy town centres in the evenings, we would definitely stay in Syracuse or Ortigia next time.

Day 8 – Syracuse

Highlights: Neapolis Archaeological Park | Ortigia’s Citta Vecchia Total driving distance: No driving today (unless you visit the Necropolis of Pantalica, an 80km (50 mile) round-trip)    Overnight: Syracuse

Morning at Neapolis Archaeological Park    

Of all the things to do in Syracuse, a couple of hours at this amazing open-air museum is a must. If it’s hot, we recommend a morning visit as there’s little shade. We visited in the afternoon and spent the whole time feeling like we were on the verge of spontaneous combustion.  

In Neapolis Archaeological Park, you’ll find some of the most important ruins of Syracuse’s Greco-Roman past, including a 2nd century Roman amphitheatre and a 5th century BC Greek theatre , Sicily’s biggest. Opera performances are held in the theatre between May and June each year. Check out the Instituto Nazionale del Dramma Antico website for what’s on if you’re in town at the right time.  

Our favourite site in the park was the Paradise Quarry (Latomie del Paradiso), with its epic ‘ Ear of Dionysius ’. You’ll immediately see why the artist Caravaggio gave this uniquely-shaped and acoustically-notable quarry cave its nickname. Also worth seeking out is the monumental Altar of Hieron , thought to have been dedicated to Zeus and used for the mass sacrifice of bulls. The park is open daily from 9am to 5.30pm. 

A 10-minute walk from the archaeological park is the Basilica and Catacombs of St John . If you missed the catacombs in Palermo, or if you just find catacombs eerily fascinating like we do, then consider joining one of the guided tours that depart from the ticket office throughout the day.

Looking out through the high, narrow entrance of the Ear of Dionysius cave as a man walks in.

Afternoon and evening back in Ortigia      

Head back to Ortigia this afternoon to explore more of the island and its highlights. 

If you haven’t been to the cathedral, now’s the time. Also in the Piazza Duomo, you’ll find the Baroque-style Santa Lucia Alla Badia and the lavish, Rococo-style Palazzo Borgia del Casale .  

At the Piazza Archimede , there’s the Fountain of Diana . If you’re feeling peckish, swing by nearby Pasticceria Artale to sample some of their traditional sweet or savoury goodies. 

You could also explore Ortigia’s Jewish Quarter, the Giudeca , and the nearby Forte Vigliena for views. On the very tip of the island hulks the 13th century Castello Maniace , which can also be visited. 

As the sun drops, make your way back to the island’s west for aperitivo hour or head out along the jetty near the Fountain of Arethusa to watch the sun set before finding dinner.

Water splashes up on the Fountain of Diana in Ortigia on Day 8 of our itinerary in Sicily.

Afternoon alternative: Necropolis of Pantalica   If you’re keen to stretch your legs and get outdoors, an alternative to more time in Ortigia this afternoon is a hike to the ancient Necropolis of Pantalica , with its 5,000 rock-cut tombs. Together with Syracuse, this is a World Heritage site.  We haven’t been here but we understand Pantalica can be reached by heading to the village of Ferla, around an hour from Syracuse. From Ferla, you drive a further 5km (3 miles) along the SR11 until you come to the Pantalica Information Office, where you can find out more about the site and get a map of the area.   Guided tours to Pantalica departing from Ferla can also be arranged for groups of up to four people.

Day 9 – Day trip to Ragusa & Noto  

Highlights: Medieval and Baroque Ragusa Ibla | Baroque Noto Total driving distance: appx. 185km (115 miles)   Total driving time: appx. 3 hours Overnight: Syracuse

The Val di Noto is a region in the south-east of Sicily encompassing eight cities collectively designated as World Heritage for their striking late Baroque architecture. The cities are Catania, Millitello Val di Catania, Caltagirone, Modica, Palazzolo Acreide, Scicli, Ragusa and Noto.

Today we’re visiting the last two of these beauties on a day trip from Syracuse. Tomorrow we visit Catania.

Morning in Ragusa        

Aim to start early today as there’s a lot of ground to cover. We opted to make today’s drive an anti-clockwise loop out of Syracuse rather than backtracking along the E45. So we travelled to Ragusa via the SP14 and SS194. At 1.5 hours, it takes 20 minutes longer than if you go via the E45 but you’ll be travelling in one direction with new scenery all day. 

Pretty Ragusa rises and falls in two defined areas separated by a ravine. There’s the lower ‘old town’ of Ragusa Ibla and the upper ‘new town’ of Ragusa Superiore .  

The city you see is the direct result of a catastrophic earthquake that devastated east Sicily in 1693. Many who survived the destruction moved out of the ruined town and built new homes in the higher area that is now Ragusa Superiore, while others stayed and rebuilt in the old town. Today Ragusa is a World Heritage blend of medieval and Baroque architecture.  

We managed to find free parking in a small carpark at the bottom end of Via Giusti, not far from Ragusa Ibla. There’s also a paid parking area nearby at Parcheggio Repubblica. We then spent most of the morning wandering the charming streets of Ibla between the Cathedral of San Giorgio and the Iblei Gardens .  

In the upper town, you’ll find another beautiful cathedral, Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista on Piazza San Giovanni . If you’re keen to know more about the history of Ragusa, a local museum, the Museo Archaeologico Ibleo di Ragusa, is a 5 minute walk from the cathedral.  

Aim to spend 3 to 4 hours in Ragusa. The town is also renowned for its food scene, so this is a great spot for a sit-down lunch before continuing on (and before the siesta shut down kicks in). If you prefer a quick bite, head to a bakery for Scaccia Ragusana , a delicious calzone-like stuffed flat bread. 

The old houses of Ragusa rise in tiers and shades of yellow.

Many a visitor to Ragusa will make the pilgrimage up the 300-odd steps to the church at the top, Chiesa Delle Scale , for the pano views to be found up there. We ran out of time sadly, but there’s another, easier-to-reach rooftop view from the cathedral’s campanile.

Afternoon in Noto        

After lunch, make for the city of Noto. It’s around an hour’s drive east from Ragusa. 

Noto was also levelled by Sicily’s notorious earthquake of the late 17th century. A new town was raised over the destruction, styled in Sicilian Baroque, and this exceptional architectural time capsule is what you see today.  

Take the time to simply wander Noto’s streets and admire the city’s elaborate yet elegant architecture, starting at the city gateway, the Porta Reale and heading west along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele .   

Must-sees include the cathedral, Basilicia Cattedrale di San Nicolo , the Palazzo Ducezio opposite and the bell tower, Il Campanile di San Carlo (both of which offer superb views over the city), as well as the richly decorated theatre, Teatro Tina di Lorenzo . 

There are also a number of beautiful palazzos and churches to visit. We particularly liked Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata , Chiesa di San Domenica and Chiesa di San Carlo (which also serves up views from its upper levels).   

If you need a break, pull up a seat outside at Caffe Sicilia on Corso Vittorio Emanuele and order their famous granita cappuccino ghiacciato – this was exactly the afternoon pick-me-up we needed.

Also, if it’s a sunny day, it’s worth staying longer here to take in sunset. Noto’s buildings are clad with Noto Stone, a creamy mellow limestone that turns a rich honey colour under the last golden rays of the day.  

For dinner tonight, stay in Noto or make your way back to Syracuse. The drive is around 40 minutes. 

Noto’s Cathedral, highlight of a Sicily road trip, gleams under a blue sky with a cream-coloured stone.

Day 10 – Day trip to Catania

Highlights: Catania’s Baroque Centro Storico Total driving distance: It’s not recommended to drive into Catania but if you do, the journey is appx. 140km return (87 miles)  Total driving time: appx. 1 hour 40 Overnight: Syracuse

Catania is Sicily’s buzzing second city, and the largest town in east Sicily. Having risen and fallen over and again in the shadow of mercurial Etna, Catania has come of age with a bit of a gritty edge. This, and a lack of time in our original itinerary in Sicily, led to us not visiting and with hindsight, we really wish we had. As such, we’ve included the city in this itinerary as a day trip from Syracuse.  

By all accounts, driving in Catania can be a stressful experience, with traffic, ZTLs, one-way streets and parking challenges. So why not leave the car today and take a train instead from Syracuse to Catania Centrale? The journey takes around 1hr15. 

With one day to play with, we would do what we usually do in a new city and seek out a walking tour to give us an historical and cultural introduction to the place. There are a number of tour options in Catania, from free guided walks to themed tours taking in street food, street art, the underground city and more.  

Catania’s old town – the Centro Storico – is another of the Val di Noto’s Baroque showpieces, but with a very local touch: these elaborate buildings were made with Etna’s own black lava stone.  

The city’s highlights are all located fairly close together and include the Piazza del Duomo with its Cathedral of Sant’Agata and lava stone Elephant Fountain . There’s also the Church of San Benedetto , Palazzo Biscari , the Teatro Romano and the smaller Roman Odeon next door, the triumphal Porta Garibaldi , Basilica della Collegiata and the Teatro Massimo Bellini .  

If you arrive early enough in the day, there’s the historic fish market to visit and, not far from there, Castello Ursino . For Ancient Rome diehards like us: if you wander up to Piazza Stesicoro , you can see a small section of Catania’s once-enormous amphitheatre. 

For lunch today, we’d be seeking out Catania’s own pasta specialty of eggplant and ricotta: Pasta alla Norma . 

Catania Cathedral looms large and Baroque in grey lava-coloured stone.

Alternative to Catania Sightseeing   If a day of Catania sightseeing doesn’t appeal, there are loads of other things to do in and around Syracuse. Some of things we’ve got on our list for next time:    > Get to know the local vino on a winery tour (Nero D’Avola – yum!).  > Learn the art of Sicilian cooking with a cooking class.  > Get out on the water for a boat tour around Ortigia.  > Stretch your legs on the hike to the Necropolis of Pantalica.  Or simply enjoy some beach time at one of Syracuse’s sandy beaches, like San Lorenzo Beach or Fontane Bianche Beach.

Day 11 – Syracuse to Taormina

Highlights: Ortigia Market | Taormina Sightseeing Total driving distance: appx. 120km (75 miles)   Total driving time: appx. 1.5 hours Overnight: Taormina

Today we depart Syracuse and head north to the coastal town of Taormina. This will be your base for the next two nights. You’ll spend most of a day and an evening exploring this historic hilltop town, and the next day on the otherworldly slopes of Mount Etna.  

Early morning at Mercato di Ortigia        

Before checking out of your Syracuse accommodation this morning, take the opportunity (if you haven’t already) to visit the Mercato di Ortigia , the city’s famed street market.  

Just as it has been for hundreds of years, this vibrant market is open early six days a week (it’s closed Sundays), selling beautiful, fresh regional food. It runs until 2pm but is at its most buzzy in the morning (and there are fewer tour groups). This is a great place to pick up some cured meats and cheeses, or some fresh sandwiches, for the day ahead. 

Rest of day and evening in Taormina          

The drive from Syracuse to Taormina is around 1.5 hours via the A18 and E45. There are tolls on this route.   

Taormina rises and falls over the slopes of Mount Tauro, overlooking a spectacular vista of azure sea and the hazy blue rise of Mount Etna.  

People have lived on this mountain for 2,500 years, but Taormina emerged on the historical stage around the 4th century BC as a Greek colony. It went on to become the Byzantine capital of Sicily before a run of invaders came along and left their mark. 

Taormina is considered by many to be Sicily’s most elegant city. It’s also considered to be one of Sicily’s most touristy and expensive towns, especially during the summer months.  

Don’t let that put you off though. It is a really charming place. And for us, taking in the incredible backdrop of Etna and the coast from the steps of the ancient Greek theatre made Taormina worthy of a visit all on its own!  

Once you’ve parked up, found your accommodation and dropped your bags, spend the rest of the day checking out the various things to do in Taormina. Start with a wander along Corso Umberto , the main thoroughfare through the town linking the historic gates of Porto Catania and Porto Messina .  

In addition to the drawcard 3rd century Greek theatre , highlights here include the chequerboard Piazza IX Aprile and Church of San Giuseppe , along with Taormina Cathedral , the medieval Palazzo Corvaja , and the gardens of the Villa Communale di Taormina . Also search out the beautifully decorated façades, doors and wrought iron balconies along Via Giardinazzo .  

If you fancy stretching your legs later in the day and seeking out some epic views, consider making the hour-long round-trip walk up the trail to the church at the top, Chiesa Madonna della Rocca . 

The beauty of staying at least one night in Taormina is the opportunity to experience the town after the crowds of day-trippers and tour groups have left. Now’s the time to really appreciate the charm of this historic city with a drink and dinner as twilight paints the sky pastel. 

Behind the tiered stone steps of Taormina’s Greek Theatre and semi-circular stage, Mount Etna rises in the distance in dramatic hazy blue. 

Where to stay in Taormina

As most of Taormina is a ZTL, parking does play a role in determining where you might stay. If you don’t mind forking out for a spot in one of the city’s carparks (there are four public paid parking areas, including the large Porta Catania which is the closest to Taormina’s main street), then you have plenty of choice across the range in the historic city centre itself, whether you’re after luxury or good value. 

Alternatively, you could stay below Mount Tauro at Mazzarò and catch the cable car up to Taormina. Or in Villagonia, and take the bus up to Taormina from Taormina-Giardini train station. There’s a cheaper carpark next to the train station as well. We stayed just near here at the lovely B&B Sottocoperta and found this is an easy and hassle-free way to visit the city. 

Day 12 – Day trip to Mount Etna

Highlights: Mount Etna Tour Total driving distance: The return drive to Mount Etna is appx. 110km (70 miles) Total driving time: appx. 3 hours Overnight: Taormina

Mount Etna lords over the landscape of Sicily’s northeast. She’s the tallest and most active volcano in Europe and she’s been grumbling her discontent for tens of thousands of years. Recorded eruptions reach back as far as the 4th century BC. 

It goes without saying that Etna has had a monumental impact on the landscape, history and people of Sicily. For her efforts, the mountain has been designated a World Heritage site, and a two week Sicily road trip isn’t a fait accompli without engaging in some way with this history-shaping force of nature.  

There are plenty of companies running guided half-day and full-day tours of Mount Etna from Taormina, Catania and Syracuse, including bike tours and 5 to 6 hour hiking tours. In winter, you can also ski on the north and south sides of the mountain.  

It’s also entirely possible, and easy, to drive to Rifugio Sapienza – the launch pad for activities on the mountain – and join a tour from there. This is what we did, as we wanted the flexibility of driving ourselves so we could stop along the way and take in the staggering and surreal scenery.  

At Rifugio Sapienza, we purchased tickets for a cable car and 4×4 trip on the mountain. This involves a cable car ride up to 2,500 metres, where you board special off-road 4×4 trucks for a drive to 2,920 metres. Once there, a volcano guide takes the group on a guided walk through Etna’s cratered, otherworldly landscape. 

On the recommendation of a local, we visited Etna in the morning as clouds tend to gather over the day. We had beautiful blue skies during our visit and it was quite warm on the drive up. Don’t be fooled though, even during the height of summer, it can get very cold up on Etna. Wear layers, bring a warm jacket, a hat, sunnies and wear closed walking or hiking shoes.  

People walk along a ridge of black sand with patches of dirty snow behind them on Mount Etna.

Afternoon winery visit          

Etna has demonstrated her destructive side throughout history, but the mountain’s lava flows have also resulted in rich soil that has given rise to some excellent vino. While you can certainly sample the delicious flavours of the region in the restaurants of Taormina and Catania, if you love wine then it’s definitely worth dropping by a vineyard for a tasting.  

A vineyard visit and tasting in this area requires advance reservation, so book ahead if this is something you’re keen to do. There are MANY places to choose from but one vineyard you might consider, in the direction of Taormina, is Gambino Vini. It’s around an hour from Refugio Sapienza and 45 minutes from Taormina. Gambini reopens from 15 March 2024.

Day 13 – Cefalù

Highlights: La Rocca Hike | Cefalù’s Old Town Total driving distance: appx. 215km (135 miles)   Total driving time: appx. 2.5 hours Overnight: Cefalù   

Today is our last full day in Sicily before we complete our loop of the island and fly out of Palermo tomorrow. We suggest breaking up the long journey back to Palermo with a final stop today in the coastal city of Cefalù. It’s around 2.5 hours from Taormina.

You can stay here overnight or, if you have an early flight out tomorrow, continue on afterwards and stay closer to the airport.

A fishing village with a long past, Cefalù’s terracotta rooftops fan out around the base of La Rocca , the hulking 268 metre-high limestone outcrop that dominates the city skyline. 

One option for the penultimate day of our 14 day Sicily itinerary is to give it over to a sun lounge at one of Cefalù’s beach clubs. Just be aware that it can get very busy on the beaches between May and September and you’ll need to get in early if you want a spot.  

Another option is to make the trek up La Rocca to take in its views and sites, which include the 5th century BC Temple of Diana , the 10th century Church of Santa Anna and, at the summit, the ruins of a Norman castle, Castello di Cefalù .  

It’s a 3.5km round trip to the top, there are strict opening hours (the trail closes either 4pm or 5pm depending on the time of year you visit), and an entry fee of around €5. It’s recommended you don’t hike up during the hottest part of the day as there’s no shade.  

Later, enjoy a wander through Cefalù’s medieval old town, keeping an eye out for the historic Porta Pescara and the old harbour, the curious Lavatoio Medievale (a medieval laundry) and the Museo Mandralisica (housing the private art collection of 19th century Baron Mandralisca and the famed ‘Portrait of an Unknown Man’ from 1465).  

You’ll also find another World Heritage treasure in the 12th-13th century Norman-built Cefalù Cathedral . 

Tonight, enjoy one more sunset aperitivo and a classic Sicilian supper in one of Cefalù’s seaside restaurants.

View over the terracotta rooftops and azure waters of Cefalù from La Rocca.

Day 14 – Depart Palermo

Total driving distance: appx. 100km (62 miles)   Total driving time: appx. 1.5 hours

Last day of our epic Sicily road trip!

Leave yourself plenty of time to navigate your way from Cefalù to Palermo Airport and drop off your hire car before checking in.

If you’re flying out later today, this might be an opportunity to sleep in, laze on the beach or enjoy a final wander and a last Sicilian feast in Cefalù. 

And start planning your return to Sicily! 

If you have any questions, thoughts or updates to share in relation to our Sicily road trip, let us know in the comments below!  

For more Italian road trips and adventures, head to our Italy section .

If you’re looking for more great road tripping itineraries and adventures,  check out our Road Trips page , and our  bucket list of 100 ultimate road trips around the world .

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Wheatless Wanderlust

How to Plan a Perfect Sicily Road Trip Itinerary (7-14 Days)

Want to plan an amazing Sicily road trip where you get a taste of everything that makes Sicily special? Like the well-preserved ruins from Greek and Roman (sometimes even before that!) times, the amazing bounty of fresh produce from fruits and vegetables to pistachios, and the sheer amount of natural beauty from the slopes of Mount Etna to the beaches of western Sicily.

In this detailed Sicily itinerary, we’ll help you plan a trip that sees all of those things and more. 

But first, why should you trust us?

We spent over three weeks on our own Sicily road trip, and loved every second of it. In fact, the majority of this guide was written while we were on the island, when the information and tips were completely fresh and details were still vivid in our minds.

Alysha’s grandparents were born in the small town of Melilli, near Siracusa, and emigrated to the United States from there just a few generations ago. She has wanted to visit Sicily for years, and we finally made it happen in 2021. 

Of course, I totally recognize that you only really care about our experience if it helps inform your trip planning. So we’ve put together an itinerary that uses our own personal experience on a road trip around Sicily to help you plan an amazing trip. 

In the guide below – which is very, very long – we’ll go through everything you need to know to plan your trip to Sicily. We’ll start with some very important basics – like how many days you need to see both eastern and western Sicily, and the best route to see the island in two weeks – and then we’ll go through a day-by-day, super detailed itinerary for two weeks in Sicily. 

Don’t have two weeks to spend? We get it, vacation time is limited (at least for us Americans). Which is why we’ve included our take on ways to structure a 7 and 10 day road trip in Sicily ABOVE the actual itinerary, so you can still use the information in the itinerary to plan your own trip even if it’s not a full two weeks. 

Sound good? Off we go to Sicily!

best road trip sicily

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.

How Many Days Do You Need in Sicily?

At a high level, we think you’re going to need at least two weeks (14 days) to see both eastern and western Sicily . Anything less than that and you’d need to cut some of the best sights in each region to try and fit it all in, which we would absolutely not recommend. 

Even two weeks is going to mean you’re just seeing the highlights. We’ve done our best to pick and choose between places you could go based on our own personal experiences exploring the island, but even with three weeks we made some tough decisions on things to skip. 

Any 7 or 10 day itinerary that has you spending one night in each place is unpractical (impractical doesn’t fit with the “un” thing I’ve got going on here – forgive me), unrealistic, and unpleasant.

Believe me, we’ve done things that way on previous trips, and choosing to spend more time in fewer places is almost always a good decision. 

With that in mind, if you have less than two weeks in Sicily, focus your time on either eastern or western Sicily, take your time, and explore a little deeper. 

The complete itinerary we’ve put together below is for 14 days, but we’ve also got a section outlining what to do with less time above that to help you figure out how to spend your time with 7-10 days.

The good news is that, once you’ve decided on a route, you can read through the relevant sections of the detailed itinerary (and let’s be clear, we do mean DETAILED) to give you an idea of what to do and see, where to stay, how to get places, and more. 

best road trip sicily

Where to Start and End Your Trip

The short answer is “it depends.” And it depends on two main factors. 

The first thing it depends on is your mode of transportation to get to Sicily. There are two main hubs in terms of flying to Sicily – Catania and Palermo.

Messina, the northeastern tip of the island, is where you’ll arrive if you’re driving or taking the train from the mainland (both involve a ferry).

The second thing it depends on is how much time you have.

Like we mentioned above (and you’ll hear us say it over and over again below, because we think it’s that important), you really can’t see the entire island in 7-10 days. Or even 14 days, really, but we think that’s the minimum amount of time you need to hit both eastern and western Sicily in your itinerary. 

If you have 7-10 days , you’ll want to focus on one side of the island or the other, which means you can fly in and out of the same airport (either Catania or Palermo). 

If you have 14 days , it works best if you fly into one (or ferry to Messina) and fly out of the other, which will save you three to four hours of driving, but will cost a little extra in terms of rental car, which will likely incur a one-way fee.

This is how we have the detailed itinerary below structured, just know that if you want to fly in and out of the same airport at the beginning and end of your trip, it’s going to add some driving and it’s going to be less convenient. 

We think the cost is worth the added convenience and time saved, but you might feel differently, so we want to give you the option!

Getting Around Sicily

There’s really only one thing you need to know about getting around Sicily: you need a car once you’re outside of the major cities, which are basically Palermo and Catania (and we’d add Syracuse just because it’s so compact and walkable). 

Do You Need to Rent a Car in Sicily?

In short, most likely. Renting a car is the only way you’re going to be able to get to some of the beaches and sites that are outside of city centers. Once you get outside the center of most cities in Sicily, public transportation is spotty at best, and nonexistent at worst. 

Can you cobble together an itinerary that uses only public transportation? Yes. Will you be missing out on some of the more far flung destinations in Sicily that ended up being among our favorite places? Also yes.

Renting a car will give you the most flexibility and autonomy to explore at your own pace. HOWEVER. We recommend avoiding having a rental car in big cities like Palermo, Catania, and even Syracuse, where you won’t need it if you follow the itinerary below, and it’s more of a hassle than a benefit. 

For that reason, we’d recommend picking up your car AFTER you visit Catania and Syracuse, and returning it BEFORE arriving in Palermo . It’ll also save you money on parking and gas, bonus!

One thing to know is that if you can’t drive a manual (stick shift) car, you’re going to pay a hefty premium for an automatic transmission. We know that, because we can’t drive a manual. Most cars in Sicily are manual transmission, and this is not the place to learn how to drive a stick. 

We rented through AutoEurope and had a lovely experience from picking up the keys in Siracusa to dropping them off at the airport in Palermo. We’d highly recommend getting some level of insurance, because stuff happens in Sicily. Particularly car stuff, with tiny narrow alleys and reckless driving all over the place. Click here to check prices and availability for a rental car through Auto Europe. 

Driving in Sicily

best road trip sicily

You’ve probably heard that driving in Sicily is a nightmare. And, in some ways, that’s true. It’s not for nervous drivers, or for people who aren’t comfortable driving in the best of scenarios.

Here are a few tips we’ve gleaned from our Sicily road trip to help you navigate the (sometimes wild) streets of Sicily. 

First, forget the rules you thought you knew – right of way and yielding, following speed limit signs, and the like – driving in Sicily is much more of an organic experience. People go with the flow, consider any signage as a mere suggestion rather than a rule, and it somehow all works out at the end of the day. 

Even our guide for our trip to Mount Etna, who grew up in Catania, said he hates driving in the city. As we sat at a stoplight in the heart of Catania, we watched not one but two separate cars pull up next to us, look around, and drive right through the red light.

See? Said our guide. A suggestion. 

Driving in Sicily was not as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it was vastly different from driving at home and in other countries we’ve driven in. Here are a few things to keep in mind. 

  • ZTLs : Many cities have a zone in the center where you cannot drive without a local residential permit. These areas are marked with signs that say “Zona Traffico Limitato” with hours and dates posted. Sometimes, your accommodations will be in that zone, which means you should not drive to the hotel. Park outside the ZTL (more on parking in the next bullet) and walk in, or message your hotel in advance and ask them what the best way to reach them with a car would be.
  • Parking : Always have an idea of where you want to park before you arrive somewhere. Search “parcheggio” on Google maps to find parking lots (usually paid, though some are free). Or wing it and try to find street parking. No marking or white curb? It’s free (though look out for limited times – e.g. 30 minute parking). Blue lines or curb? You pay at a pay station, which can usually be found nearby and often only take coins.
  • Roundabouts : Listen, I’m 100% on board with roundabouts after a Freakonomics episode on how they save lives and money. But the way Italians handle them, I’m not sure they can possibly save lives. Yield to traffic in both directions, because there’s no guarantee they will return the courtesy. This is really only a problem in cities. 
  • Speed Limits : Signage is actually pretty good – look for signs with a white circle with a red outline and a number in the middle. However, almost nobody follows them. There were countless times on one of the main highways where I’d be dutifully going the speed limit, and I’d be passed by literally every car that came by. And those no passing signs (or double white lines)? Don’t expect anyone to follow them. Two lane roads often become three and four lanes with people passing going in both directions. 

Public Transportation in Sicily

Public transportation is an okay option for visiting very specific parts of the island. It can be very useful for getting between cities on the east coast, for example. But where public transportation falls flat is getting outside major cities. 

As an example, we really enjoyed getting outside of Noto to the Vendicari Reserve and Marzamemi, and it was one of our favorite afternoons in Sicily. You would have a very, very hard time doing that without a car. In fact, it would be nearly impossible. 

If you’re okay with sticking to the main cities and tourist attractions – for example, on the east coast Taormina, Catania, and Siracusa – then public transportation will work. If you’re interested in doing some exploring and getting one foot off the beaten path, you’re going to need a car. 

Trains – through Trenitalia – are an option on the east coast (and eastern Sicily in general) in the corridor between Messina and Siracusa, but buses through Interbus are often a faster, cheaper, and overall better option for getting between places in Sicily due to the number of transfers you’ll need to make on trains.

Planning Your Sicily Itinerary: Route Options

It bears repeating in case you missed it above: Sicily is massive. It’s the largest island in the Mediterranean at just under 10,000 square miles, which means there’s just no possible way you’re going to see everything there is to see in 7, 10, or 14 days.

It’s about picking and choosing, and we’re here to help you make some decisions on what to pick and choose based on our own personal experience road tripping around Sicily. 

With only 7 or 10 days, we think you should choose between eastern and western Sicily and focus your time on just one, rather than trying to zip around and see the entire island in a short period.

By the way, we have an entire separate guide dedicated to helping you make the most of 7 days in Sicily , if you only have a week on the island.

With 14 days or more, we think you can see the entire island, but it will still feel a bit rushed . For context, we had three weeks, and there are still places we missed entirely and are already thinking about planning the return trip. 

The detailed itinerary below gives you a complete 14 day Sicily road trip itinerary, which includes stops along the east, south, and western parts of the island. If you have two weeks in Sicily, that would be a good place to start. 

But what if you have less time?

Here are some itinerary options for those of you who have 7 or 10 days. We’re giving you options for the eastern and western parts of Sicily too!

You can then take your shorter itinerary and use the information below in the detailed itinerary to plan out what to do and see and where to stay in each place. 

7 Days in Sicily

If you have a week, you should head straight to our guide to spending 7 days in Sicily , where we go into detail on how to spend 7 days on either the eastern half of the island OR the western half of the island. 

Again, we really, really discourage you from trying to see it all in just seven days.

You’ll end up rushing through everything and it won’t be nearly as satisfying as taking it a little slower and having the time to stop at that random cafe you stumble upon for an afternoon granita, or an aperol spritz on the coast. 

Eastern Sicily in 7 Days

If you want to focus on eastern Sicily, which includes gems like Mount Etna, Taormina, and Syracuse (among other things), here’s our best thinking on how to spend your time. 

  • Day 1: Arrive in Catania & Explore
  • Day 2: Pick up Car and Taormina
  • Day 3: Day Trip to Mount Etna (Stay in Taormina)
  • Day 4: Syracuse & Ortigia
  • Day 5: Syracuse & Ortigia
  • Day 6: Val di Noto (Beaches & Marzamemi)
  • Day 7: Val di Noto & Fly Home from Catania

Western Sicily in 7 Days

In Western Sicily, here’s an idea of how to spend your time. 

  • Day 1: Arrive in Palermo & Explore
  • Day 2: Palermo
  • Day 3: Day Trip to Cefalu (Sleep in Palermo)
  • Day 4: Pick up Rental Car, Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro, San Vito Lo Capo
  • Day 5: Segesta & Drive to Trapani
  • Day 6: Day Trip to Erice from Trapani
  • Day 7: Fly Home from Palermo

10 Days in Sicily

If you have 10 days, you’ll be able to add a few other destinations in either region, but we really think you should still focus on either western or eastern Sicily, not both. 

Eastern Sicily in 10 Days

With 10 days, add on Agrigento, home of the Valley of the Temples, and a stop in Modica or Ragusa along the way.

One other thing to note: you can fly out of either Palermo or Catania here since they’re roughly equidistant. It’s worth checking prices, but it’ll probably be cheaper to fly in and out of the same airport if we had to guess. 

  • Day 2: Pick up Car Early & Drive to Taormina
  • Day 6: Val di Noto
  • Day 7: Val di Noto
  • Day 8: Agrigento (Stop in Modica & Ragusa along the way)
  • Day 9: Agrigento (Valley of the Temples)
  • Day 10: Fly Home from either Palermo or Catania (Equidistant)

Western Sicily

With 10 days in Western Sicily, add on a few extra days out on the coast, using Trapani as your home base. 

  • Day 3: Day Trip to Cefalu
  • Day 4: Pick Up Car & Drive to Castellammare del Golfo
  • Day 5: Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro (Stay in Castellammare del Golfo)
  • Day 6: Segesta & San Vito Lo Capo
  • Day 7: Trapani (Day trip to Erice)
  • Day 8: Selinunte & Drive to Agrigento
  • Day 9: Agrigento (Valley of the Temples) 
  • Day 10: Fly Home from Palermo

Two Weeks in Sicily

Finally! 14 days in Sicily means you can squeeze in the main sights in both halves of Sicily (though you’ll still be making some decisions in terms of what to see and what to save for a future trip).

This version of the Sicily itinerary works best if you fly into either Catania or Palermo, and fly out of the other city.

In other words, it’s best done as a one way itinerary, which means you might be paying a premium for an open jaw flight (a flight that flies into one city and out of another) and a rental car, which often include a one-way fee. 

For what it’s worth, we did it as a one way trip, and feel the extra cost is worth the convenience.

However, if you don’t agree with that assessment, it’s easy enough to do it in and out of a single airport. You’ll just have to budget some extra time (three to four hours with traffic) of driving back from one end of the island to the other. 

You can do this road trip in either direction . We did it east to west, which is why it’s oriented that way here, but you can pretty easily flip it. 

Another note: You aren’t going to want to have a car in either Palermo, Catania, or Syracuse . Pick up the car when you’re ready to leave either city, and drop it off before you head into the city to explore. You won’t need a car once you’re in the city. 

Here’s the itinerary for two weeks in Sicily, which you’ll find in much greater detail below.

Day 2: Day Trip to Taormina (Stay in Catania)

Day 3: day trip to mount etna (stay in catania).

  • Day 6: Pick up Rental Car & Drive to Noto
  • Day 7: Val di Noto (Beaches & Marzamemi)
  • Day 8: Drive to Agrigento (Stop in Modica along the way)
  • Day 9: Agrigento (Valley of the Temples) Day 10: Selinunte, Segesta, and Drive to Castellammare del Golfo
  • Day 11: Day Trip to Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro (Sleep in Castellammare del Golfo)
  • Day 12: Drop off Rental Car at Palermo Airport & Palermo
  • Day 13: Palermo
  • Day 14: Fly Home from Palermo

There are two main things missing from this itinerary that would be the first additions we’d make with extra time. The first is a day trip to Cefalu from Palermo, which is a lovely beach town along the northern coast of Sicily. The second is a stop in Trapani to visit the hilltop town of Erice, which has some great views, but wasn’t exactly our favorite place in the world (which is why it got relegated to the “more time” section after we did it). 

In the “More Time?” section below the detailed itinerary, you’ll find our thoughts on what to do and see in both of those places. 

A Complete Guide to Planning a Two Week Sicily Road Trip

Now that we’ve got all the important information you need to know to plan your trip to Sicily, onto the complete guide to planning your Sicily itinerary! 

Please note that in this itinerary, you do not need a rental car for the first five days . Our recommendation – and this is exactly what we did – is to pick up your rental car in Syracuse, before driving to Noto . This way, you avoid driving and parking in two of the more stressful cities on this itinerary (Catania and Syracuse). 

Then, plan on dropping your rental car off in Palermo (at the airport) as you arrive – you do not need a rental car in Palermo either, and it’s equally chaotic and stressful to drive there (if not more so).

This also has the added benefit of saving you a little bit of money, since you are cutting four to five days of rental car costs (gas, parking, tolls, etc). 

There is one implication here, which we will touch on in the Mount Etna section below, and that implication is that you will not be able to reach the summit of Etna because of the way the timing, tours, and public transit connections work out.

If getting to the summit of Etna is a must-do for you, then you will need to rent a car so that you can arrive in Refugio de Sapienza before 9:00 am, which is when the summit tours depart. 

Note that I do mean the summit, which is only accessible by guided tour and in good conditions. You can still get up to the Torre del Filosofo and the Laghetto Crater via public transit or a guided tour from Catania.

That’s probably good enough for most people, including us, but it’s worth calling out as an implication of the way we’ve structured this Sicily road trip itinerary. 

With that out of the way, off you go to explore Sicily!

Day 1: Exploring Catania

best road trip sicily

On your first day, you’ll be arriving in Catania, the second biggest city in Sicily and, in many ways, the forgotten city in Sicily. 

I say the forgotten city because a lot of people – I’d venture to guess the majority – skip Catania altogether in favor of places like Taormina and Syracuse, which we think would be a mistake for two reasons.

First, there’s no better place for exploring Catania, Mount Etna, and Taormina than, well, Catania. It has the best connections for getting to all those places. Your other option is Taormina, which isn’t as well-connected AND is more expensive (though it is pretty damn charming). 

Second, Catania is worth a day in its own right! There are a couple of very cool things to do, see, and eat in Catania, and it’s a good introduction to Eastern Sicily and Etna’s history.

Catania has been around for millennia – there is evidence of humans going back to the Neolithic Era – and has been home to Greeks, Romans, and multiple other groups and combinations of people over that time. It’s literally a city built on top of a city built on top of another city, as you’ll learn over the course of your time there.

In the 17th Century CE, Catania was affected by two natural disasters in a span of 24 years. First, in 1669, was the eruption of Mount Etna, which didn’t have any major effects on the city in terms of destruction, but did permanently alter the north and western sides of the city, and pushed the coastline out two kilometers further into the sea (which is NUTS). Then came the big one. 

best road trip sicily

In 1693, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake leveled most of Catania, and the city had to be largely rebuilt, along with most of the rest of Eastern Sicily. And from those ashes, Sicilian Baroque architecture was born. 

Like we said, lots of history here, and well worth a day of your time to understand the context around the places you’re going to be seeing on the first half of this road trip, roughly. 

Things to Do in Catania

Here is a collection of things we enjoyed in Catania , in no particular order. Note that you won’t find any of the many day trips we did from Catania here, because you’re doing Taormina and Mount Etna over the course of the next two days. 

best road trip sicily

  • Guided Tour of the Benedictine Monastery : Part history lesson, part beautiful building, this was our favorite experience in Catania. It was one of the biggest monasteries in Europe, and the hour-long guided tour takes you down underground to learn about the history of the building and the city as a whole, as it happens to be a great example of how the city adapted to the lava flows from the 1669 eruption. At the time of writing, you had to reserve your spot in advance, which you can learn more about here .
  • Granita : Granita is a delicacy in Sicily, and you’ll find it at just about every cafe and pasticceria on the island. But what is it? It’s basically ice cream without the cream. It’s a combination of ice, sugar, and seasonal local ingredients like pistacchio, almond, fruits like lemons and strawberries, and even coffee. It’s delicious. Our favorite in Catania was at Caffetteria Villaroel ( here on Google Maps) – get the pistacchio if they have it!
  • Teatro Romano di Catania : The first of many Roman theaters you will see on this itinerary, this is a great example of how the city is literally built on top of an old city. You’ll see the modern buildings of Catania as we know it today towering over an excavated Roman theater that was built in the 300s BCE. It’s worth an hour of your time, and there is some okay signage (with some iffy Google Translate English translations) to help you understand what you’re looking at. Book tickets in advance here (required when we were there), or buy when you get there. 
  • Eating in Catania : The food in Sicily is outstanding, and Catania is a great introduction. The fertile volcanic soil of Etna is known for producing great produce, wine, and nuts. First of all, we’d be negligent if we didn’t mention the raucous and energetic fish market , which our apartment happened to be right on top of. It’s not just fish – there’s local vendors selling meat, cheese, fruits and vegetables, and nuts – all coming from nearby. It takes place every day except Sunday just south of Piazza del Duomo. You should make an effort to try pasta alla norma in Catania, which is a combination of pasta, tomatoes, eggplant, and salty ricotta salata (which is delicious, we might add).

For more of our favorite things to do in Catania, make sure to read our more detailed guide here . 

best road trip sicily

Where to Stay in Catania

You’ll be using Catania as a home base for the first three days of this itinerary, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing a place to stay. 

At a high level, the best place to stay in Catania is between Piazza del Duomo and Villa Bellini . 

I’d avoid going more than two or three blocks east or west of Via Etnea, if you can. We stayed right off of Piazza del Duomo – right over the fish market – and it was a phenomenal location in terms of centrality and walkability.

Well worth the slightly fishy aroma drifting up from the street below in the afternoons, when we were hanging out with the windows open. 

We stayed at Duomo Housing Catania – the deluxe apartment, specifically – which was gigantic compared to some other places we’ve stayed in Italy.

Seriously, it’s almost as big as our old apartment in San Francisco. We should note that if we were to do it again, we’d choose the apartment with a terrace which is smaller, but has a nice view of the Duomo.

If you’re on a budget, we had originally booked the Yard Hostel in Catania , but at the time we were traveling we weren’t quite sure about being in a place with so many shared facilities, so we ultimately cancelled.

We were really excited about it, even though it’s a few blocks north of Villa Bellini. They have dorms and private rooms, and it gets consistently stellar reviews. 

Here are some other options in the area that we’ve picked out for you.

  • Le Suites Del Duomo House – another option for apartments on Piazza del Duomo. 
  • Ferrini Home – Etnea Collection – excellent apartments at the northern end of Via Etnea.
  • Habitat – a stunning and stylish boutique hotel a few blocks west of Via Etnea.

best road trip sicily

On your second day, take a day trip up the coast to Taormina, a lovely little seaside town up on a hill with great views and a spectacular ancient theater that’s well worth the trip. 

Remember, you’re staying back in Catania on this night (if you’re following our advice of picking up your car at the end of your time in Syracuse). 

Getting to Taormina

Without a car, you have two options for getting to Taormina from Catania. You can either take the train from Catania Centrale (Catania’s main train station), which is about 15-20 minutes from Piazza del Duomo on foot, or you can take a bus through Interbus. 

The train is faster at 35-60 minutes or so (depending on whether you choose the faster Intercity train or the slower and cheaper regional trains) but drops you off at the bottom of the hill under Taormina.

You can either walk up the hill (that’s what we did) in 20 minutes or so, or take the bus (Interbus, again) that goes up the hill from the train station and costs 1.90 Euros.

Book through Trenitalia from Catania Centrale to Taormina-Giardini (the train station at the bottom of the hill).

Here’s the route that you’ll follow to walk from the train station to the center of town. 

The bus – through Interbus – takes longer, but drops you off much, much closer to town, and is the way that our Mount Etna guide recommended. We took the train and walked from the train station up the hill, which wasn’t bad at all even though there was a torrential downpour when we were there.

The bus is a bit slower – taking about 75 minutes to complete the journey – but it’s direct and cheaper at 5.50 Euros each way.

You have to pick up the bus from close to Catania Centrale – here is the location on Google Maps .

Overall, both are good options, though the bus being more frequent, direct, and cheaper makes it a more attractive option for most people.  

Things to Do in Taormina

Here is a collection of things we enjoyed in Taormina, in no particular order. You can essentially spend as much or as little time in Taormina as you’d like, but be aware of train and bus schedules so that you know when you need to be heading back (and don’t get stuck waiting for an hour).

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  • The Greek Theater : The first stop you should make is the spectacular Teatro Antico di Taormina, which sits at the top of a hill with amazing sea views from the seating area. They hold concerts and shows here, and I’d definitely recommend seeing if there’s anything going on around the time when you’re in town and shaping which day you do Taormina around that. More information here .
  • Granite at Bam Bar : After all that walking, you deserve a treat. And Bam Bar should be your treat of choice. Come for the granita, which is so good that we actually went twice in the span of a couple of hours, stay for the pastries and aperitivo as evening approaches. They’re known for granita, and the rotating flavors are posted on the board under the canopy. Get a seat outside for some good people watching.  
  • Wander along Corso Umberto : Corso Umberto is the main, pedestrian-only street running through the heart of Taormina, and is full of shops, bars, and restaurants. It’s absolutely packed with tourists, but it’s worth a stroll. Stop to admire the views and the church at Piazza IX Aprile, you might even be lucky enough to catch a wedding, like we did!
  • Hike up to Chiesa Madonna della Rocca : For an exquisite view over Taormina and the water beyond, make the steep climb up to this church on a hill (find it here on Google Maps). The views are stunning. You can continue up to Castello di Mola allll the way at the top of the hill for even better views, but it’s quite the climb. Consider taking a taxi up, then walking back down. There are some good restaurants up there for lunch, too. 
  • Hit the Beach! Isola Bella is at the base of the hill tucked away in a protected cove. It’s a small island that, at low tide, is connected to the mainland via a narrow walking path. We were in Taormina during a period of intense thunderstorms, so we skipped the beach for obvious reasons, but it’s easy to get to from town. You can either take the cable car (info here ) or walk down. We’d suggest walking down, and taking the cable car back up. There’s another, more sandy but less unique beach just north of Isola Bella at Mazzaro. 

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If you don’t have a car, you essentially have two options for visiting Mount Etna from Catania: go with a guided tour, or use the limited public transportation to get there and back and explore on your own. 

The third option, which does involve a visit to the summit if you want – is only relevant if you have a car, and involves driving up to Rifugio Sapienza – which is essentially the gateway to Etna – and either meeting up with a guided summit tour that departs at 9:00 am, or exploring on your own.

There’s no doubt that this is probably the easiest, most convenient option for most people who want to visit the summit. But it also involves extra days of a rental car, parking in Catania, and parking in Syracuse, all of which are a bit of a nightmare. 

Visiting Mount Etna on a Guided Tour from Catania

Ultimately, this is the option we chose to go with, and we’re generally pretty happy we did. These tours include transportation from the center of Catania, which is handy if you don’t have a car because, as we’ll cover in a second, public transportation is nearly nonexistent.

There are two types of tours to choose from – tours that visit the usual tourist areas, and tours that go a little off the beaten path. We chose the latter option, and were glad we did because we saw a total of eight other people over the course of the day (that is, until we got to Rifugio Sapienza and saw where all the people were). 

If you want to hike and explore the area around Mount Etna, we did this tour with Marco , a Catania native, and would recommend it. The other option we had was this tour , which is very similar (but wasn’t available on the day we wanted to go). 

If you’re not as excited about hiking , we’d suggest either this sunset jeep tour , or this day trip from Catania , which includes some hiking around the craters.  

Visiting Mount Etna On Your Own

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Keep in mind that, as we discuss this option, we’re talking about doing it without a rental car. Visiting Etna with a rental car is relatively easy – just drive to Rifugio Sapienza, park the car, and take the cable car up to do some hiking. 

Without a rental car is a bit more complicated. 

There is, at the time of writing, exactly one bus from Catania to Rifugio Sapienza , and one bus from there back to Catania. The bus leaves from near Catania Centrale at 8:15 am, and arrives at Etna at around 10:30 am. The bus back to Catania leaves at exactly 4:30 pm (16:30) and arrives back in Catania at around 6:30 pm (18:30). 

As you can see, that timing is problematic if you want to meet one of those guided tours up to the summit, which leaves promptly at 9:00 am from the cable car station near the Rifugio. 

Our recommendation based on research and a conversation with our guide is to pay the extra money for the cable car that takes you up to the craters. It’ll cost you 30 Euros for a roundtrip (return) ticket, but it cuts out a stretch of hiking that doesn’t sound enjoyable, particularly in the heat of the summer months. You could hike, and usually we’re pretty up for hiking, but this hike is neither scenic nor pleasant.

Once you reach the top of the cable car, you have two options. The option we’d recommend is hiking, which is more scenic, and is free. You’ll climb another 500 or so meters up to the craters, and this hike is more scenic because you’ll find yourself in the heart of the volcanic landscapes that make Etna such an otherworldly experience. 

Here’s a fantastic guide to visiting Etna using public transportation that we’d recommend reading if you’re going to go this route. 

Day 4 & 5: Syracuse & Ortigia

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When it comes to my limited knowledge of eastern Sicily prior to starting to do research for our trip, Syracuse was one of two places I was familiar with. And the reason is kind of funny, and is actually fairly relevant. 

Growing up, I used to play hours and hours of Rome: Total War , a video game where you set out as a faction in Europe (usually Roman) to build an empire (mostly through violence and betrayal).

Syracuse was always an important city in that particular game because it sat on an island – Sicily – that was a perfect base between Italy, Spain , North Africa, and Greece. 

That also happens to be true in the real world. The city was founded by Greeks, and it became a very powerful player in the Mediterranean power game before becoming a part of the Roman Empire, and it was briefly the capital of the Byzantine Empire in the late 7th Century.

Then, it changed hands between the Aghlabids – a kingdom of Muslims from North Africa – who held it for two centuries before it was reconquered by the Byzantines. 

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All of those influences are apparent as you explore the twin cities of Syracuse and Ortigia, from the prevalence of couscous in the cuisine (hailing from North Africa) to the ruins at the archaeological park that are great examples of Greek and Roman architecture. 

Like most of eastern Sicily, the architecture of the city was changed forever with the earthquake of 1693, so you won’t see as many examples of those influences on the buildings of Syracuse since the city was essentially rebuilt in the 18th and 19th Centuries. 

The entire city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has helped to preserve the city’s architecture from overdevelopment due to tourism. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sicily, so you’re likely to hear all sorts of different languages as you’re walking around. Especially if there’s a massive cruise ship in the port. 

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A Quick Geography Lesson

This is important, which is why we’ve decided to add a quick blurb here to make sure you know what we’re talking about below. 

“Syracuse” refers to the city on the mainland, which is connected to a little island called “Ortigia” which is famous for its narrow cobblestone streets and magnificent sea views. 

You’ll want to stay in Ortigia, which is the more charming, romantic part of the city, but the most important sight in Syracuse – the Parco Archeologico Neapolis – is on the mainland, about 30 minutes away from Ortigia on foot. 

You’ll spend most of your time in Ortigia, with a journey out to the park to see the incredible Greek and Roman ruins found there. 

Getting to Siracusa

Syracuse is another place that we’d recommend avoiding driving, and frankly, you won’t need a car anyway since it’s relatively compact – you’d essentially just park the car and leave it until you’re ready to head to your next destination. 

Plan on taking the train from Catania Centrale to Siracusa (book through Trenitalia ), or the bus through Interbus (you can pick up the bus from Piazza Borsellino , which is a short walk from Piazza del Duomo). 

You should know that the train station in Syracuse is a good 20-25 minute walk from Ortigia, so you’ll either want to plan on walking or grab a taxi from the train station. 

Things to Do in Syracuse & Ortigia

Here are some of our favorite things to do in Syracuse and Ortigia. We’re going to start with a section on the Parco Archeologico Neapolis – the most important and popular sight – and then give you some other things to do and see while you’re here. 

Visiting the Parco Archeologico Neapolis

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By far the most popular tourist attraction in the city is the Archaeological Park , where you’ll find both a Greek AND Roman theater, along with beautiful gardens full of citrus trees, limestone quarries, and more. 

It’s well worth a couple of hours of your time, which is about the amount of time it will take you to walk through the three main areas of the park – the Greek Theater, the Roman Theater, and the limestone quarries and gardens around the Latomia del Paradiso. 

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You can buy a combo ticket that includes the Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi (about 15 minutes away on foot), which is worth a visit if you’re REALLY into archaeology, but we found it very overwhelming. It has literally hundreds of pieces of pottery from various eras, among other artifacts, though the pygmy elephant skeletons were adorable. 

After the park, we didn’t really have the brainpower or attention span for it, but it might have gone better if we had split the two activities up on different days. 

We’d highly, highly, highly recommend getting to the park at 8:30 am when it opens for two reasons. One, because it gets crazy busy starting around 10:00 am, which will give you a couple of hours head start to see some of the park in relative peace and quiet. Two, because in the summer it gets miserably hot and there’s not a whole lot of shade. 

It costs 10 Euros per person for the park only, and 13.50 Euros for a combo ticket that includes the Museo Paolo Orsi.

More Things to Do in Siracusa and Ortigia

Here are some other things to do in Syracuse and Ortigia. 

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  • Walk the Perimeter at Sunset : One of our favorite things to do in Ortigia was to just walk. And we ended up walking the entire perimeter of the island three times. It’s gorgeous, particularly in that sweet, soft light that happens within an hour of sunrise or sunset. It’d be a good pre-Aperitivo activity, and if you do it from the northeastern tip to the western end, you’ll be in a good position to grab a spritz at the end of the walk. Make a stop at the Castello Maniace along the way. Something like this would be a good route. 
  • The Underground Tour : There’s a fascinating and relatively quick tour of the Chiesa di San Filippo Apostolo in the old Jewish Quarter that takes you into the crypts below the church (which is built on top of a synagogue), and then into the underground tunnels that were used to shelter civilians during the Allied bombings in World War 2. Pretty fascinating stuff, and an interesting way to experience the history of Syracuse from a different point of view. Tours in English and Italian are roughly every half hour in the afternoon, and are donation based (we donated five Euros for the two of us). 
  • Gelateria Gusto : Incredibile pistacchio granita, though they’re also known for great gelato. 
  • Sabadì Cioccolato : If you’re not making it to Modica (if you follow this itinerary, you will), then you should stop by here to try some Modica chocolate , which we found to be amazing and slightly different from the chocolate we’re used to. It’s cooked slowly at a lower temperature, which means the sugar doesn’t dissolve, and they don’t add cocoa butter in. Combined, the result is a slightly grainy texture, which reminds me a lot of chocolate in Mexico that is stoneground. You can get it plain, or with all sorts of fun flavor combinations, and this place – which is right near Piazza del Duomo – is a good place to get an introduction to it with tons of flavors you can sample and buy. 
  • Aperitivo and the Sunset : Grab a drink around sunset (really, get there 30-45 minutes early to grab a seat) at one of the many bars along the southwestern tip of the island. Our picks would be Mikatu for their wines, but we got thwarted by thunderstorms BOTH nights we were there. Other good options without the view are Enoteca Solaria (for amazing wine) and Verga (for the picturesque courtyard and cocktails).

