Are you considering spending your holiday in Sicily? I’ve been to the island on two different occasions and had the chance to explore both the Eastern Coast and the Western Cost, so I’ve put together this one-week in Sicily itinerary you have been looking for.
I’ve included a map, to make it easy for you to plan, but also have tried to answer some of the questions you might have right now.
The largest Mediterranean island, Sicily hides plenty of small colorful villages, beautiful beaches, archeological sites with Greek and Byzantine roots, and delicious food. The island is the perfect destination for history lovers, foodies, and nature lovers alike, and home to some of the famous “1 EUR houses” you’ve heard of.
So, here is everything you must know before going, and your perfect 7-day Sicily itinerary.
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How to plan the perfect one week in Sicily itinerary – Italy travel tips
How to get to Sicily?
Depending on where you are traveling from, there are several ways of getting to Sicily, but the best way to reach the island is by plane.
There are 3 airports on the island: one 32 kilometers outside of its capital Palermo, and another one next to Catania, in Eastern Sicily; and another one in Trapani, on the West coast.
Many European capitals are directly linked to at least one of these airports, and you can always choose a layover in Milan or Rome.
The easiest way to check your perfect flight options is by using an aggregator such as Kiwi.com. With its unique algorithm, you will be able to find great flight connections at an affordable price. Book your flight here!
Another way to get to Sicily, when traveling by car, is to catch a ferry from Calabria and cross the Strait of Messina. Check out ferry prices and timetables here!
Getting around Sicily
Getting around the island by public transportation is not impossible, but it’s not a breeze either. The major towns are linked by train or buses, but if you want to travel from one side of the island to the other, or explore less known places, that might not be an option.
That’s why, on both occasions I’ve visited, we booked a car and also chose to go on organized tours.
Renting a car is not hard, and I suggest you book a small vehicle, that will allow you to park easily in bigger cities.
Isn’t it dangerous to drive in Sicily?
While Sicilian people are well known for their volcanic temper, driving around it’s not impossible. However, you can expect crazy parking and drivers not following the exact rules in traffic.
If you have decided that renting a car is the way forward at least for a part of your itinerary, my go-to destination for the best prices is DiscoverCars.
It is a great aggregator that will help you find and book the best option for renting a car during your trip, helping you save up to 70% on your car rental. They have a pretty good cancellation policy that would give you options in case your flight or travel plans change.
Is a Week in Sicily Enough?
While the island is big enough for you to explore for weeks or even months, you can easily create a comprehensive one-week itinerary that will get you around the island.
By following my itinerary and guide, you will visit some of the most important attractions in Sicily, and you will experience all sides of the island.
Choose a base or stay at multiple places?
Since the island is relatively big and driving from one end to the other would take over 3 hours, I would suggest choosing 2 or 3 places to stay in throughout the week.
By doing this, you won’t have to spend so much time on the road, and you will be able to see more places on the island.
No worries, I will suggest the ideal locations together with some great accommodation options for you to choose from.
What is the best month to visit Sicily?
I have visited the island during winter (in February), but also during summer (in early June). One of my best friends has spent one week in Sicily on an August a few years back.
I would say that the best month to visit Sicily would be in April, May, October, or even November. During spring or fall, temperatures aren’t so high, but you would still be able to enjoy some time at the beach, and also the winter sun.
When I visited in February, temperatures were mild, we had sunny days, but also a few rainy and windy hours. So it depends a lot on your luck if you choose to visit Sicily during winter.
Which is better Palermo or Catania?
I personally liked Catania much more than Palermo, but you will see that I will suggest both cities as the base camp for your Sicily itinerary.
Both cities have their charm, plenty of tourist attractions, and many potential day trips minutes away.
What can you do in Sicily for a week – your perfect itinerary
Feel free to start your itinerary on either side of the island: in Palermo, or in Catania.
Day 1 – 4 Catania
Spend the first few days in Catania and exploring the eastern coast of Sicily. One of the major cities on the island, Catania is set close to some other important attractions you will want to see.
Where to stay in Catania
Because we were traveling very low cost, we chose to stay a bit away from the center of Catania. However, we had a car and we explored a lot by driving around.
