Sicily lays just off the coast of Southern Italy at the tip of its ‘boot’ and it is the largest island in the Mediterranean. Even though it is in an autonomous Region of Italy you will not just find Italian culture and influence here, you will also find Greek temples, Norman churches and Baroque palazzos throughout the island making it a great place to visit, especially if you are interested in European history. Sicily as a holiday destination is becoming more and more popular and even though tourism is on the rise the Southern coast is still very undeveloped, especially the beaches, making it the perfect place to head to if relaxation is your top priority. If you plan to stay in Sicily there are plenty of accommodation to choose from, from luxury boutique hotels to low price hostels, therefore whatever your budget you will find somewhere stay during your trip. Together with lush greenery and even an active volcano, Sicily really has something for everyone and is just waiting to be explored.
How to get there – travel tips
There are four airports on the island of Sicily – Palermo and Catania which are served by the national carrier and budget airlines and Trapani and Comiso both of which cater to European budget airlines. However, one of the most popular and enjoyable ways of getting to the island is by getting one of the many ferries to Sicily that run from mainland Italy. Remember to check out the frequency of your route if you are making a return journey as some run more regularly than others. With the shortest route taking around 30 minutes from Italy, you could even hop over for a day trip if your time is limited. Although, a longer stay is recommended as there are so many great things to see and do on the island.
Even though Sicily is in Europe it sits a mere 100 miles off the coast Africa and benefits from a subtropical climate, meaning it experiences cool wet winters and hot dry summers. The temperatures do fluctuate between the coastal and inland regions with the mountain region often seeing snowfall during the months of December and January. The summer months are the perfect time to visit the coastal region with daytime temperatures reaching the high 90s well into September, which is considerable higher than a number of its neighbouring European counterparts. October, November and December are the wettest months; however with only 3 inches on average per month, a light raincoat should be enough to enable you to still enjoy exploring Sicily.
5 unforgettable places to visit
There are so many beautiful sites and landmarks to visit in Sicily; it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few. However here are 5 top picks that you should not miss as they are truly unforgettable:
Ancient Theatre of Taormina
The Ancient theatre of Taormina is an ancient Greek theatre and is the most impressive landmark in Taormina, which is dubbed as “the pearl of the Mediterranean”. It was built around the third century BC and was later renovated and expanded by the Romans who added columns and statues to it, however they no longer remain at the site, just the original Greek structure. The Ancient theatre of Taormina is the second largest theatre in Sicily, after the one in Syracuse and since the 1950’s has seen and continues to see a number of live performances being held here, including plays, concerts, symphonies, operas and ballets.
Etna National Park
Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanos in Europe standing at approximately 10,925 feet (3,330 meters), although this changes all the time due to eruptions and collapses and is at the centre of Etna National Park. It is also one of, if not, Sicily’s main tourist attraction and therefore somewhere you must visit during your trip. Obviously eruptions cannot be predicted but if you are lucky enough to be there when one does you will witness amazing sights, just remember your personal safety and do not get too close. The park itself has many forest trails which allow you to submerge yourself in nature and offer the best views of the volcano on the island.
Valley of the Temples, Agrigento
The Valley of the Temples a national monument of Italy and it includes the remains of seven temples, all in Doric style and is located on the outskirts of the town of Agrigento. It is one of the main landmarks in Sicily and a renowned archaeological site. It is an outstanding example of Greater Greece art and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. Open daily from 8.30am until 7.00pm, why not take a guided tour of the site. Depending on your interests, whether it be archaeology, literature, mythology, architecture, food, flora, culture or folklore, tours can be customised to ensure you get the most from your visit.
Scala Dei Turchi
Located not far from the Valley of the Temples you will find the breathtaking geological site Scala Dei Turchi. It is a rocky cliff on the coast of Realmonte and a great place to visit whilst in Sicily. The Scala is formed by marl, which is distinctively white in colour which next to the crystal clear turquoise seas surrounding it really makes it a beautiful sight to behold. It is accessed through a staircase shaped rock formation. Sand from the beach at Scala dei Turchi is primarily made of quartz and shell fragments, although not soft and golden, it is still perfect to relax on.
Zingararo Nature Reserve
The Zingaro Reserve stretches for almost 7km and incorporates land, sea, steep cliffs little bays and beaches. It was established in May 1981 as the first natural reserve in Sicily. The perfect place to explore if you are a nature lover, here you will find lush vegetation, beautiful views and at least 39 species of birds. It truly is one of the most stunning spots on the island.
So with all these beautiful and unforgettable landmarks in Sicily just waiting to be explored, why not make it the place to take your next adventure?
- Written in collaboration with traghettiper-sicilia.it