Where to go in Sicily? If you want to discover this wonderful island through a different tour, here is a travel programme with the 15 best places to visit in Sicily!
In this guide to the top 15 destinations in Sicily, you will discover a range of enchanting locations. These range from quaint seaside villages and historic towns steeped in tradition, to breathtaking beaches, serene countrysides, salt pans, and tuna fisheries. Explore natural parks such as Etna Park, Nebrodi Park, Madonie Park, and the Alcantara River Park, or visit picturesque villages nestled at the foot of the majestic Mount Etna.
Sicily is also renowned for its world-famous gastronomic delights. Enjoy iconic products such as arancini, chocolate, pistachios, oranges, and the classic Sicilian cannoli, not to mention the typical street food and wines which are just a few of the island’s culinary highlights.
Thanks to its mild and temperate climate, Sicily is a destination that can be enjoyed all year round. However, it’s advisable to avoid the intense heat of mid-summer.
For those interested in cultural heritage, consider planning your Sicilian itinerary around the island’s invaluable UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Archaeological Area of Agrigento
- Villa del Casale
- Aeolian Islands
- Baroque towns of the Val di Noto
- Syracuse and the rock necropolis site of Pantalica
- Mount Etna
- Palermo and the cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale
In this guide, you’ll discover detailed information about various sites and attractions across Sicily, highlighting the ease of moving from one location to another.
Presenting an unmissable Sicily, complete with an itinerary of the most beautiful places to explore on an ideal vacation lasting between 7 to 10 days.
Exploring the best of Sicily
Like many other regions and cities in Italy, the captivating destinations in Sicily become exceedingly popular at certain times of the year, often making it challenging to find parking in some areas. However, traveling by car is essential for this type of tour through Sicily’s beautiful locations. We recommend always parking in designated areas surrounding the historical centers to alleviate any potential issues.
One of the most frequented and must-see cities in Sicily is Catania, located on the eastern coast. Catania is accessible by train via the Central Station, by air through the Catania-Fontanarossa Airport, or by sea from Naples or Reggio Calabria.
Begin your tour at the stunning Piazza del Duomo, home to the grandiose Cathedral of Sant’Agata. This cathedral, dedicated to the city’s patron saint whose relics are preserved inside, boasts a striking Baroque white marble façade and houses marvelous works of art.
At the heart of the square, you’ll find the Fontana dell’Elefante – the symbol of Catania. This statue depicts a black lava stone elephant topped by an Egyptian obelisk. Legend has it that the statue has the power to calm the fury of Mount Etna, and touching it is said to bring good luck.
Adjacent to Piazza del Duomo is the Mercato del Pesce (Fish Market). This bustling open-air market offers a wide array of fresh fish, seafood, and local produce, providing an authentic taste of the local gastronomic culture.
Near the Duomo, you can also visit the Roman Theatre. This ancient amphitheater dating back to Roman times still stands as a venue for theatre performances and concerts during summer.
Other attractions in Catania include the Ursino Castle, a formidable medieval Norman fortress which now houses the Museo Civico (free admission). The museum showcases a rich archaeological collection featuring art and historical artifacts tied to the city’s history. Following the Ursino Castle, enjoy a leisurely stroll along Via Etnea, Catania’s main street. This commercial avenue, lined with historic buildings, is where locals and visitors alike shop, savor ice cream, brioche, granitas, and more.
Another must-visit in Catania is the Villa or Giardino Bellini, a public park situated on a panoramic hill where various events and concerts come alive.
Mount Etna Park with its picturesque villages
A must-visit site in Sicily is Etna Park, located near Catania. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a protected region surrounding Europe’s highest active volcano and stretches from the volcano’s peak to the upper areas of the Etnean villages, encompassing several towns.
The park offers an array of activities such as hiking, trekking, cable car rides, and jeep safaris for exploring the diverse aspects of the volcano and its natural environments. Enjoy the fusion of volcanic landscapes, flora, fauna, and the scenic villages nestled on Etna’s slopes, including Linguaglossa, Randazzo, Nicolosi, Bronte, and Zafferana Etnea.
These territories are known for their food and wine traditions, giving rise to globally renowned local products like Bronte pistachios, honey, olive oil, and wine, among others.
