Sicily is an Italian pearl floating between the Mediterranean, Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas. The largest of the Italian islands is everything you envision Italy to be and more: sand-coloured buildings standing proud, vine-covered balconies overseeing cobbled streets, delicious aromas wafting from back alleys and history waiting at every turn.
It’s not just the Romans who left their mark in Sicily. The Phoenicians and Greeks were there before, and the Arabs – whose influence is very much visible in Sicily’s architecture – came after.
With such a rich past, it’s no wonder culture vultures seeking inspiration flock to the island in droves. After all, Goethe knew a thing or two when he crowned it the “real Italy”. Nature lovers are also in for a treat during their stay here. Mount Etna rises to the East, and there are plenty of natural parks at its feet. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the tallest active volcano in Europe and it has bags of rugged beauty that surround its landscape.
Of course, what would be Sicily without its golden, azure sea-kissed beaches? Many islands are sprinkled off the Sicilian coast, little oases perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of city life, though you’d be forgiven for not wanting to escape Palermo too soon. Sicily’s capital is bursting with Italian charm – absolutely perfect for a romantic getaway.
Holidaymakers from all walks of life will find a home away from home on this picturesque island, just a stone’s throw from mainland Italy. Whether you go for a relaxed city break in the beautiful Palermo, a family holiday in enchanting Syracuse or live la dolce vita in charming Taormina, a blissful time is guaranteed.
Sicily’s capital may have plenty of museums to discover the island’s multicultural past, but a walk around the winding, narrow streets of the Old Town is its very own history lesson. Grand palaces lined with Byzantine mosaics, Baroque churches hiding in plain sight and local markets bursting with delicious street food are just some of the gems you’ll find by simply wandering around the city. Palermo’s coast stretches for 150km, meaning there are plenty of beach resorts close by to soak up the sun and cool off in the crystal-clear sea.
Head to the south and you’ll find the mythical Syracuse, the former most important Greek colony on the island. Home to the most visited archaeological park in Sicily, the city is lined with remnants of the glory days of Ancient Greece when it was equal to Athens both in beauty and prominence, and subsequent Roman contest. The picturesque city centre is actually on the adjacent island of Ortigia, accessible by bridge. Perfect for families, Syracuse also boasts a coastline rich in sun-drenched beaches and lush natural reserves.
Taormina is the perfect spot from which to explore Sicily’s east. Nestled atop Mount Tauro, 200 metres above the sea, it offers panoramic views of lush green mountains and the azure waters of the Naxos bay as it stretches into the open sea. It also has the proud Mount Etna standing in the background for all to see. It’s no wonder that the charming town is one of the most visited spots in all of Sicily. The tradition started in the nineteenth century and was kept up by Golden Age Hollywood stars. Head here for a glamorous holiday.
Sicily’s second largest city, Catania surrounds its visitors with culture, art, and stunning views. Graced by Mount Etna on one side and the Mediterranean Sea on the other, Catania offers seaside activities along its varied coastline and adventures up Mount Etna and down the nearby Gole dell’Alcantara, as well as leisurely strolls around the city’s picturesque streets. The city’s palaces and churches will give you a glimpse into the variety of its architecture, ranging from 14th century to late Baroque, and a short drive will lead you to Taormina and Siracusa with their Greek temples and Ancient Greek theatres.
Steeped in history and art, Marsala’s sandy beaches, clear water, and vineyard-crossed hills are the perfect destination for a relaxing holiday along one of the most striking cities in the Mediterranean. History enthusiasts will be delighted with the wealth of historical landmarks, architectural styles, and archaeological sites (among which one of the world’s oldest warships, dating back to 240 BC); nature lovers can choose to explore its natural reserve, while wine connoisseurs won’t want to miss a visit to the local vineyards and wineries, as well as a stroll along the town’s Wine Road, where wine producers will offer guided tours and tastings.
Known as The Gateway to Sicily, Messina, Sicily’s third largest city, sits on the north-eastern tip of the island. Partially rebuilt in the wake of both an earthquake and WWII bombing, Messina’s striking modernity manages to combine Neoclassical styles with Neo-Renaissance, Baroque, Gothic and Arabic buildings. Visit the Byzantine Cathedral or the Sanctuary of Montevergine to sample the city’s wide architectural offering. Just a short drive from the Ancient Greek theatre of Taormina and the breath-taking beaches of Tindari, Messina offers gardens, lakes, and a stunning view from atop the 200 meters high Torre Faro.
