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The Best Things to Do in Sicily

Sicily, Noto, Historic center image

Best Things to Do in Sicily

As Italy’s largest island, Sicily has plenty to offer visitors, including history, culture, and natural beauty. It’s like a living museum of diverse civilisations, where you can explore the ancient ruins of Greek temples in Agrigento and marvel at the Baroque splendour of Noto’s architecture. Furthermore, Sicily’s culinary scene is a feast for the senses, boasting fresh seafood, savoury street food, and world-renowned wines. And with warm hospitality and a laid-back vibe, Sicily offers a truly immersive and unforgettable Italian experience.

To help you plan your trip, here’s a guide to the best things to do in Sicily. 

Sicily, Noto, Historic center image

  • Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Sicily is renowned for its heritage sites. Thus, visiting its UNESCO World Heritage Sites is undoubtedly one of the top things to do on the island. You’ll find fascinating sites dating back to ancient times, from ancient Greek temples and Roman ruins to Baroque cities and natural wonders. Offering a fascinating journey through the ages, they showcase the island’s unique blend of influences from across the Mediterranean.

One of Sicily’s most iconic UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. This vast archaeological park is home to a stunning collection of ancient Greek temples, including the Temple of Concordia, one of the best-preserved Doric temples in the world. Walking among these majestic ruins feels like travelling back to the height of Greek civilisation, marvelling at these monuments’ architectural mastery and historical significance.

Another must-visit UNESCO site in Sicily is the Archaeological Area of Syracuse. This ancient city boasts a wealth of well-preserved Greek and Roman ruins, including the impressive Greek Theatre, the Ear of Dionysius cave, and the Temple of Apollo. Exploring these evocative ruins allows you to trace the footsteps of ancient philosophers, poets, and conquerors, gaining insight into the cultural and political dynamics of ancient Sicily.

In addition to its ancient treasures, Sicily is home to several UNESCO-listed Baroque towns, including the historic centres of Palermo, Catania, and Ragusa. These picturesque cities are renowned for their ornate churches, elegant palaces, and winding cobblestone streets, offering a glimpse into Sicily’s rich artistic and architectural heritage during the Baroque period.

Furthermore, Sicily’s natural beauty is also celebrated by UNESCO, with sites such as Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano, and the Aeolian Islands, a stunning archipelago characterised by rugged coastlines, pristine beaches, and dramatic volcanic landscapes. 

  • Try a Street Food Tour in Palermo

Depending on your interests, there are many incredible tailor-made luxury tours in Sicily, with a food tour being a fantastic option for foodies. A street food tour of Palermo takes you on an exciting journey into the heart of Sicilian culinary culture. With its rich history and diverse influences, Palermo boasts a tapestry of flavours best experienced through its street food. Embarking on a street food tour in this bustling city immerses you in the heart and soul of Sicily.

Sicily is renowned for its gastronomic delights, and Palermo stands out as a haven for food enthusiasts. The city’s markets, such as the bustling Ballarò and Mercato del Capo, overflow with fresh produce, seafood, and aromatic spices, enticing you with their vibrant colours and fragrances. Sample arancini, savoury rice balls stuffed with meat, cheese, and vegetables. These delights, often enjoyed with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon, showcase the Sicilian cuisine’s simplicity and bold flavours.

Palermo’s street food scene reflects the island’s multicultural heritage, with influences from Arab, Norman, and Spanish civilisations interwoven into its culinary fabric. Delicacies like sfincione, a Sicilian-style pizza with a thick, spongy crust topped with tomatoes, onions, and anchovies, offer a glimpse into this cultural fusion.

Beyond the gastronomic pleasures, a street food tour in Palermo allows you to discover the city’s hidden gems and architectural marvels. From the awe-inspiring Palermo Cathedral to the majestic Palazzo dei Normanni, each stop on the tour presents an opportunity to discover Sicily’s rich history and heritage.

A street food tour in Palermo is an experience that tantalises the taste buds, stirs the senses, and leaves a lasting impression of the island’s warmth, charm, and culinary prowess. For anyone visiting Sicily, a food tour in Palermo is a must-try.

  • Lounge on the Pretty Beaches

Sicily’s stunning coastline is bathed in the warm Mediterranean sun and offers an idyllic setting for beach lovers seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. Lounging on the beaches of Sicily is a cherished experience embodying the essence of la dolce vita. With numerous pretty beaches scattered along its shores, Sicily is a haven for beach bummers who want to indulge in blissful tranquillity. There are also fantastic villa rentals around Sicily which are just a stone’s throw away from the stunning beaches on offer, perfect after a day under the Sicilian sun.

