Sicilia it is the captivating island of Italy that almost every tourist longs for: small paved streets, exceptional beaches and a special charm given by the culture and history behind the region. If you haven't discovered Sicily yet, now is the time! Its most important and large cities are Palermo and Catania.
In this travel guide you will find out which cities to visit depending on the desired vacation. In addition, you find out which are the tourist attractions that are worth visiting, the specific food and where to eat, the means of transport and accommodation and an approximate budget. I have prepared a complete itinerary for you for 5 and 7 days!
- What do you drive in Sicily?
- Accommodation Sicily
- What do you eat in Sicily?
Palermo Airport it is located 28 km from the center of Palermo. To get to the city of Palermo or nearby, you have 3 options:
- Taxi: approx. 30-40 euros, available 24/7, journey time: approx. 30 minutes, the station is on the left side of the arrivals terminal.
- Bus: approx. 6 euros, available between 05:00-00:30, journey time: approx. 45 minutes, the station is on the right side of the arrivals terminal. Tickets can be purchased directly from the driver or from the airport ticket offices.
- Train: approx. 6 euros, available between 05:30-22:00, journey time: approx. 1 hour, the station is located in the underground part of the airport, you can follow the signs. Tickets can be purchased directly from the Trenitalia website - https://www.trenitalia.com/it.html or from ticket machines.
Catania Airport it is only 7 km away from the center of Catania. To get from the airport to Catania, you can choose from the 2 available modes of transport (the train does not run to the city center):
- Taxi: approx. 20 euros, available 24/7, journey time: 15 minutes, the station is on the main level of the airport, outside the arrivals terminal
- Bus: approx. 2.5 euros, available between 4:30-00:00, journey time: approx. 20 minutes, the station is outside the main terminal, approximately 50 m from the airport entrance. Tickets can be purchased from the driver or from the airport.
What do you drive in Sicily?
The most popular and convenient ways to travel around Sicily are buses and trains. The blue buses are for long distances, and the orange ones are the local ones. Tickets are purchased from tobacconists or ticket offices and are validated immediately upon boarding at the machines available on the bus. The price of a local ticket costs approximately 1.50 euros and is valid for 90 minutes after validation. They generally run between 06:00-21:00, but in small towns the hours may be shorter.
Trains are generally a convenient option when traveling from one city or region to another. Depending on the cities in which you travel, the train schedule may vary, but it generally runs between 04:00-22:00. Prices per ride start from 1.40 euros and can reach 30 euros, depending on the distance between the cities. You can find details on https://www.trenitalia.com/it.html.
If you come on vacation in Sicily to reach as many destinations or cities as possible, you can rent a car. This option is much more flexible and fast. Prices generally start from 25-30 euros/day and you can rent cars even from an airport and leave them in another city. You can compare prices on https://www.sicily-car-rental.com/.
Certain areas of Sicily can be quite dangerous, so we recommend that you avoid the outskirts of the cities and choose an accommodation close to the center or an area that is quite populated and known to be safe. On Booking, prices start from 35 euros/night in Palermo and Catania:
- B&B Hotel Palermo Quattro Canti – this 3-star hotel from Palermo it is located right in the Old Center of the city, near the Quattro Canti square. Less than 700 m away are the Palermo Cathedral, the Royal Palace (Palazzo dei Normani) and the Garibaldi Gardens. The double rooms have a private bathroom, WiFi, air conditioning and TV. The hotel accepts pets, and the reception is open 24/7. There is also a terrace on the roof with great views of the city. The price of a double room starts from 50 euros/night
- Three Stars of the Duomo – this accommodation from Catania offers guests private apartments with private bathroom, minibar, coffee machine, balcony, air conditioning, WiFi and TV. The location is only 60 m from Piazza Duomo and less than 500 m from the Teatro Greco and Catania Cathedral. The price for a double room starts from 50 euros/night.
Itinerary in Sicily - Sicily tourist attractions
Day 0 – Arrival in Sicily
Day 1 – Province of Palermo
- Palazzo dei Normani
- Cathedral of Palermo
- Teatro Massimo
Palermo is probably the most famous city in Sicily. Here you can experience the authentic Sicilian culture, enriched by a gastronomy with Arabic influences and a special beauty. Sicily is also called the capital of Sicily and the largest city on the island.