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Where to Stay in Syracuse & Ortigia

It’s worth repeating: stay in Ortigia! Even if you’re on a tight budget, we think you’ll regret staying in the far less charming mainland area, even if you’ll save a few pennies. 

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We stayed at Stay in Ortigia Guest House , a group of stylish apartments right in the heart of Ortigia near the Temple of Apollo on a quiet side street. The apartments are compact, but have full kitchens, modern decor, and access to laundry (which we desperately needed at this point in our Italy trip). We’d recommend it, especially if you’re looking for an apartment with a kitchen. 

Here are some other options that were on our shortlist for Ortigia. 

  • Alla Giudecca : We walked by this place multiple times as we did a circle around the perimeter of Ortigia at sunrise and sunset, and noticed the rooms with balconies facing the ocean and said “yeah, that looks pretty nice.” 
  • Dimore delle Zagare Ortigia : This is a historic B&B in the ever-charming Jewish Quarter of Ortigia, which was our favorite part of the island to get lost in. The location is great in terms of being central to just about everything you’ll want to see in Ortigia, and you can choose between hotel-style rooms and suites with a little more space (and, in some cases, a balcony!). 

Day 6 & 7: Val di Noto

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Drive Time & Distance : 40 Minutes / 38 km (remember, pick up your rental car in Syracuse on the morning of day 6, before your drive to Noto! You’ll need it from here to Palermo, where you can drop it off on your way into the city and explore car-free from there). 

The Val di Noto is one of the crown jewels of southeastern Sicily, with the towns within the region being declared a UNESCO world heritage site in the early 2000s.

The city of Noto itself was completely destroyed during the 1693 earthquake, and was rebuilt in a completely different spot – you can actually still visit what’s left of the old town at Noto Antica , but we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it if you’re short on time. 

Noto is the epitome of Sicilian Baroque architecture, which makes sense when you realize that the architects in charge of rebuilding the city after the earthquake in the 17th and 18th Centuries essentially had a completely blank canvas to work with. 

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We think there are three amazing things to see in the Val di Noto, and it’s well worth about 36 hours of your time (and certainly more, if you have it). They are: 

  • A morning hike to the beaches in Riserva di Vendicari
  • An afternoon in Marzamemi , a small fishing village on the coast
  • An afternoon and evening in the city of Noto , which is known for its beautiful baroque architecture made of limestone, which lights up in the afternoon sun. 

What to Do in the Val di Noto

As you can see, there are two afternoon/evening activities there, which means you’ll need two nights in the Val di Noto.

Here’s how we would spend them. 

Exploring the Town of Noto

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Spend your first afternoon and evening exploring the city of Noto, which is set on a hillside overlooking the valley to the south. Don’t miss: 

  • Caffè Sicilia : This place is famous for their almond granita, and I wasn’t sure whether or not it would live up to the hype. Spoiler: it does. They have a version of it called a “cappuccino” where it’s a small scoop of coffee granita on top of a heap of almond granita. The almond granita is great, and their pastries look pretty incredible too.
  • Putia del Coppo : A cone full of freshly caught fried fish. All gluten free! They go on holiday from… *checks notes*… October to April, so it’s really a summer thing. They also have a location in Modica. 
  • Cattedrale di Noto : We’re not usually huge “go into all the churches” people, but this one is pretty cool. Inside, the stained glass windows underneath the dome caught our eye, as did the super realistic paintings depicting the passion of the Christ (aka the crucifixion), which I thought was an interesting take because you can really feel the suffering of Jesus through the art. Make sure your shoulders are covered and take off your hat as you enter. 
  • Walk Something Like This Loop , which takes you up some stairs to some nice views. Obviously, you’re exploring, so feel free to wander a bit. 

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Parking in Noto : We found plenty of free street parking in Noto near this gas station , which is a 10-15 minute walk up into the center of town. We had also scoped out this parking lot , which isn’t free, but is affordable and super close to the center.   

The Vendicari Reserve

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The next morning, head out to the beaches in the Vendicari Reserve , which was highly recommended to us from the hosts at our little B&B in the countryside.

It’s a little more complicated than “head to the beach!” because there are multiple ways to get there, entrances, etc.

Basically, there are three main beaches in the reserve: Spiaggia di Vendicari, Spiaggia di Calamosche (the prettiest and busiest), and Spiaggia di Marianelli (the naked-est). 

So, after driving down a narrow dirt road and finding nobody there to take our money to park (it was the offseason, so I bet it’s different than the summer), we have a recommendation: head straight to the main entrance ( here – ignore the single bad review, at the time of writing, it’s 3 Euros to park for the day, which is reasonable for this area) and walk to the beaches from there. 

It’s a scenic walk along the coast, and it is well worth the effort to get there. It will save you the headache of trying to navigate the bad roads in a rental car, and the walk itself is gorgeous.

It costs 3.50 Euros per person to enter the reserve (plus the parking fee), and you’ll want to bring plenty of water because it is completely exposed and it can get very hot in the summer heat.

An Afternoon / Evening in Marzamemi 

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After an afternoon of hiking and exploring the beauty of the rocky coastline, sandy beaches, and stunning crystal clear water of southern Sicily, head to the small town of Marzamemi for an evening of relaxation. Our host at our little farm stay recommended this, otherwise we probably never would have done it on our own. 

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The town doesn’t really come alive until at least 7:00 pm, so it might be worth heading back and cleaning up a bit before returning. It’s a tiny town, so there’s not really that much to see, but we’d recommend finding a spot for aperitivo and dinner around Palazzo di Villadorata , which was the liveliest part of town when we were there. 

Parking in Marzamemi : We were there in the offseason and found plenty of street parking for free, but if you can’t find free parking, this lot is highly reviewed and is a couple of blocks away from the heart of the action. 

Where to Stay in the Val di Noto

We’re going to recommend that you actually stay outside of the city of Noto itself, because the Val di Noto is absolutely breathtaking, with tons of agriculture, wine production, and beautiful beaches awaiting you outside of the city limits. 

There are lots of agriturismos, where you can stay under the olive, pomegranate, and almond trees, slow down, and really appreciate the beauty and productivity of this part of southeast Sicily. 

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We stayed at Fiori di Noto , a small, family-run agriturismo just outside of the city of Noto, and highly, highly recommend it. We spent half a day just lounging in the sun under the olive tree outside our bungalow in the company of the cutest bunch of kittens, and it could not have been more pleasant.

It’s also about 10 minutes from Noto, and under half an hour to Vendicari, so it’s not like you’re really trading off on the location. Plus, free parking!

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Three other options (that look fantastic) just outside of Noto: 

  • Baglio Genovesi
  • IUTA Glamping & Farm
  • Valle Degli Dei AgriResort

If you want to stay in Noto , stay at either the Ostello della Gioventù – Il Castello , a hostel with private rooms right in the heart of town that we walked by on our afternoon stroll, or B&B Novecento Siciliano , a charming bed and breakfast just off of Noto’s main drag. 

Day 8: Modica & Drive to Agrigento

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Drive Time & Distance (Including Modica) : 3 hours / 186 km 

This day is the big driving day on this itinerary, and over the course of the day (and the next drive to Trapani) you’re going to pass through huge swaths of the island that are extremely picturesque, with vineyards and almond trees covering rolling hills as far as the eye can see.

However, there just isn’t enough time to stop and see everything, so we’ve chosen Modica as a perfect stop to break up the drive. We spent a lovely four hours in Modica, and there’s a nice city walk that we’d recommend (more info below) where you’ll get some pretty incredible views.

The views come with a price, though. And that price is a long, sometimes steep climb straight uphill. 

Like most cities in eastern Sicily, Modica was devastated by the 1693 earthquake (though less so than other cities like Noto), and was rebuilt in the Sicilian Baroque style you’re now probably intimately familiar with. 

Modica is really a combination of two cities – Modica Bassa (roughly, “lower Modica”) and Modica Alta (roughly “upper Modica”). Modica Alta is at the top of the hill, and the views from atop the crest of the hill are pretty great.

The only problem is that it’s a nightmare to drive up to them, and the best way to reach the top of the hill is actually to park at the bottom and walk. Which is exactly what we’d recommend doing. 

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Below, you’ll find a city walk that mirrors what we did, including some of our favorite stops along the way. After you’re done in Modica – plan on anywhere between two and four hours, depending on how much walking you’re up for – head onwards to Agrigento for the night. 

Parking in Modica : There’s a small, free parking lot here that we parked at  – in high season, you’ll need to arrive EARLY (like, 8:30 am early) to have a chance at a spot. Otherwise, there’s lots of paid street parking near that parking lot at a relatively affordable rate. Pay at the machine and put the ticket on your windshield. 

What to Do in Modica: A Nice City Walk

First of all, here is a map of this city walk, including all the stops we’ve outlined below. You’re going to climb 166 meters over the course of the walk, mostly along narrow alleys and steps. Take your time, and make sure you have plenty of water. 

Here are the stops, in order. You’ll start from the parking lot we mentioned above (or wherever you found parking nearby), and make your way up the hill to Pizzo Belvedere before heading back down and enjoying some cheese, gelato, and chocolate that will have been well-earned. 

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  • Duomo di San Giorgio : This church – designed in the Baroque style, of course – was restored in the 18th Century after a series of earthquakes, and is now the main church in Modica, with its distinctive dome visible from all over the city. Similar to Noto, I enjoyed the paintings depicting the crucifixion of Christ, which are surprisingly realistic (apparently that was a characteristic of the times). 
  • Cioccolato di Modica Sabadì : Chocolate made in the traditional Modica way: cooked at a low heat so the sugar doesn’t dissolve, which gives it a slightly gritty texture. This shop has a table with a bunch of different chocolates on it – some flavored, some just chocolate, some with flavor combinations inspired by different cities in Sicily. We really enjoyed learning about the process of making the chocolate, and about the different product lines they have. Plus, free samples!
  • Pizzo Belvedere : You made it! This is the top of the hill. Admire the views over Modica Bassa from here, and the huge bridge in the distance. We think the view from here is well worth the effort it takes to get there. 
  • Church of Saint John Evangelist : We stumbled upon this gem on our way down the hill. It’s beautiful, and marks the highest point in Modica Alta (so, technically, we lied when we said you were at the top before – forgive us). Inside, it’s not the most ornate, but we like the view from down the steps in front of the church. At the bottom of the steps, there was a small group of old men having coffee and chatting, gesticulating in a way that only Italians do, as they discussed either football or politics – hard to tell which. Getting together there was clearly a routine, which I admire. 
  • Castello dei Conti : Not the greatest castle in the world, but we enjoyed walking out to the point where there’s a clock tower that you can hear ticking (loudly). Views from Pizzo Belvedere are better. 
  • Bar del Duomo : In an alley right under the Duomo di San Giorgio, this is a lovely place to stop and have an espresso, granita, or pastry before you continue on down the hill. 
  • Antica Dolceria Bonajuto : Said to be the oldest chocolate shop in the city, this will be a fun stop if you, like us, have a love affair with chocolate. They also have tours, though you’ll need to book in advance and they cancel it if they don’t have at least six participants. The friendly woman behind the counter spoke great English too, which was helpful as we tried to figure out what the things in the display case were. 
  • Caffè Adamo : Famous for their gelato, Alysha knew she had to try this place as soon as she discovered it. She is, after all, a gelato fiend. I passed because I wasn’t sure how “gluten free” their gelato was. She tried a ricotta + marjoram gelato, which was super creamy and some of the best she’s had in Sicily (though, we’ve been far more focused on granita while we’ve been here).
  • Casa del Formaggio Modica : Is the man behind the counter the nicest cheesemonger in the world? We think so. We walked by and decided to stop in, and walked out with two cheeses and a bottle of local wine. The man behind the counter gave us recommendations for a hard and stinkier (the technical term, of course) cheese, and helped us choose a bottle of wine. He made sure we tried the cheeses before we bought them so we were sure we’d like them, and they were fantastic. 

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Day 9: Agrigento & Valle dei Templi

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You’ll have arrived in Agrigento the previous afternoon after a morning in Modica, and we’d recommend spending your first evening in the center of Agrigento, which comes alive when the sun sets. 

We grabbed a drink at Caffè San Pietro right in the heart of Agrigento, and it was a lovely place to people watch with spritzes in hand, and a generous bounty of aperitivo snacks. There are plenty of places to choose from for dinner in the area, though we heard really good things about Enoteca ‘Nzolia .

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Then, the next day, the main event: visiting the Valley of the Temples (more details on that in a second). 

Where to Stay in Agrigento

This is another place where we’d actually recommend staying on the outskirts of town, where you’ll find some very nice B&Bs with lush gardens and spectacular views. 

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We stayed at Villa La Lumia B&B , which is just outside of town, about a 20 minute walk into the center, and we LOVED it. The hosts were so friendly, their dog Argo is absolutely adorable (we almost stole him, shhhh don’t tell anyone), and the breakfast on the terrace with temple views is quite the way to start your day.

It’s a lovely place to hang out, and we can’t recommend it enough. They have hotel-style rooms, and apartments that have a kitchen. Free parking, too. 

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Other good options just outside of town are Villa Lekythos or South Valley Guesthouse .

If you want to stay in the center of Agrigento, stay at either B&B Triskéles , which looks fantastic, or at Le Terrazze di Pirandello , a good budget option with room options that have a shared bathroom for a bit cheaper. 

Visiting the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples)

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Over the course of the next 36 hours or so, you’re going to see three examples of ruins of ancient temples and cities built around them. This one, which is about a 20 minute walk outside of Agrigento, was hands down our favorite, and maybe even our favorite thing we did in Sicily. 

We were standing at the entrance to the Temple of Zeus reading the informative signage (in English!), which outlined for us where the walls of the temple would have stood.

Both of us turned to each other and audibly said “whoa” because that temple must have been absolutely MASSIVE.

Of course, you’ll have to use your imagination a bit to picture it, but the scale and grandeur of some of the structures in this area is pretty mind boggling. 

How to Get There

The archaeological area spans a pretty big distance, and there’s an entrance on either end of the park with plenty of parking (though you’ll have to pay for it). If you’ve got a car, you can drive to the Valley of the Temples, and you’ll have to pay for parking. 

However, this means that you’re going to have to walk through the valley once to see it all, then back through it again to return to your car. We recommend either walking , which takes about 30 minutes in either direction, or taking the bus , which leaves from here . 

That way, you can make a big loop without having to retrace your steps. There are two routes you need to make this loop. You take the 2 bus to get to the eastern entrance, then pick up the 1 bus from the western entrance to get back to Agrigento – buy tickets on the bus. 

More information on their website in the “visit” section here .

Ticket Costs

A standard ticket costs 12 Euros per person. A combo ticket with the Kolymbethra Garden, a former lake turned lush valley filled with citrus trees, costs 17 Euros (the garden closes earlier than the Valley of the Temples, so you’ll want to do it first). 

A combo ticket with the nearby Archaeology Museum costs 15.50 Euros (you can visit them over the course of three days, one admission to each). 

More information here .

When to Visit

We have a strong opinion on this one, and it’s shared by the host at our B&B that we stayed at in Agrigento (which we highly recommend – it’s Villa La Lumia B&B ). 

You should go in the late afternoon, about an hour and a half before sunset, when the light of the setting sun lights up the temples in a deep golden glow. 

best road trip sicily

Plus, the park is open past sundown, and if you’re willing to wait a bit, you can have a completely different experience with the temples in the dark, when they’re lit up with fancy uplighting. 

If your itinerary makes it so that you can’t swing an afternoon/evening visit, it’s still worth doing at other times of day, but it’s that much more spectacular as the sun is setting over the sea beyond the temples. 

Day 10: Selinunte, Segesta, and Drive to Castellammare del Golfo

best road trip sicily

Drive Time & Distance : 2 hours 40 minutes / 180 km 

This is another day with a long drive, but we’ve got a couple of nice stops along the way to break it up. Eventually, you’ll arrive in Castellammare del Golfo, a charming little seaside town that is a great home base for exploring one of the best nature reserves on the island. 

Like we mentioned before, there are a bunch of really fascinating historical sites in this part of Sicily. You’ll see two of them today (combined with the Valley of the Temples last night, this is quite the 24 hours of history). 

One of them – Selinunte – is about the historical context and using your imagination to envision what life in Sicily was like in the Greek and Roman times. The other – Segesta – is about the sheer beauty (there’s not a whole lot of historical context given). 

The order goes: Selinunte, Segesta, then driving to Castellammare del Golfo. 

best road trip sicily

Let me tell you, after you’ve seen all three of these archaeological sites, you’re going to walk away with a new appreciation for the ancient people’s ability to choose a site for their cities and temple complexes.

Selinunte sits on a bluff overlooking the sea, and the views are pretty fantastic, particularly from the portion of the park where you’ll find the acropolis. 

We had heard of both the Valley of the Temples and Segesta before arriving in Sicily, but this one was something we discovered along the way, and decided to make a very slight detour to include it on our route. 

Selinunte is a pretty big archaeological park set on the site of a Greek city dating back to the 600s BCE. It was one of the most important pieces of land for the Greeks in Sicily at that time, and they butted heads with both the Carthaginians and the Elymians, who came from the Segesta to the north and are one of three native peoples of Sicily. 

It was a thriving city in what we now know as southwestern Sicily, that is until Carthage sacked it, razed it, executed many of its inhabitants, and then re-occupied it in 409 BCE. It was then taken by the Romans in the Punic wars, but by then it was largely uninhabited. 

best road trip sicily

Today, the collection of ancient houses around the acropolis and the two temple complexes were among the most interesting history lessons we got during our time in Sicily.

It’s a good reminder that this part of the world has a variety of influences, and has been occupied by several different groups of people throughout its history, all of whom have left their stamp on it in one way or another (though, it should be noted that some of those stamps – particularly the architecture kind – were wiped from the face of the earth with the earthquake in 1693). 

There are two parts of the park, and you can either walk between them (think 15-20 minutes, there and back) or pay a small fee to ride the golf cart between them.

best road trip sicily

The first, right near the entrance, is a series of temples (though, unlike the Valley of the Temples, historians and archaeologists aren’t quite sure who the temples are dedicated to). 

The second part of the park is over on a little bluff, and is where you’ll find the acropolis, more temples, and the remains of houses from thousands of years ago, which is kind of cool and helps you visualize what life might have been like at that time. 

How to Get There : Drive – it’s about a 15 minute detour off the route you’d be taking anyway. Park for free in the big lot outside the entrance. 

Ticket Costs : 6 Euros per person. 

More information here . 

best road trip sicily

To be honest, this was our least favorite of the three temple complexes in the past day or so of this itinerary. It’s beautiful, yes, but the signage leaves a bit to be desired. Mostly because the answers to questions like “who built this?” and “why does this temple exist?” are basically the shrug emoji. 

There’s a lot of hypotheses, but we don’t really know the details, because we only have primary sources from other people’s points of view – namely Greeks – and other than that… *shrugs*.

The two main highlights here are the Theater, high up on the hillside, and the unfinished Doric Temple, which is an easy 250 meter walk from the entrance. 

best road trip sicily

It’s worth noting that the theater is quite a ways up on the hilltop, which means amazing views, yes, but it also means a climb to get there.

We’d recommend paying the extra few Euros to take the bus up , because the climb is brutal, especially in the hot summer sun. We walked, and we’re generally into hiking, but at the top we decided it wasn’t really worth it. 

There are some nice views of the Doric Temple from the climb up, which is why we’d also recommend that you walk back down rather than taking the shuttle . 

best road trip sicily

There really isn’t a whole lot to see here, so it should only take you 30-60 minutes or so. 

Where to Stay in Castellammare del Golfo

Unlike some of the other places on this itinerary, you definitely want to stay in the center of Castellammare del Golfo, rather than outside of town. The narrow streets near the port and along the water are very charming, and the areas further inland aren’t. 

best road trip sicily

We stayed at Veranda sul Porticciolo , a small apartment complex run by friendly Guiliano, who showed us our room and gave us some tips about visiting the Zingaro Reserve, along with where to eat in town. We stayed in a studio, which was compact, but had a full kitchen, access to a washing machine, and a comfortable bed.

The best part was morning coffee and afternoon glasses of wine out on the deck, which has views of the port. Parking would be a bit of a hassle in the summer, when the area is a ZTL and you can’t park here, but that’s true of basically any place to stay in the center of town. 

Other options nearby would be Hotel Punta Nord Est (for hotel-style rooms with nice sea views), Blue Suite (for spacious apartments with full kitchens and nice views), or B&B Da Peppa (a charming B&B with a rooftop terrace where you can enjoy your breakfast in the morning). 

Day 11: Day Trip to Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro

best road trip sicily

Drive Time & Distance : 20 Minutes / 12 km (one way) 

On this day, we’d highly, highly recommend taking a day trip to the Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro , which was a highlight on our Sicily trip. You’ll do the reserve – ideally in the early morning to avoid the blistering summer heat – and then spend the rest of the afternoon and evening in Castellammare del Golfo, which was our favorite town in this part of Sicily. 

The pristine coastal reserve was established in the 1980’s after it had originally been slated for development – you walk through the tunnel where the road was supposed to go as you enter the reserve from the southern entrance.

But numerous environmental organizations stepped in to prevent the construction of the road and keep this part of Sicily’s gorgeous coastline wild. 

Spoiler alert: they succeeded, and Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro became Sicily’s first nature reserve, protecting 4,000 acres of natural beauty on the northern coast. 

Getting to the Park

Drive. There’s no other way to do it (that we could find, anyway – let us know if you find a bus with a reliable schedule!) which means if you don’t have a car, you’ll have to skip it. There are two entrances – one near Scopello on the south end, and one near San Vito Lo Capo on the north end. 

The southern entrance is about 20-25 minutes away from Castellammare del Golfo, and is the one you should shoot for. Here it is on Google Maps. 

The road to get there, uh, isn’t great. But it’s doable, even in a rental car. There’s a medium sized parking area that we imagined becomes a zoo in high season. 

Costs and Hours

Entry to the park is 5 Euros per person, and they take both cash and credit card. In the summertime, the park is open from 7:30 am to 7:00 pm. In October, when we were there (and through the rest of the offseason until April), the park is only open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. 

What to Do in Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro

best road trip sicily

Now, our experience in the park is likely a bit different than yours is going to be, at least if you’re coming during the warm summer months. 

We were there in mid-October, and ended up out on the coast in the middle of a thunderstorm, with raindrops that felt like they were the size of my head. Not ideal, but still gorgeous in less of a “crystal clear turquoise water” kind of way, and more of a “those waves crashing on the cliff are a little scary” kind of way.

Start from the southern entrance and head north into the reserve. There are multiple trails to follow, but if you’re looking for those stunning coastal views and beaches, you want the coastal route, which is also the easiest. You’ll receive a map as you enter, which has all the “calas” you’ll find along the trail. 

If you’re expecting wide sandy beaches where you can lay out in the sun, think again. It’s more rocky and wild than we were expecting, though that has never stopped Italians from getting their sunbathing in as far as we’ve ever seen. 

If you’ve ever been to the west coast of the United States, which is where we’re from, the beaches here are more similar to the ones in Washington State – wild and rocky – than Southern California – developed and sandy. 

The hike from the southern entrance through to the northern entrance is roughly 7km, so a 14km hike round trip. It should take you between four and six hours, depending on how many stops you make along the way. Here is a map of the reserve . 

If you’re like most people, you’re probably visiting between June and September, when the weather will be significantly different. One thing we noticed on this route – mostly because we got soaked – is that there’s very little cover from the sun (or rain in our case).

best road trip sicily

Things to Know Before You Go

Here are a few things to know before you go to help you prepare for your trip. 

  • You need to bring plenty of water (at least one liter per person, if not more), sunscreen, and a hat. It’s going to be hot, and there’s not a whole lot of shade. 
  • There is no drinking water inside the park , and the only place to buy food or water is the little snack shack in the parking lot. Make sure you have enough snacks and water before setting out on the hike. 
  • Start early . Both because the parking lot is small, and to avoid hiking during the heat of the day.
  • Wear closed toed shoes ! The hike isn’t necessarily hard, though there is a little up and down as you make your way along the coast, but there are parts that are rocky. Leave the sandals at home. They will check whether you’re wearing proper footwear at the entrance, though it’s unclear whether they’d actually turn you away, or just laugh at you. 
  • The closer you go to the middle of the reserve, the fewer people you’ll find . Solely because it’s a longer walk from either entrance, and, well, people don’t like walking that much. 

Days 12 – 14: Exploring Palermo

Let me give you a little BTS (behind the scenes) look at how we operate when we’re on the road. Generally, things are most fresh in the few days after we do something, so we do our best to actually write these guides in that timeframe (or, at the very least, take some detailed notes). 

We are writing this guide as we make our way through Sicily, which means things change as we discover new places and gain a new point of view on certain things.

Originally, we had planned this itinerary out to include less time in Palermo, and more time on the coast in Western Sicily – specifically Trapani. Then we spent time in Palermo, and decided “you know what? More time in Palermo is always a good thing!”

That’s how we landed at having two to three days in Palermo, which is barely enough time to see everything there is to see, eat everything there is to eat, and do everything there is to do. 

What to Do in Palermo

With a couple of days in Palermo, we’d strongly recommend prioritizing activities inside the city limits, rather than venturing outside the city to visit places like Monreale or Cefalu. 

Here are our favorite things to do (and eat) in Palermo. 

best road trip sicily

  • Explore Palermo’s Famous Open Air Markets : There are three main markets in Palermo, and all three are worth a visit for different reasons. Go in the morning, which is when they are most lively (with the notable exception of Mercato Vucciria, which is decidedly a nighttime endeavor). Capo is a sensory overload, with vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, ready-to-eat fried delicacies, and plenty more. Mercato Ballaró, south of the historic center, feels REAL, with a touch of grittiness that tells me that real people shop there for their daily needs. Mercato Vucciria is a collection of narrow streets that we stumbled upon after dark (mostly by accident), when the area transforms into a collection of small food stalls and cozy bars with plenty of open air seating. 
  • Eat Street Food in Palermo : Palermo is world-renowned for its amazing street food. You can pretty easily eat a hearty, authentic meal for about five Euros. Some of our favorite Palermitan street foods were Crocchè, which are herbaceous deep fried mashed potatoes, and arancine (interestingly, the singular in Palermo is “arancina”, versus “arancino” over in Catania), which are basically fried rice balls stuffed with all sorts of fillings, from veggies to meats and cheeses. Or sfincione. Or panelle. The list goes on and on. The point is, Palermo has amazing street food. The best way to experience it, we think, is with a local guide. This is the tour we had planned to book – despite the fact that I have Celiac Disease and couldn’t eat a single thing, I was excited to learn all about Palermitan culture – but the timing ended up not working out and we didn’t get a chance to do it. Book the morning tour, and show up hungry!
  • Learn About Palermo’s History with the Mafia : Having never seen the Godfather or the Sopranos, two of pop culture’s most famous depictions of the mafia, I actually wasn’t really that familiar with the Sicilian stereotypes around the mafia. But, as Alysha, whose grandfather was born in a small town called Melilli in southeast Sicily, informed me, people’s first thought when you say “Sicily” is generally “mafia.” Like Pablo Escobar in Medellin, Colombia, there is a lot of interest in learning about the mafia, which has created a mini boom in tours focusing on sights and famous places associated with them. It’s important to remember that there is a real trail of blood behind the mafia in Sicily. Real people died and suffered as a direct result of the mafia’s actions. Which is why, if you’re interested in learning about the mafia, you should do it responsibly through tours with Addiopizzo , which is an organization that set out to rid Sicily of the “pizzo”, or the protection money that businesses paid to the mafia for decades. This is the tour we did, and it was great – we highly recommend it. 
  • Drink Sicilian Wine : It felt like everywhere we drove in Sicily, we saw vineyards. Which can only mean one thing. Affordable, delicious wine! Our two favorite discoveries in terms of Palermo’s wine scene were CiCala , which is the place to go for natural wines from Sicily, and Bottega Monteleone , a great place for a wine-focused aperitivo (Alysha really enjoyed the crostini with a paste made from sardines and herbs). 

best road trip sicily

Where to Stay in Palermo

We went back and forth a few times when deciding where to stay in Palermo, which means we have three recommendations for you that we had booked at one point or another. 

In general, we’d recommend staying either in the area between Teatro Massimo and the Palermo Cathedral , or in Politeama – Libertà , which is a little more upscale and polished. 

We stayed at Le Casette di Marcì , a set of serviced apartments roughly equidistant between all three (and close to the Mercato Capo), and it was nothing short of fantastic.

The apartments are huge, they have full kitchens including ovens and washing machines, and they are in a great location. Perfect if you want a little more space to spread out. 

Before booking that apartment, we had a couple of nights booked at two separate B&Bs. 

First was La Terrazza Sul Centro , which is in a great location just a few blocks off of Via Vittorio Emanuele. The rooftop terrace has amazing views of Palermo, and the rooms are compact but plenty comfortable for a few nights. 

The other place we had booked was Family Affair B&B Palermo , which is right in the heart of Politeama – Libertà. Rooms are stylish, comfortable, and surprisingly affordable, and the place gets staggeringly good reviews.

What to Do with More Time in Sicily

Have more time or are looking for alternate ideas? Here are some things we wanted to do, but decided we didn’t have enough time to fit into our three weeks on the island.

Obviously, it goes without saying that this is absolutely not an exhaustive list of everything to do on the island (that isn’t in the itinerary above), but it is our wishlist for our next trip to Sicily. 

best road trip sicily

Add a Night in Trapani to Visit Erice & San Vito Lo Capo : We’ll be honest, we weren’t blown away by Trapani or Erice, which is why you won’t find it in the main itinerary above. Erice is beautiful, sure, with its hilltop town looking down over Trapani to the west and Castellammare del Golfo to the east. But it’s pretty touristy, and only worth a few hours of your time. We skipped San Vito Lo Capo, a beautiful beach town at the northwestern tip of Sicily, because the weather was terrible, and it didn’t seem like we’d be getting the best of the town in mid-October. A night in Trapani should give you enough time to do a day trip to Erice in the morning, and then spend the afternoon out in San Vito Lo Capo.  

Day Trip to Cefalu from Palermo : Cefalu is an easy day trip from Palermo, but given 14 days, we’d opt to spend the two and a half days you have near Palermo in the city itself. With an extra day, take the train out to the beach, hike up to La Rocca for exquisite views, and get a spritz and aperitivo overlooking the beach. 

Explore the Islands Off of Trapani : Spend a couple of days on Favignana, or one of the other islands in the Egadi chain just off the coast near Trapani. You can do it as a day trip, but it’s better as an overnight. Here’s a guide to Favignana that we enjoyed. 

…Or the Aeolian Islands and Stromboli : At the top of our list for a return trip to Sicily? The Aeolian Islands and Stromboli off of the northeastern coast of the island. Stromboli, like Mount Etna, is an active volcano. Except instead of being on the island of Sicily, it’s in the middle of the ocean. The surrounding chain of islands are full of beautiful sandy beaches, and more solitude than you’ll find just about anywhere else in Italy. Here’s a travel guide to peruse for inspiration, if you go this route. 

When to Visit Sicily

We have an interesting point-of-view on this, since we were in Sicily for three weeks starting at the beginning of October. 

Every single travel guide, blog, and post we’ve read about Sicily says something along the lines of “summer is great but it’s too hot and too crowded, so come in shoulder season like September or October instead!” Which is true. Kind of. But that description is missing an important piece of information that we think you should know before deciding when to visit Sicily. 

In October , something happens that is almost certainly going to have an impact on your trip. Small business owners go on vacation. Sometimes it’s for a week, sometimes two, sometimes a whole month. About 30-40 percent of places we tried to go – bars and restaurants, mostly – were on holiday during the first two weeks of October. Some close completely until the following spring! 

Locals we met along the way warned us about this phenomenon, and there were several times during our visit that someone said “we love X restaurant, but it’s closed right now.”

It is worth noting that this phenomenon largely affected the smaller towns in Sicily, rather than cities like Catania and Palermo. 

All the main sights are going to be open (in our experience, anyway), but if you have specific places to eat and drink picked out, there’s a chance they’ll be closed if you come in October. Not necessarily something to stop you from visiting in October, but something to keep in mind as you decide. 

In fact, we’d recommend October, which is when we were in Sicily . Sure, the weather includes a little more rain and thunderstorms (not as many as your weather app will make you think, however, don’t trust any weather app – I’m convinced they’re all out to set expectations low so that you’re stoked when it’s 75 and sunny out), but it’s also relatively quiet and calm, and we basically had most of the places we went to ourselves, or shared them with a small group. Plus, parking was a breeze everywhere we went – we only paid for parking in a city ONCE. 

September is better if you want to eat out, experience the nightlife, and things like that. It’s a nice blend between the weather in summer (but slightly more bearable), and the lighter crowds. 

Summer – June through August – is blazing hot, which makes it far less pleasant to be trekking around the Valley of the Temples, or hiking in the Zingaro Nature Preserve. Crowds are higher too, which means a corresponding increase in prices. 

Still, there’s a reason Sicily in the summer is so popular – it’s beautiful, the weather is perfect (okay, it’s a little hot), and there’s a palpable energy that comes with thousands of people descending on the island. It does mean that you’ll be waiting in more lines, circling for parking spaces more often, and paying more for your accommodations and rental car. 

Late fall, winter, and early spring are going to be very, very quiet. Things are closed, the weather isn’t great (though still better than northern Italy, for sure), and it’s generally not the best time to visit if you want to have a Sicily experience full of sunshine, amazing views, and stunning sandy beaches. 

best road trip sicily

Matt is the founder and main writer behind Wheatless Wanderlust, which he started back in 2018 as a way to share his gluten free travel guides with his fellow Celiac travelers.

Since then, Matt and his wife Alysha have visited 18 national parks, spent three months in Europe and six weeks in Colombia, and have explored every corner of the Pacific Northwest, which is where Matt grew up.

He writes super detailed guides to the places they visit, bringing together personal experience and historical context to help YOU plan an amazing trip.


Thanks a lot for making such a detailed trip for us. Im going there in a Month, following many of these tips you gave.

Thanks !! 🙂

No problem, Bastian! Hope you had an amazing trip. We LOVED Sicily!

Great post, thank you! We are also going in October, but sadly only have 8 days/nights. We were planning on flying into Catania and out of Palermo but instead will follow your advice and stick to just one side. At that time, 3rd week in October, would you recommend the South/East around Catania or the North/West around Palermo? We were most looking forward to Taormina and hiking the Zigaro reserve, so will have to decide between the 2. Knowing the weather will likely not be ideal and we wont be swimming, and perhaps spending more time away from the coast, I wonder if one of the cities is “better” than the other? Did you prefer one city over the other? Thanks!

Hey Lauren! Sadly, I think your trip might have already happened, but I’m going to answer this anyway in case others have the same question.

With limited time, we’d opt for the southeast corner of the island, where you have Catania, Etna, Taormina, and Siracusa all within a relatively short distance. Plus, they’re all connected by a regional train line, so you don’t necessarily need a car.

That being said, we also really like Palermo, so if you’ve only got 3-5 days, you could make a strong case to spend it all on Palermo with a day trip to Cefalù (or something else nearby).

Many thanks, Matt! Your ‘Perfect Sicily Road Trip’ article is most informative. We are retired and planning an eight-week trip to Italy next October – November, with one month in Sicily. Although you identify shortcomings for late fall in Sicily, the trade off may be less tourists. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your recommendations.

Definitely, it’s all about tradeoffs! There will definitely be things closed, but there will be far less people. We were there in October and, while it wasn’t beach weather, it was amazing.

Hi there! I’m planning my honeymoon for ~12 days in Sicily in July. We want our trip to be romantic and less fast-paced than a typical sight-seeing vacation – we don’t want to have too many travel days moving locations! Do you have a recommendation of which side of Sicily or which towns we should prioritize for a romantic low-stress honeymoon? Thank you!

We’d definitely do the southeastern corner of Sicily in that case! There’s a TON to do and see within a few hours in a car/on a train, so you can get a nice balance of relaxing and exploring. With a slower pace, you could do something like Catania, Taormina, and Siracusa over those 12 days, with day trips to Etna and Noto. Sounds like an amazing honeymoon!

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self drive holidays to sicily 10 day itinerary

Sicily by Car – 10-Day Road Trip to Sicily

Home | Travel | Europe | Italy | Sicily | Sicily by Car – 10-Day Road Trip to Sicily

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Taking a 10-day road trip to Sicily  was an incredible experience, as it was the first trip we took together. We wanted to visit Italy, and since we went in the summer, we decided on Sicily to avoid the heat and the tourists that overcrowd cities like Rome. Looking back, we fully enjoyed our journey exploring  Sicily by car !

Although there are many   things to do in Sicily , 10 days is plenty of time to tour the entire island and see the most important landmarks, especially if you rent a car.

Despite Sicilians’ reputation as bad drivers, we didn’t have any problems during our  10 days in Sicily . Of course, if you’re going to rent a car here, I recommend purchasing full coverage car insurance since our rental company tried to charge us for a scratch on the car that we weren’t responsible for. I also suggest checking our guide on how to find cheap rental cars .

But first, let me tell you how to optimize your time so you can take full advantage of your 10-day road trip in Sicily.

Best Sicily 10-day itinerary

While you can plan a  driving route in Sicily in fewer (or more) days, 10 days is enough time to drive around Sicily and see the island’s main attractions. To help you out, this is the best 10-day Sicily itinerary :

  • Day 1 : Palermo
  • Day 2 : Monreale and Cefalù
  • Day 3 : Stromboli
  • Day 4 : Taormina
  • Day 5 : Climb Mount Etna
  • Day 6 : Syracuse
  • Day 7 : Noto, Modica, and Ragusa
  • Day 8 : Agriento and Scala dei Turchi
  • Day 9 : Selinunte, Marsala, and Trapani
  • Day 10 : Zingaro Nature Reserve

10-day road trip to sicily

Day 1: Palermo – The beginning of your road trip to Sicily

♦   20 miles (40 min by car)

My ideal  10-day Sicily itinerary  begins in Palermo , the capital city. Parking in the center of Palermo is indeed pure chaos, but the airport is about 40 minutes away, so it’s easier to pick up your rental car as soon as you land. That way, you won’t have to waste time making the journey back to the airport the next day.

There are lots of cool  things to do in Palermo , but you can see all the main points of interest in one day. If you don’t want to walk all day long, you can take this hop-on/hop-off bus , which follows two tourist routes that stop at all the important sites. You can also take this free tour  to get to know some of the most iconic attractions in the city.

Palermo, Sicily 10-day itinerary

If you’re going to explore on your own, I suggest spending the morning visiting the Teatro Massimo , the largest opera house in Italy; as well as the  Vucciria  market, where you can find all kinds of products from southern Italy. I also recommend visiting the  Praetorian Fountain  in Piazza Pretoria, the famous  Quattro Canti  square, and the  Palermo Cathedral , a magnificent structure that outshines the Monreale Cathedral.

Around lunchtime, be sure to check out the food at Vucciria market or Pizza Ferrari. We ate at this pizzeria and it was one of the best pizzas we had in Sicily. That said, the  arancini  at La Vucciria is also spectacular.

During your  driving tour through Sicily , you must stop at the  Palace of the Normans , one of the most historical places in Palermo. I recommend taking this  guided tour  in the afternoon to learn more about the palace, as well as the  Palatine Chapel  and the  Capuchin Catacombs .

Finally, if you’re into the nightlife scene, the best party spot is the area around La Vucciria.

Day 1 of your Sicily road trip – Recommended accommodations

For your first night in Sicily, I recommend staying in the city center so you can be close to all the main points of interest. Just be sure to  plan where you’re going to park  since some hotels don’t offer parking.

These are my recommended hotels for the first night of your  Sicily trip :

  • Casa Nostra Boutique Hotel – This hotel has private parking for $18/day
  • Grand Hotel et Des Palmes
  • Politeama Palace

Day 2: Monreale and Cefalù – Two cool places to visit in Sicily by rental car

♦   135 miles (3 hrs by car)

To make the most of day 2 of your  10-day Sicily itinerary , I recommend getting up early and heading to the  Monreale Cathedral . It’s about 30 minutes from the center of Palermo by car, and it’s one of the island’s most famous cathedrals, as well as a  UNESCO  World Heritage Site.

The next stop is Cefalù, which is about an hour’s drive away. This small coastal town is perfect for a  Sicily day trip  because you can see all the important places in one day. Some of the  top things to do in Cefalù  include climbing atop  La Rocca  for incredible views, visiting the Norman-style  Cefalù Cathedral and the Mandralisca Museum, and seeing the Fiume Cefalino  medieval wash-house.

Monreale and Cefalù, 10 day in Sicily itinerary

Besides being so-called the Norman citadel, Cefalù is also famous for its lovely beaches, so I recommend taking this boat tour  to explore the coast. For something to eat, I suggest dining at Al Faro, which offers stunning ocean views. And, for dessert, check out the corner pastry shop at Piazza del Duomo, which has awesome cannoli.

To end this second day of your  Sicily road trip , drive to Milazzo, which is about an hour and a half away (95 miles). In the morning, you can take the ferry to the Aeolian Islands, a must-see during your  tour around Sicily .

Day 2 of your 10-day Sicily itinerary – Recommended accommodations

For the second night of your  10-day Sicily itinerary , I recommend sleeping in Milazzo. These are the best options near the ferry terminal:

  • Eolian Milazzo Hotel
  • Hotel La Bussola
  • Hotel Milazzo

Day 3: Stromboli – The best place to see Sicily in 10 days

♦   2 hrs by ferry

From Milazzo, you can take a ferry to  Stromboli , one of the most beautiful places we visited during our  10 days in Sicily . I recommend taking the first ferry from  this company , which takes about 2 hours to reach the island.

Stromboli is one of the best Aeolian Islands, thanks to its active Stromboli volcano, a must-see during your  Sicily road trip .

Stromboli, roadtrip Sicily 10 days

Moreover, Stromboli has a lovely village full of narrow, white streets. You won’t see cars here, just bicycles, motorcycles, and classic Piaggo Apes, which are Italian three-wheeled vehicles. Walking through the town is a pleasant experience, and while you’re there, I recommend visiting the  Parish of San Vincenzo Ferreri  and the beautiful black sand beaches, such as the  Aeolus Grotto .

When it’s time to eat, head to La Terrazza di Eolo, which overlooks the Strombolicchio, a volcanic sea stack.

Thanks to its size, it’s easy to  visit Stromboli in one day . That said, I suggest staying overnight so you can take  this hiking excursion to the top of the Stromboli volcano to see the lava flows. Climbing the volcano without a certified guide is not only dangerous, but also illegal, so if you want to do this activity, be sure to book in advance.

Day 3 of your route through Sicily by car – Recommended accommodations

The best way to maximize your  Sicily day trip  is by staying overnight in Stromboli. The town is beautiful but quite small, so there aren’t many accommodations. I recommend booking one of these in advance so you can get a good night’s rest and continue  traveling around Sicily  in the morning:

  • Hotel Ossidiana Stromboli
  • Il Gabbiano Relais in Stromboli
  • La Sirenetta Park Hotel

Day 4: Taormina – An essential stop on your road trip through Sicily

♦   2 hrs by ferry + 55 miles (1 hr 30 min by car)

After visiting beautiful Stromboli, the next thing to do on your  10-day Sicily itinerary  is to take the return ferry and head to  Taormina . This lovely city is about an hour and a half drive from Milazzo.

However, before arriving in Taormina, I recommend making a stop in  Savoca , especially if you’re a fan of  The Godfather . Here, you can walk through some famous areas that were featured in scenes from the movie, and it’s one of the best  things to see in Savoca .

Taormina, Sicily 10-day itinerary

As for Taormina, this city is known for its  Greek theater , which dates back to the 3rd century B.C. In the 19th century, it became a luxury tourist destination for European nobles, and today, it’s one of the most impressive sites in Italy.

Moreover, Taormina sits on a cliffside, over 650 feet above sea level, making it one of the most magnificent stops on your  Sicily road trip . Plus, there are many  things to do in Taormina . Besides visiting the Greek theater, you can walk along Corso Umberto Street and stop by the Duomo di Taormina cathedral and Piazza IX Aprile.

I also recommend riding the funicular down to  Isola Bella , a small island with a hidden residence that has housed several famous guests over the years.

For one of the best sunsets in Italy, go up to  Sanctuary Madonna della Rocca , where you’ll get stunning city views on one side while overlooking Mount Etna on the other.

Finally, if you’re looking for a good place to have lunch or dinner, I highly recommend  Pizzeria Villa Zuccaro , which was awarded the honor of second-best pizza in the world.

Day 4 of your Sicily trip – Recommended accommodations

Taormina is one of the best places to stay in Sicily, especially if you want a luxury hotel. So, for your fourth day traveling through  Sicily by car , I recommend these accommodations:

  • Grand Hotel Timeo, A Belmond Hotel – Located in historical old town
  • La Plage Resort – This hotel has a private beach
  • Villa Sant’Andrea, A Belmond Hotel
  • NH Collection Taormina

Day 5: Climb the Etna volcano – The best thing to do in Sicily in 10 days

♦   100 miles (2 hrs 15 min by car)

Mount Etna  is one of the most essential stops on any  Sicily road trip . Unfortunately, our tour got canceled because the volcano erupted right before we arrived in Sicily. However, if you have the chance to go, I recommend  this hiking tour .

During this excursion, you’ll take a guided hike to explore the stunning scenery of Mount Etna, 11,000 feet above sea level. You’ll ride a cable car and Jeep up the volcano, then do a 1.5-hour trek to the final summit.

Etna volcano, Sicily by car rental

This hike will take up your entire morning, but if you have the energy for it, you can take advantage of the natural beauty of  Gole dell Alcantara , a basalt canyon formed millions of years ago after a volcanic eruption.

While you’re in the area, you can also  visit Aci Trezza , a charming coastal village where you’ll find the popular Faraglioni, a group of small sea stacks formed by Etna’s volcanic activity.

We decided to spend the night here since we wanted some peace and quiet. However, if you prefer the nightlife, you can stay in  Catania , an important city in Eastern Sicily. It’s just 20 minutes away and even has an international airport.

If your  Sicily driving itinerary  includes an overnight stay in Aci Trezza, I recommend having dinner at  La Cambusa del Capitano .

Day 5 of your road trip through Sicily – Recommended accommodations

For day 5 of your  Sicily road trip , these are the top hotels in Aci Trezza and Catania:

  • Ciclope Resort – Aci Trezza
  • Il Principe Hotel Catania – Catania
  • Duomo Luxury Suites – Catania

Day 6: Syracuse – An essential stop on your route through Sicily by car

♦   70 miles (1 hr 40 min by car)

If you spent the night in Aci Trezza, I suggest waking up early to enjoy the beautiful sunrise as it lights up the Faraglioni. Then, hop in the car, and drive about 1.5 hours to  Syracuse , another can’t-miss stop on your  10-day Sicily itinerary .

Syracuse is special because it’s one of the most historical Greek cities in Italy. While there are lots of attractions you can visit in  Syracuse in one day , I recommend booking  this tour , which will make the most of your time while teaching you more about the history of the town.

Syracuse, 10 day in Sicily itinerary

During the tour, you’ll visit the  Archaeological Park of Neapolis , where you’ll see a Greek amphitheater, the altar of Hiero II, the Ear of Dionysius cave, and the Greek theater. The tour also includes a stop on the island of  Ortygia  in the historical center of Syracuse. There, you’ll visit the Cathedral of Syracuse, the Fountain of Arethusa, the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, and other tourist attractions.

If you have time in the afternoon, I suggest going to the protected marine area of Plemmirio, which is just 20 minutes outside the city and boasts hidden coves.

Finally, take a break at  La Cambusa  in Ortygia, where you can enjoy some delicious food.

Day 6 of your Sicily road trip – Recommended accommodations

On the sixth night of your  10-day Sicily road trip , I suggest staying overnight in Ortygia so you can see this beautiful city at night. Here are my top hotel recommendations:

  • Hotel Livingston
  • Hotel Gargallo
  • Hotel Henry’s House

Day 7: Noto, Modica, and Ragusa – Must-sees on your 10-day Sicily itinerary

♦   55 miles (1 hr 45 min by car)

On day 7 of your  driving tour of Sicily , you’ll get to explore the southeastern part of the island. This area suffered a magnitude 7.4 earthquake in 1963, in which nearly all the buildings collapsed. Afterward, the city attempted to rebuild the area in a style that later became known as Sicilian Baroque.

The three most important cities here are Noto, Modica, and Ragusa.  Noto , which is referred to as the Garden of Stone and an excellent example of Sicilian Baroque, is a must-see on your  10-day Sicily itinerary  if you want to witness this distinct architectural style.

Noto, Modica, and Ragusa, 10 days in Sicily

Modica  is known for manufacturing cocoa, and the chocolate they produce here is made through a cold brewing process, similar to what the Aztecs did. Here, you can find the  Antica Dolceria Bonajuto , the oldest chocolate factory in Sicily.

Finally,  Ragusa  is a lovely town perched on a hill, and from here, you can see the areas affected by the famous earthquake. I suggest looking through our guide on  what to see in southeast Sicily  to find more things to do around Noto, Modica, and Ragusa.

On the other hand, if you prefer nature over history and architecture, you can skip one of these cities and instead go to the  Cavagrande del Cassibile Nature Reserve . Here, you’ll find lovely natural pools where you can swim and relax.

Day 7 of your Sicily road trip – Recommended accommodations

After this seventh day of  driving around Sicily , I recommend stopping in Ragusa since it’s the closest to your next stop. These are my favorite hotels in the area:

  • Itria Palace
  • De Stefano Palace Luxury Hotel
  • Iblaresort Boutique Hotel

Day 8: Agrigento and Scala dei Turchi – Essential stops on your Sicily road trip

♦   85 miles (2 hrs 20 min by car)

On your eighth day traveling around  Sicily by car , you’ll visit Agrigento, which has the best-preserved Greek temples in the world. Here, you’ll find the Valley of the Temples, a highlight on any Sicily itinerary.

The Valley of the Temples, a  UNESCO  World Heritage Site, is an archaeological expanse containing several important ruins, such as the temples of Hera, Hephaestus, and Heracles. All of these temples are well-preserved, except for that of Hephaestus.

Agrigento and Scala dei Turchi, itinerary Sicily 10 days

Visiting all of the temples in one day just isn’t possible, but this  e-scooter tour  will help you see the most famous ones while learning some little-known details you might have otherwise missed.

During day 8 of your  10-day Sicily itinerary , you can also visit the  Scala dei Turchi  (Staircase of the Turks). This white stone cliff has taken on a peculiar shape thanks to years of wind and water erosion, and it’s quite a popular sight, so I highly recommend it!

Day 8 of your route through Sicily by rental car – Recommended accommodations

After an intense day exploring the Valley of the Temples and Scala dei Turchi, you’ll want to sleep in a comfortable bed. Here are the best hotels in Agrigento:

  • Hotel Villa Athena
  • Diodorus Luxury Experience
  • Doric Boutique Hotel

Day 9: Selinunte, Marsala, and Trapani – The best things to see on your Sicily road trip

♦   105 miles (3 hrs by car)

On your 9th day  driving around Sicily , you’ll return to the western side of the island. It’s a lot of driving, so I recommend an early wake-up call so you can get on the road as early as possible.

As you make your way to Trapani, you might want to stop at  Selinunte , an archaeological site with ancient temples. While many of the structures are in ruins and it’s not clear who they’re devoted to, they’re still quite interesting.

Selinunte, Marsala, and Trapani, road trip in Sicily

Another pitstop I recommend is  Marsala , which is known for its amazing wine. There is no better way to enjoy this town than by taking a  winery tour with wine tasting .

Once in  Trapani , be sure to visit the beautiful historic center, which is free of cars. Here, you can walk around and discover the most intriguing attractions, such as Via Garibaldi, which is full of Baroque palaces. Also, be sure to walk along Via Vittorio Emanuele and check out the churches. After all, Trapani is known as “the city of 100 churches.”

Finally, end this portion of your  Sicily road trip with a visit to the Trapani Salt Pans, which take on an incredible glow at sunset.

