Things to do in Trapani
There isn’t a whole lot happening in Trapani. However, that’s the beauty of it; it’s the perfect place to sit back and relax, with an aperitif in hand, watching the boats bobbing in the port.
Because of its ferry connections, and proximity to well-known locations like the Temple of Segesta, it’s mainly used as a hub to visit other places in the area. For example, the Egadi Islands, the charming village of Erice, and the salt marshes.
Because of this, we recommend adding Trapani to your Sicily road trip itinerary and using it as a base to visit the natural wonders on the island.
1. Historic Center of Trapani
Welcome to Centro Storico of Trapani: a gorgeous maze of narrow streets flanked by regal Italian townhouses.
Unlike many other cities in Italy, the historical center of Trapani is not touristy, probably because most people only come to Trapani to jump on the ferry. This means you’ll get to really appreciate the authentic atmosphere without the crowds.
Here are some of the top things to do in Trapani Centro Storico:
Chiesa delle Anime Sante del Purgatorio
This stunning church in the old town is well worth a visit with its baroque facade and emerald-tiled dome. It’s mainly famous for the procession of the mysteries, a significant religious festival held at Easter. During this time, sculptures are carried around the city and brought to the church.
Cathedral of San Lorenzo
Trapani Cathedral may not be as beautiful as some Italian cathedrals. However, you should still visit to see its imposing facade, complete with gigantic archways and columns.
Palazzo della Giudecca
This ancient stone palace was built all the way back in the fourteenth century by the Sala family, a Jewish family who decided to make Giudecca (Jewish Quarter) their home. Take a look at the Ashlar (the staggered stone tower) and the green courtyard outside. It’s one of the most unique things to see in Trapani, Sicily!
The Bastione is a long promenade that follows the seafront and ends at the Tower of Ligny. It’s the perfect place to visit at sunset as you watch the sun go down over the city.
Fountain of Saturn
Discover this beautiful fountain and statue surrounded by warm terracotta buildings. The mythical legend often told in Trapani is that the sky god Saturn was the creator of the city.
Via Garibaldi is the main street in the historic center and the perfect place to practice the Italian art of Passeggiata (evening stroll) or enjoy an aperitivo at one of the many bars and restaurants.
Piazza Mercato del Pesce
This local fish market is the top thing to do in Trapani! Because of the city’s port location, seafood is incredibly fresh here. Go in the morning, watch the vendors unloading dawn’s catch, and join in with the negotiations.
2. Visit the Salt Marshes
Around Trapani, discover the spectacular salt marshes with a long history that dates back to Roman times! The area has been used for salt production for as long as most people can remember, and is one of Trapani’s most famous ingredients.
We recommend visiting the companies operating here to learn more about the process; it’s a top thing to do in Trapani! However, above all, it’s just a really beautiful place to visit, home to colorful fields in shades of white, pink, and orange, dotted with piles of salt as far as the eye can see. You’ll also find unique species of birds here as the salt pans are part of the Saline di Trapani e Paceco (a natural reserve managed by the WWF).
Entry Fee: You can do a self-guided tour by paying for the entrance to the museum, which is 8 EUR. However, we definitely recommend joining a guided boat tour that leaves every 30 minutes for 16 EUR. The boat will take you past original windmills and to fantastic sunset viewpoints.
3. Explore the Egadi Islands
Most people visit Trapani, Sicily, to make a trip to the paradise Egadi Islands, considered one of Italy’s best-kept secrets. There are three main islands: Favignana, Levanzo, and Marettimo, all of which are home to dramatic cliffs, mountainous landscapes, and some of the bluest, crystal-clear waters you’ve ever seen.
Getting to the Egadi Islands
Regular ferry services leave from Trapani to the islands and take approximately 30 minutes, depending on the island of your choice. Alternatively, join a small organized tour that includes return transportation, drinks, and activities.
Where to Stay
Many people just visit the smaller islands of Levanzo and Marettimo for the day. However, we’d recommend visiting the largest island Favignana for a couple of days to get the most out of its fantastic beaches and hiking trails. You can also rent bikes and explore the island at your leisure — one of the top things to do on your trip to Trapani, Sicily!
Tip: Please note that out of the summer season, many accommodations and restaurants will be closed. Always make sure to do your research and book ahead to avoid disappointment.
4. Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve (Best thing to do in Trapani)
One of the best things to do in Trapani is make a trip to the stunning Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve. This breathtaking area of natural beauty was once a former highway development project. However, it was later stopped for environmental reasons and is now a protected area of nature for people to enjoy.