Palazzo dei Normani
construction Palace of the Normans (Palazzo dei Normani) it was completed in the twelfth century and was arranged in Arab-Norman-Byzantine style. Here you can practically find 2 palaces, 3 churches, a cathedral and a bridge. The interior includes decorations that create an opulent and royal atmosphere, especially due to the fact that the palace was the seat of the Kings of Sicily during the Norman domination.
The palace is open from Monday to Saturday between 8:30 and 16:30, and on Sunday between 8:30 and 12:30. Tickets cost 19 euros/adult, 17 euros/European citizen between 18-25 years old and 11 euros/person between 14-17 years old. You can buy tickets online from https://www.federicosecondo.org/en/tickets-and-pricing-2/.
Palazzo dei Normani is located in the Albergheria area, just 800 m from the Old Center of the city of Palermo. There is a free parking lot in the Old Center area on Via Lagumina Fratelli 1, just 500 m from the palace. If you can't find free places or you want a safer private parking, near Piazzeta Cairoli (less than 2 km from the palace) you can find the Palermo Central Station parking lot with prices of 1 euro/hour and 10 euro/day.
Cathedral of Palermo
After a visit to the Palace of the Normans, just 450 m away is an important symbol of the city - Cathedral of Palermo. It was also opened in the 12th century and includes a multitude of architectural styles: Gothic, Baroque, Neoclassical, Moorish and Norman.
It is probably the most important monument of Norman culture in Sicily and the impressive exterior will definitely make you want to visit the interior as well. Here are works of art, a treasury with valuable gold and silver objects, terraces where you can admire Palermo from above and crypts where you can see superbly decorated marble sarcophagi.
Access to the cathedral is free, and to visit the crypts, the treasury and the areas on the roof and other halls of the cathedral you will have to pay approximately 7 euros. You can visit the cathedral and everything it has to offer from Monday to Saturday between 9-17:30 or Sunday between 9-13 (only the crypts). You can buy the tickets on the spot at the entrance office.
Teatro Massimo it is located approximately 700 m from the Palermo Cathedral and is the largest such theater in Italy and among the largest in all of Europe. Opened in 1897 and built in neoclassical and renaissance style, the impressive building still hosts concerts and opera and ballet performances.
To visit the theater, you can buy tickets on the official website https://www.teatromassimo.it/general-info-page-english/. They cost 10 euros/adult and 5 euros/person under 25 years old. The price includes a tour guide where you can learn the history of the theater and discover the superbly decorated rooms.
The Megna private parking is less than 100 m from the theater and the cost is 2 euros/hour. Since the Old Center of Palermo is an area with restricted traffic, from here you can purchase at a reduced price (2.50 euros instead of 5 euros) the authorization to travel through this area.
- Quattro Canti
- Mondello beach
Quattro Canti (or Piazza Vigliena) is a baroque-style square in the city of Palermo, located in the middle of the Old Center. Because it is located at the intersection of 2 main streets and is often lit by the sun, the Quattro Canti is often called the Theater of the Sun.
The name Quattro Canti means "4 Corners" and is given by the octagonal aspect of the intersection created by the 4 corners of the buildings with beautifully curved facades, designed by the architect Giulio Lasso in 1608. Each building looks different, but the architectural styles are the same. In the center of each building there is a fountain that represents the 4 seasons. Here are also bronze and marble statues or sculptures.
Whether you choose to relax on a bench and admire the purely Sicilian beauty of the buildings or to capture as many shots as possible, you cannot miss this place. The A. Paggano parking lot is less than 200 m from Quattro Canti and the price is approx. 13 euros/day.
And because Palermo is a city with an opening to the sea, we recommend you to relax for a few hours at one of the most famous beaches in all of Sicily - Mondello beach. It is located at approx. 10 km from the city.