To delve into these specialties, you can partake in themed experiences such as guided tasting tours and cooking classes. Local cooks and chefs will teach you how to prepare some of the dishes that have shaped the history of Mediterranean cuisine.
Siracusa and Ortigia
Some of the most captivating locations in Sicily include Syracuse, renowned for its archaeological heritage and rich Greek and Roman traditions. Once a prominent city of Magna Graecia, Syracuse is home to Ortigia, its oldest section and a small island forming its historic center. Ortigia is known for its narrow lanes, Baroque churches, and the turquoise waters that envelop it.
A must-visit is the Neapolis Archaeological Park, where remnants of the ancient city and significant archaeological sites can be found. These include the Greek Theatre, one of the best-preserved of its kind that still hosts annual performances during the Syracuse Festival, the Roman Amphitheatre, the Ear of Dionysius, and the Altar of Hieron.
Additionally, the Cathedral of Syracuse on Ortigia Island (7th century) is a sight to behold. This imposing cathedral, built atop an ancient Greek temple, features a façade that blends architectural styles from Greek, Roman, Norman, and Baroque influences, mirroring the city’s character.
Ortigia’s Fountain of Arethusa is another intriguing site. This freshwater spring emerges directly onto the island’s waterfront. According to legend, Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, transformed the nymph Arethusa into a spring to help her escape the advances of the river god Alphaeus.
In Ortigia, there is also a Market where you can immerse yourself to taste the fresh local products, spices, cheeses and local handicrafts.
Don’t forget to take a walk on the Levante promenade, one of the most suggestive places in Ortigia, where you can admire the ancient city walls and the historic buildings that overlook the street.
The late Baroque towns of the Val di Noto
Among the top places to visit in Sicily, we recommend a collection of Baroque towns in Val di Noto, located in the south-eastern part of Sicily. These towns were devastated by an earthquake in 1693 and subsequently rebuilt in the Baroque style. In 2002, they were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to their historical significance and architectural splendor.
- Noto is often referred to as the “capital” of Sicilian Baroque due to the architecture of its churches, palaces, and squares. The Cathedral of San Nicolò and Palazzo Ducezio are among its notable attractions.
- Ragusa is split into Upper Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla. Ragusa Ibla, the older and more charming section, features narrow, winding streets, Baroque churches, and noble palaces. The Cathedral of San Giorgio is a must-see.
- Modica is renowned for its chocolate and Baroque architecture. The town is characterized by steep stairways and narrow streets that lead to baroque churches and palaces. The Church of San Giorgio is one of Modica’s main attractions.
- Scicli, while less known compared to Noto and Ragusa, is equally captivating. Its historic center is a labyrinth of alleyways, staircases, and Baroque churches. The Church of San Matteo is worth a visit.
- While not technically within the Noto Valley, Caltagirone is part of the group of Baroque towns and is noted for its ceramics and colorfully tiled stairways. The Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte, with its 142 steps, is one of Caltagirone’s most iconic sites.
- Palazzolo Acreide, situated on the slopes of the Hyblaean Mountains, is famous for its Greek and Roman archaeological sites, as well as its Baroque architecture, the Greek Theatre, and the Church of San Paolo.
- Militello Val di Catania is a small town boasting a rich history and numerous baroque palaces. The city’s architecture also reflects Moorish and neoclassical influences.
- While Catania is not considered one of the Baroque cities in the Val di Noto, it still features distinctive Baroque architecture.
Among the destinations to explore in Sicily, we highly recommend Marzamemi, a charming seaside village near the municipality of Pachino, in the province of Syracuse. This village is renowned for its squares, fishermen’s houses, harbors, cuisine, architecture, and vibrant colors.
Worth visiting are:
- The Tonnara in Piazza Regina Margherita, which is at the heart of Marzamemi. This ancient complex of buildings is associated with fishing and tuna processing, which remained one of Marzamemi’s primary economic activities until the 20th century.
- In Piazza Regina Margherita, you’ll find the Gothic-style Church of San Francesco da Paola, built from sandstone. This church is dedicated to Marzamemi’s patron saint.
