11 Best Places to Visit in Sicily

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Planning a trip to Sicily but don’t know where to start? This guide to the best places to visit in Sicily runs through the must-visit spots you won’t want to miss! From majestic ancient ruins to incredible nature reserves, I am sure you’ll find something you’ll love!

Want more? Check the 10 Best Beaches In Sicily You Have To See!

Greek Theatre in Taormina with Mount Etna in the background.
The incredible Greek Theatre in Taormina with Mount Etna in the background.

With its pristine beaches, active volcanoes, and ancient ruins, Sicily is a melting pot of natural and cultural wonders.

From the bubbling craters of Mount Etna to the winding streets of Palermo, there’s so much to explore.

But if you need to figure out which places are worth your time, then I’m here to fill you in.

Not only was I born in Italy, but my mum is an authentic Sicilian – which means I spent most of my summer holidays wandering around this wonderful land.

And I couldn’t be more excited to share everything I know with you.

Each of these incredible dream destinations has something unique to offer and will suit history enthusiasts and those who love romance.

And since Sicily is also full of culinary wonders, I will share what you should eat in every spot. Your stomach can thank me later!

Now, get ready to plan the Sicilian trip of a lifetime!

Just don’t blame me if you’ll shed a little tear of sadness when it’s time to leave this magical place.

11 Best Places to Visit in Sicily: Step into a World Filled with Wonder and History

1. Palermo

Aerial view of Palermo, capital city of Sicily.

The Vibrant Tapestry of Sicilian Culture and History

Palermo is a fascinating place to start any list of the best places to visit in Sicily, as it’s the capital city.

This spot is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and its combined history dates back an impressive 2,700 years.

Yep, Palermo was founded by the Phoenicians and has been occupied by everyone from the Romans to the Arabs.

For that reason, it’s an extraordinary mosaic of mixed architecture, traditional street markets, and incredible historic churches.

Plus, it’s easy to walk anywhere.

So, you can wander through the La Kalsa, Il Capo, and Albergheria neighborhoods without getting lost.

If you’re going to do anything in Palermo, check out the incredible Catacombe dei Cappuccini.

It’s an underground labyrinth packed with crypts, and it’s tucked right underneath the Capuchin Monastery.

I wouldn’t say that the mummified corpses reflect Italy’s romantic side. But it’s undoubtedly a fascinating glimpse into the past!

To experience the best of Palermo’s cultural side, check out the Ballaro Market, the Palermo Cathedral, and the Norman Palace.

The cathedral is particularly impressive as it houses gorgeous golden mosaics that took 2,200kg of gold to produce!

What to eat in Palermo 

There are so many things you should try in this city. But if you must pick a few, go for Pane e Panelle, chickpea fritters served in a bread roll with lemon juice or a sprinkle of salt. 

Then try the traditional version of Arancini, the famous deep-fried rice balls filled with a meat ragout and peas. 

And by far my favorite Sfincione (a thick, spongy pizza topped with tomatoes, onions, anchovies, Sicilian pecorino cheese, and lots of dry oregano).

2. Valley of the Temples, Agrigento

A view of a Greek temple in Agrigento against the blue sky.

Where You Can Feel Whispers of Ancient Greece

The Valley of the Temples is right up there with the best places to visit in Sicily if history is your thing.

It’s one of the world’s largest archaeological sites and is home to 8 remarkably preserved temples that date to the 5th Century BC.

The Museo Archeologico is an excellent pitstop if you want to drink in the ins and outs of the history here.

It features everything from Phoenician, Greek, and Etruscan remains to the best of Carthaginian and Roman artifacts.

But honestly, you should spend most of the day exploring the Doric temples.

The Temple of Concordia and the Temple of Hera Lacina are must-visits

But the remains of Atlas are also worth seeing!

As the Valley of the Temples gets overrun with tourists year-round, I always recommend buying your tickets in advance. It lets you skip the worst of the queues and gives you way more time to explore the temples!

What to eat in Agrigento

Although couscous is a typical dish from Northern Africa, it was imported by the Arabs in this region (especially around Trapani). 

But if you visit the Santo Spirito convent, you can taste a Sweet Couscous invented by the nuns here. They prepare it in large terracotta pots with pistachios, candied fruit, and chocolate. You can still go to try it. A must!

3. Taormina 

Aerial view of island and Isola Bella beach and blue ocean water in Taormina.

The Jewel Atop the Sicilian Cliffs 

In Taormina, you’ll find yourself suspended between sky and sea, perched on a cliff overlooking the sea.

The views here are like something out of a dream! For the best panoramas over the bay and Mount Etna, head to Piazza IX Aprile. It’s a glorious place to capture sunset shots and offers a glimpse of the Chiesa de San Giuseppe in the distance.

And if you can’t get enough of ancient wonders, head to the iconic Greek Theatre.

Although the architecture is distinctly Roman, you can still spot the original 3rd-century BC Greek seats in place!

The theatre is 250 meters above sea level, so you’ll also get incredible views.

You’ll need to pay an entry fee to enter the Greek Theater (around €10). It’s totally worth it, but make sure you work that into your budget.

