What to see in Sicily: from a weekend getaway to a 7-day trip

In this blog, we will give you information suited to all wallet and budget sizes, about what to see in Sicily: from a weekend getaway to a 7-day trip.

If you are planning your latest summer get-away and you want to go to Italy, but you don't know where exactly to go, this post is everything that you'll need to find your perfect destination: discover the biggest island in the Mediterranean! We hope that this will come in handy!

Map of Sicily

If your first thought when reading the title of this post was to think: "but where is Sicily? ", here is the answer that you are looking for: it is a Mediterranean Island to the south of Italy and it is very close to the Tunisian coast. It has two main cities: Catania and Palermo. Both have airports, so there are always lots of options for travelling. There are direct flights, but the most usual thing to do is to find flights with a stop in Rome, Milan or Naples. From these cities, Sicily is no more than an hours flight away. Another city with an airport is Trapani, and from it, Ryanair offer flights to other European capital cities.

Personally, I recommend that you land in Palermo, if you want to start your holidays enjoying the sun and beach in Sicily. If however, you prefer mountains and nature, , land in Catania as the Parco dell'Etna is only a couple of kilometres away.

Sicily at a glance (tourist map)

Sicily has lots of interesting cities and lots of things to do. With this map, you can see more clearly what you are going to find on this fantastic island and what the stand-out locations are.

What is the weather like in Sicily throughout the year?

The island has a mediterranean climate. The winters are very mild and the temperatures only get to 0 degrees Celsius in the mountainous areas. I recommend that you spend summer in Sicily, as it is really warm, and it is the perfect time to go on a trip. Despite this, check the weather before booking your holidays, as towards the ends of July and in August, the temperatures can reach around 40 degrees Celsius due to the African winds. The sea acts as a thermal regulator, so try to find accommodation that is near to the coast or near to a mountain area.

Sun and beach tourism in Sicily

In summer, the temperatures are around 25 degrees Celsius, so Sicily, undoubtedly, is the perfect place to pass the summer holidays. Here they practice a lot of water sports, such as surfing, kayaking, scuba diving or kitesurfing. You can book private or group classes, or trips on the water at the different huts that you will find on every single beach. If you are lucky, you could even see dolphins whilst going on a boat trip or swim with them! Sicily is a pass-through area for lots of animals that migrate between Europe and Africa, so take advantage of this opportunity!

What are the best beaches in Sicily?

The Sicilian coasts are famous for their crystal-clear and clean waters. Proof of this can be seen from the Palermo beaches, which dominate a lot of the photos of this island that you'll see on the internet. The most famous beach in the city is Mondello beach and if you take the bus (the lines 101, 103 and 124 go there), it will only take you an hour to get there.

Another one of the beaches in Sicily that attracts a lot of tourists over the course of the year, is the one located in the area of San Vito Lo Capo, in the North. It has a special charm: crystal-clear waters and the sand is white and fine. Also, the beach is easy to recognise, as it is very big, and at the end of it, there is a big rock that you can go up to see even better views of the Tirreno sea. The only problem is that it is a very famous beach and so there is usually a lot of people there.

On the other hand, in this city, you can also find the Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro. It is a natural park where you can spend the whole day, as you can combine hiking routes, incredible views and the sea. The entry costs 5 euros and if you keep following the sign-posted routes, it will take you to a pretty beach, where there are usually fewer people. I recommend that you go first thing in the morning, it is really worth it! Wear comfortable shoes and bring a spare pair in your bag, as the ground is quite steep and you have to walk a big to end up at the beach.

Another one of the most well-known beaches in Sicily is Scala dei Turchi. This beach doesn't stand out for its length nor for its fine sand, but for its white cliffs. It is on the coast of Realmonte, at the south of the island, just 15km from Agrigento (a city that I will tell you about later on). Thus, I recommend visiting both places on the same day, especially if you have a car. The beach parking costs 5 euros, so the best thing to do is to leave your car on the streets before you reach the entrance of the beach itself. You have to walk for 10 or 15 minutes at most. If you can, visit this cliff at the end of the day to see the sunset. It's beautiful!

Sicily has other islands, like Favignana or Lipari. Both are a few kilometers long and are spectacular, but there are a lot of tourists. Sleeping and eating there is expensive, so I recommend that you just go and spend the day there. Other beaches that are worth visiting are Cefalu, Taormina and Siracusa. You will find more information about them in this post, so keep reading!

The best route around Sicily?