Day 9 of your road trip through Sicily – Recommended accommodations

These are the best accommodations in Trapani so you can recharge for the final day of your  driving tour through Sicily :

  • Badia Nuova Apart Hotel
  • Hotel San Michele
  • Crystal Hotel

Day 10: Zingaro Nature Reserve – The last stop on your 10-day Sicily itinerary

For the last day on your  10-day Sicily itinerary , I recommend passing through  Erice , a gorgeous medieval town overlooking the water from nearly 2,500 feet above sea level. From here, you can get amazing views of the Trapani Salt Flats and the Aegadian Islands.

After this quick stop, you can visit the  Zingaro Nature Reserve , which boasts some of Sicily’s most incredible natural landscapes. While there are several trails, I recommend the one that runs along the coast and passes by a few coves and wild beaches. It’s a great way to see the native flora and fauna, too.

Zingaro Nature Reserve, road trip to Sicily

After a pleasant day in nature, continue your  driving route through Sicily  by heading back to Palermo.

On the way to the capital city, you can visit the  Temple of Segesta , which is in the city of the same name. While its construction was never completed, the temple has become one of the most impressive in Sicily, so it’s a must-see.

Day 10 of your road trip through Sicily – Recommended accommodations

For your last night in Sicily, I suggest booking a room at one of the hotels I recommended in Palermo. If you have some time before your flight, you might want to spend some time exploring the capital city, visiting some places you couldn’t see your first time here.

If you’re short on time and have to catch an early flight, I recommend staying at a hotel near the airport:

  • Residence Villa Rosa dei Venti
  • Hotel Il Pirata
  • CDSHotels Terrasini – Città del Mare

There you have it, a full itinerary to explore  Sicily by car in 10 days . All that’s left to do is start packing your bags!

Of course, you can modify this  Sicily driving tour  by skipping some attractions or adding a few more. If you don’t have that much time, I suggest skipping the Aeolian Islands and Stromboli. On the other hand, if you can afford an extra day or two, the Aegadian Islands are worth visiting, and  this excursion  from Trapani makes it very easy.

Finally, if you have any questions about the attractions and places in this guide, check out our article on the  best things to do in Sicily . You can also leave me a comment below and I’ll try to help you as much as I can.

I hope you enjoy your  road trip through Sicily  as much as we enjoyed ours! Happy travels!

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best road trip sicily

Ascen Aynat

[:es]Imagen usada en presupuestos de viaje[:en]Image used in travel budgets[:]

17 replies on “ Sicily by Car – 10-Day Road Trip to Sicily ”

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I’m planning a 14 night trip to Sicily with a car rental. Thinking of landing in Catania and: 3-4 nights Ortigia with trips to Noto, Ragusa, Modica, Marzamemi), 4 nights Taormina, 2 nights Cefalù, 4 nights Castellamare del Golfo with trips to San Vito Lo Capo, Scopelly, Trapani, Erice, Favignana, Segesta. Fly out of Palermo.

Do you have any suggestions on the itinerary? Are 4 nights in Ortigia too much? Would you break up the 4 nights in Castellamare to 2 nights in Castellamare and 2 nights in Trapani?

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What route could you recommend…renting a car. Landing in Catania…want to visit Catania, Taormina, etna, Siracusa (the island specifically ) cefalu, agrigento, trapani & Palermo…. I was thinking of a few days in Catania-without a car…day trip company to etna, Taormina, transit to Siracusa for 1-2 nights on the island, back in Siracusa grab a car to travel west, return upon arrival in Palermo, then visit there for last couple days before our overnight ferry to Naples. OR Fly into Palermo, no car for a few days and visit trapani with a group tour, rent car on way out of Palermo to agrigento, Siracusa etc, Catania, etna, Taormina, cefalu, return to Palermo.

Thoughts? We thought we could take trains/busses but I’m hearing horror stories of schedules not being followed, broken down trains slower than busses…but busses are a free for all a few Sicilian bloggers said… my mom is 79 and is not prepared to elbow her way onto a bus lol

Sicily 12-13 days. Then 4 days a Amalfi coast, 2 nights Ischia, 2 Capri. 1 night Rome before departure.

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Hi Janine, I liked your second itinerary better. I do recommend renting a car. Public transport in Sicily is not very reliable and you will save time renting your own car.

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Enjoyed your blog. My husband and I plan to go this fall. We don’t speak Italian. Did you have trouble communicating, especially in smaller towns, or do you speak the language? I’ve been to a small town in Sicily about 4 years ago when my brother lived there. No one spoke English. So when I wasn’t with him, the only way I could communicate with the hotel staff (my shower door is broken; my hairdryer isn’t working, etc. ) was using a translation app. Now we’re considering hiring a tour company where we’d have a driver/interpreter. But you did it on your own. What problems, if any, did you run into? Thanks!

Dan lived in Italy for one year and can speak Italian. I don’t speak Italian but I remember communicating in English with no issues.

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This looks like a terrific 10 day trip. How do we modify it if we arrive from the car ferry at Messina please? We are planning to travel to Sicily and drive in September 2022.

You are going to have so much fun! If you are arriving in Messina, just start with day 4 in our 10-day Sicily Road Trip itinerary (Taormina) and get to day 1-3 at the end of your trip.

Let me know if you have any other questions, Ascen

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Wonderful summary! Thank you for this. Can you please clarify more on the car parking, driving and usefulness? We essentially want to do the same trip in a couple of weeks but unsure how a car can be accommodated (do we have to pay parking fees everywhere? Are roads easy to navigate?)

Another question: your trip was in July, which I assume is pretty hot weather – did you not need to be near the water/pools to cool off? Thanks a lot!

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Thanks Rasha,

Driving in Sicily can be chaotic in big cities like Palermo or Catania, but it’s generally fine across the island. In some small popular towns and villages there are parking fees, like in Taormina, but we parked for free in most of the locations.

As regards the Sicilian heat, there are incredible beaches and delicious Sicilian ice creams to cool off 😉

Have fun in your trip! Dan

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Hi Ascen, We are completing a 8 night road trip around Sicily in May 2020. Your blog is excellent and my husband is addicted to a good pizza so not doubt we will try your recommendation in Taormina. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. Leanne

Great! You will find plenty of nice places where you can eat great pizzas. I miss Italy so much! Ascen

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This is a wonderfully comprehensive 10 day itinerary to visit the north! I’ve been checking out many blogs since I plan to go in May 2020. Yours is one of the best if not the BEST! Please continue!! Could you do a 10 day itinerary for the South? How about one for seniors and one for families? Thank you and safe travels for the future.

Hi Marietta,

Thanks for your nice words!

We’ll try to add more itinerary options for the South in the future. Enjoy your trip to Sicily this year!

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Awesome blog. Keep up the good work guys !

Thanks Antony! Glad to see you found our blog useful!

Have a nice trip in Sicily 😉

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Really awesome. Loved it. Keep sharing your experience! Fantastically photographed!

Thank you Sarah! Thanks for your kind words 😉

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best road trip sicily

The Road Reel

14-Day Sicily Itinerary: An Epic Sicily Road Trip (+map)

Planning a two week Sicily road trip itinerary and looking for the most interesting places to visit, things to do, and the best route to take? I got you covered with my detailed 14 day Sicily itinerary (extendable to 16 days).

Although it is impossible to see absolutely everything on the biggest Italian island in just a couple of weeks or even one month, the good news is that two weeks in Sicily by car is enough time to visit different parts of the island . In just a couple of weeks, you can drive the perimeter of the island from west to east and north to south and see the best of Sicily’s natural and historical sights, and experience intriguing Sicilian culture .

From pristine Sicilian beaches and postcard-perfect coastal towns like Cefalù to the greatest baroque architecture of Val di Noto, chaotic but charming streets of Palermo, climbing the smoking Etna volcano, and wandering back in time through the alleyways of mysterious medieval villages in Madonie mountains, just to name a few highlights and must-visit places included to this two-week road trip in Sicily route .

Moreover, to help you easily plan an unforgettable trip, besides the best places to visit in Sicily and fantastic things to do , I also include driving distances and times , suggestions for accommodation, and great places to eat in each location. I also share some useful miscellaneous tips about traveling in Sicily.

Following my ultimate Sicily in 2 weeks itinerary, you will discover not only popular places but also many wonderful hidden gems where the authentic Sicilian experience unfolds.

Keep on reading to find out how to visit Sicily in two weeks and see the best of this Italian island!

Sicily road trip itinerary- cefalu a guy on motorcycle in old harbor

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). This helps to keep my blog running and growing by creating more awesome free content for you.

14-day Sicily itinerary

2 weeks in sicily road trip itinerary overview (14-16 days).

  • DAY 1 Catania
  • DAY 2 Agira and Gagliano Castelferrato
  • DAY 3 Gangi (Madonie mountains)
  • DAY 4 Cefalù
  • DAY 5-6 Palermo
  • DAY 7-8 Castellammare dell Golfo and Zingaro Nature reserve
  • DAY 9 Favignana island
  • DAY 10-11 Trapani
  • DAY 12- 13 Ragusa (with an optional stop at Valley of Temples) and Modica
  • DAY 14 Syracuse
  • DAY 15 Etna hike (with an optional afternoon in Taormina)
  • DAY 16 Catania (flight day)

Total distance: approx. 1158 km (720 miles)

Time on the road: approx. 18.5 hrs

Travel essentials for 2 weeks in Sicily, Italy

  • My TOP TIP : The best way to explore Sicily is by self-driving. Rent a car at the best rates at Discover Cars .
  • Best flight deals: Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest and fastest flights to Sicily from your location.
  • Sleep: find your perfect accommodation in Sicily on .
  • TRAVEL INSURANCE: get 5% off your insurance by using my link on Heymondo , a travel insurance provider. For the cheapest travel insurance on the market check SafetyWing .
  • eSIM CARD: Stay connected before you land. Airlo offers an eSIM card with up to 20 GB (7 to 30 days) data packages for Italy and Europe.

6 useful things to know before heading on a road trip to Sicily

1. how many days do you need to see the entire island of sicily.

You need at least 10 days to cover the full perimeter of Sicily at a quite fast pace. However, the reasonable amount would be a minimum of 14 days to see the highlights of Sicily at a medium pace, spending 1, 2, or 3 nights in each place of interest. Ideally, I would recommend 3 weeks to even a month for a slow-paced trip. This would allow exploring not only the mainland of Sicily but also include several days of island hopping on Aeolian islands.

2. What is the best way to get around Sicily?

The best and easiest way to independently explore Sicily is by car. Public transport connects bigger cities like Palermo, Catania, Syracuse, Agrigento, and Trapani. However, getting to the smaller towns, the transportation is not as frequent, and commuting time is much slower than by a car. Also, some wonderful mountain villages or secluded beaches are only accessible by private transport.

Therefore, renting a car for a trip to Sicily was a no-brainer for us. It also allows moving around at your own pace.

I found the best car rental prices for my road trip in Sicily with DiscoverCars.

Rent a Car in Sicily

Look for the best rates for your rental car at Discovercars.

RELATED READS: If you are wondering, what is it like to drive in Sicily , you may want to read my post about it here .

old men sitting on the bench next to blue fiat- sicily driving tips

3. How long does it take to drive around Sicily?

Just to give you a rough idea of the driving times in Sicily, it takes approximately 3-4 hours to tackle around 300 km from East to West.

For example, Trapani to Catania is 3.5 hours drive (315 KM), and similarly, Palermo to Syracuse is 3 hours drive covering 260 KM. Going into the hinterland of Sicily may take around 1-2 hours from the coast, depending on the exact location. In general, driving in central Sicily through the mountain villages is slower than touring the main roads around the coast.

However, you won’t be driving long distances on this road trip every single day. In fact, there is only one day on this itinerary that requires a very long drive from Trapani to Ragusa with a stop in between.

4. Getting to Sicily

There are 3 main international airports in Sicily. You will most certainly land at one of them. They are located in Trapani in the West, Catania in the East, and Palermo (capital city of Sicily) in the North West.

It is also possible to reach Sicily by ferry. One of the main ports connecting Sicily to the mainland of Italy is Messina (the eastern part). This would be an entry point for those of you traveling by road from Southern Italy (as we did).

Also, there is a long-distance ferry from Napoli and Salerno which takes around 11 hours to reach Sicily at the port of Palermo.

5. Where should I go- East or West Sicily?

Your entry point to Sicily and the duration of your stay will most likely determine which part of the island you will choose to explore.

If you have anything less than 10 days to spare, focus either just on the Eastern or the Western part of the island. That being said, if you land in Catania, your best bet is to explore the eastern and southeastern parts of Sicily. On another hand, if you are landing in Palermo or Trapani, with limited time in mind, focus on the west and northwest side of the island. In this case, you will also have an option to add a day trip to Egadian islands which are just a short 30min ride by ferry from Trapani.

If you have a couple of weeks or more, you can then aim to tour the whole island.

  • Related reads: 30+ Useful Sicily Travel Tips .

6. What is the best time to visit Sicily?

The best time to visit Sicily is from the end of April-May and September to the beginning of October. These months are the shoulder season for traveling in Sicily.

You can expect pleasant temperatures on the coast and very few tourists. Have in mind that the water in May can still be a little chilly but it is already suitable to swim. Meanwhile, the temperature in the mountains can drop as low as 8 degrees Celsius, so plan to take some layers.

In September, on another hand, water temperatures are perfect, keeping the warmth accumulated during the summer heat. Also, the national Italian holiday season (which is in August) is already over, so crowds are fewer and accommodation prices are lower.

I would suggest avoiding July and August if you can as those are the most expensive and busy months to travel in Sicily.

The off-season would be suitable for those of you who do not care about swimming and just want to enjoy Sicilian culture and food.

How much does it cost to travel in Sicily?

These are the main expenses for traveling around Sicily. The estimates are based on this 14-16 days road trip route, taking into account car rental, petrol, accommodation, food, and attractions.

  • Petrol cost for two weeks- 185 EUR- based on the estimated distance of this route and petrol consumption of 8 L per 100 KM, with petrol price averaging at 2 EUR/L. (in Italy petrol prices range from 1.8 EUR to 2.2 EUR)
  • Accommodation cos t – 50 EUR-150 EUR per night for 2 people.
  • Car rental cost – 20 EUR per day (budget, but can be double or even more if booked last minute).
  • Dinner (eating out)- 20-30 EUR per person with starter and main, and one drink.
  • Pizza (any time of the day)- 5-12 EUR per pizza (depending on the place).
  • Coffee- 1EUR for an espresso, 1.5EUR-2 EUR for a cappuccino or latte macchiato.
  • Dolce (pastries)- 1EUR-3EUR per pastry.
  • Soft drinks- 2 EUR for sparkling water or soft drinks like coca-cola at a bar/restaurant.
  • Alcohol – 3-7 EUR for a glass of wine or an Aperol spritz.
  • Museums/Churches – 3EUR-15EUR per entrance (the most we paid for the entrance was at Norman Palace in Palermo and Monreale Cathedral in Monreale).

The estimated average daily spending per person (based on a trip for 2 people) is around 110 EUR per day . Definitely, the cost can be higher or lower. The factor that can hugely influence the budget is accommodation and daily meals. The cost of petrol is more or less fixed, car rental is whatever the best deal you can get .

Our 2-week Sicily Road Trip Route Map

About this 2-week Sicily itinerary (14-16 days)

This itinerary for a 2-week road trip in Sicily is a loop starting and ending in Catania. Although originally, we travelled to Sicily from the South of Italy, crossing the strait of Messina from Villa San Giovani by ferry (with a car).

My Sicily itinerary is a bit unconventional compared to what you may find on other blogs. It focuses more on the off-the-beaten path places around the island rather than ticking off all the tourist hotspots. However, I still have included several popular and well-known destinations such as Cefalu seaside town, or the capital Palermo, for example.  

Following this route, in 14 days we visited a selection of amazing places in the east, north, west, and south of Sicily . At each destination, we spent 1 or 2 nights, depending on how many points of interest were in the area. Each day we tried to limit driving time to a couple of hours only. However, a couple of days are required to be on the road longer. Nonetheless, we made sure to have some nice pit stops along the way.

For a dynamic trip in Sicily experience, I included a mix of everything: beaches and mountains, nature reserves as well as atmospheric medieval hilltop towns, colorful markets, and cultural sights featuring the finest baroque architecture. That being said, it is a must to have a car to reach some of the locations on this Sicily road trip route.

a man sitting on a colorful boat surrounded by many boats in Aspra town in Sicily

At a glimpse at my 2-week itinerary, you may notice that some of the most popular touristic hotspots like Taormina, or Valley of Temples in Agrigento are not included (even though you can find them recommended in almost every blog and travel guide).

The reason behind my choice is that I prioritized more local experience, and exploring beyond the most famous attractions. If I had more time in Sicily, I might have stopped at some of those touristy places too.

Nonetheless, every traveler has different interests and preferences. Therefore, I still have mentioned the most popular sights in Sicily that you could add to your itinerary.

We traveled during the second and third week of May which proved to be a perfect time before the busy tourist season takes full swing.

best road trip sicily

Sicily in 2 weeks: road trip itinerary day by day

Day 1: catania (1 night).

If you land in Catania, your Sicily journey starts and ends in the second biggest town of Sicily. If you are not planning to spend more than one night in Catania at the beginning of your trip, I recommend immediately picking up your rental car at Catania airport (also returning it to the same airport will save a huge amount on your car rental costs).

In case you decide to allocate more time in Catania and are not planning on driving outside the city, then you can pick up your car later. I also recommend doing it at the airport as it is cheaper than in the city.

Nonetheless, having limited time in Sicily, I suggest spending a day in Catania itself for the main sights as there are so many more other interesting things to see in Sicily.

best road trip sicily


Catania is the second biggest city in Sicily (after the capital Palermo). Originally founded by Greeks in 729 BC, and later conquered by Romans around 250 BC, Catania, just like all of Sicily, underwent numerous conquests. Besides Greeks and Romans, Normans, Arabs, Byzantines, and Spaniards passed by leaving their footsteps.

As if that was not enough challenge, in the middle ages, the city was destroyed by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and then rebuilt in Baroque architecture style in the 18 th century.

Today Catania is a bustling town where you can experience an authentic urban lifestyle of Sicily, and admire some of the most impressive architecture.

Top tip: avoid driving in Catania. The town is walkable. Leave your car at the accommodation and go for a “passeggiata” (a nice stroll around the town in Italian).

Main things to do and see in Catania- quick list:

  • Start from Piazza del Duomo (with the famous elephant fountain) and the Duomo di Catania (Catania Cathedral)
  • Stop by at Pescheria- a local fish market, just behind the Piazza del Duomo. This particular activity would be interesting for street photographers. Note that it is quite a stinky and bloody experience. The fish market is open daily in the mornings (except on weekends).
  • Take Via Etnea- a famous street from where you can see the famous Etna volcano in the background.
  • Head to Piazza dell’Universita and explore pallazo dell’Universita and pallazo San Guiliano- two famous palaces in Catania
  • If you still have more time, visit Villa Bellini Gardens characterized by its many fountains.
  • Finally, if you love peeking into churches, then head to Via Crociferi  to see  the Benedictine Monastery of San Nicolò l’Arena .

If you prefer some guidance when visiting cities, then it is worth checking this Catania Walking Tour , or if you are a food lover, the Food tour of Catania by night offers some off-the-beaten path experiences.

sicily road trip itinerary- a woman with a dog in sicily street


There is no shortage of fantastic accommodation choices in Catania. After doing some research, I shortlisted the following B&B’s and apartments

Casa Verdi- House for Travelers – 9.7/10-beautiful rooms and dorms for travelers on a budget, 23 EUR/ 24.5 USD. Find out more HERE .

Living Suite Catania Pacini – 10/10- beautifully decorated rooms with ornamental tiles, featuring a private balcony. Central location close to Piazza del Duomo and other points of interest in Catania. 57 EUR / 62 USD per night. Click HERE for more info.

Minimal Chich Teatro Massimo Bellini – 10/10- as the name suggests this is a contemporary chic duplex apartment featuring an elevated bedroom accessible by a staircase, including a washing machine (a rare find), and is situated in the historic center of Catania. 96 EUR/103 USD per night. Find out more HERE .

Gorgeous Flat with Opera view- 10/10- truly pretty authentic one-bedroom apartment in a historic building in the heart of Catania. 152 EUR/ 163 USD. Find out more HERE .

Le Suited Del Duomo -9.3/10- right in the Piazza del Duomo, modern rooms with spa bath, 132 EUR/ 141 USD. Click HERE to book.


When in Catania, stop by at Comis Ice Café for a fantastic gelato, pistachio granita, and awesome cannoli.

If you love to eat fish, Fishiaria restaurant has great reviews and yummy-looking dishes.

DAY 2: Agira and  Gagliano Castelferrato (overnight in Agira)

  • Driving distance:  approx. 85 KM (53 miles)
  • Total driving time:  approx. 1 HR 20 MIN
  • Stops:  Gagliano Castelferrato

Gagliano Castelferrato

On the second day, head directly to the heart of Sicily following scenic roads with mount Etna views along the way. When I was looking for less explored places in Sicily, I have come across a magical town in Enna province called Gagliano Castelferrato (iron castle). Guarded by the craggy rock, the ancient town is said to be founded in 1900 BC, originally named Galaria.

Gagliano Castelferrato is not yet under the tourists’ radar but it has already been named one of the most beautiful villages in Italy ( Borghi più belli d’Italia ). Indeed, the name is well deserved taking into account the intriguing setup of the town that features a Gothic town center, an ancient rock castle, and splendid panoramic mountain views all around.

Nestled at the foothills of the imposing rock and surrounded by lush green valleys, Gagliano Castelferrato reminds me of Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa in the Basilicata region of South Italy.

A few things you can do in this small gorgeous mountain town of Sicily are to wander around its quiet streets and visit Chiesa Madre San Cataldo- the 14th-century church set atop the town with beautiful views all around.

Also, climb the Rocca Castle for even better panoramic views and a mini-workout. The ancient castle is carved directly into the rock backing up the town of Gagliano Castelferrato.

Initially, I was willing to spend a night in this magical place, however, there was no accommodation to be found. Therefore, I picked a place to sleep in the nearest town of Agira (6 KM from Gagliano Castelferrato).

drone shot of gagliano castelferrato- mountain town

Initially planned as an overnight spot, Agira turned out to be a picturesque age-old town perched atop the steep hill (mount Teja). I have to admit, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that our blindly picked mountain village is also a very charming medieval settlement boasting panoramic views of Mount Etna.

According to the legend, the village of Agira was founded before the Trojan war by Greeks in 1194 BC, and was originally called Agyrion, with the name derived from the violent Sicilian tyrant Agyris.

The lively historic town center is situated around the piazza Francesco Crispi and Parrocchia S. Antonio Da Padova church .

There are numerous churches worth visiting, including two fine Norman examples, the remains of an Arab-Byzantine fortress and a synagogue, testifying to the presence of a Jewish population several hundred years ago.

A little further away from the historic center, you can find a neighborhood of the Rocche di San Pietro which dates back to Arab times in Sicily. Called Arab Quarter, it is one of the last places in Sicily entirely attributable to Arab art.

Fun Fact: Apparently Agira was recently put back on the map due to an enormous Sicilia Outlet Village- a shopping town with over 100 boutiques dedicated to discounted fashion products from high-end brands such as Prada, Armani, Versace, and similar.

a man crossing a street in agira town in sicily


There are only a few accommodation options to choose from in Agira:

Talia – 9.5/10 cozy bright rooms with private bathroom and American breakfast. 72 EUR/ 77 EUR. Find out more HERE .

Case al Borgo- Agira Centre – 9.3/10 provides apartments around Agira, some with fantastic views overlooking the mountains, breakfast included. Management features the restaurant, free wi-fi, garden and a swimming pool. 89 EUR/ 95 USD. For more info click HERE .

Casa Albergo La Terza Stella – 8.4/10. We stayed here. Instead of a room as described on Booking, we got the whole one-bed apartment in the historic center of Agira. Run by a local photographer Franco (we suspect it was his own bachelor apartment) accommodation was simple but good enough for one night. A classic Italian breakfast of pastry and coffee was served at a bar downstairs. 60 EUR/64 USD. You can find out more HERE .


Belvedere – a cheap restaurant offering local food on a terrace with fantastic panoramic views.

Bottega delle Cassatelle – a pastry shop that sells one of the best typical deserts in Sicily- Cassatelle di Agira – a pastry filled with chocolate and dried fruit. In fact, Agira town was the only place we could find this pastry and it is one of the best!

DAY 3: Gangi (1 night)

  • Driving distance:  approx. 52 KM (32 miles)
  • Total driving time:  approx. 1 HR 10 MIN
  • Stops:  Sperlinga

On day 3, we make our way to one of my absolute favorite places in Sicily- a mysterious Gangi (pronounced “gan-chee”), located in the province of Palermo. Surrounded by spectacular Madonie mountains and overlooking mount Etna, the early days of Gangi are tied to the mythical Greek city of Engyon.

Named the most beautiful village in Italy , Gangi dates back to 1200 BC and was founded by Cretans. It was destroyed during the War of Sicilian Vespers and rebuilt approximately in the 1300s of this era. This is how we know the Gangi of today.

The town of Gangi raises up in layers of bright color houses glued side to side like a Lego game. While dozens of narrow cobblestone streets zigzag between the buildings leading your way up the Marone Mount, which is the base of Gangi.

Gangi is a true hidden gem filled with rich history and charm. Once a ghost village, selling abandoned homes for 1 EUR, today it seems to slowly come to life and gain a little bit of attention from a few curious travelers like myself.

At the time of our visit, Gangi was covered in fog. Although mount Etna was nowhere to be seen due to the weather, we will forever remember the mysterious atmosphere of the streets in the clouds.

RELATED READS: Check my complete guide to Gangi mountain town in Sicily, Italy .

medieval mountain town aerial shot in sicily

Other places to visit near Gangi

Madonie mountains are home to many historical villages. You can easily base yourself in Gangi for a couple of nights and explore other frozen back-in-time medieval villages like Petralia Soprana, Petralia Sotanna, Polizzi Generose, or Sperlinga.  Also, Madonie mountains are a perfect place to have some wifi detox. Internet, although available in most of the accommodations, is as slow as the life of the mountain villages.

Finally, if walking up and down the steep cobblestone streets hasn’t made your legs tired yet, you can try some of the many hiking trails . There are some wonderful trekking routes of different lengths and difficulty levels in the Madonie National Park.


B&B IL GALLETTO R. – 9.4/10- We stayed at this cozy and comfortable homestay with easy parking (important!) situated almost at the top of the town, in close proximity to the main historical parts and a couple of good local restaurants. Included breakfast was fantastic and plentiful (sweet as usual in Sicily). 50 EUR/ 54 USD per night. Click HERE for more info.

RESIDENCE VENTIMIGLIA – 9.6/10- modern and bright apartment in the heart of Gangi, features a terrace with mountain views and is a perfect option for a longer stay. It also includes a sweet Sicilian breakfast available to have in the café outside the apartment. 90 EUR/96 USD per night. Find out more HERE .


Baglio Tramontana -we had one of the best dinners in Sicily in this pizza restaurant which also offered a selection of different kinds of pasta (the porcini mushroom tagliatelle was incredible), and pizza was great as well.

Capricci di Gola – a pastry shop in the lower part of the town which had an amazing selection of different local sweets and coffee.

a man walking in a foggy street of Gangi in Sicily

DAY 4: Cefal ù (1 night)

  • Driving distance:  approx. 60 KM (37 miles)
  • Suggested stops:  Castelbuono

On day 4 we left the misty Madonie mountains in search of sunshine. We headed to one of the most picturesque seaside towns in North Sicily- Cefalù . Nestled at the foothills of an imposing rock, and washed by the salty waters of the Tyrrhenian sea, Cefalù (pronounced shef-a-loo) is an ancient fishing port featuring a picture-perfect beach set against the old town walls.

Today Cefalù is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sicily, attracting thousands of sun-seekers during the summer months. Luckily we were traveling during the shoulder season, the beginning of May. But even at this time, the main street Corso Ruggero in the old town of Cefalù was quite busy. Especially at the Piazza del Duomo. It was packed with hundreds of visitors during the day.

Nonetheless, chilly water and stormy weather kept Spiaggia di Cefalù (Cefalù beach) completely empty. And since swimming was only for the bravest that day, we opted to explore the charming backstreets of the old town without the crowds.

drone shot of cefalu town in sicily

Here are a few things you can do while in Cefalù:

  • Enjoy the sunshine and swim at Spiaggia di Cefalù o(also called Spiaggia del Porto Vecchio -the iconic Cefalù beach backed by rustic old buildings) or Spiaggia Libera (free beach stretching along the promenade leading to the old town)
  • Wander and get lost in the backstreets of the historical center in Cefalù. Here you will find plenty of gelaterias to grab a granita or brioche with gelato, and also countless souvenir shops and hidden restaurants.
  • Sip a coffee at the bustling Piazza del Duomo . This is the most touristic spot in Cefalù. But if crowds are not your scene, come to Piazza del Duomo after sunset- the plaza is empty and Duomo during the blue hour looks way more magical than during the day.
  • Hike up La Rocca di Cefalù to Castello di Cefalù (castle) for wonderful views of the orange roofs of the old town and a coastline stretching all the way to Palermo in the west and Capo d’Orlando in the east (284 m elevation gain).
  • Find the medieval wash house ( lavatoio medievale ) located on Via Vittorio Emanuelle . Wrapped in a myth of being built of the river flowing with tears of a nymph who cried over her dead lover, Lavatoio is a wonderful example of the life in Cefalù back in old days.
  • Catch the sunset at the old harbor of Cefalù. This place is magically beautiful. I simply couldn’t put my camera away. The dramatically dark clouds rolling over La Rocca with the sun casting over the facades of old buildings is a dream come true scene for photography lovers. The best iconic views can be caught at the end of the cement outcrop stretching into the sea from the small harbor beach.

a man with red umbrella walking on a rainy street in cefalu at night, sicily


Cefalù is one of the most popular places to visit in Sicily, therefore booking accommodation well in advance is strongly recommended. Prices of accommodation are also higher than in other places around Sicily. If you are driving, I recommend looking for a place NOT in the historic center but somewhere nearby within a walking distance. Also, check if the hotel or homestay offers free parking, if at all.

Villa Margherita – 9/10 – We stayed here. Villa turned mini-hotel with a very helpful owner who even spoke English (not common in Sicily). Great breakfast was included (with savory options too). Villa has a big private inner yard to park your car safely and the historic town is no more than 10 min away, beach just a few steps away. 102 EUR/ 110 USD for the month of June (was slightly cheaper in May). Click HERE for more info.

Amori di Sicilia – 10/10- 2-bedroom apartment. If you are looking for fully equipped accommodation in the historical center of Cefalu, maybe for a longer stay, this might be a good option. Downside- no parking available.111 EUR/ 120 USD per night. Find out more HERE .

Hotel La Plumeria – 8.8/10- Hotel at the heart of Cefalu, offering rooms with fantastic balconies overlooking the old town, towers of Duomo and La Rocca, free parking, continental breakfast included. 152 EUR/ 163 USD per night. Find more info HERE .


Options of places to eat in Cefalù old town are countless. However, the best places with fewer tourists are always in the backstreets and not on the main road. Via Carlo Ortolani di Bordonaro, almost at the back of the old town has some hidden away cozy places, some of them set on the seafront.

  • Al Ristoro Di Re Ruggero is one of them-offers warm and welcoming service and great local food.
  • Squagghio Icecream is also on Via Carlo Ortolani di Bordonaro. This was our gelateria to go with one of the most amazing real mango ice creams I ever had in my life (the second one was in Portugal).

lady in purple dress, men in suits and little girls in white princess dresses on a wedding photoshoot in sant'ellia town in sicily

DAY 5-6: Palermo (2 nights)

  • Driving distance:  approx. 76 KM (47 miles)
  • Total driving time:  approx. 1 HR 30 MIN
  • Stops:  Sant’Elia, Aspra

The rough, unpolished, crumbling down, loud and chaotic but undeniably charismatic Palermo is a complete contrast to everything else I saw in Sicily.

In the capital of Sicily, you can experience authentic unfiltered city life. You see people hustling to make their living at the doorsteps of the most enchanting gold-plated churches, and head-spinning palaces. Quite a number of immigrants from Africa and Bangladesh are calling Palermo their home- something you don’t find in small towns of Sicily.

Wide streets dotted with glorious architecture, busy markets, billions of bars and street food stalls, dodgy alleyways, beggars, completely confused tourists, religious ceremonies- there were so many things going on at the same time in Palermo.

Surprisingly, spending a couple of days in Palermo was like a fresh breather and a curiosity boost after the sleepy mountain towns and slow-paced fishing villages.

drone shot of palermo fountain of fame and mount pelegrino in the background

Things you can do in Palermo:

  • Treat your senses with sounds, smells, sights, and flavors at Ballaro morning market . Coming to full life at around 10-11 AM, a colorful and authentic like back in old days market will offer quite an entertainment. The highlight is the cheerful vendors shouting and singing serenades about their strawberries. You can find fantastic street food, bread, vegetables, meat, fish, home utensils, and clothes- they sell it all at the best prices at Ballaro in Palermo.
  • Visit the famous architectural monuments- Cathedral of Palermo, Palace of Normans with golden mosaics of Palatine chapel , admire the red domes of the  St. John of the Hermits church, Martorana and Santa Caterina Churches and fountain of shame ( Fontana Pretoria ).
  • Stroll through pedestrian streets of Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda intersecting at Quattro Canti (four corners)- the heart of the historic district of Palermo.
  • Try as much street food in Palermo as you can because it is said to be the best in the world! You will find famous arancini with all sorts of fillings (not only the usual meat).
  • Drive to Monreale for the impressive Unesco listed Monreale cathedral and the best bread in the region. Built in the 12th century, Monreale cathedral and its cloister contain the largest concentration of Norman, Arab and Byzantine art in one building. 2200kg of gold were used to create Monreale mosaics depicting scenes of the New and the Old Testament. Undoubtedly, those Byzantine mosaics are one of the most magnificent in the world. We have spent almost an hour just admiring the craftsmanship and detailing. Once you finish exploring the cathedral, head to any Panetteria (bakery) in town to buy some delicious Monreale bread- it was definitely the nicest one we had in Italy.
  • Visit nearby seaside towns . We stopped at Aspra and Sant’Ellia when driving from Cefalù to Palermo- those are small fishing villages with a fantastic atmosphere, and opportunities to swim and meet locals.

Top Tip: Park your car at the accommodation and walk. Driving in Palermo is a bad idea due to traffic. Also, the historic center is easily walkable. If you stay a little bit outside of the historic center, it is a good idea to catch a public bus or a taxi just to avoid the headache of driving and looking for parking.

a statue of Chris being carried in Palermo historic center at night in Sicily


LA CASETTA NORMANNA – 10/10- Apartment located in the historical center of Palermo, with free parking and a garden. 100 EUR/ 109 USD per night. Click HERE for more info and the latest prices.

Ai Tre Mercati – 9.6/10- Bright simple rooms with balcony, close to Ballaro market and other historical center attractions, excellent Italian and continental breakfast included, very helpful and knowledgeable host (which is a bonus, especially in Palermo). 114 EUR/122 USD per night. Find out more HERE .

Storie di Palermo – 9.1/10- Accommodation is located in the historical center of Palermo close to Fontana Pretoria and Palermo Cathedral. Huge rooms are decorated with beautiful colorful tiles. 82 EUR/ 88 USD per night. Check for more info HERE .

N’Amuri di Casa – 10/10- simple but cozy one-bedroom apartment (can host up to 4 people) in the historical center of Palermo features a small balcony and offers free parking. 90 EUR/ 97 USD. Find out more HERE .

CATHEDRAL VIEW APARTMENTS -9.6/10- absolutely stunning and spacious 2-bedroom apartment in a historical building with a balcony opening up to the views of Palermo Cathedral. 335 EUR/360 USD per night. Check for more info HERE .

What to eat in Palermo

  • All sorts of arancini. A classic one has the meat filling. However, in Palermo, you can find many different types of fillings to choose from- mozzarella, salmon, swordfish, mushroom, and many more.
  • Try different types of seafood. A great place to and value is at Ballaro market where you can pick your treat from the many different stalls. You can also find cozy market restaurants with colorful covers where you can break for delicious semi-street food lunch.
  • Cassata siciliana al forno at Caffè del Kàssaro . My favorite Sicilian cake, as usual with ricotta. But this one is different from the rest I have tried in Sicily.

coffee cup in palermo

DAY 7-8: Castellammare del Golfo and Lo Zingaro Nature reserve (2 nights in Castellammare del Golfo)

  • Stops:  Monreale Cathedral

A couple of days in busy Palermo was just a perfect amount of time for us, although you could spend there much longer, or make it as a base for visiting nearby attractions.

Now we are heading North West with a short stop inland at Monreale Cathedral and back on the coast to the seaside town of Castellammare del Golfo. It will be our base for 2 nights. The main plan here is to hike Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve . The entrance to the reserve is conveniently located only 15 min drive away from Castellammare del Golfo.

best road trip sicily

Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve is Sicily’s first protected area established in 1981. It features several nature trails. One of the most popular is a relatively easy 7km one-way (14 km round trip) trail above the coast with 6 wild beaches you can stop at for a swim. Lo Zingaro became popular recently and is definitely one of the most visited natural places in Sicily due to its spectacular panoramas.

Entrance fee: 5 EUR per person per day, opening hours from 7 AM to 5 PM during the summer months and 8 AM to 4 PM off-season (winter, late autumn).

Top tip: bring snacks and water because there are no supplies along the trail except one sandwich kiosk at the South entrance side. Also, although doable in several hours, you might want to dedicate almost a full day to Lo Zingaro as you may not notice the time spent sunbathing and swimming in crystal clear waters.

RELATED READS: Make sure to also check my full guide to Lo Zingaro nature reserve in Sicily, Italy .

Castellammare del Golfo

Named after the seafront castle ( Castello Arabo Normanno ) overlooking a large gulf, Castellammare del Golfo was founded in the 6 th century BC Elymians as a commercial port.

The slopping streets and staircases of the Castellammare lead to the picturesque marina (old harbor) dotted with fishing boats and small fancy yachts. Seeing so many fishing boats docked around, you can naturally expect to find some great fresh seafood restaurants. Choices of which are plentiful in Castellammare.

There is no shortage of sandy and pebble beaches in the area of Castellamare del Golfo. The most accessible is Cala Petrolo beach situated east of the historical center. I wouldn’t recommend swimming there; it didn’t look clean and the setup of the massive concrete wall behind was not appealing at all.

Instead, head further east to Spiaggia Playa (around a 20min walk from the old town)- a long stretch of sandy beach backed by many restaurants and cafes. Spiaggia Playa is a swimming place loved by locals and gets busy during the peak summer months.

Alternatively, drive 10 minutes West of Castellammare del Golfo to the wild beaches Cala Bianca or Cala Rosa. You will have to navigate your way from the main road to one of the hidden turns leading to those pristine beaches.

Head to Belvedere Castellamare del Golfo for scenic views overlooking the town and stretching as far as Palermo.

drone shot of the seaside town in sicily


Le Sette Meraviglie – 9.7/10 – simple and bright one-bedroom apartments with balcony and sea view, offer free parking. 94 EU/101 USD. Find out more and book HERE .

B&B Nencioli – 9.8/10 – nicely decorated spacious rooms with balconies are offered in this B&B which is also located in the historic center of Castellamare del Golfo. Continental breakfast is also included. And served at a terrace with a beautiful view, free parking included. 109 EUR/117 EUR per night. Find out more and book HERE .

Atrium – 9.8/10 -located 10 min walk from the beach, the accommodation offers elegant rooms with terrace or balcony, free parking, shared kitchen, and exceptional continental breakfast included. 88 EUR/ 94 USD per night. Find out more and book HERE.

Santina -9.5/10 – bright fresh rooms, fantastic seaside views, and great terrace, free parking and breakfast included. 264 EUR/ 283 USD per night. Find out more and book HERE .

Gastronomical tip: try cassatelle – ricotta and chocolate-chip-filled pastry in a sweet dhow, usually deep-fried. It is a specialty of Castellammare del Goflo, and you can find it all around the town. Our host in Palermo recommended roadside bar La Sorgente which specializes in cassatelle pastries. Trust me they are really good, so we came back multiple times.

DAY 9: Favignana (Egadian islands) (1 night)

  • Driving distance:  approx. 42 KM (26 miles)
  • Total driving time:  approx. 50 MIN
  • Parking:  Leaving the car for the night in Trapani

The time spent in Castellammare del Golfo and Lo Zingaro was slow-paced and relaxed. To extend our semi-chilled vacation(considering that we always move around and explore places), we decided to spend one night in Favignana . It is located on the west coast and is reachable by 30 min ferry ride from Trapani.

Favignana is the largest of the three Egadian islands, but still small enough to tour its aquamarine beaches on an old-school bicycle. The other two islands are tiny Levanzo and the wild one- Marettimo.

Favignana can be paralleled to the laid-back island life of the Caribbeans – a perfect place just to do nothing, go on a slow beach hopping with many stops for an ice-fresh granita.

For this reason, the best way to explore Favignana island is by bicycle, electronic bike, or scooter. There are countless rental spots ( Noleggio Bici e Motorini ) just outside the ferry port and in the old town.

blue water beach with rocky shores

Things to do on Favignana island

  • Beach hopping. The noteworthy ones are Calla Rosa, Calla Azzurra, Spiaggia Lido di Burrone, and our favorite the unique Bue Marino- an old query turned beach with impossibly blue waters.
  • Catch the sunset at Cala Rotonda located on the western part of the island which was completely wild and scenery wise reminded me of the Turkish side of Cyprus.
  • Just do nothing- it is an island to slow down, sip some aperitivo, coffee, or granita- whatever your preference is. A perfect place for that is tiny Favignana’s historical center, the Piazza Europa- one of the two main old town squares (the other one just 50 meters away is Piazza Madrice).
  • Try street food- tuna burgers to be specific. Pescheria Florio at the corner of Piazza Europa is a place to go (we ate there countless times during our 1.5-day stay).
  • If you have more time, catch a boat to Levanzo island and spend a couple of hours there. Marettimo is further away, with fewer daily connections, and also the wildest out of all 3 islands. You should visit it if you have more than a night in Fivignana.

READ MORE: my complete guide to Favignana and Egadi islands, Sicily .

Top tip: if you are arriving in a rental car, park it for the night in a large parking lot at Piazza Vittorio Emanuele in Trapani. It wouldn’t make sense to bring the car to Favignana- costly and you won’t need it. Parking in Trapani costs only 5 EUR for a day (and that’s the maximum you can pay in one shot). Therefore, if you are visiting the Egadian islands only for one night and need to leave your car in Trapani, this is a perfect option. Note that you will have to walk 15 minutes to the ferry from the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele parking lot.

best road trip sicily


Cave Garden Roo ms- 9.7/10- we stayed here and it was amazing-located a few kilometers inland but free pick up and drop off from the ferry is provided. If you planning on renting a bike, it is a perfect place to stay. The family-run hotel features special cave rooms which are very modern and extremely comfy beds. The place was very peaceful, the breakfast amazing, and the hosts were absolutely incredible. Highly recommend! 60 EUR/64USD per night. Check for more info, availability, and booking HERE .

Residence Scirocco e Tramontana – 9.3/10 – Fantastic one-bedroom apartment with beach vibes, overlooking the sea and close to the ferry port. 155 EUR/166 USD per night. Check for more info, availability, and booking HERE .

Casa Vacanze Senia Del Rais – 9.4/10 – vacation house, located inland of Favignana, free pick up and drop off from the port is included. 147 EUR/ 158 USD per night. Check for more info, availability, and booking HERE .

DAY 10-11: Trapani (2 nights)

  • Driving distance:  approx. 90 KM (56 miles)
  • Total driving time:  approx. 2 HRS
  • Visiting:  Erice and San Vito Lo Capo

Trapani is the biggest port town in West Sicily which also has an airport. On my first visit to Sicily back in 2016, Trapani was where I landed. The old town of Trapani isn’t huge and features an atmospheric waterfront facing the west side (great for sunsets). You probably won’t need more than half a day to explore Trapani’s historic center at a slow pace.

a girl running at sunset in trapani waterfront, siciyly

Top Tip: Trapani is a perfect base for exploring Western Sicily because many attractions are within a 30min to 1-hour drive.

Things to do around Trapani

  • Visit Erice- a mountain-top town frozen back in time.

You may wonder if, after seeing a few mountain towns of Madonie, you really need to see another one. The answer is yes. Erice is absolutely unmissable on your Sicily trip and it is different from what you may have seen before.

Erice is a well-preserved medieval town, with narrow cobblestone streets winding up and down, pretty piazzas, churches, castles, and incredible views overlooking Trapani on one side and Monte Cofano Natural Reserve on the other. Driving the classic hairpin mountain road, you will find Erice situated 751 meters above sea level and often covered in its personal cloud. To catch the misty views, and great light, and to avoid crowds (tour buses start floating in at around 9 am) aim to come early morning. Also, you can come for an evening stroll with an opportunity to catch a beautiful sunset.

There are quite a few wonderful viewing points around the whole perimeter of Erice. But one of the best ones opens up from Gardino del Balio – the garden next to Balio Castle (which is also open for visitors).

Useful Tip: if you are not keen on driving the windy roads, you can take a cable car from Trapani. A round trip costs 9 EUR per person). Coming back during the sunset time by cable car is also a fantastic experience.

gorthic church arch and gate at sunset in erice town sicily

  • Visit Monte Cofano Natural Reserve.

Heading up north towards San Vito Lo Capo, Monte Cofano Nature Reserve is home to some of the best sceneries in Sicily. You can go on a light hike around the Reserve, or stop at one of the less crowded beaches in Macari (Spiaggia di Macari) . An interesting detour is Grotta Mangiapane – a tiny cave village turned museum. The cost for the visit is a donation of your chosen amount.

best road trip sicily

  • Visit San Vito Lo Capo beach .

San Vito lo Capo located at the very northwestern tip of the island is considered one of the best beaches in Sicily. No wonder it became a popular summer destination as it features a long stretch of white sand beach dotted with colorful umbrellas and divided into free and private sections.

A number of bars and restaurants dotted along Via Lotaranea Lungomare, plus fantastic views of the nearby mountain is a full package for those who love bustling seaside towns.

I have to admit San Vito Lo Capo wasn’t my cup of tea- it was just a little too busy even in May. But I can see why it is a great hangout spot, especially for teenagers and students, and also families since the sea access is quite shallow.

Dessert Tip: When in San Vito Lo Capo, try “fredo caldo” desert at Cavalluccio Marino coffee bar. Couscous is also a specialty there but I didn’t particularly enjoy that dish.

a man walking on a beach in Macari sicily

  • Visit Segesta temple

Well-preserved and based in gorgeous surroundings, Segesta temple and the theatre are the remains of a former ancient city founded by Elymes. Segesta is 30 min drive from Trapani. The visit will cost you roughly 12 EUR. There is a separate fee for the shuttle bus taking visitors to the site. You must leave your car at a paid parking and also pay a 6 EUR entrance fee for visiting the temple and theater.  Note that the theater is located a little bit higher up on Mount Barbaro 400 meters above sea level. If you are not keen on walking, there is another shuttle bus for 1.5 EUR one way which can take you there.

  • Visit Favignana island on a day trip. If you don’t want to spend a night in Favignana, Trapani is a perfect base for a day trip to the Egadian islands. Connections from Trapani to Favignana are frequent and you can enjoy a relaxed day without having to spend the night.

A fisherman fixing his net in Favignana port, Sicily


Le Cupole Suits & Apartments – 9.7/10- spacious minimalistic and bright apartments in the heart of Trapani with private parking available. 101 EUR/108 USD per night. For more info, availability and bookings click HERE .

Tra I Mari – 9.7/10- One-bedroom house in the historic center of Trapani with free parking available, perfect for a longer stay in Trapani. 116 EUR/ 125 USD per night. For more info, availability and bookings click HERE .

Room of Andrea Hotel – 9.2/10- a boutique hotel offering elegant rooms in the historic center of Trapani, buffet breakfast included. 162 EUR/174 USD per night. For more info, availability and bookings click HERE .

Dimora Botteghelle – 9.5/10- charming B&B with beautiful rooms featuring traditional arched stone walls, 1 min walk from the beach in Trapani historical center. 128 EUR/ 136 USD per night. For more info, availability and bookings click HERE .


Boca Pizzeria Trattoria – not exactly in Trapani old town but only 10 min drive in Rigaletta town. This place was my number one Pizzeria in Sicily serving super delicious pizzas on focaccia type of dough with a very generous amount of toppings. Sevice was unmatched considering how busy this place in the middle of nowhere gets. Reservation in advance is recommended. We came without one but super-efficient restaurant manager made sure to get us a table in under 10 minutes.

DAY 12- 13: Ragusa and Modica (2 nights in Ragusa)

  • Driving distance:  approx. 313 KM (194 miles)
  • Total driving time:  approx. 4 HRS 50 MIN
  • Stops: Punta Bianca
  • Alternative stop: Valley of Temples

This leg of the journey is the longest on our road trip. We will be heading from Trapani to the baroque gem Ragusa . Along the way, I have included an off-the-beaten-path stop at Punta Bianca – a rival to the more well-known Scali dei Tuchi (Turkish Steps) in Agrigento province.

a dog at a white rock with abandoned house in the background and a woman in bikini walking behind

Alternative detour: If you are keen on history, ruins, and temples, then along the way, instead of Punta Bianca, you can stop at the famous Valley of Temples in Agrigento . We were not too keen on visiting this tourist sight and only witnessed it from afar while driving on SS115 road. It was quite a bizarre view- an ancient Temple of Concordia backed by the soviet type of urban landscape of Agrigento.

greek temple as seen from the road with agrigento town in the background

Instead of Valley of Temples, we chose to explore quite an unusual sight of Punta Bianca- a unique white rock beach with a lonely abandoned house. It was a bumpy off-road drive to the parking spot, and a short 500 meters walk down the steep hill to the beach.

The views here are different from what we saw everywhere in Sicily. With beautiful natural surroundings, Punta Bianca is a great stop for photography lovers. I advise coming during the sunset (we were there during midday, and even at that time the scenery looked impressive).

We spent a good couple of hours shooting and trying to swim at Punta Bianca (it is not ideal for swimming, although there is another beach nearby that looked more suitable for swimming).

Important: Don’t step in the small bushes in this area. We saw a black long snake hiding and apparently, there are a lot of them in the area. Nothing to worry about, just avoid those small bushes and stick to the clear sandy paths.

Ragusa is one of the UNESCO baroque towns that belong to Val Di Noto – a crown jewel of southeast Sicily and an absolute must-visit.

The town of two souls-Ragusa is divided into the modern city and the ancient Ragusa Ibla- the baroque lounge. The split of the town happened after the 1693 earthquake. Ragusa Superior, today known as the modern Ragusa, was rebuilt based on efficiency, while the prettier and more atmospheric Ragusa Inferior or Ragusa Ibla (the lower part of town) was rebuilt in baroque style and now is a quickly growing tourism magnet.

Still, it doesn’t seem to be completely discovered and you can pleasantly enjoy the maze of Ragusa’s street free of crowds.

ragusa ibla duomo di san giorgio at night with lights

The main architectural landmark of Ragusa is Duomo di San Giorgio . The piazza surrounding the Duomo comes alive at night with its many bars and restaurants where you can have a drink or dinner.

Meanwhile, the iconic views of Ragusa Ibla can be seen from Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Scale (the church of Saint Mary of the Stairs).

ragusa ibla views from Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Scale at sunset

The most pleasant time to explore Ragusa is early mornings when the streets are completely empty. At this time, you will only meet a few elderly people gathering at a local cafeteria sipping espresso and reading newspapers (and probably being the last generation to actually read old-school newspapers in this digital era).

While at sunset, head for the viewing point at Panoramica su Ragusa Ibla to watch the golden hues of the sunset painting the buildings followed by the street lights slowly illuminating the alleyways and churches.

Read my complete Guide to Visiting Ragusa: Sicily’s town of two faces.

ragusa ibla panoramic views at dusk

Modica- the town of chocolate

Modica is another town that belongs to Val di Noto and is particularly famous for its special cold-processed chocolate. Being a huge fan of dark chocolate, I headed directly to the oldest chocolate factory in town- Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, and joined their chocolate tour (with tasting included).