- Largo Balata is a natural limestone harbor that features the sea and quaint houses, making it an enchanting and memorable spot. From here, you can catch sight of Marzamemi’s two islands: Isola Piccola and Isola Grande.
Situated between Marzamemi and Noto is the Vendicari Nature Reserve, another must-visit. Within the reserve, you can discover a small Hellenistic-period necropolis, numerous varieties of fauna and flora, and engage in activities like birdwatching, snorkeling, and guided tours.
Agrigento and Valley of the Temples
Visit Agrigento, located on Sicily’s south-western coast, renowned for the Valley of the Temples. This archaeological site holds significant historical and artistic value and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
The Valley of the Temples is one of the most extraordinary displays of Greek art and architecture that can still be appreciated today. It is a well-preserved archaeological area that encompasses the remnants of seven Doric temples constructed between the 6th and 5th centuries BC.
Nestled on a hill in the heart of the Valley of the Temples is the “Pietro Griffo” archaeological museum. It houses an array of artifacts including statues, vases, coins, and jewelry, providing a glimpse into the life and culture of ancient Akragas, the Greek city from which present-day Agrigento originated.
However, that’s not all. The Scala dei Turchi (“Stair of the Turks”), a white rock formation situated on the coast of Realmonte near Porto Empedocle, is also worth noting. This striking locale is recognized for its unique shape, reminiscent of a natural staircase. The contrast between the white rocks and the blue sea creates a distinctive and special landscape, making it a favorite among photography enthusiasts.
Another must-see in Sicily is the Torre Salsa Natural Reserve, a regional nature reserve managed by the WWF. Here, you can explore wild beaches, sand dunes, cliffs, and lush vegetation. The reserve also serves as a sanctuary for numerous bird species, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers and bird watchers.
Lastly, don’t miss out on a visit to the historic center of Agrigento. Wander amongst ancient churches starting from Via Atenea, the main street where some of the most important churches and palaces to visit in Agrigento are located.
Marsala and the Salt Pans
Another must-visit in Sicily is Marsala. Located at the westernmost point of Sicily, Marsala is a city steeped in history and culture. Its name originates from the Arabic “Mars Allah”, translating to “port of Ali”. However, what truly puts it on the world map is its globally exported wine.
Located a short distance from Trapani, within the Stagnone Reserve along the Trapani – Marsala coastal road, you’ll find the renowned Marsala Salt Pans. This site is one of the most frequently visited destinations in Sicily due to the distinctiveness of its landscape, marked by now decommissioned windmills.
Situated near Marsala, within the Nature Reserve of the Stagnone Islands, is the island of Mothia or Mozia Island. This Phoenician trading city dates back to the 12th century B.C. and houses an archaeological site from that historical era.
Among the destinations to explore in Sicily, we highly recommend a pit stop in its magnificent capital, Palermo, a hotspot for international tourism. This city captivates with its medieval churches, baroque palaces, and bustling markets such as Ballarò, Mercato del Capo, and Mercato della Vucciria. Here, you can savor authentic Sicilian street food featuring local specialties.
For historical interest, we suggest visiting:
- Piazza della Fontana Pretoria, the central square
- The Royal Palace (Palazzo dei Normanni) and the Palatine Chapel
- The Church of S. Giovanni degli Eremiti
- The Cathedral of Palermo
- The Church of Jesus
- The Massimo Theatre
The Aeolian Islands, also known as the Lipari Islands, are a volcanic archipelago of seven islands situated off the northern coast of Sicily in the province of Messina. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, they are unquestionably among the most picturesque places to visit in Sicily, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists annually.
These islands are part of the Aeolian Island Group in the Tyrrhenian Sea: Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, and Panarea, along with five other smaller uninhabited islands: Basiluzzo, Dattilo, Lisca Nera, Bottaro, and Lisca Bianca. Each island boasts its unique beaches, coves, caves, sea stacks, and seafloors.
The Aeolian Islands can be accessed by ferry or hydrofoil from Milazzo, Palermo, Messina, Reggio Calabria, and Naples.
