What to do in Sicily: 13 Must-See Spots What to do in Sicily: 13 Must-See Spots

What to do in Sicily: 13 Must-See Spots

With a fascinating history of colonization and culture, Sicily is a melting pot of ancient ruins, Mediterranean culinary influences, and unique architecture. Add to that the extraordinary landscapes from north to south, and you’ll never be short of spectacular beaches, volcanos, and nature reserves to visit. Find out what to do in Sicily, Italy, with this complete guide to the island’s greatest spots!

Best Things to do in Sicily

From exploring Greek temples in the meadows to scaling wartime bunkers on the coast, Sicily is home to many spectacular locations. When deciding what to do in Sicily, use this complete travel guide to help you plan your itinerary.

1. Discover Ancient Temples in Sicily

In the 8th century B.C., Sicily was colonized by the Greeks, leading to many Doric temples being built across the island. Many of these still stand today, and Sicily is home to the most Greek temples outside of Greece itself! 

Valley of Temples

This awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site near the town of Agrigento is one of the largest archaeological sites in the world and definitely one of the best places to visit in Sicily!

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The complex of Greek temples sat high on a hilltop overlooking the ocean, is the remains of the ancient city of Akragas, built over 2000 years ago. Breathe in the age-old history and the sea air as you wander around the temples and gardens dotted with groves of lemon, olive, and almond trees. 

If you’re visiting during the summer months, go in the late afternoon or early evening. During this time, the temples stay open later for the sunset, and at night, the ruins are then lit up with soft electric lights — a spectacular sight! Alternatively, it’s beautiful to visit first thing in the morning when the temple glows orange with sunrise colors.

Opening Times & Entrance Fee: Open 8:30 AM – 7 PM. During the high season (July-September), it stays open until 11 PM during the week and midnight on the weekends. The entry fee is 10 EUR.

Temple of Segesta 

Although the Valley of the Temples is probably at the top of your list of ‘what to do in Sicily’, an impressive alternative is the Temple of Segesta. The almost perfectly preserved Doric temple (similar to the huge Acropolis in Athens) and the adjoining amphitheater on a rural hillside are fascinating examples of ancient architecture. 

From nearby Palermo, it’s a lovely drive through the Sicilian countryside. Plus, the incredible structure can be seen from quite a distance away, giving you plenty of time to admire its beauty and grandeur!

Walk or take the shuttle bus up the hill and be greeted by the ancient columns, 360-degree views of wildflower fields, rolling hills, and the mountains of Sicily.

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What to do in Sicily: 13 Must-See Spots

Opening Times & Entrance Fee: Opening times vary depending on the time of year, so check their website before visiting. The entrance fee is 6 EU,  plus 2 EUR for a return shuttle bus up and down the hill.

2. The Hilltop Town of Erice

Erice is a stunning medieval hilltop village in northwestern Sicily is one of the most beautiful towns on the island. From up here, you’ll have incredible views of Trapani, the Sicilian countryside, and the coast. As the town is so high up, there is often mist and fog swirling in the valley below, creating the feeling of being above the clouds. 

The historic village has over 60 churches to explore, two castles, and an impressive cathedral. By day, take your time wandering the pretty cobbled streets, dipping into ancient churches, and browsing boutiques for local ceramics and handwoven rugs. If you can stay a little longer, it is also very atmospheric at night, when pretty fairy lights light up the small alleyways and piazzas. 

The Cable Car to Erice

It is a 10-minute cable car ride from the town of Trapani (during high season), which costs 9 EUR for a return ticket. Alternatively, you can hike, bike, or drive up the mountain! Please note, however, that it’s very difficult to park in Erice in the summer.

3. San Vito Lo Capo

This stunningly picturesque seaside town, with a gorgeous 3 KM stretch of white sand and turquoise water, is one of the best places to visit in Sicily if you’re looking for some beach time. Swim, snorkel, and sunbathe as you take in the stunning vista of the ocean and the dramatic Monte Monaco that backdrops the bay. 

For refreshment, wander into the village for the local treat, Caldo Freddo. Enjoy a glass piled high with rum-soaked sponge cake topped with ice cream, hot melted chocolate, and whipped cream!

