A 2 weeks Suggested travel itinerary in Sicily
(Guy de Maupassant, “Journey to Sicily”, 1885)
If only two weeks were sufficient to discover and enjoy Sicily! This biggest island in Italy is a mix of history, art and nature that not even two months would be enough to get to know the lesser-known and characteristic places. But when time is short and you want to have a general glimpse of what a place can offer, the secret is to select and change, whenever and wherever, it is possible.
This biggest island in Italy is a mix of history, art and nature that not even two months would be enough to get to know the lesser-known and characteristic places. But when time is short and you want to have a general glimpse of what a place can offer, the secret is to select and change, whenever and wherever, it is possible.
I write this itinerary from this beautiful and intense island, after the many requests received by email, to help you unfurl a full itinerary that allows you to get to know the main places.
Despite the fact that I am a Sicilian, this 2016 I have devoted in part to my island, giving myself almost two months of travel to rediscover the beauty of my homeland, retracing both the classic routes and those less conventional.
We have 14 days in Sicily, how to organize them to the best? How to move? Where to go? What can we not miss out? Because this land, so vast and so full of activities and attractions for all, forces us to make choices.
What to visit in Sicily if you have only two weeks?
To this frequent question, and to many others, I wanted to give an answer, and in doing so, I have designed an idea of a route that, of course, does not include all the highlights of the island, so I apologize to those I will not mention, but let me put it this way, I had to go by priorities, that would give a general and complete vision of: history, nature, art, culture, sea, mountains and vineyards.
A concentrate of Sicily in 14 days!
Find out now where the best beaches in Sicily are!
How to travel in Sicily
must reiterate, Sicily is not cut out to be traveled by public transportation. Unfortunately, the island does not excel for transport and the ideal is to rent a car, a means that I myself prefer since there is no other alternative to reach many of the places mentioned and that will allow you to carry out the itinerary that follows.
However, for those who want get around by public transport, the bus is probably the best option. You can travel by train for some routes, but I recommend you check the timings as some routes done in 4 hours, might take up to more than twice with the train with the different changes.
Rentalcars is a broker that compares the rental prices of major companies, you will surely save, but remember to complete the purchase with full coverage, this is true in all cases regardless of which company you rent from.
In general on Rental cars a small car for 13 days with pick up in Palermo and drop off in Catania costs from €150 + €8 per day for full protection insurance. Or rather €254 for 13 days.
Also to add total protection (if done with Rentalcars, which costs less, if you make damages you will have to ask for refund to Rentalcars themselves, so do not forget to ask them to give you all the documentation required to make request for refund immediately on your return).
Best time to travel in Sicily
This itinerary can be carried out 12 months a year with a little foresight, if you are traveling between the months of October and March, maybe you might want to exclude the islands (unless you want to fly to Lampedusa where generally the temperatures are higher than that of Sicily. This itinerary is thought up for the months from May to October, months that allow you to enjoy the sun, perhaps in May the water is still cold, and to bathe.
As always, I advise against August for many reasons: it costs more, too many people, the beaches, even the most beautiful, lose their charm and not a place found to lay down the bath towel.
Greatness of Sicily land of history and culture not only a beach destination. Here is why I love traveling here in low season. Where else can spend hours wandering around greek temples with nobody near? I sat down. Had pasta with sardines and a soft drink under the olive tree. Breathing air of history. Far away from the caos of the cities. On the right a blue sea waiting for me. One more minute here. Please. #Agrigento #sicily #history #beautifuldestinations #vacation2016 #igersoftheday #igers #ig_sicily #natgeocreative #natgeotravel #bbctravel #worldcaptures #art #passionpassport #instapassport #volgosicilia
My favorite months are: May, June, September.
The islands of Sicily
Sicily complicates the choice because it is not only big and full of cities and sites of interest but also because it offers numerous archipelagos with incredible beaches and depths but especially so much different from each other that picking one over another, always leave you with curiosity.
The archipelagos more easily reachable are the Aeolian Islands and Aegadian Islands.
