Holiday in Sicily

holiday in Sicily, unique things to do in Sicily, places to visit in Sicily, hotels to stay in Sicily | Bubbly Moments

Earlier this year, at the end of May, we took a lovely one day excursion and enjoyed a brief holiday in Sicily, starting with a two-hour ferry trip from Malta.

While Sicily is considered a part of Italy, and is controlled by the Italian government, it is not physically a part of Italy’s peninsula. Sicily is located south of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean, separated from the Italian mainland by only 1.5 miles by the Strait of Messina.

Sicily is a beautiful island, with much of its almost 10,000 square miles covered with hills and mountains. The island has many volcanoes, including Mt. Etna, still active and arguably one of the most famous in the world.

Sicily is world-renowned for its street food, including mouth-watering cannoli and Granita, a sorbet-type ice cream dessert eaten with a warm brioche for breakfast during the warm summer months.

holiday in Sicily, unique things to do in Sicily, places to visit in Sicily, hotels to stay in Sicily

Our short holiday in Sicily only lasted a day, but we spent the whole time enjoying beautiful architecture in breathtaking locales. Sicily is drenched in history and old-world charm. The time we spent in Noto, Marzamemi and Syracuse will be etched forever in our memories.

We took a break from our sightseeing to eat a delicious meal for lunch and dabble in a little wine tasting. How could we visit Sicily and NOT sample the wines?

The Best Way to Travel to Sicily

There are numerous ways to reach the gorgeous Mediterranean island of Sicily. Despite its historic roots and corresponding old-worldliness, there is a modern-day infrastructure that keeps Sicily connected to many other countries around the world.

If you’re planning a holiday in Sicily, depending on your point of origin, you can arrive by air, landing at Catania Airport, on the western side of Sicily, or the capital city airport in Palermo, on the eastern side of the island.

Maybe you’re planning to visit, as we did, for a one day holiday in Sicily from Malta. International sea ferries are available from Malta and Tunisia, as well as other sea ferries from several cities in Italy.

holiday in Sicily, unique things to do in Sicily, places to visit in Sicily, hotels to stay in Sicily

Other modes of transportation to Sicily include riding a bus, which you’ll find departing from almost anywhere in Italy, driving a rental car or taking a train. All these vehicles are ferried to Sicily from Villa San Giovanni, (the toe of Italy’s boot). Passengers don’t even have to disembark to make the brief one hour ferry trip.

There are other ferry routes available, departing from different areas of Italy, some taking up to about 10 hours and others arriving in 30 minutes or less. This means no matter where in Italy you may find yourself, a brief holiday in Sicily is easily accomplished.

Best Time to Visit Sicily

I’m not sure there’s a “bad” time to visit Sicily, as any time of the year has its own unique charm and appeal. Much depends on how you want to spend your time, and whether there is a specific type of weather or a time of year you wish to avoid.

Generally speaking, the best time to plan a holiday in Sicily, for most people, is either late spring (May to June) or early autumn (September and October). The temperature during these months typically stays in the 70s, making it very comfortable for activities during the day as well as into the evening.

Places to Visit in Sicily

There are so many wonderful places to visit in Sicily it would be hard to list them all here, but I’ll do my best to mention some of the most popular places people like to visit.

While we were there, we split our time between Noto, Marzamemi and Syracuse, each location offering its own version of charm and old-world appeal. We found hotels to stay in Sicily, a variety of restaurants serving mouth-watering food and plenty of unique things to do in Sicily.

And there are so many other memorable places to visit in Sicily, it would be difficult to see them all in one trip, particularly on a one-day holiday in Sicily!

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Depending on the time of year, and how much of your holiday in Sicily time you can dedicate, here are a few other must-see places to visit in Sicily:

  • Palermo: Full of great restaurants, equally amazing street food, and breath-taking architecture, Palermo is the capital city of Sicily and well worth the visit if time allows.

  • Messina: This is the first stop for visitors coming from the mainland of Italy, containing numerous lush citrus groves and botanical gardens.

  • Cefalù: A friendly seaside city, and one of the most popular places to visit in Sicily. If crowds bother you, plan a trip here in October, November or in the spring. The weather is still warm and lovely, but there are very few tourists.

  • CataniaNestled at the bottom of Mt. Etna with a panoramic view of the sea, most of this beautiful ancient city was destroyed in 1669 after a four-month volcanic eruption. The stamina and fierce determination of the people of Catania enabled them to rebuild the city into one of the best places to visit in Sicily.

