There is no place quite like Sicily. That is why the Mediterranean island has become one of Italy’s top tourist attractions. If you have decided to explore Sicily’s beauty, you must be aware of what to do and where to go and the list of things not to be missed in this place of ravishing beauty, high style, great ice cream and fabulous food. Boasting everything from nature reserves to archaeological ruins, Sicily has the best places dedicated to science and for those in love with history, as well as everyone in between. Most of Sicily’s attractions are cultural or scientific, but you can also opt for entertaining activities spent with your family on fun days out, in summer amusement & water parks such as Etnaland or Parcallario Adventure.
This is the kind of destination where sightseeing is always more than just sightseeing. Sicily is a combination of balmy climate, vibrant contemporary eating, drinking and shopping scenes that give this island wine, citrus fruits and ancient landscapes. The top tourist attractions are quite unique. At the crossroad throughout time, the best things to do in Sicily can be found throughout the island. Sicily is one of the best-kept secrets in the modern world and here are the top attractions and the most beautiful places, which will become your ideal vacation ideas.
Agrigento and Piazza Armerina
Step back in history and discover the ancient ruins at the Valley of the Temples, which lie on the outskirts of the modern city of Agrigento. Discover 2600 years of history as you wander past well-preserved temples such as Concordia, Olympian Zeus and Hercules, before witnessing the intricate mosaics at the Roman Villa del Casale in the nearby town of Piazza Armerina. At the “Valley of the Temples” (Giunone, Concordia, Ercole, Zeus, Castore and Polluce) you’ll have the opportunity to lunch in a restaurant with a splendid view over the sea.
If you’re planning to visit the coastline, you can make a one hour travel to Sciacca and take in the beautiful scenery in between. Here, the Verdura Resort offers the perfect location for an exclusive golf break, with 18-hole courses plus another 9-hole course, all of them dazzled by the Mediterranean’s icy blue water. The golf academy at Verdura Resort is an amazing opportunity for adults, kids or teenagers to learn golf from PGA qualified professionals.
Palermo and Cefalú
In the city of Palermo, witness the unique Arabic and Norman monuments, including the Martorana church and the cathedral. You should also visit the vibrant market that takes place in the city’s oldest neighborhood – Il Capo. One of Palermo’s major landmarks is Fontana Pretoria, built by Francesco Camilliani in the city of Florence in 1554, but was transferred to Palermo in 1574. Also, Cappella Palatina is an extraordinary chapel reflecting a lustrous quality. The walls are decorated with beautiful marble and the wooden ceiling is painted in gold featuring muqarnas, a decorative device resembling stalactites that is unique in a Christian church.
In the afternoon head along the coast to Cefalú where you can discover the historic city centre, which is overlooked by the ruins of an ancient castle. Located about 40 miles east of Palermo, Cefalú is easily reachable by both car and train. The best times to visit are in the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October.
If you would like to enjoy some Sicilian delicacies, you could try mortadella with truffles and cheese dotted with pistachios. All the shops sell gourmet traditional products, so you can take away whatever you desire. Also, you should visit La Rocca, a beautiful mountain in this area with spectacular coastal views which will beautify your day. If you’re asking about some tan, go to Spiaggia di Cefalù and be sure to arrive early to get a good spot. Hire a beach umbrella and deck chair for approximately €15 per day and take your vitamin sea along with fresh lemonade. Enjoy it!
The city of Syracuse is known for its rich history, ancient Greek and Roman remnants and being the birthplace of the mathematician Archimedes. Once you get to experience this city, you will get to visit the Greek Theatre, the Roman Amphitheatre and the Altar of Hieron II.
The Greek Theatre, one of the largest theatre in the ancient world, is a must if you are interested in Greek history in Italy. With a capacity of 15 000 spectators and a diameter of almost 140 meters, here were played famous performances such as “The Persians” and “The Women of Etna” by Aeschylus. The visit shouldn’t take more than three or four hours.
The Roman amphitheatre is one of the best-preserved structures of Syracuse. Every single sector of this famous amphitheatre was dedicated to different social categories as follows: the first rows of seats were for the people who had Roman citizenship, the second sector was for the wealthy families, and the last group of rows was for the urban poor.
Your next attraction should be the historical centre of the city which is situated on the island of Ortygia, home to the cathedral, the Temple of Apollo and Arethusa’s Fountain. Go to Ortygia market and buy some u strattu, a tasty natural tomato paste, used for enriching sauces and stews. Also, don’t miss the Ear of Dionysius, the most famous cave in Syracuse. Its name comes from its ear shape where all the sounds are amplified inside.