Sicily is the biggest Mediterranean island, but from east to west it is barely 230 km long. The best thing to do is to do a circular route via the coast, so starting and finishing up in the same place whilst you visit beaches, cities and the villages of this wonderful place.

If you decide to land at Palermo airport, you can take a private or shared taxi or a coach to get to the city centre. I recommend getting the bus with the company Prestia e Comandè and reserving tickets in advance. The return journey costs 10 euros, or 6 euros per journey if you buy the single and return separately. It takes between 25 and 60 minutes, it all depends on what stop you want to get off at (you can choose it when you are reserving your tickets).

If, however, you decide to land at Catania airport, it will take you barely 15 minutes to get to the city centre using public transport. The ticket only costs 1 euro and you can buy it in the transport office at the airport. The journey via taxi costs around 25 euros and takes the same time as it does by bus.

When you have decided where you are flying to, its time to start planning your trip! Two round journeys that we would suggest are the following:

  • Route 1: starting from Palermo Visit, in this order, Palermo, Trapani, Agrigento, Siracusa, Catania, Taormina and Cefalu. After, go back to Palermo to get your return flight home.
  • Route 2: starting from Catania. Go from this city to go around Taormina, Cefalu, Palermo, Trapani, Agrigento and Siracusa. Once you have finished this route, you can go back to Catania to go back home.

You will find information about all these cities in Sicily in this guide. Keep reading to discover more about this incredible place!

What should you see in a 7-day trip to Sicily?

Everything! A week in Sicilyis more than enough to study all of its corners and places of interest. You can get around via train, bus or rent a car. If you go for the last option, be careful: Italians are not renowned for their driving. The roads are in good condition, but people don't usually respect traffic signals, so, stay aware! On the other hand, the train connections are really good and the journeys are usually short and cheap. You will have the opportunity to see all of the places that I've recommended to you here, but you can also explore a bit! Sicily has amazing corners that, without a doubt, leave you wanting more.

Another option is to have a 15-day itinerary in Sicily. You can stay two days in each of the seven main destinations of the island that I recommended to you in the round trips from the section before, or add new ones, it all depends on what you want!

I only have two days: what should I see in Sicily?

As I told you before, Sicily has various airports, so your trip will depend on the destination that you choose to fly to.

  • If you fly to Palermo, visit nearby cities such as Cefalu or Trapani. Both are less than 2 hours away by train, and if you have a car, you can also visit the surrounding areas.
  • If you land in Catania, go to see Taormina and Syracuse. Rule out going up Mount Entna (unless you travelled to Sicily just to do this) as you will spend an entire day there.

Another one of the activities that you will enjoy most during your short visit is, without a doubt, eating in Sicily. There are lots of traditional dishes and desserts (yes, in Italy there's more than just pasta and pizza). Some examples are Cannoli, which are pastries made out of ricotta cheese and other ingredients such as chocolate, hazelnuts, or cream. Another traditional dish is the Sicilian Caponata, a dish based on eggplants and other vegetables in a sweet and sour sauce.

Also, you can't leave the island without having tried the famous Italian ice-creams: they are very cheap and there are lots of different flavours. Also, they say that the quality of an ice-cream place is determined by how good its pistachio ice cream is, so... what are you waiting for to make your own ranking of the best places to eat it on the island? Here, I'll leave you some suggestions:

  • In Palermo: the best ice-creams can be found at the Gelateria Al Cassaro It is located at Via Vittorio Emanuele, 214. In this city, you should try the traditional ice-cream in brioche bread. Although it seems a strange combination, it is delicious!
  • In Cefalu: you can't miss out on going to the Gelantico, a small bar near to the Cathedral square where they only have home-made ice cream. It is located in Corso Ruggero, 158.
  • In Siracusa: the ice-cream shop Artigianale Belfiore Gelato e Cioccolato is one of the most famous in the city. It is the same as Cefalu in the way that they only serve homemade ice-creams. You will be able to find traditional flavours as well as other new ones. They add new ones each month! You will be able to find it at Via Luigi Greco Cassia, 5.
  • In Catania: go to Comis Ice Cafe in Piazza Vincenzo Bellini, 8. Here you can get ice-cream sundaes which are to die for! You can add scoops of different flavours, why choose one when you can have everything?

Catania: what you should see in this beautiful Sicilian city.

