Our Guide to Top Things to do in Sicily

While most tourists to Italy flock to the mainland, Sicily is a fantastic option for those that want to see a little more of Italy’s unfiltered side. Right off the tip of Italy’s “boot,” the island of Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean.

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We visited Sicily in the summer of 2018 and were surprised to discover a beautiful region with great food, beautiful beaches and cultural sights.

Here are our favourite things to do in Sicily.

Things to do in Sicily
Syracuse, Sicily
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Visit Palermo

Palermo is the capital and the most frequented tourist destination on the island, making it one of the best places to visit in Sicily. It is nearly 3,000 years old and is brimming with history and culture.

Located in the northwest corner of the island on the Gulf of Palermo, most travelers start here when visiting the island. This city alone contains some of the best of what to see in Sicily.

Things to Do in Palermo

Palermo Cathedral

The Palermo Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church that is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary. It was built in 1185 by the archbishop of Palermo at the time. This cathedral has undergone many additions and reconstructions over the years and is therefore known for its mix of architectural styles and influences.

Visiting Palermo Cathedral are among the things you can do in Sicily
Palermo Cathedral, Sicily

Go to a Puppet Theatre

Sicily is famous for its puppet theatre and there is no better place to experience a puppet show than in the city of Palermo. First becoming popular in the middle of the nineteenth century, puppet shows originally told the stories of knights and their heroic deeds. Today, the puppet theatres are a popular tourist attraction where guests can experience a rich cultural tradition. It is truly one of the most unique things to do in Sicily.

If you’re interested in learning more, head to the Museo delle Marionette to discover the history of the Sicilian tradition as well as lovely displays of puppets from the past.

Museo delle Marionette in Palermo are among the things to do in Sicily
Museo delle Marionette in Palermo. Photo by marcomarta via Flickr CC

Visit the Street Markets

Palermo’s street markets are historic and famous, and definitely worth a visit during your time in the city. Simply walk through the alleys and take in all the sights, sounds, and smells.

There are four markets that are worth a visit. Ballarò is the largest and most famous market, Capo is lively, upbeat, and authentic, and Vucciria and Borgo Vecchio are the best markets to visit after the sun goes down.

Explore Catania

If you’re wondering what to see in Sicily after Palermo, Catania should be next on your list. Catania is the second largest city in Sicily and is located on the east coast of the island on the Ionian Sea.

It is particularly well known for its Baroque architecture, much of it is protected by UNESCO. It’s also famous for being the commercial and industrial centre of Sicily. It sits right at the base of Mt. Etna.

St. Agata Cathedral are around some things to do in Sicily.
St. Agata Cathedral in Catania Sicily. Photo by Maurizio Buffoni via Flickr CC

Things to do in Catania

Piazza Duomo

The Piazza del Duomo is Catania’s main city square and central meeting point. It is made out of lava and limestone and modelled in the local Baroque style. The famous St. Agata cathedral overlooks the square. Right nearby, you can find Catania’s famous fish market.

things to do in sicily
Piazza Duomo, Catania

Castello Ursino

This 13th-century castle is a popular tourist attraction in Catania. It was originally built for royalty during the age of the Kingdom of Sicily and became the house of Sicilian Parliament after a rebellion called the Sicilian Vespers.

Take a Guided Tour of Underground Catania

There’s much more to Catania than what meets the eye. However, most of it is inaccessible to tourists without a qualified guide. This archaeologist-guided tour takes you through structures underneath the city, and covers the mysterious history of each place on the walk. You’ll see underground Roman thermal baths, hidden shrines, and an ancient manor.

Admire Mt. Etna

When wondering what to do in Sicily, most people think of Mt. Etna. Although perhaps not as famous as Mt. Vesuvius, Mt. Etna is Italy’s most active volcano. This is a great destination for some adventurous things to do in Sicily.

mt etna catania sicily italy

Things to do Near Mt. Etna


Mt. Etna is one of the very best places to visit in Sicily, and the best way to get the full experience is to go hiking. There are numerous hiking trails in the area with something to fit every level. 

If you’re interested in hiking to the summit, definitely consider booking a tour with a guide so you can learn about the incredible volcano and be sure not to miss all the best lava fields, caves, and snowy spots along the way.

Things to do in Sicily: Hiking
Aerial view of Sicily Coast

Visit the Nearby Farms for Wine Tasting

The volcanic soils are fantastic for farming and are particularly good for growing grapes. Specifically, the Nero D’Avola grapes. These are the grapes of choice on local farms, and you can sample the wines at numerous wineries in the area. Make sure to call in advance, as many wineries require booking ahead of time.

