Exceptional beaches, charming towns, stunning landscapes and ancient ruins.
With so many reasons to visit Sicily, it’s no wonder it’s such a popular tourist destination. Sicily received 4.9 million tourist arrivals in 2022, showing what a beloved destination this Mediterranean island is.
Whether you want a trip just to see this special island or want to visit Sicily as part of an Italy tour, there are some must-see places you don’t want to miss. So, what are they?
In this article, we’ll share the five best places to visit in Sicily.
The Sicilian capital offers endless hints to its storied history, which has seen it occupied by Romans, Byzantines and Normans. In fact, it’s known to be one of the most conquered cities in the world. And perhaps it’s because of this history it has such a high number of UNESCO heritage sites. Key landmarks you want to see include the Palermo Cathedral, The Ballaro Market and The Massimo Theatre. This world-famous city also gives you the perfect opportunity to sample some of Sicily’s best-known cuisine, including authentic pizzas and iconic pastries like cannoli.
- Mount Etna
Mount Etna is Europe’s most active volcano, sitting between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates on the eastern coast of Sicily. Also known as Mongibello to the local Sicilians, it offers great hiking and spectacular views that make it just as exciting for tourists as it is for scientists. You can explore volcanic craters, marvelling at ash plumes, lava flows and mild magma explosions. Or if you’d prefer, you can enjoy the incredible panoramas over Syracuse when you get high up. Be warned, conditions can change quite quickly so it’s best to hire a guide who can keep you safe.
This beautiful inland city in the south is best known for its breathtaking ornate baroque architecture. An earthquake in 1693 levelled much of the city and it was rebuilt in this iconic Spanish style afterwards. Some key attractions for you to see are the Palazzo Nicolaci, Noto Cathedral, and Palazzo Ducezio. Or if you’d prefer to see the old city, you can visit the ruins at Noto Antica – a sort of open-air museum. But it isn’t all architecture and history in Noto. The surrounding country is full of lemon, orange, pistachio and olive groves and you can enjoy all this fresh local produce and more in Noto’s many incredible restaurants.
- Aeolian Islands
Known individually as Lipari, Panarea, Salina, Stromboli, Vulcano, Alicudi and Filicudi, the Aeolian Islands are a group of seven islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, roughly 30 km away from Sicily. They’re the result of volcanic activity roughly 700,000 years ago. Nowadays, they’re completely safe, inhabited and easy to visit – especially Lipari, the largest of the group. You can reach the islands by ferry or hydrofoil from the mainland. Not only are they a great location for beach lovers, but also those fond of scuba diving thanks to the many colourful species of marine wildlife that call this area their home.
This charming town on the east coast has a rich artistic and cultural history. It offers beautiful views overlooking the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna, so it’s no surprise it’s been a popular destination since the 1920s. during a visit here, you can enjoy beautiful artisanal shops, filming locations from The Godfather and Sicily’s second-largest ancient Greco-Roman theatre, Teatro Antico di Taormina, which was built in the 3rd century BCE by the Greeks, before being enlarged by the Romans a few centuries later.
Which of these locations in Sicily would you most like to visit? Share your thoughts in the comments section!