Sicily in December – Where to Go and What to Do

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When you think of Italy, it’s no doubt that its vibrant cityscapes and luscious countryside destinations on its mainland spring to mind first. But many tourists fail to consider its equally picturesque and underestimated islands.  Sicily is but one of Italy’s beautiful island destinations that won’t fail to disappoint when it comes to offering an […]

When you think of Italy, it’s no doubt that its vibrant cityscapes and luscious countryside destinations on its mainland spring to mind first. But many tourists fail to consider its equally picturesque and underestimated islands. 

Sicily is but one of Italy’s beautiful island destinations that won’t fail to disappoint when it comes to offering an insight into authentic Italian culture and living, whether it’s its globally-renowned architecture, rolling vineyards, or charming towns and cities. 

With a rich and varied historic timeline shaped by many ancient, including the Romans, Greeks and Vandals to name but a few, the island is brimming with history that’s just waiting to be uncovered, evident in its breathtaking archaeological and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

For these reasons, this largest island in the Mediterranean is worthy of its own visit when heading on your Italian break. Whether you’re a lover of a cityscape, you enjoy relaxing in pristine natural spots or can’t help but delve deeper into the history and culture of a destination, the island’s breadth of offerings means you’ll never get bored, or run out of things to do, during your stay in Sicily

So, when should you be visiting? In our opinion, Sicily offers plentiful opportunities to make your holiday memorable at any time of year, but December is a month that we would place towards the top of the list. 

Visiting Sicily in December offers a new perspective of this sun-kissed destination at a less suspecting time of year that visitors may not initially consider. Whilst this destination may be at its prime during the summer season, it has much to equally appreciate during winter. And when it comes to what to see, places to go, and things to do in Sicily in December, we’ve got you covered.

Weather 

The weather in Sicily in December is wet, with the island experiencing rainfall on an average of 11 rainy days throughout the month, which visitors should prepare themselves for. 

But those considering a trip to Sicily in December shouldn’t avoid a visit because of this. Average daily temperatures are mild, but pleasant, at an average of 16°C, making for a pleasant climate for a holiday. 

Equally, the sea temperature is on average 16°C in Sicily in December, which is a comfortable temperature that is not too cool should you be considering a dip in the island’s beautiful waters. 

Overall, Sicily in December shouldn’t be overlooked for its cooler temperatures and higher rainfall, for the island’s offerings can be enjoyed at any time of year, come rain or shine, even in the unsuspecting month of December. 

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How to Get There

Sicily can be easily reached by a number of transportation methods, guaranteeing you an easy and pleasant journey to the island.

By Plane

Perhaps the most convenient method of transportation, and the shortest way of reaching the island of Sicily, is by aeroplane. You’ll find two national airports: Pantelleria and Lampedusa, as well as four international airports: Palermo, the island’s capital, Catania, Trapani, and Comiso. Today, Palermo airport is one of the busiest in Italy and a lot of domestic and international flights can be found in its hub.

The number of airports on the island means you’re never far from a destination of interest in Sicily that is worth a visit during your trip. 

By Ferry

As an island, it’s very efficient to reach Sicily by ferry, especially if you are going to be combining your trip to the island with stays in other popular Italian destinations. Ferries run regularly, with most operating all year round, from large mainland hubs in Italy, including Naples, Genoa, Rome-Civitavecchia, and Salerno to name but a few. 

Sicily is also well-connected to other European hubs, including Malta and the Port of Toulon in France.

There are a number of ports on the island: the port of Marsala serves the western end of Sicily, Messina and Milazzo in the northeast, Catania in the east, Pozzallo in the Southeast, and finally Empedocl in the southwest. 

Depending on where you’ll be departing from will influence which port you arrive at on the island, and as a result, the ferry journeys vary in length from 21 hours to approximately 1 hour, with prices changing as a result of this. 

By Car

You can travel to Sicily by car and will have to drive to any one of the above ports connected to Sicily to board a ferry that accommodates vehicles. Ferries operating from major port cities in Italy, including Naples, Rome-Civitavecchia, Genoa, and Salerno accommodate vehicles. 

Whilst having a car during your trip will make travelling all the more convenient, it is entirely possible to navigate your way around Sicily by foot and by utilising public transportation, which may save you the hassle, and cost, of bringing a car with you. 

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Festivals and Events 

  • Festa Della Santa Lucia

Held in Siracusa, a city on the southeast of the island of Sicily, the Festa della Santa Lucia lights up Siracusa’s streets on the 13th and 20th of December every year. The festival is the most important and largest festival held in the city. 

Beginning with an impressive procession of the statue of Santa Lucia through the streets, the procession is followed by marching bands, dignitaries, and waves of residents. The city is lit up with holiday lights as the statue is taken from the Piazza del Duomo onwards to the Chiesa di Santa Lucia on the 13th of the month, before being carried back on the 20th.

Expect special church services at the end of each day. For those who want to experience the raw and preserved traditions of Sicily’s Catholic heritage, this is one of the best festivals to do so.

  • Festa dell’Immacolata

Celebrated across the island, the festival of the immaculate conception is held in celebration of the Virgin Mary on the 8th of December.

The celebrations are widespread, with every town and city in Sicily holding its own celebrations. Statues of the Virgin Mary are paraded through the streets after dark under glowing golden lamps, followed by marching bands and locals dressed up to celebrate the huge event. 

