Sicily Holidays

An island gem

Set just off the toe of the Italian boot and rich in historical sights, natural wonders and delicious food, Sicily is a real jewel of the Mediterranean. It’s incredibly beautiful – coastal roads lead to jaw-droppingly dramatic viewpoints, and gorgeous whitewashed towns spill across emerald-green hillsides or sit next to a turquoise sea.

Sicily holidays offer the chance to discover hidden white-sand beaches and secluded coves, swim in warm azure waters, wander round Unesco World Heritage Sites or take a cable car and climb Europe’s largest active volcano, Mount Etna. Palermo, the capital, is full of ancient splendour, with exquisite palaces and lavish churches, as well as colourful street life. During the classical era, Sicily was part of Greece, and there are some astoundingly intact ancient ruins dating back to that time, including the Valley of the Temples.

The island may be culturally and scenically amazing, but holidays to Sicily are also about enjoying the good life. Sicilian food is considered a treat all over Italy and includes some of the nation’s best-loved dishes, from Arabian-influenced street food snacks to desserts dreamed up by cloistered nuns. When an island is this rich in diversity, sights and beautiful scenery, it’s unsurprising that Sicily is top of many people’s must-visit list.

Three tips for a top trip

Hire a car

Consider hiring a car, so that you can explore the island at your own pace and find places that are off the beaten track.

Visit the Aeolian Islands

Only an hour-and-a-half by hydrofoil from Sicily, these smaller sister islands are also fabulous, with incredible views and an even more relaxed pace of life.

Take a street food tour

Sicily’s street food is one of its specialities, so take a street food tour around a local market to get an insider’s view on the art of the snack.

Best attractions to see in Sicily

Valley of the Temples

With seven Greek temples supported by monumental Doric columns, this is the island’s standout site thanks to the epic remains of Sicily’s Greek era remaining remarkably intact.

Palatine Chapel

This dazzling Palermo chapel was built in the 1130s. Its eye-catching arched interior is entirely covered in jewel-like golden mosaics, topped by a superbly intricate coffered ceiling.

Mount Etna

Mount Etna is Europe’s largest active volcano. You can ascend to 2,500 metres by cable car in just 15 minutes, then walk or take a four-wheel drive to the edge of the crater.

Your Sicily questions, answered

You’re guaranteed hot weather in July and August, and it’s warm enough to swim in June and September. Spring and autumn are usually sunny, and winters are mild.
Solidified lava from the island’s two active volcanoes forms part of many buildings and streets across Sicily. Buy a prettily decorated item made from lava for yourself.
The best time to visit Sicily depends on why you want to visit the island. If you want to sightsee in Sicily's cities, April/May, and September/October, are excellent times. The weather is lovely but not too hot. If you want to relax on Sicily’s beaches, June, July, and August are best. This is when the weather is at its finest and the water temperatures are pleasant for swimming. The summer can be the busiest time, so it’s good if you like to see lots of things going on.
There are water sports aplenty, including surfing, kayaking and snorkelling. You can also go rafting and canyoning in the gorges, and even skiing on Mount Etna in winter.
You can find good beaches all around Sicily’s coast. But many travellers prefer those around the Taormina area that lie below the cliff top town. The coastline here has little coves of sandy beaches. So, even though the area is popular, it can often feel as though there are not many people around. From Taormina, you can also walk across to the island of Isola Bella. While it’s a pebble beach, the surrounding vegetation makes it very beautiful.
Absolutely. There's a lot for children to do in Sicily. Younger kids may enjoy the theme parks and zoo experiences while bicycle rentals offer older children an opportunity to ride through the pretty Sicilian landscape. Everyone will love fun beach days and the chance to see one of the world’s most famous active volcanoes. A really good place to stay with children is Marina di Ragusa. There’s a large, level promenade here that’s good for pushchairs.
Sicily’s north and east coasts are probably the most popular, especially with first-time visitors; they have a good mix of countryside and cool cities. However, don’t overlook the south. There’s a series of eight towns here, including Catania and Ragusa, known as the Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto. Together they form an important UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of them were destroyed by an earthquake in the late 17th century, and rebuilt to create a mix of old and new buildings.
Sicilian cuisine is a blend of Italian, Greek, Spanish, French, and Arab flavours. And so, along with heavier Italian dishes like pasta, you'll eat lighter vegetable-based and fish-based dishes. Sicilian's have a sweet tooth and desserts play an important role in traditional cuisine. Along with cannoli, there are sponge cakes soaked in sticky Marsala sauces, creamy ricotta tarts and Sicilian granita – a semi-frozen dessert often served with brioche.
Unlike some destinations in Europe, there’s not really a big 18-30 feel across Sicily; there’s not a particularly big club scene. But that's not to say there’s no good nightlife. Some parts of Sicily, especially the cities, are very lively at night. Beachfront bistros and chic city cocktail bars are often easy to find. Many places manage to walk the line between having enough nightlife for young couples and keeping quite a calm, chilled-out environment that’s welcoming for families, too. Sicily is a very versatile destination.