Maybe you already knew that the beaches in southern Italy are absolutely captivating, but this one is definitely at the top. The sand is almost white, clean and the water has shades of azure and light turquoise. In the background, small buildings sit on the multi-story streets and Monte Gallo can be seen in the distance - a dream landscape.
On the beach you can find both areas where you can rent sunbeds and umbrellas (between 15-25 euros/day), but also free areas where you can place towels. If you want to get here by public transport, you can take buses 806, 606 or 544 from the Liberta Croci station (right next to the English Garden - Piersanti Mattarela Park). If you drive, you can find 3-4 private parking lots near the beach with prices between 2-3 euros/hour.
Day 3 – Province of Catania
- Castello Ursino
- Piazza del Duomo
- At the beach
Although less known than Palermo, Catania is definitely a city as beautiful as Palermo. In general, each city in Italy has its own characteristics that distinguish it from another - and Catania is no less. With an Old Center in baroque style, numerous events and many boutiques, Catania is itself a Sicilian treasure.
Castello Ursino it was built in the 13th century on a high rock and had the role of defending the city and the seat of the Sicilian Parliament. Today it is the symbol of Catania! Its name "Ursino" comes from "Castrum Sinus", which means "Castle of the Gulf". The castle embellishes the architectural panorama of the city. Tickets to the castle cost approximately 10 euros/adult and 11 euros/person between 11-18 years old and you can buy them directly at the entrance.
You can visit Castello Ursino from Monday to Saturday between 9-19, and Sunday between 9-13:30. The castle is located approx. 1 km from the central area and you can reach it either on foot, discovering the special buildings of Catania, or by bus 902, 431R, 632 or 642. If you drive, the nearest parking lot is approximately 600 m from the castle. Pollina Park is a private video-surveillance parking lot with a price of approximately 10 euros/day.
Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo it is the soul of the city - a place full of life, buildings of cultural importance and the Sicilian interpretation of the Trident from Piazza del Popolo in Rome - because here the 3 main streets of the Old Center intersect: Via Etnea, Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via Garibaldi.
Here you can admire the Catania Cathedral in baroque style, the Elephant Fountain and the Elephant Palace, La Pescheria di Catania and Porta Uzeda. It is truly one of the most beautiful places in Catania. Here you can relax with a coffee on one of the center's terraces. If you come by car, you can find parking in the area for about 1-2 euros/hour.
At the beach
At the beach it is the biggest beach of the city of Catania. It stretches for 18 km and has fine golden sand. You will find both free areas, but also private areas where you will pay approximately 20 euros/person for access, sunbed and umbrella.
The beach is approx. 3 km from Piazza del Duomo and you can get there by bus 525 or L-Ex Moncada. If you choose to drive, you will find paid parking lots in almost any area of the beach with prices between 2-3 euros/hour.
- The Bellini Gardens
- Isola Bella
The Bellini Gardens
The Bellini Gardens represents the oldest urban park in all of Catania, having approx. 70,000 square meters. The location is the "green lung" of the city of Catania and a favorite place for both tourists and locals. The gardens house statues of important Italian personalities, fountains and well-maintained plants and flowers in beautifully landscaped spaces.
The gardens were laid out in the 18th century, and in the 19th century they were obtained by the municipality of Catania. Access is free, and the place is perfect to spend a pleasant morning walking through the park. The gardens are located approx. 2 km north of the central area and you can reach it by bus 504M. You can easily find paid parking lots around the park at a cost of 1-2 euros/hour or 10 euros/day.
After spending a few hours in the morning in the Bellini Gardens, you must definitely get to Isola Bella located 50 km from the city of Catania. Isola Bella is located near the city of Taormina and is known as the "Pearl of the Ionian Sea". This is also a natural reserve, and the landscapes here are like taken out of heaven. White stones, beaches with an exotic appearance and turquoise shades of the water create a magical setting.
To get to Isola Bella from Catania, you will have to get to Taormina first. It takes about 40 minutes by train, and the ticket price starts at 4.70 euros. You can buy the tickets on https://www.trenitalia.com/it.html. Once you arrive in Taormina, you can take the funicular for approx. 6 euros round trip or you can take a relaxing walk. If you drive, you will have to park the car before entering the island. Isola Bella car park is the closest to the island and the cost is approx. 15 euros/full day and 10 euros/half day.
