Sicily is a beautiful island in Italy to visit, with an incredible mix of historic towns, beautiful beaches and volcanic vistas. Truth be told, there are so many of the best places in Sicily to visit that you’ll be spoilt for choice.
With bustling cities like Palermo and Catania and the gorgeous Scala di Turchi, Sicily is the kind of place in Italy where there’s something for everyone. It’s so much more than just one thing – and that’s what we love about the island.
So, to help you get the most out of your time when visiting Sicily, we wanted to share the very best places in Sicily to visit once you arrive. This way, you’ll have all the time to explore and none of the admin or scouring for places to visit.
Have the best visit to Sicily.
Known all across Italy for its ornate baroque architecture, Noto is a beautiful inland city to visit.
In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s one of the best places in Sicily to visit while exploring the south of the island.
After arriving, be sure to check out Palazzo Nicolaci, head inside Noto Cathedral and see Palazzo Ducezio. The city is perfect for a day trip and well worth parking up and strolling the town.
We stayed just outside Noto in Country House Villadorata and loved every second. We booked one of their newer rooms within the olive groves.
It was so lovely. Plus, we had a tasty dinner in their restaurant, too.
2.) Scala di Turchi
Not too far from Porto Empedocle, Scala di Turchi is probably one of Sicily’s most iconic coastlines. Without sounding like a geologist, the sedimentary rock is totally white and creamy.
This has been made over many thousands of years by the shells of plankton.
Nowadays, Scala di Turchi is gorgeous to see; just make sure to leave the area as you see it. Take all your rubbish back with you and don’t disturb the rock formations.
Make sure to take lots of water, snacks and food for a day here. Though, there are some local restaurants not too far away. Oh yeah, and this is a perfect spot for sunset.
3.) Mount Etna
The highest mountain in Sicily is Mount Etna which is also a UNESCO-listed site and is one of the best places in Sicily to visit, even if you’re not a geologist. For any visitor, it’s an incredible place to visit.
Nestled on the right between the African tectonic and the Eurasian tectonic plates, it’s Europe’s most active volcano. This all being said, Mt. Etna is a stunning natural spot you can’t miss.
Now, one of the easiest and best ways to visit is by booking this Mt. Etna tour that departs from Catania. For most of the way, you’ll be in a 4×4 or small bus and there’s a small and easy walk at the top. This all makes it nice and easy for families and really worth a visit if you’re in Sicily.
However, if you want to do everything on your own, you can do so, but I would always recommend hiring a guide. No one likes a reckless hiker and conditions can change very fast around Mt. Etna.
Be sure you check the weather and have the complete equipment to have an unforgettable experience during your trip.
4.) Aeolian Islands
The Aeolian islands, a UNESCO as World Heritage Site, are easily one of the best places in Sicily to visit when exploring the coast.
A result of historic volcanic activity, the seven islands comprising the Aeolian Islands were formed many years ago and now stand proudly in the Tyrrhenian Sea. They’re roughly 30km away from Sicily and well worth a trip.
Best of all, these islands are inhabited, and it’s really easy to visit, especially to the largest island, Lipari.
That being said, you can also pop over to some of the other islands, like; Vulcano, Salina, and Stromboli. which are well-known and visited.
To make things your trip nice and easy, book this Aeolian Islands tour that departs from From Tropea to explore Stromboli, Lipari, and Vulcano. Not only will you visit the iconic islands, but you’ll also get to spend some time on the volcanic beaches and see the gorgeous little towns (like Lipari) on the islands.
The tour is so much fun and well worth booking before visiting Sicily. This way, you’ll be guaranteed a spot on your tour (weather permitting).
Honestly, tours are the easiest way to go. You see, the only allowed form of transportation to get to Aeolian Island is through a boat or a hydrofoil coming from Messina, Palermo, or Milazzo. In addition, the only individuals allowed to use cars on the islands are the islands’ residents.
Across the islands, you’ve got Mud baths and volcanic all across Vulcano, while Salina has tasty family-run restaurants and hiking trails that are just so beautiful. Lastly, the Stromboli has an active volcano and is incredible to see at night.
Oh, and don’t forget to look out for Scoglio Spinazzola. It’s a colossal 79-meter-high rock that’s just by Basiluzzo. Some tours will even take a trip past the island and the bays around Basiluzzo, too.
Recommended as a day trip, or for a relaxing weekend, Taormina is one of the best places in Sicily to visit if you’re travelling the east coast, down to Catania.
It’s roughly a 1-hour drive from Catania airport, which makes it really easy to visit as part of a wider Sicilian adventure.
Once here, make sure to check out Giardini Naxos, Mazzarò, Madonna della Rocca Church, Isola Bella, and Taormina Greek Theatre. The latter, for me, is a must-see!
Oh, and don’t forget to check out the bays and Isola Bella which is just off the coast of Taormina itself. It’s stunning and even though it’s not a sandy beach, it’s still totally beautiful to visit when in Sicily.
6.) Valley of the Temples
The Valley of the Temples is as obvious as they sound! A vast collection of magnificent temples make it one of the best places in Sicily to visit for the island’s history.
Perched in the area of Agrigento, the Valley of the Temples is one of the best examples of Greek architecture in all of Italy.
Built thousands of years ago, around the 6th and 5th centuries BC, there are seven or eight temples found in the Valley of the Temples – making it perfect for a day trip.
Once here, be sure to see the Temple of Concordia, the remains of an Atlas in the Olympeion field, the Temple of Hera Lacinia and many more.
Make sure to book these temple tickets before arriving in the area. This way, you’ll get to skip the queue for tickets (which can get really long at peak times).