  • Aeolian IslandsThis collection of small islands is always crowded in the summer, but it’s worth dealing with the throngs of tourists to enjoy the gorgeous scenery. Discover the volcanoes, visit the castles and take advantage of the beautiful beaches with all their associated water activities. While you’re there, enjoy great fishing and fresh, tasty seafood.

  • TaorminaPerched on a hillside with a gorgeous view of Mt. Etna, Taormina is situated between Messina and Catania. It’s a favorite of tourists, who converge on the town from May through September. Nearby beaches and loads of restaurants and shopping areas make this a favorite stop for vacationers during their holiday in Sicily.

  • AgrigentoSometimes known as the valley of temples, Agrigento is home to some of the best-preserved Greek temples in the entire world. With beautiful beaches along crystal-clear water, this is one of the places to visit in Sicily you don’t want to miss.

  • SyracuseFounded by the Greeks in 733 or 734 BC and located in the southeast corner of Sicily, Syracuse is bathed in Greek history. Well known as the birthplace of Archimedes, noted mathematician and engineer, the city is home to many ancient ruins, including the Temple of Athena.

  • MarzamemiUnlike most other towns on the island, Marzamemi was founded by Arabs, rather than Greeks. Started as a fishing town, its décor resembles more of an Arab or Moroccan setting than the rest of the cities in Sicily. With many outdoor cafes and a variety of beaches to explore, it remains a favorite tourist destination.
  • Val di Noto:The Noto Valley is made up of eight south-eastern towns in Sicily, including Catania, Modica, Caltagirone, Palazzolo, Scicli, Militello Valdi Catania, Ragusa and Noto. In the spring, numerous religious processions are held around Easter, making this one of the more awe-inspiring places to visit in Sicily.
holiday in Sicily, unique things to do in Sicily, places to visit in Sicily, hotels to stay in Sicily

Hotels to Stay in Sicily

Once you’ve made the decision to take a holiday in Sicily, and you’ve got a good idea about the best places to visit in Sicily, it’s time to map out the best hotels to stay in Sicily. With over 30,000 hotel properties on the island, it may prove to be a harder decision than you might think.

Hotels to stay in Sicily range from luxury hotels, to family-friendly B&Bs, romantic boutique hotels and wine hotels…your choices are almost endless. Let’s take a brief peek at a few.

Boutique Hotels

Boutique hotels are smaller hotels to stay in Sicily, generally offering more than 10 rooms, but less than 100, with an atmosphere designed to make you feel more like a houseguest than a hotel occupant. Boutique hotels can be romantic, or family and pet friendly. They’re usually drenched in local history and flavor and often place a lot of focus on savory food and beverages.

Hotels to stay in Sicily with less than 10 rooms are not really considered boutique hotels, but are a part of a sub-category known as Bed & Breakfast establishments, or B&Bs.

  • Monaci delle Terre Nere – This hotel literally sits on the slopes of Mount Etna. Rooms are housed in farm buildings that have been converted or new buildings constructed just for the hotel.
  • Hotel Villa Ducale – A romantic villa offering an exquisite spa and rooms that overlook the bay at Taormina.
  • Siracusa Resort – The hotel boasts the only private beach in Syracuse. With only 11 rooms, three apartments and one suite, they fill up quickly, so you’ll want to plan ahead.

Wine Hotels

Sicily has a long history of producing sweet wines like Marsala and Malvasia. But as their wine production continues to expand, some of the hotels to stay in Sicily have focused on making food and wine their calling card.

  • La Foresteria Planeta – Near Menfi, in the heart of the family-run vineyards of Planeta, this is a prime wine hotel in Sicily. Each room has a private terrace and authentic Sicilian cuisine is served.
  • Torre Marabino – A real working farm, located near Modica with a huge, vaulted wine cellar you can get lost in. A beautiful restaurant serves outstanding Sicilian meals to the guests of its seven rooms.
  • ll Giardino di Ballaro – In the midst of Palermo, you’ll find an 18th century townhouse that’s been converted into a charming B&B with five spacious rooms, each one decorated with its own unique style.

You can choose from so many hotels to stay in Sicily, you could stay somewhere different every night for 10 years and you still wouldn’t see them all. It’s enough to say that whatever you’re looking for, there is no doubt a perfect accommodation waiting for you wherever you are on the island.

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Unique Things to Do in Sicily

At less than 10,000 square miles, it’s a relatively small island, but there’s nothing small about the number of unique things to do in Sicily. It would be impossible to cover everything in just one article, but I can tell you about a few of the sights and activities you don’t want to miss while you’re there.