Visiting a vineyard are among the things you can do in Sicily

Get off the Beaten Path in Taormina

While Catania sits slightly south of Mt. Etna on the coast, Taormina is also at the base of the volcano but a bit further north. This charming seaside town is nestled into a tall hill directly overlooking the ocean.

Things to do in Taormina

Greco Teatro

The Greco Teatro is Taormina’s most famous monument. The archeological site is a theatre made mostly of brick and draws influence from both Greek and Roman building designs. 

It is extremely well preserved and because of this, performances are still hosted here. Make sure to attend a show in the theatre if you have the chance.

Things you can do in Sicily include seeing Greco Teatro
Greco Teatro in Taormina

Go to the Beach

Although sometimes crowded since they are small, visiting the beaches of Taormina is one of the best things to do in Sicily. Relax here in the afternoon after a day of exploring the city.

Travel south along the coast from Catania and you’ll reach Syracuse. It used to be a powerful port city in ancient times and held a strong position in the Mediterranean Sea. It is famous for being the birthplace of Archimedes and Saint Lucy. The entire city is protected by UNESCO, making it a highlight of what to do in Sicily.

Things to do in Sicily include going to the beach
Aerial beach view in Taormina

Visit the Aeolian Islands

See the UNESCO-listed Aeolian Islands with a day trip leaving from Taormina. Several boat tours offer guided trips, during which you’ll learn about the history of the Aeolian Islands and its volcanoes, famous mud baths, and pumice industry. This boat tour picks you up from Taormina, then takes you to the volcanic islands of Lipari and Vulcano. You’ll wander the islands at your own pace, with plenty of time to enjoy the mud baths and take a swim in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Hang Out in Syracuse

Explore the Archeological Park of Neapolis

The Archeological Park of Neapolis is a can’t-miss stop on any trip to Syracuse and should be included on everyone’s list of things to do in Sicily. There are many spots to visit here including a Roman Amphitheater, a sacrificial altar, catacombs, and an ancient Greek theatre as well.

The magnificent Greek theater is considered to be the best preserved example of this sort of structure, which is remarkable considering it’s over 2000 years old. A guided tour is highly recommended, as this archaeological park is well protected but a bit confusing to explore independently. 

Things to do in Sicily include seeing the coast in Syracuse
Coastline of Syracuse

Caves and Quarries

One unique thing to do in Syracuse is to visit the caves and quarries. The Ear of Dionysius is the most famous cave. It is made out of limestone and features astonishing acoustics.

Another great one to visit is the Latomia of Paradise, a large quarry that used to hold prisoners of war thousands of years ago

Visiting the Syracuse Archeological Park iare among the things to do in Sicily
The Ear of Dionysiusis at the Archeological Park

Get Lost in Noto

Noto, Sicily, is a small town south of Syracuse that is best known for its well preserved Baroque architecture. It is also entirely a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is essential on every list of what to see in Sicily.

Get lost among the architecture in Noto

Things to do in Noto

Piazza Municipio

The Piazza Municipio is the main city square in Noto. This is the perfect place to get a good look at some of the best Baroque architecture in the city such as the Cattedrale di San Nicolò, Palazzo Landolina, and Palazzo Ducezio.

To get the most out of an architectural tour, it’s worth looking into guided day trips that include a handful of Sicilian baroque towns. This guided tour takes you to three small towns around Syracuse, including Noto. 

Infiorata (Flower Festival)

If you are currently considering a trip to Noto, coming during the annual flower festival is an awesome option. During the third weekend of May, the city streets turn into works of art as local artists work in unison to create magnificent flower mosaics and collages. All of the flowers are grown especially for the festival.

Infiorata Festival is among the things to do in Sicily
Infiorata Festival in Noto. Photo by Laura via Flickr CC

Delve into History in Agrigento

Agrigento is on the southwest coast of Sicily and is an unmissable destination for all history lovers. Some of Sicily’s best-preserved Greek temples can be found here. You can also find stunning beaches and a charming old town, making it one of the best places to visit in Sicily.

Things to Do in Agrigento

The Valley of the Temples

The Valley of the Temples is one of the most popular travel destinations in not only Sicily but in all of Italy as well. It is one of the most outstanding displays of Greek architecture that remains today and is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Visit the many temples and tombs, and make sure to hire a guide to dive deep into the site’s impressive history. This is hands down one of the best things to do in Sicily. This electric scooter tour is a fun way to explore the ancient ruins, since the Valley of the Temples covers over 3,000 acres! 

To learn more about the history of the area, stop in at the Museo Archeologico Regionale di Agrigento, which houses artifact collections of Phoenician, Greek, Etruscan, Carthaginian, and Roman origin. After touring the ancient ruins, this archaeological museum is a great place to take a break from the sun and learn about the area’s many layers of history.