Piazza Armerina with the Villa Romana del Casale
Piazza Armerina is a quaint town in the province of Enna, globally renowned for its excellently preserved and expansive Roman frescoes and mosaics in the Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
These mosaics portray scenes from classical mythology, daily activities, and exotic animals. Surrounded by lush countryside and offering a panoramic view of the town of Piazza Armerina, the villa was likely the dwelling of a wealthy Roman landowner. However, alternate theories suggest it could have been a Roman emperor’s residence.
Beyond the Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina is recognized for its captivating architecture displaying influences from medieval, Baroque, and Renaissance styles.
The historic center is commanded by the towering Duomo, perched above the town in the oldest and highest part of the city. This area is home to churches, alleys, small squares, and stunning Renaissance and Baroque palaces, such as Palazzo Trigona. Not far from here, you can find the Aragonese Castle.
A must-visit during a Sicilian holiday is Taormina, a charming seaside town situated about an hour’s drive north from Catania. This town is best explored on foot.
Often referred to as “the Sicilian Saint Tropez”, Taormina is cherished for its unique allure and the glamorous ambiance that permeates the air as one strolls down Corso Umberto.
Venturing to the end of this street, you’ll find yourself in front of the Cathedral of San Nicolò, distinguished by its medieval façade and baroque-style door.
Taormina also serves as an excellent stop to delve into the local food and wine scene, offering local wines and traditional Sicilian dishes. So between dips in its beautiful waters, don’t forget to sample its gastronomic delights.
For photography enthusiasts who enjoy capturing views from lofty vantage points, Piazza IX Aprile offers a stunning overlook of the bay and Mount Etna. This square is also a gathering spot for musicians, painters, acrobats, and more. Nestled in the backdrop is a small church, the Baroque-style Church of San Giuseppe.
The most renowned monument in Taormina is the Greek Theatre (3rd century BC), which can accommodate over 5,000 people and is used for plays and concerts.
Temples of Selinunte
One of the must-see destinations in Sicily is the Selinunte Archaeological Park. This park is one of the largest archaeological sites in the Mediterranean, spanning approximately 270 hectares. It’s located on the southwestern coast of Sicily, near the town of Castelvetrano. The park is home to the remnants of the ancient Greek city of Selinunte, which was conquered by the Carthaginians around 200 BC.
The archaeological site is divided into seven zones, each containing temples, sanctuaries, and the remnants of Doric fortifications and buildings; these include the Acropolis, the Eastern Hill, the Manuzza Hill, and the Gaggera Hill. Located on the Gaggera Hill is the Sanctuary of Malophoros, the oldest sanctuary in Selinunte dedicated to the goddess of fertility. The park also houses the Regional Archaeological Museum of Selinunte, renowned for its extensive collection of artefacts discovered during excavations.
Trapani is a port city located on the western coast of Sicily, renowned for its salt pans, an area dedicated to sea salt production that dates back to Phoenician times.
Trapani’s salt pans are marked by historic windmills, mountains of pristine salt, and shallow lagoons teeming with pink flamingos. An ancient windmill houses the Salt Museum, a place that transports you back in time to the old methods of salt production.
Near Trapani lies Erice, a quaint and enchanting medieval village nestled on a mountain. Erice is recognized for its cobblestone streets, medieval castles, and panoramic views of the sea and the surrounding countryside.
In Erice, it’s worth visiting the Castle of Venus, a Norman fortress built atop a Roman temple, and the Chiesa Matrice, a stunning example of Sicilian Gothic architecture.
Approximately a 30-minute drive from Trapani takes you to the Temple of Segesta, another well-preserved Greek temple. Constructed in the 5th century BC, this temple was never completed, but its Doric columns and hilltop placement make it a fascinating site to visit. Nearby, you can also find an ancient Greek theatre, offering spectacular views of the Sicilian countryside.
The Egadi Islands, formerly known by their Latin name Aegates, form an archipelago that includes Favignana, Marettimo, Levanzo, and the two smaller rocky islets, Formica and Maraone. They are situated a few kilometers off the western coast of Sicily, nestled between Marsala and Trapani. These islands are a perfect destination for those seeking pristine beaches, clear waters, adventurous hiking trails, and historical sites.
Favignana, the most populous and largest island of the Egadi Islands, is renowned for its fine sandy beaches and lively nightlife. It also hosts one of the last active tuna fisheries in the Mediterranean.