Soak up the sun
With three seas lapping its shores, Sicily has no shortage of sun-drenched beaches to kick back and relax on. Just a stone’s throw from Palermo city centre is Mondello Beach, a paradise of golden sand and crystal clear blue waters popular with locals and tourists alike. San Vito Lo Capo, an hour away from Palermo town, is often described as the Caribbean of Italy and is definitely worth the drive. In Syracuse, you have Fontane Bianche, a white sand beauty that feels secluded but actually has plenty of entertainment to uncover. The natural beaches of the Maddalena Peninsula and Spiagia di Gallina are also worthwhile visits. Meanwhile, a trip to Taormina wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the stunning Isola Beach.
Of course, island-hopping is also a great way to get your tan on. The Aeolians are seven stunning islands on Sicily’s North West coast with volcanic landscapes, beautiful beaches and plenty of Italian charm. From picturesque Stromboli to sophisticated Panarea, it’s a must-visit during your Sicilian adventure.
Get your culture hat on
Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Arab cultures are visible in the many striking architectural feats and beautiful ruins in Sicily’s cities and natural surroundings. From the eclectic Cathedral to the Byzantine Martorana church, Palermo has plenty of stunning sites to explore. Though Syracusa is the place culture vultures will fall in love with; its rich history is reflected in the famous archaeological museum, but you can also visit landmarks like the Greek Theatre.
Natural Park galore
Sicily has a wealth of natural parks and reserves bursting with picturesque scenery and rich wildlife. The volcanic Park of Etna is a must, as are the mountainous Madonie and the golden island of Lampedusa.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a best time to visit Sicily. Early summer, along with early autumn are brilliant months to go, as the temperatures are mild and there’s barely any crowds, even in popular areas of the island. As you can imagine, when the height of summer hits in August, it gets busier all over Sicily, plus the temperatures rise to 27°C, making it very dry and hot.
If you want to dip your toes in the warm seas and avoid the hustle and bustle, then the best time to visit Sicily is in September. This is also the ideal time for you to get outside and explore the varied terrain on foot or by bike, as the days are bright and the weather stays mild in the late 20s. That said, it is best to pack a waterproof as it is cooler, and there’s always a chance of rain in the mountains!
Winter brings a much quieter vibe, with a lack of tourists and just the locals for company. But it remains a wonderful place to relax and unwind. Around Christmas, the temperatures only drop to around 12°C
For a small island, Sicily has a lot of events packed throughout the year that you’ll want to check out. If soft Italian cheeses get you going then you can’t miss the Ricotta Festival in the town of Vizzini, which also happens to take place on Saint Mark’s Day and Liberation day, on 25th April. Whilst on 10th August you can spend the night at the popular Goblets of Stars event at the Contessa Entellina Estate for some racy moonlight grape tasting. Another interesting foodie event, the Couscous Festival, occurs on 22nd September by the sea front of San Vito lo Capo.
Mediterranean cuisine is known for its love of fresh ingredients used in simple ways – washed down with a glass of wine or two. Like the rest of Italy, Sicily shares this ethos. And, like the rest of Italy, it alters this formula slightly and makes it its own. Rich sauces, homemade pasta, sumptuous pizza, fresh salads and hearty soups are a staple of Sicilian gastronomy. We strongly recommend trying dishes native to the region like gooey arancini, a slice of sfincione or a bit of caponata – the list goes on.
From lively pizzerias to vibrant cafés, to street markets, Sicily’s rich foodie scene has something to suit even the fussiest of eaters.
Visit Sicily and fall in love with this Mediterranean jewel off southern Italy. An oasis filled with natural delights, it will definitely be a holiday to remember.
Booking your holiday to Sicily with easyJet holidays is a sure way to get to this beautiful island hassle free. Best of all, you can save on your holiday when you book your flight and hotel with easyJet holidays.
If Sicily isn’t for you, have a look at more Italian destinations for something that suits you.