Those farther away and expensive to reach are Pantelleria and the Pelagie Islands.
Ustica reached by hydrofoil from Palermo.
Can we compare these islands with each other? No. On the other hand, because this itinerary is designed for those who do not know Sicily, for the moment I will leave aside the more complex islands (ie those that require more time) by selecting those which in this context fit in the best on this trip because of little more within reach.
But let’s come to the much-anticipated itinerary after the usual recommendations!
These the travel details:
- Airport of arrival: Palermo
- Airport of departure: Catania
- Duration: 14 days
- Means of Transport: car
Times are tight and there are many things to see. For more routes refer to the following links:
The best of Sicily in 14 days
And that Sicily leave you in awe and eager to return, also because 14 days are not enough to discover all of it!
The journey begins in the capital of the region, Palermo, city of ancient way markets and delicious street food, then goes on to the Zingaro nature reserve and the poetic Scopello, to bring us to the rustic but of good taste Egadi, the delicious Erice, among the temples of Segesta and Agrigento, in the waters the Turkish Steps and among the jewels of the Stone and the Sicilian Baroque, Ragusa, Noto, Modica, on the east coast we discover the impeccable Syracuse and then Taormina the precious.
A climb among the craters of the most active volcano in Europe and to conclude in the Aeolian islands, pearls accessible from Messina.
Have a good trip!
Day 1 – Palermo
Arrival at Punta Raisi airport, Palermo. Transfer to the city. Depending on the time of arrival, the first tour of the city.
On this day you will go on a first look around conceding yourself to the first sins of gluttony since the Palermo street food is famous around the world, so get on a diet before setting foot on Sicilian ground and do not leave out any of Sicilian delicacies you are presented with at every corner!
Palermo is easy to be discovered walking even if one day isn’t much it’s enough to see the main sightseens. Palermo is a city with one of the largest historical centers in Europe and is also the capital of Arab-Norman art, symbol of the harmonious coexistence of different styles and cultures that co-lived side by side between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries.
The walk can be made in 1 day. I would start from the Cappella Palatina, following towards the the Cassaro till Porta Nuova. From here you will arrive to the fantastic Cathedral of Palermo, former mosque converted in cathedral in 1185.
From here keep on walking till getting to the Quattro Canti, that signes the center of the old city where the two main roads, Cassaro and via Maqueada, meet.
Turn right and to get to Piazza Pretoria, known as Square of Shame, because of the nudity of the statues. Keep on walking to get to the Martorana church, recognizable by the red domes that houses the gorgeous parish of St. Nicholas of the Greeks.
To know what to eat in Palermo read: Street Food Palermo, a guide to street food.
I do not recommend, on this day, if you are staying in the city center to reserve your car. Wait to pick it up the day you leave Palermo.
Where to stay in Palermo
Day 2 – Palermo and Monreale
Morning dedicated to the historical center of Palermo and its historical markets, particularly Ballarò and the Mercato del Capo.
To maximize your day take part in a three-hour tour that will allow you to discover the beauty, but also the flavors in the tradition of Palermo.
Tours start at 10.30 and finish at 13.30. Right in time to pick up the car and set off on a full stomach to go to Monreale for the afternoon.
In the afternoon drive to Monreale to visit the Cathedral famous for the marvelous Byzantine mosaics.
A good part of the cathedral is lined with Byzantine school mosaics with a gold background and that present new stylistic and decorative features in respect to the past despite the obvious similarities with the Palatine Chapel decorations.
The aim of William II was, in fact, to create an unprecedented artistic complex that would show the magnificence reached by the city during the period of Norman rule. Return to Palermo passing through Bagheria.
If, otherwise, in the case you prefer to reach Monreale with public transport, the solutions are 2, both of them leave from Independence Square (behind the Norman Palace): AST bus or bus 389 AMAT.
