Sicily, Italy: travel guide and places to visit

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Sicily is a large island off the southern tip of Italy, with a coastline offering fantastic beaches, dramatic inland mountain scenery including Mount Etna, many attractive towns and villages, and numerous ancient historical monuments.

Sicily - a guide and places to visit

For a summary of the most popular sights in the region see also Sicily places to visit.

Eastern Sicily

Starting perhaps from Milazzo and Messina in the north-east of Sicily, travel down the eastern side of the island where Taormina has Greek and Roman ruins and is a good introduction to the history of Sicily.

MilazzoContinuing south past Mount Etna, there are some fine 18th century buildings at Catania, a norman castle and old town at Paterno to enjoy, the hilltop town of Motta Sant'Anastasia, as well as the towns of Adrano and Centuripe.

Along the coast are the scenic 'islands of cyclops' at Aci Trezza, and Acireale.

Nearby you can visit the town of Mascali, rebuilt in the 1930's after the historic town was destroyed by lava flows from Mount Etna.

To the south-east the highlights include Syracuse, the ancient Greek capital (and the important prehistoric site at Cassibile nearby) and the attractive town of Noto.

Travel a little inland to Pantalica to see the 3,000 year old burial tombs, then to the hill town of Ispica for some extensive prehistoric caves. The ancient ruins at Akrai can be seen at Palazzolo Acreide, and visit also the nearby town at Buscemi.

To the north-west of of this part of south-west Sicily there are several important religious monuments at Vizzini and Mineo.

In the heart of Sicily, there is a great deal to explore and scenery to enjoy. Two particular highlights are the towns at Piazza Armerina and the old town of Enna. You can also visit Comiso and the churches of Chiaramonte Gulfi, passing perhaps by the interesting baroque towns of Modica, Ragusa and Scicli. On the coast close to Comiso, at the resort of Santa Croce Camerina, don't forget to visit the substantial ancient ruins at Kamarina.

Southern Sicily

LampedusaFar off the coast of southern Sicily (close to Africa) you can visit the Pelagian islands such as Lampedusa and Linosa, along with the scuba-diving island at Lampione.

Along the south-west coast of sicily see the historical town of Gela, also Butera a little way north and Licata. Then continuing along the south-western coast, visit the town of Agrigento and nearby Realmonte before heading to the coastal town at Sciacca.

Visit the town of Caltabellotta, a little inland and then on perhaps via Menfi to the temple ruins at Selinunte.

A little west of Selinunte is the historical cathedral and port town of Mazara-del-Vallo, then be sure to try the local renowned wine at Marsala, before heading inland to visit San Cataldo.

Western and central Sicily

TrapaniAt the western edge of Sicily the near neighbour towns of Trapani and Erice each have their own particular charm and interest, while Paceco is another interesting town in the region, best known perhaps for its salt Works nature reserve.

Marsala stands almost at the western limit of Sicily, while the village of Castellamarre del Golfo and town of Alcamo are near Trapani.

Inland to the north of Gela is the town of Aidone and the important archaeological site at Morgantina, while Piazza Armerina is a popular destination, especially for the mosaics at Villa del Casale.

Offshore from Trapani you can visit the caves on the Aegadian Islands of Favignana and Levanzo, or travel inland to the temple at Segesta, one of the best to be found on Sicily.

Northern Sicily

The north-west of the island also includes the very beautiful city at Palermo (and neighbour Bagheria), in a great scenic location. From Palermo be sure to also visit the cathedral at Monreale and Terrasini, the town of Partinico and the resort at Cinisi, and the castle at Carini. The archeological site at Iato (San Giuseppe Jato) is also noteworthy.

LevanzoThe main other towns along the northern coast are Termini Imerese and Cefalu, an attractive resort with a fine cathedral, with Trabia, Tusa and Campofelice di Roccella being nearby.

Caltavuturo, Polizzi and Petralia (in the Madonie mountains) are a little way to the south of here, as is the village of Sperlinga, while the Norman castle at Caronia is one of the oldest in Sicily.

The castle and arab baths at Cefala Diana are also recommended, ans also the town at Corleone to the south of Palermo. Don't miss the Calatrasi castle at Roccamena a little to the west.