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Tonnara del Secco

It can get crowded in San Vito Lo Capo in August when the Italians take their summer break. For a quieter vibe, head to nearby Tonnara del Secco, with its beautiful old ruins, local fishing history, and stunningly clear water that’s fantastic for swimming.

4. Hike Along the Coast

As Sicily is an island, there is no shortage of amazing hikes along the coast, with beautiful ocean views every step of the way. Most seaside towns and villages will have nearby coastal paths to explore. However, these are some of the most spectacular spots:

Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro

The Zingaro Nature Reserve near San Vito Lo Capo is a stunning natural oasis and an easy hike. Explore the reserve with its spectacular ocean views, and make stops along the way to swim and sunbathe at small quiet coves.

Vendicari Reserve

Another beautiful slice of nature in southeast Sicily, the Vendicari Reserve, has a number of quiet trails to explore. Choose the coastal route for some fantastic beaches, and keep an eye out for flamingos!

Capo Milazzo

This is a lovely circular route around the town of Milazzo (the jumping-off point to the Aeolian Islands). It’s an easy stroll along the coast and surrounding countryside, with beautiful natural hot springs along the way. Don’t forget your swimsuit! 

5. Taormina

The luxurious cliff-top town of Taormina is full of charm and character. Overlooking the sparkling Ionian Sea, it’s a must-visit on your trip to Sicily, Italy. Spend a few days exploring the pretty pedestrianized streets and piazzas lined with ancient churches and palazzos, admiring the incredible views of nearby Mount Etna that stun at every corner. 

There are some lovely cafes, restaurants, and gelaterias in Taormina. Make sure to savor the slow Sicilian lifestyle over a long lunch or a sunny evening aperitivo while you’re here.

6. Cefalu Harbor

The harbor area in the old fishing village of Cefalu is a bustling microcosm of Sicilian life! Pick a spot on the pier and people-watch to your heart’s content. You’ll see fishermen bringing in the day’s catch, children jumping into the cool, clear water, and locals catching up. 

The charming village has a rustic, authentic feel, and the huge rocky mountain behind the village provides a stunning backdrop. 

Tip: When thinking about what to do in Sicily, you might be tempted to fill your schedule. However, that’s the beauty of Cefalu, as there is no need to do anything at all. Simply grab a gelato and embrace the true Dolce Vita lifestyle in the Sicilian sunshine. 

7. Discover Medieval Ragusa

Ragusa is known as the home of traditional Sicilian Baroque architecture, and the stunning town lives up to its name. Stroll the streets of the old town and admire incredible examples of this stunning architectural style on every corner, with charming buildings, beautiful facades, and ancient churches lining the pretty streets. It’s one of the best places to visit in Sicily!

The town is split into Ragusa Superiore (new town) and Ragusa Ibla (old town), separated by a deep ravine and steep stone steps. Start in Ragusa Superiore for spectacular views over the village and surrounding countryside before heading down into Ragusa Ibla to explore. 

Ragusa is also known for its lively passeggiata (early evening stroll) when the whole town comes out onto the streets to catch up with friends and take in the relaxed but buzzing atmosphere. 

8. The Markets of Palermo

The Arab-style open-air markets of Palermo are world-renowned for their incredible local products and lively atmosphere. Experience Sicilian culture at its finest by wandering the narrow alleyways filled with stalls; you’ll find everything from live octopus to fresh crispy cannoli. 

The streets are filled with noise, color, and enticing smells, with stalls piled high with produce and local vendors vying for your attention. This is also one of the best places to visit in Sicily for street food, so come with an empty belly!

The main three markets in Palermo are:

  • Mercato del Capo
  • Mercato di Ballarò (our favorite – big, busy, and bustling)
  • Mercato di Vucciria

Opening Times: When working out what to do in Sicily, make sure to factor in opening times. The markets are open Monday to Saturday from 7 AM – 8 PM (apart from the 1 PM close on Wednesdays). However, we always recommend checking in advance. 