Day 3 – Scopello and the Zingaro Reserve
Before venturing into the Zingaro Reserve, accessible only on foot, we stop for a bath in the ancient village of Scopello (from the Greek Skopelos: rock), a seventeenth-century courtyard that overlooks a beautiful bay surrounded by a few houses built on a small paved square where stands the Bennistra tower. Back in the car, and the end of the day in San Vito Lo Capo for afternoon swimming and fish-based dinner.
Where to stay in San Vito Lo Capo
Double rooms from €50
Great property just steps from the sea but in a quiet and central area. Spacious and spotless rooms. Breakfast excellent with fresh local products. Book now
Double rooms from €70
Beautiful property in the middle of San Vito lo Capo, brand new and well cared for, rooms comfortable and clean. Great hospitality at the center of San Vito. Book now
Double rooms from €55
B&B a few steps from the sea but in a quiet and central area. Spacious and well-furnished rooms. Breakfast excellent with fresh local products. Comfortable structure with large terrace adjacent to the room. Book now
Day 4 – Erice, Segesta (or Selinunte), Sciacca (160/175km)
Before leaving Erice, the route to reach Selinunte, it is worth stopping at the salt pans of Trapani to then continue the journey towards Segesta, one of the main cities of the Elymians who, according to ancient tradition, came from Troy. If you are interested in another equally beautiful archaeological park, Selinunte, then on the way to Sciacca, deviate towards Castelvetrano and reach the park of Selinunte.
The archeological area of Selinunte is made up of Acropolis, the Eastern Hill, the plateau of Contrada Manuzza, the sanctuary of Malophoros incontrada Gaggera and two Necropolis (Manicalunga and Galera Bagliazzo). All the material to build the temples was obtained from the Quarries of Cusa.
The visit continues to arrive in Sciacca, a city famous for its carnival, the sea and the thermal baths of Monte San Calogero.
The ancient city is accessed through three gates: Porta Palermo, the newest and rebuilt in Baroque style in 1753, Porta San Salvatore, the most ancient and the most beautiful leading to the historical center of the city, and Porta San Calogero, that, to this day, is still preserved in its original form.
Where to stay in Sciacca
Double room from €40
Double rooms from €50
Bilocali a partire da €51
Day 5 – Agrigento – Valley of the Temples, Turkish Steps and Favara (112 km)
Agrigento boasts two extremely important and famous sites, the Valley of the Temples and the Turkish Steps, but not only, the real unexpected surprise is just a few kilometers away from the city. Early morning wake up to reach Agrigento, first visit, to avoid the midday heat, the Valley of the Temples, which will require several hours.
Then comes the hike to the impressive, and probably seen thousands of times in pictures, Turkish steps, a cliff formed of marl, sedimentary rock of calcareous and clayey nature, which gives it a white color.
Lunch box and for aperitif, I advise you to drive for about 14 km from Agrigento and reach the particular Favara, a Sicilian village re-evaluated in recent years thanks to a contemporary art project known as the Cultural Farm, the Farm of culture.
Everyone is aware that each day brings tourists and visitors from around the world and everyone has read some article or has seen their city on television. Not for the mafia, not for illegal activities. But for art, culture, urban regeneration.
Piazza Cavour is the main square of Favara; it is a beautiful square and houses several palaces, the Chiaramonte Castle, the municipal library created by Baron Mendola, forgotten patron. Six years ago, in the evening, the square became a small Maracanà, hosting African football championships until the early hours of the morning. It was beautiful even then but no one else other than the immigrants lived that beautiful part of the city. Today the square is home to small hotels, pizzerias, bars, taverns and the young of Favara no longer go in the evening to San Leone. They are the friends of Agrigento that finally, for the first time, who come to Favara to spend the evenings. And, finally, the young people of Favara are filled with pride.