Towards north-east Sicily the historic towns of Castroreale and Patti also deserve to be explored, and Naso has several interesting churches to visit. Nearby both Tindari and Oliveri have interesting highlights to explore and a little way south of here visit the fort and medieval town of Montalbano Elicona (with the standing stones of Argimusco) and Randazzo.

Off the north-east coast of Sicily, a very popular destination to visit in this part of Italy are the Aeolian Islands, including Lipari, Filicudi, Stromboli, Volcano and the small islands of Panarea and Ustica.

Sicily highlights - a photo gallery

  • agrigento-temple-concordia
  • castiglione-di-sicilia
  • cefalu-beach
  • etna
  • lipari
  • noto
  • san-vito-lo-capo-beach
  • taormina
  • zingaro-natural-reserve

Most Beautiful Villages - Sicily

The following Italian towns and villages in Sicily are listed among the 'most beautiful villages in Italy': Castelmola, Cefalu, Geraci Siculo, Montalbano Elicona, Novara di Sicilia, San Marco d'Alunzio and Savoca.

Orange Flag Tourism towns in Sicily

The following Italian towns and villages in Sicily are listed among the 'Orange flag towns in Italy'(a national tourist award): Sutera

For more travel and visitor information see Sicily.

See also:

Map of Sicily and places to visit

Places to visit near Sicily

Aci Trezza

Aci Trezza

Aci Trezza is a prestigious seaside report whose beach looks onto interesting rock formations in the sea.

Aci Trezza

Acireale

Acireale

With many medieval and 17th century buildings Acireale has much to see and admire.

Acireale

Adrano

Adrano

Adrano is an interesting city with a medieval centre and a Norman castle amongst its highlights.

Adrano

Aeolian Islands

Aeolian Islands

Hugely popular not only for their great beaches and water sports but also the possibility of visiting live volcanos.

Aeolian Islands

Agrigento

Agrigento

Do not miss a visit to the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, one of Sicily's most important destinations.

Agrigento

Aidone

Aidone

Admire the Baroque architecture of Aidone.

Aidone

Akrai

Akrai

The archaeological ruins at Akrai include a Greek Theatre and the Temple of Aphrodite.

Akrai

Alcamo

Alcamo

Alcamo Marina is a popular seaside resort and the old town has an intact castle and plenty to enjoy.

Alcamo

Bagheria

Bagheria

Bagheria has some marvellous villas to explore and many other monuments including a look out tower which is open to visitors.

Bagheria

Buscemi

Buscemi

Following an earthquake in the 17th century much of the town and churches were rebuilt in Baroque style.

Buscemi

Butera

Butera

A castle and an excavated Necropolis are some of the draws to the increasingly popular town of Butera.

Butera

Caltabellotta

Caltabellotta

Situated on Mount Kratas and surrounded by mountain peaks the fortified town of Caltabellotta offers great scenery and historic monuments.

Caltabellotta

Caltavuturo

Caltavuturo

Caltavuturo cathedral holds some important artistic works.

Caltavuturo

Campofelice di Roccella

Campofelice di Roccella

With a castle overlooking the long sandy beach Campofelice di Roccella is a popular summer destination.

Campofelice di Roccella

Carini

Carini

A castle, a beach and some great shops count amongst the attractions of the town of Carini.

Carini

Caronia

Caronia

Visit the Norman castle and medieval old town of Caronia.

Caronia

Cassibile

Cassibile

Cassibile is not only a popular seaside town and resort, it is home to the most important prehistoric settlement in Sicily.

Cassibile

Castellammare del Golfo

Castellammare del Golfo

The Gulf of Castellammare has beaches, cliffs and interesting monuments and is a lovely part of Sicily.

Castellammare del Golfo

Castroreale

Castroreale

With great views and some important art treasures Castroreale is worth a visit.

Castroreale

Catania

Catania

The second largest city in Sicily, Catania has some fine buildings and interesting Roman remains.

Catania

Cefala Diana

Cefala Diana

An attractive tourist destination, Cefala Diana has an Arab baths and a castle to visit.