7.) Syracuse and Ortigia Island
Serving as a vital city many centuries ago, Syracuse and Ortigia Island are totally beautiful to visit.
Not only is it picture-perfect, but it also contains the finest historic monuments, temples, and even a necropolis right in the city itself. Nowadays, the island of Ortigia is attached to Sicily by a small bridge, making it easy to visit if you’re driving between Catania and the likes of Ragusa.
We totally loved Ortigia, the Old City, which has gorgeous medieval lanes which are perfect to stroll by foot. Just wear comfy shoes, you’ll thank me later!
Once here, be sure to check out the Castello Maniace, the beautiful Piazza del Duomo and the Arethusa fountain at sunset.
Probably one of Sicily’s best-known cities, Palermo is perched on the north coast of the island and is great for a long-weekend trrip. We stayed around 3 days and it was a great amount of time to see the city without having to rush at all. That being said, if you are short of time, you can easily get a good taste of Palermo with an overnight stay.
Be sure to spot off at the Palermo Cathedral, The Ballaro Market, The Norman Palace, and The Massimo Theatre. You should also include the Palermo Museum which is one of the best in Italy and the Catacombe dei Cappuccini. It’s just incredible to visit.
If you’re something of a foodie, book this Palermo food tour that’ll take you to some of the city’s most delicious spots. It’s a great way to get a taste of the city, without any of the stress of getting there yourself. Plus, the guides know their stuff!
Another one of Sicily’s biggest cities, Catania is a great place to start or end your trip in Sicily.
Not only does it have a well-connected airport, but it’s also a city that’s actually really charming once you’re there.
But, that doesn’t mean it’s bad.
We loved our time in Catania, especially once we settled into the city vibe.
Trust me, Catania is a totally beautiful to see in Sicily and has thousands of years of history to explore.
Once here, be sure to check out the beautiful Sicilian Baroque architecture you’ll see all across the city. Plus, be sure to visit Piazza del Duomo, see the Cyclops rocks, and check out Duomo Di Catania.
Also, don’t forget, you can book this Mt. Etna tour directly from Catania, too. In fact, you can even see Mt Etna on a clear day.
Perched in the north of the island, Cefalù is one of the best places in Sicily to visit for a relaxing trip. Yes, it’s one of the more notable spots visitors might know about, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s popular for a reason!
However, what I would say it that you might want to plan the time to visit. Cefalù can get pretty crowded during peak seasons. If you want a more peaceful experience, head off-season and avoid weekends.
Anyway, once you’re here, be sure to check out the Norman cathedral, hike to the top of La Rocca, and pop into the Lavatoio Medievale Fiume Cefalino.
The latter is a medieval laundry house that, I promise, is more interesting than it sounds.
11.) Aegadian Islands
Nestled off the northwest coast of Sicily, the Aegadian Islands are sometimes missed by international visitors – but that would be a mistake. They’re one of the best places in Sicily to visit if you’re island hopping.
Made up of Levanzo, Favignana, and Marettimo islands, it’s a beautiful archipelago to explore. Most are easy to explore from Trapani by boat – making them a great day trip.
The coves in the islands are great spots where you can swim, cycle, or just walk and stroll around.
However, if you can’t visit all three areas in the Aegadian Islands, the most popular spot is Favignana where you can explore with ease.
Oh, and don’t forget to check out; Cala Rotonda, Cala Rossa, Lido Burrone, and Cala Azzura.
Just shy of Palermo, Monreale is a gorgeous town to visit in Sicily. It’s really easy to visit if you have a car and a mere 25-minutes from Palermo’s historic centre.
Once here, you’ll get to see Monreale Cathedral that’s a national monument in Italy. Do not be fooled by ‘plain’ architecture from the outside, the mosaic-covered walls are astonishing together with the Italian cloisters. Oh, and look out for the intricate mosaic of Adam and Eve who stand proudly next to the Tree of Knowledge. You can’t miss it.
Another gem in Sicily, Ragusa is one city you can’t miss whilst explore the island. We stayed here for 3 nights and loved every second.
Now, Ragusa is split into two quite distinct areas which make it quite unique to explore.
These are the old town (Ragusa Ibla) and the much newer part (Ragusa Superiore). Both are beautiful, for quite different reasons.
We chose to stay in Ragusa Ibla and booked into A.D. 1768 Boutique Hotel which was right in the heart of Ragusa. We loved it and their rooms are just lovely (especially their painted ceilings).
Once here, make sure you check out the Duomo di San Giorgio, see Ragusa Cathedral and stop by Giardino Ibleo for a stroll around the park.
Oh, and for the best view of Ragusa Ibla, head to this viewpoint at sunset. It’s one of our favourite views of the city. Just be prepared for a walk up and down the hilly city streets.
Marzamemi was such a surprise for us both. It’s easily one of the best places in Sicily to visit if you’re staying in Noto (or the wider area).
Although a small hamlet, it’s the perfect little coastal spot to go for a later afternoon stroll before dinner in one of the little restaurants that this gorgeous little piazza.
There’s no need to book any experiences in Marzamemi – it’s the kind of place you can rock up and just slowly enjoy.
Make sure to explore the family-run shops, tiny art galleries and grab a bite to eat as the day turns to night.
We grabbed a bite at Liccamuciula and it was delicious.
Not too far from Ragusa, Modica is another Sicilian city you can’t miss when in the south of the island.
After arriving, check out the stunning Cathedral of Saint George, visit the Chocolate Museum of Modica and visit Castello dei Conti.
It’s one of the best places in Sicily to visit for a day trip from Ragusa and well worth tagging it onto your trip.
Afterwards, take a drive over to the nearby town of Scicli within Val di Noto which is just as beautiful as the likes of Modica and Noto close by.