Other than plenty of typical Modica chocolate places, Modica is also renowned for its great baroque architecture. One of the most important architectural masterpieces is the Duomo di San Giorgio . 250 steps leading to it are connecting the lower (basa) and upper (alta) parts of Modica.

Most of the historical part is located in Modica Alta. Therefore there are plenty of steep inclines to deal with. We visited during midday and it was quite a challenge to walk around. Even in mid-May, the heat is already unbearable. For this, we found a cozy Bar del Duomo on the side of Duomo di San Giorgio and ordered chocolate granitas (a must-try in Modica) to cool down.

oldest chcolate factory in modica

Other places to add to the itinerary of Val di Noto

  • Noto town. We haven’t included Noto in this itinerary but it is probably the most famous town out of all Val di Noto Baroque towns. It is said to be the most beautiful at sunset time when the buildings of the historic town are glowing in golden light.
  • Scicli is the smallest town in Val di Noto and can be added to the day trip from Ragusa via Modica as all three towns are relatively close by.


When choosing our accommodation in Val di Noto, I couldn’t decide between Modica and Ragusa. It turned out that picking Ragusa as our base was the best choice as the town itself is also more charming than Modica. Therefore, if you also have doubts, go for Ragusa.

Amaca Iblea – 9.3/10- A cozy one-bedroom apartment in a historic building featuring fantastic views of Ragusa Ibla. We stayed here and it was one of my favorite places in Sicily. Parking is free but not easy to find in the old town, however, the host will help to sort this out. 53 EUR/57 USD per night. For more info, availability and bookings click HERE .

Epoca – 9.6/10- enchanting rooms in the heart of Ragusa Ibla, has beautiful terrace and breakfast is included, free parking is also available. 132 EUR, 141 USD per night. For more info, availability and booking click HERE .

Giardino Sul Duomo – 9.3/10- modern rooms with wood-beamed ceilings in a guesthouse offering a garden and a pool, a great view of Ragusa Ibla, and some rooms overlooking the Cathedral. 134 EUR/ 144 USD per night. For more info, availability and booking click HERE .

A.D. 178 Boutique Hotel – 9.7/10- gorgeous boutique hotel perfectly combining art, contemporary design, and classic Baroque architecture. Each room is also different. Located at the very heart of Ragusa Ibla. 200 EUR/213 USD per night. For more info, availability and booking click HERE .

From Day 14 our route was meant to continue back to South Italy, through Messina port. We only shortly stopped at a tiny hill-top town of Savoca where some of the Godfather’s scenes were filmed.

However, if we had 3 more days to spare in Sicily, the places suggested below would have been definitely added to the route.

As you may have more time than us, it is likely that you will definitely want to include the following must-visit sights in East Sicily.

DAY 14: Ortigia Island (the historic center of Syracuse) (overnight in Syracuse/Ortigia)

  • Driving distance:  approx. 77 KM (47 miles) Ragusa-Syracuse.

The gem of the Eastern part of Sicily is the baroque island of Ortigia (or Ortygia) – in a lack of a better word-an appendix or an extension of the Greek town of Syracuse. 

Pedestrian-friendly Ortigia is renowned for its cultural heritage with a significant Greek influence. A UNESCO landmark, Ortigia was inhabited for over 3000 years and plays an important role in shaping the Mediterranean culture over the centuries.

Today, Ortigia attracts many culture lovers who will have a delightful time exploring its exquisite piazzas with impressive church facades and suggestive tiny streets. Whitewashed sun-kissed houses surrounded by crystalline sea and many restaurants are said to serve the food just as good as the one in Palermo.

Moreover, Ortigia is less touristy than Taormina and more polished than Catania.

Meanwhile, mainland Syracuse is the birthplace of Archimedes (a famous mathematician, philosopher, and inventor) with Neapolis Archeological Park , home to 5 century BC Greek theater, being an important historical attraction. While Valley of Temples in Agrigento is the most significant site showcasing how strong Greek influence was in south-east Sicily, the ruins of Neapolis in Syracuse come close to second.

best road trip sicily


For your reference, and also for my future visit, I have shortlisted the following accommodation options to stay in Ortigia.

Il Duomo – 9.4/10- set in a 19th-century building this accommodation provides good value for money for the central location, a sweet breakfast is also included. 94 EUR/101 USD price per night. Find out more info, availability, and bookings HERE.

B&B Porta Marina Ortigia – 9.2/10- Located in a historical building, the B&B offers classic rooms with balconies and sea views. A sweet and savory breakfast is also included. 152 EUR/ 163 USD per night. Click HERE for more info, availability, and bookings.

Henry’s House – 8.9/10- Located in Ortigia, this unique boutique hotel provides artistically decorated rooms and offers a special experience. A terrace overlooking the sea is available in the common area. Pricey option but definitely popular and different.  246 EUR/ 264 USD per night. Click HERE for more info, availability, and bookings.

DAY 15: Etna hike (afternoon in Taormina) (overnight in Taormina or Catania)

  • Driving distance:  approx. 156 KM (97 miles)
  • Total driving time:  approx. 2 HR 46 MIN (estimated time if the night is spent in Taormina)

Etna – Europe’s most active volcano , constantly keeping inhabitants of the surrounding villages on edge.  You have probably seen pictures of the mighty volcano spitting lava flames and fuming like a giant dragon.

The active volcano is not something you aim to conquer but you can still take a careful glimpse at its crater from afar. The highest point you can reach in Etna is 3326 meters above sea level.

You have 3 options to visit Etna:

  • Self-guided hike (cheapest but hardest option) starting at the base camp of Rifugio Sapienza at 1910 m above sea level. Here you can park your car and start a grueling 1416 meters climb over challenging terrain with very steep inclines.  Recommended only for confident and fit hikers.
  • Semi-self-guided hike. You can cut off the grind by taking a cable car from Rifugio Sapienza to 2500 m base (33 EUR per person round trip), and then a 4×4 bus to 2920m (24 EUR per person round trip). From here you will only have to hike the crater area.
  • Guided tour . Apparently, the most popular way to visit Etna volcano. The prices of guided tours range significantly. Possibly one of the best deals is this one on Get Your Guide (only 45 EUR per person, not including cable car cost).

best road trip sicily

It will take you around half a day to visit Etna volcano. After, you have an option either to return to Catania or spend the night there before your flight (depending on your schedule). Or, visit Taormina as an afternoon trip, or even spend a night there before you head back to Catania airport the next day.

Taormina is the most famous mountain town in Sicily featuring an imposing Greek theatre set against the beautiful panorama of the Sicilian coast. It is also the most touristic town in Eastern Sicily. Although Taormina looks pretty in the pictures, we had no intention of visiting it on our trip mainly because of it being overrun by tourists (we experienced over-tourism in Positano, and it was just not for us).

Nonetheless, there is a reason people come to visit certain places.  Undoubtedly Taormina must have its charms and spending a night there might give you an opportunity to enjoy a beautiful sunset and stroll tourist-free old town streets during the early morning or late evening hours.

Since you are in the area, it is also worth stopping by Savoca- a tiny hill-top town famous for the Bar Vitelli , where one of the famous scenes of the Godfather movie was filmed. Note that the bar itself is heavily overpriced, but if you are a fan of the film, it is worth having an espresso in this special place which still keeps the original setup as seen in Godfather.

best road trip sicily


Taormina won’t come cheap as it is a very popular destination. However, there are plenty of options not immediately in the historic center. The below ones got my attention:

B&B GRECO HOME – 9.8/10- beautiful bright room in an accommodation that also offers a common terrace, and continental breakfast, and only 950 meters to the beach is included, private parking is also available. 112 EUR/ 120 USD per night. Click HERE for more info, availability, and booking.

Villa Le Terrace Charming Rooms- 9.5/10- situated outside the busy Taormina historic center Villa Le Terrace features a fantastic terrace with mount Etna views. Rooms also have balconies with a fantastic panorama. 160 EUR/ 170 USD per night. Click HERE for more info, availability, and booking.

DAY 16: Catania (flight day)

  • Driving distance:  approx. 70 KM (43 miles)
  • Total driving time:  approx. 1 HR  (driving time from Taormina to Catania International Airport)

And that’s a wrap for our Sicilian road trip, sadly…  But with a strong feeling that we will soon be coming back to this gorgeous Mediterranean island of Italy.

I hope you will find this itinerary inspiring and useful when planning your own Sicily road trip. If you have any questions regarding travelling around Sicily, do not hesitate to drop me a message.

If you loved the article and/or found this information useful, I would love it if you also join me on Instagram where I share my travel stories as I go (@theroadreel).

Also, please feel free to spread the word with other fellow travelers who may benefit from this post.

Sicily travel essentials & useful links

Here are links to essential travel resources and services I always use when organizing my trips.

  • HIRE A CAR : The best way to explore Sicily is by self-driving. Rent a car at the best rates at Discover Cars .
  • CHEAP FLIGHTS: Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest and fastest flights to Sicily from your location.
  • ACCOMMODATION: find your perfect stay in Sicily on .
  • VISA: apply for a Schengen visa easily at iVisa . Use OneWayFly to reserve dummy flight tickets/hotels if required for your visa application.
  • GUIDED TOURS:  Find the best day tours in Sicily on  GetYourGuide .
  • AIRPORT TRANSFER: Book a private hotel transfer from Sicily Palermo, Catania, or Trapani Airports .
  • FLIGHT GOT CANCELLED OR DELAYED? You may receive compensation of up to 600 EUR. Consult and get support from AirHelp or Skycop .
  • Learn Italian: take a fun interactive online course Rocket Italian , which will help you quickly learn spoken and written Italian. Study at your own pace either on a desktop or using a mobile app, lifetime access, and a free trial available upon signing up.


  • Thinking of hiring a car in Sicily, Italy? Here are my 21 tips for driving in Sicily stress-free .
  • Read  30 useful tips before traveling to Sicily  to be prepared for an amazing journey.
  • How to visit Favignana island, Sicily: a perfect day trip or longer to Egadi archipelago.
  • Also, read a detailed guide to hiking Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve .
  • 21 spectacular places to visit in Sicily – a list of wonderful must-sees for first-time visitors.
  • Visit Gangi mountain town in Sicily hinterlands with my complete travel guide.
  • Find The most beautiful small coastal towns and fishing villages in Sicily.
  • Also check Guide to Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa, the most beautiful twin towns in South Ital y.
  • Have your travel to or from Europe been delayed or canceled? Read my guide on How to get compensation for your disrupted journey (my one-week Greece trip was delayed by 22 hours due to flight cancelation).

best road trip sicily

Hi! I am a freelance photographer & videographer as well the creator of Born in Lithuania, and currently residing in the UAE, I have been traveling around the globe independently for over a decade. I created The Road Reel to share my passion for travel and photography through detailed road trips and city itineraries, and hiking guides, along with regular and drone photogragraphy tips.

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Sicily Road Trip – Itinerary, Tips & Map

This post may contain affiliate links, from which we earn an income.

An Incredible Sicilian Road Trip

Sicily is a gem of an island. Rich in Greek and Roman architecture, with stunning Baroque towns dotting the landscape, incredible natural wonders and fantastic outdoor adventures, a Sicilian road trip is the best way to see this eclectic Italian island.

From the rumbling peak of Mount Etna to the rugged interior and the delights of Palermo to the ancient ruins at the Valley of the Temples, Sicily has a wealth of experiences for you to explore as you road trip around the island.

Our Sicily road trip route and itinerary with an interactive map is a coastal trip, hitting all the top spots on the way to ensure you discover the very best of Sicily.

best road trip sicily

Things to Know About Sicilian Travel

Despite recent anti-Mafia movements, particularly strong in Palermo, the Mafia has retained much of the power in administrative and rural Sicily. 

However, there are strong signs now that the Sicilian people have had enough. Movements against the Cosa Nostra are gaining momentum and becoming visible across the island, especially in Palermo. Sicilians are  daring to believe  that things are changing.

If you’re fascinated by the Mafia, take this brilliant  Godfather private tour  which includes a visit to Castello Degli Schiavi, the beautiful and timeless villa used as a filming location for several Godfather films. 

The Sicilians don’t conform to carefree southern Italian stereotypes. Life has long been too hard and is dominated by hard work and not much money. Sometimes, locals can seem sullen and rude towards visitors, but if you persevere then you will see a different side of the Sicilian people, who are fiercely loyal and proud.

It helps to be able to speak even a little bit of the language, most Sicilian people really appreciate it when you make an effort even if you can’t pronounce ‘ cinquecentocinquantacinque’ five hundred and fifty-five!).

Sicily is a stunningly beautiful country, apart from the piles of rubbish literally everywhere. Waste is dumped all along the sides of roads and on any rough ground.

We were told by locals that it was a protest against the mafia’s control of administrative monies because no provision is made for the proper disposal of waste. Whatever the reason, you just have to learn to look past it.

Driving around Sicily on a road trip can be challenging. You need to be a confident driver to travel Sicily by car, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar rental car or campervan and intend to visit cities.

Driving routes in Sicily will often take you through small villages with narrow and twisting roads which can be disconcerting for visitors from the United States especially.

Italy is not known for the skill or consideration of its drivers, or the condition of the roads, so make sure you’re comfortable  driving in Sicily  before you embark on your Sicily road trip.

best road trip sicily

Is this your first time visiting Italy? Get all the information you need in our Italy Travel Guide , including what to pack, the best time of year to go, getting there and practical tips to help you have the best trip!

Getting to Sicily

Already on the continent.

If you are already on the continent, there are  boats to Sicily from all over Europe . You can sail to Palermo from Naples, Genoa, Sardinia, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Salerno and Tunisia.

If you’re not near any of those places, the chances are there is a route – the 24 hour crossing from Barcelona to Civitavecchia (Rome’s port) opens up possibilities from the Iberian peninsula. Hopping on a boat from Greece or the Baltic states across to Italy, or driving there from northern Europe, means Sicily is easily accessible from across the continent

If you choose to fly, you can head to Trapani, Palermo or Catania airports. Catania, on the east coast, is the best choice and a good road trip starting point if you are renting a car   or want to hire a motorhome or campervan with Motorhome Republic  on arrival. We recommend booking through Skyscanner for live deals and the best prices.

This is a perfect option if you only have one week in Sicily, long enough to see all the highlights of this amazing island, especially if you focus your visit on one area, such as the east or west coast.

Driving to Sicily from UK

If you’re planning to drive to Sicily from the UK , then the most direct route from Calais to Villa San Giovanni (for the shortest ferry crossing from mainland Italy to Sicily) will take you around 23 hours of driving time over 2260km.

It will cost approximately €160 in tolls and €400 in fuel, assuming 25mpg in 2023. If you are traveling to Sicily in a car you can check costs using the Via Michelin website , a handy resource.

Once you get to Villa San Giovanni, you will need to get a boat over to Messina in eastern Sicily. You can book online but it’s not necessary as there is no saving, and ferries cross at least every hour or so from a number of providers. It takes around 30 minutes to cross to Messina and will cost around €80 for a three month open return in a car.

RELATED POST – Driving to Italy from the UK – Routes & Tips

best road trip sicily

When to Visit Sicily

April to early June and late September to October are the best times to visit Sicily and travel or road trip. The temperatures are pleasant and you will have the added bonus of Sicily’s gorgeous wildflowers being in full bloom in the spring months. Avoid a trip to Sicily at Easter as this is considered high season and costs will rise exponentially.

It becomes really busy around mid-June , when schools are closed, and from July to mid-September , the coastal areas are extremely busy. Unless you plan to spend time at a seaside resort or on an island, avoid a Sicily visit in  August ; the heat is unbearable and most city businesses are closed as the locals take their holidays.

It is quieter from late October to mid-December . There are fewer tourists in the cities but sites and attractions do tend to close earlier and some will be closed altogether. The plus is that you’ll be able to enjoy warm winter temperatures across the island, especially if the African winds blow north. Things pick up again briefly during the Christmas holidays when many shops and museums have extended hours.

RELATED POST: Southern Italy: Discover the Best 33 Places To Visit

best road trip sicily

Don’t forget your road trip essentials! Our free road trip checklists help you remember everything, including road trip snacks , podcasts and road trip songs for the journey!

Sicily Road Trip Map & Itinerary

  • Get the Travel Guides
  • Lonely Planet Sicily
  • The Rough Guide to Sicily
  • DK Eyewitness Sicily 
  • Sicily Road Trip Itinerary

Syracuse – Ragusa – Valley of the Temples – Scala dei Turchi – Marsala – Stagnone – Erice – Monte Cofano – Segesta – Scopello – Palermo – Cefalu – Taormina – Mount Etna

  • Distance 900km
  • Duration 2-3 weeks
  • Drive Time 14 hours

How to use this map – Use your fingers (or computer mouse) to zoom in and out. Click or touch the icons to get more info about a place, and click the arrow in the box top left to open the index. To add to your own Google Maps account, click the star next to the title of the map.

Your Sicily Itinerary

This 14-21 day road trip will take you to all the key sites and highlights around the island. It’s easy to be flexible, if something doesn’t appeal, skip it and move on.  

Our absolute must-sees on this driving tour of Sicily are The Valley of the Temples , Palermo and Mount Etna . Do just these three things and you’ll get a flavor of this eclectic part of Italy, and see much of the wonderful landscape as you complete a perfect triangle across the island.

Syracuse (or Siracusa) is a city on the Ionian coast, known for its ruins, and makes the perfect first stop on your Sicily road trip itinerary. It has a vibrant and modern cafe culture, with lots of great bars and restaurants, and is perfect for an afternoon strolling the pretty streets, window-shopping, and admiring the architecture.

Head for the old town of Ortigia, on an island connected to the new city by the Ponte Umbertino. Cross from new to old and you’ll find yourself in another world, with magnificent ancient churches, a temple, local markets, and even a castle.  

There are also lots of small independent shops, bars, and cafes where you can sit outside and indulge in people-watching to your heart’s content.

Make sure to visit Piazza Duomo to see the Cathedral, a fascinating mix of pagan temple and Christian church. The Duomo stands on the ruins of a temple dedicated to Athena, built in 480 BCE. Behind the Baroque facade of the cathedral, Doric columns from the original temple are still visible.

Another must-see is the Fonte Aratuse, a fountain originating from a freshwater spring that creates a small semi-circular lake. Here there are fish, geese, and ducks, and the only naturally occurring Papyrus in Europe.  

  • Where to Stay in Syracuse

Upmarket: Ortea Palace – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Caportigia Boutique Hotel – | Agoda

Budget: Ortigia Boutique Palace – | Agoda

Sicily 14 to 21 day itinerary

Make sure you have travel insurance you can trust when visiting Sicily . We recommend True Traveller for their 5-star TrustPilot reviews, variety of cover options, best activities cover as standard, great prices and excellent service.

Ragusa is a hilltop city in southeast Sicily. Ragusa Ibla, the old town, is part of the Noto Valley World Heritage site listing. It is home to many baroque buildings, like the Duomo di San Giorgio, a beautiful church with gorgeous paintings and colorful stained-glass windows. 

There are impressive views from the Giardino Ibleo, a park with churches and fountains. In Ragusa Superiore, the city’s newer quarter is ornate Ragusa Cathedral, rebuilt in the center of town after an earthquake in 1693 destroyed the original. 

  • Where to Stay in Ragusa

Upmarket: Villa Boscarino – | Agoda

Mid-Range: A.D. 1768 Boutique Hotel – | Agoda

Budget: Via Pezza 100 – | Agoda

Sicily travel blog

The Valley of the Temples, Agrigento

What an amazing entrance The Valley of the Temples has. Driving along the coast road heading west, you round a hill and there it is. Perched along the top of a ridge, temples literally lined up and waiting for you. It will be one of those ‘wow’ moments on your Sicily road trip when shock and awe hit you in equal measure.  

You can buy tickets for the whole site online  here . You may wish to take a tour, if you are interested in understanding the history and architecture, this is by far the best way to visit and you will come away with so much fascinating knowledge about those who lived and built here.

Start at 8.30am and spend an idyllic morning when you’ll have this UNESCO World Heritage site to yourselves. Marvel at the fact that you can walk through and around the temples and ruins and touchstone that was quarried and chiseled thousands of years ago. As it gets later, it will become busier with day trip bus tours arriving although the site is so large it did not really detract from the peace and atmosphere.  

The rediscovery of this ancient gem began towards the end of the eighteenth century when the first European travelers reached Sicily and discovered an unexpected and vast archaeological heritage.

The highlights are the Temple of Concordia , built around the 5th century and located along the Via Sacra. One of the best-preserved temples, the name Concordia comes from a Latin inscription found near the temple itself.

The Temple of Heracles (Hercules) is the oldest one here. Much of the temple was destroyed by wars and natural disasters and today has only eight columns left. The Temple of Castor and Pollux, the twin brothers born to Jupiter and the queen of Sparta, has only four columns left and has become the symbol of Agrigento.

If you want help finding your way around and understanding the history of this extraordinary place, then book our recommended Valley of the Temples skip-the-line guided tour , where a knowledgeable English-speaking guide will share the history and secrets of the valley.

  • Where to Stay in Agrigento

Upmarket: Doric Boutique Hotel – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Colleverde Park Hotel- | Agoda

14 to 21 day Sicily road trip

Scala Dei Turchi

The Stair of the Turks, so called because marauding Turkish pirate ships were known to find shelter in the bay, is an incredible sight. On first inspection, the cliffs seem too perfect and too white to actually be real.  

The cliffs are made of soft limestone and blinding white marl, shaped, smoothed, and buffed over millennia by the sea and wind to look like a giant meringue, rising up from an impossibly blue surrounding sea.   

This candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site status was closed by the Sicilian authorities in 2020, due to the lack of protection and care for the site. Every year, thousands of visitors clambered over the famous white rocks, causing erosion, stealing pieces of marl, and leaving rubbish behind, giving he local authority no choice but to action.

It is possible to see Scala dei Turchi from the sandy beach to the east, from the road above as you approach from the west, or from a boat. People do also slip through the gaps in the fencing on the beach to the south to climb the stairs, despite the site being officially closed.

  • Where to Stay in Scala Dei Turchi

Upmarket: Masseria Agnello – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Scala Dei Turchi Resort – | Agoda

Budget: Case Vacanze Bellavista – | Agoda

best road trip sicily

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If you haven’t tried Marsala wine, it will be a totally unexpected and delicious surprise. Marsala is made in much the same way as sherry and port but has its own distinct flavor due to the requirement to use only certain varieties of grapes grown in and around Marsala. True Marsala contains flavors of vanilla, brown sugar, stewed apricot, and tamarind.  

This delicious fortified wine can be dry or sweet and many things in between, depending on how much cooked must is introduced to the wine. It is possible to do a tour and tasting at all the large houses, with Florio having the most atmosphere and interest in the cantina (cellar) .

Book this highly-rated winery tour with wine tasting to discover the tradition of Sicilian wine-making on a tour of the Florio Winery in Marsala.

  • Where to Stay in Marsala

Upmarket: Hotel Baglio Oneto dei Principi di San Lorenzo – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Viacolvento – | Agoda

Budget: Villa Carlo Resort – | Agoda

best road trip sicily

Looking for the best SIM card deals in Europe for your trip? Check out our guide to the best data SIMs in Europe and get the best deal for your trip to Sicily.

Stagnone Nature Reserve

Between Marsala and Trapani, the Regional Nature Reserve of the Islands of Stagnone di Marsala in western Sicily is a lagoon with four islands, formed around 5,000 years ago and characterized by shallow waters from 1-2m and in some places not more than 20-30cm.  

The lagoon was formed relatively recently due to sand movements because of underwater currents. This has caused the closure of a part of the sea that was originally open and therefore, as there are no currents necessary for replacement, the water has become more stagnant, with a temperature above normal.

Surrounded by a very salty environment, it the lagoon presents a unique ecosystem. Windmills and salt pans characterize the landscape of the natural reserve. The “Isola Grande” is the largest of the four islands, followed by Mozia, which was colonized by the Phoenicians in the eighth century and has a great archaeological heritage. Santa Maria and La Scola are the smallest islands.

The lagoon is an ideal place for kite surfing and is widely recognized as one of the best locations in Europe. There are approximately 30 kite schools along the northern coast of the lagoon, which are evident if there is any form of wind, just follow the hundreds of colorful kites!

It’s well worth taking a boat trip out into the lagoon and around the islands, to explore the natural landscape of the nature reserve and discover the story of salt and the people that produced it.

This highly rated Salt Road Tour With Winery Visit and Boat Trip hits three top attractions in one – you’ll visit one of Italy’s finest wineries and enjoy a guided tour of Marsala on this day trip, with a boat ride on the Stagnone Lagoon, as you travel along Italy’s Salt Road.

best road trip sicily

Salt Pans of Marsala

There have been salt pans in Sicily for over 2,500 years. The salt flats at Marsala have the perfect position with warm Saharan winds, shallow waters and hot summer sun. This is the perfect recipe to produce salt.

Production was at its peak in 1860, when 31 salt pans produced over 100,000 tonnes of salt a year. Much of this was exported across Europe and as far away as Russia and Norway. These days demand is diminished but there is still a market for salt produced in this way due to its 100% natural composition, which is said to enhance the flavor. 

Be inspired by the beauty of this immediately recognizable vista, with windmills dotting the horizon and piles of salt visible. It’s the perfect place for aerial photography if you have a drone.

road trip Sicily 7 days

Erice is a delightful and pretty medieval hill town that is a pleasure to wander through, and the views are amazing. Standing at 751m high, on top of a huge lump of rock, Erice is known for the Castello di Venere and its numerous churches. There are rumored to be 100 but it is definitely less than that! 

All visits to Erice start at Porta Trapani at the top of the hill, where the car park and cable station are. If the drive up isn’t for you, then get the f unierice  (cable car) from Trapani and park in their car park. This will cost you €1.50 for the first three hours and the cost of the cable car is €9.50 return. 

You will need three to four hours to wander through Erice’s medieval cobbled streets, visit a few churches and the castle, and throw in another hour or so for lunch. Try the reasonably priced and tasty pizzas at La Rustichella  in Piazza del Loggia, where you will also receive excellent customer service. 

The view from the castle ramparts and gardens is stunning. Trapani and the salt pans to one side, the tip of San Vito Lo Capo to the other. It goes without saying that you should try and go on a clear day.

Make sure to try some of Erice’s famous confectionary, made to ancient recipes of nuns in cloistered convents. If you like marzipan and have a sweet tooth you will be in heaven.

  • Where to Stay in Erice

Upmarket: Il Carmine Dimora Storica – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Residence Erice Pietre Antiche & rooms – | Agoda

Budget: Hotel Elimo – | Agoda

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Monte Cofano

Monte Cofano is a distinctive, monolithic lump of limestone, which stands 659m high in the Monte Cofano nature reserve. 

As well as amazing hiking, Monte Cofano Bay has two sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise water, and fantastic rock pools. You can snorkel here as well as kayak and paddle board, and there are lots of places to park overnight if you’re in a self-contained campervan.

If Monte Cofano is too out of the way for you, there’s lots of other  incredible hiking in Sicily , an island known for its dramatic landscapes and gorgeous trails.  

RELATED POST – How to Hike Monte Cofano in Sicily

  • Where to Stay in Monte Cofano

Upmarket: Baglio Giammaccaro – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Hotel Oasi da Paolo – | Agoda

Budget: B&B La mia Isola – | Agoda

Sicily driving tour

San Vito Lo Capo

From Cofano, it’s a hop and a skip up to San Vito Lo Capo, a very pretty beach-side town known for its fabulous crescent-shaped beach sheltered by Mount Monaco, and the lighthouse at Cabo San Vito.

In May every year, there is a kite festival held here – the beach explodes into color and dancing shapes and the town takes on a party atmosphere with stalls and pop-up cafes making the most of the (usually) fine spring weather.

  • Where to Stay in San Vito Lo Capo

Upmarket: Baglio La Porta by Geocharme – | Agoda

Mid-Range: I Mori Hotel – | Agoda

Budget: Hotel Sabbia d’Oro – | Agoda

best road trip sicily

Temple of Segesta

Segesta is a glorious temple and Roman amphitheater, incredibly well-preserved and picturesque. Easily accessible and set in beautiful rolling countryside, the Temple of Segesta is a must-see on your road trip of Sicily.  

A magical place, the setting between lush rolling hills, with far distant views to the sea and mountains, is perfection. The surrounding fields, with their exact rows of silver-green olive trees and vines, are archetypal Italian and just add to the atmosphere of Segesta.

The architecture of both temple and amphitheater is breathtaking. The temple is particularly interesting due to its unfinished nature and complexity. It is amazing that it has survived as intact as it is, given that until just a few years ago, visitors were able to walk inside and around the columns. 

RELATED POST – How to Visit the Temple of Segesta in Sicily

how to visit Segesta

It works well to head to Scopello for lunch or dinner after a visit to Segesta. Scopello is a charming village with a small but beautifully formed bay, about a 30 minutes drive from Segesta.

There are also a number of excellent restaurants in the village, but make sure you book if you want to eat at a specific place. If you’re looking for a lively and fun lunch, try  Made ‘n Sicilia  (no booking required) which specializes in delicious Sicilian street food.  

  • Where to Stay in Scopello

Upmarket: Tenute Plaia Agriturismo – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Torre Bennistra – | Agoda

Budget: Residence Guidaloca – | Agoda

best road trip sicily

Palermo is a vibrant and busy city that you must visit on your road trip around Sicily. A complex city, Palermo has been caught between West and East for millennia. With dazzling buildings, hidden corners, and chaotic markets, any visit to Palermo is exhilarating.

You must visit the food market which is on every day and situated in the area around Via Porta Carini. Here you can buy fish, meat, fruit, vegetables and pretty much everything else you can imagine. You can stop for a coffee and people watch, choose your fish and meat and have it cooked in front of you, to be eaten on a ramshackle table in the open air, or simply wander and take in the colors, sounds, and smells of this fabulous market.  

You should also visit the cathedral, although it is a little soulless and much less attractive than some other Italian cathedrals. In contrast, the Catholic church of San Giuseppe dei Teatini just off the Quattro Canti is spectacular and worth seeking out. 

Quattro Canti is a busy and thriving area of the city with live music, street art, and food stalls dominating the streets and lots of interesting shops and a great selection of gelateria . Grab a coffee and enjoy a bit of people-watching.

If you decide to take a horse and carriage ride, make sure you agree on the price and how long your trip will take before getting in. Negotiate on the first price given, even then you may well be asked at the end of the ride for an additional tip “for the horse”!  A carriage ride is a good way of seeing the major sites of Palermo quickly, and you can decide which ones most interest you for a later visit.

If you stay at a hotel without the benefit of a car park, research parking thoroughly before you get there. Palermo is manically busy with very limited parking and its quite possible to drive around for hours without finding anywhere.

If you need any more convincing, then these  six reasons why you have to visit Sicily’s crazy capital city  should help!

RELATED POST – One Day in Palermo – Itinerary, Map, Tips & Guide

  • Where to Stay in Palermo

Upmarket: Palazzo Natoli Boutique Hote l – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Casa Nostra Boutique Hotel – | Agoda

Budget: Hotel Posta – | Agoda

Cefalù is a small town on the northern coast of Sicily.  It is a must-see in all the guidebooks and has a fine 12th century Norman cathedral at the edge of an attractive square.  

Cefalu is a modern-day masterpiece of marketing over substance. It is pretty enough to wander around, and you could happily spend a day meandering and taking in the old cathedral and harbor – it would not be a hardship.  

But you will have to dodge the large number of over-priced restaurants, cafes, and gift shops lining the streets which are thronged with guided tour parties, so go prepared!

  • Where to Stay in Cefalu

Upmarket: Le Calette Garden & Bay – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Villa Totò Resort – | Agoda

Budget: Ossuna Bay Hotel Boutique – | Agoda

best road trip sicily

Taormina is a stunning town perched on a hill on the east coast of Sicily. It sits in the shadow of the active volcano Mount Etna, providing fabulous views across the landscape of the smoldering mountain.

Taormina is quite touristy but also very welcoming. Visit the  Teatro Antico di Taormina , an ancient Greek theatre still in use today. Close by, cliffs drop to the sea forming coves with sandy beaches, and a narrow spit of sand connects the mainland to Isola Bella, a beautiful tiny island and nature reserve.

Taormina is well known for its gastronomic delights, welcome, and hospitality. This highly recommended small group food and wine tour will take you on a walking tour of Taormina to discover the best places to eat and drink, and you’ll get to sample the typical foods of Sicily paired with fine wines from the region.

  • Where to Stay in Taormina

Upmarket: Grand Hotel Timeo, A Belmond Hotel – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Hotel Metropole Taormina – | Agoda

Budget: Hotel Villa Sirina – | Agoda

What to see in Sicily? Taormina is a key sight

Mount Etna is the biggest natural wonder of them all!  She is Europe’s largest and most active volcano and stands a mighty 3,350m high. After Kilaueu on Hawaii, Mount Etna is considered the second most active volcano in the world.  

If that doesn’t put you off, you can get to the summit of Mount Etna, look deep into her craters, and hear the rumbling magma stirring. Getting to the top of Mount Etna will require a guided tour and will take a full day but the sense of achievement and wonder is worth the effort of getting there. 

Book this highly rated Mount Etna cable car, jeep, and hiking to the summit tour to hike in full safety with an authorized alpine and volcano guide, and marvel at the beauty and wonder of the highest active volcano in Europe.

Climing Mount Etna in Sicily, above the clouds with a clear blue sky

After your epic climb, head down the mountain to Catania, a city that is missed by many but is worth a visit. Check out these  eighteen awesome things to do in Catania  for inspiration.

  • Where to Stay in Catania

Upmarket: Palazzo Marletta Luxury House Hotel – | Agoda

Mid-Range: B&B Palazzo Perrotta – | Agoda

Budget: Habitat – | Agoda

best road trip sicily

Sicilian Road Trip Resources

Sicily essentials.

Here are the websites and services we personally use and recommend for traveling in Italy.

  • Search for affordable flights to Sicily with Skyscanner
  • Search for availability and book hotels and accommodation in Sicily with
  • Find and book the best campsites in Sicily with Eurocampings
  • Book the cheapest and most reliable hire cars in France with
  • Find and hire your perfect motorhome or campervan with Motorhome Republic
  • Get highly rated, reliable and trustworthy travel insurance with True Traveller
  • Check if you need a visa and arrange your documents with Visagov

Driving in Italy

Whether you’re traveling in your own vehicle or flying in and renting a car, you need to follow these rules when you drive in Italy and Sicily;

  • You must have at least three months remaining on your passport (issued in the past ten years) at your intended date of departure from Italy.
  • You must have at least 3rd party insurance for your vehicle.
  • Citizens of non-EU third countries may require an IDP for driving in Europe . You can check whether you need an IDP here .
  • You must carry a warning triangle, a spare wheel, and the tools to change a wheel, or a tire repair kit.
  • It is not compulsory to carry a reflective jacket, first aid kit, spare bulbs, or a fire extinguisher but we would recommend you do.

RELATED POST: Driving in Europe – Everything You Need to Know

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Coast to coast road trip Sicily

Sicily Road Trip: Ultimate 2-Week Itinerary

Sicily Road Trip: Ultimate 2-Week Itinerary

Delicious Sicily: a fascinating island off the mainland of Italy with stunning architecture, rich culture, and staggeringly beautiful landscapes. Speed along the stunning coastline, sunbathe in tiny coves with clear turquoise water, explore ancient towns with steep streets, and feast on fresh seafood and crispy cannoli. The relaxed Dolce Vita lifestyle is in full swing here, so take your time to enjoy life’s small pleasures. Let your Sicily road trip begin!

Sicily Road Trip

Located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily differs from the rest of Italy with its unique history, culture, and language. A Sicily road trip is the best way to see the island and immerse yourself in its culture, giving you the ultimate freedom to pick and choose what to see.

Here are all your hotel options in Sicily.

beach taormina sicily road trip

Tip: Everything moves at a slower pace, so be prepared for unusual opening times, with many shops and attractions closing between 1-4 PM so families can enjoy a long lunch. Embrace the relaxed way of life with our 14-day Sicily itinerary.

terrace taormina road trip sicily italy

Day 1: Catania

It’s the first day of your Sicily road trip! With a beautiful backdrop of Mount Etna and a lively local atmosphere, the port city of Catania is a great place to kick off your Sicilian adventure. Half a day is enough to explore the center and see the city’s top sights, so don’t worry if you arrive after midday. 

Here are all your hotel options in Catania.

catania sicily italy road trip

Explore the city streets, admire its stunning palazzos and piazzas, and dive into a wine bar or two! To see the city from a different perspective, head to the peaceful Villa Bellini Gardens or climb to the top of Chiesa della Badia di Sant’Agata church for an eagle-eye view of Catania and the volcano. 

google maps phone

Tip: If you are here early in the morning, don’t miss a visit to the historic La Pescheria, one of the biggest fish markets in Sicily. It’s the perfect place to experience vibrant local life as you watch people negotiate for their favorites!

sicily italy road trip catania etna view

From the Airport

Catania is a great place to start your Sicily Itinerary (14 days), as you can take a short 10-minute train from the international airport to the center of town (1.90 EUR / 2.09 USD).

Alternatively, rent a car from here, although please note that finding parking in the city can be difficult.

We recommend to rent a car in Sicily through Sunny Cars with free cancellation and insurance included. Book your rental car here .

vintage fiat 500 sicily italy

Where to Stay in Catania

As you are only here for one night of your Siciliy road trip, it’s best to stay in the historic center. The best spot is close to the Cathedral or Via Etnea, where most of the main attractions are. Even though it’s very central, there are plenty of accommodation options for every budget.

Hotels in Catania 😴


Day 2-3: Taormina

Time to hit the road! An hour’s drive north from Catania is the stunningly picturesque clifftop town of Taormina – the next stop of your 14-day Sicily itinerary. Spend a few days exploring this idyllic town, home to atmospheric streets, gelaterias, ceramic shops, and island beaches with crystal clear water.

Read: Best things to do in Taormina, Sicily

restaurant sicily italy

Tip: One of our favorite things to do in Taormina was to take in the panoramic views at sunset from Piazza IX Aprile. Make sure to have a cold aperitivo in hand (an integral part of Sicilian culture!).

Here are all your hotel options in Taormina.

sicily road trip italy Piazza IX Aprile

Visiting Mount Etna on your Sicily Road Trip

Taormina is also very close to the majestic Mount Etna, and you can do a half-day tour of the volcano from here. Many tours also include local food and wine tastings, as the volcanic earth makes it the perfect place to grow grapes.

things to do taormina sicily mount etna view

How to get from Catania to Taormina

It is an hour’s drive from Catania to Taormina. However, please note that parking in the town is almost impossible. The best option is to park in the Lumbi parking garage just outside. The price is 5 USD for two days, including a free shuttle bus to the center.

Sicily Road Trip: Ultimate 2-Week Itinerary

Alternatively, if you don’t have a car, you can travel by train on your Sicily itinerary (14 days). There are frequent trains from Catania along the coast, which cost less than 10 USD and take approximately two hours.

highway taormina sicily

Where to Stay in Taormina

Taormina has two main areas: the historic center on the clifftop and the beach. Choose your accommodation depending on where you want to spend most of your time. However, both are good options as a cable car connects the two.

Hotels in Taormina 😴

B&B Teatro Greco 39

Day 4-5: Cefalù

Located on the island’s north coast is the beautiful old fishing town of Cefalù – one of the most picturesque destinations on your Sicily road trip! Summer is neverending in this ancient romantic town, home to sun-drenched squares, fantastic restaurants, and traditional ceramic shops. Cefalù is a place to relax and unwind, have late nights and lazy mornings, and enjoy the authentic ‘Dolce Vita’ lifestyle.

Here are all your hotel options in Cefalù.

sicily road trip Cefalu drone view

Make sure to visit the beautiful pier, Molo di Cefalù’, where you can admire a rustic view of the beach backed by typical Sicilian houses. In summer, this is also the best place for sunbathing and diving into the harbor to cool off!

Also read: What to do in Sicily, Italy .

sicily road trip sunset cefalu

How to get from Taormina to Cefalù

It is a 2.5-hour drive along the stunning coastline to reach Cefalù, which lies right in the middle of the north coast of Sicily. Parking can be an issue here, but you can park for free in Porto Presidiana. From here, a shuttle bus takes you into town for 5 EUR.

sicily road trip best viewpoints of Cefalu italy Caste

Where to Stay in Cefalù

If you don’t feel like walking far, choose accommodation in the old town. However, please note that the new town (although not as pretty) is cheaper.

Hotels in Cefalù 😴

Al 33 Giri

Cefalu, in general, is a touristy location (especially in the summer), so there are plenty of B&Bs and hotels to choose from.

sicily road trip

Day 6-7 of your Sicily Road Trip: Palermo

No Sicily road trip would be complete without a visit to Palermo, the island’s capital. The city is full of energy, character, and contrasts, with an eclectic mix of Greek , North African , and Middle Eastern influences that can be seen in its people, culture, and food.  The Mafia has also left its mark, and although it is still a very real presence in the background of Sicilian life, there is now a strong anti-Mafia movement working hard to rebel against it.

Learn more about the anti-mafia movement on this popular walking tour

sicily road trip Palermo Fontana Pretoria

Palermo is also famous for its incredible street food and fantastic open-air markets. You’ll find many of the stalls selling traditional Sicilian delicacies, like hot chickpea fritters, crispy cannoli, and spleen sandwiches! Make sure to factor in time on your 14-day Sicily itinerary to also explore the charismatic neighborhoods with their tiny winding alleyways and the incredible architecture of the Norman Palace (one of the oldest royal residences in Europe). 

Here are all your hotel options in Palermo.

Tip: Don’t miss the spectacular view from the top of the Palermo Cathedral at sunset. From here, you can see the whole city with a backdrop of mountains behind it.

Palermo sicily Italy road trip

How to get from Cefalù to Palermo

It is a one-hour drive from Cefalù to Palermo. On the way, stop at Punta Sant’Elia, a stunningly scenic spot on the coast with a tiny cove great for swimming. This is a must-do on your Sicily road trip! 

You can also take a direct train to Palermo, which takes around an hour.

Punta Sant'Elia sicily

Where to Stay in Palermo

The historic center is the best place to base yourself, as you are within walking distance of the main sights and attractions. La Kalsa neighborhood is a good option for those on a budget.

Hotels in Palermo 😴

Sui Tetti di Balarm Boutique Rooms

Day 8-10: Trapani

Next on your Sicily road trip is the beautiful port city of Trapani on the west coast. The town itself is home to charming streets, stunning stretches of golden sand, and tiny coves perfect for swimming. This is where your car comes in handy, as there are lots of beautiful places to discover in the surrounding area. 

Here are all your hotel options in Trapani.

salt marshes road trip sicily

Once you’ve explored the old town, head out to the Scopello area for a walk in the Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro. This natural haven has an incredible view over the spectacular Tonnara di Scopello, which is one of the most beautiful coves on the island. Popular with locals, it’s an amazing place to spend a sunny afternoon swimming and sunbathing and a memorable destination on your 14-day Sicily itinerary.

sicily road trip italy scopello

Other nearby spots worth visiting are the medieval hilltop town of Erice or Favignana Island, which can be explored by bicycle. Alternatively, relax at the breathtaking beach at San Vito Lo Capo.

Tip: If you have enough time, make a quick trip to the fascinating ruins of the Temple of Segesta.

road trip itinerary sicily italy sunset trapani

How to get from Palermo to Trapani

It is a 1.5-hour drive from Palermo to Trapani . On the way, stop at Baia di San Cataldo, an old bunker built on a clifftop with gorgeous coastal views.

Alternatively, there is a direct train from Palermo, which takes approximately 2 hours.

Book your train tickets in advance of your trip

road trip sicily italy travel guide

Where to Stay in Trapani

Stay in the historic center of Trapani , or go for more rural accommodation in the countryside or by the sea.

Hotels in Trapani 😴

Villa le Torri B&B

If you’re looking for something unique on your Sicily itinerary (14 days), this converted watchtower near Scopello is very special.

street trapani sicily

Day 11: Agrigento

Next on your Sicily road trip is the ancient town of Agrigento! This beautiful town is one of the oldest in Sicily, with stunning examples of Arabic architecture, beautiful churches, and palazzos.

sicily agrigento town

We’ve added it as a stop on this 14-day Sicily itinerary because of its proximity to the extraordinary Valley of the Temples, an impressive collection of ancient Greek structures built on the hillside over 2000 years ago. 

road trip sicily italy Valley of the Temples

Spend the late afternoon exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site , with ancient ruins scattered among a grove of lemon and olive trees. If you can, stay to watch the sun go down over the valley, which illuminates the temples before they are lit up as night falls.

See tickets and availability for a tour of the Valley of the Temples

Afterward, return to town for a relaxed Sicilian dinner, finished with the locally renowned pecorino gelato at Le Cuspidi !

Valley of the Temples agrigento sicily

How to Visit Valley of the Temples

The Valley of the Temples is open 8:30 AM – 7 PM. During the high season (July-September), it stays open until 11 PM weekly and midnight at the weekend. It costs 10 EUR to enter.

If you don’t want to drive to the Valley of the Temples, you can take the bus from Agrigento for 1.50 EUR.

agrigento temple

How to get from Trapani to Agrigento on your Sicily road trip

It is just over 2 hours to drive from Trapani to Agrigento. On the way, stop at the Turkish Steps (Scala dei Turchi), a set of white limestone cliffs formed into natural steps that lead down to the sea. This is the exact location .

Where to Stay in Agrigento

There are many hotels and B&Bs in town. Alternatively, spend the night in an agriturismo to wake up to lovely views of the Sicilian countryside.

Hotels in Agrigento 😴

Villa La Lumia Suites & Apartments

Day 12: Ragusa

The hilltop town of Ragusa, located in the beautiful Val di Noto area, is known as the birthplace of Sicilian Baroque architecture. The town is split into two parts, separated by a deep ravine. Because of this, we recommend starting from the upper town, where you can see incredible views, before walking down the steep stone steps to the historic center. 

Here are all your hotel options in Ragusa.

road trip sicily ragusa viewpoint

You can spend hours wandering around the small streets of the old city, admiring incredible buildings like the stunning Baroque Cathedral. Take plenty of breaks for plates of stuffed flatbreads, Ragusano cheese, and fresh seafood throughout the day.

road trip itinarary sicily italy ragusa streets

In the evening, walk it all off with a traditional passeggiata (evening stroll) through the town. This Italian custom is best at the weekend when couples, families, and friends come onto the streets to socialize and flirt; it’s the best time for people-watching! 

ragusa sicily romantic restaurant italy

How to get from Agrigento to Ragusa

This stretch of the Sicily road trip from Agrigento to Ragusa along the south coast takes just under two and a half hours. Unfortunately, the public transport options are more limited in this area. However, there are buses available. 

road trip itinarary sicily italy

Where to Stay in Ragusa

Stay in the Ragusa Superiore, the newer area with fantastic views over the old city. Alternatively, choose the Ragusa Ibla, where you are surrounded by stunning architecture and the charming atmosphere of the old town. There are plenty of boutique hotels and lovely guesthouses to choose from in both areas.

Hotels in Ragusa 😴

Bed and Breakfast Terra del Sole Ibla

Day 13-14: Siracusa (Final Days of your Sicily Road Trip)

As the end of your Sicily road trip draws near, embrace the true Dolce Vita lifestyle in the picturesque town of Siracusa. The old town is located on Ortigia Island, connected to the rest of Siracusa by two small bridges. There aren’t many cars here, so the quiet streets and tiny alleyways are perfect to stroll through at your own pace.

Here are all your hotel options in Siracusa.

sicily road trip siracusa

Admire the ancient ruins of a Greek temple before browsing the Ortigia market for fresh fish, local wine, and heaped piles of herbs and spices. 

Spend the rest of your 14-day Sicily itinerary in Siracusa swimming off the rocky beaches and relaxing before returning home. Alternatively, squeeze in one last activity by cycling along the Rossana Maiorca coast path, and treat yourself to your last few plates of Sicilian pasta, creamy gelatos, and ice-cold granitas.

Tip: Close by is the Neapolis Archaeological Park, a collection of impressive Ancient Greek ruins. It’s well worth a visit to discover the fascinating history of this area of Sicily.

best road trip sicily

How to get from Ragusa to Siracusa

It is a 1.5-hour drive from Ragusa to Siracusa. On the way, you’ll pass through the town of Modica, famous for Aztec chocolate!

From Siracusa to the Airport

From Siracusa, it is a 1-1.5 hour drive (or train journey) to the international airport in Catania – and the end point of your 2-week Sicily road trip!

Where to Stay in Siracusa

Base yourself on the island of Ortigia, which is the most picturesque part of the town. Ask your hotel about where it is best to park before arriving.

Hotels in Siracusa 😴

Palazzo Alfeo Aparthotel

How to Visit Sicily in a 2-week road trip

This Sicily road trip starts and ends in Catania, which has the main international airport on the island. However, there are five other airports in various cities. 

Alternatively, you can take a ferry from mainland Italy to any port city on the island. Best of all, most of these allow cars, making it the perfect option if you are planning an extended road trip around the whole country.

There is also a train from the mainland, which is transported over the Strait of Messina by ferry!

Book your transport to Sicily in advance here

Getting Around Sicily

The best way to follow a 14-day Sicily itinerary is by car! Having your own wheels gives you the ultimate freedom to explore at your own pace. It can also save you time in the long run, allowing you to visit those out-of-the-way destinations. 

In bigger cities like Catania and Palermo, it’s better to leave the car near your hotel while exploring, as busy roads make it difficult to navigate and park. 

Note: The historic centers of small towns often have limited parking. Because of this, it’s best to check with your hotel where it is best to park before your arrival.

busy street catania sicily road trip

By Train and Bus

If you’re not able to do a Sicily road trip, you can also travel around Sicily by public transport. However, this generally takes longer, and timetables aren’t always reliable. Trains run between most big towns, but days 11-14 of the Sicily itinerary may be more difficult as you will need to take buses.

See availability for bus and train trips in Sicily

best road trip sicily

Our Favorite Accommodations

Sicily has a huge range of accommodation options depending on your budget. Although there are not many hostels in the smaller towns, there are plenty of affordable guesthouses and B&Bs, beautiful hotels, rustic agriturismos, and luxury private villas. Here are our favorites from each destination on the Sicily road trip:

  • Catania: Dome , Bed, Book & Breakfast Landolina , The Yard Hostel
  • Taormina: B & B Teatro Greco 39 , Hotel Le Chevalier , Vilagos Apartments and Loft
  • Cefalù: Al 33 Giri , Cortile Umberto I , Lirma B & B
  • Palermo: Sui Tetti di Balarm Boutique Rooms , Family Affair , Canceddi B & B
  • Trapani: Villa le Torri B & B , BADIA NUOVA Apart Hotel , Le Cupole Suites and Apartments
  • Agrigento: Villa La Lumia Suites and Apartments , Casa Tita , B & B Triskéles
  • Ragusa: Bed and Breakfast Terra del Sole Ibla , A.D. 1768 Boutique Hotel , Pura Vida Barocca
  • Siracusa: Palazzo Alfeo Aparthotel , La Maison , La Residenza del Reginale

best road trip sicily

How Much Does a 2-week Sicily road trip Cost?

Sicily is a relatively affordable destination, with your most significant expenses being accommodation and car rental. It also depends on the time of year you visit. For example, the summer months are generally more expensive (with prices peaking in September). 

Costs of Traveling in Sicily

Travel on a budget in Sicily, from $370 − $430 USD weekly per person, mid-range $720 − $1690 USD, and high-end from $1690 − $2090 USD. However, costs depend on factors like accommodation, transportation, and activities. We did not include flights. Check flight prices here

  • Hotels: $50 − $100 USD Check available hotels
  • Hostels: $20 − $30 USD Check available hostels
  • Transport: $10 − $30 USD Book public transport
  • Car Rental: $100 − $150 USD Book a rental car
  • Food: $10 − $20 USD
  • Activities: $10 − $20 USD See tickets & tours
  • Sim: $1 − $3 USD Get an eSIM or SIM here
  • Travel Insurance: $2 − $6 USD Get Travel Insurance

Is Sicily Safe?

In general, Sicily is a very safe place to visit. Although the mafia is still active on the island, they have much less influence than before, and they don’t generally pose a threat to tourists. As in most places, keep an eye on personal belongings when out and about, and don’t leave anything in your car overnight. 