Cefala Diana

Cefalu

Cefalu

Cefalu is one of the main tourist destinations of Sicily. The pretty seaside town is an important artistic and historic centre.

Cefalu

Cefalu Cathedral

Cefalu Cathedral

Cefalu cathedral is a beautiful building with a fortress-like style.

Cefalu Cathedral

Centuripe

Centuripe

Centuripe is an ancient town with an interesting archaeological museum.

Centuripe

Chiaramonte Gulfi

Chiaramonte Gulfi

Explore the pleasant medieval centre of Chiaramonte Gulfi

Chiaramonte Gulfi

Cinisi

Cinisi

Cinisi is a pretty coastal town not far from Palermo and its airport.

Cinisi

Comiso

Comiso

Visit the lovely baroque architecture of Comisco.

Comiso

Corleone

Corleone

Corleone is famous both for its 100 churches and for its Mafia connection.

Corleone

Eloro

Eloro

As well as beaches and a modern town Eloro has a fascinating archaeological site.

Eloro

Erice

Erice

Visit the splendid hilltop town of Erice with its ancient walls, castle and churches.

Erice

Favignana

Favignana

Favignana is the largest of the 'Isole Egadi' islands and is a popular day trip from Trapani.

Favignana

Filicudi

Filicudi

Filicudi is one of the Aeolian islands and is particularly great for scuba diving.

Filicudi

Gela

Gela

Gela is an industrial town but if you are nearby it has some interesting monuments in the old centre.

Gela

Ispica

Ispica

Ispica is home to an extensive prehistoric cave system.

Ispica

Kamarina

Kamarina

Most people visit Kamarina for the nearby beaches but it also has the remains of a settlement dating from late antiquity.

Kamarina

Lampedusa

Lampedusa

Lampedusa is one of the Pelagian islands and is almost African in character.

Lampedusa

Lampione

Lampione

Lampione is an uninhabited island closer to Africa than Sicily. It is popular with scuba divers.

Lampione

Levanzo

Levanzo

Explore the lovely white-washed houses around the harbour of Levanzo.

Levanzo

Licata

Licata

Explore the coastal town of Licata with a wealth of historic and artistic treasures.

Licata

Linosa

Linosa

Linosa is a tiny island closer to Africa than Sicily. It is popular with scuba divers.

Linosa

Lipari

Lipari

Lipari is the liveliest of the Aeolian islands and has an attractive harbour and town and great beaches.

Lipari

Marsala

Marsala

Marsala is of course famous for its wine but also has an interesting historic centre.

Marsala

Mascali

Mascali

Destroyed on several occasions by eruptions from Mount Etna, Mascali has largerly been rebuilt after 1926.

Mascali

Mazara-del-Vallo

Mazara-del-Vallo

With pretty streets and harbour Mazara del Vallo has plenty to explore.

Mazara-del-Vallo

Menfi

Menfi

Menfi has some good beaches and a pleasant town centre.

Menfi

Messina

Messina

Damage from world wars and earthquakes has been extensively repaired according to the original plans.

Messina

Milazzo

Milazzo

Milazzo has great beaches as well as a walled town on top of a hill, a medieval town and a newer town. Plenty to do and see!

Milazzo

Mineo

Mineo

The ancient streets of Mineo contain a number of churches and monuments.

Mineo

Modica

Modica

Modica is an impressive town built up the sides of a gorge.

Modica

Monreale

Monreale

Admire the cathedral and monastery complex of Monreale.

Monreale

Montalbano Elicona

Montalbano Elicona

The hilltop village of Montalbano Elicona is classified as one of the most beautiful villages of Italy.

Montalbano Elicona

Morgantina

Morgantina

The Greek city of Morgantina is one of the most interesting archaeological sites in Sicily.

Morgantina

Motta Sant'Anastasia

Motta Sant'Anastasia

A maze of narrow streets and a castle make Motta-Sant-Anastasia interesting to visit.

Motta Sant'Anastasia

Naso

Naso

Naso was a popular summer residence for city dwellers of Palermo until a landslide slid many houses down the hill. Now you can admire evidence of its former glory.

Naso

Noto

Noto

The stunning city of Noto has UNESCO World Heritage status for its beautiful baroque architecture.

