From some of the best ancient Greek and Roman ruins in the world to medieval mountain towns, sprawling cities steeped in history and natural wonders, including volcanoes andhidden beaches–Sicilyoffers an extraordinary menu of unmissable destinations to visit.
These are the best places to experience the impressive diversity of landscapes and cultural treasures of this Italian island.
Explore historic Palermo on foot
Best for urban adventure
The best way to enjoy the main city of Sicily is to get lost. Endlessly walkable, there are a number of renovated pedestrian areas and squares (with plenty of cafes to cool off in) amid the centuries of decay the city proudly wears.palermoit is a place to get lost in its contradictions.
Bold yet cautious, creative and aristocratic, the city has defiantly defined its own style for millennia; Romans and Byzantines walked these streets before you. Palermo is not incredibly big; even the smallest street in the center can lead to a ruined medieval church filled with treasures or a thriving daily produce market. Get out there and lose yourself knowing that you really can't get lost. Start in the neighborhoods of La Kalsa, Vucciria, Il Capo and Albergheria and see where fantasy, inspiration and intrigue take you.
Long live the sweet life in Taormina
Best for luxurious relaxation.
Memorably perched on the side of a mountain,TaorminaIt is one of Italy's most popular summer destinations, a legendary resort town popular with holiday high rollers and those wanting a taste of the Sicilian dolce vita.
Its famous spas fill up from June to August. It stars chic crowds, who only emerge from behind the biggest, darkest sunglasses to music festivals in the spectaculargreek theater, or nights out at the famous restaurants and clubs (or maybe inside the exclusive boutiques during the day).
Founded in the 4th century BC. C., Taormina enjoyed great prosperity under the Greeks and the Romans. Restored to prominence in the 18th century, the town's unique fame was furthered by DH Lawrence, who lived here in the 1920s.
If your idea of true relaxation is a little less hectic than the height of summer, come in April, May, September, or October, when the weather is perfect and the crowds manageable.
Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers delivered straight to your inbox with ourweekly newsletter.
Step back in time at the Valley of the Temples
Best for Ancient Wonders
The extraordinary ruins ofworth two templesin southern Sicily surprises like no other ruin on the island. Scattered along the long rocky promontory where they were erected by the ancient Greeks in the 5th century BC. C., the temples formed one of the largest cities in the Western world.
This is the most magnificent place to celebrate the achievements of the ancient Greeks outside of Greece. The beautifully preserved Doric temples were a beacon for ancient sailors returning from their exploits in the Mediterranean. don't miss theArcheological Museum, one of the best museums on the island.
After a day of historical wonders, enjoy the nearby city offrom Agrigentomedieval core. Wander along Via Atenea, an attractive street lined with trattorias and bars with patios with outdoor seating. The narrow alleyways run off the main street and pass crowded mansions interspersed with historic churches.
Get away from it all in the Aeolian Islands
Best for Volcanic Thrill
It is often easier to feel theAeolian Islandsbefore you actually see them: Two of these seven extraordinarily beautiful spots on the Sicilian coast are highly active volcanoes, their smoky, smoky belches shooting plumes high into the air.
The islands of the Aeolian archipelago are full of outstanding attractions:of salinegreen vines,Panning ofwhitewashed spas,Lipari'svibrant street life - remains the impressive volcanic drama ofStrombolimiVolcanoit could easily provide all the wonder you need.
These pieces of paradise offer many opportunities to relax and enjoy the outdoors,especially hiking: whether on short or long hikes, which can include adventures on hissing volcanoes. The dazzling blue waters beckon swimmers, kayakers, and snorkelers, while adults can enjoy sips of sweet Malmsey wine.
Syracuse boasts ancient and modern delights
The best for Sicilian beauty
Syracuse(Sirausa) sums up the timeless appeal of Sicily. Enter the labyrinthine alleys of the ancient island ofortygia(Ortigia) or the nearby vast layers of archaeological history and you will soon be in awe. In quick order, you can go from standing through a vast field of Greek ruins gazing at delicate papyrus plants in an ancient pond to wandering a marble-paved Baroque piazza, where the columns of ancient temples loom from beneath the elaborate facade of a cathedral. .
At its height in the eighth century B.C. C., Syracuse was the largest city in the ancient western world, larger even than Athens and Corinth. The Greeks landed here and founded a city that almost three millennia later became theNeapolis Archaeological Park, one of the largest archaeological sites in Italy. Today you can marvel at the past as you lose yourself in its beautiful cityscapes and alluring dining, drinking and shopping options.
Enjoy the incredible views in Erice
Best for town charm
At each hairpin bend of the long climb toericein western Sicily, it seems impossible for the views to get any better. But they do. And the top view is literally on top - the Normancastle of venusoffers 360 degree perspectives to San Vito Lo Capo, the Egadi Islands and the salt pools and windmills of theTrapani Salt Pans.
From this lofty perch atop Eryx's sacred peak, medieval Erice watches over the port ofTroubled. It is a fascinating 12th century walled relic, whose quirky history, mountain charm and sensational views are only enhanced by sudden changes in the weather that take it from scorching sun to thick fog in a matter of minutes.
Lose yourself in the atmospheric maze of cobbled streets while you drinkerice's sweets(almond sweets). Although it is sold in a profusion of bakeries and restaurants, it goes directly to the original source, the renowned old world diner.Pastry Maria Grammático.
The natural wonders of the Zingaro Nature Reserve
The best for nature and beaches.
Spanning the vast expanse of the Golfo di Castellammare, Sicily's oldest nature reserve is magnificent. The rugged stretch of rugged coastline boasts unspoilt coves, lined with walking paths and dotted with museums celebrating flora, fauna and more.
Reserve Natural ZingaroIt is a walker's paradise and a haven for wildlife, including the rare Bonelli's eagle, the majestic vulture, the kestrel and around 40 other species of birds. Wild carob trees and bright yellow euphorbia cover the hillsides, along with 700 other species of Mediterranean flora, some unique to this stretch of coastline, while secluded beaches offer tranquil spots for swimming and snorkelling.
From the main coastal path, well-marked gravel paths meander through almond groves and orchid-dotted grass meadows to picturesque coves with lovely pebble beaches. Accessible only by boat or on foot, they are idyllically empty for most of the year.
See a collision of ancient cultures in Piazza Armerina
Best for Roman splendor
Piazza Armerina is a medieval hilltop market town incenter of Sicilythis is the perfect base to explore the best Roman mosaics around.
Unesco listedVilla Romanait is sumptuous, even by decaying Roman standards, and is believed to have been the rural retreat of Marcus Aurelius Maximian, co-emperor of Rome during the reign of Diocletian (286-305 AD). Amidst the sprawling site with four interconnected groups of buildings scattered across the hillside, there are over 3,500 m² of surprisingly well-preserved floor mosaics, colorfully intertwined with intriguing ancient narratives.
The town of Piazza Armerina is a beautiful hour's walk from the mosaics. It's filled with atmospheric labyrinthine streets that are truly two cities in one: the original Piazza founded by the Saracens in the 10th century, and the 15th-century south-eastern expansion, which was redefined by an urban fabric established in the 17th century.Cathedral, with its imposing dome, is a landmark for miles around.
You may also like:
15 things you cannot miss on your next trip to Sicily
The best free things to do in Sicily: from stunning churches to sumptuous art
Why Sicily is a year-round destination