Travel Insurance Don't forget a travel insurance for your Italy trip! Heymondo covers medical emergencies, theft, delays, cancellations, lost luggage, and more, with 24/7 worldwide assistance and medical chat. As a Salt in our Hair reader, we've got you 5% off! Check Heymondo here

Tip: Mount Etna is an active volcano, so always follow local advice and guidelines and check government websites before traveling. 

Streets of Palermo Sicily

Best Time to Visit Sicily for 2 Weeks

The best time for a Sicily road trip is during the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall when the weather is warm and sunny, and there are fewer crowds. However, bear in mind that September is actually the busiest month and, therefore, the most expensive. 

June-August is extremely hot. However, there is a lively atmosphere, and it is fantastic if you are looking to spend most of your 14-day Sicily itinerary at the beach. 

Alternatively, you may want to base your trip around one of Sicily’s incredible festivals, like Carnival in February, lively Easter celebrations, or the many seasonal street food festivals known as ‘sagre.’

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Discover Sicily: A Marvellous 7-Day Road Trip Itinerary

When thinking about Sicily, most people imagine endless beaches and blue water. But the island is so much more than that – it’s absolutely worth it to take a 7-day road trip in Sicily! Our experience was indeed marvelous – from famous historical sights to lovely hidden gems, Sicily is a great destination for active sightseeing.

Table of Contents

How to get to Sicily

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

In order to begin our marvelous road trip in Sicily, we first need to get there, right? 😁 Well, there are three main airports where you can fly into – Catania -Fontanarossa (which is the largest one), Palermo Falcone-Borsellino, Trapani Birgi, Comiso Pio La Torre (a smaller and not so popular one). Most low-cost airlines fly into Catania and Palermo, so these are the ones you need to look into.

It’s important to know that Sicily is not too friendly when it comes to public transport. I highly recommend hiring a car – it’s the best way to get around the island without having to worry about transport schedules. The best thing is that you can get it directly from the airport (and leave it there as well). Take some time and research the best deals for car hire in Sicily  with Discover Cars .

When to visit Sicily

Even though July and August are esteemed to be the high season, you might want to consider enjoying Sicily in its full glory throughout May-June or September-October. Not only will you enjoy some ideal temperatures around 20-25 degrees Celsius (or 70-80s Fahrenheit) – you will also avoid the overwhelming crowds and might even strike some sweet accommodation discounts! Not a bad hack, right?

Spring and fall are a top-notch time for pretty much any activity you can think of (or check below) during your road trip in Sicily. From strolling down the streets and visiting cultural sites, to hiking, sungazing, and even hitting the beach – it’s your call.

Think planning a trip to Sicily on your own is too much hassle? Original Travel can create tailor-made holidays to Sicily where every detail is curated to you and your needs. I can’t stress the importance of personal insights and exceptional knowledge of destinations enough – and it’s exactly what they offer. They have a wide array of holidays for Sicily and can make your life so much easier at the island.

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Sicily Itinerary 7 days

If you imagine an authentic   scene from The Godfather when you think of Sicilians, you might be slightly disappointed. It’s highly unlikely to see the average Sicilian walking around with a gun in an elegant gangster suit, but there are some typical traits about the locals that are good to keep in mind for your Sicily itinerary for 7 days.

First off – not many of them speak good English . Nevertheless, you will most probably enjoy interacting with them, as the majority is generally hospitable, friendly, and funny .

Another distinguishing (and rather charming) trait is that Sicilians are extremely proud of their culture and identity. Many of them would identify as “Sicilians” first, and “Italians” second.

Going back to The Godfather – Sicily has become a synonym of the word “mafia” for a number of reasons. From the countless movies about the Cosa Nostra to the historical relations of the region with the organization – we all connect the dots.

Truth be told, the Sicilian mafia is perhaps the most “bourgeois” one in Italy, and even though it still holds power today, it is much more integrated within the legal activities in the society.

On another note, not only do not all Sicilians sympathize with the mafia – there is an Anti-Mafia Movement that is perhaps as active as the organization itself. Thus, you won’t need to worry at all during your road trip in Sicily!

So here’s one important aspect of the Italian lifestyle. Sicilians are super particular about their recycling – it’s essential to keep the island neat and clean. The recycling rules don’t seem to be a low-hanging fruit at first, so I recommend doing your homework prior to going there, especially if you want to stay in an AirBNB.

Basically, you need to remember 5 waste categories:

  • Plastic and metal
  • Paper, cardboard
  • Organic waste
  • All other garbage

Each category has its own designated colored bins on the streets. Blue is for plastic and metal, brown for paper and cardboard, white for organic waste (“umido”), and yellow for all other garbage. There’s no special bin only for the glass. I know – sounds confusing, but it’s for a good cause. If you do stay in an AirBNB during your road trip in Sicily – the hosts will explain or send you all information you need. In one of the small cities we stayed in, we had to take out different type of trash each day of the week!

Regardless of whether you plan to be driving in Sicily or strolling down the street, it’s good to keep in mind a thing or two about the locals’ driving… Sicilians have a well-deserved reputation as some of the country’s most aggressive drivers, so brace yourself to wrack some nerves and use extra caution when you follow this Sicily itinerary for 7 days! 🙂

Sicily itinerary for 7 Days:

Day 1 – Drive to Acireale

We actually landed in Palermo (and had our returning flight departing from there as well), but we decided to drive to the East coast first and then go back to Palermo for sightseeing. The drive from the airport to Acireale was a bit over 3 hours, it’s almost the same if you decide to sleep in Catania. So it doesn’t matter where you land – this itinerary is doable both ways!

If you do decide a bit to drive on your first day from your road trip in Sicily, you would still have some part of the afternoon for exploring. As we chose budget accommodation in Sicily, we stayed in Acireale – a gorgeous and underrated city in Sicily!

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

If you  really want to feel the authentic Sicilian atmosphere , Acireale is the absolute perfect option for you! As I mentioned above, recycling is an important part of Sicily’s lifestyle, and this is the first place where you’ll encounter it. We stayed in an AirBNB (our host was very lovely), and we were made clear how recycling works over there.

However, there are two main things that won my heart as to why Acireale is one of the best places to visit in Sicily – how nice the people are and how few tourists you’ll meet! We were on a road trip in Sicily with a 7-month old baby, so you’ll imagine how hard it was dragging the stroller everywhere. In no other city were the people so nice – lots of them stopped and talked to our little one, smiled, made faces, asked about her name (in Italian, so I just said “fiore”, flower, which is how it translates). We also had people stop and help with the stroller! Most of them didn’t speak English at all, but they did want to help and the language barrier didn’t matter. This whole atmosphere was so welcoming, we were extremely happy we didn’t skip this city. In addition, we only saw one tourist group for 5 days (this was before the coronavirus pandemic) and it wasn’t even that large.

Top things to see in Acireale:

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

  • Piazza Duomo – the main square of Acireale
  • Basilica di San Sebastiano – a gorgeous baroque building that is most stunning in the morning
  • Basilica dei Santi Pietro e Paolo  – a captivating church nestled in the heart of the city
  • Chiazzette – take the trail starting from Piazza Duomo and explore the lower part of Acireale – its Ionian coast is absolutely gorgeous! You can also go there by car (which we did because of the stroller), but here’s a bit more info about the trail itself.
  • Cyclopean Isles – if you have some extra time, you can take a boat tour – it will take your breath away!
  • Musmeci Palace  – if you’re in the mood for some authentic 18th Century Palace – that’s your place
Looking to explore more of the best places to visit in Italy? Check out this 3-day Rome itinerary !

Day 2 – Taormina, Mazzaro, Castelmola

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

Okay, so let’s talk about why you’re really in Sicily. It’s Taormina, isn’t it? 😁 Before I started planning our road trip in Sicily, I hadn’t heard about it, but it’s indeed the most popular city for tourists. If you’d like to fully explore Taormina and the surrounding sights, it will take you about 2 days . But one full day is also enough to see the main attractions!

Top things to see in Taormina

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

Even with the coronavirus pandemic, Taormina can get a bit busy during high season. Thus, I suggest that you visit Taormina as early as you can!  Leave your car at one of the large parkings at either entrance, have an ice cream for breakfast (we’re totally guilty – we did exactly that!) and start exploring.

  • Corso Umberto  – Taormina’s main street, you can’t miss it 😄 It’s wonderful and full of cafes, shops, and super touristy
  • Piazza IX Aprile   – the best viewpoint of the city
  • Greek Theatre of Taormina – now this is one of the places that will show you why Taormina is one of the best places to visit in Sicily! The theatre and the view of the Etna volcano between its arches are absolutely mind-bending.
  • Villa Comunale – an amazing park at the heart of Taormina – a perfect escape if you’re visiting Taormina on a hot day

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

Castelmola is kind of a hidden gem on your Sicily itinerary, but it is  so worth seeing! It’s a castle with an amazing view over Taormina, its surroundings and Etna. I would’ve totally missed it if it wasn’t for a lovely girl that replied to my Instagram stories while I was there and told me about it. It’s also a bit less touristy than Taormina, and you can leave your car at the paid parking right next to the castle.

As much as I love Sicily, there are definitely more Italian islands to discover – check out this amazing Sardinia itinerary , for example 😍

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

It’s about time to enjoy the area’s brightest gem – that’s right, the beaches in Sicily. You can reach the breathtaking Mazzaro, one of the best places to visit in Sicily, by taking a lift (or a steep walkway, if you don’t mind breaking some sweat), and enjoying the mesmerizing views on the way. Once you reach there the sky is the limit. The pebbly beach offers all kinds of diverse activities such as snorkeling, diving, boat trips to Grotta Azzurra sea cave that I totally recommend, and charming restaurants with mouth-watering cuisines (especially if you’re a mussels fan like me)!

Isola Bella

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

Or should we say “The Pearl of the Ionian Sea”? Isola Bella is a small and charming heart-shaped island nestled within a small bay and it was one of my favourite spots during our Sicily itinerary for 7 days. During the high season, it is usually packed with people, but if you get the timing right during late spring/early autumn you might enjoy it with fewer crowds and still be able to take a dip in the sea. With its crystal clear water and splendid local flora, Isola Bella is a must-stop destination.

Day 3 – Mount Etna & Catania

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

Time to move on to Sicily’s absolute can’t-miss location – the captivating mount Etna . With its impressive 3,340m above sea level, Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe. There are several ways to reach, such as buses from Catania and a railway line to Riposto. We took a cable car that took us more than 2,500m above sea level and gifted us with mind-bending panoramas!

Regardless of the season – the mountain offers a wide variety of activities for everyone. In summer, just as we did, you can hit the numerous hiking trails and enjoy the diverse vegetation throughout the woods. If you’re into more cultural and historical activities – I strongly recommend signing up for one of the local tours with a guide for this particular stop of your Sicily itinerary for 7 days. Winter, on other hand, is perfect for sports (just imagine skiing down the peaks…).

Top things to see (and do) in Etna:

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

So apart from hiking or wild skiing, here are a few stops you absolutely must make:

  • The Silvestri craters  – two inactive craters that were formated after the 1892 eruption. Neat, right?
  • Rifugio Sapienza – a must-stop resort with great restaurants
  • Parco Avventura dell’Etna –  or the Etna Adventure Park. As the name suggests, this is a fun and adventurous themed park, ideal to spice up your trip to Etna!
  • Chalets  – if you seek some mountain relaxation, don’t miss out on booking a chalet in the forest
  • Jeep tour  – just in case the Adventure park is not enough

Here you can find more detailed info on all the amazing things you can in Etna.

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

If you decide to visit Etna and still have some time left, Catania is also totally worth exploring. It is the ultimate place for sea and mountain lovers alike and has a super-rich historical heritage. Of course, we couldn’t miss out on exploring the historic city center during our Sicily itinerary for 7 days. Did you know its Baroque made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Top things to see in Catania:

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

  • Piazza del Duomo  – the heart of the city, where you can see the popular The Elephant’s Fountain
  • Duomo Di Catania –  you can visit the Catania Cathedral for free pretty much every day
  • La pescheria –  if you happen to be in Catania during a weekday morning, the fish market is quite an authentic experience
  • Via Etnea – Catania’s main street! The name says it all – the end of the street reveals a perfect view of majestic old Etna
  • Piazza dell’Universita  – if you like palaces, this is the square to be. Not one but two great buildings facing each other, offering relaxing inner yards
  • Castello Ursino – a wonderful castle and a perfect place for lunch – with lots of restaurants around

Day 4 – Syracusa, Ragusa, Modica

If you’re a fan of timeless ancient history and archeological sites like we are, get ready for some lifetime memories – these are truly some of the best places to visit in Sicily. Syracusa is a truly captivating place for numerous reasons, but its rich nearly-three-millennia history probably tops the list. Quick historic fact (just in case you didn’t know): Syracusa used to be a Greek city bigger and greater even than Athens, and played a key role during the Roman empire.

One of the first things we did after wandering in the historic city center, was to visit the magnificent island of Ortygia . It’s a heavenly and super lively area. You’ll find authentic streetscapes and endless options for dining and drinking (I highly recommend the wine tasting)!

You can easily spend at least 3 days there, but since we’re already on day 4 of our Sicily itinerary for 7 days, here’s what I recommend seeing.

In need of more Italy inspiration? See these 9 unmissable hidden gems in Florence !

Top things to see in Syracusa:

  • Neapolis Archeological Park – an absolute must-see for anyone who goes to Syracusa. One of the finest archeological sites in Italy
  • Ortygia market – this market is a true festival of colors, flavors and scents
  • The Greek Theater – one of the largest theaters in the world, completely carved in the stone. Need to say more?
  • Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi – getting back to the archeology-minded fellas, this is one of the most prestigious museums in Europe
  • Ear of Dionysius – if you’re a cave enthusiast, this one is a must-see. It’s an artificial cave located under the Greek Theater in an ancient stone quarry called Latomia del Paradiso . It was super interesting to see in person!
  • Piazza Duomo – wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this is one of the most beautiful squares throughout the entire country!

One more history lesson (super short, I promise), to enhance Ragusa’s splendor. Just as many other towns back in the day, Ragusa was completely destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1693. As a result, nowadays the city is split into 2 parts – old and new. The more bourgeois citizens decided to rebuild Ragusa above the old one and called it Ragusa Superiore. The other part of the locals, however, rebuilt the city on its original location at the bottom of a gorge – Ragusa Ibla . While each of those has its charm, you will be truly enchanted by the authentic spirit of the lower part. You can approach Ragusa Ibla from Modica to the south and you will be left completely speechless by its timeless Baroque beauty, grey stone houses and small streets.

Now let’s talk about the truly important things – chocolate !! 😄  You read it right. Apart from its breathtaking Baroque architecture, Modica has a long history in the Sicilian chocolate-making tradition (400 years in the business, to be exact). Don’t waste any time and just go straight to Museo del Cioccolato . Jokes aside, Modica is a feast for all the senses and you will immensely enjoy this stop of your Sicily itinerary for 7 days. It’s located about 15km from Ragusa, and is totally worth the visit. With steep staircases and unique streetscapes, Modica is enamored equally by locals and backpackers alike. Naming the main attractions worth seeing there is quite tough, as the city hides a whole package of them once you find your way around.

Day 5 – Agrigento – Valley of the Temples

So let’s continue our once-in-a-lifetime archeological tour – an integral part of any decent road trip in Sicily. Day 5 of your Sicilian fairy tale will take you to Agrigento. This lovely city has some of the finest Greek archeological sites in Europe, and the brightest gem in its crown is undoubtedly the Valley of Temples!  The so-called Valley contains 8 iconic Greek temples that have enchanted their visitors for over 2,500 years. They were built by the Greek colonizers to demonstrate the glory and prosperity of the third most powerful city in the area at the time – Akragas (or Agrigento today). The temples have proudly stood the test of time, and are surprisingly well preserved – I can assure you that you will fall in love with this stop of your Sicily itinerary for 7 days!

You will be able to check them all in about 4 hours. You should buy  tickets online (€16 full entry, free for children under 18) prior to the visit that skip the long lines, which will buy some additional time.  The temples are situated about 3km from Agrigento, so if you’re planning to take a walk instead of a bus, taxi, or a rental car – keep in mind the season/weather. In summer it’s best to leave early in the morning (or at night/sunset , when many people say they’re even more breathtaking!). Opening times are from 8:30 am – 7 pm (11 pm during high season, and midnight on weekends).

There are 2 entrances: 

  • Eastern area – start here, the more popular and well-preserved part of the park. Grab some coffee and refreshments from the cafeteria nearby, and afterwards enter Tempio di Giunone (Temple of Juno)
  • Western area – the Western entrance is located about 2km from the Eastern. You can continue to the great Temple of Zeus after the Eastern part, but it doesn’t really matter which area you pick up first.

Bonus tip: if you’re an EU citizen aged 18-25, you can get a cheaper ticket. No cheating, though – they might ask for an ID!

Day 6 – Erice & Marsala

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

By this moment we were already used to the cable car traveling in Sicily, but going to Erice, one of the best places to visit in Sicily, brought it to a whole new level. The enchanting Medieval village is situated at 750m above sea level. If you’re very lucky, you might find it hugged by its own cloud, creating a magical ambiance ! The weather there can switch from foggy to bright sunshine in a fraction of the minute, which complements the exceptional experience.

One of the first things we did was head down to the internationally-renowned pastry shop Maria Grammatico (nestled on Via Vittorio Emanuele street), and treat ourselves to some first-class meal! 😄 Quick tip: one of Erice’s specialties are the almond cakes – don’t skip them! Afterward, we swiftly moved on to the main attractions listed below.

Top things to see in Erice:

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

  • Castello di Venere – one of the top attractions in the area and a must for your Sicily itinerary for 7 days. Even though going inside is forbidden, the mind-bending 360 panoramas surrounding the 12th-century castle are totally worth the visit
  • Torre di Federico – what better way to enjoy a town that soars in the skies, than going even higher on its 28m-tall tower
  • Real Duomo – you can find tickets for this magical gold-and-marble cathedral in Torre di Federico
  • The sixty churches – that’s right, little Erice has not 1, nor 10, but 60 churches! We enjoyed the gothic ones like Chiesa Madre, but some of the most famous include Chiesa di San Martino and Chiesa di San Giuliano

Truth is that even wandering down the stone-paved streets and enjoying the panoramas will leave you with memories that linger for life. The village is gifted with unique architecture – an authentic mix of all the different cultures and rulers that invaded it. Erice simply is a walk back in time!

Our stomachs (and specifically our taste for world-class wine) took us to our next stop – the marble-paved Marsala! As you’ve probably heard, the wine in Marsala is fairly heralded throughout the globe. It was just the ultimate spot for a relaxed afternoon and evening strolls, with plenty of options for aperitivos and top-notch bars and restaurants around each corner.  In other words – the cherry on top of our 6th day in paradise!

By the way, if you still have some time (and energy) left to explore more of the city – check out the renowned archaeological museum “Baglio Anselmi”. Another awesome option is the Il Stagnone saltpans.

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

Trapani is not your usual stop for a Sicily itinerary for 7 days – it’s a lovely hidden gem! It’s a beautiful small city with wonderful views, but our favourite stop was definitely the Museum of Optical Illusions . I must admit – I hadn’t read about it anywhere when I was researching beforehand, and it had always been a dream of mine to visit such a place. We were just strolling around some tiny streets in Trapani when I saw the sign. I couldn’t resist walking in – I was so excited! The museum can only be visited via a guided tour, but don’t worry – they count even a couple of people as a group, you won’t need to wait long at all.

You might be flying to Sicily through Milan – why not extend your trip? Check out these top attractions in Milan in 3 days !

Day 7 – Palermo

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

What better way to end our Sicilian road trip than visiting the timeless capital – Palermo? The city is literally overflowing with things to do and see. This is why I recommend you make a precise plan before going. Especially if you only have a day, as we did!

Palermo has its own unique heartbeat. The city is the touchpoint of ancient history and a modern, vibrant society. Strolling down the streets, we were captivated. The well-preserved yet authentic buildings cuddled by palms, the renowned museums and sites sheltering citrus trees in their courtyards, the street art behind each corner, the hip bars and restaurants, this all cuts the figure of the ultimate metropolis. All of these things make it a perfect stop for your Sicily itinerary for 7 days. Of course, we sped up to grab some of the world-renowned street food! One of the best was Sfincione – a local pizza unique even for Italy!

The list below will help you build your Palermo itinerary. It’s physically impossible to include everything, but you can pick what suits you best.

Top things to see in Palermo:

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

  • Palazzo dei Normann – sometimes called “The Royal Palace”, it’s one of the most popular monuments in Palermo
  • Quattro Canti – a wonderful square with breathtaking architecture
  • Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele – the largest opera in Italy, and third largest in Europe!
  • Opera dei Pupi – an old and must-see traditional puppets show, beloved by local children and adults alike
  • The beaches <3  – of course, there’s no time to check all the beaches in Palermo. But here is a list of the best ones by a local
  • The street markets –  the 5 super old markets in Palermo are perfect to feel like a local. Oh, and to try out some of the finest street food in town! I highly recommend Mercato di Ballarò.
  • Mount Pellegrino – it’s more like a 600m-tall hill, offering amazing views and a bunch of things to do
Looking to explore even more in the city? Here’s a full guide on the top things to do in Palermo .

Sicily Itinerary 7 days

If you get the chance to spend a bit more than a day around Palermo or you have a later flight – try to catch the sunset at the small but gorgeous village of Trappeto. We ended up spending two nights there and completely immersed into Sicilian atmosphere and Italian life!

Extra Sicily road trip ideas

Now that your fairytale reaches to an end, why not add some extra spice? If you’re ahead of schedule and want to expand your Sicily itinerary for 7 days with a few extras, here are some bonus tips:

Located just an hour’s drive from Palermo, Cefalù is the perfect spot to immerse into a picturesque scenery. Its world-renowned beaches will keep you busy for hours. Also, while you’re there don’t be fooled to skip the local cathedral. It’s totally worth the visit! In case you’re not traveling by car, there are organized trips to Cefalù from Palermo.

Temple of Segesta

One of the most highly appreciated archeological sites throughout the whole of Sicily. Built on a hill, you can get a glimpse of it on the freeway between Palermo and Trapani. I highly recommend doing a detour to enjoy it closely.

Monte Cofano

Along with Monte Pellegrino, Monte Cofano is one of the favorite spots of local and traveling backpackers. It’s situated between Trapani and Erice, at 660m above sea level. A great escape from the city dynamic if you’re in the mood for forest hiking and jaw-dropping views of the seaside!

Where to stay in Sicily – accommodation

If you do plan a Sicily itinerary for 7 days – it’s best to not to sleep in just one place. We decided to split our stay between the East coast and the West coast and it was an excellent decision.

Budget accommodation in Sicily

The East coast of Sicily can be quite expensive. We chose the adorable city of Acireale in order to save a bit on accommodation – Taormina can be crazy expensive! Here are a few budget options in Acireale and Taormina if you’re looking to save some $$:

  • Acireale: Terrazze Bella Epoque – rating: 8.9 – Price per night: ~50 EUR
  • Acireale: Jonio B&B – rating: 9.3 – Price per night: ~60 EUR
  • Taormina: Hotel Villino Gallodoro – rating: 8.6 – Price per night: ~60 EUR

The West coast is fairly cheaper in terms of accommodation in Sicily – it’s not that touristy (even though it hides many things worth seeing!), but you can still sleep outside of Palermo in order to fit a better budget:

  • Palermo: Ai Bastioni del Massimo – rating: 9.3 – Price per night: ~50 EUR
  • Palermo: B&B Politeama Art – rating: 9.2  – Price per night: ~60 EUR

Luxury accommodation in Sicily

We can’t always travel on a budget, can we? Sometimes it’s just soo good to “Treat Yo Self” 😁. Here are a few amazing luxury accommodation options on the East coast of Sicily:

  • Taormina: UNAHOTELS Capotaormina – rating: 8.9  – Price per night: ~250 EUR
  • Taormina: Eurostars Monte Tauro  – rating: 8.1  – Price per night: ~450 EUR

And here are a few top picks for the West coast :

  • Palermo: Eurostars Centrale Palace Hotel – rating: 8.4 – Price per night: ~200 EUR
  • Palermo: Rocco Forte Villa Igiea – rating: 9.2  – Price per night: ~600 EUR


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Vagrants Of The World Travel

10 Day Sicily Road Trip Itinerary Planner

By: Author Vagrants of the World Travel Writer

Posted on Last updated: February 3, 2023

Home >> Destinations >> 10 Day Sicily Road Trip Itinerary Planner

A Sicily road trip is not just a bucket-list-worthy tour. It’s an experience connecting travellers with the heart of Italy.

A road trip through Sicily is discovering some of the most delicious food in the world. Getting lost in the heart of a street market, asking for directions, only to have 20 people shouting directives at you.

It’s the warmth of its people, the beauty of nature and discovering the story of ancient history. It’s also the simple pleasure of balconies covered in freshly cleaned laundry in quaint narrow alleyways. Sicily is one of those surprisingly romantic Italian destinations that will steal your heart.

Table of Contents

Stunning white stone houses of Italy.

All these experiences make Sicily not just Italy’s most famous island but the big sis of the Mediterranean. A unique connector between Africa, Europe, and all things in between. Step into this generous land, and plan an epic Italian road trip, Sicilian style.

You Might Also Like : Discover the heart of Italy with these traditional Italian recipes by region and learn how to recreate centuries of culinary tradition at home.

Narrow streets and small balconies surround you in Cefalu, Sicily.

A Guide to the Ultimate Sicily Road Trip

All your Sicily road trip planning is covered in this guide. It has all the information you need to circle the island by car, camping tips, a look at costs, and optional side trips.

Learn how to get there, what to eat, and how to make the most of your Sicilian adventure.

This tailored map covers all the stops in this guide to road-tripping Sicily.

A Little About Sicily

Sicily is located south of Italy and is the largest island in the Mediterranean . Its history dates back thousands of years, with evidence of human settlements from 10,000 BC, and Greek temples and villas established around the 8th century BC.

People enjoying the orange glow of sunset at Ortigia Syracuse.

Sitting close to Africa, only 96 miles from Tunisia, the island also has strong historical influences (or was ruled by) from Arabs, Normans, and Byzantines, to name a few. So, it’s fair to say, Sicily has come a long way to become the melting pot of cultures the island celebrates today.

You Might Also Like: Discover Italy’s most beautiful cities – The Perfect Five Day Venice Itinerary and The Best Things to do in Rome

How to Get to Sicily

There are many ways to get to Sicily. The most popular is to cross the Strait of Messina by ferry from Villa San Giovanni -mainland Italy. The trip takes 20-40 minutes.

The costs vary – if you are crossing with a car, the season, and the time of your departure. However, you can expect to pay about 30-40 EU one way, with a standard-sized vehicle.

You can book your trip online or at the counter.

The bay and coastal city of Messina.

If you choose to cross by train, you’ll still need to take the ferry, and then reconnect with the train once you reach the island. If, for example, you hop on a train in Napoli, the journey would take just over 6 hours and cost 20-30 EU.

You can book your trip online or at the station.

Another option is to fly. There are two international airports in Sicily. One in Palermo -Sicily’s capital- and one in Catania. You can fly in pretty much from anywhere.

Discover Italy’s Beautiful Liguria region: 2 Day Cinque Terre Itinerary and The Italian Ligurian Coast

How to Plan Your Sicily Road Trip

The main challenge of planning a road trip across Sicily is to pick between a slew of stunning places. That’s also a huge perk. Regardless of where you go, you will undoubtedly enjoy the unique experiences of every spot you visit.

With this in mind, this guide offers an itinerary covering many of Sicily’s main sights , plus additional and optional stops. The aim is to give you the most comprehensive experience of Sicily in 10 days. 

Chandeliers and statues inside a grand stone Italian church.

Where to Start Your Sicily Road Trip

If you are crossing from mainland Italy, you’ll start your journey in Messina. The big decision to make here is whether to begin clockwise or anticlockwise . As most of the main sights sit on the coastline, you’ll loop and finish in Messina. Or, if you are flying out – Palermo, or Catania.

Stops like Mount Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and Ragusa will take you away from the coast of Sicily and across the countryside.

It’s important to know there will be a lot of driving involved on this trip.

Where to Stay in Sicily

If you choose to stay in hotels, then you could easily spend a few nights in the main city hubs. However, if you are looking for a camping experience, it’s best to stick to small villages. Finding campgrounds around cities like Palermo, Catania, or Taormina can get complicated.

Sicily is well-developed for tourists, but finding parking in crowded city areas can be a curse. With narrow and tangled streets, many hotels don’t have designated parking so you will have to find your own.

Olive tree with olives, everyones dream is sit under and olive tree sipping Italian wine and eating cheese.

Camping in Sicily

Camping, if done right, can be such a fantastic way to experience Sicily.

There are plenty of campsites all around and across the island, especially if you are not fussy about quality. So it is possible to just turn up and claim a spot for the night. Camping this way takes all the hassle out of bookings, check-in times, and most importantly, parking. Although, can be hit and miss, especially during peak season.

Wild Camping In Sicily

In the case that you don’t find a campsite, it’s important to have an understanding of the rules regarding wild camping in Italy.

Wild camping in Italy is forbidden by law. Yet, it’s not enforced equally across the country.

In the case of Sicily, the island is quite populated, so it can be hard to find a suitable area that’s off the road and not within private land. Of course, again, this is not legal, so only resort to wild camping if you have no other choice or are tired of driving and desperately need to catch some sleep. Although, in this case, it would be recommended to check locally for a hotel for the night. 

If you want to experience nature in full and decide to camp in Sicily, even if for only a few nights, make sure you plan and bring your camping and hiking gear with you.

Search Accommodation in Sicily Italy

If you decide to take the hotel option, you can search current hotel rates in Sicily here or use the map to see the best rates by region. 

Always check to see what each hotels cancellation policy is before booking. 

Be Prepared for Driving in Sicily

It may seem quite obvious, but driving in Sicily will demand 100% of your attention. Always prepare for the unexpected.

You’ll see everything from kids jumping on the front seat without a seat belt to cars without doors, and folks trying to intimidate you on the road. Try to relax, enjoy the experience, and go with the flow. Be careful, but also be assertive – stand your ground and don’t let other drivers fluster you.

Also, be mindful of the number of kilometres you’ll need to drive from spot to spot and plan your daily itinerary to allow for delays.

best road trip sicily

Tips for Driving in Sicily

  • Driving in Sicily can seem chaotic, but there is a particular flow to it. A kind of organised chaos. Road rage can happen, but it’s merely a matter of how “expressive” people get on the road. Find a balance between not being carried away but holding your ground. Otherwise, other drivers may not respect you.
  • The roads connecting the main sights along the coast are not great. Keep an eye on bumps and locals skipping road signs.
  • Local coastline, inland, and southern Sicily roads are toll-free, except for the A20 and the A18 that are part of the freeway.
  • You could indeed connect many towns with the freeway, but where the magic happens is on the local roads.
  • When it comes to speed limits, it’s essential to know; even though many people don’t seem to respect them, you can get hefty fines if caught on camera.
  • The same goes for parking. It can be hard to figure out if you can or cannot park in some areas. The worst part is, you may end up receiving a ticket at your residential address, and you’ll have to pay it. So, even if it seems no one is watching, try not to test your luck.
  • Urban areas have a speed limit of 50 km per hour. State, provincial, and local roads range between 110 and 90 km per hour. Highways top it up at 130 km per hour.

Motorbike in Catania, Sicily in Italy in baroque street

Tips for Renting a Car in Sicily Italy

  • Always rent from a trusted agency. Some local agencies have sort of ‘unwritten’ rules that could catch you out.
  • Some agencies may try to accuse you of damaging the vehicle. Always take photos when you pick up your rental and when returning it.
  • Take your international driving license with you -required for renting a car in Sicily.
  • Read your contract, and be aware of the excess fees and type of insurance.
  • If possible, rent a small car. Streets are narrow, and parking spots are extremely limited in crowded areas. In most cases, it is better (and less stressful) to park just outside town and walk or hop on a bus.

Rental Car Recommendations in Sicily

If you don’t want to rent a car on the mainland and take it on the ferry, you have various options for renting a car through reputable rental car companies once in Sicily. 

We always use Discover Cars as they aggregate the best local deals and have no fees and free cancellation. 

From Messina: If you arrive by ferry, you can collect a rental car from Messina – Compare car rental rates here for Messina .

If you are flying in, you can collect cars from all the main airports. This is the cheapest option if renting once you arrive in Sicily as there is a greater choice of companies. 

Check car rental rates for Palermo Airport here .  

Check car rental rates for Catania Airport here . 

Tip: Always check if you have car rental insurance included on your travel insurance or with your credit card company before paying any additional to the rental car company. 

What to Eat in Sicily

When travelling around Sicily, eating is just as important as sightseeing. Sicily is a big island, and each region boasts its typical cuisine and fresh produce. With this in mind, you will need to allocate some time to experiencing culinary Sicily. 

While Sicilian food deserves an article of its own to cover all the incredible food you can discover, here are five delicious traditional foods to try during your visit to Sicily.

best road trip sicily

Going to Sicily and not trying a cannoli should be considered a crime. If you could try only one thing, this would be it. Why? It’s tough to find proper cannoli anywhere else in the world. This cheap bite deserves a place in heaven. Cannolis consist of a fried tube-shaped pastry that’s filled with sweet ricotta.

Semi-frozen sugar and water in a range of flavours make up for a perfect summer treat. The Sicilian Granita is notable because it’s not a sorbet, nor an ice-cream. It’s more of a slushy, with crispy ice-flakes.

Arancini di Riso

An essential Sicilian snack. These fried crispy rice balls come filled with Ragu -minced beef tomato sauce-and peas, or mozzarella cheese. You’ll find these everywhere around Sicily.

Pane con la Milza

A locals’ favourite in the area of Palermo, the Pane con la Milza is a sandwich made with soft bread -like a burger bun- and stuffed with spleen. A delicious treat if you are into offal. 

Pasta alla Norma

Moving to the other end of the island, the Pasta Alla Norma is a traditional pasta dish from Catania. It consists of eggplant, basil, tomatoes, ricotta, and macaroni: a real belly and heart filler suited for vegetarians.

10-Day Road Trip Itinerary Sicily

Now that you are well on the way of becoming an expert on all-things-Sicily, it’s time to get the wheels turning.

This itinerary will start from Messina. After your arrival, you’d be heading East and do a full loop around the island, finishing on day 10, again in Messina.

It’s also possible to do it the other way round. The reason for starting toward the East is to tackle a bit of adventure at the beginning and catch some relaxing beach fun in the last few days.

Day 1 

Arriving in messina, and driving to taormina with a night by the etna volcano.

You’ve made it to Sicily – Benvenuti . As soon as you leave the ferry in your rental car, start driving south on the coast of Eastern Sicily. If possible, try to cross in the morning so you can spend the day enjoying your first stop, Taormina.

best road trip sicily

Taormina is one of the most touristic spots in Sicily. Known as the Sicilian St. Tropez, the hilltop village is an excellent starter for your Sicilian tour. It’s worth spending about half-day there, but it’s not the best overnight option if you are on a budget.

best road trip sicily

Walk along the main street – Corso Umberto, sit at the Piazza Aprile and contemplate the incredible panoramics from the top.

Greek Theatre of Taormina

Head to the Greek Theatre of Taormina for your first dose of Sicilian ancient history.

best road trip sicily

Tickets cost 10 EU, and the visit takes just under 1 hour. The theatre’s opening times change throughout the year – As a reference, during the summer season, it stays open until 6:30/7 pm.

best road trip sicily

There are quite a few options you can consider for the night. You could either stay around Taormina or drive a bit more and stay closer to Mount Etna. On day 2, you’ll be visiting the mighty Sicilian volcano so it might be worthwhile positioning yourself the night before if you have time. 

Another option is to spend the night anywhere near the East side of Mount Etna -which is enormous. If you’d rather be close to your starting point on day 2, then Nicolosi, Linguaglossa, or Zafferana Etnea should be your go-to’s. These villages are about 40 minutes to a 1-hour drive from Taormina and provide easy access to Mt Etna’s Funivia.

In the end, it will depend on whether you feel like driving a bit more, and if you are planning to devote a full day to exploring the Etna.

best road trip sicily

Get to Taormina from Messina

  • Messina to Taormina via Highway A18/E45 – Just under 1 hour, 53 km.
  • Messina to Taormina via local route SS114 – 1.5 hours, 51 km.

Day 2 

Exploring mt etna with a night in nicolosi.

On day 2, you should aim for an early start. There are different ways to explore Etna, so get your research together and map out a day to suit your preferences.

You can walk up, take the Funivia and then hike for about 1.5 hrs to the summit. Or you can book a tour. You can find numerous half and full-day tours here for all activity levels.

best road trip sicily

It’s important to know, once you get to the Rifugio Sapienza, you’ll be approached by tour guides telling you it’s not possible to hike up on your own. Don’t listen to them. Go to the gondola station, and they’ll give you the latest information.

As Mt Etna is always active, conditions may change from day-to-day.

A great way to explore without sweating bullets on the ascent is to drive to the Rifugio Sapienza, take the gondola, and then hike up for about 1.5 hrs. Take your time to explore and enjoy the incredibly unique landscapes.

best road trip sicily

If, after your hike, you still want more, drive towards Etna Nord and stop by one of its ‘rifugios,’ which are like huts or B&Bs, with restaurants -like the Rifugio Citelli .

The areas surrounding the huts also offer hiking. Etna Nord isn’t next to the main crater, but it’s still beautiful and worth exploring if you want to get a bit off-the-beaten-path.

best road trip sicily

Try to spend the night in Nicolosi or any of the villages on the way to Catania.

Getting to Rifugio Sapienza from Nicolosi or Zafferana Etnea

  • From Nicolosi – 25 minutes’ drive, only 18 km.
  • From Zafferana – 30 minutes’ drive, 19 km.

Nicolosi to Catania and Syracuse

On day 3, you will make your way back to the Sicilian Coast. A quick drive from Nicolosi, Catania offers quite decadent sights, baroque gems, and great markets.

best road trip sicily

Catania is the 2nd largest city in Sicily. Often overlooked by those favouring Palermo, Catania has its own identity and is excellent for spending either a half or a full day.

Focus on walking along the city’s main square and streets from where you’ll see the cathedral. Spend some leisure time at the Piazza Duomo and then make your way to the Castello Ursino.

best road trip sicily

Market lovers should head to the Catania Fish Market and the Piazza Carlo Alberto market. Vendors start selling their goodies around 7 am or 8 am every day and finish around 1 pm or 2 pm. The main market stays open till 7 pm on Saturdays.

best road trip sicily

Finish your day in Syracuse, about a 1-hour drive from Catania.

Getting from Nicolosi to Catania and Syracuse

  • From Nicolosi to Catania – It’s a 30-40 minutes’ drive, 16 km via SP10 or SP42.
  • Catania to Syracuse – Just over 1 hour, 65 km via E45 and SS114.
  • It’s also possible to drive along the SS114 all the way from Catania to Syracuse along the coast.

Syracuse to Ragusa

Spend the morning wandering the streets of Ortigia, the tiny island next to Syracuse. The city is over 2500 years old and was one of the most important centres of the Mediterranean. If Magna Grecia is your thing, then Syracuse is well worth a stay.

best road trip sicily

Visit the Temple of Apollo, the Piazza Duomo, the Fountain of Arethusa, and walk to the Castello Maniace -on the southern tip of the tiny island.

Avoid driving into Ortigia, as it’s pretty much impossible to find a parking spot where you won’t get fined.

best road trip sicily

After exploring the ancient jewels of Syracuse, head towards one of the most beautiful countryside villages on your road trip around Sicily– Ragusa Ibla.

Ragusa Ibla is about 1.5 hours from Syracuse. The town is divided in two – Ragusa, and Ragusa Ibla. Ragusa Ibla, the historic baroque village, is where you’ll spend the afternoon.

best road trip sicily

What’s particularly special about Ragusa is the trip from Syracuse and how it characterises the Sicilian countryside. You’ll drive up and down hilly roads lined with olive trees, lemon trees, and distant farms.

Ragusa is a beautifully preserved baroque village on a hilltop. With countless stunning houses and churches, the best way to see Ragusa is to simply wander around up and down its pebbled maze of streets.

best road trip sicily

It’d be best to spend the night in Ragusa. On day 5 of your Sicily road trip, you’ll be heading to Agrigento, which is nearly a 3-hour drive. Of course, another option would be to stay half-way in between if time allows.

Getting from Syracuse to Ragusa

  • Via SS194 – It’s an 80 km drive that takes about 1.5 hours.
  • If you wish to add an extra stop in Noto, take the E45 and then the SS115. It’s also about 1.5 hours – 89 km.

best road trip sicily

Ragusa to Agrigento and Valley of the Temples

On day five you’ll head to Agrigento, where you’ll spend a half-day touring the Valley of the Temples. The drive takes between 2 to 3 hours depending on traffic.

best road trip sicily

The Valley of the Temples, 2 km off Agrigento’s centre is a UNESCO Heritage site where you’ll get to experience the best of ancient Greece. Some say if you want to learn about the Greeks, you need to visit Sicily.

The Valley of the Temples is enormous. One thousand three hundred hectares of pure history. You’ll be visiting the main areas where massive Doric temples still stand proud. Agrigento was originally called Akragas, founded in the 6th century BC.

As with Syracuse, Akragas was a significant colony that saw the construction of this massive complex of temples during the 4th and 5th centuries BC.

best road trip sicily

Visiting Valley of the Temples

The visit to the temples takes between 3 to 5 hours. Visitors should be prepared for a day under the blazing Sicilian sun as there’s not a lot of shade to save you from the heat.

The complex is open from 8:30 am to 8 pm, so you could easily check into a hotel or hostel, enjoy the town’s cute historic area, and head to the temples later in the afternoon.

Tickets cost 12 EU and can be purchased online or at the Valley’s entrance.

Getting from Ragusa to Agrigento

  • Between 2 to 3 hours on route SS115 – 132 km.

Agrigento to San Vito lo Capo

Ready for some downtime? San Vito lo Capo is a cute tiny town blessed with crystal clear waters, a beautiful beach, and a lively pedestrian street.

The pool-like waters, white sand, and stunning landscapes are ideal for some proper beach time of sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling, and paddleboarding.

best road trip sicily

Take it up a notch and visit the ‘Riserva dello Zingaro’ for more splendid nature and summer vibes. Although, before heading to this natural reserve, check the official website -it can be closed due to fires or other reasons.

best road trip sicily

Getting from Agrigento to San Vito lo Capo

  • Between 2.5 to 3.5 hours -depending on traffic- on route SS115 and SS119.
  • For a drive on the coast and a side-trip to Trapani and Erice, stay on route SS115 all the way to San Vito.

San Vito lo Capo

Keep the chill going; you deserve it. If you haven’t visited the Riserva dello Zingaro, this would be a great day to do so.

However, if only one day of beach time and sun-basking is enough for you, you could spend half of day six exploring more of Agrigento -and head to San Vito later in the afternoon.

Alternatively, check out the beautiful old town of Erice and visit the Norman Castle.

If you are more of a city-seeker, then head to Palermo for a head start in this fabulous city.

best road trip sicily

San Vito lo Capo to Palermo

There’s A LOT to see and do in Palermo. You could easily spend 2 or 3 days wandering its streets and tuning into Sicily’s capital.

best road trip sicily

Palermo is truly a tale of many cultures. It belonged to the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, to the Arabs, and the Normans. It was under the Arabs’ rule that Palermo flourished and surpassed Syracuse as the main trading hub.

Visitors can see the legacy of all these great cultures by visiting some of Palermo’s main sights. The ‘San Giovanni Degli Eremiti’ church, the ‘Palazzo dei Normanni’ castle, the ‘Capella Palatina,’ and the ‘Teatro Massimo,’ to name just a few top spots.

However, merely walking Palermo’s streets and observing people go by is already a traveller’s treat.

best road trip sicily

When it comes to markets, Palermo rules, the main markets are Vucciria, Ballaró, and Capo. They are all around the historic districts and kick the day off around 7-9 am, remaining open until 7 or 8 pm. The ‘Mercato del Capot’ closes at 1 pm on Wednesdays and Sundays.

You can spend the night in Palermo, or head to a campsite outside town.

Getting from San Vito lo Capo to Palermo

  • The trip takes between 1.5 to 2 hours on route E90, or over 2 hours if travelling on route SS187.

Palermo to Cefalú

Prepare for the last stop of your Sicily road trip. On this day, you’ll head to Cefalú, one of the most famous villages in Sicily. Cefalú may have a little bit of everything – views, beaches, hiking, and great food, but the best of it lies in a golden glare lighting up just before sunset.

best road trip sicily

Cefalu has a beautiful historic centre and one of the most charming beaches you’ll ever see. If you are keen to work out a little bit, there are also some nice hikes as well as enjoying top views of the Tyrrhenian Sea from the ‘Rocca di Cefalú.

best road trip sicily

Try to spend your last night in Sicily in Cefalú, as this is truly a charming little town.

Palermo to Messina

It’s day ten, and it’s time to wrap up and head back to Messina to catch the ferry. The drive takes between 1.5 to 2.5 hours, so make sure to check your ferry’s schedule beforehand and allow for delays.

By now, you’ve eaten the best fresh food, mingled with the locals, sunbathed, connected with nature, and learned about the ancient cultures that thrived in Sicily’s abundant land. If you feel like weeping while you farewell the golden island, don’t blame yourself – it only means it’s time to plan your second Sicilian trip.

best road trip sicily

Know the Best Time to Visit Europe before planning your trip

More Towns and Islands Around Sicily

If you have more time to spare, or the energy to add more stops to your Sicily itinerary, then check these spots:

The main of the Egadi Islands, Favignana is a small paradise located off the coast of Trapani. There’s only one ferry operating the trip .

It’s possible to book the tickets online, and over the summer you’ll find many services throughout the day. The cost of a round-trip is about 23 EU -11.82 one-way, 30 minutes.

best road trip sicily

The Aeolian Islands

Visiting any or all of these 7 Unesco volcanic islands scattered along the Tyrrhenian Sea can easily become a trip in its own right. You could spend a week island hopping, hiking volcanoes, drinking sweet wine, and slowing down to match the islands’ flow.

Located off the coast of Sicily’s Northwest region, Messina, it’s also possible to visit the islands as a day trip departing from Milazzo – about 38 km from Messina.

best road trip sicily

As the departure points to the islands are between Palermo and Messina, this is a great way to finish your Sicily road trip or get it started if you decide to tour the island anticlockwise.

The Aeolian Islands are highly seasonal. If you visit over the winter months, you’ll find most shops and restaurants are closed. Check the islands’ ferry schedules and plan your itinerary. There are plenty of hydrofoil ferries heading there over the high season.

You’ll find Noto posted 38 km south of Syracuse. Noto is, just like Ragusa, a Sicilian Baroque gem. If you enjoy this architectural style, Noto should definitely be on your Sicily itinerary.

best road trip sicily

Savoca and Forza D’Agro

Attention Godfather fans. Do you remember Michael’s days in Sicily? Even though the story is set in Corleone, the actual scenes were shot in the medieval towns of Savoca and Forza D’Agro. One of the most remembered locations of the movie takes place at the Bar Vitelli, where Michael Corleone meets Apollonia’s father.

Both towns are only a 12-km drive from each other and can be visited within a half or a full day.

Bringing It All Together for the Ultimate Road Trip Around Sicily

You could easily spend two or even three weeks experiencing Sicily’s many villages, beaches, nearby islands, foods, and outdoor activities. The best way to plan your Sicily itinerary is to prioritise what resonates with you the most. Try to keep a balance between the main attractions and off-the-beaten, heart-filling little places.

best road trip sicily

As a last tip to make your stay in Sicily the most enjoyable, stay flexible. Don’t worry if you feel like changing plans last minute; some places will conquer your heart. Road tripping Sicily will be, in many ways, an intense adventure cloaked by the beauty and charm of the Mediterranean’s magic. Ci vediamo dopo, viaggiatori .

Discover Sardinia , Italy’s other most beautiful island.

About the Author

Martina Grossi

Martina is a travel writer and SEO Specialist from Argentina based in New Zealand. Like many Argentinians, Martina has Sicilian ancestors, which has taken her to explore the island in depth not once, but twice. Lover of road-tripping, camping, hiking, and nature, her travels focus on connecting with a destination’s vibe, other than ticking items off a bucket list. Find out more about Martina at The Global Curious .

best road trip sicily


Sicily Road Trip: The Perfect 9-Day Sicily Itinerary

by Crazy Travelista | Feb 2, 2019 | Italy , Itinerary , Off the beaten path | 8 comments

Sicily Road Trip: The Perfect 9-Day Sicily Itinerary

Sicily Road Trip

Sicily is the largest island in Italy and the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by the Ionian, Mediterranean, and Tyrrhenian seas. Sicily is  more rugged and raw than the mainland, which is one thing really I loved about it! 

Sicily is quite big so you can’t really see it all in one trip (unless you stay 3+ weeks minimum). During my Sicily road trip, I decided to stick to the south east of the island (with a few day trips elsewhere) and I saw so many incredible places. 

Food in Sicily 

One of my Favorite parts about Sicily is the food. I stopped in Sicily on a Mediterranean cruise back in 2007 and had the best pizza of my life (that still stands til this day). I personally think they have better pizza than Naples, but hey, that’s just my opinion! 

Foods you must try in Sicily : pizza (obviously), cannoli (Sicily is where cannoli originated), granita (flavored slushy ice drinks), Arancini (fried rice balls), and anything with ricotta cheese and/or pistachios. I think I gained 5 lbs from that trip alone…and I’m not even sorry about it. 

Gluten free food in Sicily

Sicily was gluten free heaven and probably the most gluten free friendly place in Italy that I have ever been. Almost every restaurant had gluten free options and most pizzerias had gluten free dough. I wasn’t used to all the choices!

Here are a few places I visited on my trip to Sicily:

Licchios bar (Taormina)-gluten free cannoli and fried rice balls. They also had soy milk for coffee. 

Mastrociliegia -gluten free canolis in Ragusa.

Gran Caffe del Duomo (Ortigia island in Syracusa) had an entire gluten free menu and gluten free cannoli. The pasta with mussels was really good.

La Perla (Modica)-all types of GF pizza.

Duomo pizzeria ristorante (Cefalú)-gluten free pizza right in the main square.

Driving in Sicily 

Italians drive fast, that’s a given. The more south you go, the wilder it gets. That being said, I didn’t think the driving in Sicily was half as bad as so many people say it is. If you stay in the right lane (slow lane) on the highway no one will bother you, they will just go around you.

renting a car in Sicily

However on the country roads where there is one lane, just about everyone will be passing you. They pass pretty close to your car so just know what to expect and maybe scooch over a little bit to make room and you will be fine. Oh, and Sicilians don’t stop at stop signs so keep that in mind and use caution. 

I would also recommend a mini car as some of the cities have tiny streets and it would be tough getting through with a regular size car. It’s also much easier to park a mini car also!

I rented a car for $200 for 10 days with (through Sicily by car). The company has terrible reviews online but it was my second time using them and it was fine. The big complaint people make is that if you decline their insurance they will take a deposit of 800€ so just know what to expect. 

The total I spent on gas for 10 days was 122€ ($145).

If you’re interested in exploring the other famous Italian island, here is a detailed  9 day road trip of Sicily blog post I wrote.

*Make sure you do a walk around to see if there are any additional scratches or dents on the car that haven’t been marked (every time I’ve rented a car in Italy, I ALWAYS find additional scratches and that’s how they get you).  If you don’t do this, they may charge you for the scratches later so please don’t forget! (Especially if you are declining their insurance…which I did because I have awesome car insurance through my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card). 

* Please note: my credit card insurance does NOT include 3rd party liability insurance (damage to the OTHER car or bodily harm to the other driver). Most credit card companies do not offer this so you either have to purchase this separately (usually at $15/day) or reserve a car that already has that included. My rental car already had 3rd party liability insurance included so I didn’t need to purchase anything extra. (I always choose the package on that includes the 3rd party liability insurance in the price if there’s an option). 

Sicily Road Trip: 9-Day Itinerary

Day 1: arrive  catania in the evening, day 2: taormina , day 3: caltagirone/enna, day 4:cefalù , day 5: scalia di turchi/valley of the temples , day 6: ragusa/modica , day 7: marzamemi/noto, day 8: syracuse/ortigia, day 9: necropolis of pantalica/fontane bianche beach.

*I arrived to Catania in the evening on my first day and then went to Taormina all the next day so I really didn’t get to experience much of Catania. But from what I did see, I don’t think I was missing much as there were SO many other beautiful place to see in Sicily.