The beautiful town of Taormina hides many attractions that are worth visiting, discover them in the article about vacation in Taormina.
Depending on the duration of your vacation in Sicily and the locations you want to go to, we recommend you to visit Syracuse and Agrigento if you have the opportunity - 2 provinces full of history, with a mix of cultures and beautiful beaches. 1 day for each will definitely be enough!
Day 5 – Province of Syracuse
- Ortygia Island
- Maniace Castle
- Neapolis Archaeological Park
The province of Syracuse is located in the south-eastern part of Sicily and is known for the combination of the rich history of the Greeks and Romans, culture, architecture and for the fact that the mathematician Archimedes was born here. It has a history of approximately 2700 years behind it and the beautiful city of Syracuse has access to the sea.
From Catania you can get there by bus from Interbus - https://www.interbus.it/ (approx. 6 euros – 1 hour and 10 minutes) or by train from Trenitalia (approx. 7-8 euros – 1 hour and 10 minutes). From Palermo, the fastest option is to take the direct Interbus bus (approx. 13 euros – 3 hours and 20 minutes).
Ortygia it is a small island located in the eastern area and it is the very Old Center of the city. This treasure of Sicily hosts buildings of historical importance and impressive appearance, accentuated by the blue sea surrounding the island. The Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Byzantines, the Normans, the peoples of Aragon and Savoy are the ones who left a small mark on the small island.
Some places worth visiting, besides the narrow streets at every turn, are Piazza del Duomo, Piazza Archimede, Aretusa Fountain, Apollo's Temple and Maniace Castle. The island has a history of over 2500 years and is part of the UNESCO site. The island is connected by bridges to Syracuse and you will take about 20-30 minutes on foot - a delightful walk for sure. There is also a bus (blue line) that runs between Syracuse and the center of the island every 15 minutes.
You cannot drive your personal vehicle on the island, so we recommend that you leave your car in a parking lot in Syracuse, 5 minutes away - Molo Sant Antonio (1.5 euros/hour and 15 euros/day) or Della Marina (2 euro/hour). Do not park before entering the island in the yellow marked parking spaces, they are intended for tenants and you may receive a fine.
Maniace Castle it is located in the southernmost point of the island of Ortygia. It dates from the 13th century and was both the royal residence and a prison during the time of Fernand de Aragon II. Its architecture is baroque, and the main gate and its towers are the most impressive elements of the castle. And the strong waves of the sea that hit the walls of the castle complete the surprising landscape. You can visit the location daily between 09:00 and 13:45. Access costs 4 euros/adult and you can buy tickets at the entrance office.
Neapolis Archaeological Park
Neapolis Archaeological Park it is located 2 km from the entrance to the island of Ortygia and extends over 35 hectares. Important monuments have been well preserved here, such as the Altar of Hieron the Second, the Roman Amphitheater and the Ear of Dionysus, an artificial cave, the Greek Theater and many other constructions dating back even to the 5th century BC. The park is a UNESCO site and the most important place of Syracuse.
The park is located right in the center of the city. From the Sant Antonio station near the entrance to Ortygia, you can take the bus (red line) to Neapolis Park. If you drive, you can find free parking spaces in Viale Augusto, in front of the Pippo Di Natale sports field. On Via Ettore Romagnoli you will find parking spaces on the side marked in blue - you can park here, but for 1.50 euros/hour.
Neapolis Archaeological Park it is open between 8:30-18:00 in spring and autumn, in winter it is open only until 4 pm, and in summer until 7 pm. Tickets cost approx. 13 euros/adult, while European citizens between 18-25 years old have 50% discount (with proof of age), and those under 18 years old have free access. These can be purchased from one of the 2 information offices of the park.
Day 6 – Province of Agrigento
- Valley of the Temples
- Scala dei Turchi
Province of Agrigento it is known for its important temples in the Valle dei Templi. The city of Agrigento was founded in 580 BC. by the Greeks, later it was destroyed by the Carthaginians and rebuilt. From Palermo you can get to Agrigento by train (approx. 9 euros - 2 hours), and from Catania the fastest option is the Itabus bus - https://www.itabus.it/en/home (approx. 13 euros – 2 hours and 45 minutes).