Catania is a city on the east of the island which is very famous for hosting the Parco dell'Etna. This volcano is, without a doubt, the main tourist attraction in Sicily. In winter you can ski on its slopes and in summer you can go on hiking routes to the crater, although you have to be in really good physical condition to reach the top. In the park, they offer as many guided routes as books. All of these start from the Rifugio Sapienza. There is a pack which costs 63 euros which includes the guided visit and the cable car. My recommendation is that you opt to live up the experience to the max and that you gather up the courage to go up the 25 km route by foot. Take all the time that you need! There are different viewpoints which you can enjoy incredible views from.

Be careful: Etna is, currently, an active volcano and erupts various times a year. Really bear this in mind, as if it occurs, the park will close and you will not be able to carry out any activity in the surrounding areas. Also, don't forget to wear warm clothes, as you are going to ascend 2, 000 or 3, 000 metres (if you are brave enough to go up to the crater) you will start to notice that the temperature drops considerably.

However, this city has a lot more to offer. If you are wondering what there is to see in Catania, I would recommend, without a doubt, the Ursino Castle and the Cathedral of Saint Agata, two of the main tourist attractions. The first was constructed in the 13th century and for some years it was the seat of the Sicilian Parliament, however, now it is a museum and an art gallery. In addition, the moat that surrounds it filled up with lava in one of Etna's explosions, which is also interesting to see on the visit. On the other hand, the Cathedral of Saint Agatha has a history which is interconnected with that of Etna. Due to the volcanic eruptions, it had to be reconstructed on different occasions, so you will be able to see each that each part has a different architectural style.

Palermo: churches and urban art

Palermo is the capital of this Mediterranean island. It is in the north and, as I said earlier on in this post, it has an airport. The most important and eye-catching monument in this city is its enormous cathedral. It is surrounded by a garden with palm trees and other trees which transport us to the same setting as in the book Thousand and One Nights. Inside, you can visit the graves of important people from the island, such as that of Constance 1 of Sicily. Also, it makes up part of the circuit of monuments of Arabic origin that you can visit in Sicily.

Other important monuments which are worthwhile visiting are the Norman Palace and the Massimo Theatre, which is the biggest opera in Italy. Firstly, you will be able to go to one of the numerous opera or theatre performances that they hold, and secondly, you will be able to discover the history of Sicily, as the kings used it as a home for a few years and it also was the old Parliament.

On the other hand, Palermo stands out for the huge amount of street art and activist art that you can see in the streets. Any tourist will be able to see the graffiti, murals and photographs that a lot of city associations and independent artists painted, in the occasion of different events that take place there. Also, there are lots of paintings with religious messages, virgins and crucifixes in their most modern forms. An example of this is the famous graffiti of Saint Rosalia, the patron saint of Sicily in which they decided to represent the Saint with the image of the Spanish singer, Rosalia.

Another interesting thing to do in this city is to visit the Ballaro market, which is held outside in different areas in Palermo. It is the perfect opportunity to get to know the culture and gastronomy of Sicily, as you will be able to find lots of outdoor stalls where you can try the most typical fish, fruit and vegetables of the area. Also, there are lots of free tours which they tell you about the curiosities of Palermo: they will talk to you about the mafia, the mysteries that surround each church, the sculptures which you will be able to see in a lot of the city's squares, about Garibaldi... sign up to one, you won't regret it!

Taormina: sea and mountains in the same place

The strange thing about Taormina is that it is a city located at the top of a mountain, or more specifically, Mount Tauro. For this reason, the first thing that will surprise you will be the incredible views that you have from each and every one of the places. However, the most magical one is the Greek theatre with views of the sea and of Mount Etna, that you can visit for around 9 euros (there are special tariffs for families, children and teenagers). Currently, they still run theatre performances that you will be able to go to.

Due to the relief of this place, you can do lots of hiking routes and activities in the open air. In addition, if you are eager to visit the historic quarter, you will discover remains of the occupation of the kingdom of Aragon on the island. Are you up for it?

What are the most important cities in Sicily?

The most important cities in Sicily are, as I mentioned before, Palermo, Catania and Taormina. However, they are the most touristy ones, so if you want to get away from the crowds, there are a lot more options:


It is only 70km from Palermo and it is one of those cities that you can really consider as an unexplored paradise, out in the middle of nowhere. Getting there by train from the capital is very simple. Each ticket costs between 5 and 9 euros (all depending on the times that you choose) and will get to this marvellous coastal city in just 45 minutes.

The first thing you should do when you arrive is to go up the “rocca di Cefalù”, a hill which gives you incredible views and where you can see the ruins of the old Temple of Diana. Going up is hard but it is so worthwhile. The entrance costs 4 euros and you can buy it there. Once you have enjoyed this place, go to Cefalu Cathedral. It is in a square downtown, and you can sit on its stairway and enjoy an Italian ice-cream.

