Driving Sicily

Best ways to get around Sicily

This article is for anyone who is planning to visit Sicily, hopefully you will find lots of practical information that will help you find your way around Sicily and plan the perfect trip. 

I have answered a few popular questions that people usually ask on the web, I hope you will find a few answers to your questions. 

Driving Sicily

Driving in Sicily

Driving around Sicily by car can be quite intimidating if you are not used to it especially if you are driving in the biggest cities like Palermo or Catania as driving can be a bit chaotic particularly in the city centres.

But if you decide you want to rent a car, you can do it at the airports of Palermo, Catania and Trapani, but also in the main cities there are plenty of car rental operators. 

I advise you to read online reviews regarding car rental companies to find the best one possible as I had a couple of bad experiences in the past.

See also: Sicily, where to fly into.

Parking in Sicily

parking in sicily

Parking spaces are usually marked by road markings in  three different colours respectively blue, yellow and white.

Blue lines means pay and display, charges vary from place to place.

Make sure to take note of the parking hours too.

Most of the time you can pay at the machine or you can buy a parking scratch card at the nearest newsagent or tobacconist.

Yellow lines are reserved for disabled motorists, council services and resident parking.

White lines are free of charge but they might be time limited. 

If that is the case you have to display on the dashboard the time of your arrival using a parking disk.

The parking disk should be provided by the car hire company.

How do Petrol Stations Work in Sicily?

When you arrive at a petrol station a member of staff will fill up the car for you and also wash your windscreen if needed. 

You don’t have to leave a tip.

If a petrol station is closed you can then use a self service machine. 

Beware that these machines only take cash, credit card but not debit cards.

Make sure you always carry cash with you.

Petrol stations are widespread in large and medium-sized cities, but sometimes in short supply in smaller villages and away from motorways so make sure to fill up before you depart.

Refuelling stations are generally open until 7.30pm.

What is petrol called in Italian? 

Petrol station

Petrol is called benzina

Unleaded is called senza piombo

Diesel is called gasolio.

Motorways in Sicily

Sicily is crossed by four motorways that connect the main cities. 

The Palermo-Catania, Palermo-Mazara del Vallo, Messina-Rosolini and the Palermo-Messina.

Palermo-Catania A19 is 211 km long with an average car duration of around 3 hours.

Palermo-Mazara del Vallo A29 is 132 km long and takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Messina-Rosolini A18 is 210 km long and takes around 2hours30mins by car with a toll charge of €3.70.

Palermo-Messina A20 is 234 km long and takes about 3hours by car with a toll charge of €10.10

Except for these four motorways, the rest of Sicily can be reached by taking the main provincial roads, which are certainly more picturesque, even if they slow down travel times, as they cross populated areas where the speed limit is 50 km per hour. 

These provincial roads are usually single carriageways and whose structure often does not allow overtaking, so if you come across a heavy and slow vehicle that trudges in front of your car … be patient and enjoy the scenery! 

See also: 21 Best Places To See In Sicily

How much are tolls in Sicily?

The A18 connecting Messina to Catania is a toll motorway, it is in fact necessary to pay a small toll of € 3.70. 

The A20 connecting Palermo – Messina is also toll one (Palermo to Messina is €10.10). 

The A19 connecting Palermo and Catania and the A29 connecting Palermo to Mazara del Vallo are free. 

Public transport in Sicily

Don’t have a car and don’t want to rent one? You will be able to get by without too many problems in this case. 

Although not known for their excellent reputation for efficiency and punctuality, public transport in Sicily makes it possible to move quite easily from one point to another. 

Buses are not that expensive especially if you get a day travel card. Also in the summer in the most touristic destinations there are usually more buses available. 

Sicily by train

Thanks to the regional rail network in Sicily, you can easily reach Palermo, Agrigento, Catania, Siracusa, the famous Alcantara Gorges and many other cities!

Some of the journeys can be a bit slow and some trains a bit old but overall it is a nice experience where you can enjoy the wonderful scenery.

Services are operated by Trenitalia unless you travel around the area of Mount Etna which are managed by Ferrovia Circumetnea.

Is there a train from Palermo to Catania?

Yes there are on average about ten trains per day from Palermo to Catania.

The journey takes on average 3 hours and 30 minutes. Some trains take longer than others as they make more stops. The average cost for this journey is 16€.

Taxis in Sicily

Another way to get around the city is by taxi. The Sicilian taxis are quite expensive and they are not easy to find, always ask before leaving the estimated cost of the trip and take a look on your map of the city before choosing this type of transport.

I would also try to negotiate the price.

What is the best way to travel around Sicily?

The best way to travel to Sicily in my opinion is by train as it allows you to reach any popular destination while relaxing and enjoying the scenery.

The buses would be my second option, although cheaper than the train the journey can be slower due to winding country roads or the traffic of the cities. 

If you are visiting Sicily for less than a week I would hire a car as would be the fastest way to travel.

Is Sicily safe?

Serious crime against tourists in Sicily is unusual, however smaller crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching are more frequent, same as  any other European Cities. My advice would be to just use your common sense and beware of your belonging in busy places such as buses and markets. 

Conclusion

I hope that this article will be helpful to anyone who is thinking of visiting Sicily.

If you find it helpful feel free to share on your favourite social media platform, I would be very grateful.

Useful Links:

To book, check train times see Trenitalia or Ferrovia Circumetnea

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