Do you know why you should travel to Sicily & what you can do there? By the end of this post you sure will, for I have a list of the top 10 things to do in Sicily!
The island at the southern tip of Italy has a bit of everything to ensure a memorable time. Sicily has historical sights and geological sites. And there’s so much natural beauty all over the island! From the beaches that outline it to the top of the volcanoes that jut into the sky, there is SO much to do!
1. Learn about ancient Sicily at its historical sites
Sicily has temples, theaters, mosaics and a whole lot of other ruins that tell stories of its past. The Valley of Temples or Valle Dei Templi in Agrigento is one of the most visited archaeological sites. It holds ruins of as many as 7 Doric temples. There are also remnants of temples from the Archaic Period, tombs & gates. Further northwest there’s the Selinunte Archaeological Park.
Segesta, towards the northern side of the island, has a famous doric temple that is believed to have been unfinished. You’ll also find ruins of a mosque, tombs & also a Greek Theater here. In Taormina, you can see an old Greek Theater that is locally called Teatro Antico di Taormina. When you’re on the east coast, remember that Syracuse also has a Greek Theatre and the Temple of Apollo.
2. See Sicily’s Capital City
Sicily’s capital city is Palermo, in the northwestern part of the island. The city has many of the top 10 things to do in Sicily. Palermo itself has been through German, Greek and Arab rules and wears its history in the form of churches, palaces, and theaters. The places you absolutely do not want to miss are The Norman Palace and its chapel (Capella Palatina) & Palermo Cathedral.
The Norman Palace, also known as Palazzo dei Normanni or simply the Royal Palace, now serves as the Sicilian Regional Assembly. The Palatine Chapel within it is a work of art and shows a lot of Arab influence with marble floors and golden mosaics. It is often said to be the most beautiful church in all of Italy. At the Palermo Cathedral or Cattedrale di Palermo, you can see the changes that came about in the building at different times of its history. You can also go down to its crypts or go up to the roof for some picturesque views of the town.
Other things to do in the capital include watching an opera at the Massimo Theater and doing a tour of the food markets of Palermo. The main markets are Ballaro, Vucciria, and Capo.
3. Look around Taormina
Taormina is a coastal town perched on top of some cliffs on the east coast. Go here for the views it offers. The ancient Greek Theater of Taormina overlooks the Ionian Sea and will also show you Mt Etna filling the skyline to the south.
While you are in Taormina you might also want to walk through Corso Umberto, which acts as the main street of the area. It’s vibrant & architecturally interesting. Also, this is where you can go to pick up a souvenir or grab something to eat.
4. Walk around Catania
This is a city that is sprawled at the foot of Mt. Etna and is the second-largest city on the island. It has borne the brunt of the volcano’s eruptions and has needed rebuilding. It is often referred to as ‘Black City’ because it has used lava rocks for the building of some of its buildings.
When in Catania, the sights to see are the city squares, mainly the Piazza Del Duomo, the fountain with the city’s emblem which is an elephant, also made of lava rock & the cathedral behind it. You can also get to the top of the cathedral dedicated to St. Agatha, the patron saint of the city and you will be treated to wide views of the city & the volcano to the north of it.
5. Go closer to Mt. Etna
Etna can be seen from almost any part of Catania, but if you’d like to see it up close you could take a tour from the city. In the summer months, you can hike the slopes of the volcanic mountain and in the winter you can go skiing or snowshoe hiking there. It’s one of the top 10 things to do in Sicily no matter what the season.
As of now, there are 4 craters on different sides of the 3300-odd-meter-high volcano. There are excursions organized to these parts on Mt. Etna. The landscape and the fumaroles here are fascinating sights to see.
6. Enjoy Sicily’s Beaches
Let’s not forget that this triangular island off the mainland of Italy is surrounded by the Ionian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Tyrrhenian Sea and has over a 1000-miles of shoreline punctuated by pebbly and sandy beaches.
Some options on the Ionian Coast are Isola Bella, which is a rocky beach that is good for snorkeling & Calamosche, which is more of a quiet one. If you are near the Tyrrhenian Sea you could visit the popular Cefalù and Mondello beaches. San Vito lo Capo, also on that side, is a scenic place. You could also consider the Torre Salsa and Sampieri, both sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. Sampieri is another quiet beach.
7. Make a trip to the Salt Pans
Near the tip of Sicily’s west coast is where the Salt Pans are, between Marsala and Trapani. Go here and you can see how sea salt is harvested and you might even be able to get to taste the salt made there. There is also a Salt Museum that will tell you more about the salt pans and the harvesting. It’s such an interesting thing to learn about, making it one of the top 10 things to do in Sicily.
The landscape is also a lovely picture with the salt basins and the windmills on the horizon. If you get to stay until sunset you will see rosy reflections in the water of the pans.
8. Go see what Scala dei Turchi is all about
Further up the coast from Agrigento are some white cliffs that are a sight to behold and photograph. Made of Limestone, they are stark white and make quite a contrast with the Mediterranean’s water. What’s more: it’s been eroded by the sea to look like wide steps.
If you’d like to see the Stair of the Turks, you might want to arrive early, especially if it’s summer when you are in Sicily. It can get quite crowded by midday. You could even stay back to see the sun go down.
9. Hike to the Necropolis of Pantalica
If you’d like to see some other unique rock-structures, visit the Necropolis of Pantalica on the Hyblaean Mountains near Syracuse. What you will see here are darker colored limestone rock faces with what look like windows hewn into them. These are supposed to be burial chambers that date back to several thousands of years. The Necropolis of Pantalica is now a UNESCO Heritage site.
Other things you will see in the area include some ancient chapels and a gorge.
10. Taste some Sicily Special delicacies
Sicily is also known for its food, and there are some things you MUST EAT when you are on the Island. The must-eat list comprises Arancini, Cannoli, seafood pasta, and Cassata. And if it’s summer and you’d like to try a cold dessert, let yourself have some Granita. This is the best way to end the list of the top 10 things to do in Sicily!