Seeing Sicily by car is a marvelous opportunity that enables you to experience Italy more as a native than as a tourist. You won’t depend on public transport or the tour agency’s schedule, and the best part of it is – you get to travel where you want, when you want, and stop and smell the roses whenever and however long it pleases you.
Some of the things to do in Sicily are enjoying a cornucopia of breathtaking views, diving into history that pulls you in so deep that you can almost smell it, and, of course, tasting drinks and cuisine so luxurious that you’d think they were prepared for the gods themselves.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of possibilities, here are some examples of what you can do and see during your trip to Sicily.
10 Best Places to Visit in Sicily
One of the best places to visit in Sicily has to be its capital city, Palermo. A city imbued with historical meaning, with grand architecture towering over its streets, Palermo is a treat for all your senses. There you can visit a number of breathtaking monuments, churches, palaces and museums. You shouldn’t miss Monreale Cathedral, located not too far from the city itself, and enjoy the sight of golden mosaics – 2200 kg of gold was used to create them!
2. Valley of the Temples
If you visit Sicily and forgo the Valley of the Temples, you’d be making a big mistake. This archeological park just outside Agrigento boasts the remains of eight temples constructed between the 5th and 6th century BC. There you will find one of the most awe-inspiring and preserved buildings from ancient Greece – the Temple of Concordia.
Cefalù, a small fishing town, can give you a taste of the Sicilian spirit. Colorful fishing boats along the piers, ochre-colored houses and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the background can easily set your mind at ease, no matter how stressed you might feel. While you wander its narrow cobbled streets, you can enjoy its many restaurants and shops.
Finally, you can visit the most important building in the city – the Cefalù Norman Cathedral and then, as a cherry on top of the cake, ascend the La Rocca di Cefalù, a cliff overlooking the city, and enjoy the most spectacular views.
4. Mount Etna
If the heart of an adventurer beats in your chest, you should visit one of the most active volcanoes in Europe – Mount Etna. The home of the Cyclops, as the ancients believed, is about 10000 feet high and you can conquer its trails and even ski down its slopes in the wintertime! The oldest recorded eruption was in 475 B.C.E, and the latest happened in July 2019! Don’t worry – no one was harmed, but some flights did get delayed.
5. Sicily Beaches
If you’re still wondering what to do in Sicily, visiting some of its famous beaches can be a great idea! A gem of the Mediterranean, from May to October Sicily is blessed with warm weather perfect for lounging on the beach. There is no right answer to which one is the best of them – each provides you with the gentles caress of waves and landscapes that are a true balm for the eye. We’ve already mentioned Cefalu (where Cinema Paradiso was filmed!). Another option is Taormina, where you can take your pick from a multitude of beaches – Isola Bella is widely regarded as the most beautiful one.
6. Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro
Established in 1981, this nature reserve is untouched by man. While the park can only be visited by foot, it’s worth your time. You can bask in the sheer diversity of nature’s work, stroll down the coast of a sea that remains untouched by humans, and even visit the Uzzo Grotto houses, one of the first prehistoric settlements.
7. Museo Storico dello Sbarco in Sicilia 1943
For World War II buffs, this museum is a must-see. Located in Catania, Museo Storico dello Sbarco in Sicilia tells the story of Sicily’s, and greater Italy’s, liberation from the occupying forces in WWII. The cloth of the story is made not only from historical artifacts but also from testimonies of the people who lived through the tumultuous events between July 10th and September 8th, 1943. A rich, active and interactive experience, this museum brings history back to life.
8. Ear of Dionysius
A hidden jewel in Sicily’s nature, this cave is a true marvel. Its acoustic properties have the ability to amplify sounds so that they can be heard through the cave’s opening at the top, 72 feet up. The cave was named by an ancient tyrant, Dionysius I, who, legend has it, either liked to eavesdrop on his captives or hear their screams amplified.
9. The Godfather Tours
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention some of the tours you can find in Sicily! Certainly, the most popular Sicily tours are the ones that feature dark tales about the mafia and even filming locations for one of the most loved and popular crime movies – The Godfather.
Just one example is a private tour of all the filming locations from the Godfather in the city of Taormina. You will walk the same streets, unchanged since filming, while your guide tells you all about the origins of the Sicilian mafia. Of course, you will also be able to delight your taste buds by exquisite wines and food. Another mafia-themed tour can include a touring of two villages, an in-depth exploration of the real history behind the popular story, including true stories from the Sicilian mafia clans.
10. The Stone Garden
Living in a masterpiece is a privilege reserved for the few – and the citizens of Noto are one of them. In the 17th century, the city of Notem was destroyed by an earthquake.
To give you an idea of its magnitude, an eyewitness account describes it: "Then came an earthquake so horrible and ghastly that the soil undulated like the waves of a stormy sea, and the mountains danced as if drunk, and the city collapsed in one miserable moment killing more than a thousand people."
After the destruction, Italy’s architectural elites decided to rebuild about 10km away, in what is now Noto. The city was designed to impress. Quite purposely, the architects brought a resplendent vision to reality. Each building is designed so that it’s bathed in light at twilight. Often called the Stone Garden, Noto and its church were declared UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2002. Walking around the city feels almost as if walking inside a painting, or a dream – it’s truly a masterpiece of Sicilian Baroque.
We’ve only just scratched the surface! Nature, history, luxurious palaces, life-altering masterpieces – there are so many things to do and see in Sicily that it’s almost impossible to pick only ten of them. If you’re traveling to Sicily, we can provide you with luxury transportation solutions and offer you tailor-made, chauffeur-driven tours so you get the most out of your trip, no matter how long or short it is. Contact us and experience Italy the way Italians do!