While in Taormina, you should also explore the bakeries, cafes, and shops around the Corso Umberto.

And don’t miss the public Villa Communale, which boasts the largest public garden in Taormina!

And if you are a beach enthusiast, head to the small island at the bottom of the town called Isola Bella.

Here, the crystal-clear waters and pebble beach are more than worth the visit!

What to eat in Taormina

Taormina is in the province of Catania, so a dish you absolutely must try is Pasta alla Norma, a mouthwatering Sicilian dish that marries pasta with a rich tomato sauce, all elevated by the smoky depth of fried eggplant and crowned with a sprinkle of salty ricotta salata cheese.

4: Mount Etna

Aerial view of dormant crater of Etna.

The Breathing Heart of Sicily and Europe’s Fiercest Volcano

If you’re even remotely interested in Mother Nature, you’ll agree that Mount Etna is one of Sicily’s best places to visit!

Mount Etna is up there with Sicily’s top tourist attractions and has been bubbling away for over 2,700 years.

It‘s Europe’s largest active volcano and boasts magnificent lava flow caves and uber-fertile soils.

And it‘s also the tallest stratovolcano in the world at an impressive 3,300 meters!

During the winter, it’s a hotspot for ski bunnies as it transforms into a snowy wonderland.

But in the warmer months, it’s all about heading to the Rifugio Sapienza to start an adventurous hike.

The Monto Sartorius loop is an easy pick for beginners. 

But you can certainly head to the volcanic crater if you’re an experienced trekker!

What to eat near Mount Etna

Granita Siciliana traces its origins back to Sicily’s Arabic period. While it’s popular across the island, did you know it all began with snow from Mount Etna? 

People would gather the snow in winter and store it in stone constructions built over caves. 

Come summer, they’d mix it with fruit syrups to create a refreshing treat.

Today, Granita Siciliana has evolved into a sublime slushy, bursting with flavors such as lemon, almond, and coffee. It’s the perfect way to find relief on a scorching Sicilian day, especially when enjoyed with a traditional Sicilian brioche.

5. Cefalù

Beautiful old harbor with wooden fishing boat in Cefalu, Sicily, Italy.

A Coastal Gem Where Medieval Charm Meets Azure Waves

Cefalù is perched along the Tyrrhenian coast and offers golden beaches, narrow streets, and ancient ruins.

It’s one of the best places to visit in Sicily for an authentic experience, as it’s very popular with mainland Italians.

The town is surprisingly small but feels relatively bustling (not packed!) around July and August.

An old Norman cathedral overlooks the town and lends the entire area an old-school feel that complements the towering Madonie Mountains.

And if you can’t get enough of Arab and Norman architecture, head to the Duomo to see the Byzantine mosaics.

Oh, and don’t forget about the charming Piazza del Duomo, which is ideal for grabbing an aperitif and a scoop of gelato!

If you’d prefer to dial things down, the beaches are perfect for sunbathing with their idyllic waters and soft sands.

In short, Cefalù is the whole package.

What to eat in Cefalù

Pasta a Taianu is a traditional dish from Cefalù that combines pasta with meat, aubergines, tomatoes, and pecorino cheese. It’s cooked in a large earthenware pan and is historically tied to local festivals and the Patron Saint feast. But these days, you find it in any typical restaurant, and it’s a must here.

6. Ortigia and Syracuse

Ortigia in Syracuse Sicily.

Echoes of Ancient Greece Amidst Sicilian Beauty

Ortigia and Syracuse are both among the best places to visit in Sicily as they ooze southern Italian charm.

To give you some context, Ortigia island is the historical center of Syracuse and runs as a tiny 3.5km loop.

It’s the place to be if you’re on the hunt for Baroque architecture, snaking alleyways, and striking Greek ruins.

The Temple of Apollo is front and center here, but you’ll also spot the Piazza Archimede and the marbled Piazza Duomo.

As you head further into Syracuse, you can spend hours exploring the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis (a UNESCO World Heritage Site!).

But what makes Syracuse incredibly special is the marriage of ancient wonders and classic Sicilian charm.

That’s right – among the ruins, you’ll find bobbing boats in the port, sprawling squares, and traditional trattorias!

What to eat in Ortigia and Syracuse

There are so many things you can eat around here, so I’ll name just my favorites above all: Pasta di Mandorle (almond paste cookies), a luscious blend of nutty almond richness, a delicate, chewy texture, and subtle citrus undertones. 

And Buccellati, my favorite cookies in the whole world: a tender, buttery pastry filled with a rich mixture of dried figs, nuts, and citrus zest, often spiced with cinnamon or clove

7. Ragusa and Modica 

Aerial view of Ragusa.

Baroque Twins with Timeless Elegance

You’ll find tons of Baroque architecture in Noto, but Ragusa and Modica are equally elegant spots to explore.

Ragusa is another UNESCO World Heritage Town that’s split into two distinctive sections by a large ravine.

Ibla is the Old Town that holds the Baroque-style gems, narrow streets, and churches.

The Superiore is the modern section that’s less popular with tourists and is home to shops and local businesses.

While exploring Ibla, cover the San Giorgio Cathedral for its convex façade and amazing stained-glass windows.