Taormina is one of the prettiest cities in Sicily and one place you don’t want to miss on your Sicily road trip! There is a lot to see and so much history in Taormina.

I didn’t rent my car until the 3rd day because I wanted to take a train to Taormina. The train from Catania to Taormina costs 8.60€ return and takes about 45 minutes. You must then take a bus from the train station in Taormina up to the Taormina center (3€ return ticket).  

What To Do in Taormina:

Teatro Antico di Taormina – the famous Greek theatre built in the 3rd century with epic views over Sicily and the surroundings. Entrance fee is 10€. 

Sicily Road Trip

Piazza IX Aprile- the main square in Taormina with incredible views, cute cafes, and restaurants. It’s a popular gathering place with musicians playing throughout the day. 

Isola Bella (“beautiful island”) -the prettiest beach in Taormina that was  purchased by the Department of Cultural Heritage in 1990 and declared a  Nature Reserve and remains protected.

Isola Bella, Sicily

Villa Communale -a public garden with spectacular views of the coastline. It’s a peaceful place to get away from the crowds.

Mt. Etna -you can climb to the top of one of the most active volcanos in the entire world! I didn’t have time for this and it remains on my bucket list! Mt. Etna is also a UNESCO site !


Caltagirone is a beautiful town with a famous 142-step staircase made from ceramic tiles, each with their own unique design. It’s an artistic masterpiece and has often been used as a backdrop for festivals and cultural events, decorated in flowers, candles, and colorful lights.  

Sicily Road Trip

The Staircase of Santa María del Monte connects the upper old town to the newer lower town.  There are some cute shops along the steps. It’s very picturesque and great to photograph. It was a nice stopover on my drive to  Agriturismo Bannata, (see below for where I stayed).   

From Catania to Agriturismo Bannata stop in Enna for amazing views of the countryside and hilltop towns. The best view is from the  Rock of Ceres (free entrance) where you can see the castle and countryside with 360 degree views 

Sicily Road Trip

Enna from afar

Cefalù is a cute seaside town located in northern Sicily. It took me about 2 hours to drive there from Piazza Armenia (which is where I stayed at Agriturismo Bannata).

One thing you must do in Cefalú is climb Rocca di Cefalu . It takes about 40 minutes to reach the top and the cost is 4€ cash only. 

Sicily Road Trip

The t op of Rocca di Cefalu gives you a panoramic view over the gorgeous Sicilian coastlines on both sides. 

Sicily Road Trip

Cefalù has a wonderful promontory near the sea where you can sit and enjoy the view of the “rock” in the backdrop.

Sicily Road Trip

*Parking in  Cefalù  is a bitch, to be frank. But there is a paid lot near the beach for 7€ per 12 hours which is where I parked. 

Scala dei Turchi

Scala dei Turchi ( “Stairs of the Turks”) is a spectacular site to see in Sicily. You can walk on these ascending stair-like formations composed of soft white limestone marl (it feels like a hardened clay). The dramatic bright blue water contrasting the pure white rock is a natural phenomenon you should definitely add to your itinerary.

Sicily Road Trip

Valley of the Temples 

The Valley of the Temples consists of 8 well-preserved Greek temples and other historical remains perched atop a hill overlooking the valley and sea.

Sicily Road Trip

The Valley of the temples is the most famous archeological site in all of Sicily and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just outside the city of Agrigento, it can easily be combined with a day trip to Scala Dei Turchi. 

Tip : Take a taxi from the car park up to the temple then walk down (2.5km) when you’re finished. The taxi costs 3€ and it saves an uphill walk. The entrance fee is3€. They do take credit cards.

The massive earthquake of 1693-destroyed 8 towns in of southeastern Sicily and they all had to be rebuilt. Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa and Scicli were all rebuilt in late baroque architecture of the times. The area is known as Val di Noto, and has been designated as a  UNESCO World Heritage Site .

Ragusa is a GORGEOUS baroque town with upper and lower cities. This was my favorite city in all of Sicily and I just loved the old world feel. 

Sicily Road Trip

Ragusa Ibla  is the older lower city and more stunning part IMO. 

Sicily Road Trip

Duomo San Giorgio is a beautiful cathedral in the center of a square with lots of restaurants and shops. It’s a good place to people watch and enjoy a cannoli. 

Modica is another baroque town rebuilt after the earthquake that is known for its chocolate. There are many places where you can go in for a chocolate tasting. It had a weird texture and wasn’t my favorite honestly but the town is very beautiful and definitely worth a stop. 

Sicily Road Trip

The center of Modica is at the bottom and Modica Alta is at the top, where you will get the best view.  

Marzamemi is a cute little seaside town with a Greek vibe. It’s right on the sea and very quiet. There’s not much to do besides eat at one of the seaside cafes or go shopping in one of the little boutiques. It’s great for an afternoon of relaxation and eating seafood. Parking is 3€ in a designated lot.   

Sicily Road Trip

Noto is a beautiful town with baroque architecture (and also one of the towns rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake). Go shopping in one of the cute artisan shops and pick up a painting or hand painted sculpture.

Go up Chiesa Santa Chiara for views over Noto (2€ entrance fee). There is easy parking at central Noto parking lot. Stroll down Vittorio Emanuel street and stop for a coffee with a view of the many baroque churches. It’s a great place to people watch. 

Sicily Road Trip


Ortigia is  the beautiful island connecting to Syracusa. You can walk around the outside along the sea. The water is crystal blue green and gorgeous.  There are many cute shops with handmade stuff like leather bags and shoes. It’s a really nice place to just roam around and relax with a view. 

Sicily Road Trip

Parking in Ortigia is an absolute nightmare, to be honest. I found an underground garage with the most confusing directions. I would definitely ask a local to see if you can actually park where you think you can (I got a ticket mailed to the USA 4 months later ugh). 

Sicily Road Trip

Necropolis of Pantalica

Necropolis of Pantalica is home to  more than 5,000 ancient tombs carved right into the rocks. This important archeological site is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site . The rocky tombs are surrounded by a deep gorge with gorgeous views all around. 

Sicily Road Trip

You can also take a hike down to the beautiful grotto water below. It might take you 2-3 hours to complete the circuit, so make sure to make some time for it.

*Beware of snakes! I had one slither by me like 3 inches from my foot and it scared the living shit out of me. So watch where you’re stepping! I don’t think it was poisonous, but still.  

It takes about 40 minutes to reachNecropolis of Pantalica from both Avila and Catania.  

Fontane Bianche Beach

If it’s warm enough, I highly recommend stopping at  Fontane Bianche Beach . It’s a gorgeous beach with soft white sand and swirly patterns of deep blue sea.

best road trip sicily

Where to Stay in Sicily

Staying in an agriturismo .

I’ve always wanted to stay in an agriturismo in Italy but for some reason it took me so long to do it. An agriturismo is a farmhouse that has been converted into accommodation. It’s kinda like a homestay where you rent a room out (usually you will have your own en suite bathroom). They serve the local wine and food from the farm animals and it is a really authentic experience. 

Where to stay in Sicily

Agriturismo Bannata

My first agriturismo stay set the bar really high! Agriturismo Bannata was a secluded piece of paradise with a cozy and homely feel set in the Sicilian countryside. It’s a great place to sit by the pool (seasonal) or lounge on the balcony with a book in hand. There are also some trails you can walk nearby.

My room was spacious and had an amazing round tub in the middle of the room, as well as an ensuite bathroom.

I had dinner there one night cooked with the local ingredients and it was very delicious. I LOVED this place.

Price: $57/night (in April, shoulder season), including breakfast.

Where to Book : I used and you can check the listing HERE . If you’re new to, you can use my $20 OFF coupon here .

Baglio Occhipinti

This place was a little more upscale than the other one, but it was nice to try the different styles! I had a single room in the attic with a spectacular view of the land from my window.

Where to stay in Sicily

There was a pool and lounge chairs as well as huge comfy couches inside for when it was raining. It was a really relaxing environment and was a great spot to explore Ragusa.

Price: $116/night (in April, shoulder season).

Where to Book : I used and you can check the listing HERE .

Airbnb in Avola

For my last few days on the islands I stayed at a lovely Airbnb in Avola, a great location to explore the southern jewels of Sicily. I rented a room for $26/night but when I arrived the host upgraded me to the private little detached house with a private bathroom right next to the main house. It was such a great place to stay and the veranda at the main house was super cozy and pretty. The host was amazing and I felt instantly at home!

Where to book: You can check the listing HERE . And if you’re new to Airbnb you can use my $30 OFF coupon HERE .

Travel Insurance for Italy 

I would never travel without travel insurance anymore. I learned my lesson. Too many bad things can happen (and they have unfortunately). Travel insurance is especially important when traveling to islands, as you may need to be air-lifted to the mainland in the worst case scenario. Do you know how much air-lifting costs? Think at least 5 digits (I.e. Expensive AF!).

My favorite travel insurance that I have been using for the past 4 years is World Nomads . I have made 3 claims so far and have been fully reimbursed for all 3 without any hassle. I highly recommend them.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please PIN it (just hover over the pic below).♥

Sicly Road T

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a super small commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I have used before on my own and that I truly love♥

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best road trip sicily

This is amazing. Thank you!

One question – Would you leave your luggage in your car when you would drive and stop along the drive?

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I honestly try not to do that because i don’t trust leaving all my valuables in the car. But if it’s a long drive in between destinations I usually have no choice because i want to make the most of it and stop along the way. But i make sure to park in a place that’s not secluded and that maybe has cameras around. Also, I ALWAYS have travel insurance in case the worst happens. 🙂

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I think the driving would stress me out a little bit but I love roadtrips the most! Also love your dress in the one photo! Super cute!

Haha yeah it can be stressful. But i’ve driven in SE Asia which is WAY wilder and more stressful (and also on the left side) so this was a piece of cake for me haha. I got that dress in a boutique in Sri Lanka 🙂

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This definitely makes me want to visit Sicily! I still haven’t been to this part of Italy, but need to do something about that soon. Looks so beautiful there, especially love the photo of you walking down the stairs of Duomo San Giorgio

Its such a pretty area of Italy! And yes, that pic was taken over the town of Ragusa, my FAVORITE city in Sicily! It was like a fairytale!

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You had me at road trip! That’s great that you can cover so many sites in a little over a week!

There’s SO much to see on the island and I could have stayed for weeks! But yeah, I saw a lot in the little time that I had! 🙂

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Privacy Overview

Sicily Self-Drive Tour – Your 7-Day to 14-Day Itinerary

Our 7 to 14-day self-guided Sicily road trip takes you to all of the best places on the Italian island of Sicily, including seven UNESCO sites.

From the unique cuisine in local markets to the architectural ruins of past Greek and Roman civilizations, Sicily has the perfect blend of culture and history.

Table of Contents

Sicily Itineraries

We’ve created three Sicily road trip itineraries which explore the must-see sites of Sicily.  We recommend 14 days in Sicily to drive around the island.  However, choose which itinerary works best for the length of your stay in Sicily. 

14-day Sicily Itinerary

This 14-day self-drive road trip hits the island’s major attractions including all 7 of the UNESCO sites.  The maximum daily drive is 225 kilometres and most days are 100 kilometres or less.

This itinerary covers all of the Best Things To Do in Sicily.

  • Day 1:  Siracusa
  • Day 2:  Noto
  • Day 3:  Modica and Scicli
  • Day 4:  Ragusa
  • Day 5:  Villa Romana del Casale
  • Day 6:  Valley of the Temples and Agrigento
  • Day 7:  Selinunte and Trapani
  • Day 8:  Erice and Temple of Segesta
  • Day 9:  Palermo
  • Day 10:  Monreale and Cefalu
  • Day 11:  Aeolian Islands
  • Day 12:  Taormina
  • Day 13:  Mount Etna
  • Day 14:  Catania

Sicily road trip itineraries for 7, 10 and 14-day tours by AvrexTravel.

10-Day Sicily Itinerary

On this 10-day self-drive road trip, we’ve shortened the 14-day route, by excluding the western part of the island.  We still visit most of important places to visit in Sicily, including 6 UNESCO sites.

Like the 14-day trip, the maximum daily drive is not more than 225 kilometres but several days are over 100 kilometres. 

7-Day Sicily Itinerary

A shorter 7-day self-drive road trip of Sicily travels to the island’s must-visit attractions.  For one day, the drive is more than 250 kilometres, but most days are 100 kilometres or less.

Follow the same 10-day route, except visit Ragusa and Villa Romana del Casale in one day, skip Agrigento and visit Monreale on the same day as Valley of the Temples.

Map of Sicily Road Trip

Use our map as a guide on our self-drive tours of Sicily.

A map of the Sicily road trip routes with starred cities to visit.

UNESCO Sites in Sicily

The island of Sicily is home to 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Our road trip visits parts of all seven. (Note: Several have multiple locations within the same Heritage Site.)

  • Siracusa Two areas of Siracusa, our first road trip stop, are included in the World Heritage Site called Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica .  The first is the Island of Ortigia , Siracusa’s old town centre.  The second is the Archaeological Park of Neapolis.  Make time to visit both.
  • Noto Valley UNESCO recognized eight late Baroque towns of south-eastern Sicily in the Noto Valley (Val di Noto) as a World Heritage Site in 2002.  Our road trip visits the towns of Noto, Modica, Scicli, Ragusa and Catania.  All towns were rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake, in the new Sicilian Baroque style, on top of or beside their original townsites.
  • Casale The magnificent Roman Villa of Casale , near Piazza Armerina, was the centre of a large, country estate.  The site showcases one of the largest and most complex collections of Roman mosaics in the world.
  • Valley of the Temples The Valley of the Temples , near modern day Agrigento, is what remains of the ancient Greek city of Akragas, the 4th largest city in the 5 th century BCE.
  • Palermo, Montreal and Cefalu In 2015, nine religious and civic structures, built during the period of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily (1130-1194), were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Called the Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale , seven sites are in Palermo and the other two are the cathedrals in Cefalú and Monreale.
  • Aeolian Islands The Aeolian Islands are a set of volcanic islands to the northeast of Sicily, recognized by UNESCO as an example of volcanic island-building. 
  • Mount Etna The Mount Etna World Heritage Site (19,237 hectares in size) is strictly protected and the most scientifically important area of Mount Etna.  Europe’s more active volcano was recognized by UNESCO in 2013.  This is a must-see when visiting Sicily.

The first road trip stop is Siracusa on the southeastern coast of Sicily. 

The historic city of Siracusa (Syracuse) offers an abundance of ancient ruins and baroque architecture to explore.  In ancient times, the city was one of the major power centres of the Mediterranean world.  The Island of Ortigia , Siracusa’s small, atmospheric, old town centre, is recognized by UNESCO.  Its narrow alleys are lined with medieval palaces and grand Baroque cathedrals.  

Andy standing in front of the ornate Baroque Siracusa Cathedral.

Piazza Duomo, the main square, is dominated by the imposing Cathedral of Syracuse (Duoma di Siracusa), originally a Greek temple dedicated to Athena built in the 5 th century BCE. Inside, its columns still bear the marks from when it was converted into a church in the 7th century CE.  Its current Baroque façade was added in the late 1700s.  Visit Ortigia’s street market on Via Emmanuele de Benedictis.  Vendors sell fresh produce, cheeses and seafood from colourful stalls. 

To the north of Ortigia, on the western edge of modern Siracusa, visit the Archaeological Park of Neapolis, the other UNESCO protected area in Siracusa.  The Greek Theatre ’s current appearance is from the 3 rd century BCE but parts were carved out of rock in the 5th century BCE.  It is used now for performances.  Fairly nearby find the Roman Amphitheatre , thought to be from the 1 st or 2 nd century BCE, where gladiatorial combat and horse races were held.

An aerial view of the ancient Roman amphitheater in Siracusa Sicily

Wander through the quarries at the north end of the park which were the source for the limestone for many of Siracusa’s buildings. Saltpetre, used in the production of gunpowder, was also mined here.  One of the resulting caves is called the Ear of Dionysius .  Its acoustic properties were so sensitive that Dionysius, a tyrant of Siracusa, is said to have used it to eavesdrop on the prisoners he held there.

The town of Noto is the next stop on our road trip route and the first of the UNESCO Baroque towns we visit.

This hilltop town’s magnificent Baroque architecture is on display on a walk down the main street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele , past a blend of palaces and churches.

The star of the show is the Noto Cathedral (Cathedral of San Nicolo) and the beautiful Paolo Labisi staircase to its front door.  It was built in the early 18th century after the 1693 earthquake.  In 1996, its dome collapsed forcing extensive renovation in the early 21 st century and refocusing attention on the need to preserve the buildings of Noto. 

Piazza del Duomo , in front of the church, is the main plaza of the reconstructed 18 th -century town.  Noto’s town hall, in the Baroque Palazzo Ducezio, is directly opposite.

An aerial view of Noto Cathedral, huge staircase and city around it.

Don’t miss the Church of Saint Clare (Chiesa di Santa Chiara) a block east.  Its entrance is tucked away on a side street.  The elaborate Baroque interior decorations are stunning. Find the 16th-century statue of the Madonna and Child. We visited the roof for a bird’s eye view of the Baroque town centre.

Similarly, the bell tower of St. Charles Church (Chiesa di San Carlo), on the west side of the cathedral, provides an impressive view. 

Theatre lovers shouldn’t miss the Tina Di Lorenzo Municipal Theatre (Teatro Tina Di Lorenzo). The 19th-century theatre has a stunning, curved facade and opulent interior.

Enjoy strolling Noto’s pedestrianized streets, lined with wrought-iron balconies and intricately carved doorways.  It’s like stepping into a work of art.

Between Noto and Modica, the next rebuilt Baroque town on our road trip, enjoy a detour to the archaeological site of a Roman villa on the bank of the Tellaro river.  Discovered by accident in the early 1970s, the floors of the Roman Villa of Tellaro are decorated with mosaics dated to the mid-4 th century CE.  Full mosaic floors were discovered in some of the rooms.

A person standing above a mosaic floor at Roman Villa of Tellaro Sicily

The town of Modica, a powerful town in the 14 th century, covers both sides of a deep gorge.  The 1693 earthquake damaged buildings.  The town’s nobility ensured that many were rebuilt in the new Sicilian Baroque style.  

Discover beautiful churches, taste world-famous chocolate and experience authentic Sicilian traditions in this unforgettable town with layers of history and culture.

Modica’s highlights are throughout the town on winding, cobblestone streets.  Its centerpiece is the San Giorgio Cathedral (Duomo di San Giorgio) at the top of a 250-step, 19 th -century staircase.  The butter-coloured church was reopened in 1738 after its reconstruction.  The interior has ornate altars, vivid frescoes, and 22 columns with Corinthian capitals.   Visit at noon to see the floor sundial in action.

Andy standing in front of the green facade of Antica Dolceria Bonajuto chocolate store.

Wander the old town’s narrow streets along the hillside which are often connected by staircases.  Discover more architectural gems in numerous palaces and churches.  The impressive Church of Saint Peter (Chiesa di San Pietro), also damaged in the earthquake, was rebuilt over the next two centuries.  Life-sized statues of the Apostles line the staircase to the church.   Inside, its domed ceilings are covered in glittering mosaics.

Modica is famous for its chocolate making.  The method of cold processing cocoa was likely introduced after the Spanish conquest of Sicily in the 1500s. Visit Antica Dolceria Bonajuto , the oldest and most famous chocolate producer in town, to taste their decadent chocolate creations handmade in antique copper vats.  Learn about chocolate’s history at the Chocolate Museum of Modica (Museo del Cioccolato di Modica).

Our road trip continues through lovely southeastern Sicily to Scicli, another UNESCO protected Baroque town of the Noto valley. 

This pretty place is a bit off the typical tourist route.  We found it quieter and more relaxed.

Explore Scicli’s historic centre on Via Francesco Mormino Penna . Walk past a couple pretty churches and attractive palaces-turned-museums, cafes, restaurants and small shops. We went into the Church of Saint John Evangelist (Chiesa di San Giovanni Evangelista).  Nearby Piazza Italia hosts Scicli’s lively morning fruit and vegetable market.

Val standing on a cobbled street in old town Scicli.

From the square, we walked uphill into a maze of quiet backstreets showing everyday Sicilian life.  We climbed to the abandoned Church of Saint Matthew (Chiesa di San Matteo) perched above the town.  The terrace offers breathtaking views over Scicli’s red-tiled rooftops.

Continuing west, Ragusa is another rebuilt Baroque town on our road trip.

A town has existed on the hillside here for centuries.  After the hillside collapsed in the earthquake, Ragusa Superiore was built on the plateau above the destroyed town.  Some residents rebuilt in the new town, but many of the aristocracy stayed and rebuilt on top of the old town, now Ragusa Ibla . 

Enjoy the winding cobblestone streets, alleys and grand staircases of Lower Ragusa.  We walked through the lovely, 18th-century Giardino Ibleo , a public garden with beautiful views over the valley below.

The St. George Gate (Portale di San Giorgio), all that is left of a 14 th -century Gothic church destroyed in the earthquake, is the beginning of the Corso XXV Aprile .  This pedestrian zone and the Piazza Duomo come alive when residents fill the streets for their evening stroll, the passeggiata. 

Val standing in Cathedral of Saint George Ragusa Sicily.

Towering over the square is the magnificent Cathedral of Saint George (Duomo di San Giorgia), built in the mid-18th century.  See its beautiful dome, stained glass windows, and tall, central bell tower.

A walk between the two towns offers stunning valley views and a true sense of the area’s geographic setting.   Holy Souls in Purgatory Church (Chiesa delle Santissime Anime del Purgatorio) is on the western end of Lower Ragusa.  Climb the stairs at Via Gusti to St. Mary of the Stairs Church (Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Scale) in Upper Ragusa.  The view below of the lower town is worth the climb.  Both churches survived the earthquake and were updated to the new Baroque style of architecture in the 18 th century.

For those wanting more Baroque towns to explore, Caltagirone , is on route.  Enjoy the Sicilian countryside as you continue west to the next stop, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a roman villa south of the town of Piazza Armerina . 

Villa Romana del Casale

Step back in time and learn about the opulent lifestyle of the Roman nobility and the site of one of the world’s largest collections of Roman mosaics.

Most of the Villa Romana del Casale was built in the 4th century CE above an older structure, eventually becoming the centre of a large settlement which was destroyed in the 12th century.  Repeated floods drowned the villa in mud and water and all evidence of it was lost.  Some of the ruins were discovered in the 19 th century including parts of the mosaic floors.  Concerted efforts to preserve the mosaic tile floors, found in almost every room, began in the 1950s and continue to the present.

Long corridor's floor of mosaic tiles Villa Romana del Casale

Enter the ruins at the peristyle courtyard , a large area with the roof supported by columns.  The complex, with over 3000 square metres of multi-coloured mosaic floors spread over 40 rooms, unfolds from here. See mosaics depicting lively scenes of mythology, daily life, sports and hunting.

The vivid Ambulatory of the Big Game Hunt shows wild, exotic animals being captured and transported for Roman spectacles.  The display fills the entire room which is about 60 metres long.  Nearby, mosaics commonly called the “bikini girls” show athletes practising various sports.

Stay in Piazza Armerina if you are arriving toward the end of the day.  The Cathedral of Saint Mary ‘delle Vittorie’ is beautiful.  The view of the valley from the pretty street plaza is stunning.

The interior of Piazza Amerina Cathedral with dome and an ornate ceiling.

The road trip route turns south toward the coast to the city of Agrigento.  Visit the Valley of the Temples, Sicily’s top ancient Greek site with stunning temple ruins.

Valley of the Temples

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the world’s largest archeological sites. 

The Valley of the Temples Archaeological Park includes the temple ruins on the hill as well as the Garden of Kolymbethra . The garden is vast, filled with orchards, olive groves, vineyards and many species of trees and shrubs within the valley both to the north and the southeast.  The entire area was the site of the city of Akragas.

Many people standing in front of the Temple of Concordia Sicily.

The sturdy columns of the Temple of Juno stand tall on the highest point on the hill overlooking the valley. Nearby, the Temple of Concordia is one of best preserved Greek temples in the world (and the model for UNESCO’s logo). Both temples were built between 430 BC and 435 BC. The Temple of Hercules is the oldest, dating from 6th century BC.  Only eight of its columns remain standing.

Wander among the columns and foundations of these temples and others built over 24 centuries ago.  Climb the slopes for panoramic views over the entire archaeological park. The Valley’s excellent Archaeological Museum displays artifacts found at the temples and provides background on their historical significance.

After exploring the Valley of the Temples, Agrigento is a good place to relax and spend the night.  

Andy sitting at a table with a cup of coffee in Agrigento Sicily.

One of Sicily’s busier, modern cities, Agrigento’s medieval centre is the perfect place to spend the evening. 

The main thoroughfare, Via Atenea, is a pleasant pedestrian street lined with graceful medieval and Baroque buildings.  It runs between Piazza Luigi Pirandello and Porta Di Ponte, the bridge gate.  Historic palaces hold shops, cafes and restaurants.  Lovely churches, like the 17 th century San Lorenzo Church , are a pretty backdrop for the cafes in the squares.

The undisputed highlight of Agrigento is the majestic Cathedral Basilica of San Gerlando . The first church was built on the site in the 11th century.  Over the centuries it has been remodeled over and over again in a mix of styles. 

Stairs with potted plants in front of them lead to Agrigento Cathedral.

From Agrigento, the road trip route splits.  For those on the shorter road trips, your road trips continue north from Agrigento toward Monreale and Palermo .

Otherwise the full road trip continues west.

Make a brief stop at Scala dei Turchi (Stair of the Turks) to stretch.  This is a stunning, white, cliff formation on the southern coast. After it is on to the ancient Greek city of Selinunte. Built around 630 BCE, ruins sit on a rocky outcrop above the sea.

Andy and Val taking a selfie on a cliff overlooking the Scala dei Turchi and Mediterranean Sea.

The ruins of Selinunte, on Sicily’s southwest coast, are part of one of the largest archaeological sites in the Mediterranean.  The main attractions are the Acropolis , on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean and the inland Eastern Hill .

The layout of the main and secondary roads of the hilltop Acropolis is still clear.  There are a number of temple ruins, many just a jumble of broken columns.  The area is surrounded by huge stone walls which acted as fortifications.  Temple C , the oldest in the Acropolis, was constructed about 550 BCE to the God Apollo.  Of the original 17 columns along the north side, 14 are standing today.

On the Eastern Hill, there are three temples, E, F and G.  Temple E was built around 450 BCE to either the God Hera or Aphrodite.  It has been partially rebuilt.

Val standing in front of a large group of pillars of Tempe E at Selinunte Sicily

From the tops of the hills, enjoy panoramic views over the ruins, the sparkling Mediterranean and the river valley. The sheer size and detailed stonework of the temples hint at Selinunte’s power and wealth in the ancient world before its destruction by the Carthaginians in 409BCE.  After an attempt at an alliance failed, the city was never fully inhabited again. 

Our road trip continues to the west coast of Sicily and the port of Trapani. 

If you make your way along the south coast, stop in the city which is famous for its sweet dessert wines, Marsala . One of the city gates still stands, Porta Nuova.  Stretch your legs and walk the marble street, Via XI Maggio, to the Parish Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury.  It is in a pretty square with city hall opposite.

The lively, west coast, city of Trapani offers a blend of history, culture and natural beauty.  Wander the historic centre and see elegant churches around every corner.  From the statue of Garibaldi in Piazza Garibaldi , walk a block to St. Francis of Assisi Street.  A block to the left is the 18 th -century, Baroque Church of the Holy Souls of Purgatory (Chiesa Anime Sante del Purgatorio).  The church was severely damaged in World War II.  Twenty life-sized wooden representations of the Passion of Christ, carried in procession on Good Friday, have been housed in the church since 1960. 

Two blocks north is the massive Trapani Cathedral , also called the Basilica Cathedral of St. Lawrence the Martyr (Basilica cattedrale di San Lorenzo martire).  The church, with its stunning dome and bell tower, was built in the 15 th century and restored in the 18 th -century. 

Several statues of Jesus during the Passion of Christ stored in Trapani church.

Stroll Trapani’s harbour promenade and explore the outdoor fish market .  See the day’s catch on colourful display, often on the back of the boat the fish was caught on.  Watch and listen to the vibrant banter of bartering often between fishermen and restaurant owners.  Regular citizens get in on the act too.

Just outside the city to the south, visit the Salt Pans of Trapani and Paceco (Saline di Trapani e Paceco), a protected area of wetlands and salt ponds. The salt, produced here for centuries, was considered the finest in Italy.  Artisanal producers are the only ones working the salt pans now.  Before leaving the area, don’t miss Trapani’s famous local delicacy, pesto alla trapanese, the Sicilian version of the well-known basil-pine-nut pesto.  In Trapani, the nuts are almonds and tomatoes and garlic add even more flavour.

North of Trapani, at the top of Mt. Erzy, sits Erice at an elevation of 750 metres.  If overnighting in Trapani, consider taking the cable car from Trapani to Erice to avoid driving the zigzag route up and down the mountain.

Walk the peaceful, cobblestone streets and alleys of the medieval, hilltop town of Erice lined with Gothic palaces and churches.  Enjoy its well-preserved historic character.

The Mother Church, St Mary of the Assumption (Chiesa di santa Maria Assunta – Chiesa Madre) is near the Trapani Gate at the southwest corner of Erice.  The Gothic church was built in 1314 by King Frederick III.  Inside, a museum displays religious artwork and sacramental silverware from the 15th- and 16th-century.  Next door is the cathedral’s freestanding bell tower (Torre di Federico). Climb the 108 steps of the spiral staircase to the top of the 28-metre tower for spectacular views over the rooftops of town.

Andy walking a cobblestone street with colourful rugs hung outside Erice shop.

Walk uphill the full length of Viale Conte Pepoli to the southeast corner of town and Erice’s highest point.  This is the site of the legendary Venus Castle (Castello di Venere). The castle was built by the Normans, over the ruins of the 7 th -century BCE Temple of Venus. It offers panoramic views over the countryside and sea below. Don’t miss the English Gardens of Balio next to the castle.

Throughout town, enjoy stopping to sample fresh homemade cookies, cakes and gelatos from local pasticcerias. Erice is renowned for its sweets and pastries.

The next road trip stop is less than an hour away.

The highlights of the Segesta Archaeological Park are two ruins which are all that remains of the ancient city of Segesta.  New excavations are finding evidence of later occupation of the area by different cultures.

From the entrance, walk uphill a short distance.  The majestic Temple of Segesta , (Tempio di Segesta), sits at the edge of the hill.  The incredible Doric temple, built by the indigenous Elymians, in the mid-5 th century BCE, was never completed.  All 36 of its columns are still standing today (6 on the short side and 14 on the long) remarkably preserved.  Some say they sing on windy days.

A short shuttle ride away is the Theatre of Segesta , (Teatro di Segesta), believed to be from the 2 nd century BCE.  Carved into the side of Mount Barbaro, its tiered, stone seats overlook a peaceful, green valley.  The bulk of the ancient city of Segesta was on top of Mount Barbaro.  Climbing to the top reveals a sprawling view over the entire complex and rolling landscapes beyond. Modern theatre performances were first held in the theatre in 1957 and have been held sporadically since.

The ruins of an ancient amphitheatre built on a hilltop at Segesta Sicily.

The theatre and temple’s remarkable state of preservation and the stunning views of the area, make this a must-visit destination.

Our road trip moves from Sicily’s west coast to the north coast.  The next three stops on our road trip are home to beautiful structures, recognized by UNESCO and highlighting the successful blending of Western, Islamic, and Byzantine cultures. 

Palermo, a city over 2700 years old, is the first of the three. 

The capital of Sicily, Palermo rewards visitors with a vibrant mix of culture, cuisine and history.  Its seven UNESCO-designated sites include the Palermo Cathedral, the Church of San Cataldo, the Norman Palace with its popular Palatine Chapel, two more churches, a palace and a bridge.  All are worth a look as you explore the streets of Palermo.

The interior view of elaborately ornate Palermo church with people sitting in the pews.

The Palermo Cathedral (Cattedrale di Palermo) is a must-see and a great place to start a walking tour of the city.  Its unique Arab-Norman architectural style is still visible after numerous reconstructions over centuries. Inside, don’t miss the royal Norman tombs and crypts containing sarcophagi dating back to the Roman era. For sweeping city views, climb to the cathedral’s roof terrace.  The Norman Palace (Palazzo dei Normanni) is about a 2 minute walk to the southwest.

Spend time getting lost in the maze-like Ballarò Market (Mercato di Ballarò) which covers several blocks.  The oldest and most authentic of Palermo’s street markets, it is a mix of noises, smells and lively street life.  It is always busy and overflows with fresh produce, cheese, meat and seafood.

A man is grilling meat on a barbecque grill while another fans the coals.

The UNESCO-protected San Cataldo Church (Chiesa di San Cataldo) is close to the heart of the historic city.  The area is full of stunning buildings and fountains.  12 th -century San Cataldo is an iconic Palermo landmark with its three red domes and square blocky shape, blending Arab and Norman architectural styles. 

As the sun sets, join the locals on their evening passeggiata along the new waterfront promenade of Foro Italico Umberto I .

To see all of highlights of Palermo, including the UNESCO churches and bustling markets, check out our detailed article, One Day in Palermo – A Free Walking Tour Itinerary .

The word Palermo is added on top of the picture of the front of the ornate Church of St. Mary of the Admiral and Church of San Cataldo.

The hilltop town of Monreale is just southwest of Palermo.

Inside the UNESCO-designated Cathedral of Monreale , one of Sicily’s greatest artistic treasures, nearly 6500 square meters of shimmering Byzantine mosaics cover the walls and ceilings. Biblical scenes, saints and angels are depicted in glittering, golden detail.  

Next to the cathedral sits the peaceful Benedictine Cloister with over 200 twinned, marble columns surrounding a lush courtyard filled with a beautiful garden. We also climbed up to the Cathedral Roof Terrace for some great panoramic views.  The cathedral complex was commissioned by William II in an effort to outdo his grandfather Roger II who was responsible for the Cefalu Cathedral and the Palatine Chapel in Palermo.

A woman is sitting on the mosaic floor of Monreale's cathedral.

After visiting the cathedral complex, explore Monreale’s small town centre. Stroll down Via Roma , stopping for a coffee or granita in one of the cozy cafes. The pedestrian-friendly streets showcase Monreale’s laid-back vibe and friendly local community.  The town makes an easy and rewarding day trip from Palermo.

Our road trip moves to the seaside of Sicily’s beautiful north coast.

The picturesque seaside town of Cefalù, midway along Sicily’s northern coast, combines a historic medieval centre, long sandy beach, and dramatic rocky coastline. Begin at the crescent-shaped Cefalù beach and old port with views of the massive headland Rock of Cefalù towering over the town. Relax on the beach or at one of the lounge bars before strolling along the beach promenade.

Explore the medieval centre of Cefalù, with its winding streets full of restaurants and boutiques.  Walk the main street Corso Ruggero past historic palazzos, churches and shops to reach the UNESCO-listed Cathedral of Cefalù .  Dating to 1131 CE, this impressive, Norman cathedral has elaborate, Byzantine mosaics covering its apse and a huge figure of Christ.

Several boats on a beach with Cefalu Sicily and hills in background.

Continue uphill, past sleepy piazzas and artisan workshops to reach the base of the rocky outcrop known as the Rock of Cefalù .  Climb the Salita Saraceni, a switchbacking staircase through the city walls up the craggy peninsula.  At the summit, find the ruins of an Arab fortress, a Norman castle and 4 th -century BCE temple.  Enjoy panoramic views along the coastline and back to Cefalù’s red-roofed old town below. The staircase may be closed in poor weather (as it was during our visit).

In the evening, enjoy the town’s lively bars and trattorias abuzz with local families and couples enjoying the passeggiata.

The next stop on the 10-day road trip is Taormina . For those on the full tour, continue to Milazzo, the perfect place to overnight before heading to our next stop, the Aeolian Islands, off Sicily’s northeast coast.  Ferries run frequently between the islands and Milazzo, on the mainland.

Aeolian Islands

The Aeolian Islands offer stunning volcanic scenery, picturesque villages, and tranquil beaches. The seven inhabited islands are part of a 200-kilometre long volcanic ridge between the active volcanos Etna (Sicily) and Vesuvius (Naples Italy). Enjoy a great day trip to one of the three largest islands: Stromboli, Volcano or Lipari.  Two of these (Stromboli, Volcano) are active volcanos.

The island of Stromboli is one of the most active volcanos in the world.  Access is regulated, typically by organized hikes, which are a demanding 5 to 6 hours round trip.  Alternatively, enjoy an hour-long, self-guided hike to a lookout at the 400-metre level. 

Most of Vulcano ’s activity is sulphurous steam being emitted from vents along the crater.  We hiked to its steaming Gran Cratere at the top for views of the whole island and nearby islets. Down below, soak in the healing sulphuric mud baths near the port of Levante (where the ferry arrives).  During our visit the mud baths were closed.  Travel a bit further to the small beach Spiaggia delle Acque Calde. Enjoy the natural “hot tubs” at the edge of the beach.

Vulcano Sicily's volcanic crater with steam flowing from its edge.

The island of Lipari provides a perfect base for longer stays or a great place to spend a couple hours.  While it is an active volcano, Lipari’s last eruption was in the 13 th century. Enjoy this colourful harbour town lined with pastel buildings, lively cafes and shops. Explore the excellent Archaeological Museum to learn about the islands’ ancient history. The museum is a complex of buildings, including the Lipari Castle, Basilica of Saint Bartholomew, several churches and an amphitheatre. Take a boat trip around Lipari to admire the rugged coastline punctuated by obsidian cliffs.

Andy walking down a cobblestone street with yellow buildings in Lipari Sicily.

Enjoy the drive along the north coast to the resort town of Taormina on Sicily’s east coast.

The hilltop town of Taormina was founded in 4 th -century BCE.  Discovered by wealthy northern Europeans in the 18 th century, it is now a very popular summer destination. 

Stroll along the lively pedestrian street Corso Umberto I .  Along the way, explore the pretty squares and their churches, flower stalls, restaurants and lively outdoor cafes.  Many of the shops and cafes are in historic palazzos. It is about 800 metres from Porta Catania (on the west side) to Porta Messina (on the east).

In Piazza Duomo, see the ornate, baroque fountain and the impressive 13 th -century Cathedral of Taormina with its mix of architectural styles. See the delicate rose window.

People in Piazza IX Aprile watching street musicians in front of a Taormina church.

The Church of San Giuseppe anchors the pretty Piazza IX Aprile , Taormina’s lively hub. Grab a table at one of the piazza’s cafes for excellent people watching while admiring panoramic views of the ocean and Mount Etna. Don’t miss wandering through the flower-filled public gardens a short walk to the southeast.

Near Porta Messina at the east end of Corso Umbretto, turn south and walk to the end of Via Teatro Greco.  The Ancient Theater of Taormina (Teatro Antico di Taormina), built by the Greeks in the 3 rd century, was remodeled by the Romans.  It is still used today.

If time permits, take a walk along the beach to see the nearby rocky island, Isola Bella .

On the east coast of Sicily, the next stop on our road trip is the tallest Italian mountain south of the Alps and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount Etna.  This is the last road trip stop for those on the 7-day tour.

A trip to Sicily is not complete, without a visit to Mount Etna.  Etna is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, in an almost constant state of activity, though typically not explosive activity.  The volcano has 4 summit craters plus fissures and old craters on its flanks.  There is an excellent infrastructure system to get visitors as close to the top as possible, regardless of physical abilities.  

The best access point is on the south side of Etna.  Drive to the Base Station at 1900 metres elevation. From here, take the cable car up to Top Station at 2500 metres.  Enjoy the Etna Cable Car Bar and check out the gift shop.  From here, there are options regarding the next stage of the climb to the authorized viewpoint areas nearer the craters.  

Andy standing in front of a snow covered Mount Etna volcano.

From Top Station, hike up to the authorized viewpoint areas or ride up in a 4×4 minibus shuttle . A 40-minute guided hike to the highest accessible point is included with the shuttle ride.  Weather quickly changes on Etna.  In our short stay up top, Etna was visible and invisible a number of times.  Viewpoints change depending on Etna’s activity levels to ensure that visitors are always safe.

When you return to the Base Station, check out the old craters on Etna’s lower flanks.  We hiked the Goat Climb, to see its massive crater

Our final road trip stop and the last of the Noto Valley Baroque towns recognized by UNESCO is the port city of Catania, on Sicily’s east coast.

This lively town reveals its long history through magnificent monuments.  The best way to explore the city is on foot starting at its expansive main square, Piazza del Duomo. This is the centre of old Catania, rebuilt in the local Baroque style after the earthquake of 1693.  In the square is the 18 th -century Elephant Fountain (Fontana dell’Elefante), built around a smiling black-lava elephant.

The square is dominated by the grand Baroque facade of Catania Cathedral (Basilica Cattedrale di Sant’Agata) built of black rock and trimmed with white limestone. This 18 th -century church honours the city’s patron saint, Agatha, with ornate silver busts and crypt.  The church was originally a Norman fortress church. Most of it was destroyed in the earthquake and rebuilt in the Baroque style.  The Abby Church of Sainte Agatha sits to the north.  Climb to the rooftop terrace for great views of city.

A group of people walking in front of Baroque Palermo Cathedral.

Steps away, stroll through Catania’s enormous daily fish market (La Pescheria di Catania).  Fish have been sold here, every workday morning, for over 1000 years.  Vendors loudly hawk the catch of the day, from swordfish to sardines, in a riot of sights and smells. Nearby, the central food market and produce stalls overflow with local fruits, cheeses, and spices.  This is a great place to grab a bite to eat.

Evidence of Catania’s past as an ancient Greek colony appears periodically throughout the historic centre. The best example is the well-preserved Ancient Greek-Roman Theatre (Teatro Antico greco-romano) from the 2nd century BCE.  It was buried under lava and residential apartments were built over top.  Archaeological excavations eventually removed the majority of the apartments but some still remain.  What an interesting view they have. 

In the evening, join locals on a stroll along bustling Via Etnea with its chic shops and cafes.

Know Before You Go – Travelling to Sicily

Driving in sicily.

The best way to see Sicily is by car.  While public transport is available to many of the places in these Sicily itineraries, some are inaccessible without a car.  The best and easiest way to see everything is to rent a car.

You can easily pick up a rental car when you fly into the airports in either Palermo or Catania. 

Be aware that car rental costs in Sicily do seem higher than in other parts of Europe.  I’m not sure of the reason for this.  Some say that the local driving culture tends to be more ‘aggressive’, hence resulting in more fender benders which drive insurance costs up.  I’m not sure if this is the reason for the higher costs, but I can attest to the fact that drivers in Sicily were much more aggressive than I’ve experienced elsewhere.

In any case, car rental is definitely the best way to make sure you don’t miss anything when travelling in Sicily.

Best Time to Visit Sicily

The best time to visit Sicily is in the shoulder seasons of Spring and Autumn .  There are fewer tourists and visiting is more enjoyable.

During the summer, the temperatures can surge up to 38°Cs. The popular attractions become even more crowded.

We visited in April and had lots of sunny days and pleasant temperatures.  There was hardly any rain.  Accommodations were plentiful and relatively cheap.

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Andy is the co-founder of Avrex Travel, where he shares his many travel experiences. Andy enjoys videography and creating great Road Trips for his readers.

An Italian Mama's Guide to Italy

Marzamemi Sicily, square with colorful tables outdoors

5 days in Sicily itinerary: how to see the best of Sicily in less than a week

5 days in Sicily itinerary ideas: Eastern Sicily and Western Sicily road trip ideas for all types of travelers.

Sicily is a wonderful destination, blessed with beautiful archaeological sites, stunning cities, beautiful sea and some of the best food in Italy.

Visiting Sicily, you are likely to see very beautiful places pretty much no matter where you go however, Sicily is big so some planning is necessary.

In this article, I going to recommend two Sicily itineraries, both for 5 days in Sicily: one focuses on the East side of the island and one focuses on the West, both including Sicily highlights and places I believe a first trip to Sicily should include.

5 days in Sicily itinerary in Eastern Sicily

Eastern Sicily is a wonderful part of the island, with a varies landscapes and avaiable experiences.

Our itinerary started from Taormina, which we reached by train from Rome, but you can easily also explore this area arriving at Catania international airport, Messina, Palermo and even Comiso (small, Ryanair airport in the South of the island).

This itinerary requires a car however, some locations such as Taormina – Catania – Siracusa area connected by good trains.

Day 1 – Taormina

Taormina is one of the most famous destinations in the whole of Sicily, a small town known glamour, views and a stunning ancient theater that is unique in the world.

Taormina ancient theater with the background of the sea

Taormina is a small center and a place you can visit in one day or that you can use as a base to explore the area.

The main things to see and do in Taormina are:

  • Visit the ancient theater , a stunning archaeological ruins in a scenic location – this is one of the most beautiful historical sites in Italy and, in my opinion, the world.
  • Visit the pretty city center and notice the small churches, alleys and colorful shops of this manicured town
  • Admire the view over Mount Etna and the sea from the town’s gardens
  • Take the gondola to small Isola Bella and its pretty beach

You can find our full guide to Taormina here .

Day 2: Siracusa

Siracusa is a beautiful city on the eastern Coast of Sicily, South Catania, famous for a stunning historical city center and one of the most famous archaeological parks in Italy: Parco della Neapolis.

Syracuse Sicily duomo

For this Sicily itinerary, I have devoted only one day to Siracusa but you can easily spend at least two days here and not run out of things to do. If you add local excursions, you can actually spend a week here and not run out of things to do!

A day in Siracusa is however very satisfactory and you can see the two most famous parts of town: Ortigia (city center) and archaeological park.

I recommend you start your day in Siracusa in Ortigia, the historical center of town. Ortigia is geographically a small island but it is easy to access via pedestrian bridges that link it to the modern part of town.

Once you are in, you will lovely small alleys, elegant squares, the famous Arethusa Fountain, already in existence at the time of Siracusa’s foundation, the remains of the temple of Apollo and one of the most beautiful squares in Italy: Piazza del Duomo.

In the afternoon, i recommend you take e bus shuttle to the archaeological park.

Highlights here are the ancient Greek theater, still now in use for representation of classical Greek theater performances and the latomie .

The Latomie are quarries excavated in tall rock faces: in ancient times, they were used as labor camp for war prisoners and were one of the reasons Siracusa was feared in the antiquity as a powerful and dangerous enemy.

the latomie are impressive and the entrance is reachable by an easy path with luscious vegetation: a must see.

Good to know : this archaeological park is one of the easiest historical sites to visit in Italy with kids, so a perfect stop for families too.

You can find my guide to one day in Siracusa here .

Day 3: Marzamemi and Noto

I recommend you spend you third out of these five days in Sicily exploring two very different and very beautiful towns: Marzamemi and Noto.

Marzamemi Sicily

Marzamemi is a small fishing village on the South-eastern Coast of Sicily and it is a place you may have sen photos of thanks to its huge Instagram fame.

Indeed, the place is a delight.

The village has a main square now filled with local restaurants with outdoor tables and colorful decor and it is also famous for beautiful tonnara (tuna fishing station), that is now used for special events.

The village is tiny and pretty, and a perfect stop for lunch.

In the afternoon, I recommend you visit Noto, the town giving the name to the UNESCO famous Val di Noto, known for it important and stunning baroque churches and architecture.

Noto is a delight, especially if you see it at sunset, when the sun sets over the cream tones of the elaborate facades of this beautiful town.

This is a wonderful place to sightsee in the afternoon and also a good locality to spend the night.

Day 4: Ragusa Ibla and Modica

Ragusa Ibla and Modica are two beautiful towns in Southern Sicily part of the same UNESCO World heritage area as Noto.

They are both famous for incredible baroque architecture and Montalbano lovers will also recognize this area as the backdrop of the TV series episodes!

Both towns are worth seeing and they are close enough to each other that you can see them both in one day.

Good to know : as well as architecture, Modica is famous for the production of some of the best artisan chocolate in Italy !

Day 5 – Piazza Armerina and Palermo

Day 5, the last day of this 5 day in Sicily itinerary, is a good day to see two more important and beautiful sights in Sicily: Piazza Armerina, a beautiful town with a historical city center and an important Roman Villa, and Palermo.

Pelermo deserves more than one day but this is the case for most of the locations in this itinerary and I think it is good to know you can get a taste of this beautiful city even with only a few hours in the city center.

Piazza Armerina is one the way and you can easily stop for a visit, if you prefer to limit your time in the big city and want to soak up a last afternoon in a typically Sicilian town.

5 days Western Sicily itinerary

If you prefer to explore Western Sicily, then I recommend you follow this 5 day itinerary, perfect if you want to stay West of Palermo and see locations such as Erice and the famous Valley of the temples.

Day 1 – Palermo

Palermo is the capital of Sicily, the island’s biggest center as well as one of its most beautiful destinations.

The city is home to several architectural styles ranging from Arab Norman style buildings to Baroque churches and in this sense is a fantastic place to get a sense of the wealth of cultures and nations that called Sicily home over the course of the centuries.

Significant buildings and churches are scattered around the city and have that distinctive character of grandeur mixed with decaying splendor that is so typical and so charming about Sicily.

not to be missed are its cathedral, palazzo dei Normanni and Palermo’s market, a wonderful place also to taste authentic and truly delicious Sicilian food.

Day 2 _ Scopello and Zingaro Reserve

Day two of this Sicily itinerary leads you to a stunning area that is very close to Palermo yet feels a million miles away: the area of San Vito lo Capo, the Zingaro Reserve and Scopello.

scopello sicily view

This is a part of Sicily with wonderful nature.

The sea and beaches here are out of this world beautiful and the small towns pleasant and scenic: Castellamare del Golfo is lovely and well served while the small village of Scopello is charming and offers incredible views over the bay below.

Scopello is also home to a stunning Tonnara, film lovers will recognize from Ocean 12!

The Zingaro Reserve is protected and beautiful and near this area you also have the stunning temple of Segesta, one of the most evocative ancient sites in Sicily.

Day 3 – Erice and Marsala

On this day, I recommend you visit Erica and the Marsala salt pans, two location in Sicily that truly showcase how beautiful and varies this island is!

Erice is a small, medieval town perched on a hilltop above Trapani.

Is a place of huge charm and very different from what you imagine a Sicilian town to be as it is often chilly, its high position and vegetation making it home to a peculiar micro-climate.

Erice has a wonderful historical center and stunning views and can be easily visited even in a short time.

Marsala is not far from Erice and Trapani and is famous not only as producers of the sweet Marsala wine but also for its salt pans, wonderful to visit.

The salt pans are large, flat areas where sea salt gets harvested following ancient methods.

They are interesting to visit but even more, they are beautiful.

The low water have pink hues and there are some traditional windmills that make the whole area look out of a storybook!

This is a very special place and unique to this part of Sicily, especially if you come her later in the afternoon when the sun starts to set and the colors warm up

Day 4 – Valley of the Temples and Scala de’ Turchi

The Valley of the temples is one of the most famous archaeological sites in Italy and a place like no other.

Here, you can see wonderful Greek temples in various state of conservation, dating back up to the VIII century BC.

The park is stunning and scenic: my recommendation is to visit early in the morning before the sun gets too strong. The valley is dry and sunny so, while wonderful, can be hard in summer or in the hottest hours of the day.

After a visit to the temples, you can spend time visiting another Sicilian marvel: Scala de’ Turchi famous for natural steps of white rock sloping into the deepest blue sea.

Day 5 – Cefalu’ and Monreale

On the last day of this 5 day Western Sicily itinerary, I recommend you head back north and visit two localities: Cefalu’ and Monreale, before heading back to Palermo.

Sicily with kids: Cefalu view

Once again, these two places are very different form each other but both worth seeing.

Cefalu’ is a seaside village, with a lovely harbor and a pleasant center, perfect for a last day of sightseeing and sea views.

Good to know : Cefalu’ is lovely for families and one of the places we recommend you visit if you are in Sicily with kids .

Monreale on the other hand is famous for a stunning duomo and it a locality art lovers should not miss.

Both these destinations are close to Palermo and they are easy stops before getting back to the city or its airport.

Sicily travel resources

I highly recommend you use the car for these Sicily itineraries: my go-to car rental agency is Avis, although we also had a good experience with Morgan Autonoleggio at Comiso Airport.

