Favignana, Sicily

Visit Favignana

The Sicilian island of Favignana is the largest of the 'Isole Egadi' group of islands to the west of Sicily, and has more facilities and accommodation than the other islands in the group, so makes a good base for exploring. Most visitors are on day trips from Trapani, so the island is much quieter in the evening than during the day time in summer.

Explore Favignana: tourism and travel guide

The most popular activities on Favignana are exploring the harbour town, spending some time on one of the small beaches, and following one of the paths (on foot or by bike) that explore the island. The most popular beach is at Lido Burrone, about a 10 minute walk from the port. The island also has a long tradition of tuna fishing, and you will find many tuna products available in the shops and restaurants.

As well as these popular activities there are several other sights of interest on the island, such as the Underwater Archaeological Museum of Favignana. The museum is located in the cottage of the Florio and organized with panels and captions, graphics and reconstructions that enable the public to follow the history of the Aegadian Islands in videos. See also Favignana history and etymology.

A particularly interesting part of the museum is dedicated to local finds such as lead and lytic anchors, and Greek-Italic amphorae from the Hellenistic and late Punic-Roman age.

The other main attraction of Favignana is its caves, only properly explored in recent years and where important finds have been discovered that date back to the Punic age (the Punic culture originated in Carthage around 800 BC). The caves are important both for their scenic value and for their historic importance. See Favignana caves and inscriptions for details of the inscriptions to be seen in the caves.

cycling around the coast of Favignano

Around Favignana it was historically the tufa (a local soft rock) that provided the local industry, both in Roman times and then from the 17th century on, since when it has been much used as building material. Hence you will also see several ancient quarries on Favignana.

Because of this local geology there are numerous tufa caves here, such as the coastal caves of Saint Nicola, which are now a tourist attraction. Other coastal caves in south-east Favignana include the Grotta Perciata and Cala Azzurra, each of considerable beauty.

After exploring the coast head towards the interior of the island The landscape of Mediterranean bush covers vast areas of the island with thistles, prickly pear and agaves which give the landscape a unique charm.

There is a fort on Mount Saint Catherine, the hill that dominates the view of the island as you approach, from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the countryside, the port and the tufa caves. A part of the fort dates from the Phoenician era, as well as parts of Roman origin and some mosaics of Roman imperial origin near the Cave of St. Nicholas.

Around the Favignana coast by boat

A boat trip around the coast of Favignana allows you to explore the sea caves, and the beaches (of both sand and rock). For those who love diving there are also many schools equipped for sport diving on the island of Favignana.

Finally, your visit should include a visit to a restaurant to enjoy one of the many typical dishes of the region. Tuna is a regional speciality, reflected in many of the recipes - these include tuna steaks, sausages, and meatballs or tuna grilled and mixed with potatoes. If you prefer to enjoy the typical cuisine of the Aegadian Islands, we suggest the lobster and the cous cous, very widely available on Favignana.

The Mattanza 'festival'

The long tradition of tuna fishing is still celebrated here each May with the Mattanza. This brutal event involves lots of boats together laying a large net to surround the tuna, then slowly reducing the net area until the tuna are all held close together in the so-called 'chamber of death'. From here the fishermen spear the tuna and drag them into the boats.

Many of the fish are injured before and during this stage, which typically lasts about 20 minutes, while others die of wounds or heart attacks, and many say it is a process of unnecessary suffering and cruelty. I have not witnessed it myself, and have no intention of doing so, but I understand tourists can pay to be part of the mattanza.

Where is Favignana?

The island of Favignana is situated just off the westernmost tip of Sicily (from Trapani and Marsala) - more precisely, it is part of a small group of islands that includes Favignana itself, Marettimo and Levanzo, which together form the largest part of the Aegadian islands.

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Map of Favignana & places to visit

Selected places to visit near Favignana

See the Sicily guide for more travel ideas...

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