One of the top beach destinations in Sicily is San Vito Lo Capo, nestled on the island’s northwest coast. This pristine beach boasts crystal-clear turquoise waters and powdery white sands framed by rugged cliffs and lush vegetation. Perfect for relaxation, San Vito Lo Capo offers ample space for sunbathing, relaxing strolls along the shore, and refreshing dips in the refreshing Mediterranean Sea. Visitors can also enjoy water sports activities or unwind with a good book under the shade of an umbrella. 

For those seeking a more secluded escape, the beaches of the Egadi Islands, such as Cala Rossa on Favignana or Cala Azzurra on Levanzo, are perfect. These hidden gems feature pristine coves and secluded bays, offering serenity and seclusion amidst breathtaking natural beauty. Accessible by boat or hiking trails, bask in solitude and marvel at the untouched splendour of these pristine beaches.

In the eastern part of the island, the beaches of Taormina captivate with their unrivalled beauty and panoramic views of the Ionian Sea. Isola Bella, a tiny island connected to the mainland by a narrow sandbar, epitomises Sicilian charm with its azure waters and lush vegetation. Here, unwind in the shade of towering cliffs, explore hidden sea caves, or embark on a leisurely boat tour to discover secluded coves.

Whether it’s the powdery sands of San Vito Lo Capo, the secluded coves of the Egadi Islands, or the panoramic vistas of Taormina, lounging on the pretty beaches of Sicily promises moments of pure bliss and relaxation.

  • Go Hiking up Mount Etna 

Hiking Mount Etna is a quintessential Sicilian experience, taking you on a journey of natural wonder, geological fascination, and breathtaking vistas. As one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Mount Etna presents a compelling allure to seasoned hikers and casual explorers, making it a top activity in Sicily.

Sicily, Italy, Island image

Joining tours in Sicily offers an ideal way to explore diverse spots near Mount Etna. These tours provide curated itineraries, knowledgeable guides, and convenient transportation, allowing you to discover the volcano’s surroundings hassle-free.

Hiking Mount Etna provides a remarkable opportunity to witness nature’s raw power and majesty up close. Towering over the Sicilian landscape at 3,329 meters above sea level, Mount Etna commands attention with its rugged slopes and barren expanses bearing witness to centuries of volcanic activity. As you scale its flanks, awe-inspiring panoramas of the surrounding countryside will greet you, with sweeping views that stretch from the shimmering waters of the Mediterranean to the distant horizon.

Hiking Mount Etna’s surrounding trails is an opportunity to explore a dynamic environment characterised by volcanic craters, lava flows, and other geological formations. It also offers a fascinating glimpse into the Earth’s tumultuous past and uncertain future. Along the way, encounter fumaroles venting steam, surreal lunar landscapes, and occasional eruptions, providing a thrilling reminder of the volcano’s active status.

Hiking Mount Etna is also a journey through Sicily’s cultural and historical heritage. The volcano has played a central role in the island’s history, shaping its landscape, influencing its culture, and leaving its mark on its people. Along the trails, you may encounter ancient ruins, abandoned villages, and other remnants of Etna’s tumultuous past, offering a glimpse into Sicily’s rich and complex history.

  • Witness the Natural Beauty on the Island of Alicudi

Nestled within the crystal-clear waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Island of Alicudi is a hidden gem in Sicily’s archipelago. Witnessing its natural beauty is one of the best things to do in Sicily, especially for those seeking a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle. 

Alicudi’s charm lies in its unspoiled beauty and serene atmosphere. With no roads, cars, or bustling crowds, the island exudes an air of tranquillity that is increasingly rare in today’s busy world. Instead, you’ll find narrow footpaths winding through terraced hillsides adorned with colourful wildflowers, leading to secluded coves, pristine beaches, and panoramic viewpoints that offer breathtaking vistas of the surrounding sea and neighbouring islands.

Alicudi offers a unique opportunity to disconnect from the distractions of modern life and reconnect with nature. You can spend your days hiking along scenic trails, swimming in the azure waters, or simply lounging on the sun-drenched shores, lulled by the gentle rhythm of the waves. With its clear night skies free from light pollution, Alicudi also presents an ideal setting for stargazing.

Furthermore, visiting Alicudi provides glimpses into the island’s rich history and culture. Ancient ruins dot its landscape, remnants of a bygone era when Alicudi was part of the ancient civilisations such as the Greeks and Romans. You’ll have a chance to explore these archaeological sites on your visit, uncovering the secrets of Sicily’s past and gaining a deeper appreciation for its enduring legacy.

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About Jill

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Hi! I’m Jill, a Dallas, Texas girl traveling the world. After a career in the Air Force and touring over 50 countries later, my need to explore keeps going! It’s time to rock & roll and find all those places I never knew I was missing.

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