Travel to Sicily and its islands

Sicilian Cassata

Looking for travel tips for a trip to Sicily? The island of Sicily consistently ranks at the top of Italy's vacation destinations with its capital, Palermo, the Temple Valley near Agrigento, the Baroque city of Noto, Syracuse, Cefalu, Taormina, and the Aeolian Islands, just to name a few of the many highlights. A melting pot of cultures where influences from Africa, Greece, Normans, the Middle East, and of course the Romans, French, and Spaniards can be found. Not only in culture and architecture, but perhaps especially in Sicilian cuisine.

The center of Catania in southern Sicily - Sicily travel tips

The weather in Sicily

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Sicily: What you should know about this destination

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and a melting pot of cultures. You might ask: who hasn't been here over the centuries? Of course, the Greeks, but also the Normans, Charlemagne, North Africans, French, Spaniards, and the list goes on. Sicily is often seen as an ideal round-trip destination, and in two weeks, you can visit the main tourist attractions with some time left over for a few leisurely days on the beach or maybe to explore the many markets Palermo has to offer.

The Monastery of Monreale

Palermo has become one of the coolest cities in Italy. Over the past 10 years, much has changed in this once dilapidated city. Naturally, as in every major city, there are certain districts not advisable for tourists to visit, but the center, the port, the hill town of Monreale, the magnificent cathedral, and the chic resort of Mondello are all must-see tourist destinations. The city is also cosmopolitan, with an exciting nightlife (certainly better than Rome) and a young trendy audience. But not only Palermo has become an interesting destination; Catania is also on this list, and even though the city of Syracuse is a bit dull on itself, the island of Ortigia is an unmissable part of your Sicily adventure with its unique character and cozy colorful streets.

The beach of San Vito Lo Capo

Those who love the sea or the beach in Sicily have so much choice. The most beautiful sandy beaches are to be found from Agrigento along the southwest coast to San Vito Lo Capo. The most stunning azure blue coves can be found on islands like Favignana (Egadi Islands), the mystical island Pantelleria with its Dammusi, in the Zingaro National Park and on the East Coast around Taormina. One of the most captivating beaches can certainly be found near the beautiful resort of Cefalù. Thermal springs and mud baths make the Lipari Islands, like Vulcano, a tourist pick and don't forget, now one of the most exclusive holiday destinations in Italy, the small island of Panarea opposite the volcanic island Stromboli.

The island of Pantelleria

Inland, there's plenty to do, especially if you are interested in the beauty but also the power of nature. The Etna remains one of the most popular destinations for hikers, and the surrounding area consists of fertile land with vineyards and fruit trees as far as you can see. Thanks to the efforts of various young wineries, Sicily is quickly becoming one of the top wine destinations in Italy. A whole new branch of tourism is blossoming with numerous initiatives from local winemakers aiming to gain recognition and fame for Sicilian quality wines.

The beautiful Lipari Islands

The history of the island of Sicily?

The Sicani and Siculi tribes inhabited the island in prehistoric times. Subsequently, the Phoenicians, originating from what is now Lebanon, came to stay, followed by the Greeks, Carthaginians (Tunisia), Romans, Byzantines, Moors from North Africa, Saracens from the Middle East (Iraq), and finally, the Normans. It took the latter about ten years to oust the Moors and Saracens. The first King of Sicily was a Norman known as Roger II, after his father had forcefully evicted the Muslims from the island.

The Saracens founded the city of Palermo, then known as Panormus, which was said to rival Baghdad in beauty and wealth. Then came the Normans. Over time, the Goths, Vandals, even the Germans from Hohenstaufen, and the Spaniards from Aragon have ruled over Sicily. Due to its strategic location in the Mediterranean, the island was an ideal base for merchants from around the world, with excellent ports and a favorable climate. It mainly served as a transit hub, much like Rotterdam today.

The people shifted their allegiances with every passing wind and successively worshipped, on command, gods and goddesses of various kinds, sometimes simultaneously if it was convenient. If you are allowed only one trip in your lifetime and still want to experience the history and culture of the entire Western world: go to Sicily! You will find Greek temples and amphitheaters, Roman settlements, villas with the most beautiful mosaics, unique churches built in a mixed Norman-Arabic style, palaces with Moorish and Byzantine elements, Greek-Orthodox churches, Gothic cathedrals and medieval castles, Spanish-Catalan/Gothic palaces, baroque villas, and even a neoclassical Chinese villa from the 19th century. Beneath some Roman villas, foundations of the Phoenicians were discovered.

Browse through our travel tips about Sicily

  • Our favourite Spring events in Italy

    Festa della Sensa in Venice - Favourite Events in the Spring in Italy

    Written by: Elisabeth Bertrand

    Spring in Italy always makes for a busy calendar of events, not only because of various important sagras and religious celebrations, but also because of numerous fairs. Yes, folks, more than 30 events, so get ready. To help you navigate our favorite events, please check out the events map or list of Spring events below.

  • Unique wine resorts in Italy to stay and taste

    Wineresort Forestiera Filadivino & Spa

    Written by: Nelleke Pruijs

    September marks the start of Italy's heavenly food season, when the vineyards are in full party mode and most of the tourists have gone home. The best of Italian cuisine comes to the table! From north to south, these are Italy's finest wine resorts, where vineyards and tastings make you feel in paradise. Treat yourself to the most sublime red and white wines and haute cuisine.

