Sicily Travel Guide | Places to Visit and Travel Tips

Sicily Travel Guide | Places to Visit and Travel Tips

As soon as we arrived in Sicily, we were ready to see every beautiful aspect of the island and capture every single moment. We also wanted not to be in a rush but at the same time see as many cities as possible. So, we decided to stay in two big cities, Catania and Palermo and organize day trips to the closest touristic destinations – Taormina and Syracuse. 

To put the long story in short, our journey was nothing else but “Eat, Walk, Love”. We covered a lot of ground daily; explored the old towns, cathedrals, palaces as well as took off the “rose-tinted glasses” and headed off to non-touristic neighborhoods to see the real-life of Sicilian people. 

Sicily is more than just the birthplace of the Mafia and has a fascinating history. Sharing

Some Quick Facts and Travel Tips For Sicily You Should Know

  • The mafia isn´t obviously on show here. You can see various anti-mafia exhibitions on the streets of Palermo but as tourists, we felt safe and didn´t face any danger related to that.
  • Locals mainly speak Sicilian; a distinct language that is not a derivative of Italian. 
  • Sicily takes a siesta from 1-5 PM like in South Italy. This means, almost all the restaurants and shops are closed at this period. So, make sure to have lunch or make your shopping on time (a great travel tip for Sicily.)
  • You´ll meet the most reckless driving in Sicily (also in Napoli). Almost no one follows the driving rules, thus, be careful with driving or passing streets.
  • Never rely on public transportation and do your best to rent a place close to the city center to avoid a nervous breakdown. You can buy the tickets at the tobacco shops.
  • Palermo is the regional capital of Sicily and People in Sicily consider themselves Sicilians first and Italians second.
  • Palermo was elected as the European capital of street food by Forbes as well as named “the cultural capital of Italy”.
  • Sicily is surrounded by three different seas: the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Ionian Sea. So take your swimming suit for amazing beaches. 
  • Archimedes; one of the famous mathematicians was born and lived in Sicily. 
  • Sicily is home to Mount Etna, the tallest and most active volcano in Europe. We were short of time and couldn´t hike there but you´ll find many agencies offering a tour to Etna.
  • Cover your shoulders and legs when you visit a church and even if you are a tourist.  Otherwise, you need to rent special clothes close to the church.
  • Another travel tip for Sicily is; carry some cash since you´ll need it when buying something from street vendors as well as at food markets, small cafes. People avoid taxes in Italy.
  • Sicily was among the wealthiest regions in Italy until 200 years ago. Nowadays it´s one of the poorest parts of Italy. This is because its economy was based mostly on agriculture and it didn´t industrialize as fast as North Italy.
  • In spite of picturesque places, you´ll find tonnes of rubbish and filth on the streets.
  • Palermos is also called the most conquered city in history due to its attractive geographical location.
  • If you´re planning to visit different cities more rather than spending time on the beach then note that summers are super hot in Sicily.

Which Places to Visit in Sicily?

Catania | 4 nights - A base for Taormina, Syracuse, Mount Etna

The important thing to know about Catania is that the eruption of Mount Etna and later an earthquake almost the whole city was destroyed. Today Catania´s Baroque buildings and sprawling piazzas acted as a catalyst for the city to be included in UNESCO World Heritage list. This is a major place to visit in Sicily and here are sights in Catania you should not miss;

Taormina | a Day Trip from Catania

As the accommodation prices were extortionate and the town was small, a day trip to Taormina suited us perfectly. 

The city is one of the most famous and touristic ones in Sicily due to its location on the hills. Taormina has a rich historical heritage and an astounding view of the sea.

Some places to include in your Catania travel itinerary;

Syracuse | a Day Trip from Catania

Another place to visit in Sicily is Syracuse; a small but charming town that was a center of Greek, Byzantine and Judaic civilization. Here you just need to put your map aside and get lost in this pedestrian labyrinth. 

Palermo - 4 nights

Palermo is one of the biggest cities in Sicily that you should not miss while creating your own travel guide (or itinerary). Thus, to admire it in all its charm make sure you´ll stay here at least for a couple of days. Impressive mosaics in churches, gorgeous palaces, and castles, some of the best street food; all these you´ll find in Palermo. A couple of places you should not miss.

What to Eat in Sicily

Palermo has been elected the European Capital of Street Food and offers a distinctive food. In addition to pizza and pasta, you should not miss arancini, seafood, frutta martorana, cannoli, panelle, cassata, Brioche with Gelato, Involtini di pesce spade, Pane con la milza and much more.

One week in Sicily is definitely not a lot of time, but it´s still enough to explore a couple of towns here and enjoy the Sicilian “dolce vita”. 

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