Also, all over the city there are different informative screens that tell you what there is to see in Cefalu. Here you will find information about the Lavatoio Medievale of Arabic origin, the marina or the Osterio Magno palace. Are you up for discovering these places for yourself?


This city on the south of the island is perfect for lovers of vintage things. Here, there is the Temple Valley, the best conserved archaeological site in the world. Here you can visit the Greek temples that were constructed in the ancient times when Sicily belonged to the Magna Graecia. From around the year 580 BC. Nowadays, you can still visit the temples of Juno, Hercules or of the Concordia.

It is the perfect place to spend the whole day. You can get into the park with food and drink and it is a good idea to bring a hat, as there are not many shady areas along the route. Also, don't forget to wear comfortable clothes: you have to do short routes on foot to get to the most hidden temples on the site.

However, I recommend that you explore Agrigento, beyond this magnificent archaeological park. We invite you to discover their historical city-centre and their food, as you can see monuments such as the Santa Maria dei Greci, a modern building built on the foundations of a Greek temple. It's really interesting!


Modica is a city located on the south-east of the Island, just 70 km from Syracuse. One of the most important tourist locations is the “Cava d’Ispica” (the Caves of Ispica). It is an archaeological site where you can see how the former habitants of the city dug their homes in the mountains. Also, here you can also see cemeteries from different periods and Christian catacombs. The entry costs 4 euros, but there are reduced prices for students and children.

On the other hand, you can also visit the high point of the city, which is built in the rock and the historical quarter. The Modica Cathedral is part of the UNESCO sites and is in baroque style. Inside there is a sundial. It was included in the initial construction of the cathedral, and despite the numerous earthquakes that affected the structure of the building, it still works.

Finally, the highest part of Sicily is here, in Modica. It is called “ponte Costanzo”. You can go to the top via car or see it from below if you walk a bit away from the city centre. You will be more than 950 m above ground at the highest point!


If you decide to go to Syracuse, your first stop should be Ortigia, an island which belongs to this city and that previously, served as a defence. Currently, you can visit the original fort, go for a dip in its incredible beaches of white sand and crystal waters and experience one of the best views of the city.

In addition to that, in Syracuse, there are different archaeological sites that are open to the public. We recommend that you visit as many as you can, as because each one has remainders of a specific historical period. The most famous and important one is the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis. In this park, you will be able to see the remains of a Greek theatre and the famous Ear of Dionysus, an artificial cave dug in the rock. They say that here was where Dionysus 1 de Syracuse kept his prisoners, and thanks to the good acoustics of the building, you could hear everything that they were saying (even possible getaway plans) without even going to visit them. The entrance to the park is free, so don't hesitate to include it in your plans!


Trapani is located in the east of Sicily. It is a coastal city, and on clear days, you can even see the Aegadian Islands. For this reason, from the city, you can take a boat which takes you to the ones you want to visit. Normally they are full of tourists, so, if you decide to go, start your journey in the first thing in the morning and go out with the first boat. These trips are usually expensive (the cheapest ones are around 50 euros), but it is worthwhile. The most famous and popular islands are Favignana and Levanzo.

The historic quarter of the city is also very eye-catching, as you are able to see the fishermen's houses. They all have white, yellow and orange tones, so give yourself a few hours to wander around the streets. The final recommendation that we want to give you about the city are its salt mines, one of its main sources of income. They spread for more than a thousand hectares and you can do a guided tour around them to find out the importance of salt in Sicily. Look up carefully all the companies that offer these kinds of trips, as lots of them only carry them out in English or Italian.

Is it a good idea to visit Sicily with children?

If you are worried about what there is to see in Sicily with kids, we have to tell you that there is nothing to fear. There are always lots of leisure activities for all ages, some museums are free for people who are younger than 12 and they offer lots of facilities for them everywhere. Also, on the beaches there is quite a lot of observation, so you will be able to bathe safely in the waters of the Tirreno or the Mediterranean.

Other interesting options are, for example, going up Etna on a donkey with local companies or do short routes in the area which bring children closer to the geology. Also, there are lots of interactive free tours that include dynamic activities such as ghymkanas, or games where the little ones can discover strange things about the places they are going to visit. I recommend that you check before going that the trips are available on the dates of your trip.

Don't forget!

If you're looking for accommodation, we can help you out. Erasmusu has hundreds of options to choose from, rooms, studios, student residences and apartments so you can find your perfect home online, even before you get to the city.

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