Valley of the Temples
In an enchanting valley with almond trees there is an impressive UNESCO historical site that presents Hellenistic architecture. Valle dei Templi is the most prestigious and important evidence of the ancient classical culture in Sicily. The valley includes temples of the gods Jupiter, the twins Castor and Pollux, Hercules and others, the Necropolis and sanctuaries. Valle dei Templi dates back to the 5th century.
Once you arrive in the city of Agrigento, take bus 2/ (there is also a simple 2, but it does not go to the Valle dei Templi - approx. 1 euro) to the entrance to the Templo de Juno, which is part of the Valle dei Templi. Tickets start at 10 euros/person to visit the Valle dei Templi and can increase by 8 euros, depending on what you want to visit. People under 18 years old have free access, and European citizens between 18-25 years old have 50% discount (with proof of age).
The valley is open for visits between 08:30-22:00 and you can find other details on the official website https://www.lavalledeitempli.it/en/travel-guide/timetables-and-tickets/. There are 2 parking lots near the ticket offices, and the price is 3 euros. Even if you see cars parked on the side of the streets near the valley, don't park there because the police drive around often and you can risk a fine.
Scala dei Turchi
Scala dei Turchi is a white rock with an outlet to the Mediterranean Sea. Surely the landscape here will be a completely different experience compared to other cliffs with an exit to the sea in Europe. You can admire exceptional landscapes and it is an even more pleasant place for photographers. There is even a small beach at the base of the rock, but the waves can be quite strong and there are no lifeguards or facilities in the area.
The rock is located between Realmonte and Porto Empedocle. From Agrigento you will have to take the bus to Realmonte from AutolineeLumia – https://autolineelumia.com/index.php/en/homepage-en/ (approx. 2.70 euros – 20 minutes) from where you have 3-4 km. You can walk or take a taxi for about 10 euros.
If you drive with a rented car, it will be all the easier to reach the amazing white rock. The Scala dei Turchi municipal parking lot is free and well signposted. If you leave your vehicle outside a parking lot, you can receive a fine and the car can even be picked up by the authorities.
Day 7 – Departure
What do you eat in Sicily?
Maccheroni alla norma - the queen of gastronomy in Sicily is pasta alla norma, more precisely maccheroni alla norma. This simple but tasty dish, which originates from the city of Catania, is one of the essential recipes of Sicily.
Bussiate with pesto alla trapanese they are the most typical type of pasta from Trapani and one of the most famous on the island. So if there's one type of pasta to eat in Sicily, it's without a doubt. The ingredients of this flavor are a base of fresh diced tomatoes, basil, garlic, almonds, pesto sauce and extra virgin olive oil.
Where do you eat in Sicily?
Sicilian towns have many local restaurants with delicious food. In each of the 4 cities recommended to visit, you can find restaurants with good taste, dishes prepared authentically Italian and at convenient prices:
- Palermo: Sikulo - Umori & Sapori (antipasti, seafood, pasta - between 7-24 euros/dish) and Il Culinario (antipasti, street food, seafood, pasta, steaks, pizza, soups, salads - between 3-25 euro/preparation)
- Catania: Uzeta Bistro Siciliano (pasta, steaks, seafood dishes, antipasti, street food - between 3-22 euros/dish) and Da Antonio (antipasti, steaks, seafood, pasta - between 3-12 euros/dish)
- Agrigento: Aguglia Persa (pasta, appetizers, seafood, steaks - between 7-18 euros/preparation)
- Syracuse: A Putia Della Cose Bueno (antipasti, soups, pasta, seafood dishes, steaks, salads - between 3-16 euros)
Sicily is an island that you should visit at least once in your life, but you will most likely be eager to discover more after you have arrived here! We recommend a stay of at least 4-5 days to explore the main attractions, as well as to relax at the beach. The recommended budget is at least 500-600 euros for 5 nights/2 adults.