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Palermo

While you’re in Palermo, you’ll want to make plans to see the Palermo Cathedral. Magnificently crafted with a melting pot of architectural styles, it houses the tombs of numerous kings and queens. There is also an exquisite 12th century royal jewelry collection in the cathedral treasury. You can even climb up to the cathedral roof to enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the city.

Other sites to visit in Palermo include the Norman Palace, Massimo Theatre and the Ballaro Market. Not too far from Palermo, you’ll find one of the most heavily visited places in all of Sicily, the Monreale Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s so worth the short 40 minute trip by car to see the thousands upon thousands of gold mosaics used to design much of the interior. The finished designed required almost two and a half tons of pure gold.

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Syracuse

Syracuse is on the eastern coast, and like most cities on the island, has its own set of unique things to do in Sicily. The historical center of Syracuse is Ortigia Island, with only a bridge connection to modern Syracuse. Ortigia Island is almost exclusively pedestrian, with most parking spaces reserved for the residents living there. At the entrance to the island is the first place to stop and visit, the historical Temple of Apollo.

holiday in Sicily, unique things to do in Sicily, places to visit in Sicily, hotels to stay in Sicily

Just beyond the temple is the Syracuse market, open every morning and full of local color, foods, and smells. While it’s still morning, plan to take a one hour castle tour of Castello Maniace, located at the other end of Ortigia Island. The view alone is worth the modest entrance fee of just under $2.50.

In the middle of Piazza Archimede, you can’t miss the Fountain of Artemis, created in 1907 and portraying Diana, goddess of the hunt. The ornately sculpted statue is sometimes referred to as the Fountain of Diana and features the goddess in all her pride and glory.

holiday in Sicily, unique things to do in Sicily, places to visit in Sicily, hotels to stay in Sicily

Noto

There’s no better place to see beautiful Baroque architecture than strolling through Noto, Ragusa or Modica, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of the best examples of the architecture is in Noto, in the form of the Noto Cathedral.

All three towns offer churches, palaces and Baroque cathedrals to delight any architecture lover. Take your time strolling through the streets, perhaps enjoying a gelato along the way.

holiday in Sicily, unique things to do in Sicily, places to visit in Sicily, hotels to stay in Sicily

Marzamemi

This little fishing village is one of the best kept secrets of Sicily. Nestled between Noto and Pachino, it’s thought by many to be one of the most beautiful sea villages in all of Italy. Once you arrive, you’ll understand why so many visitors get the feeling that time has stopped in this quaint little village.

Settled by the Arabs in the 10th century, this quiet hamlet consists of great stone archways leading into narrow streets. There you’ll find rows of ancient fishermen’s houses overlooking the turquoise sea, restored with brightly colored doorways and decorated with vivid red geraniums.

The town is best explored on foot, so you can pause to admire the details that make Marzamemi so unique. From the Tonnara, an ancient palace from the 16th century, to Santa Margherita square, to the ancient shipwrecks beneath the sea, there are many ways to spend your days in this tiny hamlet.

Catania

Of all the marvelous, unique things to do in Sicily, perhaps the most exciting is to visit Mount Etna. You can get there by car or with a tour group, and once there, you have the option to hike on the craters or take a cable car to some of the highest areas of the volcano.

The landscape of the mountain is unlike anything you’ve probably ever seen before, both breathtaking and strangely deserted, almost Mars-like in appearance. The temperature changes as you reach higher altitudes, so you’ll want a warm jacket and some sturdy hiking shoes or boots. It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience you’ll want to take in while you’re in Sicily.

holiday in Sicily, unique things to do in Sicily, places to visit in Sicily, hotels to stay in Sicily

From street foods to sonnets, from the Mafia to Mount Etna, there is no lack of things to see and unique things to do in Sicily. It is home to the largest opera house in Europe (Massimo Theatre in Palermo), and the tallest active volcano (Mt Etna), and some say the Greek ruins in Sicily are even better than the ones in Greece.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time there, and I can’t wait till we can visit again. There’s simply no way you can see and do all that Sicily offers in a single trip. I hope I’ve given you plenty of ideas you can incorporate into your holiday in Sicily to make it truly memorable.

Have you been on a holiday in Sicily? Any tips and recommendations?
Which were your favorite places to visit in Sicily? 
Comment below!

2020-11-11T11:08:27-06:00

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37 Comments

  1. Lisa October 18, 2018 at 9:05 pm - Reply

    Everything looks so beautiful!

