Explore Sicily with this optimized 7 days Sicily itinerary. Get an answer to your questions about Sicily with my Sicily Travel Guide and discover Sicily top sights.
This 7 days Sicily itinerary gives you the possibility of discovering Sicily essentials in just one week. You will explore gorgeous Palermo, have a wine tasting in Erice, learn about salt-pans in Marsala, uncover ancient Greek temples in Agrigento, wander the ancient streets of Syracusa, climb the Etna Volcano and unwind in gorgeous Taormina. And, of course, enjoy the gorgeous and unique culture and gastronomy of this beautiful Island!
Sicily is still an off the beaten path destination for mainstream touristic flows, who focus on “the continent”. But if you love Italy culture, sights and life style, you simply can’t miss Sicily. A visit to Sicily could actually be a trip on its own, as well as a second or third visit to Italy.
So happy Sicily itinerary!
- Why should you come to Sicily?
- How many days do you need to visit Sicily?
- How do you get to Sicily?
- What is the best time to go to Sicily?
- Can you visit Sicily without a car?
- Day to day Sicily itinerary
Sicily travel guide
Why should you come to Sicily
Sicily is simply gorgeous, and one of the most peculiar Italian regions in terms of history, sights and culture. Here you can find remains of Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, French civilization. All left their mark and helped carve a unique culture and mindset, that you wont find anywhere else in Italy. So here are the main reasons in my view to come to Sicily.
1 – Culture and sights: in Sicily you will find the best preserved ancient Greek temples and theaters, amazing Roman and Byzantine mosaics, medieval palaces and churches, Arabic monument, Barocco palaces… and much more!
Sicilian nature is no less impressive: untouched countryside, gorgeous coasts, hidden gorges and lakes, and the highest active volcano in Europe won’t disappoint your hunger for beautiful and instagrammable views.
2 – True Italy: If you are hungry about the “real Italy”, you are likely to discover it here, in the many hamlets suspended in time, where old traditions and habits are still very present in day to day life. Something you could still find also in the larger city, especially in the traditional markets such as Palermo’s Vucciria or the ancient fish market in Catania. And it’s not uncommon at all to get caught in one of the many procession to honor local saints.
3 – Food and wine: thanks to its peculiar history, Sicily has developed a unique cuisine, mixing continental and Arabic tastes and fragrances, mostly based on fish and sea food. Thanks to the Sicilian sun and the fertile soils, Sicilian wines are among the best in Italy. Make sure you taste the one produced from the Etna volcano grapes, they have an unique mineral flavor.
4 – Beaches and islands: if you like beaches and sea, Sicily won’t disappoint you. Many gorgeous beaches here, like the Caribbean beach in San Vito lo Capo, and gorgeous islands such as the Aeolians, Lampedusa and Favignana. You could easily dedicate at least one week only to Sicilian beaches!
5 – Climate: being a Southern region, Sicily is extremely enjoyable all year round (well, maybe a little hot in July and August). It’s a perfect destination from March to May and from September to early October. During these months you could have the island to yourself!
Sicily is also getting more and more popular as a Christmas destination, due to the mild weather and the many Christmas traditions.
6 – Dolce vita: Sicily is a laid down, relaxed place. The perfect destination to take your time, unwind while sipping a local wine in a café, meeting locals, taste local food, read a book on a beach and enjoy your time. By the way, Sicily prices are much lower than in Central and Northern Italy.
How many days do you need to visit Sicily?
That’s probably the weirdest question, since, like in most of Italy, you could probably spend one or to months on the island and still want more. Unfortunately most of us don’t have all that time so here are some options.
- 3-4 days: this is the minimum stay length in my view, barely sufficient to fly into Catania and visit Siracusa and Taormina. It could be a short but rewarding extention to a 2 weeks trip to mainland Italy
- 1 week: in seven days you can have a good glimpse of Sicily, and enjoy the essentials. You will likely not have much time to explore the islands and the northern part of the island (Cefalù). This is the idea behind this 7 days Sicily itinerary.