If you get to Syracuse, be sure to visit the close by Noto, a small town founded in 1700 for the second time, after an earthquake in 1693 destroyed all the small village’s buildings, cathedrals and churches. Now, the city’s architecture is a masterpiece of Sicilian Baroque which has aided Noto to get enlisted among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
On your way to the 550 km2 village, the entire family can stop by the Monasteri Golf Resort and play the 18 holes surrounded by plantations of oranges and lemons, infused in citrus fruits, myrtle and laurel fragrances. Or, after spending a few hours in Noto, you can stop by the Wellness and Spa and experience the Italian pampering as celebrities do.
If you’re looking for a stunning panorama that embraces the complete landscape of eastern Sicily, you shouldn’t miss the chance of exploring the sacred mountain, Etna. Located on the east coast of Sicily, Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe with 3,295 meters (10,810 feet), visible also from the moon. Mount Etna has snow on it for most of the year. The sides of the volcano are also home to a large number of animal species and there are vineyards and olive groves near the foot of the mountain. In the picture above, you can see an eruption of Mount Etna photographed on July 30, 2011.
Are you a romantic person? If you don’t like hiking or trekking, take the Circumetnea train for the most beautiful circular trip around Mount Etna. The 110 km long railway is a private line that runs around the base of the volcano through fertile lands and lava formations. Among the wonderful citrus groves and cactuses loaded with fruits, you’ll enjoy the fascinating scenery. The trip can take up to 5 hours.
For some adventure with your lovely family, get ready to discover the landscapes of Mount Etna while biking. With an experienced bike guide, you will have the chance to see unspoiled landscapes and witness the crops that grow on Etna’s slopes. For certain, you’ll experience some of the best moments in your life while you are mountain biking this amazing scenery.
Also, don’t miss the most famous water park in Sicily – Etnaland. Located at the foot of the majestic Volcano Etna, very close to Catania, Etnaland will give you a thrill of entertainment in an enchanting atmosphere. There are amusement rides for everybody: the extreme ones as The Storm, Etnaland Tower, Quasar, Vortigo; the adventurous one as Eldorado, The School, Revo-Rock; the boats of the Love Lagoon, the family coaster Hip Hop Coaster, the ‘splash battle’ Kaos and many others. The Ciclopino Circus and the Dreams of Ciclopina are two special children’s areas, full of colourful and entertaining attractions. So, reserve your ticket in advance and experience a full day of excitement and adrenaline.
If adrenaline isn’t what you’re looking for, head on to the Il Picciolo golf course in Castiglione di Sicilia and play the 18 holes carved into volcanic rocks while admiring Mount Etna from the distance. The 5 870 meters long golf course is located near a SPA resort, with a gym, sauna, massage and treatment rooms, steam baths, relax areas and hydrotherapy pools which the entire family can enjoy.
With a wonderful and spectacular coastline, Sicily is also designated for those in love with the beauty of sunny days, golden sandy beaches, pebbly coves, natural reserves and bustling seaside resorts. From North to South, Sicily has some excellent beaches to choose from. If it’s long sandy beaches you’re after, head to the beaches in the north of the island, though these do tend to be the busier parts of the coast. If it’s wild and untouched beaches, the south could appeal more, while the east has a greater number of rocky beaches and charming fishing villages.
Let’s start with Isola Bella! Also known as the Pearl of the Ionian Sea, Isola Bella was a private property of a Sicilian businessman who owned it for many years, until his business collapsed and he wasn’t capable to sustain his taxes. This beach is very peaceful and romantic! You can take the cable car down from Taormina and arrive here. Enjoy the sunset colours, get a Negroni drink and watch the boats sailing. Definitely worth a visit! Unfortunately, it’s too crowded in the summer.
Situated midway between Sciacca and Agrigento, Torre Salsa is managed by the World Wide Fund for Nature, due to the peregrine falcons and loggerhead sea turtles, which breed here. The gorgeous colour of the beach and golden sands will immerse you in one of the most beautiful areas of Sicily. Rich in marine life, here you can enjoy some snorkelling or scuba diving. Though there are four main entrances into the reserve, the easiest way to access Torre Salsa is from the town of Montallegro. This is a stunning location, so don’t miss it for a sun-kissed look.
When you are looking for relaxation away from the crowds, Lo Zingaro is a good idea for beautiful long walks on the beach and some tan under the umbrella. Windswept and weather-beaten, this amazing place has been shaped by nature to stunning effect. You can stay a whole day here because there are 7 great beaches, all different but with the same water perfectly clear and refreshing. You walk from one beach to another, climbing just a little bit, but it can be exhausting especially on a hot day. Enjoy the breathtaking sceneries and don’t forget your camera for taking some unforgettable memories. Sicily is amazing, but Lo Zingaro has something very special, especially the sunset.
With every step you take, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea – Sicily will seduce you with its dazzling diversity of landscapes and cultural treasures. Line up your plans for this year and include Sicily on your holiday schedule. Travelling in Sicily means discovering an Italian island with more than 3 000 years of history. Let’s go NOW!