Italy is an extremely popular tourist destination attracting millions of people every year. Though every part of the country has its charms and attractions, Sicily stands out as one of the best areas to visit when you go to Italy.
It rivals Florence and Venice in spectacular food culture, tourist attractions, and sheer natural beauty.
So before booking your vacation to Sicily, check out these sixteen amazing places that you should consider adding to your itinerary to experience all the wonders this world-renowned island has to offer.
16 of the Best Places to Visit in Sicily
Temperate all year round with just a few winter cold spells every year, so there’s really no “off time” to check it out. Plus, no matter if you’re in the mood for amazing history and architecture, food, or party destinations, you’ll find it all in Sicily.
Also known as “The Valley of Temples,” Agrigento is a gorgeous little sun-drenched place on Sicily’s southern coast. Get your fill of temples from as early as the 5th century BC, plus lots of great nature, olive trees, and stunning ocean views.
There are also plenty of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Agrigento, so history buffs will definitely want to put it on their “must-see” list of Sicily wonders.
Right on the Tyrrhenian sea, this tiny town has a lovely main square, plus several beaches and lots of hiking areas to explore. If you love nature and want a more rustic, authentic experience, Cefalu is a great option.
It’s also not crowded with tourists, so you’ll have a chance to really soak in the culture. Cefalu is also known for its amazing food and great alfresco dining.
In addition, this historic and wonderful town is very close to Palermo, so you can get the best of both worlds. Enjoy Palermo’s incredible nightlife and restaurants and Cefalu’s beachy vibes at the same time.
3. Isola Bella
Isola Bella is a stunning island featuring bright blue water and grottos surrounding it. It’s well worth making a day trip out to Isola Bella, especially during the summer when the weather is balmy.
Adventure seekers will adore Isola Bella for the sea caves, swimming, and other activities that you can do there. The nearby seas teem with fish, and the beaches are perfect for sunbathing.
4. Mount Etna
If you’ve heard anything about Sicily, you’ve probably heard of Mount Etna. This volcano is one of the dominant features of the Sicilian landscape.
Moreover, Etna Park surrounds it, so there are plenty of opportunities to hike and sightsee right around Mount Etna. Those who love nature and the great outdoors and want to visit an iconic bit of Sicily should check out Mount Etna.
This beautiful, UNESCO-protected old city is one of southeastern Sicily’s best finds. You’ll see plenty of incredible architecture, a lovely town center, and wonderful cuisine in Noto.
Some key things to check out are the Noto Cathedral, Porta Reale, and Palazzo Ducezio. Don’t miss the Roman mosaics decorating the older part of the city center, and plan to spend at least a few hours wandering through the lovely streets of Noto.
This comparably large city has a gorgeous harbor that overlooks the Ionian sea and is a great place to go if you want architecture, culture, and nightlife.
Key sights to see are the bell tower and the central cathedral. Messina also has plenty of museums. If you want a more cosmopolitan experience where you’re still pretty close to nature, Messina is it.
This charming town is on UNESCO’s list as one of the best places to see Baroque-style architecture on the planet. Not only will you find stunning architecture, but the nature around Ragusa also is phenomenal as well, and you’ll certainly be able to enjoy your fill of local wine.
Ragusa is walkable, but a lot of the streets are a bit difficult to navigate. As such, it’s a good idea to pack some decent walking shoes for your journey.
Small but gorgeous, Taormina overlooks the Ionian sea and offers incredible views thanks to its hilltop location. If you love gardens, nature, and basking in tons of opulence, Taormina is the ideal spot for you.
Taormina tends to be fairly tourist-driven thanks to its bevy of different things to do and see, including the Greek Theater. There are also great views of Mount Etna in the distance.
9. Madonie Mountains
Madonie Global Geopark is a refreshing place to visit if you love exploring nature. The closest village is San Mauro Castelverde, where you’ll find a small town square and very few inhabitants.
You can get to the Madonie Mountains in about five hours from the center of San Mauro Castelverde. Offering amazing views of both the ocean and Madonie Mountain range, this park is an excellent place to go trekking or hiking or simply bask in the wonder that is nature.
This beautiful medieval town has a ton of important history, including Venus’ castle, plenty of old winding streets, and views of both the Mediterranean and Tyrrhenian Seas. It’s also a great place to go if you like food.
The almond pastries are to die for. Plus, the weather in Erice tends to be fairly temperate and pleasant all year round. It’s a great place to check out if you want something off the beaten path.