- 10 days: if you can add 3 days to your mainstream Sicily itinerary, you could dedicate time to explore the islands, with a day trip to Favignana from Trapani and a day trip / overnight stay to the Aeolian islands from Milazzo.
- 14 days: in 2 weeks you can explore the entire island, including the center. Cefalu and Piazza Armerina (amazing Roman mosaics) could be included in your tour. You can spend more time in the single places or dedicate a whole week to relax on an island.
The official Italian Tourism office site could give you some additional clue to plan your trip.
How do you get to Sicily?
Low coast airlines, such as Easy Jet, Ryan Air, Volotea and similar connect Sicily with most of the large Italian cities. If you reserve well in advance and avoid peak periods, you could find surprisingly low air fares.
You can fly to Palermo or to Catania, an “open jaws” flight plan (such as: landing in Palermo and flying back from Catania) would allow you to optimize your itinerary.
In case you wish to visit the Aeolian islands, an interesting option could be to travel from Naples by boat, either by hydrofoil (6 hours) or by night boat, a very convenient solution if you are short of time.
What is the best time to go to Sicily?
The best time to go to Sicily is Spring (March-May) and Fall (September – October). During these months you could have the island all for yourself, with a lot of accommodation options and fairly low rates.
Temperature is mild and, especially in September and October, you can easily swim at sea, the water keeps pleasantly warm.
June and Beginning of July are also an option, perfect for beach stay even though more crowded.
Do avoid July and August, high season and very hot temperatures, This is when Italians go on holidays, and all the beaches are awfully crowded.
Can you visit Sicily without a car?
Yes you can, even though you would get much more flexibility with your own car. That said, you can travel in most of the main places by train and by bus.
The main trains you could consider with are:
- Parlemo – Cefalu (1:00 hour)Your 7 days Sicily itinerary continues with
- Palermo – Catania (3:30 hours)
- Siracusa – Catania (1:10 hours)
- Catania – Taormina (0:34 hours)
You can have a look at the Trenitalia web site for schedules and reservations.
Local buses are also convenient, such as on the lines:
- Palermo – Siracusa (3:30 hours)
- Siracusa – Noto (0:55 hours)
Here is the web adress of one of teh main local bus companies, Etna Trasporti.
In case you decide to use public transports to visit Sicily, add a couple of days to this 7 days Sicily itinerary to accommodate trains and buses schedules.
If you want to treat yourself, you could also get a private driver to drive you around the whole itinerary, or just some parts of it.
Day to day Sicily itinerary
Sicily itinerary day one: land in Palermo, Palermo sight Seeing
Your 7 days Sicily itinerary starts with Palermo, one of the most interesting and history rich towns in Italy. Palermo, with its culture, history, food and energetic atmosphere has become a popular destination, full of charm.
The Phoenicians founded Palermo as a trade port in 700 BC, and a long string of rulers followed. Carthage was the first to conquer it, followed by the Romans, who named it Panhormus. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Vandals took over, followed by Arabian rulers who turned Sicily in to an emirate. Palermo transformed in to a magical city with mosques, minarets and markets. It is said that its beauty measured up well with Cordoba and Cairo.
During the crusades, the city’s wealth was discovered by the Normans who conquered the city, but continued building on the Arabian legacy of tolerance and enlightenment. That era is known as “the Golden Years”.
Today you discover a city with an exciting mix of medieval areas where washing is still hung on lines between buildings to elegant residential districts with palm trees and palatial villas.
You could spend days wandering in Palermo ancient streets, discovering something new and exciting at each road turn. In one day, make sure you don’t miss the cathedral, the Palazzo dei Normanni and the beautiful mosaics in the Capppella Palatina, the Vucciria market, the beautiful Santa Caterina Church, the spectacular Piazza Pretoria and the remains of the Santa Maria dello Spasimo church. For a late evening on the beach, and to eat delicious food dishes, head to the Mondello beach, a few Km from Palermo. .