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9. Palermo Palazzo dei Normanni

The Norman Palace is one of the oldest royal residences in Europe and is one of the best things to do in Sicily. This building is breathtaking, particularly inside, with its incredible gold detailing. The complex has several areas to explore, so take your time admiring the grand paintings and sculptures before heading out to the peaceful botanic gardens. 

There is also an outdoor terrace where you can enjoy a drink or some food before continuing your tour. 

Opening Times & Entrance Fee: Open from 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM, Monday to Saturday. Open Sunday from 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM. Price between 15.50-19 EUR depending on the day (check website for details).

10. Monreale Duomo

Visiting the incredible Monreale Cathedral is easily one of the best things to do in Sicily! Well worth the half-hour trip outside of Palermo, the grandiose cathedral boasts stunning architecture inside and out. You’ll also find stunning Byzantine detailing reminiscent of the iconic Alhambra in Granada

The cathedral contains over 1800 kg of pure gold, so take your time admiring the beautiful mosaics that line the walls and ceiling depicting stories from the bible. After, climb up to the attic for a bird’s eye view of Palermo. This is definitely a site to add to your list of ‘what to do in Sicily’!

Getting There: It’s a 30-minute drive from the center of Palermo. You can park your car five minutes from the cathedral or take a tour that will arrange pick-up and drop-off.

11. Favignana

The largest of the Egadi Islands located off the western coast of Italy, Favignana is a little slice of heaven. There are hardly any cars on the island, making it an idyllic and peaceful place to spend the day, exploring winding dusty roads and gorgeous sandy beaches with azure blue water. 

Favignana is also a popular snorkeling and diving destination, with its beautiful coral reefs and abundant marine life. It’s very peaceful, so if you have more time, consider spending a night or two to fully embrace island life!  

Getting There: It’s a 30-minute ferry ride from Trapani, with regular ferries departing from Trapani’s passenger port near Piazza Garibaldi. The ferry costs 12 EUR. Book your trip in advance during the busier summer months, as you don’t want to miss seeing one of the best places to visit in Sicily! Alternatively, book an organized group or private tour from Trapani, which includes return transportation, drinks, and activities. 

12. Sicilian Food

Sicily is one of the best foodie destinations in the world! This is because of its central Mediterranean location with many influences from other cultures, including Greek, North African, and Middle Eastern. There are so many delicious delicacies to try, so prepare your palette for many mouth-watering dishes and desserts.

Street Food (Best Thing to do in Sicily!)

Palermo is the top place for street food. However, you can find markets and cheap local trattorias in most towns in Sicily. This means you’ll be able to sample fresh seafood, gelato, pastries, local cheese, and volcanic wine from the Mount Etna region. 

Most of the time, you’ll be dining al fresco in the sunshine, accompanied by a stunning view to top it all off. There’s no doubt you’ll have a packed suitcase full of delicious souvenirs by the end of your trip!

While considering what to do in Sicily, make sure to sample these food favorites, which all originate from the island!

  • Arancini
  • Pasta alla norma
  • Cannoli
  • Granita with brioche
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13. Mount Etna (Best Place to Visit in Sicily)

The dramatic and ever-present Mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe at 3300 meters and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a full-day or a half-day tour to hike to the summit to enjoy stunning panoramic views of the island. The volcano is also home to many impressive lava fields and ice caves, just waiting to be explored. 

Wine Tasting 

Due to the volcanic quality of the soil around the mountain, it is an excellent winemaking area. Because of this, we recommend combining your trip with a winery tour and tasting to reward yourself after a strenuous hike!

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Visiting Mount Etna

It is possible to explore Mount Etna independently. However, you can only go as far as 2900 meters without a guide for safety reasons. Tours can be expensive, but most of them also include cable car and 4×4 transport to the hike start point. In doing this, you can bypass the less interesting part of the trail. 

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Tip: It can get quite chilly at the top of the mountain due to the altitude. Because of this, remember to bring plenty of layers with you, even during the summer. Generally, the best time to visit Etna is during the spring and fall, when there are fewer tourists, and it’s not too cold.

30/12/2023 https://www.saltinourhair.com/italy/what-to-do-sicily/
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