For your comfort and in order to make the best out of your stay in Catania, I would suggest you choose a hotel option close to the historic city center, on the seafront, or in Corso Italia – the more modern part of town.
Here are 3 great accommodation options in Catania:
Altevolte Rooms – set in the heart of the old town, here is where you will take full advantage of the vibrant life of Catania. The rooms are set in an old and stylish building, minutes away from the most important attractions in town. See more here!
What can you do and see in and around Catania?
I must be honest and tell you we didn’t have a very organized or coherent itinerary for seeing Catania. We let ourselves get lost on its streets, stumble upon historic sites, went for a stroll along the seafront, visited the parks, and sat for a coffee in Catania’s main square, admiring the locals going on about their daily lives.
However, here are some of the things and sights worth seeing in the magical city overlooking Mt. Etna:
- Piazza del Duomo – with the Elephant’s Fountain
- Catania’s Cathedral – steps away, you’ll find the Duomo di Catania, where the famous Italian composer, Vincenzo Bellini is buried.
- Go for a stroll on Via Etna – get ready for some window shopping, admire the view of Etna, and stop by at one of the many cafes along the way.
- Stop at the gardens of Villa Bellini – one of my favorite places in town, the gardens are set on a hill, and as you go up, you can admire a perfect view of the city.
- The Roman Theatre – an impressive place, that would fit up to 7000 people, and that is believed to be dating back to the 2nd century AD, built on the ancient Acropolis. Not only the interior of this place and how well preserved it is will impress you, but also the view you get of Etna and the sea.
- The Ursino Castle – or the Castello Svevo di Catania, dates back to the 13th century and has now been transformed into a museum that is open to the public.
- Going on a walking tour is always a great way of discovering a place, together with a local that can introduce you to some of the most popular attractions, but also some hidden gems.
In my opinion, spending one day in Catania should be enough, and during the next few days, you can go on various day trips outside of town.
Mount Etna (Etna Volcano)
Set between Catania and Messina, you’ll see Mount Etna from almost every point around town. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Etna is an active volcano and the largest of its kind in whole Italy.
You can learn about the many stories surrounding the volcano, dating back from ancient times, track around the craters, see the lava flow cave, and try local Sicilian delicacies.
Maybe my favorite small town on the east coast of Sicily, Taormina is such a charming place!
Since we visited in late February, we arrived just in time to participate in the local version of the Carnival. The narrow streets were packed with people wearing masks, singing, and dancing, on this fun celebration – not so crowded as the much more popular one in Venice usually is.
Visit the Ancient Greek Theater, perfectly built by the Greeks on the seafront, stroll through the old town and stop by at the Duomo di San Nicola, cross over to Isola Bella (the beautiful island), and let yourself be seduced by the beauty of the stunning villa built here, but also by its beautiful gardens.
Taormina is less than one hour away by car from Catania and roughly one hour and a half by train.
We drove along the seafront and stopped in some small authentic villages, with a small beach, where local fishermen were just going on about their lives.
On your way to Messina, stop and explore some of the filming sites for the movie Godfather, or better yet, go on an organized tour from Catania.
Roughly one hour away from Taormina, Messina is another beautiful town on the coast of Sicily, that might deserve your attention for half of the day.
An important port town, you’ll find joy by simply strolling around and admiring churches, impressive villas, fountains dating back hundreds of years, and the beautiful sea.
Go on an off-the-beaten-track tour of Messina and let yourself be guided behind the closed doors of this town and its Greek influences.
Drive to the south of the island, and you’ll be in Syracuse in less than an hour. Take the train, and the trip will be double the time.
With its impressive marble stone streets and buildings, the long streets, and beautiful houses lined along the blue sea, you can easily see that this place has once held an important status.
One of the most important towns in Magna Graecia, Syracuse was an imposing medieval town that held great economic, military, and political power.
You can see some of these remnants of the past by simply walking around:
- Visit the archaeological site with the Greek amphitheater and many other Roman and Greek ruins and waiting to be explored
- Ortygia (or Ortigia island) – the island of Syracuse, with its bustling markets, authentic restaurants, and cobbled streets waiting to be discovered
- Piazza Duomo and the sumptuous Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site
- Maniace Castle – the most extreme part of the Ortygia island
If you don’t feel like driving, and when you want to hear about the impressive history of Syracuse from an authorized guide, I suggest you go for a day tour from Catania.