Noto

Oliveri

Oliveri

A sandy bay and a castle on a rocky outcrop are the attractions of this quiet hamlet.

Oliveri

Paceco

Paceco

Visit the Salt Works Natural Reserve of Paceco which with its windmills and canals looks like a little bit of Holland!

Paceco

Palazzolo Acreide

Palazzolo Acreide

Admire the Baroque architecture of the old town of Palazzolo Acreide.

Palazzolo Acreide

Palermo

Palermo

Palermo is a splendid city with a wealth of Arab-Norman architecture listed with UNESCO.

Palermo

Panarea

Panarea

Popular for its beaches and scenery Panarea is the second smallest Aeolian island.

Panarea

Partinico

Partinico

The religious and civil buildings of Partinico are of interest.

Partinico

Paterno

Paterno

Paterno has a Norman castle built in the 11th century.

Paterno

Patti

Patti

Visit the medieval centre of Patti as well as its castle and cathedral.

Patti

Pelagian Islands

Pelagian Islands

The Pelagian islands are closer to Africa than Sicily and this remoteness reduces tourist numbers. Their scenery and clear waters though still attract plenty of visitors.

Pelagian Islands

Petralia

Petralia

Cobbled streets, villas, palaces and mansions await visitors to the lovely Petralia.

Petralia

Piazza Armerina

Piazza Armerina

Medieval and Baroque architecture and some fabulous Roman mosaics attract lots of visitors to Piazza Armerina.

Piazza Armerina

Polizzi

Polizzi

Admire the views from the small town of Polizzi.

Polizzi

Ragusa

Ragusa

A magnificent town, Ragusa is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its Baroque architecture.

Ragusa

Randazzo

Randazzo

Randazzo is the closest town to Mount Etna and attracts visitors wishing to climb the mountain.

Randazzo

Realmonte

Realmonte

Realmonte is a pleasant resort on the prettiest stretch of coast in Sicily.

Realmonte

Roccamena

Roccamena

From Roccamena you can visit the Calatrasi castle and the Mont Maranfusan archaeological site.

Roccamena

San Cataldo

San Cataldo

Many of the buildings in San Cataldo date from the 17th century and include some fine religious buildings.

San Cataldo

San Giuseppe Jato

San Giuseppe Jato

Most visitors to San Giuseppe Jato come for the nearby archaeological park.

San Giuseppe Jato

Sciacca

Sciacca

A lovely coastal town with beaches. It is also the oldest spa resort on Scicily.

Sciacca

Scicli

Scicli

An impressive castle, UNESCO listed Baroque buildings and beaches all attract visitors to Scicli.

Scicli

Segesta

Segesta

Segesta is home to various ancient monuments including Segesta Temple.

Segesta

Selinunte

Selinunte

Visit the majestic ruins of Selinunte, an ancient settlement.

Selinunte

Sperlinga

Sperlinga

A castle and troglodyte caves are amongst the attractions of Sperlinga.

Sperlinga

Syracuse

Syracuse

Syracuse has UNESCO World Heritage status because of the importance of its historical centre.

Syracuse

Taormina

Taormina

The beautiful setting and attractive town of Taormina makes this one of the most popular destinations in Sicily.

Taormina

Termini Imerese

Termini Imerese

Termini is an important historical town with ancient ruins and buildings from the Middle Ages and beyond.

Termini Imerese

Terrasini

Terrasini

With lovely beaches, caves and creeks, Terrasini is popular with holiday makers.

Terrasini

Tindari

Tindari

Tindari is home to the beautiful Tindari Sanctuary but also has many other interesting sites to visit.

Tindari

Trabia

Trabia

Trabia is a working town with a fortress and several churches to visit.

Trabia

Trapani

Trapani

Trapani has an interesting old town with historic buildings dating from the 14th to the 20th century.

Trapani

Tusa

Tusa

A popular seaside resort, Tusa has an interesting medieval centre.

Tusa

Ustica

Ustica

Ustica is an island off the coast of Sicily and is very popular with scuba divers.

Ustica

Vizzini

Vizzini

Vizzini has a rich architectural heritage with churches, a Town Hall and tanneries.

Vizzini