The best entry points to Sicily are:

  • Palermo Punta Raisi Airport
  • Catania Fontanarossa Airport
  • Comiso Airport – tiny, this is a budget airline airport
  • Messina – ferry arrival port from Calabria and mainland Italy
  • Messina / Taormina / Catania / Siracusa: trains from Rome

My go-to website for accommodation in Sicily is

My go-to website for excursions and tours is GetYourGuide

id this is your first time planning a trip to Italy, I recommend you check out our 101 travel tips for Italy , while if you are traveling with kids, I suggest you also check our tips for traveling to Italy with a baby or toddler .

I hope you enjoyed our recommended 5 days in Sicily itinerary ideas. Safe travel planning!

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Marta Correale

Marta Correale is an Italian mama of two. Born and raised in Rome, Marta has a passion for travel and especially enjoys showing off Italy to her kids, who are growing up to love it as much as she does! A classics graduate, teacher of Italian as a second language and family travel blogger, Marta launched Mama Loves Italy as a way to inspire, support and help curious visitors to make the most of a trip to Italy and learn about Italian culture on the way.

Italy in december: christmas tree in Rome

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A Road Trip Itinerary Through 18 Of The Best Coastal Spots And Cities In Sicily

Slightly smaller than the state of Massachusetts and the entire country of Albania , the southern Italian island of Sicily offers an exciting range of ancient sites to visit and culture to discover. As the largest and most densely populated island in the Mediterranean Sea, a great way to get around the island and discover all its beautiful coastal towns and cities is by taking a road trip! As this island offers a variety of places to visit we have put a wonderful road trip itinerary including some of the best coastal spots and cities in Sicily to stop by while enjoying the warm Mediterranean culture. 

Let’s get started with a map of our proposed 1 week Sicily road trip itinerary:

We recommend starting off this road-trip in Catania , Sicily’s largest city which was famously hit by both an earthquake and a Mount Etna eruption in the late 1600s.  This destroyed most of the city and as a result, Catania doesn’t offer as many ancient sites as other places in Sicily. The city does, however, feature plenty of Baroque buildings and expansive piazzas which allowed for Catania to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

best road trip sicily

The next stop on the road trip itinerary is the world-renowned Mount Etna ! Known as one of the largest and most active volcanoes in Europe and the world, Mount Etna features an incredible variety of landscape and territory due to its constant eruptions and lava flow. This volcano is perfect for active visitors as hikes up Mount Etna offer incredible panoramas over Sicily and the chance to visit many of its craters.

Next up is Taormina , perched up high on a hill in eastern Sicily. Offering some of the very best views on the island, Taormina is also greatly known for its Teatro Greco. A centerpiece of the city, the ancient amphitheater dates back to the 3 rd century BC. From the very top, visitors are able to look out across the Mediterranean and even view Mount Etna. Taormina also offers a wonderful selection of medieval buildings, shops, and restaurants.

best road trip sicily

Located on the northeast corner of Sicily and sitting on the beautiful Ionian Coast, the city of Messina was originally named Zancle, from the Greek word for “scythe” due to its naturally curved shape. With its fair share of natural disasters and Black Plague, today this bustling port city is known for its incredible wine production, spectacular architecture, and orange, lemon and olive cultivation. The Cathedral of Messina is definitely a must see when visiting the city. Damaged by two earthquakes in 1783 and a bomb in WWII, the Norman cathedral has been completely restored and features beautiful interiors, exteriors, high ceilings, white columns, and religious paintings.

best road trip sicily

One of the most beautiful towns in Sicily, Cefalù features golden sandy beaches. Perfect for a relaxing stop, we recommend strolling through the town and exploring the pedestrian areas and squares. Sitting at the bottom of a massive rock, Cefalù’s position is one of the very best in Sicily for lounging by the beach and enjoying seaside shopping and dining. The Duomo is a must-see as it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its architecture and outstanding mosaics. Built by the Normans during their Sicilian ruling in 1131, the cathedral resembles a fortress on the outside and houses incredible works of religious art on the inside.

Situated a half an hour drive from Palermo, Monreale is a stunning hilltop town known for its famous Cathedral of Monreale. Part of the collective UNESCO World Heritage Site of Arad-Norman churches, this cathedral may be one of the most spectacular churches across all of Sicily. Featuring 130 mosaics, 200 carved columns and a massive 65-foot mosaic of Christ Pantocrator covered in an estimated 2 tons of gold, this site is definitely worth visiting.  

best road trip sicily

Throughout the centuries Sicily’s capital Palermo has been influenced by a variety of European, North African, Roman, and Arab cultures. The city’s multi-culturalism is prominent and evident through the incredible architecture found all across the city as well as the vast cuisine selection. The Palermo Cathedral and the royal Palatine Chapel of the Norman kings of Sicily are breathtaking sites to visit. The Palatine Chapel is visited by tourists from across the world who wish to see the extensive gold mosaic covering the majority of the chapel.


best road trip sicily

Covering a coastal strip of about 7km, the Zingaro Nature Reserve is considered a paradise by many biologists and naturalists. Thanks to its wealth of endemic plants and wildlife, including several rare species of birds of prey, this nature reserve offers a grand variety of natural environments. Limestone mountains surround the nature reserve and its low cliffs offer deep stretches of sand lapping, clean and unpolluted views of the sea. The cave of Uzzo, a witness of the first prehistoric settlements in Sicily is also present in the nature reserve. Offering three paths: the coastal path, the middle coast pat, and the high path, the Zingaro Nature Reserve features a close connection with the sea, defining its beautiful landscape.  

best road trip sicily

Next up on the road trip itinerary is the medieval town located on top of Mount Eryx, Erice . Known worldwide for its panoramic views across the sea and valley just below, Erice was ruled by numerous civilizations throughout the centuries such as the Elymians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans. These civilizations all influenced the city’s architecture and layout which are still very visible today. Erice is also home to some of Sicily’s very best cannolis!

best road trip sicily

Located between the two seas, at the foot of Mount Erice, near the archeological site of Selinunte and in front of the Egadi Island and salt marshes, the city of Trapani offers architectural, artistic and cultural sites to discover. Home to the Museo Delle Saline (Salt Museum), Trapani offers the chance to discover the in-depth process of salt making. It is also possible to see the mill at work as well as climb to the top of the mill to observe gorgeous views of the salt flats and sea below. The eighteenth-century Chiesa del Purgatorio in Trapani is also renowned for safeguarding the “Mysteries”, 20 sculptures made by local artists depicting the Passion of Christ.

best road trip sicily

Located on the western coast of Sicily, Marsala features ancient origins and a wonderful archaeological museum. Once a leading town of Arab Sicily, Marsala was an important port for traffic to and from Africa. Today the town of Marsala is known for its Marsala wine dating back to a time when the city became home to a prosperous wine trade. Marsala is also known as the landing spot of Garibaldi and his thousand men on 11 th May 1860 which began a chain of events preceding Italy’s unification. All over the town, plaques commemorating Garibaldi and his men can be found.

One of Sicily’s great Greek archeological sites, Selinunte is located by the sea in the south-western corner of the island. The ancient ruins in Selinunte have stood completely abandoned for many years, allowing visitors today to clearly understand and imagine what the town of Selinus would have been like two and a half thousand years ago. The archaeological park is a wonderful site to visit as it includes Greek temples, ancient town walls, ruins of residential and commercial buildings, countryside paths and zones not yet excavated. For all history lovers, this is a great location to stop by to understand what Greek Sicily was like and its closeness to the sea provides picturesque views. There is also a selection of sandy beaches nearby for those wishing to catch a little bit of sun.

The town of Menfi is a small agricultural center sitting between Selinunte and Sciacca in southwestern Sicily. With its rolling vine-covering hills, dunes and white sandy beaches of the coast, Menfi is an authentic representation of a charming and working Sicilian town. Menfi’s history begins when Sicanian King Cocalo who founded the town of Inycon and built a palace there long before the first Greek settlers arrived in Sicily. Later, once the Arabs discovered Inycon they founded the village of Burgimilluso on the site of modern-day Menfi. The main focus of the town today is the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. This is also where the rebuilt Cathedral Church stands which was built in the 18 th century but destroyed by an earthquake in 1968. While only two towers remain today, Menfi’s most significant monument was once the Castle of Burgimilluso in the Old Town, erected to protect the medieval village.

The historic fishing port town of Sciacca can be found on the southern coast of Sicily. Known as a workaday town rather than a polished tourist spot, Sciacca is known for its ceramics, thermal baths, and religious festivals, as well as its large fishing fleets. Around the 7 th century, BC Sciacca’s thermal springs became resorts for the Greeks of ancient Selinunte. For Sicily’s Roman rulers the town was not only a spa but also an important hub for their mail service and for the Arabs it was a trading port with North African connections. Today, Sciacca’s historic center features ancient churches and buildings worth visiting.

One of the island’s top tourist sites is The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is surrounded by olive groves and almond orchards and houses an incredible list of Greek ruins above and below ground. The valley is known for some of the best-preserved Doric temples outside of Greece. This archeological park consists of six temples built between 510 BC and 430 BC. The Temple of Concordia has survived many earthquakes, the Temple of Juno and Temple of Heracles can also be visited, while there are three remaining columns standing from the Temple of Castor and Pollux.  With a visit to Agrigento, it becomes clear how wealthy the ancient town of Akragas once was, becoming one of the most impressive cities of Magna Greacia due to its favorable trade agreements and position by the sea.

best road trip sicily

After a strong earthquake destroyed most of Sicily in 1693, the Baroque style architecture that Sicily is known for soon after emerged. The town of Ragusa was built on a grid plan after the earthquake and later readapted into a medieval street layout. Today Ragusa features two distinct sections, Ragusa Ibla below and the Baroque town of Ragusa Superiore above. One of the UNESCO-listed towns of south-eastern Sicily, Ragusa features an incredible archeological museum, charming shops, restaurants, and accommodations, as well as picturesque lanes.

best road trip sicily

Founded in the 1700’s, the small town of Noto in south-east Sicily is the heart of Sicilian Baroque. After being completely destroyed by the 1693 earthquake, the town of Noto was completely rebuilt. After 10 years of difficult work to raise and rebuild Noto’s cathedral, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Noto, you can admire palaces, churches, balconies with wrought iron railings and cherubs that decorate the facades. The main street of Noto is Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which is accessed through the Arco di Trionfo, the royal gate. Here there are three squares: Piazza Immacolata, Piazza Municipo and Piazza XVI Maggio. Three churches that you cannot miss during a visit to Noto are: the Church of San Francesco, home to Antonio Monachello’s 1564 Madonna and Child painting; the Monastero del Santissimo Salvatore who’s windows are adorned with goose-breast balconies allowing ladies with large dresses to look out from the balcony and the Palazzo Ducezion and Cathedral in Piazza Municipio.

best road trip sicily

Lastly, before returning to the starting point, make a stop in the beautiful coastal city of Siracusa that is known for its remarkable historical heritage and charming old town, Ortigia Island. Connected to Siracusa by a small bridge, calm reigns over the mostly pedestrian Ortigia Island, featuring a traditional Sicilian charm. On the island not only can you admire beautiful views, but also the Arethusa fountain which features mythological origins. A must-see in Siracusa is definitely the Piazza del Duomo, the island’s main square, surrounded by white stone buildings. Here you can admire the cathedral of Siracusa, the Palazzo Beneventano, the town hall, and the Archbishop’s Palace.

While the suggested road trip itinerary can obviously be done also in the opposite direction, we hope that this list of towns, cities, and sites to visit can help you navigate across the beautiful island while discovering Sicily’s rich history and culture. And, if you cannot go there right now, here are 10 genius ways of traveling to Italy without leaving your home . Enjoy!

best road trip sicily

It is extremely easy to rent a car in Sicily as well as finding the perfect local accommodation for each stop. Websites such as WishSicily offer incredible luxury villas in Sicily for rent , perfect for enjoying a stay in beautiful locally owned villas.

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Home » Blog » Best Itinerary And Road Trip In Sicily In Fall (2023)

Best Itinerary And Road Trip In Sicily In Fall (2024)

Last Updated on November 12, 2023 by Nicole

Sicily is one of the most incredible places that we have ever visited in the world. The landscapes are stunning, with fascinating history and architectural treasures, beautiful beaches, incredible food, and some of the kindest and most welcoming people we have ever met. My husband and I rented a car and did a 12 day road trip in October in Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and although we didn’t see everything (as expected), we saw a lot! We were there long enough to fall in love with it and report back about why it should be at the top of your bucket list. Here is the best 12 day itinerary of Sicily in October.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you buy something through my site. This helps me run my website and produce the articles that I hope you find helpful.

Other Destinations

If after reading this article, you are still looking for travel inspiration for travel in Europe in fall, please review:

  • 23 Best Places To Visit In Europe in September ;
  • 22 Best National Parks To Visit In Europe In September ;
  • 23 Best Places To Visit In Europe In October ;
  • 24 Best Places To Visit In Europe In November ; and
  • 24 Fabulous Fall Destinations In Europe .

Best 12 Day Road Trip Itinerary For Sicily In October

Here is a quick snapshot of our October 12 day Sicily trip.

Day 1 – Land in Cantania and go to Noto

Day 2 – Explore Siracusa

Day 3 – Explore Noto, Modica and Ragusa

Day 4 – Go to Agrigento and explore the Valley of The Temples

Day 5 – Go to Castellammare del Golfo and explore town and beaches

Day 6 – Hike Zinagaro Private Reserve

Day 7 – Take boat tour and go to Palermo

Day 8 – Explore Palermo

Day 9 – Go to Taormina and explore town

Day 10 – Go up Mount Etna

Day 11 – Go to beaches in Taormina and drive up to Castelmola

Day 12 – Go to Catania and depart Sicily.

Below, I have organized this 12 day itinerary into mini itineraries. Usually, we spent between 2-4 days in one hotel exploring an area so you can easily see what we did and whether this would be too much or too little time for you. In addition, I highlight our accommodation and restaurants choices and what I thought of each.

Finally, I provide a list of recommendations and tips for how I would improve our time in each destination (if possible) and which pitfalls I would try and avoid (if any).

Average highs in October for all of Sicily is 75 °F with lows ranging from 58 °F to 65 °F. However, it is much warmer the first half of October than the second. Expect daytime temperatures to be around 80 °F. There is hardly any humidity and only a few days of rain, mostly towards the end of the month.

When we were in Sicily, we had consistent daytime temperatures of 80 °F with much cooler evenings. You will want a warm sweater or jacket in the evening for walks and if you want to eat dinner outside.

Day One – Day Three: Val Di Noto

Val di Noto is a geographical territory in southeastern Sicily. A devastating earthquake in 1693 struck the region and leveled the towns that existed, requiring them all to be rebuilt.

When the towns were reconstructed, they each adopted the Late Baroque style prevalent in Europe at the time. Accordingly, the towns are harmonious with each other, built with stunning white or honey coloured stone, with elegant Baroque style decorations and accents.

In 2002, the Val di Noto became a UNESCO World Heritage Site (The Baroque Cities of the Val di Noto). It consists of eight towns: Caltagirone, Militello in Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa and Scicli.

Many are set against spectacular scenery, such as Modica and Ragusa, where the towns seem to perch perilously against the steep side of hills with deep valleys running below.

We stayed in Noto, and visited four others: Catania (briefly), Noto, Modica, and Ragusa.

best october itinerary in Sicily

Where did we stay?

We stayed 3 nights in Noto at San Carlo Suites in the pedestrian zone. This is a beautiful small boutique hotel right in the center of the tourist district. However, it is tucked onto the second floor of building and feels quiet and removed from the busy walking zone.

The suites are luxurious with large bathrooms. They offer North American king size beds (180 cm x 200 cm) which are difficult to find in the old towns and cities of Sicily.

Tips And Recommendations

  • I would recommend against moving from hotel to hotel in Val Di Noto. Instead, choose a home base and drive to the different cities in which you are interested and explore for the day. They are close to each other and the roads between them are easy to drive. Locating hotels and parking in each city, and generally maneuvering in the tight one lane roads around the old parts of the city, is time consuming, stressful and an unnecessary waste of your time.
  • I had trouble finding well priced group day tours in several spots in Sicily in addition to finding any private guides. However, over our 12 day Sicilian vacation, whenever I asked any of our hotels for assistance, they supplied excellent guides for very reasonable prices.
  • I think 3 nights is the perfect amount of time in this region.

exploring noto on 12 day Sicilian itinerary

Day 1 – Catania and Noto

We landed from a long international flight around 6:00 pm local time, then picked up our rental car. We drove just over an hour to Noto and arrived around 9:00 pm.

Where did we eat dinner?

We had dinner in the upscale Anche Gli Angeli. It was excellent but on the pricier side.

Travel Tips and Recommendations

  • Try to make sure that you arrive and depart Catania in daylight. Driving in and around Catania, even on the highways, is a little crazy and stressful, especially if it is your first day in Italy and you are unfamiliar with the area or how people drive in Italy. Turns and exits come quickly and are not well signed so trying to navigate the roads in the dark is difficult.
  • Once we left Catania, the drive on the highway to Noto was easy and uneventful.
  • The streets in Noto in the tourist area are mostly one way and narrow with lots of free street parking. Driving can be stressful with tight lanes that often take you around your destination, not directly to it.
  • We could not park at our hotel, Carlos Suites, because it was in the pedestrian zone. Once we parked nearby, we also had a hard time finding the hotel because the hotel is on the second floor, with a nondescript door off of the walking zone. Once we figured out where to park and where our hotel was, Noto was an easy destination to use as a home base for the balance of our stay.
  • Once we parked, we had to walk with out suitcases to the hotel. It wasn’t hard or long, but if you have any physical constraints this might be challenging.

best road trip in Sicily in October

Day 2 – Noto and Siracusa

We slept late and walked briefly along the pedestrian zone in Noto, admiring the stunning architecture.

We drove 35 minutes from Noto to Siracusa. It was an easy drive exiting Noto, going along local country roads, and then, on the highway.

I had booked a 4 1/2 boat cruise from Siracusa for our first day. I thought that it would be a nice way to get over the jet lag and see some sites without having to concentrate too much or walk too far. However, the waters were choppy and the boat cruise was cancelled.

The rest of the day was amazing. None of it planned!

best Sicilian itinerary in october

Ortigia is an island, the historical heart of Syracuse and joined by three bridges. It’s known as the “old town” and it’s an absolute treasure to explore. It is brimming with 2,500 years of history, with spectacular Greek ruins, and ancient catholic churches.

There are endless stalls and small shops offering classic Sicilian street food such as arancini and cannoli, and fantastic shopping with shops displaying cool clothing from Sicilian fashion designers or artisan wares.

We walked around for a couple of hours, eating and shopping. We also toured the magnificent Syracuse Cathedral and the plaza on which it sits.

best road trip in Sicily in October

It’s ancient roots begin in the 5 BC when it was the Greek Temple of Athena. It was later transformed into a Catholic Church and the first Christian community in Europe was born. It is now a Unesco World Heritage Site.

We also found a one hour boat cruise around Ortigia. There are lots of vendors selling tickets on the street for boat cruises. We got to see Ortigia from the water and explore some of the caves around the island. It was a pleasant way to spend an hour.

In Noto, we first went to Loggia Enoteca Valdinoto, a wine bar with a large outdoor plaza, for drinks and appies. This was a nice setting. However, you are paying a bit extra for the courtyard wine bar vibe. Then, we shared a pizza at Pizzeria Ramolia, about a five minute walk away. Pizza was delicious and very inexpensive.

  • After our 12 day Sicilian vacation, I can tell you that Ortigia is special. You should try and include it on your trip to Sicily.
  • After our driving and parking experience in Catania and Noto, we decided to park near the entrance to Siracusa, at the Siracusa train station, and walk the 15 minutes to Ortigia. That was a good decision. We avoided the chaos of the city, found free parking, and easily exited the city at the end of the day.
  • I would not pre-book any boat tour in Siracusa. I would wait and see what you feel like seeing and doing once you arrive. There are lots of companies selling one-hour same day boat trips by the bridges into Ortigia. It was a nice way to spend an hour and I liked seeing Ortigia from the water, but it wasn’t anything exceptional that I would categorize as a “must see”.

view of Modica on Sicilian road trip

Day 3 – Noto, Modica and Ragusa

We started our morning walking up and down Noto, admiring the stunning architecture, going into buildings when we could. It is a very easy city to walk and explore on your own.

In the afternoon, we took a 4 hour private tour of Modica and Ragusa (150 € total). Our hotel recommended a private guide and he was excellent.

We each took our own car. We followed him 45 minutes by car to Modica, then another 30 minutes to Ragusa. In each town, we spent 1.5 hours on foot walking in the cities, going into cathedrals, forts and other historically significant buildings. Once we finished exploring Ragusa, he left for a separate appointment and we drove one hour back to Noto.

Both cities are stunningly beautiful and filled with incredible buildings to explore. Each are perched on the side of steep hills, with winding and cobblestone streets, and spectacular views.

For dinner, we treated ourselves to Norma Bistrot in Noto. What an absolute treasure. If you are looking for an upscale restaurant with exceptional food and atmosphere, then you will be happy with this restaurant. You should book a reservation.

  • The main tourist area of Noto is on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, a mostly pedestrian walking zone. There are two other streets worth exploring. Via Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour is above and Via Ducezio is below and they frame the rest of the tourist area.
  • Both Modica and Ragusa are worth visiting. However, if you only have time for one, I’d go to Ragusa. Ragusa’s old town is larger, and the buildings are extraordinarily elegant. We walked around a beautiful garden. There is also a large plaza with lots of restaurants, bars and shopping, and fantastic people watching.

Day Four: Agrigento

Agrigento is a city on the southwestern coast of Sicily. It is known for the ancient ruins of the Valley of the Temples.

The Valley of the Temples comprises the beautiful ruins of 9 ancient sacred temples, originally built in 5th century BC. It houses some of the best-preserved Ancient Greek ruins in the world outside of Greece and is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The best preserved of the ruins is the 5th century BC Temple of Concorde, saved from destruction when it was incorporated into an early Christian church. It is almost wholly intact and never refurbished. It is an extraordinary site to see.

pool at Casa Realia with ocean views

We stayed one night at Casa Realia , a beautiful large multi-room B & B with pool and stunning ocean views. We were a short drive to Valley of the Temples and the coastal town of San Leone where we ate lunch and dinner.

We left Noto in the morning and drove approximately 125 miles (200 km) from Noto to Agrigento. There were two options for this road trip. Google Maps said the fastest and best route was on the highway, first driving back up to Catania and then, across the island to Agrigento. The alternative option was driving on rural roads, past Ragusa, and then along the coast to Agrigento. This option was 25 miles (40 km) shorter but 30 minutes longer by car.

We decided to not take the highway, but the rural roads. We thought we would see beautiful country scenery, go through lovely little towns, and be showered with stunning coastal views once we reached the coast. However, this drive was not pretty or interesting. We barely saw the coast. Take the highway!

After checking into Casa Realia in Agrigento, we drove to the coastal town of San Leone for lunch. There are dozens of restaurants filled with locals offering mostly seafood.

We ate at Portobello Trattoria where the daily menu was written by hand. It was Sunday and jam packed with Italians and their families. It was loud and the tables were overflowing with food. The food was exceptional and the atmosphere was fun.

After lunch, we lounged for a couple of hours by the pool soaking up the beautiful warmth of the sun and the incredible views.

At 5:00 pm, we met our guide at 5:00 pm at the Valley of the Temples for a two hour private walking tour (130 € total arranged by our hotel). This was an absolutely incredible walk through amazingly preserved ancient ruins.

We had one hour in daylight, and then, one hour with a sunset and the gradual descent into darkness. As it got darker, lights began to shine on each ruin. It was very pretty and romantic, as well as interesting.

BC Temple of Concord

After our tour of the Valley of the Temples, we headed back to San Leone and ate dinner at Pescatore. This restaurant was upscale and refined. It was good, but not as good as our lunch at Portobello Trattoria. It was a little on the expensive side relative to lunch as well.

The whole vibe of San Leone at night was very different from lunch. The road with all the restaurants was now blocked to road traffic and was now a pedestrian only zone. The restaurants were filled with locals enjoying dinner and the streets were jam packed with cars or people walking. It felt like a street party.

  • There are two entrances to the Valley of The Temples. The eastern entrance next to Juno Temple and the western entrance Porta Quinta. The western entrance has a large parking lot. The eastern entrance only has room for a few cars.
  • If you are meeting a guide at the eastern entrance to the Valley of the Temples, you need to give yourself LOTS of time to find parking and then walk, or take a taxi from the western entrance parking lot.
  • The advantage of parking at the western entrance but starting your tour at the eastern entrance is that you only have to go one way through the Valley of the Temples and you are walking downhill. This way you maximize your time and capture the sunsetting on the best temples with the best views at optimum times. Once finished your tour, you are already next to the western entrance where your car is parked.
  • Unbeknownst to us, the Valley of the Temples is free on the first Sunday of the month (the day we visited). It was very busy when we went so parking was even tougher than normal. However, the site is large with lots of room to spread out. It did not feel crowded at all once we were inside walking.
  • We did not go into the town of Agrigento. After our days spent exploring the cities and towns of the Val di Noto, we chose an afternoon relaxing by the pool.
  • Was one day and night enough in Agrigento? I would not have added any more time in Agrigento to see the town. On the other hand, had we not gone to the beach town of Castellammare del Golfo the following day, I would have loved to spend another day relaxing by the pool at Casa Realia. It was truly a wonderful way to spend some down time.

Day Five – Day Seven: Castellammare Del Golfo

Castellammare Del Golfo is a traditional fishing village and beach town an hour west of Palermo. It is also a 20 minute drive west to Zingaro Nature Reserve. We spent two days hiking, boating, lying by the pool, and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. It was glorious!

We spent two nights at Marina di Petrolo , a small boutique hotel perched on top of a cliff in town with a fantastic pool and unbelievable views to the Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. We were mere steps to the central Piazza Petrolo and countless mouthwatering restaurants. It was wonderful.

View of Castellammare Del Golfo from the Sea

Day 5 – Castellammare Del Golfo

We drove 1 hour 45 minutes from Agrigento to Castellammare Del Golfo, one side of the island to the other. Most of the drive was on the main highway. Despite this, the views were quite pretty and we were able to see a lot of the countryside.

After checking in, we walked around the town ultimately picking up ridiculously inexpensive made to order sandwiches from a deli. We then walked to the Piazza and ate them while looking out to the Mediterranean Sea. It was perfect!

Afterwards, we went back to the car, drove down to the beach, and walked along the soft golden sand. Then, we headed back to the pool for cocktails, naps and sunbathing.

delicious food on 12 day Sicilian itinerary

We had one of our favorite meals in Sicily on our first night in Castellammare del Golfo. We ate on the patio at La Timpa, a restaurant perched on top of the Piazza overlooking the Gulf below. It was beautiful and romantic.

We shared mussels in a wine sauce and a pizza and could barely move when finished. We waddled back to our hotel.

  • If you are looking for a beach holiday, the beaches in and around Castellammare del Golfo would be an excellent choice. However, after September 30, the beach no longer offers lifeguards, most of restaurants right on the beach are closed, and there is only a small selection of lounge chairs and umbrellas to rent. However, the parking is free, the beaches are spectacular and nearly empty, and the Mediterranean Sea is still lovely and warm.

Zingaro Nature Reserve

Day 6 – Zingaro Nature Reserve

Zingaro Nature Reserve was established in 1981 and the first protected area in Sicily. It is a mountainous area that dives into the Mediterranean Sea with walking and hiking paths that wind their way from Scopello to Capo San Vito.

From one side to another, it is 4.35 miles (7 km). It takes approximately 2 hours one way to do the full hike if you do not stop at any of the beaches and swim, or explore some of the other spots along the way.

As you hike, the views of the mountain, the sea, the coves and the beaches are truly breathtaking.

We started early on this day trip. We drove to the Scopello entrance to Zingaro Nature Reserve. It is about 20 minutes from Castellammare Del Golfo.

We hiked around 3.7 miles and then headed down to one of the beaches, Cala Dell’Uzzo, before retracing our steps back to the entrance. The views from start to finish were utterly mesmerizing.

At the beach, we stripped down into our bathing suit and jumped into the beautiful cool and crystal clear turquoise waters. Fish swam all around us. It was heaven.

Back to the pool for cocktails, sunbathing, and naps.

We ate on the patio at Egesta Mare, a pretty restaurant tucked between two buildings. The food was unbelievably good, most dishes offering delicious fresh-caught seafood. It was also well priced.

the beach at Zingaro nature reserve

  • We arrived at Zingaro Nature Reserve at 9:00 am. The parking lot was virtually empty. For the first 2 hours, we practically had the hiking trail to ourselves. However, the trail was super busy on our return. Also, when we finished our hike at 1:30 pm, the parking lot was full, as well as the next two parking lots that I had not even noticed when we first arrived.
  • It was REALLY hot by 11:00 am. We struggled walking in the heat. Remember, it was October. I can’t imagine the heat in summer.
  • If I did it again, I’d try and arrive at least an hour earlier, if not more, to avoid the crowds that showed up later and for cooler temperatures.
  • You need to wear closed toe shoes with a tread. They don’t have to be hiking shoes, but that would be ideal. Avoid flip flops or sandals.
  • You can purchase food and drinks before you enter the park, but not after. Make sure you bring lots of water with you.
  • There are only bathrooms at the entrance.
  • The “Easy” trail was, in fact, easy with gentle inclines and declines. However, the heat made it challenging.

Day Seven – Day Eight: Palermo

Palermo is the capital of Sicily. The old town is large and gritty, filled with unbelievable architecture, street markets, restaurants, and stalls selling some of the best street food in Europe. It is only an hour from Castellammare del Golfo, but they are so different from each other, you feel like you have left and gone to another country.

We stayed 2 nights at the beautiful Palazzo Natoli , right in the pedestrian zone in the old town. Our one bedroom, with kitchen and small patio, was stunning, quiet and luxurious. The location was exceptional.

Day 7 – Castellammare Del Golfo and Palermo

We checked out of our hotel, stored out luggage at reception, then walked to the harbor. For four hours, we took a small boat cruise offered by Raggio de Sole.

Wonderfully, we retraced our travels to and through Zingaro Nature Reserve, except from the sea. We went in and out of coves; anchored and swam; sunbathed, drank iced coffee and Prosecco, and ate snacks. There was only one other couple on board.

It was an amazing and beautiful way to spend our day. The views of Zingaro from the boat were stunning. We also saw pretty little villages and beaches on the shore that we could not have seen the previous day from our car or on foot.

boat tour from Castellammare Del Golfo

  • Since we arrived in Castellammare del Golf around noon on our first day, and we were able to get our room right away, we ended up having two full days in Castellammare Del Golfo. This is the minimum amount of time that you would want here. It is a fantastic place to enjoy nature, the Mediterranean Sea and to recharge after all the sight seeing that we had done in towns and cities.

We arrived in Palermo from Castellammare del Golfo around 4:00 pm. We explored the old town, found a couple patios for drinks and to people watch, and just savoured the chaotic energy of this bustling city and its inhabitants.

palermo on European road trip in october

We ate on the patio at Ristorante Ferro, a small neighbourhood restaurant walking distance from our hotel. It offered large portions with delicate tasting food. It was wonderful.

  • Palermo is a big crazy city. Finding the old town, then driving in the Old Town along narrow one lane streets that never go where you (or Google Maps) think they will go is not for the faint of heart. Even with instructions from the hotel about where we should park, we ended up in alleyways so narrow that we had to back up with only an inch to spare on each side once we realized we could never make it through. If you make a mistake, it is not simple to fix. Twice we had to exit the old town, drive around a few roundabouts, and then reenter to try and find the right path to our hotel.
  • We got as close as we could to the hotel, then parked and walked the rest of the way to the hotel with our luggage in tow. It was a bit of walk, but it was so much better than trying to get any closer to the hotel by car. I’d highly recommend this plan of action if you get overwhelmed when driving in the Old Town.
  • Good news! There was lots of free street parking in the Old Town. We took a photo of where we parked and showed it to the hotel to make sure there wasn’t any parking restrictions.
  • Once parked, we didn’t touch our car for the rest of our stay in Palermo. Everywhere was easy walking distance.
  • It was also easy exiting the Old Town and finding the highway on our last day.

Cathedral in Palermo

Day 8 – Palermo

We took a three hour private guided tour (150€ arranged by our hotel) of the Old Town.

Palermo is a historically significant city filled with treasures. It is an ancient city boasting a history of over 2,700 years. Originally founded by the Phoenicians in 734 BC, it has been invaded by the Carthaginians, ancient Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and even Normans.

Each dominating force brought its own religion, architecture, culture and food that impacted and fundamentally changed Palermo. Today, those influences can be seen all over the Old Town and Historic Center.

On our walking tour, we explored the Cathedral, saw Quattro Canti and Praetorian Fountain, and explored the historic Ballaro Market, among other things. It was fascinating.

We spent a lazy afternoon shopping and exploring the Old Town and its periphery.

Our hotel recommended that we eat dinner at the trendy Buatta Restaurant in the pedestrian zone, an easy 10 minutes. It was a great place and one of our favorite meals on our whole trip. The dishes were both traditional and modern Sicilian, offering us flavors that we still talk about today. It was extremely well priced. You should make a reservation to guarantee a table.

  • In essence, we had 1 1/2 days to explore Palermo. We saw everything that we wanted, were able to walk and explore a lot on our own, enjoyed shopping, and loved the food. We did not feel that we needed more time or were missing anything.

views from Greek ruins in Taormina

Day Nine – Day Eleven: Taormina

Taormina is one of the most popular destinations in Sicily. It is a stunningly beautiful hilltop town with a spectacular Greco-Roman theater, perfectly preserved Mediaeval streets lined with bars, restaurants and high end shops, dramatic views of Mount Etna and the Mediterranean Sea, and resort style hotels with access to local beaches.

We stayed 3 nights in a stunning apartment called Isola Bella Infinity Suites . We had sweeping views of the Mediterranean Sea and the beaches below. It is located between the coast and the hilltop town of Taormina.

Day 9 – Taormina

We drove 3 1/4 hours from Palermo to Taormina along the highway. I would like to tell you that this part of our road trip was incredible – filled with breathtaking views and interesting sites, but that would not be accurate.

The highway is the best way to reach Taormina – fast and efficient – but you drive through countless tunnels through mountains so that in certain parts, you feel like you spend more time in the darkness than in the light. Every now and then, you are rewarded with beautiful views, but not as many as you would like or expect.

We had a forgettable lunch and explored Taormina town, including the famous Teatro Antico di Taormina (Greek Theater). The cosmopolitan feel of the town with its posh bars and shops was a fun change after the grittiness of Palermo and the other more authentic laid back experiences of Castellammare del Golfo, Agrigento and Val di Noto. However, it was absolutely packed with tourists and after a couple of hours, we couldn’t wait to escape back to our apartment and the pool.

The Greek Theater is easy to reach in town, and to explore on your own. It offers absolutely stunning views. We were even able to see the smoking volcanos of Mount Etna. It is definitely one of the best things to do in Taormina and worthwhile going.

We ate at La Cambusa, a beautiful beachside restaurant in the nearby small town of Giardini Naxos. It offered views of Taormina across the water. It was a beautiful place with amazing food.

  • Taormina was our least favorite spot in Sicily. Without question, it is stunningly beautiful with lots of luxury hotels, restaurants, and shops, but it is totally driven by tourists with a tourist culture.
  • Try and eat lunch at La Cambusa. The views across the water in daytime would have been fantastic. At night, it was more difficult to see.
  • We only returned to the town of Taormina for dinner on our last night. We thought that the busloads of tourists that come to explore the town during the day would be gone and the town would be quieter at night. However, it was not. In fact, it felt busier with the local tourists leaving their pools and beach side loungers for dinner.
  • Taormina was the only place in Sicily where we had to pay for parking. Not only that, it was expensive.
  • We loved our accommodation. However, notwithstanding how close it looks on the map to the main pedestrian area in Taormina or the beach below, it is too steep for most people to comfortably walk. Count on driving everywhere.

Heat and smoke from Mount Etna

Day 10 – Mount Etna

Mount Etna is the highest volcano in Europe and one of the world’s most active volcanoes. The base is only 35 miles or 55 km from Taormina.

Even though it is very active, it is also a huge tourist attraction. Visitors are welcome to hike, take the gondola only or hop on a bus to reach several levels of the mountain.

Every level offers something interesting and different for you to see and experience. At the highest point, you have a guide (English speaking as well as Italian speaking) who explains some of the history of the volcano, including some hugely destructive eruptions in the last 20 years. They also explain the current activity of the volcano.

It sounds a little crazy and slightly perilous to explore such an active volcano, but Mount Etna is also one of the most closely monitored active volcanoes in the world. Certain areas are forbidden to explore while others are open to the public because they are no longer considered dangerous.

We got up early for our day trip and drove one hour to Mount Etna. We arrived around 10:30 am.

Unfortunately, we arrived when all of the tour buses arrived. The entrance to the gondola and ticket kiosks for the gondola are old – not built to accommodate large crowds of people. It was scarily packed with people all pushing to reach the front of the line and the gondola.

We reached the gondola by 11:30 am and headed up. The views were incredible. At the upper gondola station, 8200 ft (2500 meters), we exited. At this point, you are still allowed to hike and explore on your own.

However, we purchased tickets to take us up to the highest allowable height – 9500 feet (2900 meters), so we lined up outside the gondola station for the bus to take us the rest of the way to the top. At the very top, a guide met us and took us on a one hour walking tour of the area.

It was absolutely stunning on top of Mount Etna and our tour was very interesting. I’d highly recommend it.

Views from Mount Etna

We arrived back mid afternoon and relaxed by the pool. It was a lovely reward for all the hiking that we had done.

We treated ourselves to the Michelin-Star restaurant, La Capinera. As expected the food and service were extraordinary, although expensive relative to other very good restaurants at which we ate in Sicily. It would be more comparable to an expensive meal in North America.

  • Visiting Mount Etna is one of the best things to do in Sicily and you should try and fit it into your road trip itinerary in October.
  • You definitely do not need to book a separate tour company to drive to Mount Etna and explore it. You can easily self drive and tour on your own.
  • The drive from Taormina to Mt Etna was easy and very pretty, especially once we left the highway and drove on switchbacks to reach the gondola. You purchase same day tickets for the gondola, the bus and the guided walking tour at the ticket kiosks at the base of the gondola.
  • There is lots of inexpensive parking available.
  • Everyone has to line up for the gondola. Tours did not get priority.
  • Tickets are expensive. However, it is worth it.
  • It is can get quite cold on top of Mount Etna. Bring layers so you can put on a jacket if it is windy or cool. You should definitely wear closed toe shoes to stop the small lava rock from getting into your shoes. Do not wear flip flops or sandals.
  • To avoid the crowds from the bus tours, either arrive before 10:00 am or after 1:00 pm.
  • There is food and toilets at the base and at the top where the gondola drops you off. However, there are no other facilities above that.

Day 11 – Taormina

This was our last full day on Sicily. We decided to spend it leisurely exploring the areas around Taormina, visiting the beach below the town, and shopping in Taormina itself.

Isola Bella Beach and Island

We went to Isola Bella Beach and explored Isola Bella Island. It was pretty and interesting. Nearby, you can take a cable car up to the pedestrian zone in the town of Taormina. We decided against it since our accommodation already gave us spectacular views to Isola Bella and beyond.

Then, we drove the switchbacks from Taormina to Castelmola, a small hilltop village perched even higher up the mountain. We had lunch and cocktails with spectacular views of Taormina, the Mediterranean Sea and Mount Etna.

We relaxed by the pool for one last time.

We ate at Osteria Villa Zuccaro, a small restaurant with a large back patio located along the pedestrian zone in Taormina. It was well priced and the food was delicious.

Travel Tips And Recommendations

  • Exploring Isola Bella Beach, the Island and Castelmola were nice but certainly not a must do activity. If you have limited time in Taormina, don’t worry about skipping them.
  • Isola Bella Beach is small, pebbly, filled with tourists, restaurants and vendors. It is a pretty setting but very busy, even in mid October.
  • Parking for the beach was nearby, underground and expensive.

Day Twelve – Catania

We had an early afternoon flight.

On our final day of our road trip, we drove one hour from Taormina to Catania. It was a very easy drive along the highway until we reached Catania. Once again, driving in the city was a little crazy. However, unlike our arrival 12 days earlier, we had the benefit of daylight, which helped us to see signs and exits from the roundabouts.

Our 12 day road trip in Sicily in October was extraordinary. The weather was beautifully hot without it being overwhelming. We spent our days exploring ancient ruins or historically significant towns, eating delicious food, seeing mesmerizing views, walking along beaches or coastal trails, lounging by pools, and meeting some absolutely lovely people.

If you are looking for a European destination in October that offers everything, you have found it!

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Sicily Road Trip Itinerary – Self Drive

  • self drive holiday

Sicily Road Trip Planner:

After we wrote this post  about  ‘ Things to know before you self-drive in Sicily ’ , we got a lot of questions about places we traveled across Sicily on our road trip. Yes … we are Sicilian … but we usually travel around our island!

Be it 1 week or 10 days, this itinerary will help you while driving around Sicily and covers most of the beautiful and famous spots in Sicily making it one of the best road trips in Sicily.
With such a pleasing experience , we would recommend that everyone should go road trippin in Sicily at least once in a lifetime! Assisting you in your road trip adventure is your travel buddy. So, here it is – Tour of Sicily

Road trip preparation for self drive holiday:

Well, for a good road trip, what do you need? A reliable and cost effective car and a comfortable place to rest for the day after a long day on the road.

I know you are nodding your head there. Let me ease this process for you by listing a couple of websites which we always use on our travels.

You can book the car rental using  Tour of Sicily , so that we can select the car that matches your taste and budget.


With so many booking sites and hundreds of B&B and Hotels, its indeed difficult to choose the place which suits your taste.

That is where this site comes into picture.

Tour of Sicily has a great selection of hotels which have been used for other clients. We do know their locations, facilities and quality. Furthermore, here in Sicily the hotel rating is completely different from the other side of the world and, because of it, we have created our own rating in: -3 star properties: moderate and B&B -4 star properties: moderate, first class, boutique … and a few B&B who are charming and with character -5 star properties: deluxe, luxury

Self drive Sicily itinerary

We list some places you can visit on your self drive holiday in Sicily.

  • Palermo , Capital of Sicily and the Arab-Norman Route
  • Monreale and the Mosaics at the Dome
  • Erice , the Marzipan and the Venus Castle
  • Salt Way Road  between Trapani and Marsala
  • Marsala, Saltpans and the Wine
  • Selinunte and Belice Nature Reserve
  • Agrigento , Kolymbetra Park and Turkish Steps

Piazza Armerina and the Roman Villa of Casale

  • Caltagirone , the Capital of Sicilian Pottery
  • Syracusa  mainland and Ortigia Island
  • Noto Valley : Noto, Ragusa Ibla, Modica, Scicli and the Donnafugata Castle
  • Syracusa-Ragusa Nature Parks and Reserves: Pantalica Necropolis, Vendicari and Cavagrande del Cassibile
  • Etna Volcano , the most famous highlight of Sicily
  • Taormina and Surroundings: Taormina, Castelmola and the Godfather villages (e.g. Savoca)
  • UNESCO sites in the entire Sicily

Our Recommended Sicilian Road trip Itinerary 

Let me split the tour in 5 legs.

First leg of the journey:  Palermo Second leg: Marsala Thirth leg:  Agrigento Fouth leg: Syracusa Fifth leg:  Taormina

Lets look at each stop and see what we recommend to do there and from there!

Palermo Main Town

You can fly into Palermo and flew out of Catania.

From Palermo airport to join the town you can: catch on the Public Bus — Prestia and Comandè Bus Company — with a very great schedule with departure every 0,30 hour from the airport spending a few euros. You can book the ticket in advance or pay it on the spot.

And, you can also take a Regular Multilingual Walking Tour of Palermo : -from Tuesday to Sunday, half day h 9AM at eur 38 per person LINK -from Tuesday to Saturday, half day h 2PM at eur 38 per person LINK

If you are a Meal-Lover do not miss our small size   collective Street Food Walking Tour  admiring the Massimo Theatre (external view to the Palermo Opera House), then explore a suggestive and lively  open-air market , a place with strong Arab influences, resembling a souk, with picturesque stands of fresh fish, cheeses, fruits and vegetables. During the tour you will have the opportunity to observe local people in their daily activities and to savor foods that a real Sicilian people love to eat!  T asting of typical street food is included . The walking tour through the ancient center of Palermo is around 3-4 hours and you will visit several monuments including Piazza Pretoria and the Cathedral. Contact us for it !

What to see and What to do while in Palermo

best road trip sicily

Welcome to the world’s most conquered city! A multicultural legacy in one timeless place where North meets South and East meets West. t’s in the air. And in the splendid churches, castles and palaces. A touch of the Classical with a taste of the Medieval and the Baroque. Even the food is a polyglot cacophony of flavours from every era: Phoenician, Greek, Carthaginian, Roman, Gothic, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Swabian, Angevin, Aragonese. Palermo has been home to Phoenician traders, Roman patricians, Arab emirs, Norman kings and at least two medieval Holy Roman Emperors, and the spirit of each lives on. What is Palermo? This eclectic crossroads of Mediterranean and northern European civilization is more than a museum.

It’s a vibrant — even chaotic — city whose unique culture has been forged and molded by three millennia of history emerging from three continents. There’s no other place on earth like Palermo, and to discover the history of this singular city is to experience something of the diverse worlds that have created something which has evolved into its own culture.

The streets of old Palermo are an intriguing labyrinth of outdoor markets, subtle niches and long-forgotten secrets — almost a subculture unto themselves. After nine centuries street markets still evoke the atmosphere of Arab souks. Only the Baroque churches and palazzi on the same narrow streets remind you that you’re in Italy, but then “Italy” has existed as a modern concept only since the middle of the nineteenth century; Sicily — ruled from Palermo as a Fatimid emirate and then as a Norman kingdom — transcends this by many centuries.

Palermo’s Norman Palace epitomizes the city’s heritage of diversity. It was built by the Normans upon the foundations of an Arab castle, al-Kasr. This, in turn, had been constructed in the ninth century on the site of a Punic (Phoenician-Carthaginian) structure. The Normans’ first chapel, built in the Romanesque style very late in the eleventh century, is now the “crypt” beneath the Palatine Chapel of the twelfth century. Today all can be visited.

After blissful 2 days of roaming in Palermo, hopped onto Monreale for a half day, which was just next door to Palermo. You can join Monreale by taxi or Public Bus spending a few euros. Monreale is far away from Palermo only 15/20 minutes driving distances each way.

Palermo Surroundings

1. Monreale

best road trip sicily

The cathedral and cloisters at Monreale are frequently cited as the island’s greatest Norman buildings.

They date to the twelfth century, when the Norman ruler William II, known as William the Good, founded a Benedictine monastery here; this Duomo was its abbey. In competition with the great cathedral being built down down the road in Palermo, Monreale’s cathedral was finished rapidly and extravagantly; William wanted this to be an important royal church where he and his successors would be buried, though these plans didn’t last beyond his own burial.

The upper part of the cathedral’s interior is completely covered in gleaming gold mosaics; more than 6,000 square metres of mosaic.

They were almost certainly created by Byzantine craftsmen, and the combination of Norman, Byzantine and Islamic art and architecture here is a spectacular demonstration of the influences which created Sicily’s most glorious era. In the apse, above the altar, the greatest image is of Christ Pantocrator, draped in a blue robe, his hand raised in blessing. Below him and around the walls are depictions of saints, including St. Thomas a Becket (two rows below Christ, helpfully labelled). The central nave is lined with pictures from the Old Testament. Look out for the lovely sequence of scenes of Noah’s ark, with animals being coaxed on and off the boat, and passengers crammed in like Ryanair customers peering through windows. In the side naves are scenes from the life of Christ. For a small charge, you can buy a ticket to view the  tesoro  – the treasury of the cathedral – to get a closer look at some of the mosaics, and to visit the cathedral’s panoramic terrace. Once you have seen the cathedral and taken your fill of the mosaics, have a look at the exterior and the marvellous decoration on the apse.

After exploring Palermo  and Monreale, now you can pick up a pre-booked rental car, thus flagging off your Sicilian road trip! For the entire day you can self drive to Cefalù and get back to Palermo in the afternoon.

best road trip sicily

The city is dominated by a monumental rock that rises up to 270 metres in height already known to the Phoenicians as “ promontory of Hercules ” on which the  Temple of Diana  stands, a megalithic building linked to the worship of the water, as indicated by the nearby cistern dating from the ninth century BC. The historic district is lying in the shadow of this bastion and clings around its beating heart which is undoubtedly the  Duomo , a gigantic cathedral built by Roger II, the Norman.

There are many sights to see in  medieval Cefalù  as well.

Entirely carved out from the rock and active until recently, is the  Medieval washhouse . After descending its suggestive lava stone, curved steps, we find ourselves in a half-covered space hosting a number of ancient basins, fed by the Cefalino river that flows out from twenty-two iron lion-shaped mouths.

In this special setting, full of  history and culture, we are thrown back into the  past, among songs screamed by the Sicilian laundresses, busy in their daily ritual.

It’s absolutely a must to see in Cefalù, for a magnificent taste of Sicilian Medieval life.

After this interesting immersion in art and culture, you just have to look for a good spot in front of the wonderful sea and order fresh fish while waiting for the sunset and for the spectacle of the enlightened port brightening the night up.

Next morning, early breakfast and departure for Marsala for a couple of nights there, with a stopovers to Erice and the Salt Way Road. Spend two days in Marsala

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Two solutions to join Erice: drive by car up to the hilltown or park the car on the slopes of Erice hilltown and use the cable car. WE DO RECOMMEND to use the cable car where you can park the car and catch on the first cable car available.

From the time the cable-car approach the uptown, until your way back to the slopes of Erice, everything is amazing! During the cable car ride: look at the Tyrrhenian coast in the Gulf of Trapani and the tip of San Vito lo Capo at the horizon, and on the other, the port of Trapani, Saltpans and the  Egadi islands .

In spite of several of tourist inflow every day, much of Erice’s natural beauty is preserved to retain its charm. The proof of which are the narrow medieval roads just enough to pass only one local vehicle one way direction only.

To discover Erice,  let’s begin our tour from Porta Trapani  and walk through the alley streets and the squares, bordered by churches and palaces that, in open spaces, reveal majestic landscapes. Erice is famous for its numerous churches, indeed it was known as the city with a hundred churches.

Among the most beautiful places, there is the  Spanish neighborhood . It is said that this area was made during the Spanish ruling in order to accommodate Spanish soldiers, as it was mandatory for every city of Sicily. In Erice, a blockhouse was built, which we have fascinating remains, and a church dedicated to the cult of S. Antonio; however, the Spanish neighborhood was never finished because the soldiers were housed in the nearby castle.

Erice’s symbol is the Venus Castle ( Castello di Venere ), built by the Normans who used materials from the temple of Venus in Erice, from which the castle takes its name. The castle was surrounded by towers and beside them there is the  Balio , a wonderful garden from which you enjoy an  extraordinary panorama .

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Let’s taste the  famous sweets of Erice . We have a great choice among historical laboratories of sweets from Erice. There are sweets made from ancient recipes of the nuns of cloistered monasteries.

Decorated like lace, the  marzipan sweets  are stuffed with preserved cedar. The  genovesi ericine  are filled with hot custard and sprinkled with icing sugar.  Mustaccioli , classic or honey types of cookies, are flavored with a hint of clove. Finally, the marzipan fruits, almond based, with soft and natural colors, cannot miss in this list.

Salt Way Road between Trapani and Marsala

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The tourist paths for visits to the salt flats wind their way around the great basins and, running along the edges of the tanks of seawater – which glistens in the sun as it crystallizes – finally reach the mounds of salt. These mounds are topped by a series of recently restored windmills that recall the days when they were among the main instruments for pumping the water and grinding the salt.

A panorama that has to be enjoyed, preferably at sunset, when everything becomes tinged with red. We then arrive at the salt pans  Saline Ettore Infersa  ( Admission fee: payable on the spot at the ticket office ) which offer a truly unique landscape. Windmills, first introduced during mediaeval times, dot the horizon, a testament to how things were once done, though one or two continue to function, pumping water through the sluice gates into or out of the various basins. Piles of harvested salt, neatly covered with terracotta tiles, lie between the road and the basins waiting to be despatched.