  • Exploring Etna's Edible Wonders: A Culinary Adventure from Catania to the Volcano

    Mount Etna

    Written by: Nelleke Pruijs

    Buckle up for a tour through the province of Catania to Etna National Park, Europe's most temperamental volcano and a paradise for adventurous taste buds. Every twist and turn on this road trip through the "Muntagna" (mountains) is a sensory overload – the air is perfumed with citrus zest, and you're never more than a pistachio's throw away from a vineyard. 

  • Exploring Catania: Why This Sicilian Gem Tops the List for Slow Travellers

    Catania

    Written by: Elisabeth Bertrand

    If there's one city that knows how to take a punch, it's definitely Catania. Think of it as a bit of a scrapper. As the island's second-largest city, Catania has weathered more than its fair share of disasters over the centuries. And no, I'm not talking about that time the local pizza maker rolled the dough too thin. We're dealing with more epic stuff here, like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Especially those earthquakes — they pretty much sent the whole cityscape to another dimension at the end of the 17th century.

  • Exploring Sicily's Gypsy Bay from Castellammare to San Vito Lo Capo

    The Beaches in the Nature Reserve of the Zingaro Park

    Written by: Elisabeth Bertrand

    If you're on the hunt for a romantic escape that doesn't involve bumping elbows with every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the beach, then let me point you toward a little slice of paradise in Sicily. We're talking about the far northwest of this Italian gem - think Zingaro (Gypsy in Italian) National Park, Scopello, and San Vito Lo Capo. It's the kind of place where the water's so blue, it makes the Florida Keys look like a kiddie pool.

  • Sicilian Couscous, Trapani style

    Sicilian couscous, Trapani style

    Written by: Nelleke Pruijs

    You don't have to travel to North Africa to get your fill of couscous - in southern Italy, especially Sicily, it is quite a common dish, largely due to the Arabic influence on the island since ancient times. In fact, Sicily even plays host to an annual international couscous festival, where chefs compete to concoct the best couscous dish around. So while it may have originated as a humble wheat dish in the Maghreb, leave it to the Italians to go one better.

  • The best of Italian wine - crafted by women

    Ladies_of_Cottanera_Vineyards

    Written by: Nelleke Pruijs

    When I first stepped inside the stunning Petra winery located in Tuscany’s Maremma area, I knew something was different. It wasn’t the eye-popping Mario Botta design of the entire complex or just the way the wine was stored in what was nothing less than a cathedral for grapes, or how it poured down slabs of stone to great visual effect. It was the women who were there to welcome our group – yes, you read that right, women.

  • Golf courses of Italy and the Ryder cup 2023 in Rome

    Golf courses of Italy

    Written by: Nelleke Pruijs

    Italy is increasingly becoming a destination for golf lovers, crowned in 2023 with the Ryder Cup. The country offers a combination of a favorite sport with a trip to stunning surroundings. With more than 400 facilities, 150 golf courses with at least 18 holes and golf resorts in super panoramic locations. We have selected the most scenic greens, perfect for a top golf vacation.

  • 15 New hotspots in Italy: discover the best new hotels in Rome, Milan, Florence and more

    Hotel Bristol Rapallo Portofino

    Written by: Nelleke Pruijs

    Rome: the eternal city's hotel scene is set for a boost with a new branch of Nobu Hotels and Six Senses hotels, plus the boutique hotel ROMEO Roma, in a 16th-century palace by Zaha Hadid. But at the top of our must-visit list is the Bulgari Rome. This Italian brand owns hotels as far away as Shanghai and Bali, but is finally opening its flagship in its hometown coming this spring or summer. Housed in a 1930s modernist building composed mostly of travertine marble and red brick, it will surely be the

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  • Noto and the terrible earthquake of 1693 on the island of Sicily

    Noto, Sicily

    Written by: Nelleke Pruijs

    On Friday evening, January 9th, around 9 o'clock in the evening, you would expect that most of the residents of Noto were just sitting down to dinner, a severe earthquake rocked the entire island. The epicenter was around the valley of Noto. Although quite a bit of damage initially, people went back to work as usual the next day and the day after. No aftershocks occurred, and the beautiful, prosperous city was largely in one piece.

  • How a murder in Militello Val di Catania led to Cavalleria Rusticana

    Written by: Nelleke Pruijs

    In the past, Militello Val di Catania belonged to the Valley of Noto, and it once proudly carried that name, until a reclassification brought the municipality of 8,000 inhabitants into the valley of Catania. How could that have happened? I have no idea. 

  • Natural spa and thermal springs in Italy

    Thermal springs in Italy

    Written by: Nelleke Pruijs

    Do you have muscle pain, joint pain or stress? A warm mud bath in a spa rich in sulfur and minerals does wonders and usually helps you get rid of it. It has been successfully used for centuries in the treatment of various ailments. Mud baths benefit from removing excess fluid, especially in the tissues of the legs, abdomen and hips. The most important ingredient is, of course, always the thermal spa water.

  • Tenuta Madonnina, luxury vacation homes on Etna wine estate

    Tenuta Madonnina

    Written by: Nelleke Pruijs

    The beautiful wine estate Tenuta Madonnina in Sicily has been transformed by Carla and Tom Boelen into a small-scale vacation resort with luxury vacation homes. On the northern slope of Mount Etna and overlooking the beautiful village of Castiglione di Sicilia there are 8 luxury lifestyle houses ranging from 2 to 8 persons.

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