What to do in Sicily?
We were looking for a bit of sunshine during the fall. A simple Google search taught us that Sicily is an interesting place to visit during fall and the plane tickets were quite cheap. So no more reasons to stay at home: our flight and B&B were booked within a few minutes! We found the cheapest tickets on the site of ITA, the new Alitalia. We booked a good B&B at Booking.com. Although we would not recommend a stay in the center of Catania, B&B Bellini is a very good address. We were spoiled for a week and all places worth visiting in the city are within walking distance. So why advise against staying in the city? Well, the traffic is really chaotic, it always took us at least an hour to get out of the city by car... not really a nice way to spend your holiday! In this article you can read more about our favorite places on the island!
How many days do you need in Sicily?
Sicily is not a large island, although is the largest and most populous island in the Mediterranean Sea. It's definitely a good place for slow travel. But if your time is limited, a week on the island is certainly enough to get a good idea of the island life!
Why (not) go to Sicily in November... here are our pros and cons
What is the best time of the year to travel to Sicily? Sicily is a popular Italian island. That's why we absolutely avoid going here during the summer months. But is November the best option? Here are some pros and cons.
Thats why you have to go:
an average temperature of 23 degrees
who doesn't like a bit of sun and warmth during fall?
almost no tourist, you have the popular spots all to yourself
locals will welcome you with open arms!
you're just in time to eat the olives from the trees, fresh prickly pears an (pistachio) nuts
Prices are much much lower than in high season!!
Or maybe think twice before you go because:
some popular spots are closed
the weather can get stormy
when you like to go off the beaten track you often find dirty streets, piles of garbage and nobody seems to care
traffic is a disaster (probably not only in November!)
Five places you have to see when you are on Sicily!
Sicily is a small island. It's possible to stay in one place and visit the whole island. All big car rental companies can be found on the airports of Palermo and Catania. Roads are very good, it's only frustrating to drive in the streets of the city center of Catania and Palermo.
Spectacularly perched on the side of a mountain, Taormina is one of Sicily's most charming, but also most popular places. During summer months it's unashamedly touristy, but if you come here during spring or fall you can see the real beauty of this place.
Taormina was founded in the 4 th century BC, was an important place during the Greek era and later under the Romans, but fell into quiet obscurity after the Normans conquered the city.
There are two huge parking lots where you can leave your car at a reasonable price for a day (we payed 9 euros for a day).
Our absolute number one. Built by the Greek in the 3rd century BC, expanded by the Romans for gladiatorial games and still in use for concerts and performances, and the view... high above the Mediterranean, with Mt Etna looming on the horizon... the view is just perfect! On the opposite site you have a view of the Italian mainland.
The site opens at 9am and closes one hour before sunset. Entrance fee: 10 euros.
Corso Umberto I
The 'main' street of Taormina, take your time here to wander, eat some ice cream, watch people, enjoy the panoramic views form Piazza IX Aprile. Admire the beautiful Torre dell'Orologio, and the Piazza del Duomo, with a lovely foutain and a 13th century cathedral.
Next to the Porta Pasquale car park is a cable car that brings you in no time to the Mediterranean sea. It is less than a mile walk but a steep climb back to the centre. Only a few dozen meter for the cost line is beautiful Isola Bella, a tiny island set in a stunning cove, which was once home to Florence Trevelyan. It's her house that sits in silent solitude on top of the island. This place is the best for snorkelling or you can just relax en enjoy the bars and restaurants near the water.
Valley of the Temples, a 13-sq-km park not far from the city of Agrigento is an Unesco-listed area. What you see here today are the remainings of the ancient city of Akragas, once the fourth-largest city in the known world. It's one of the most mesmerizing sites in the Mediterranean, and with an average of more than 600 000 visitors a year Sicily's biggest tourist site.
Take your time for this one, it's worth it!
Entrance: €10 (incl the museum: €15), the tickets are valid for three days.
Two huge Parking lots: one located at the main entrance and one at the Eastern Entrance
I have to be honest here, Catania it's not my favorite city. So noisy, one big traffic jam, dirt everywhere, It seemed like nobody was scaring. But, if you manage to look through the dust and noise , there are certainly some gems to discover in this city:
- Monastero dei Benedettini: This was my personal favorite it's one of Europe's largest monasteries and now parts of the City University and one of Sicily's most important libraries. The buildings are just breathtaking! You can choose between a guided tour (entrance fee: €9) or you can just go around yourself and act like you’re one of the students.
- Piazza del Duomo: Unesco World Heritage Site, a crowded touristic hotspots but nevertheless worth a visit. Fontana dell ‘Amenano, the fountain at the Piazza southwest corner marks the entrance to the fish market (and a lot of good restaurants!).
- Cattedrale di Sant’Agata: at the Piazza del Duomo
- Via Etnea: probably the only street of Catania without garbage. Along the avenue there are some beautiful buildings from the City University, some are open for public. We were most impressed by the way Mt Etna rises majestically at the end of the avenue. If you like to shop: this is the place to be for you!
- Teatro Romano: Well preserved remains of a 2nd century Roman theater and now perfectly integrated in the city itself (entrance fee: €6)
You can't think of Sicily without including Mount Etna. This giant active volcano is dominating the landscape of the island. With an altitude of 3326m it's the highest mountain of Italy south of the alps. The volcano is very active and eruptions occur frequently from the summit craters or from the old craters on the flanks.
The volcano is part of the national park 'Parco dell'Etna'. A beautiful area with the typical black sand and moonscape deserts.
The most populair and accessible site is the southern slope. At Rifugio Sapienza you can take a cable car that brings you closer to the top (or you can hike the whole traject). The cable car is quite expensive (30 euros for an adult), but it is spectacular, it's not a waste of money. When it's stormy the cable car is closed and minibusses do the route up (and down).
At Rifugio Sapienza you can also watch a 7D movie, one of the saddest tourist traps that crossed our paths so far. 7 euros for a movie of 5 minutes, without any educational value.
There are four craters at the top, but we haven't seen any of them, the weather was horrible. But good news: at the upper cable-car station you can rent a warm jacket!
The whole area is very touristy, so you will not get hungry at any point of your trip: bars and restaurants also when you don't expect!
But even totally covered in clouds this place is spectacular!
Coast of Sicily
Isola Bella is a small island almost adjacent to Sicily. It is located in the Ionian Sea near the town of Taormina and is connected to the main island by a sand tongue. Because the sand tongue overflows into the beach of Taormina, the short walk to the rock island of Isola Bella is made in no time.
The beach of Cefalù is near a town of the same name. With 1.5 kilometers to look for a spot, you can always go there. You will also find a number of cozy beach clubs.
In the south of Sicily you will find the nature reserve Torre Salsa. Dunes, cliffs, grassy landscapes and beaches together, really stunning. There are a number of routes that run through the nature reserve and eventually take you to Torre Salsa beach. The beach of Torre Salsa is one of the quietest beaches in Sicily and therefore perfect if you want to escape the tourist areas of the island.
Hi! We are Bart, Kris, Lore and Ruben. We are a family of 5, yes, we also have a dog named Spike.
Maybe we can inspire you to explore a bit more of all those beautiful corners of our planet? Go to our trips and find out!