Fireworks are set off during the evening, and as one of the most important annual festivals on the island, this cannot be missed if you're planning on visiting Sicily in December. 

  • Presepe Vivente di Custonaci 

The ‘Living Nativity’ or Presepe Vivente has, for over 30 years, replicated and relived the religious event of the nativity, nearby natural caves, and rocky landscapes in rural Borgo Scurati, near Custonaci. 80 craftsmen reproduce scenes and ancient crafts from the agro-pastoral way of life to keep this craft alive and have been part of the Intangible Heritage of the Sicilian Region since 2006. 

The nativity can be visited during dates at the end of December, with tickets available to purchase locally in Custonaci and shuttle bus services running to the event. 

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Things to See and Do

When considering what to do in Sicily in December, we’ve picked some of our favourite sights across the island that we feel are best suited for a trip to Sicily in December. 

  • Feel The Festive Spirit At A Christmas Market 

You’ll find the busy shopping streets of some of Sicily’s largest hubs thrive even more so during the winter months, and this is largely down to the lively street and Christmas markets on offer.

Selling festive food, trinkets, and gifts, the Christmas markets held across Sicily in December are the ideal festive activity to get you excited for Christmas around the corner.

Palermo, for example, offers a huge Christmas market with bustling food and gift stalls, as well as fantastic programs hosting local artists and kids entertainment activities. You can even take part in ice skating at the English Garden in the city – what better way to get into the festive spirit!?

This is the perfect opportunity to sample local cuisine and learn about Sicily’s Christmas traditions. Each city and town has its own events and traditions around the festive season, but all offer an enjoyable and memorable Christmas experience for visitors. 

  • Stop By The Botanical Garden of the Kolymbetra

You’re probably wondering why we’re recommending a visit to a botanical garden during winter, but you may be surprised to hear that this particular garden thrives in winter and the season is one of the best times of year to visit. 

Located in Agrigento, a city on the southern coast of Sicily, The Garden of the Kolymbetra is a lush oasis with a deep history in Sicily’s timeline. Dug out by Carthaginian prisoners of war, who were defeated when trying to invade the Greek city of Agrigento in around 480 B.C, the pool was filled with water from channels stretching across the surrounding landscape.

Now with a host of historical influences, the area boasts beautiful orchard gardens, fruit trees, and verdant wildlife. In winter, these fruits flourish meaning that December and January are the best months to see the garden in its prime with vibrant arrays of colour. 

The garden can be reached inside the Valley of the Temples site in Agrigento. There’s a small entrance fee to pay, but this is well worth the experience. 

  • Visit The Cathedral Of Monreale

As one of the most iconic sites on the island, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Cathedral of Monreale symbolises the religious, political, and artistic history of Sicily. In a Romanesque architectural style created under the Normans, the site’s phenomenal beauty has gained it its reputation in Europe’s art history scene. 

Perfectly preserved and constructed with vibrant mosaic motifs covering almost every surface symbolising the Byzantine traditions, you can’t help but be in awe at this cathedral. The mosaics carry detailed Biblical themes, alongside stone carvings incorporating religious as well as mythical imagery. 

The cathedral is located 10km outside of the city of Palermo in southern Italy and is open all year round. It can be easily, and cheaply, reached by bus which departs every hour from Piazzo Indipendenza in the centre of Palermo. 

Tickets cost roughly €15 per person, and the cathedral is open daily, from 9 am – 1 pm on Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 5:30 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 2 pm – 5 pm on Sunday.

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Other Tips

  • What To Wear In Sicily in December

When considering what to wear in Sicily in December, given the average temperature of 16°C, you’ll want to pack for a cooler climate during your stay. With nighttime temperatures dropping to an average of 10°C, you’d be advised to bring a jumper to layer up. Likewise, given the amount of rainfall during the month, you’ll want to make sure that you bring a jacket in case of this eventuality.

  • How Long To Stay in Sicily in December

When visiting Sicily in December, the island can easily be experienced in 3-5 days. It’s less likely that you’ll be making the most of the island’s beautiful coastlines with day trips to the beach, as most tourists may consider in warmer months, during this time of year. Instead, you’ll be touring the sights and scenes as well as sampling local cuisine, meaning you’ll easily be able to get an authentic taste of Sicily within less than a week. 

  • Best Ways To Get Around Sicily in December 

Sicily is easy to navigate at any time of year by foot or by public transportation. However, if you prefer the flexibility of a car, you can easily bring over your own vehicle onboard a number of ferries that arrive from the mainland of Italy and other European countries, or by hiring a car upon your arrival on the island. 

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Summary

Sicily is an Italian island paradise. Home to a fascinating historic past, with beautiful architectural and archaeological sites, alongside beautiful natural retreats, the island perfectly encapsulates the rich Italian culture and heritage that travellers long for during a visit to the country.

Should you now be convinced to visit Sicily in December, you’ve made the right choice. With fantastic events and sights on offer during the prime of the winter season, you can enjoy Sicily in all of its winter glory during your next holiday.

For further information on holidays in this beautiful part of the country, explore the rest of the Italian Breaks website or get in touch with our team to find out more. 

When To Visit Sicily By Month:

Sicily in January

Sicily in March

Sicily in April

Sicily in July

Sicily in August

Sicily in September

Sicily in October

Sicily in November

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