I was wondering what would be the best places to visit in Sicily for anyone who decides to travel to my native island.
Although this is not an easy task as there are so many awesome places, I will do my best to include in these guide the 21 most beautiful places to visit in Sicily.
A brief introduction to Sicily
Sicily is the largest Island in the Mediterranean and the largest region of Italy.
Because of its geographical position Sicily was conquered by many civilisations: Phoenicians to the ancient Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Saracens, Normans.
Sicily was and still is the stepping stone between Europe and Africa and also between the West and the east of the Mediterranean.
Each of these civilisation left the mark in stunning architecture, castles and cities.
Sicily culture, history and identity is the result of that continued influx of people coming and going over centuries.
Let’s now dive in the list below for the 21 best places to visit in Sicily .
The capital and the largest city of Sicily, a colourful place, theatrical and vibrant Palermo is a very popular destination packed with centuries of history, it deserves a dedicated visit giving the vast amount of Treasures it holds.
Palermo recently was voted the cultural capital of Europe in fact about 200 years ago Palermo was considered as prestigious as Paris.
Some of the highlights of the city include The Palazzo dei Normanni former Norman Royal Palace, the splendid Cathedral in arab norman style, ancient alleys, beautiful churches, historic market and let’s not forget the most classic sicilian dishes but also in particular the street food such as the panelle ( chickpea fritters) and the pizza “sfincione” typical from Palermo.
Not far from Palermo in fact only a short trip on the bus or taxi if you prefer on Top of a hill you will find the town of Monreale famous for its Cathedral entirely decorated with golden mosaics that was recently included in the Unesco heritage of Sicily.
I definitely recommend a visit to Monreale not only for the historical and artistic value but also for the unique beauty.
You can also get amazing views of Palermo and the”conca d’oro” plane on which the city lies. On a clear day you can also see the Aeolian Islands.
Leaving Palermo and travelling by car or train along the coastline towards the East of the island you will find Cefalu’ another famous and most beautiful places in Sicily.
There are plenty of things to see in this beautiful medieval town by the sea.
From the cathedral built by King Roger to the fortification that once defended the village.
And of course, let’s not forget the beach just off the historic centre.
Europe’s largest active volcano and one of Sicily’s most popular destinations. You can travel up the volcano by car along the Etna road from Catania or by cable car.
The most interesting excursions are in the highest part of the volcano from the picturesque centre of Nicolosi.
The city of Catania is among the main places to visit in Sicily.
Destroyed by eruptions, invasions and struck by an earthquake in 1693.
Catania was rebuilt each time and today is a baroque marvel and a Unesco Heritage site.
The Cathedral of Sant’ Agata is the symbol of the beauty of Catania. In Piazza del Duomo you will find the statue of an “elephant” symbol of Catania which according to the legend it is meant to protect the city from Etna eruptions.
Taormina is a great place, with its historic center, excellent restaurants and crystal clear waters.
Pop down to the beautiful “Isola Bella” a little Island which you can walk to from the mainland.
Taormina is also famous for its splendid Greek theatre, the second largest in Sicily and one of the best preserved with views of the sea and the Etna volcano in the distance.
Insider Tip: Avoid Taormina between June and August as it can get very busy!
The Sicilian town in the “Val Di Noto” has recently been recognised as a World Heritage site by Unesco.
If you decide to go you must visit the beautiful architecture of Porta Reale, the Cathedral, the church of Santa Chiara and Palazzo Nicolaci, to fully appreciate the baroque Style of the buildings in this pretty Sicilian town.
Like Catania, Noto and other towns in the Val Di Noto like Ragusa, Modica and Scicli where in fact mostly destroyed by the 1693 earthquake but rebuilt more beautiful than before, the baroque style is testament of it.
Perhaps the most suggestive centre of the late Sicilian Baroque is Ragusa Ibla. Ragusa Ibla is one of the two district of the town of Ragusa, the other one is Ragusa Superiore which is located in the upper part of the town.
Ragusa Ibla is the older town and is separated from Ragusa Superiore by a deep Valley. Narrow and silent streets contain wonders like the Cathedral of San Giorgio or the Church of San Giuseppe.
Modica is attracted by many tourists, not only for the Baroque style and the renowned TV series of “Montalbano” that shows glimpses of this beautiful town but the biggest attraction is the “chocolate of Modica”.
Made with an ancient original recipe where the cocoa beans are grounded by hand to give the chocolate a particular grainy texture and a wonderful and unique flavour.
Siracusa and the Island of Ortigia
The beautiful town of Siracusa is located in the South-East corner of Sicily.
It is divided in two different areas: the island of Ortigia which is connected to the mainland by a short walk away and the centre of Siracusa.
It was the most important Greek City founded by them 27 centuries ago.
You can visit some Greek temples, a theatre, an amphitheatre and a Necropolis.
Ortigia, also known as the “Old Town” is the ideal place to take a stroll around narrow mediaeval alleys.