Famous for its cathedral, Monreale is a lovely town with a huge Arabic influence and lots of Byzantine architecture. If you love beautiful buildings and history, Monreale will certainly appeal to you.
The Monreale Cathedral tends to get fairly busy, so if you want to avoid the crowds, try not to go during holidays or on the weekends.
Catania is a large city, one of the biggest in all of Sicily, and like many of the other amazing Sicilian places you should visit, the architecture is definitely on point.
There are plenty of ruins in Catania, including relics from Roman times, but it also has a cosmopolitan feel about it. Check out the Bellini Gardens, monasteries, and the Museo dello Sbarco. Catania is also renowned for its incredible arancini.
Syracuse sits right near Ortigia Island and is an excellent place to learn about Italy’s ancient history and enjoy wonderful food and great views. You can also rent bicycles and go between Syracuse and Ortigia Island via a footbridge.
Must-see stops are the Roman Amphitheater and the Temple of Athena. People also like to visit the Ear of Dionysos and Latomia of Paradise.
14. San Vito Lo Capo
This small, northwest Sicilian town has lots of mountains, a valley, and fresh, clean rural air. San Vito Lo Capo is the ideal spot if you’re looking for a quiet mountain haven.
Famous for its arancini and various types of bread, and pasta, San Vito Lo Capo is just an hour away from busy Palermo and worth a stop. There are also a few great beaches right nearby, so you can stay for a couple of days and do both the beach and the mountains.
Also known as the “Port of Allah,” Marsala has a strong Arabian style and incredible wine that bears its name. Marsala wine first caught on with Italian sailors but has since become famous all over the world.
While you should certainly make time to drink all the delicious wine, sightseeing in Marsala is another thing that needs to be on the list. Between the Arab-inspired architecture and the ruins, it’s a true gem of a city.
In the northwestern part of Sicily, Trapani is a port city that has a huge religious tradition. Although Holy Week tends to get really busy in Trapani, it’s still an excellent time to visit because you’ll see celebrations and festivals like no other.
Trapani is famous for its fish dishes, especially fish and couscous, and you’ll find a whole new vibe and feel here as opposed to the rest of Sicily.
Things to Consider
There are a few things that you should keep in mind before visiting Sicily so that you can be as respectful as possible of your hosts and have the best time. Sicily is heavily Catholic, so respecting religious traditions is really important.
Dress properly for church, and avoid too many public displays of affection, especially in more conservative areas. Although you’ll hear Italian in Sicily, Sicilian is its own language.
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with certain phrases and niceties before you go. Tipping is not expected in Sicily, although if you have excellent service, you might want to tip as an option.
Frequently Asked Questions
These frequently asked questions will help to familiarize you with Sicily and how to make your trip as fun and carefree as possible:
Is Sicily part of Italy’s mainland?
Sicily is not part of Italy’s mainland. On the contrary, it’s an island in the southern part of Italy. Mainland Italy is often referred to as “the boot,” and Sicily would be the football at the very tip of it.
Is Mount Etna an active volcano?
Yes, Mount Etna is an active volcano, although it’s generally still safe to visit it. If you have any questions about Mount Etna, make sure to ask your hosts or local people before going there. Mount Etna is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Italy.
What language do people speak in Sicily?
People predominately speak Italian or Sicilian, so knowing a few commonly used words in both languages can be helpful. Sometimes menus will be in Italian, Sicilian, and English. Generally, you can get around with English or basic Italian in some of the larger cities.
Does Sicily have good nightlife?
Plenty of larger cities in Sicily have good nightlife, especially Catania and Palermo, although you can find interesting stuff to do just about anywhere. If you go somewhere near the sea, expect sunset cocktails and classic bars. Smaller towns do have nightlife, but it’s generally more limited, especially in religious areas.
Can I get from place to place with public transportation?
While you can certainly get around larger cities with public transportation, renting a car is one of the top ways to see Sicily, especially if you want to get off the beaten path. You can take public transportation between certain key cities, though.
So, What Are the Best Places to Visit in Sicily?
What constitutes the best place to visit in Sicily depends on your preferences. Fortunately, this lovely Italian island has plenty to offer, from stunning beaches and historic architecture to various opportunities to get out into the great outdoors.
There’s also wonderful food and culture to soak in. But no matter what you’re looking for, you’re bound to find it in beautiful Sicily. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today!