Valley of the Temples are among some of the things to do in Sicily
Valley of the Temples in Agrigento

La Scala dei Turchi

Called the “Turk’s Staircase” in English, this soft clay formation is a natural wonder that exhibits the work of water, wind, and time. The cliff can be climbed on and is a great place to explore before heading to the beach.

Things to do in Sicily include La Scala dei Turchi
La Scala dei Turchi. Photo by Claudio Battistata via Flickr CC

Explore the Ancient Port of Trapani

Once the heart of the powerful Mediterranean trade network, the old town of Trapani sits on the west coast of Sicily. With the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, Trapani had an advantageous position for trade, and layers of cultural influence can still be seen in the art, architecture, and food you can experience in the old town.

Levanzo Trapani Italy
Levanzo, Trapani, Italy

Things to Do in Trapani

Explore Old Town 

Wander through the streets of historic Trapani and pop into its monuments and churches to see some fantastic architecture and art dating back to the 14th century. The Chiesa del Purgatorio and Santuario Maria Annunziata are just two of several historic churches open to the public. One particularly beautiful street is Corso Vittorio Emanuele di Trapani, which is lined with ornate buildings and restaurants. 

Visit the Trapani Salt Pans and Nature Reserve

Learn about the traditional way of extracting sea salt in the historic salt pans. Still active, and now part of a nature reserve, the salt pans are home to over 200 bird species, including flamingoes. Guided tours are offered. They also provide insight on how they extract sea salt while preserving the unique ecosystem of the area.

Trapani Salt Flats
Trapani Salt Pans

Watch the Sunset from the City Walls

Running along the north side of Old Town, the Bastione Conca Trapani is a waterfront promenade that’s perfect for a stroll in the evening. From the bastion, you can see the gorgeous sunset. You can also view the diverse architectural styles of Old Town from a distance. There are plenty of restaurants nearby for a wonderful dinner after the sun sets.

Take a Cable Car up to Erice

The beautifully preserved medieval town of Erice sits on a mountain high above Trapani. Rather than driving on the narrow, winding roads, take advantage of a cable car service linking Trapani to the village of Erice. The views from the cable car are breathtaking. Also, you’ll get to explore the medieval village without worrying about driving back down the mountain.

things to do in sicily
An ally in Erice

Enjoy the Beaches in San Vito lo Capo

If you need a couple of days to unwind, San Vito lo Capo is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily. Located on the north coast of Sicily, this town doesn’t get as many tourists as other destinations on the island. You have your choice of sandy or pebble beaches, all leading to sparkling clear waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

A couple of beaches that are a bit off the beaten path but well worth the trip are Cala Tonnarella dell’ Uzzo and Caletta del Bue Marino. If you would rather not drive at all, Spiaggia Zero Barriere is a gorgeous white sandy beach in the north part of town with all the amenities you could ask for.

things to do in sicily
Zingaro Nature Reserve in Trapani


Where to Stay in Sicily

While you’ll find no shortage of options when figuring out where to stay in Sicily, there are a couple of places to consider for their eco-friendliness and commitment to sustainability.

In Palermo, stay at Bed and Breakfast Novecento. This homey spot in central Palermo has a great reputation among travelers with a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. They are also GreenLeaders on the Silver level, another award from TripAdvisor earned for their eco practices.

Eco B&B Velacatania Catania Centro is where you should stay in Sicily
Room view courtesy of Eco B&B Velacatania Catania Centro

While in Catania, consider staying at the Velacatania Catania Centro. Not only does this bed and breakfast have a beautiful earthy design, but most of its decor is upcycled. They also satisfy a long list of sustainability practices including organic, local food, and over 80% waste recycling.

If you’re spending a few days in Taormina, Incu Charme Apartments offers apartment style accommodations with a sea view, a kitchen, and balcony. There are three lovely beaches and restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.

Doric Bed is where you should stay in Sicily
Room view at Doric Bed. Photo courtesy of Doric Bed

In Agrigento, stay at the luxury designer hotel Doric Bed. Aside from incredible views of the Valley of the Temples, this stunning hotel has been awarded the GreenLeaders status from TripAdvisor on the Platinum level. Truly, you can’t go wrong with any of these accommodations while choosing where to stay in Sicily.

Sicily is a large island and there is so much to see. But, this list covers the best of what to do in Sicily overall. So for your next visit to this beautiful country, why not stay off Italy’s mainland and opt for the beauty of Sicily. We hope that you now have an idea of all the best places to visit in Sicily.

Is Sicily on your bucket list? Where on the island would you like to visit most?

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