  2. shannon fowler October 19, 2018 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    This looks like such a gorgeous destination! I would love to visit some day.

  3. Barrie October 19, 2018 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Looks like an amazing trip! I’d stay in a Bed and Breakfast.

  4. Leo October 20, 2018 at 4:43 am - Reply

    absolutely beautiful

  5. Ashley Zabel October 20, 2018 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    I went to Malta and Sicily when I was 15! So beautiful. I would love to go back as an adult!

  6. Terri Shaw October 21, 2018 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    Your pictures are fantastic! I would love to go someday.

  7. onthelonelyshore October 22, 2018 at 12:23 am - Reply

    Beautiful colors!

  8. Zoey October 24, 2018 at 3:20 am - Reply

    What beautiful scenery! Italy is definitely on my bucket list!

  9. Cynthia Hatcher October 25, 2018 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    Beautiful!!

  10. Calvin October 28, 2018 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Fine foods and view here

  11. Jessica Iskey October 29, 2018 at 7:08 am - Reply

    It’s so beautiful!! I can’t imagine a better place to honeymoon than Sicily. Of course, being the worry-wort I am, I ‘d be concerned about the volcanos errupting!!!

    Do you and husband have plans to visit again on day your 10th or 20th anniversary?

  12. Barrie October 29, 2018 at 11:43 am - Reply

    You never realize how old other countries are till you see their buildings. Such a gorgeous place!

  13. Daleine October 30, 2018 at 1:12 am - Reply

    Oh my goodness, I am so jealous! Everything and every place looks absolutely gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  14. Daleine Kissinger October 30, 2018 at 1:15 am - Reply

    Sicily and it’s surrounding area looks beautiful and so historical! I hope that I can visit there at some point in time.

  15. belinda bell November 2, 2018 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    Sicily would be a wonderful place to visit. I would love to see places like this.

  16. Dana Rodriguez November 8, 2018 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    It is so beautiful there. And the food looks delicious!

  17. Gloria Luongo November 11, 2018 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    On my bucket list. Looks beautiful.

  18. Kara Marks November 12, 2018 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Lovely photos and great ideas. I’d love to visit.

  19. Katie Bellamy November 14, 2018 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    So beautiful! My dream vacay!

  20. Lisla November 16, 2018 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    Aswesome! Beautiful place, I would like to visit Sicily!!

  21. Courtney Edmonds November 19, 2018 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    So glad I found this! We are thinking about traveling to Sicily for our Honeymoon (even though we are 2 years married, we never took a honeymoon.) Will definitely use this as a staple if we decide to go!

  22. Haley November 19, 2018 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Your pictures are awesome! Beautiful!

  23. Sara Zielinski November 20, 2018 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    This looks like a great holiday

  24. Manda November 21, 2018 at 7:24 am - Reply

    Great guide! The colors are just stunning!

  25. Deborah Cochran November 22, 2018 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    I never knew Sicily had so much to offer! I’ve never visited Europe but planning on a trip in 2020. I want to visit little out-of-the-way places like Marzamemi that make you feel you’re at home in their country. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Christina moore November 24, 2018 at 10:47 am - Reply

    I would love to visit Sicily, it is so beautiful, thank you for sharing

  27. Phyllis Huebbe November 24, 2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    The architecture of those buildings is amazing, you won’t find that in the U.S.

  28. Minta Boggs November 24, 2018 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Wow! these pictures are just amazing and I really want to visit now.

  29. Angela MacRae November 24, 2018 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Looks really beautiful I wish I could go to there :)

  30. Susan Smith November 26, 2018 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    So beautiful. Visiting Italy is on my bucket list.

  31. Cynthia Roach December 1, 2018 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    Southern Italy looks like such a beautiful and sunny place.

  32. Phyllis Huebbe December 1, 2018 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    I like the outdoor cafes

  33. Holly Thomas December 3, 2018 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Italy has been on my bucket list for years!

  34. Karen S. December 3, 2018 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    I’ve long wanted to visit Italy, but Sicily has never been on my list of places to visit while I’m there. I think I need to expand my list! Thanks for the guidelines.

  35. Davidson Chu December 6, 2018 at 1:07 am - Reply

    Honestly, I didn’t know this place existed. It’s so beautiful and after seeing this, probably will add it to my places to visit

  36. Fred Louch December 30, 2018 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    I would like to visit Malta to see my friends childhood home. He misses it.

  37. Alicia Hewitt January 23, 2019 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    You are so lucky!! It looks beautiful in Sicily!

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