Sicily itinerary day two: Monreale e San vito lo Capo
Close to Palermo, Monreale hosts one of the most amazing Sicilian Jewels: Monreale cathedral and its byzantine mosaics.
The Cathedral of Monreale is one of the most beautiful churches in all of Sicily, a masterpiece of Byzantine art not to be missed, with its finest mosaics famous throughout the world and more than 1800 kg of pure gold used to tell the story of Christianity. Since July 2015 it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with the Arab-Norman Palermo circuit.
These are the larger byzantine mosaics in Italy, even larger than the San Marco ones in Venice.
Legend says that in 1171 the Norman king William II, very devoted to the Madonna, was seized with sudden fatigue during a hunt and fell asleep under a carob tree. That sleep, besides restoring his tired limbs, was the source of an incredible revelation. In fact the Madonna appeared to him in a dream and revealed to him that right under that tree there was a treasure of inestimable value. When he woke up the king had the tree cut down, he dug deeply and when he was found the gold decided to have a church built in honor of the Madonna.
Leaving Monreale and driving west, you will get in a couple of hours to one of the most beautiful beaches of mainland Sicily: San Vito lo Capo.
San Vito lo Capo is renowned not for its Caribbean sea, but also to be the main place to eat the famous Cous Cous alla Trapanese, a local fish adaptation of the Arab cous cous dish. If you plan to be in Sicily end of September, don’t miss the Cous Cous festival, which takes place every year in San vito lo Capo.
Sicily itinerary day three: Marsala salt pans, the Valley of the temples and Ragusa
Your 7 days Sicily itinerary continues with the Marsala salt pans. They are among the largest in Europe and are a really amazing place to visit, especially if you are travelling with kids.
The Saline (salt pans) reserve extends between Trapani and Paceco and comprises a coastal strip of almost 1000 hectares. Much of the reserve, consists of privately owned salt pans where salt is extracted according to traditional techniques in use for centuries.
The many wind mills and the scattered salt mounds make the landscape even more impressive. July to September are the best months to visit, but the salt pans can be accessed all year round. As the sun sets behind the Egadi Islands, the entire landscape gets colored in red, orange and yellow in contrast to the white of the salt, offering a magical and unforgettable view.
When you are done with Marsala salt pans, proceed to Agrigento, where you will be able to admire the amazing Valle dei Templi.
The Valle dei Templi is one of the most extensive, representative and best preserved archaeological sites of classical Greek civilization, granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1997.
The archaeological area corresponds to the remains of the ancient Akragas, the original nucleus of modern Agrigento. Along a long rocky scarp, chosen as the southern limit of the town, are still sited the great Doric temples dedicated to the gods.
Within the area of the ancient city there is also the Pietro Griffo Regional Archaeological Museum, which houses over 5.000 finds that illustrate the history of the territory from prehistory to the end of the Greco-Roman age.
Sicily itinerary day four: Noto and Siracusa
A UNESCO Heritage site, Noto is a destination not to be missed in your Sicily tour.
The original town (“Noto Antica”) was completely destroyed by the terrible 1693 earthquake (you can still visit its fascinating ruins, a few Kilometers away from the “modern” Noto).
Noto was then rebuilt from scratch, in the sublime elegance, originality and fantasy of the Sicilian Baroque style.
Noto is very easy to visit. Simply wander the length of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, along which many of Noto’s most representative buildings stand. And if you feel lazy in a hot Sicilian summer day, have a tourist ride in a delightful APE (typical Italian motorized tricycle).
When you are done with Noto, drive to Siracusa, one of the highlights of your 7 days Sicily Itinerary.
Siracusa is an ancient town on the sea, which was of immense importance as Greek Syracuse. It has a superb archaeological zone and a lovely historic center on the island of Ortigia. This is where I suggest you to spend the afternoon.
Much of the island’s charm lies in wandering down narrow medieval lanes, past romantically-crumbling – or lovingly-restored – Baroque palaces and churches.
