“Sicilians build things like they will live forever and eat like they will die tomorrow.” - Plato
Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and not just because it’s the ambassador for the dolce vita. It’s also home to some wonderful places off the mainland. In the summer of 2018, Italy saw an 18% increase in tourism. Proof that people are interested in everything the country has to offer, from beaches to cultural heritage.
Since Italy has an extensive coastline on the Mediterranean Sea, Tyrrhenian Sea, Ionian Sea, Ligurian Sea, and the Adriatic Sea, its territory also includes many beautiful islands!
Have you been dreaming of spending your holidays by the Mediterranean Sea? Not sure when to go? What to see? How to organise it?
Here’s our advice for travelling to Sicily, the island off the coast of Southern Italy!
The Best Time to Go to Sicily
Sicily is known as the “Pearl of the Mediterranean” and you’ll understand why after looking at some of those sandy beaches. Sicily is home to thousands of beaches and coves, but only a few dozen of them are known by tourists. They’re also really busy during the high season so take care.
While Sicily is largely coastal, you can visit it throughout the year. It’s mild and sunny climate has made it a popular destination for a weekend or a whole week.
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When you head to Sicily, you should know what to expect once you get there. You should know a little about the climate and weather:
- You could spend the whole year in Sicily walking and sunbathing.
- The sunny periods are between April and October.
- In July and August, the temperature can rise to 34 degrees.
If you’d like to know when to go to Sicily, here’s some advice:
- In the summer, it’s hot and dry, which makes it difficult to be active while you’re there.
- In the winter, temperatures range between 6 and 18 degrees with a lot of rain in the north, making certain outdoor activities impossible.
This is why it’s a good idea to head around November when it’s milder. It’ll be warm enough for the beach but not too hot that you can’t do anything. Generally, it’s recommended that you visit Sicily between April and June or September and October to avoid tourists.
Now that you know a little bit more about the Sicilian climate, where exactly will you go?
Have you thought about Sardinia?
Choosing Where to Visit in Sicily
Sicily is famous for its natural beauty and landscapes but the north isn’t the same as the south. Of course, while the weather and climate will influence when you go, most tourists still visit during the school holidays and half-terms. It’s not that difficult choosing where to go in Sicily.
Did you know Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea?
A trip from Palermo in the north to Catania in the south via Cefalù, Tindari, Taormina, or Mount Etna (the active volcano) is a good shout. There are a lot of places you could stop on your journey across the island. Different cities are famous for different reasons:
- Palermo, the capital of Sicily.
- Cefalù, famous for its beach, cathedral (duomo), and nightlife.
- Tinari, a Greco-Roman town full of heart, soul, and olive fields.
- Taormina, home to colourful architecture.
- Etna, home to its namesake volcano.
- Catania, a rich university town and the second-largest in Sicily.
Getting itchy feet?
It’s recommended that you spend 10 days visiting all these places. If you’d prefer to hang around the south of the island, you can go from Marsala to Syracuse to see some of Sicily’s other wonders:
- Marsala, famous for its wine.
- Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Villa Romana del Casale, home to historic mosaics.
- Ragusa, a Baroque town with magnificent views.
- Cavagrande, a nature reserve with great places to walk.
- Syracuse, the home of Archimedes.
There are also plenty of local attractions. Make the most of your trip by seeing Sicily’s unmissable sites. As the biggest Italian island, there's plenty to do in Sicily.
Unmissable Sicilian Attractions
We spoke a bit before about the main attraction of Sicily, the beaches. The first thing to see and do in Sicily is to go to a beach and enjoy some of the activities. Here are some of Sicily’s most famous beaches.
- Mondello, near Palermo.
- Favignana, in the south of the island.
- Scala dei Turchi, by white cliffs.
- Stromboli, home to unique Sicilian nature.
Find out more about Italy's best beaches.
Did you know that the island of Stromboli to the north of Sicily is home to the namesake volcano?
It last erupted in August 2019 and it’s still recommended that you don’t visit. In terms of nature, there’s the Zingaro Nature Reserve, an unparalleled site of natural beauty. There are 650 different animal and plant species across 1700 hectares. This is a great place for nature lovers and great if you like strolling off the beaten path! You can find it by Castellemare, in the north of the island.
There are also plenty of other things to see on land. You should make sure you visit:
- Palermo Cathedral
- Taormina’s Historic Greek Theatre
- Catania Cathedral
- The Fountain of Arethusa, Syracuse
- Noto, Modiga, and Ragusa, three pretty Baroque towns.
Holidays in Sicily involve a nice mix of history, culture, and relaxation.
Party animals will enjoy Cefalù, with its lively nightlife, while families can enjoy Catania, one of the calmer seaside resorts on the island.
So where are you going to go to Sicily?
Advice for Saving Money when Travelling to Sicily
Sicily, and more generally, Italy, is famous for their food, but all this good food comes at a price. The upmarket restaurants in Sicily can cost you between £40 and £60 a meal.
Keep in mind that you’ll also be charged for bread and water and you can be charged between £2 and £5 per person for it. This is without paying a tip, which isn’t necessary. In terms of food, try pistachio pasta, a local speciality. Also, make the most of an “aperitivo” at any hour of the afternoon!
Plan ahead and find places to stay, eat, and visit that are within your budget.
Where can you find somewhere to stay in Sicily?
Airbnb has blown up in Sicily due to the price and authenticity of these holiday rents. There are also small typical guesthouses on the coast, particularly in the south of the island. To help you choose, here’s a summary of the cost of accommodation in hostels in Sicily:
- Palermo: between £12 and £18 per night.
- Catania: between £11 and £16 per night.
- Taormina: between £17 and £24 per night.
For guest houses or Airbnbs, you can pay anywhere between £15 to £100 per night depending on the facilities and the type of accommodation.
If you want to save money, you should go in the offseason and organise several weeks in advance. Generally, you can expect to pay 15 to 20% more by booking last minute.
Finally, learn a bit of Italian before you go. While English is widely spoken in the touristy areas, you should learn how to express yourself during your trip. Even if you've meticulously planned your itineraries around the island of Sicily, you never know when you'll need to speak to the locals.
Enjoy your trip!
Before you go to Italy or its islands, you might want to learn some Italian. Fortunately for you, there are many talented tutors on Superprof who can help you. In terms of private Italian tutorials, there are three main types: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials.
Face-to-face tutorials involve just the student and their tutor and are tailored to the former. Your tutor can work with your strengths and weaknesses and put together a programme for you. These tutorials tend to be the most costly but they're also the most cost-effective.
Online tutorials are similar but you're not in the same place as your tutor. Thanks to the internet, webcams, and video conferencing, you can learn a language online. Online tutors tend to charge less than face-to-face tutors because they have fewer outgoings and expenses and can schedule more tutorials each week.
Finally, group tutorials include groups of students learning together. If you and a group of friends, such as your travel companions, want to learn some Italian before you go, you can get group tutorials. With each student sharing the cost of the tutor's time, this type of tutorials tends to work out cheaper per person per hour.