You can hike between Scopello and San Vito Lo Capo stopping off at beautiful beaches with sparkling blue water. Some of the best are: Cala dell Uzzo, Cala Marinella, and Cala Capreria — all charming coves accessed by stairs from the clifftops.
As the reserve is mountainous, you’ll also have fantastic views throughout the whole hike and can stop for a picnic at various points throughout.
How to Visit Zingaro Nature Reserve
The reserve is one hour drive from Trapani, best accessed by car if you have a rental. However, there are boat tour options that visit the beaches inside Zingaro Nature Reserve (these normally leave from San Vito Lo Capo).
Entrance Fee and Opening Times
It costs 5 EUR per person to enter the park. Opening times vary depending on the season: in the Winter months (October to March), open from 8 AM to 4 PM. Summer months (April to September), open from 7 AM – 7 PM.
In the summer, temperatures reach their peak, so we recommend visiting in the early morning to skip the hottest part of the day.
5. Scopello (Tonnara di Scopello)
This ancient seaside village and tuna fishery is one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful spots in Sicily. It’s so mesmerizing that it has become one of the iconic views featured on many a postcard. Discover the sparkling blue waters, rocky surroundings, and open-air museum that documents the fascinating history of this ancient spot. It’s definitely one of the most memorable things to do in Trapani!
The open-air museum details the intricate history of tuna fishing in this area — created to target the huge shoals of tuna that would pass by this cove. You can see the original fishing boats and learn more about the fishermen and the ancient weaving methods used for the tuna nets. In fact, this area was once so remote that you could only access it by boat, making it even more special and unique.
This is a private museum, which is only accessible on weekends from 10 AM – 6 PM for a limited amount of people. Because of this, we recommend arriving early to avoid disappointment.
You can also visit the small beach here all year round and relax in the shallow waters in the summertime. In the summer, you’ll find parasols, and you can take your towel to relax and enjoy the views. Please note, though, that you are not allowed to bring your own food, drinks, and sunbeds.
Where to Stay
There is a fantastic hotel here where you can stay to fully enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of this slice of heaven (book your stay here).
There are also a few other accommodations nearby; watching the sun go down, and the stars come out in this beautiful spot is one of the top things to do in Trapani, Sicily!
6. San Vito Lo Capo
Discover San Vito Lo Capo, a fishing village turned resort town that is home to a famous white sandy beach — widely considered to be one of the best in all of Italy! The long beach is fringed by crystal-clear turquoise waters, which are paradise to swim in the summer, and backed by an enormous rock, Monte Monaco. It’s no surprise then that San Vito Lo Capo is known for having one of the best beach views in Sicily.
If you’re looking for adventure rather than relaxation, you can make the most of the mountainous surroundings by going rock climbing or hiking in the nearby Zingaro nature reserve (the north entrance is not far from here).
The town itself has plenty of restaurants, shops, and great accommodations if you’d like to stay for a few days (a great stopover on your Sicily road trip). Alternatively, you can visit on a day trip from Trapani, as it’s only a 45-minute drive away.
7. Temple of Segesta
On your way back from San Vito Lo Capo or Scapello, make a detour to the stunning Temple of Segesta. This ancient Greek temple is one of the most well-preserved of its kind and perches on a hilltop in a meadow surrounded by wildflowers.
It may seem a little unusual to have a Greek temple in the depths of Sicily, but it was actually designed by a Greek architect from Athens all the way back in 420 BC! You can even find the remains of an ancient amphitheater here.
It’s a beautiful approach as you drive up, which is even better at sunset when it’s magical to see this ancient structure against the colors of the sky.
Towering over Trapani is the medieval hilltop village of Erice, one of the more popular towns to visit in Sicily. It’s known for its majestic castle, and surrounding gardens that provide fantastic views over the ocean and Trapani, as well as its maze of cobblestone streets.
Erice is uniquely accessed by cable car from the foot of the mountain (on the outskirts of Trapani), giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy incredible views. This journey only takes 10 minutes and allows you to visit Erice for half a day as one of the top things to do in Trapani!
If you do want to drive, there is a steep, curvy road that traverses up the hillside and takes around 30 minutes. Although please note that in the summer it’s a very popular spot, so there will be limited parking in town.
Did you know? While Erice is mostly sunny, its high position on the mountain means it is occasionally covered in a cloud of fog. This is known by the locals as ‘the kisses of Venus’. One moment you’re completely enveloped in the clouds and mist, only to be bathed in warm sunlight a few moments later.