If you have the chance, await the sunset …. is amazing taking a Prosecco here in the bar which is next to the Saltpans. Colours, sky, sea, salt hills, windmills …. trust us and drink your prosecco here!

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A significant date in Sicilian wine history is 1773, the year John Woodhouse began producing what was destined to become one of the island’s best loved products: Marsala.

Woodhouse understood immediately that the decent local wine could be transformed using  in perpetuum  techniques (similar to the solera system used to make sherry). The addition of alcohol would not only fortify the wine but also help it survive the sea journey back to England intact. It was an instant success with the British, and soon other entrepreneurs, such as Ingham and Whitaker, were exploiting the wine’s popularity.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the English dominion in Marsala-making was brought to an end by the arrival of Vincenzo Florio , one of Italy’s first tycoons, who bought up much of the land around Marsala. Cantine Florio, though in different hands today, remains one of the best producers of Marsala, and a visit of their enormous barrel-filled winery is recommended.

For most of the 20th century, Sicily continued to produce enormous quantities of grapes, most of which were exported to be added to wine made elsewhere in Italy and France.

Plan with us the visit to the Florio Winery with wine tastings … is a must no miss

If you are a Gastronomy Lover let us indulging you in the local culinary tradition or Cooking Class. Busiate pasta with pesto or a cous cous soup with fish …. the culinary tradition here in this part of Sicily is definitely delicious! Contact us to arrange a Meal Experience!

Our Sicilian experience continue with the amazing visit of the most imposrtant archaeological sites: Selinunte on the way to Agrigento. Here we spend 2 days.

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We do recommend to hire a Licensed Local Guide to visit this huge Archaeological Site.

Located on the south west coast of Sicily, Selinunte (named Selinos by Greeks) was one of the richest and most important cities for Magna Grecia. Unfortunately, it was turned into ruins by a fierce attack of Carthaginans who massacred or took into slavery its inhabitans.

Undoubtedly, its ruins runk among the most remarkable and fascinating archaeological sites in Sicily. The archeological site is the largest in Europe.

If you are passionated about history and archeology, or just curious and eager to see world’s wonders, you will spend very suggestive time by visiting this coffer brimming with Mediterranean history.

Furthermore, Selinunte benefits from a beautiful position: it overlooks the sea and it is surrounded by golden beaches.

To the west lies the archaeological site of  Selinunte , to the east, the seaside resort  of Porto Palo. In between is a 3km stretch of sandy beach, dunes, and coastal flora: the  Belice Nature Reserve .

Instituted in 1984, the Belice reserve is a wonderful place to visit in all seasons. Beach lovers will always find space on its generous sands during the spring, summer, and autumn, and swimmers will appreciate the cleanliness of its waters. In the cooler months, it’s a great spot for a brisk walk, following the disused Castelvetrano-Sciacca railway line while working up an appetite for a long lunch at La Pineta, a traditional seafood restaurant at the western extremity of the beach.

For nature lovers there’s also plenty to see. The dunes alternate with depressions, which form saltwater pools when the tide comes in. A vibrant, hardy range of flora thrives on the sandy, saline terrain, including sea daffodils, sea rocket, wild asparagus, lentisk, and tamarisk. On the fertile banks of the river delta grow towering reeds and bullrushes, while carob trees, dwarf palms, and the occasional pine rise discreetly above the dunes.

During the afternoon continue onto Agrigento from the sea. The view of the Greek temples and the hilltop city backdrop is one of the most memorable panoramas in Europe.

Two days in Agrigento to visit the amazing Valley of the Temples , the Kolymbetra Park and the Turkish Steps .

Agrigento, the Kolymbetra Park and the Turkish Steps

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Walking on the temple hill with the huge doric temples all around us, is an impressive experience. The  temple of Hercules  is the most ancient of the temples of Agrigento. This ancient building has an extremely elongated structure.

The  temple of the Concord  is one of the greatest attractions of the archaeological park.It was build in doric style with six columns on the frontside. During the middleage, the temple was transformed into a Christian church..

At the highest point of the hill is setted the  Juno Lacinia temple . This hexastyle peripteral temple is the best preserved of the valley toghether with the temple of the Concord.

The other buildings are in the other area of the archaeological park, on the other side of the street (same ticket for entrance).Here are the ruins of the huge  temple of Olympian Zeus .The structure of this temple was supported by giant figures named Telamons (visible near the temple and in the archaeological museum of Agrigento with a reconstruction). The construction of this temple began in the fifth century B.C. but the building was never finished. In size it was only second to the temple of Diana in Ephesus. The  temple of Castor and Pollux  is an other famous sicilian panorama. The doric columns were raised up again in the nineteenth century. Near this temple it is also possible to visit the sanctuary of the chtonic divinities and the  Kolymbetra gardens .

Many people visit the  Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily and completely miss the luscious botanical garden called the Kolymbetra .

The history of the garden dates back to around 500 BC when the Greeks occupied Sicily. The garden was established as part of the ancient town of Akragas (today, Agrigento), once home to some 200,000 people. Because the area was mostly arid at the time, an extensive irrigation system was developed and as a result, a lush garden conceived.

What makes the garden so unique is the combination of ancient ruins  and  flora and fauna as well as many plants no longer cultivated in the Agrigento region but still grown here. You’re even allowed to pick citrus fruit off the trees and consume it right there on the spot! There are small bins all over to avoid littering as well as streams where you can wash your sticky fingers thereafter.

The citrus fruit is as fresh as anything and there is nothing like sitting in the sun eating a freshly plucked piece of fruit in utter tranquility. Thank heavens there were not a lot of  tourists around either! As you can imagine this made the experience even more special.

Then, a short drive to join the Turkish Steps

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One of the most stunning natural sites to visit in Sicily is the  Turkish Steps  or the  Scala dei Turchi .

It is a rocky cliff on the coast of Realmonte and conveniently located only 15 minutes away from Agrigento. It is  one of the best spots to relax and take a break from site seeing as well as to enjoy a nice dip in the ocean .

The Turkish Steps in Sicily are beautiful white cliffs that have eroded in a way that looks like a staircase sloping into the blue waters of the Mediterranean. It is an amazing spot to  take photographs  and to  dive into the warm ocean  off of the amazing white cliffs. You can walk along the cliffs or simply lie out and take in the sun on this truly unique geological formation.

Furthermore, the name of the site comes from the Arab pirates who anchored their boats on the cliffs while they pillaged surrounding villages. The stone is specifically Marl which has eroded from the elements over the ages. Wet clay is supposedly good for the skin so many beach goers cover themselves in the sediment while they take in the sun. Think of it as a giant white natural lounge chair sloping into the ocean, which also has a clay spa built right in!

This natural wonder is  a perfect place to absorb the rays, enjoy a romantic sunset or hike along the coastline .

Maybe even take a nice bottle of Sicilian wine and just relax while looking at the incredible view!

After exploring Agrigento area , now you can continue to Syracusa with a WOW recommended stopover to visit the Roman Villa or Villa Romana del Casale located in Piazza Armerina and shopping time in Caltagirone which is famous for the lovely pottery.

We do recommend to spend in Syracusa 3 to 4 days … there are so many amazing sites to visit from here!

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The Villa Romana del Casale (trans. Roman Country Villa) in Piazza Armerina is considered to be one of the most important exemplars of an official governmental residence, attributed to the elaboration and exceptional beauty of its architectonic and decorative elements. Dated back to  320-350 A.D. , the villa most likely belonged to a member of Rome’s senatorial class, probably a governor of the Eternal City itself ( Praefectus Urbi ). However, some scholars would maintain that the villa was built and eventually expanded upon the official commission of an Imperial functionary of a rather high order; they have identified this person to be Maximian, a Tetrarch (one of four co-Emperors) of Diocletian.

Archaeologists undertook an important excavation project in the mid-18th Century, bringing to light 37,674 sq ft of  mosaic flooring  – figurative and geometric – along with  wall mosaics , columns, statues, capitals and coins. The theme of the mosaics? They are essentially, in part, paeans to the homeowner himself, and they are done, one might add, with a certain profundity and eloquence. Moreover, much of the house exhibits a definite influence from North African art styles, leading diggers and academics to believe that some of the construction workers from the African Continent.

In the mosaics, the viewer can detect varying styles and narrative cycles: one is dedicated to mythology and to Homeric poems, while another refers to nature and scenes from the Roman aristocracy’s quotidian life.

Caltagirone, the Capital of Sicilian Pottery

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Tourism and ceramics are the most important resources of this pretty town where every corner tells an interesting and ancient story: the name itself comes from an Arabic term that meant  “Castle of pottery jars” . Plenty of extraordinary works of art are still preserved in the city’s Museum of Pottery, where some of the terra-cotta objects date back to the period of Magna Grecia.

The outstanding quality and creativity of Caltagirone’s ceramics is best admired in the most famous landmark of the town:  the monumental Santa Maria del Monte staircase , whose 142 steps are all decorated with hand-painted ceramic tiles, using the typical colors, shapes and patterns of the most traditional pottery production and art. If you happen to be around by that time, don’t miss the marvellous show of the staircase illuminated by thousands of candles creating an artistic image on Saint James’ day (July 25th).

As it happened for the other baroque towns of the Noto Valley, Caltagirone was destroyed by the massive earthquake of 1693 and then rebuilt with a very perceivable baroque imprinting: its  elegant historical centre  includes beautiful examples of the most typical Sicilian baroque architecture, such as the church of San Giorgio and Santa Maria del Monte, located on top of the famous and colourful monumental staircase and rich in invaluable paintings and statues.

Together with elegant and refined palaces and churches, the historical centre of Caltagirone is studded with a multitude of  tiny lovely boutiques and shops selling beautiful ceramics , pottery and terra-cotta works of art from the local laboratories: a souvenir is compulsory!

After a long day-self-drive-transfer-tour connencting Agrigento to Syracusa with the two recommended stopovers to Piazza Armerina and Caltagirone you arrive in Syracusa.

In Syracusa spend 2 or 3 or 4 days or 5 days … or more visiting the Town of Syracusa (which involves also Ortigia island) as well as the amazing villages outside Syracusa which we will shown you below in this article.

Syracusa Mainland and Ortigia island

Today you can park your car and we recommend to hire a Local Guide which is able to escort you to visit the most important local highlights.

Like in Palermo, Syracusa city centre is padestrian with ZTL restrictions  so is convenient for you walk to explore and use taxi to cover the long distances.

To hire a Local Guide feel free to contact Tour of Sicily and decide with them to hire the local guide for half day or a full day .

Of course, you can inquiry Tour of Sicily also for e.g. – Syracusa Cooking Class and Open Air Market – An amazing Boat Tour around the Ortigia island

Syracuse is a city on the south eastern coast of the Italian island of Sicily.

As one of the oldest cities in the Mediterranean, Syracuse has a wonderful collection of historical sites from both the ancient Greek and Roman time periods. Furthermore, this city was considered one of the main powers in the Mediterranean sea during these ancient times and allied with both the Spartans and Corinthians.

In ancient times, the rulers of Syracuse were embroiled in various battles with enemies such as Carthage and the Romans. Today the city has a budding economy, mainly driven by tourism, shipping and agriculture.

Syracusa is a window into the ancient history of the Mediterranean and Europe.

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This was a center of Greek, Byzantine and Judaic civilization.

Physical evidence of these three cultures can still be seen today, making Ortygia a fascinating place to visit for anybody curious about the historic patrimony we have inherited from classical mythology, early Christianity and medieval Judaism.

Let’s explore the  best things to do in Syracuse :

1. Archaeological Park

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The Archaeological Park in the western part of Syracuse is undoubtedly one of the main attractions of the region.

Within this fantastic area is a series of ancient ruins and the most renowned is the Greek Theatre.

Created in 470 BC, this ancient amphitheatre played host to some legendary play writes such as Aischylos and Sophocles, and has a diameter of 138 metres. is a series of ancient ruins and the most renowned is the Greek Theatre.

Today, much of the originally semi-circular seating survives in fantastic condition, although it is sometimes covered with wood to preserve its quality.

Furthermore, you can still see sections of the stage and scenery buildings.

This is one of the best preserved theatres in Sicily and is a must see attraction when visiting Syracuse.

Another true gem within the Archaeological Park in the western part of Syracuse is the impressive Roman Amphitheatre, the Latomie and teh Dionisio Ear.

2. Ortigia Market

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The market is  colorful and lively  and, as in many markets, is characterized by the cries of the vendors. It is not, however, the chaotic atmosphere of a North African souk; on the contrary, what is surprising is that absolute order reigns in certain stalls, with piles of produce stacked in meticulous rows and aligned with geometric precision.

It’s best to go as early in the day as possible, especially in the warmer months, not only to avoid the heat of the South but also to ensure the best  selection of goods  (and of course to have the rest of the morning available for other activities).

3. Piazza Duomo

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Other notable structures include the Palazzo della Sovrintendenza, the town hall, and the Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia.

Furthermore, there is also a beautiful garden and a series of restaurants and cafes.

On certain days, a local market is held here which is the perfect place to pick up a bargain.

4. Juwish Quarter and the Mikva – Ritual Jewish Bath

Up until their  expulsion by the Spanish sovereign in 1492 , Jews  constituted a very important portion of Syracuse . They amounted at times to a third of the population, which is to say several thousand people.

The Jewish community of Syracuse was, in fact, the  most populous in Sicily after that of Palermo .

The Jewish presence in Syracuse was already documented in Roman times and counted among its population numerous and rich merchants and bankers. This presence, maintained into the Byzantine age, was increased during the Arab domination of the area thanks to the influx of Sephardic populations from North Africa, where several Berber tribes converted to Judaism prior to Islam.

Although the Jewish presence in Syracuse preceded the date by which all of the Jewish populations of Catholic countries were obligatorily confined to ghettos (starting in 1555), a large part of this population preferred to collect voluntarily in a “ Jewish quarter .” This was for very practical and emotional reasons but also for understandable self-protection, and the practice can be credited with giving birth in modern cities to neighborhoods of prevalent ethnic populations, such as “Italian quarters,” “Chinese quarters”, and so forth.

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For half a millennium the existence of this space was forgotten. The conversion of to the existing building above the mikvah into a hotel, however, revealed its long access stairway, and the earth (five truckloads!) covering it was removed. Then, the discoverers found the space perfectly preserved yet full of fresh water up to the ceiling.

Mikvah of Syracuse –Ritual Jewish Bath —  appears today to visitors as a rectangular principal room, entirely excavated in the limestone rock (to a depth of 18 meters / 59 feet). Its ceiling is supported by four pillars, and the floor is punctuated with three dug baths. Its walls contain three side niches, two of which also feature a bath. One of the side niches intersected a circular well, probably from the Hellenistic period.

An opening in the ceiling provides ventilation and illumination, which runs to the surface next to the current access to the stairs.  In the past, the small amount of light provided by this shaft was the only illumination available, save for the addition of oil lamps. Examples of these lamps were found during the excavation and are now displayed in a case in the hotel above.

According to the most recent scholarship, this space may be the most ancient ritual Jewish bath left to us in Europe: the period of construction suggested by scholars is, in fact, the  6th century A.D. , in the peak years of the  Byzantine period .

For what reasons did the Jewish community of Syracuse take it upon itself to conduct this impressive work?  For religious reasons. The water of the mikvah had to be “living water,” that is to say it can ebb and flow without human intervention. The constant subterranean filtration of that depth guaranteed such a characteristic, even in the middle of an island. This was the reason why the this space required such deep excavation into the subsoil: the stagnant water at surface level was not appropriate for ritual use, so the search for an appropriate water source moved deep underground.

Still today, with the out-flowing canal being obstructed by work conducted in modern times, the owner of the hotel has to regularly operate the pumps (obviously not during tours). If this is not done, the water that continuously filters through the walls of the tubs will again fill them.

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Since ancient times the fountain was, in fact, cited by poets and writers (Pindar, Moschus, Ovid, Virgil, and then John Milton, Alexander Pope, Gabriele D’Annunzio), and even inspired the Polish composer  Karol Szymanowski .

In ancient Greek myth, the origin of the spring was attributed to the fate of a nymph,  Arethusa , who was transformed by the goddess Artemis into a spring to escape the stalking courtship of  Alpheus  (son of the god Oceanus). He, in despair, was in turn transformed into a river by Zeus and thereby succeeded to finally mix his water with that of Arethusa. The myth probably attempts to explain the brackish taste of the water that results from the infiltration of the bordering sea. Take note that the fountain has changed in appearance many times over the centuries and the last alteration was in 1540 when, constructing ramparts around the island of Ortigia, the Spanish reduced the lake created by the spring of approximately 200 meters to the much smaller, semicircular pool (at the foot of the wall) that one sees now.

These overlying walls were demolished in 1847, with the bases of the ramparts transformed into the Belvedere (redesigned in 1947) that one can admire today.

This pond also has a second peculiarity: at its center a collection of  wild papyrus  has grown for millennia.

This thicket, together with the similar growths along the Ciane/Anapo river, constitutes the only wild papyrus existing in Europe. 

To the delight of youngsters, freshwater fish and domesticated ducks swim in the deep water of the spring.

6. and more important highlights

We cannot write a poem and tehre are too many sites to see in Syracusa and Ortigia. Let us just mention them e.g.:

– Maniace Castle : The castle that covers the entire point of the island of Ortigia is situated on the spot where a temple of Hera once stood and later served as the location for the palaces of the Greek “tyrants” of Syracuse and of the Roman administrators stood). The present castle, though, takes its name from its first builder, the  Byzantine  general  George Maniakes ,  who liberated Syracuse from Arab rule  for a few years (1040-1043), and fortified the port at this point.

– Syracusa Dome : a monument of singular charm, and its extraordinary characteristics are virtually unequalled in Italy. The building was, in fact, made by enclosing the columns of a Doric Greek temple of the 5th century BC , which, resultantly allowed the temple to survive  virtually intact. The imposing Greek columns are still clearly visible both inside and outside the church. While keeping up with the times and changes of religion (Greek temple, church, mosque, and then a church again), the site has remained a place of worship for a good two and a half millennia!

– The Hypogeum of Piazza del Duomo:  The limestone that exists in and around Syracuse is relatively soft and easy to cut. This feature made it practical and economical to dig cisterns, aqueducts, and catacombs,and also to mine building stone. Stone quarries have been found not only on the margins of the ancient Greek city but even directly on the island of Ortigia itself. The ground beneath Syracuse, after millennia of mining, is thus crossed by a dense network of passages and tunnels, many of which are extremely impressive.

– Santa Lucia alla Badia:  Overlooking the  Piazza del Duomo  is the whimsical façade of the  Church of Santa Lucia all Badia . A Baroque-Rococo blend of styles, the church is crossed by a long balcony enclosed by tall, wrought-iron railings, behind which sits the cloister for the nuns of the convent. From this secluded location they could observe the ceremonies of taking place in the town piazza. The bright interior of the single-nave church is relatively bare and decorated with  modern sculpture and modest paintings . The remarkable exception, however, is the masterpiece recently placed on the high altar: The Burial of Saint Lucia by  Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

– Castello Euralio:   is the largest castle dating back to Greek times that survives until the present day and one of the most important Greek monuments in Sicily.  Castles, as one knows, are created for fortification during war, and as soon as the opportunity presents itself they are razed to the ground either during or after a war. In spite of this, thanks to the fact that a large part of this building was dug directly into the rock, part of the structure of this particular castle survives (a case more unique than rare). The castle is impressive in size despite two and a half millennia having passed since its construction and despite the hardships it endured: of the wall’s original height of 8-10 meters / 26-32 feet,  today their highest point is a mere 3 meters / 9 feet.

-Catacombs of San Giovanni:  Along with the  Catacombs of Santa Lucia , those of  San Giovanni make up the part that is easiest to visit in the whole complex of Syracuse’s catacombs, which in terms of expansiveness and articulation are second only to   those of Rome . The atmosphere that permeates this underground place is extraordinary, full of charm and mystery.

– Puppet Lab and Theater:  The charm of the traditional “Puppet Theater” (or “ Opera dei pupi “, the Sicilian marionette show) is such that it is common to find foreign tourists, who do not speak Italian, at the performances offered for more than a century by the Vaccaro-Mauceri family. Born in the 19th century by adapting to the cultural nostalgic love for the chivalrous knights of Charlemagne and that of 16th century writer  Torquato Tasso ’s  Liberation of Jerusalem  and  Ludovico Ariosto ‘s  The Frenzy of Orlando , the puppet theater has become an art form in itself, to the point of outliving the models from which it developed. Today it has been proclaimed an “ Intangible Heritage of Humanity” Site by UNESCO .

Surroundings of Syracusa

Now … how long you will spend in Syracusa? Based on your stay you can decide how to spend the time!

There are a lot to see and explore in the Syracusa’s surroundings:

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Marzamemi , It is an enchanting  fishing village , not far from the famous “regina barocca” (baroque queen)  Noto ; it features in its blue venues of its waters and the pure white of the, kissed by the sun, houses.

It is  Marzamemi , with its  tunny fishing nets  dated 1600, one of the most important in Sicily, with its docks for yachting boats, ruins of ancient vessels, narrow alleys, beaches impressed at sight, traditional cuisine which highlights the strong and original fishing tastes, and the wise processing of fishing products (red tuna bottarga), very often matched to the  tomato  of the nearby Pachino .

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A native of Porto Empedocle, Sicily, author Andrea Camilleri set the investigations of his famed character, Inspector Montalbano in fictional Sicilian locations.

He gave his book’s cities imaginary names such Vigata, Marinella, or Montelusa, yet he based them off of Sicilian towns he knew. The subsequent television series recreated these imagined cities in the splendid landscape of eastern Sicily, between the provinces of Syracuse and Ragusa (namely Syracuse, Brucoli, Noto, Marzamemi, Modica, Donnafugata, Scicli, Ragusa Ibla).

The commissioner’s office of Vigata (the town hall) and the police headquarters of Montelusa (Palazzo Iacono), for example, are found in Scicli, while its main square is that of the Duomo of Ragusa Ibla. Donnafugata Castle is the home of mafia boss Sinagra and not far away one finds the “hamlets of Marinella” with the Commissioner’s house (in reality Punta Secca) and the ancient, early Christian catacombs of the Grotta delle Trabacche (“The Terracotta Dog” episode). Returning to Syracuse, you can visit the infamous “La Mannara” beach with its atmospheric ruins of industrial architecture of the Fornace Penna (at Punta Pisciotto). Then you can head to Noto and Marzamemi, where the last series set several murders and investigations, and finally to Brucoli, north of Syracuse itself, with the castle and splendid beach that also hosted a few episodes. In addition to Montalbano, you can also experience the locales of the great cinema of Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard (set at the Castle and in the majestic Donnafugata park). One can also chart the cinematographic course of   Gabriele Salvatores ’ Sud in Marzamemi, a location in which other film directors (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Giuseppe Tornatore, Nello Correale, to name a few) chose to shoot their films.

Let us also enphasize a village which is considered the Sicilian town with an ancient segret: Made in the Sicilian town of Modica, the Aztec-inspired chocolate is one of the world’s best-kept secrets.

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Unlike the often over-sugared and creamy snack we know as chocolate, the original xocoàtl was bitter and used to enhance sauces for meat dishes, grated over salads or eaten on its own as a dietary supplement. If prepared with certain spices, it was considered an aphrodisiac.

In Modica, generations of families have followed the same techniques, using metates crafted with lava stone from Mt Etna. Locals would mix the chocolate paste with sugar, “cold working” it so that the sugar doesn’t get hot enough to melt; it gives the treat an unusual but deliciously crunchy texture. Then, they would incorporate flavours typically enjoyed on Sicily such as lime oil or pistachio. Today, flavourings are occasionally adapted to more modern tastes such as the current European fashion for sea salt chocolate.

The first shop we encountered is the grand  Antica Dolceria Bonajuto , which dates back to the 1880s, and is still run by the family who founded it. When the rest of Europe began to develop a taste for milk chocolate in the 19th Century, the Bonajuto family eschewed the practice and continued making dairy-free, dark chocolate in the Aztec style. All along the counter were dishes filled with samples infused with chilli, cinnamon, lemon oil, sea salt, vanilla, caramel and other flavours.

best road trip sicily

We can recommend no better day out in the Province of Syracusa and Ragusa than a visit to the Castello di Donnafugata . Those among you who love the Commissario Montalbano TV series, the on screen adaptation of Andrea Camilleri’s detective novels, will recognise the building. It is featured in some episodes of the series as the villa of Mafia boss Balduccio Sinagra.

Recently fully restored, the Castle, with its white façade and Venetian Gothic loggia, gives me a warm feeling of pleasure every time I see it, perhaps because it is a castle that could have illustrated a book of fairy tales and there is an immediate sense of recognition.

Disappointingly, though, the Castle’s name, whose literal translation would be “the woman who fled”,  is just the result of a linguistic corruption and not a reference to any romantic escape.  In the tenth or eleventh century, the Arabs, finding a fresh water fountain on the site, built a fortification there and named it “Ayn As Jafat” [“Fountain of health”]. This became “Ronnafuata” in dialect and later “Donnafugata.”

Another illusion held by some visitors is that the Castle is the Donnafugata mentioned in  “The Leopard”  – there are even some guide books and websites which tell you that this is so – but it is not. Nevertheless, when I am there I like to imagine the ladies of the Prince of Salina’s household living in such surroundings and, if I listen carefully, I am sure I can hear the swish of their crinoline skirts upon the floors.

One Day Trip to Pantalica Nature Reserve

best road trip sicily

It is a vast, vast canyon (“cava” in Sicilian) of nearly 4,000 hectares and unique characteristics: At the top is unique archeological testimony from the prehistoric to the Byzantine ages; on the steep limestone cliffs there are about 5000 cave tombs carved in the rock; and at the base, a river flowing through lush Mediterranean vegetation.

Pantalica is truly breath-taking, a good part of it still to be explored. It is a realm of silence, of raptors flying over these deep and mysterious gorges, of the most excellent example in the world of funerary architectural ruins. As if that wasn’t enough, there is a megalithic building (Anaktoron) of unknown origins.

The reserve comprises the Anapo river valley on of the longest rivers on the island and the principal river of the Iblean mountains, that over time eroded the limestone over which it flows, living rise to the characteristic canyon surrounding the archeological site of Pantalica.

There are two Karst cave, the cave of the bats and the Found cave. But Pantalica is, first of all, the valley of the River Anapo, clear and fresh. The water is inhabited by crayfish and the painted discoglosso, a rare frog

Give a look at our Tour shown on:

One Day Trip to Cavagrande del Cassibile – Hike and Swim

best road trip sicily

Give a look at our Tour shown on:

After a few –or more — days spent in Syracusa is the time to move to Taormina, the world famous resort town of Sicily.

Spend in Taormina 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or more days and decide how to spend the overnights

Let’s explore the  best things to do in Taormina :

best road trip sicily

1. Greek Roman Theatre

The ancient Greeks loved to construct their buildings in beautiful scenic locations and  here they found the pairing of Etna and the Naxos bay, with a wonderful view, when sky is clear, to can admire  Calabria coasts.

It is, surely, the main monument of the city, not only for its intrinsic artistic value, but also for the scenic location in which it is placed. The view enjoyed from up there is even defined as the view par excellence, the one that is not to be missed when in Sicily.

2. Walk Around and Explore

There are several sites to see in Taormina which are located in the hill of the town and not far away from the Greek Roman Theatre. Walk in Corso Umberto Street, sit in a bar and drink a cappuccino or eat a granita with brioche –a sort of sorbet and ice cream–, visit the Palazzo Corvaja … and if you want to swim, take the cable car ride down to Mazzarò and swim in the blue sea … or take a Taormina boat tour wih us

You can also decide to hire a local guide to visit the town

If you are a Cooking Lover indulge your senses in a half day cooking class with a local chef. Tour of Sicily can book it for you as shown on

Taormina Surroundings

best road trip sicily

1. Etna Volcano

EUROPE’S HIGHEST VOLCANO,  Mount Etna is one of most active of the world.  Its impressive size ( more than 3327 meters  high  with an average basal diameter of 40 km)  overlooks  the whole region.

best road trip sicily

In relation to the different altitudes and exposure of the slopes, Etna offers a high biodiversity with a rich Mediterranean scrubland and numerous wood species:  birches  with clear bark, evidence of ancient glaciations, oaks ,  beeches ,  pines ,  brooms  of Etna and  chestnut trees . In the area of Sant’Alfio we find the oldest and largest tree in Europe, the  Hundred Horses Chestnut , awarded with the title of  UNESCO Messenger of Peace.

A day tour to spend is necessary and is a must not miss

If you are active and hiker guy do not hesitate to check our amazing Hiking Tour: Etna Hiking and Descent by the volcano ash

If you want to handle the day tour to the Etna Volcano on your own give a look at our blog:

If vice-versa you are looking us to plan a funny experience including the visit of local wineries and wine tatsings do not use your vehicle but ask us to hire a private WD4X4 Land Rover as shown on

2. Castelmola and the Almond Wine

best road trip sicily

If with a single glance you can you can catch the Ionian coast, the monumental  Etna , the Bay of  Giardini-Naxos , the  Cape of S.Alessio , the strait of  Messina  and the Calabrian coast, either you are on Google Maps or you are in Castelmola.

This small village above  Taormina  is a real genuine natural terrace built on the ruins of a Norman castle that, over time has assumed a concave and smooth shape, similar to that of a millstone (grindstone). Therefore, it is easy to guess the origin of the name. It is an instant contraction of “Castle” and “Mola”.

Of the whole fortress we can admire just what remain of the norman walls. A plaque from the tenth century with Greek-Byzantine engravings placed on the façade of the cathedral states: “ This castle was built under Costantino, patrician and strategist of Sicily “.

A easy way to join Casstelmola from Taormina is taking the Public Bus who leaves next from Porta Messina –Messina Gate–. Ticket costs a few euros and you can purchase the ticket on the spot or buy the round trip tickets in the bar next to the bus-stop. The ride is around 20 minutes by bus each way.

The square is a mosaic of white lava stone, bordered by tree-lined and shady pavements that open up onto the lookout where you can see Taormina from. In general, the urban design is very nice, the street names, the street numbers and signs are almost always in stone and wrought iron. The doors and windows of the houses are framed in Taormina stone and the houses are covered in light colours ranging from a delicate yellow to antique rose. The Sicilian style roof tiles are still on the roofs and, excluding some questionable buildings from the 60s to 70s, everything is as you would expect from a Sicilian village.

A half day tour to spend in Castelmola

Still on the on the square overlooking the historic  Caffè S. Giorgio , founded by monks in 1700. The special feature of this building used as a tavern, in addition to the album that collects the signatures of famous people who have passed through Castelmola since 1907, has the authorship of one of the most distinctive products of the village:  the almond wine .  Don Vincenzo Blandano, the historical owner of the café, used to welcome people, coming to visit the village. This drink, made with almonds and oranges essences is, probably, one of his invention.

3. Savoca and the Godfather Movie

best road trip sicily

This small town set in the rock of a hill of dual tip, experienced the interest of kings, popes and Archimandrite prelates, in a succession of periods of serious crisis and prosperity. The basalt blocks lying on roads leading between separate small houses, freshly restored with Sicilian tiles on the roofs and windows framed in stone, then following streets in the rock here you’ll find extremely fragmented ruins and old cisterns.

A half day tour is recommended to visit Savoca

Up high, overseeing, are the ruins of the  castle Pentefur , a building of questionable origin, perhaps Phoenician, Arab or maybe Norman. It is a bastion which, over time, claimed the title of the Royal Castle, by the will of Philip IV of Sicily. In medieval times, the village of Savoca was surrounded by a wall with double entrance built by the Normans. It is an imposing structure that still remains the City Gate today, a pointed arch made of local stone.

Finally, there is the  Church of San Nicolò , which seems almost stretch out into space, built as it is on a massive outcrop of rock. It has three wide aisles and an austere atmosphere of the steep fortress over the valley. The curious thing is that the church was one of the famous  sets  of the  film  “ the Godfather ” along with the  Bar Vitelli , housed inside eighteenth century  Palazzo Trimarchi . A Byzantine mural has recently been uncovered which depicts St. John Chrysostom, the father of the Christian Church of the East.

If you get to Savoca and you are hungry, you can enjoy typical fresh homemade  tagliatelle pasta , dressed with a wild fennel and pork meat ragù sauce or alternatively, the maccarruna, fresh  macaroni  pasta with pork rind in winter and with aubergine in the summer.

The gastronomy of Savoca, refers to the rural and Sicilian culinary traditions: we can try  piscistoccu ,  dried cod cooked with plenty of extra virgin olive oil, tomato paste, green and black olives, capers, chili, potatoes, celery, u  cunzatu breads  local homemade bread that is baked in a wood oven and seasoned with extra – virgin olive oil, salt , pepper, to Cuzzola, a fresh pasta sourdough , fried in olive oil and roasted on charcoa. Don’t miss  granita ca ‘ zzuccarata  is a lemon granita served with zzuccarata,a very crisp local biscuit topped with sesame seeds.

And now we are at the end of our tour. Tomorrow you can self drive to Catania airport and drop your car off.

Hope you have appreciated all teh information shown in the article and feel free to contact Tour of Sicily Tour Operator to customize your tour, decide what to see and what to do, focus all on the gastronomy, wine, experiences, landscape …. as you have read, the island of Sicily has so many important locations which are awaiting for you.

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How to Spend Three Days in Sicily

By Rosalyn Wikeley

People dining outside restaurants and bars at dusk in Noto

The cultural tapestry of Sicily is a rich and varied one. Invasions by the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks, Romans, Moors, Normans, Spanish, and Italians left their mark, particularly in the island’s architecture and culinary traditions. The island is best explored through those understated haunts where locals convene, centuries-old buildings that lie well off the tourist track, and family-run restaurants where a simple cannoli can move you to tears.

To attempt to scratch into Sicily ’s proud soul in a few weeks is ambitious—a few days is simply an aperitivo, just enough time to fall wildly and irrevocably in love with this sun-bleached island. Here’s our insider guide on how to tackle Sicily in just three days.

A version of this article originally appeared in Condé Nast Traveller UK. All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Late afternoon light on buildings in Old Town city center on Ortygia island Syracuse Sicily Italy.

Begin your whistle-stop tour of South Eastern Sicily in the sea-fronted glory of Syracuse. The ancient Greek city connects to Ortigia, a UNESCO World Heritage site island with a food market (on Via Emmanuele De Benedictis) well worth waking up early for. Held from seven in the morning until two in the afternoon every Sunday, it’s a sensory assault with the island's bounty piled high on tables: olives, lemons, herbs, enormous wheels of cheese, capers, spanking fresh seafood. Octopus tentacles hang from boxes, swordfish heads protrude from tables, vendors gesticulate emphatically.

Scoff a millefoglie (raisin pastry) or ciambelle (a Sicilian spin on the donut) while browsing and observing the ancient market rhythms—and don't leave without trying the ricotta-stuffed croissants at Sapori dei Gusti Smarriti. Sicilian mornings are typically sweet, so having wandered around Piazza del Duomo and gasped at the surrounding buttermilk-hued splendor, scuttle into Bar Condorelli for granita and warm brioche.

Macallè Ortigia  restaurant

As you only have a day here, save the Neapolis Archeological Park for another trip and simply absorb Syracuse’s millennia of history through its layered architecture, zigzagging into its independent crafty shops and galleries as you go. Lunch is sacred in Sicily, and Macalle ’s menu does a stellar job of modernizing classic Sicilian recipes (go for the fish dishes). Wander across to Forte Vigliena, where you can dip into the glassy, turquoise waters from the rocks. A small patch of sand just below Hotel Royal Maniace is another lovely swim spot.

Head back to your digs: The Thinking Traveller ’s seafront hideaway hovers right above the bustling market and labyrinth of restaurants, with an oasis-style roof terrace serving up postcard views. Snatch a Sicilian siesta, then head back down into the heart of ancient Ortigia, winding through the streets to reach the Porto Grande, where Armonia bobs impatiently (book well in advance). Syracuse is even more enchanting when viewed from the sea. Hop off the boat back at the marina, draw out the evening, and make a beeline for Era Ora Ortigia . This wildly delicious pizza place will belittle all future pizzerias.

Dimora Delle Balze

Pick up a sinfully delicious pistachio cream pastry from Pasticceria Artale , then cross the Ponte Umberto for a hire car, going west, inland past agriturismos and prairie-like stretches baked by the sun. In just under an hour, you’ll reach  Dimora Delle Balze . This handsomely restored 19th-century masseria is a masterclass in perfectly balanced restraint. Peachy rooms are tastefully dressed in natural linens, mosaic bathrooms, and blonde, upcycled woods, while a maze of modica-stone tiled courtyards and old freckled walls spills out onto a pillared terrace and a calm and contemporary pool area. Use this exquisite spot overlooking the olive-tree-scattered Val di Noto as your base for the next few days.

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People dining outside restaurants and bars at dusk in Noto

Having kicked back by the pool with herb-infused cocktails (all plucked from Dimora Delle Balze’s organic acres), jump back in the car for just over a half-hour’s drive to the city of Noto . Corso Vittorio Emanuele is the orderly, opulent artery street home to the legendary  Caffè Sicilia  which has been open since 1892. Pull up a chair for one of Corrado Assenza’s almond milk granita coffees and seasonally shifting cakes to tide you over; expect cheeses and jams from local farmers’ orchards and pastries, plump with nutty ricotta. Cruise along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, gawping at the cathedral and the French-inspired Palazzo Ducezio directly opposite it, though skip the queues for the rooftop views of the latter and instead clamber up the Monastero del Santissimo Salvatore staircase for an achingly pretty panoramic of Noto in its golden, late afternoon coat. Meander down to the communal gardens for a green exhale, then explore the boutiques and galleries lining the streets branching off from Corso Vittorio until you reach Teatro Tina Di Lorenzo, a jewel box theatre of gold leaf boxes, stuccowork, and classical oomph.

Return through Dimora Delle Balze for a late afternoon swim when the water shifts to an inky shade, a snooze on one of the mottled courtyard’s wrought iron daybeds and a long salt-infused soak in their absurdly deep baths. Supper is an easy-going candlelit affair, poolside and a polished riff on Sicilian stalwarts—caponata, seafood couscous, hearty salads making good use of the hotel’s organic bounty. Linger over cocktails in the AROME bar (connected to the poolside restaurant), where Donnafugata reds soon drift into negronis.

Cavagrande del Cassibile

Breakfast here is a real highlight. Teas, coffees, and hot orders are taken on a weathered stone terrace, with views of the valley framed by crumbling columns. Inside, an enormous farmhouse table is covered with a photogenic Sicilian spread featuring apricot pastries, orange cakes, homemade granola, and local cuts. Drizzle honey on home-baked bread while listing the various items you’ll need to pack for hiking the Cavagrande del Cassibile. Only a short drive away, this long canyon’s walks along the scala cruci from Belvedere rewards hikers with ethereal-looking natural pools and waterfalls. Lizards dart across the warm limestone, birds frolic just above the intensely turquoise pools. It’s away from the beach crowds and there are even prehistoric caves hiding in plain sight opposite the Parcheggio laghetti di cavagrande car park. The scenic walk (including a well-deserved dip) will take around three hours.

Duomo Square and the Cathedral of St Agata Catania

Catania is a superb destination for an empty stomach. Head north from the Cavagrande del Cassibile into the city. Catania was cut from the same baroque cloth as Palermo or Siracuse, though with a sooty-hued, ragged edge. It also has a phenomenal street food scene, where traditional classics enjoy a near-sacred status among locals and are a delicious way to explore the patchwork of Sicily’s cultural influences. Book a food tour with  Streatys —you’re arriving too late for Catania’s famously raucous fish market, but leaning into the  Tavola Calda Catanese  (Catanian ‘hot tables’) culture is another way to get a feel for the city. Expect seafood hoiked from the Tyrrhenian a few hours ago, deep-fried arancini, ricotta and anchovy-stuffed Siciliana and Minne di Sant’agata (Catania’s most famous cakes).

If you’re wanting to explore the city’s street food scene under your own steam, start in the Piazza Duomo and work your way to Dolci della Nonna Vincenza for the cakes. From here, gawk at the resplendent Rococo palace, still home to the descendants of its namesake family— Palazzo Biscari . Then head north to  Folk Magda Masano  for homewares fashioned from lava stone, marble, and ceramics by a third-generation maker. Head east via the Benedictine monastery of San Nicolò l’Arena for Catania’s street food hub. Via Plebiscito Catania is where a cluster of arrusti e mangi (roast and eat) spots fills the air with wafts of fire and charred meats.

Rooftops and Mount Etna in Catania

Visit the imposing Porto Garibaldi, then head east down Via Guiseppe Garibaldi. Walk along Catania’s thoroughfare, Via Etna, named after the menacing, often snow-capped volcano that looms over the city. Continue north until you reach the gardens of Villa Bellini, a manicured pocket of green amidst all the grey lava stone named after Catania’s famous composer, Vicenzo Bellini, and seemingly designed for early evening strolls as the sun dips (the park is open until 9 p.m.).

Villa Bellini Catania

Having admired the magnolia, fountains, statues, and swans, meander down the streets running adjacent to Via Etna to Stanley Tucci-approved   Me Cumpari Turiddu . Lean into the unpretentious and proudly traditional Sicilian menu: You can’t go wrong with the black pork, the pasta alla Turiddu (a spin on the classic norma using Masculina da Magghia anchovies), or the paddlefish ‘involtini’ rolls. Having walked for most of the day, settle into the restaurant’s amber-hued atmosphere with a negroni, sipped beneath its vast vaulted ceilings and chandeliers.


Grand Hotel Timeo, A Belmond Hotel, Taormina

Grand Hotel Timeo, A Belmond Hotel, Taormina

Villa Sant'Andrea, A Belmond Hotel, Taormina Mare

Villa Sant'Andrea, A Belmond Hotel, Taormina Mare

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Un agency confirms 119.8-degree reading in sicily two years ago as europe's record high temperature.

Associated Press

GENEVA – The U.N.'s weather agency on Tuesday confirmed a reading of 48.8 degrees Celsius (119.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in Sicily two years ago as the hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe.

The World Meteorological Organization says the Sicilian scorcher was picked up on Aug. 11, 2021 , at a time when temperatures were soaring across much of Europe — renewing concerns about climate change caused by human activity.

The figure blew past the previous European record of 48 C that was recorded in the Greek cities of Athens and Elefsina in July 1977.

The Sicily record from 2021 was based on weather observations and first published in the International Journal of Climatology.

Randall Cerveny, who reports on climate and weather extremes for the World Meteorological Organization, says the confirmation followed a lengthy investigation that required “meticulous care” by the agency.

"This investigation demonstrates the alarming tendency for continuing high temperature records to be set in specific regions of the world,” Cerveny said.

Such evaluations are published in the Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes , which tallies records on extremes like the world’s high and low temperatures, heaviest hail stone, maximum gust of wind, longest lightning flash and weather-related deaths.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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A composite illustration of multiple stamps of the Travelers of the Year

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They inspire us and teach us about the world: Meet our 2024 Travelers of the Year

These nine game changers are making a difference. Here they share their tips on how to be a better traveler.

From a family in search of African ancestors to a music icon celebrating her Tennessee roots, our nine Travelers of the Year inspire us to experience the best of the world and, once we’re out the door, help make our journeys more meaningful. They are explorers, boundary breakers, and changemakers who know a thing or two about where and how to travel right now. Read on for their tips. 

Outdoors inspiration: Pattie Gonia 

Artist, environmentalist, and drag queen Wyn Wiley—known professionally as Pattie Gonia—helps LGBTQ+ youth discover the wonders of the outdoors. As founder of the nonprofit Outdoorist Oath , she brings the queer community together in the parks and wild spaces of Oregon , her home state.

Her feel-good music videos address environmental justice and pride in identity, and include collaborators such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Indigenous trans musician Quinn Christopherson.

“Every year my community fundraises to send 10 queer youth on a fully scholarshipped backpacking trip,” she says. “One of the attendees told me and the group around the fire, ‘Being on this trip has helped me reclaim a childhood I didn’t get to have.’ That’s everything to me.”

Top travel tip? Get up before the sun rises. Go out, walk about, and watch the world wake up.

How would you define your drag style? Campy, witty, sustainable, and unapologetic. A lady in the streets but a freak on the peaks.

Cultural caretaker: Liliana Palma Santos

Sign up for a Zapotec Travel tour in Oaxaca , Mexico, and you’ll shop in local markets, take cooking classes with Indigenous chefs, participate in pottery workshops, or visit a woman-owned mezcal distillery. Founder Liliana Palma Santos’ goal is to show travelers the rich connections between Indigenous Oaxaqueñas and the history and archaeology of their ancestors.

Her policy of not charging commission for the sales that artisans make on the tours leaves a hundred percent of the proceeds in their pockets. “I feel as if what I’m doing is what my ancestors have always planned for me,” she says. “We have a word, galguez , which is about reciprocity and leaning on each other. The individual businesses I work with inspire me to do more.” 

What’s always in your bag? A small bottle of mezcal. It can serve a ceremonial purpose in blessing things, a medicinal purpose if you have a stomach ache, or even as a gift.

Travel philosophy?  Know the land you’re on. In every community, every place that you go, there’s Native land. There are people who have kept it protected and alive through generations, and I always want to honor that.

Disability access advocate: Vasu Sojitra 

With the help of his “ninjasticks” (forearm crutches), one-legged athlete Vasu Sojitra has skied off of Denali via the West Buttress, ascended the Grand Teton , and run the Beaten Path in the Beartooth Mountain Range . Leading by example, the Montana -based advocate tries to show people what life in the outdoors with a disability can mean. He brings his advocacy work indoors through organizations such as The North Face Explore Fund Council, where he develops inclusive guidelines for corporations and finds community projects to fund. 

Through his Instagram posts, Sojitra shares his perspective on being an adaptive athlete, and suggests how people can make outdoor recreation more inclusive for adventurers with disabilities. His Inclusive Outdoors Project goes a step further by partnering with local guides to teach skills and fund trail running, backcountry skiing, ice climbing, and gravel biking.

What place are you excited about visiting? I’d like to check out Trinidad and Tobago and its rich Asian culture. A lot of Indians have relocated to Trinidad, and the combination of vibrant Caribbean, African, and Indian flavors in the resulting food makes it high on my travel list.

Top travel tip? Support an Indigenous community in whatever region you’re in by buying art, crafts, food, or anything they’re creating.

Culinary documentarian: Vicky Bennison 

The founder of media company Pasta Grannies , Vicky Bennison searches throughout Italy to film nonne , who still make pasta by hand, sometimes in seldom seen traditional shapes such as pleated potato-filled culurgiones or coin-shaped corzetti .

Through viral YouTube videos and detailed cookbooks with QR codes that link back to the videos, Pasta Grannies shares lifetimes of culinary knowledge and family recipes. Fans often plan trips around Pasta Grannies destinations, like Tuscany and Sicily . The most popular video ? Ninety-one-year-old Maria making lasagna in Faenza, a city 31 miles outside of Bologna.

Travel philosophy? Never forget that you’re reliant on the kindness of strangers; make it a positive encounter for all concerned.

Genealogy trackers: The Anderson Family 

With the results of their genealogy tests guiding them, Natalee and Ike Anderson decided to leave their Miami home in 2018 and roam the world with their young kids, Jasmine (now 15), Kaylee (now 13), and Layton (now 9). They’ve traveled to 22 destinations, including Mexico , where they snorkeled in a cenote, and Canada , where they played in their first snow. In Egypt , they meditated inside the King’s Tomb at the Pyramid of Giza before heading to Ghana , where they learned to weave traditional kente cloth.

It was in Ghana that they decided to settle down in 2021 and found their tour company, Exploring Legacy , which leads trips in West Africa and organizes rites of passage for young adults of African descent.

Top travel tip? Jasmine: Involve the children in planning activities and excursions. Kaylee: Don’t forget to pack snacks and extra food. Layton: Stay alert and listen to your parents, especially during travel and in crowded areas.

Sustainability supporter: Susanne Etti 

As the global environmental impact manager for tour operator Intrepid Travel , Susanne Etti has recently been instrumental in implementing carbon labeling for all Intrepid’s trips (500 have been labeled so far with goals to have the rest done by mid-2024). Travelers can make a thorough climate-conscious decision by consulting each trip’s carbon footprint. She also examines how the company can use fewer resources in order to decrease carbon output and preserve ecosystems, and how it can make more sustainable choices, such as replacing a flight with a train journey.

“I love hearing when people come back from a trip and say that they’ve changed their habits at home, or have even changed their job because of what they’ve learned,” Etti says.

Top travel tip? Travel slowly and stay in a place to get to know the people, shops, and surroundings. Train travel can have an overall slower feeling when you can see the countryside go by.

People champion: Zakia Moulaoui Guery

Founder and CEO of a U.K.-based social enterprise called Invisible Cities , Zakia Moulaoui Guery trains people who have experienced being unhoused to become walking tour guides of their own city. The company offers tours in Edinburgh , Glasgow , Manchester , York , and Cardiff , with Liverpool —as well as the Scottish Borders region—to be added in 2024. “I’ve been told that going on our tours is like following a friend through the city,” Guery says. “Considering the stories of our guides, I think we are succeeding at breaking down the stigma that exists around homelessness.”

What’s always in your bag? A cross-stitch project. I learned when I was younger and picked it up again after my mother passed in 2020. It helps me relax and focus on something for a few hours.

Top travel tip?  Take the time to enjoy. Sometimes, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to see as many things as possible and tick them off our list. I find the best trips I’ve had were a mix of visiting all the places, but also having days where all I did was have wine in the sun and walk around, or wake up late and read my book on the balcony.

Hotel innovator: Leo Ghitis 

At Nayara Resorts , a collection of six luxury properties in Costa Rica , Panama , and Chile , guests can visit a sloth sanctuary on the fringes of the Arenal Volcano and stargaze in the Atacama Desert. “I am a firm believer in regenerative travel,” says founder Leo Ghitis. “I feel it’s important to leave a place better than when you arrived, and look for hotels, brands, and operators that are actively giving back and working to improve the world around us.” The company recently partnered with a local bank in Costa Rica to create a housing community for its employees, particularly single mothers.

Why is travel important to you? When people travel, it expands their minds and makes them more compassionate, both for the people they meet and the landscapes they see. 

Hospitality queen: Dolly Parton

Entertainment icon and philanthropist Dolly Parton has built a hospitality empire in eastern Tennessee . Centered in Pigeon Forge , it includes Dollywood amusement park, two resorts (including the just opened HeartSong ), restaurants, and attractions. All are themed to celebrate the landscape and culture of the Smokies. “We’re lucky to be in the part of the world that I believe is just absolutely the most perfect place that God has created,” Parton says. “Those big, beautiful Smoky Mountains provide all the inspiration we could ever dream of finding.”

Her fans know that she often shows up for the season opening of Dollywood in March. But she’ll also sometimes make a surprise appearance at one of the theme park’s stage shows.

What’s your travel or hospitality philosophy? Well, it’s the Golden Rule; treat others the way you want to be treated. Whether you’re hosting someone in your home—we call our Dollywood employees hosts because they are hosting our guests every single day in our “home”—or you’re a guest in their home, you should always treat them with love and compassion whether you’ve known them for 50 years or five minutes.

What’s always in your bag? My makeup. Back in the ’80s when I’d be in Los Angeles , I’d sleep with my makeup on in case there was an earthquake and I had to go outside at night. I didn’t want anybody taking a picture of me if I had just gotten out of the bed in the middle of the night!

What role has travel played in your music?  I love traveling on the road because you’re able to see and experience places you might not be able to see when you’re flying over it all. Taking a good old-fashioned road trip really just gets my mind flowing. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of songs I’ve written on the road, but it’s pretty safe to say that if you’ve sung it, I probably wrote it on the road.

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  1. The ultimate sicily road trip an epic 10 days in sicily itinerary

    best road trip sicily

  2. Sicily by Car

    best road trip sicily

  3. The Ultimate Sicily Road Trip: An Epic 10 Days in Sicily Itinerary

    best road trip sicily

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    best road trip sicily

  5. The ultimate sicily road trip an epic 10 days in sicily itinerary

    best road trip sicily

  6. The Ultimate Sicily Road Trip: An Epic 10 Days in Sicily Itinerary in

    best road trip sicily


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  1. The 5 best road trips in Sicily

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  13. 7-Day Itinerary

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  17. Sicily Self-Drive Tour

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