Almost torn from a painting, tens of stone buildings perched on the top of a hill, by the Hyblaean Mountains, make up Ragusa.
The town is split into two parts (Ragusa Ibla and Ragusa Superiore), linked by 4 bridges that will have you cross over an impressive ravine.
Visit the countless Baroque churches with their impressive interiors and architecture, or simply stroll through the streets and admire one of the most beautiful Baroque towns in Sicily, with impressive architecture at every step along the way.
Day 4 – 5 Agrigento
It is worth stopping by in the region of Agrigento because this is where you will be close to some of the most famous archaeological parks on the island – the Valley of the Temples.
Discover the archaeological ruins of the temple of Olympian Zeus (Jupiter), the Temple of Concordia, the temple of Heracles (Hercules), and admire the famous statue of Icarus.
The easiest and fastest way to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site is by going on an e-scooter tour.
Additionally, you don’t have to miss the Stairs of the Turks (Scalla dei Turchi), a unique rocky cliff on the coast of Realmonte.
Where to stay in Agrigento
If I would be you, I would choose to stay in Sciacca.
A colorful town by the sea, one that makes me think of Procida Island off the coast of Naples, you will fall hopelessly for this place as soon as you see it.
Domus Maris Relais Boutique Hotel is a charming accommodation option, close to the sea, set at the heart of the city, offering stunning scenic views. See more here!
Day 5 – 7 Palermo
Where to stay in Palermo
That might be the one most important decision you should make when choosing to stay in Palermo.
As soon as you reach the city, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
The safest places to stay in Palermo would be anywhere in the Old Town (just keep an eye open for the ZTL – limited traffic areas) or by the sea, close to Mondello Beach.
With that being said, here are a few accommodation options that are not only perfectly located, but are also extremely charming.
- B&B One – beautiful rooms, with a modern design, located in an old building with a special charm. Guests particularly enjoyed the breakfast here, but also the fact that it is within walking distance from some of the most important attractions in town. See more here!
- Ci’Cala House – perfect location and a charming view, especially when you book the room with a sea view balcony. See more here!
- Quattro Incanti – you might know by now that if there’s one thing I love most, that’s a beautiful rooftop terrace. And that’s the main reason why I chose this apartment. Just know that it is located on the 3rd floor of a building without an elevator. See more here!
With so many things to do and see in Palermo, it will be difficult to spend only 2 days here. Also because I encourage you to visit a few other places outside of Palermo as well.
For your 1 days in Palermo itinerary, I would include the major attractions in town:
- Visit the Norman Palace – the seat of the Kings of Sicily during the Norman domination and the oldest royal residence in Europe.
- Go on a city center walking tour – it is the most efficient way to experience the sights, smells, and sounds of this bustling Sicilian capital.
- Do a local cheese and wine tasting held in a beautiful 16th-century Sicilian house
- Climb to the rooftop of the Palermo Cathedral
- Visit the first public botanical garden of Palermo, Villa Giulia, the place that Goethe once called “the most wonderful place on earth”
- Go for a guided tour at the Teatro Massimo Opera House, one of the most iconic buildings in town
- Spend some time at Mondello Beach, or simply come here for the sunset and to have a drink at one of the clubs and restaurants along the seafront.
Other things worth doing in Palermo:
- The Palermo Art Tour – for history and art lovers alike
- Go on a sightseeing tour in a vintage Fiat 500
From Palermo, go on a short day trip, one hour drive to Cefalu’.
Stroll through the streets of this beautiful city, buy some fruit and vegetable from the small car slowly driving around town, sip on a cup of strong Italian coffee in the city’s central square, taste some of the delicious cannoli or ice cream, or spend a few hours at the boutique beach.
I must admit I loved Cefalu much more than Palermo, but they are very different so you should give them both a chance.
If you’re looking for clear turquoise waters, head over to San Vito Lo Capo because this might be the ultimate summer destination in Sicily.
Another major city worth visiting in the west part of Sicily is Trapani. Go for a visit to the salt marshes and see one of the most unique attractions on the island.
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