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One of Italy’s most beautiful regions is the large island of Sicily. This lovely slice of Italian culture is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and offers a wealth of history and culture to explore.
Here, you’ll find everything from the sandy beaches of San Vito lo Capo to the baroque cities of the Val di Noto and the remnants of more than one ancient Greek theater. It’s one of the few places in the world where you can see baroque architecture, a Roman amphitheater, and Greek temples all in one day. So, where do you even start?
There’s an endless list of things to see, but we’ve narrowed it down to the most significant tourist attractions, day trips, and overall best places to visit in Sicily for you.
Located on the west coast of Sicily, Trapani is an idyllic little town. It has a gorgeous historic center where you can see one of the oldest astronomical clocks in Europe. It’s also right near several beautiful beaches, including the famous San Vito lo Capo, and is an excellent spot to travel to the Egadi Islands.
Besides visiting the white sand beach of San Vito lo Capo and the Zingaro Nature Reserve, must-see attractions in this Sicilian coast town include the Ligny Tower, the Fountain of Saturn, and the stunning Villa Margherita.
For a day trip, take the cable car from Trapani up to the top of Mount Erice to see the medieval town of Erice and the prominent Castello di Venere. This 12th-century Norman castle sits where the Temple of Venus once stood and offers spectacular views of the surrounding area. You can see the Egadi Islands, the Saline di Trapani, and more.
If you’re interested in another castle here, the Torretta Pepoli is also a popular stop. And we highly recommend a visit to the famed Maria Grammatico’s pastry shop for a tasty treat.
If you’re a fan of ancient art, be sure to add the market town of Piazza Armerina to your list of day trips. This small town in southern Sicily is well-known for its Roman floor mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale, located right on the outskirts of town.
The 4th-century villa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features some of the best-preserved mosaics worldwide! Each room has a different theme, including one room displaying images of the Olympic games.
When you’re done exploring the Villa Romana del Casale, head back to town for tourist attractions like the stunning cathedral, Aragonese Castle, and the Museo Della Civilta Contadina.
When you’re in eastern Sicily, be sure to stop by Syracuse. Located right on Sicily’s east coast, Syracuse was once the largest city in the ancient world! It offers a nostalgic taste of what Sicily was like in times past.
The Piazza Duomo on Ortigia Island flaunts a particularly prominent example of the Sicilian baroque style. In contrast, the Neopolis archaeological park offers the chance to see a Roman amphitheater from the 5th century BC, plenty of greek ruins, a giant limestone quarry, and a greek theater. You can certainly plan a whole day trip around the archaeological park.
Ortigia Island, another of Syracuse’s biggest attractions, is a beautiful island in the historic center of the town. This is the oldest part of the city and offers a labyrinth of medieval streets to explore. Be sure to visit the Temple of Apollo, Piazza Archimede, and the Cathedral of Syracuse.
When you’re done exploring the ancient sites, take half a day to enjoy a wine tasting at one of the area’s historic vineyards. Or try some local street food like Scaccia or the island’s signature dish, Arancini.
Valley of the Temples
One of Sicily’s most popular and influential archeological sites is the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. Located near the southern coast of Sicily, this UNESCO world heritage site comprises several monuments from Sicily’s ancient Greek times, and the temples are some of the best-preserved examples in the world outside of Greece!
Here, you can see eight temples, including the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Temple of Concordia, and the Temple of Heracles. It makes for a fantastic day trip from not only Agrigento but also Catania or Palermo.
Another place you must visit in Sicily is Catania, a beautiful baroque town at the foot of Mount Etna on the eastern coast. Catania is part of several baroque towns called the Val di Noto. These eight towns in south-eastern Sicily are known for their Sicilian Baroque Style and were all rebuilt after a substantial earthquake in 1693.
The rebuilding of the Val di Noto cities allowed Catania to have gorgeous architecture and advanced town planning innovations. In contrast to the narrow streets and crowded squares of many other towns, Catania feels airy and doesn’t have a maze of streets to navigate. Something else that’s unique is that the city used the dried rock from old lava flows from Mount Etna as building materials, so many buildings are black or gray!
During your visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, be sure to walk around the beautiful Piazza del Duomo, check out the local boutiques and restaurants, and sprawl on the sandy beach of Spiaggia Della Plaia. We also recommend stops at the Castello Ursino and the local Teatro Romano.
And if you’re interested in active volcanoes, a day trip to Mount Etna is a must! Mount Etna is the highest volcano in Europe and is one of Italy’s natural wonders. You can hike Mount Etna year-round or take a cable car from Rifugio Sapienza.
Off the north coast of Sicily, nestled in the Mediterranean sea, you’ll find the beautiful world of the Aeolian Islands. This collection of seven islands is listed as another UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most popular places to visit in Sicily! And while they all have the same volcanic origin, they are each a unique island of their own.
If hiking active volcanoes or exploring lava flows interests you, the islands of Stromboli and Vulcano should be high on your list. Vulcano is also a prime destination for mud baths and black sand beaches. If you prefer museums and geology, try Lipari instead. It’s the largest island in the group and offers many geological experiences, a beautiful port town, and even the world’s most extensive collection of miniature Greek masks!
But for a real paradise, head over to Salina. This small island is often called the most beautiful of the Aeolian islands, thanks to its bright green mountains, vibrant vineyards, and stunning blue waters. Here, you can spend your days wandering through a small village, lounging on the black sandy beach, or trying out incredible local cuisine!
Are you ready to visit Sicily yet? It’s a stunning place that you’ll fall in love with over and over again, from each old town to the stunning examples of baroque architecture and remnants of Greek theater. We hope you enjoyed this travel inspiration of places to visit and that you’ll be enjoying Sicily’s charm soon!