If Sicily isn’t on your bucket list, then it needs to be.
It’s one of Italy’s main attractions as the largest island in the entire Mediterranean, plus everything it has for tourists, locals, and ex-pats to discover. The crystal clear waters lapping at this island’s shores are perfect for diving, snorkelling, and boating to hidden caves and grottos. It’s an island practically covered in history, archaeological sites, ruins, and traditions created long ago.
For adventurers, there’s no shortage of hikes and treks. Some will even bring you to the edge of the Earth on Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in all of Europe. But above all else, Sicily offers a travel experience rife with some of the most idyllic views of winding coastlines, perfectly aged architecture, and mountains that seemingly grow out of nothing into a beautiful landscape of impressive rock. So, are you ready to book your flight? Then plan for a holiday in September when you can still see and do everything that you could do in July and August, but without the crowds!
Here’s what to expect from a Sicilian holiday in September:
During the last month of Summer, travellers cannot beat the weather in Sicily. It’s not sweltering hot like in August, but it’s also still warm enough to explore the natural wonders of this incredible island.
The highs on the island reach 26°C (79°F), while the lows cool down to 19°C (66.2°F). Although the further inland you go, you should expect cooler temperatures throughout most of the year because the island goes up in elevation with the various mountains and hills. So, for instance, Prizzi, an extension of Palermo, gets decently cool in September. The temperature there fluctuates between 14°C and 23°C (63-84°F).
When it comes to the actual weather, the first few weeks of the month are all blue skies and sunny days. As September merges into October, prepare for the rainy season to kick in. September averages about 28 millimetres of rain, and most of that comes at the end of the month.
How to Get There
Even though Sicily is an island, you can still take a bus, car or train to the island from mainland Italy. How does that work? Ferries simply just bring them over! If you want a smooth transition, and not have to do anything, but just arrive in Sicily then take a train! You don’t have to get off. You can book a ticket through Intercity or Eurostar that will ferry the train over via Villa San Giovanni in Calabria. But there are also cheaper options like bus and car available as well that can be ferried over similar to the train. Like the train, you can ferry from Villa San Giovanni with no problem.
Although the most common means of transportation to Sicily is through aeroplanes. Sicily has two airports: Catania Airport and Palermo Airport. Which should you choose? It all depends on where you plan to start your journey. Catania Airport is on the western side of the island, while the Palermo Airport is on the eastern side of the island. Your choice!
Festivals and Events
Even beyond the hustle and bustle of peak summer, Sicily comes alive with festivals and events all across the island during the month of summer. Here are some can’t-miss experiences to add to your Sicilian itinerary:
Do you prefer beer to wine? Then make an effort to attend Birocco in Ragusa where you can try IPAs, ales, and stouts from Sicily and other craft brew scenes in Europe. This is a unique way to experience another side of Italy that tourists don’t always see.
Feel like a Greek god or goddess in Segesta’s Greek theatre during the Calatafimi-Segesta Festival. This a month and a half event that features over 50 events dedicated to theatre, jazz, and classical music. Concerts are held almost every day, and you will have the opportunity to watch the sunrise and sunset highlight the tradition and history of this incredible venue to the tune of incredible musical acts!
The CousCous Fest is exactly how it sounds, a festival dedicated to one dish, couscous. The event is held in San Vito Lo Capo where chefs from Algeria, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, and other countries participate in a cook-off that features couscous. It gets very competitive! In addition to feasting on couscous, there is also a carnival and music to go with the fun. This is by far one of Sicily’s most popular and international festivals of the month and year.
Etna in Festa
Mount Etna is an imposing force that watches over the entirety of Sicily. During the year you can see lava, snow or the sun beaming down upon its summit. And it’s a natural wonder that deserves to be celebrated, which is exactly what Etna in Festa aims to do. Attending this celebration is a local experience of delicious and traditional cuisines, wines and activities.
Festa della Vendammia
The grape harvest in Sicily is a big deal, and an even bigger deal to celebrate when it finally ends. And that’s why Festa della Vendammia comes to Piedimonte Etneo in September. It’s exactly how it sounds, a big party with wine, grape products and specialities, arts, live music and dancing for an entire weekend.
There is nothing more Italian than the Sherbeth Festival. This celebration is a three-day affair centred around freshly made gelato in Cefalù.
ViniMilo is quite the Sicilian experience that will bring you face to face with Mount Etna’s beauty. This festival is a combination of wine, food stands, art exhibits, classes, demonstrations and a fun celebration revolving around Sicilian’s wine scene and grape harvest that peaks in September.