To head straight to Ortigia’s most attractive piazza, turn right and head for Via Cavour (which continues as Via Landolina), a narrow thoroughfare lined with restaurants and souvenir shops. At its end lies Piazza Duomo, an elliptical open space lined with harmonious and impressive buildings. Don’t miss the cathedral, built around an ancient Greek temple!
Sicily itinerary day five: Siracusa, Etna Volcano and Taormina
Wake up early and visit the archaelogical park with the impressive Greek and Roman remains. The Greek theater is particularly impressive and is still used to perform ancient Greek tragedies. If you are a fan of ancient Greece, the local archaeological museum is worth a visit.
Also interesting is the deep quarry to the east of the theater called the Latomia del Paradiso (Paradise Quarry) It’s a peaceful and green spot, filled with vegetation and lemon trees. The most famous sight here is the huge cave called the Ear of Dionysius (Orecchio di Dionisio).
When you have completed your visit, take your car and drive towards the mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe and in winter you can actually ski on top of it! You can just drive the road around it, or spend 3-4 hours to climb on top of it, a really exciting experience. In this post you can read more about mount Etna.
End your day indulging in Taormina main square, with a fantastic view on the Mediterranean sea.
Sicily itinerary day six: full day in Taormina
The overwhelming feeling of being on such a high ground, the breathtaking panorama and the fusion of nature and art at its best have made Taormina an exclusive travel destination. And definitely one of the highlights of your 7 days in Sicily itinerary!
A former Greek settlement, the city was then conquered by Romans and Byzantines and the splendor of that golden Era has lasted throughout the years. Here in fact, the beauty of the nature has been enhanced by human hands and culminated in the Greek Amphitheater which dominates the scenes.
The vibrant center of the city is Piazza IX Aprile, beautifully adorned by the 17th century Sant Agostino and San Giuseppe´s churches; once you cross Porta di Mezzo (literally “middle door”), you will enter the ancient part of the city where the Clock Tower was erected over 300 years ago.
The quaint Corso Umberto I is the main road that runs through the whole city, which, with a myriad of shops and restaurants, will lead you from the city center to Porta Catania and the magnificent Badia Vecchia.
Taormina is not only a captivating historical site – it’s beautiful coastal line, its marine grottoes and faraglioni (rocks) have enchanted numerous generations and they are only a cable way ride away from the city center.
The medieval town can probably be walked within one day and, despite its tiny area, this little gem located on the East coast of Sicily has a unique charm that has an enchanting force on travelers.
The lovely historical center with its white, tiny houses, the beautiful Corso Umberto I with its shops and traditional Sicilian restaurants, the crystal water beaches and the numerous solutions for a day trip in the Sicilian surroundings are some of the ingredients that make the so called “pearl” of the Ionic Sea so unique and charming.
And of course, last but not least, the Greek theater and it’s amazing view on the Etna volcano, arguably one of the most iconic Italy views.
For a complete overview of the many things to do and to see in Taormina, have a look at my posts: Taormina in one day.
Sicily itinerary day 7: Catania and flight to your next destination
Catania, like other Sicilian cities, it has been heavily influenced by its rulers – Romans, Arabs, and Normans to name a few. The largest impact came from its neighbor, the volcano Etna – when it erupted in 1669 it devastated the city and killed 12,000 inhabitants. Catania was rebuilt in the Baroque style preserved to this day, complete with large boulevards and squares.
Over the last few years, tourism has become one of the biggest sources of revenue. With the sixth largest airport in Italy, Catania is a natural hub for tourists travelling to the island’s east coast. It is easy to take day trips from here to the spectacular Mount Etna, to the ceramics centre of Caltagirone, and to the picturesque mountain villages like Randozza and Linguaglossa.
Catania boasts a plethora of incredible cultural sights. Pay a visit to Piazza del Duomo, marvel at the splendid Catania Cathedral, and walk down the historic Via dei Crociferi (named a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Catania airport is just a few kilometers from the town. Give back your car and fly towards your next destination.
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