Do not forget to visit the ancient Duomo of Siracusa which originally started as a Greek temple and turned into a church by following Civilizations.
Agrigento And the Valley of the Temples
Located on the Southern coast of Sicily, Agrigento is better known as the “city of the temples”.
Surrounded by ancient olive trees in the south of the “modern city” are some of the best preserved Greek temples in the world.
The Valley of the temples consists of 7 temples and also some fascinating Greek ruins.
Agrigento is also famous for some lovely Baroque architecture, beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters.
I remember my first trip down to the Valley of the Temples on a very hot summer day, driving down from Palermo.
When I first saw the temples I was left mesmerised by their majestic beauty and I also remember saying to my friend I feel like we have just stepped back in time.
Scala Dei Turchi
La Scala dei Turchi is a rocky cliff located alongside the shoreline of Realmonte, in the Agrigento’s Province. It stands between two sandy beaches and from the top you can admire a wonderful view of the Agrigento’s coastline; over time it has become a tourist attraction both for the beauty of the white cliff with its peculiar shapes, and also as a result of the popularity acquired thanks to the novels of Inspector Montalbano by Andrea Camilleri .
The Temple and Greek theatre of Segesta
In addition to Siracusa and the Valley of the temples in Agrigento the archaeological area of Segesta is also worth a visit where there you will find yet another well preserved Greek temple next to an ancient Greek theatre which is still welcoming events and spectators today.
San Vito lo capo
The Sicilian people and tourists love the beach of San Vito lo Capo with its white sand and the sea which has been compared to the colours of the Caribbean.
Events, concerts, lovely restaurants make this lovely beach resort the most suitable place for those looking for a pleasant and enjoyable beach holiday.
San Vito lo capo also hosts the yearly event of the “Couscous Fest” which takes place towards the end of September.
Zingaro Natural Reserve
Modelled by nature over the centuries the Zingaro Reserve was the first protected area of Sicily created in 1981.
It is a true paradise thanks to the variety of flora and fauna and the beautiful untouched coastline with no constructions and no roads along the coast.
Perfect for those who love walking in pure nature.
I recommend wearing comfy shoes a sun hat, loads of sun cream, carry plenty of water and of course don’t forget your swimming gear.
Few famous movies have been filmed at the Zingaro Nature Reserve such as Oceans 12 and The Godfather.
The Scopello tonnara (tuna factory) not in use anymore, Is one of the oldest places in Sicily.
It was in operation since the 15th century up to the last decade of the 20th century.
Located not far from the Zingaro Nature Reserve is the perfect place for those who want to find out more about the old traditions of the region.
The tuna was fished and worked in this building before being sent to various fish markets to be sold. Scopello has also a lovely beach.
Nebrodi Nature Park
The Nebrodi Park is the biggest Nature protected area in Sicily.
The park is characterised by lots of hills and very rich vegetation and together with the “Madonie” mountain ridges to the West and the “Peloritani” to the East constitute the Sicilian Appennine.
Nebrodi park is home to plenty of mammals, reptiles and different species of birds.
Island of Pantelleria
Pantelleria is located 110km from Sicily and 70km from Tunisia.
The island territory is of volcanic origin so the landscape is dark in colour with alternating green areas.
There are caves along the coast which have natural pools.
Make sure you see the Lake of Venus which offers a splendid view and for those of you who like a wellness holiday you can bathe in a natural hot spring with temperatures of 40 – 50 degrees and also for the natural mud rich in nutrients with beneficial properties for the skin.
Another truly unforgettable place is Erice, a medieval village perched on the heights that dominate the gulf of Trapani.
Erice is characterized by narrow paved streets, courtyards, small churches and lots of clean, fresh air, even in the summer.
Thanks to its altitude (750 mt.) you can enjoy a splendid 360° panoramic view: on one side the gulf of Trapani, the salt planes, the Egadi islands with spectacular sunsets;
on the other side the immense valley of Valderice, Custonaci and the remote countryside.
You can spend hours leaning against the balustrade to admire the vastness and beauty of the landscape.
The gothic cathedral with its bell tower and the Castle of Venus, on top of the mountain there are amazing views of the valley below and the sea.
Villa Romana Del Casale
After the Greeks, the Romans came to dominate Sicily, leaving important footprints on the island including the beautiful Villa Romana Del Casale in Piazza Armerina.
Here you can admire the world’s largest best kept Roman mosaics.
This site is a Unesco world heritage site.
Many Sicilian villages have become part of circuits of excellence such as the most beautiful villages in Italy but only Gangi has received this award several times.
This medieval town, up on the hill between the green valley of Madonie nature park, is a real jewel in which to get lost among the steep uphill streets and ancient buildings up to the wonderful Piazza Del Popolo.
Hopefully I have listed enough places for you to visit in Sicily.
There are many more which I might will keep adding in the future.
I hope you will enjoy your visit to Sicily and that I have helped you by providing enough places for you to visit.
Sicily has many good reasons for you to explore whatever your interests are.
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