Things to See and Do
If you don’t get your fill from all of the festivals and events that fill up September’s calendar, then you still have so many things to see and do all across Sicily. Here are some of the can’t-miss activities:
Catch a wave in Catania
Even though Catania is the second largest island in Sicily, it’s still a hidden gem when it comes to catching a surf break. But Playa Catania isn’t only a long stretch of sandy beaches and turquoise water, it’s also a great place to catch a wave, especially when the conditions are right and it’s a windy day. Who wouldn’t love to catch a wave as Mount Etna looks on in the distance? Plus, this is a great activity for all skill levels since there are surf schools’ novices can seek out in the area. If you go at the beginning of September, you won’t even need a wetsuit!
Climb and hike in Madonie National Park
Sicily is a rock climbing mecca because of the terrain and the ability to climb for most of the year. September is a great month for this because the rock really begins to cool down from the summer swelter. Some of the best climbing spots in the park are Caltavuturo, Collesano and Petralia Sottana. If you’re not a rock climber, but love adventure and outdoor activities then Madonie National Park, near Cefalù, is a great getaway. You can hike, bike and horseback ride here too!
Fall in love with the Greek Theatre in Taormina
Taormina is a must no matter when you’re in Italy, especially because of the greek theatre that looms over the nearby city and the gentle waters of the Ionian Sea that kiss shores below. This theatre has been around since the third century B.C. where it was not only used for the arts but also for the games of the gladiators. In the present day, you can attend a concert in one of the most historically significant structures of Sicily.
Go back in time through the Valley of the Temples
Looming over Agrigento is the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site that attracts visitors from all over the world. It’s one of the largest archaeological sites in the world with a day’s worth of exploring temples, tombs and other sites that have long ago been left by Ancient Greece. The Valley of the Temples paints Sicily with culture, history, and tradition. Plus, cooler mornings and evenings in September won’t make visiting this attraction so sweaty or tiresome!
Marvel at the Monreale Cathedral
Situated in the heart of Palermo, the Monreale Cathedral stands as a true relic of the 12th century. It’s an inspiring haven of mosaics that depict the Old Testament with incredible swirls and hues of colour that are hypnotising. The Monreale Cathedral is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, similar to the Valley of the Temples, alongside the neighbouring Royal Palace and Palermo Cathedral. This is a great afternoon activity to immerse yourself in Italian culture and heritage.
Relax on Mondello Beach
It’s not a Sicilian vacation unless you’ve spent some time at the beach, and the month of September is the best time of the year to enjoy the sunshine, the warm sand and the relaxing quiet of a crowd less beach. Mondello Beach is a staple near Palermo with the emerald of the water reflecting off of the faded vibrancy of a nearby fishing village.
Snap photos in Noto
Noto is quickly becoming the next Florence or Venice of Italy. It’s a small town in southwest Italy that boasts incredible views, architecture, and history. The Baroque-style buildings that you can find here practically radiate under the Sicilian sun. You won’t want to look away from the magnificence, but the buildings shine like stars in the daylight that it’s practically blinding.
Get lost here as you wander through the various plazas and churches that will certainly catch your eye.
Spend a night at Teatro Massimo
Experiencing opera in Sicily is like drinking Chianti in Tuscany or pasta in any restaurant you come across in Italy – it’s a must! It’s the third-largest opera house in all of Europe, and its architecture is so stunning and aesthetically pleasing that the building itself is a work of art too. In Sicily, the Teatro Massimo reopens for the season in September so it’s a perfect time to make the trip.
Visiting Sicily during September will be an idyllic experience of beaches, sunshine and Italian culture, plus more festivals and events than most parts of the year. Here are some tips to get you ready for a Sicilian holiday during the last month of summer:
What are the best items to pack for a September in Italy? Sun cream, swimming costume, umbrella, and comfortable shoes!
Although Sicily sees far less traffic during September because kids go back to school, locals have to return to work and holidayers go home, it is still important to plan when it comes to transportation, accommodation and anything else you might need. Why? Because, as mentioned previously, this is one of the busiest times of the year for festivals, events, and various celebrations. If you plan to attend one of these events, then just book everything you need in that area at once, so you don’t have to deal with it later!
Another thing to keep in mind when planning your ultimate holiday is that summer prices will only begin to decline as the month goes on. So, if you’re on a budget, consider booking your flights for later rather than earlier in September. Besides a slight change in the weather, there won’t be much difference in experiencing the island.
Plus, don’t forget you’re on an island, an Italian island at that. Island time is very much a thing in Italy, and with September comes the much-needed siesta that happens every day from around 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Restaurants and even some tourist attractions close their doors for a few hours to escape the sun and heat.
If you’re visiting Sicily in September you’ll have plenty to see and do. Between the ancient sites, quaint cities, and natural attractions, you won’t want for things to see. Make sure to check out Italian Breaks for where to go, where to stay and what to do.