To know more: Cultural park Favara
Where to stay in Agrigento
Double room from €50
This B&B offers the chance to stay in a Dammuso in the historical center of Agrigento. friendly and always helpful owner. A great price and fist class experience. Book now
Double room from€50
Nice B&B a few steps from the center of Agrigento. The clean, comfortable and spacious rooms are in a beautiful historic building overlooking the gulf. Book now
Double room from €50
Aphenomenal B&B. Great choice for the cleanliness, friendliness of the owner and the great location. The rooms are nicely furnished to the last detail. Book now
Day 6 – Ragusa passing through Piazza Armerina
The province of Ragusa, I must reveal, is probably my favorite. The Sicilian Baroque was mostly developed in this province, particularly in Noto and Ragusa (as well as in Catania). Before arriving in Noto, driving from Agrigento, we will make a detour to Piazza Armerina to visit the Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO heritage. We finally arrive in the beautiful Ragusa, badly damaged in 1693 by an earthquake. The city is divided in two distinct parts: Ragusa Ibla, reconstruction of the old city on the hill, and Ragusa Superiore, completely newly built after the earthquake.
Ragusa boasts an impressive collection of Baroque artefacts, among which Rosario Gagliardi’s church of St. George, designed by Gagliardi in 1738, who managed to take advantage of the topography of the site where it was built, a hill.
Where to stay in Ragusa
Double rooms from €50
Charming location, spotless rooms and soft linens. Hearty breakfast and Claudia makes every effort to make you feel at ease. Excellent value for money. Book now
Double rooms from €45
A magnificent modern room with all the amenities with a kitchenette and free minibar, breakfast with granita and brioche, in the Sicilian way. Book now
Double rooms from €50
Fantastic position to enjoy both Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla. Fabulous view of Ragusa Ibla, B&B furnished with taste, warmth and attention to functionality at the same time. Book now
Day 7 – Ragusa Ibla, Scicli, Modica and Noto
This day will bring us into the heart of the Baroque with a brief foray into the world of Inspector Montalbano. Departure from Ragusa to reach Modica, characterized by houses leaning against each other, which in many cases are often extensions of ancient caves inhabited since prehistoric times.
The churches look out on steps, and not on squares as generally happens, typical of these cities built on hills. The most appealing monuments in the city: the Cathedral of St. George, the Cathedral of St. Peter, the Church of Saint Mary of Jesus, Church of Saint John Evangelist, the Church of Carmine, Palazzo Polara, Palazzo Napolino-Tommasi Rosso, Palazzo Grimaldi and finally the Castle of the Counts of Modica.
The day continues towards Scicli, baroque city whose center, in 2002, was awarded the title of World Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with seven other municipalities in the list of the Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto. Here, fans of Inspector Montalabano will recognize the palace of the Vigata police station, which, in reality, + the municipality of Scicli, while the superintendent’s room is instead the office of the mayor of Scicli.
We continue to the Stone Garden, Noto, for a walk in the center and an aperitif before returning to Ragusa in the evening.
Day 8 – Syracuse
Cicero said that Syracuse is the most beautiful city that the Greeks built in the West. We cannot blame him, given the striking position in which it stands and the many attractions it offers.
We will dedicate this day entirely to the city beginning with the Archaeological Park of the Neapolis, where you can admire the Greek theater, the amphitheater, the quarries, the Ear of Dionysius, and the Altar of Lerone.
Then we continue on to discover the streets of Ortigia, the historical center of Syracuse, located on an island, and reach the fountain of Arethusa.
For those interested, worth visiting the catacombs of St. John, which, after those of Rome are the most extensive of Italy, the church of Saint Lucia, where to admire a Caravaggio that tells of the Burial of Saint Lucia, and finally, the most important Archaeological Museum of Sicily. For lovers of tradition, Syracuse offers one very Sicily, or rather the theater of Pupi, puppets that sing the deeds of the paladins of France. For a calendar of the events click here
Resources – Free PDF Map on SiracuraTurismo
Where to stay in Syracuse
Apartments from €45
The house is beautiful, new, clean and large, it can accommodate up to 4 people. Equipment for the kitchen new. A little decentralized from Syracuse center, need for a car. Book now
Dobule rooms from €50
A 30-minute walk from Ortigia, this B&B is very refined and elegant, classy rooms, spacious and well furnished. Book now
Double rooms from €50
Pretty little house just restored. Excellent position, central and located in a delightful courtyard of Ortigia. Nice and fun decor. Book now
Day 9 – Taormina & Isola Bella (and Mazzarò)
Taormina the beautiful, that, with the Greek theater and the beautiful island, is worth the time of the diversion and of the stop. It is small, compact and in one day it is possible to visit the main attractions, if you are here between July and August or early September, treat yourself to an evening at the Greek theater for a show (for the calendar TaorminaArte.it).