9. Trip to Bunker de San Cataldo
If Palermo is next on your Sicily road trip, we recommend stopping off on the way at the unique and remote spot of Bunker de San Cataldo. This ancient abandoned bunker was built into the face of the rocky cliff during World War II and used as a lookout. These days, it’s the perfect place to come and relax and take in the azure water vistas. There is even a volcanic cave just below, named Grotta delle Colombe which you can see from this spot.
Because of its remote location, it can be a little harder to find, so follow these instructions on your journey from Trapani, Sicily:
You can find the bunker at Cala Muletti, close to the more well-known San Cataldo Bay. The exact location is here. It’s a 40-minute drive to reach the bunker; you’ll need a car, as there are no public transport options.
Park the car at this location before walking down to the beach. Once you’ve reached the beach, turn right, and follow the cliffside along an overgrown gravel path and an abandoned building (approximately a 5-minute walk). Be aware that this path goes alongside a cliff, so there is a minor risk of falling rocks.
Caletta di Paternella
The beautiful beach of Caletta di Paternella is not far from the bunker, just a 20-minute walk along the seafront or a 15-minute drive.
This local spot is relatively unknown; it’s a beautiful cove sheltered by rocks that make the water spectacularly clear and turquoise. One of the best things to do in Trapani is to visit this cove at some point during your trip and spend a relaxing day on the shore, diving off the rocks or snorkeling in the sparkling water.
Best Restaurants and Cafes
Trapani is famous for its seafood owing to its port location, which means you can sample some of the freshest fish on the island here. Surprisingly, it’s also famous for cous cous and is even the home of the famous cous cous festival, which takes place here every year.
We recommend choosing one of the sea-view restaurants down by the waterside or opting for a cozy trattoria on one of the old town streets.
- La Bettolaccia
- Taverna dei corsari
- Botteghelle Enoteca
- Antichi Sapori
- Al Vicoletto
- II Brucaliffo
- La Santa Muerte
- La Tavernetta
- La Pergola
- Al Solito Posto
Tip: Be aware that restaurants don’t open before 7 PM, with most people having dinner around 9 PM. Never assume a restaurant is open despite their opening times on Google Maps, and it is best to book beforehand.
Where to Stay in Trapani
Trapani is small, so you can stay anywhere and be within walking distance of the main things to do. If you can, stay in the historical center where you’ll find the most beautiful buildings and excellent restaurants.
Alternatively, stay closer to the ocean in beachside locations like Marausa, which is only a 15-minute drive from Trapani city center.
How Many Days in Trapani
Trapani itself is very small, and apart from walking around the historical center, there are not a lot of things to do. However, it’s a fantastic base to explore the surrounding areas of natural beauty. If this is your plan, allow for 3-4 days to see all the best things to do in the area.
How to Visit Trapani
Trapani does have its own airport, mainly running domestic flights to other cities in Italy, although there are some Ryanair flights that leave for other European destinations during the high season. Alternatively, for more flight options, fly into Catania airport (the largest on the island).
Trapani also has a train station connecting the city to many other towns in Sicily, so you’re never short of places to visit while you’re on your trip!
Trapani is a very small, walkable city, and all the top things to do can be visited on foot. There are also many sites that are accessible by public transport. For example, Erice can be visited by cable car.
If you’re looking to base yourself in Trapani to visit all the fantastic nature spots nearby, we do recommend getting a rental car, particularly as there are not always buses available to the more remote beaches and reserves.
How Much Does Trapani Cost?
As Trapani is a smaller city in Sicily, the costs are lower than many other destinations in Italy. Particularly if you visit outside of the summer season, you can find beautiful accommodation for relatively cheap prices. Plus, delicious meals are very affordable here, with exceptionally fresh ingredients sold at half the price you’d see in other destinations.
Best Time to Visit Trapani
Many people find the shoulder seasons of spring and fall the perfect time to visit Trapani, Sicily. Spring is particularly pleasant if you want to see the amazing nature reserves full of flowers and wildlife. During these times, the weather is still warm, but there are also fewer tourists, and prices are slightly lower.
Please note: sometimes, attractions and restaurants won’t open until closer to the summer.
Summer is the best time to visit Trapani to enjoy the beaches and islands to the fullest. This is also the busiest time of year, so you will need to pre-book restaurants, activities, and hotels well in advance.