Marettimo, the most remote and untamed island of the archipelago, is a haven for nature enthusiasts with its mountains, hiking trails, and sea caves.
Though Levanzo is the smallest of the three primary islands, it is well-known for the Grotta del Genovese, a site housing prehistoric paintings and rock carvings.
Formica and Maraone, two small uninhabited rocky islets, serve as important nesting sites for various species of seabirds.
Enna, situated in the heart of Sicily’s inland region, is renowned as “the belvedere of Sicily”. It offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, with the highest viewpoint being the Rocca di Cerere.
Here are some noteworthy places to visit in Enna:
- The Castello di Lombardia: This is one of Enna’s most iconic medieval castles. Originally constructed by the Sicans and later expanded by the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and Normans, it is celebrated for its towers and panoramic vistas.
- The Tower of Frederick II: This octagonal tower, a part of the Castello di Lombardia, is one of the few remaining structures from the reign of Frederick II of Swabia. From here, you can also enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the surrounding countryside.
- The Cathedral of Enna: This imposing cathedral, an example of Sicilian Gothic architecture, is notable for its Baroque facade, ornate interior, and bell tower.
- The Rocca di Cerere: This archaeological park, dedicated to the ancient goddess Ceres, the patron saint of Enna, hosts the remnants of an ancient temple.
- The Regional Archaeological Museum of Enna: This museum boasts a vast collection of archaeological artifacts from Enna and nearby sites.
Tuna Fishery of Scopello and San Vito Lo Capo
The Tonnara di Scopello, an ancient tuna fishing establishment, sits in the quaint village of Scopello. Today, it is a famed tourist attraction, celebrated for its stunning sea views and rock formations.
San Vito Lo Capo, another captivating coastal village, is located on Sicily’s north-western apex. It is known for its pristine white sandy beach, deemed one of Italy’s finest, and its vibrant annual couscous festival.
Notable attractions include the San Vito Lo Capo Lighthouse, the Church of San Vito Martire, and the Zingaro Nature Reserve, which features hiking trails and secluded bays waiting to be discovered.
Nature Reserves to visit in Sicily
- Zingaro Nature Reserve
- Ettore and Infersa Salt Pans
- Vendicari Reserve
- Trapani and Paceco Salt Pans Nature Reserve
- Cavagrande del Cassibile Reserve
- Nebrodi Park
- Alcantara Gorge
- Torre Salsa Reserve
- Madonie Park
- The small lakes of Marinello
- Mount Cofano Nature Reserve
- Punta Bianca Nature Reserve
The most beautiful beaches in Sicily
And if you love the sea, here are some suggestions for discovering Sicily by visiting its beaches:
- Spiaggia dei Conigli beach in Lampedusa
- Cala Pulcino beach in Lampedusa
- La Tabaccara beach in Lampedusa
- Cala Uccello in Lampedusa
- Cala Maluk in Lampedusa
- Cala Pisana in Lampedusa
- Cala Francese beach in Lampedusa
- Isola Bella in Taormina
- Cala Rossa beach in Favignana
- Cala Azzurra cliffs in Favignana
- Beach of Mondello
- Isulidda beach in Macari / San Vito Lo Capo
- Caletta del Bue Marino San Vito Lo Capo
- San Lorenzo beach in Noto
- Calamosche beach in Noto
- Fontana Bianche beach in Syracuse
- Gallina beach in Avola
- Guidaloca Beach in Scopello
- Cala Mazzo di Sciacca beach in Castellammare del Golfo / Scopello
- Faraglioni Beach in Castellammare del Golfo / Scopello
- Cala Croce Beach
- Coves Santa Margherita
- Lido Arenella in Syracuse
- Pineta del Gelsomineto beach Cassibile / Syracuse
- Donkey Beach in the Aeolian Islands
- Santa Maria del Focallo beach Ispica / Ragusa
- Sampieri in Scicli / Ragusa
- Cornino Bay in Custonaci / Trapani
Now that we have told you where to go in Sicily and the best things to do, remember that with Italia Delight, you can book food and wine experiences and foodie trips, even tailor-made ones! What are you waiting for to explore all the most beautiful places to visit in Sicily with us? 😍
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