I have written far and wide about Taormina, but refer you to this post: What to do in Taormina in two days.
Where to stay in Taormina
Dorm from €25
The only hostel in town. Wonderful location, very near the centrer of Taormina, simple but functional rooms. Dormitory beds from €25. Private double rooms from €80. Book now
Double room from €120
This guest house tastefully furnished is located about 5 minutes walk from the center, Corso Umberto, and offers a marvelous view of Spisone and Calabria. Double rooms from € 122. Book now
Double room from €95
With swimming pool and located in a residential area of Taormina, 300 meters from the Arco dei Cappuccini, the Soleado is a family-run hotel 600 meters from the historic center and the cable car to the beach. Book now
If you are on a budget then a better idea is staying at the beach at about 15 min by car from Taormina.
Giardini Naxos or Letoianni are two good options, right on the beach and very close to Taormina. However, prices are cheaper! If you are planning to travel during July or August book well in advance or you won’t find many options left. A good option is booking online more accommodations that you can cancel and then pick just the one you like the most!
Day 10 – Etna (craters or Helicopter tour)
Etna is the most active volcano in Europe if not of the world, to walk among the craters at 2900mt of altitude is a unique experience that no other volcano in the world gives, or perhaps a few, I admit that the steep Ale won the first place. The excursion takes half a day, it is possible to organize for early afternoon perhaps making a stop first in the icy waters of the Alcantara Gorge.
How to organize the excursion
Independently you can reach up to Provenzano, from there the only way to go to the craters is by jeep organized by the STAR company (cost €65 per person). Alternatively for those who dare an activity that is catching on is the tour of the craters in helicopter, cost €280 per person for a maximum of 5 persons. Or take part in the combo tours that offer for example, Etna (trekking and jeep) and the Alcantara Gorge.
Where to stay
For this day we can maintain Taormina as our base. In the case you have visited the Egadis and you do not want to visit the Aeolian islands, in alternative, I recommend your staying overnight in Catania and to visit the center in the evening.
Days 11/12/13 – Aeolian Islands (Stromboli, Salina and Panarea)
Very few the days left and, even here, we have choices to make, I highly recommend the island of Stromboli, with night climbing, equally beautiful, as much as different, are Salina and Panarea. Islands simple to reach for those with limited time. To reach the islands you have to go to Milazzo and reach the desired island by hydrofoil. To book the tickets and know the schedules click here.
Day 14 – ByeBye Sicily
The moment has come to leave. The airport for departure is that of Catania. If the flight is in the afternoon or in the evening, I recommend to dedicate a few hours to the town and its fish market, very characteristic. Also, remember that Catania is famous for its rotisserie, everything that has to do with pizza, arancini (deep-fried stuffed rice cones), onion pasties, calzoni (pasties with various fillings) and various foodstuffs, here achieve excellence.
You can like it or not, in Catania, horse meat is also consumed. On the road of the port to reach the airport, many shops sell sandwiches with horse meat that, in my opinion, is worth trying.
What has been proposed is definitely not a relaxing itinerary, it is indeed very full and tiring. The sea is there, but in moderation, that is why it can be followed regardless of the season. If it is not warm enough to go to the beach then the days to the islands can be changed with Cefalu, a few visits to wineries of Etna or of Mazzara del Vallo and Caltagirone. If you want to dare instead and the weather permits, fly out to Lampedusa and dedicate a few days to the island with the most beautiful coves of all.
I travel independently taking mainly public transport. A world trip began in 2011 is not yet finished, my mission is to explore the world and write about it. Travel consultant Galapagos, Argentina, Morocco, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Namibia.