But you also don’t want to miss the Church of Santa Maria delle Scale (or any of the other 50 Baroque churches!).

If you need to rest your legs after trailing around the Old Town, why not sit amidst the Hyblean Garden’s blossoms?

Like Ragusa, Modica is jam-packed with Sicilian Baroque architecture.

But what makes it stand out is its incredible authentic chocolate that’s made the old-school Aztec way.

The chocolate is made over a low fire and gently simmered, which keeps the granular texture of the bean intact.

And Modica goes hard on its variations.

From dark and milk chocolate bars to white chocolate syrup and baked goods, the sweet stuff is around every corner.

Just FYI, Antica Dolceria Bonajuto and Cioccolato di Modica Sabadì are excellent spots for artisan chocolate!

While you’re munching on treats, wander through the Corso Umberto and take in the churches.

But what you don’t want to miss is the gorgeous medieval Castello dei Conti.

It’s one of the only structures that harks back to the area’s architecture before the 1693 earthquake.

Plus, entry is free, making it a perfect pick for budget travelers!

What to eat in Ragusa and Modica

Modica’s Chocolate, of course! 

And Scaccia Ragusana in Ragusa (a super delicious stuffed flatbread, often filled with tomato sauce, onions, cheese, or anchovies). 

8. The Aeolian Islands 

View of Colcano Island from Lipari.

Where Volcanic Fire Meets Mediterranean Splendor

If you’re willing to hop on a boat, you can head over to this stunning seven-island archipelago.

These volcanic islands are perfect for relaxing in mud baths and soaking in skin-loving minerals from sulfurous pools.

Stromboli and Vulcano are top picks for volcano fans, but virtually all islands offer idyllic beaches and top-tier hikes.

If you’re an avid wine lover, Salina is the place to visit for the most incredible fragrant white wine (and capers!).

For wannabe A-listers, the yachts, active nightlife, and whitewashed houses of Panarea are unlikely to disappoint!

What to eat in The Aeolian Islands

Although the Aeolian Islands offer all the typical Sicilian dishes, I’d highly recommend diving into the seafood options. Don’t miss Totani Ripieni (stuffed squids) and Linguine ai Ricci di Mare (pasta with sea urchin sauce).

And don’t forget to try Caponata Eoliana, which usually incorporates fish like swordfish or tuna, reflecting the islands’ maritime culture. 

9. Noto 

San Nicolò Cathedral i n Noto.

A Baroque Masterpiece Bathed in Sunlight

Those planning to visit Syracuse can take a short 20-minute trip straight over to the beautiful Baroque town of Noto.

Once destroyed by a catastrophic earthquake in 1693, it was rebuilt firmly in the Baroque style by the Duke of Camastra.

It manages to blend majestic architecture with the laid-back and casual feel of an Italian seaside town.

And as it’s typically less frequented than areas like Taormina and Syracuse, you won’t be overrun by tourists!

The San Nicolò Cathedral is a must-visit if you’re here as its soft limestone façade looks ethereal glowing in the sunlight.

It’s also worth checking out the 17th-century Palazzo Ducezio with its glorious panoramic terrace and Hall of Mirrors.

Now, there’s certainly plenty to do here.

But you can easily take Noto at a slower pace and spend afternoons sipping espressos at the Gagliardi Hotel!

What to eat in Noto

While you’re in Noto, you’ve got to try Torrone di Noto. It’s a delicious nougat made with almonds, honey, and egg whites. It’s made with the incredibly sweet and crunchy almonds that grow in their countryside. Don’t miss out!

10. Erice

Misty panorama in Erice, with a view of Venus Castle, Castello di Venere, in clouds.

Where Ancient Legends Meet Incredible Sicilian Panoramas

If you’re on the hunt for the best places to visit in Sicily for medieval vibes and next-level views, Erice is a winner.

You’ll get 360-degree panoramas from the impressive Normal Castle that’s tucked right above the port of Trapani.

Plus, it tends to be slightly foggier and cooler than the sometimes-brutal heat you get elsewhere in Sicily!

I suggest hopping on the cable car (funivia) from Trapani to get to Erice if you’re not traveling by car. This lets you snap glorious photos of the salt pans along the coast and the medieval village itself.

With its fairytale feel, centuries of history, and authentic cuisine, it’s absolutely one of the best places to visit in Sicily!

What to eat in Erice

Aside from the two striking castles, sixty churches, and towering cathedral, Erice is also known for its excellent eats.             

The Dolci Ericini (almond sweets) from Maria Grammatico’s Pasticceria are major standouts.

And they’re portable enough to be popped into your mouth as you wander through Erice’s cobblestone streets!

11. Zingaro Nature Reserve

View of a beach in Zingaro Natural Reserve, San Vito lo Capo, Sicily.

Sicily’s Untouched Paradise of Land and Sea

When it comes to natural beauty, secluded coves, and lush hiking trails, Zingaro Nature Reserve nails it.

The Nature Reserve was created back in 1981 as Sicily’s very first protected natural area and spans an impressive 1,600 hectares.

Because it’s virtually untouched, you can snorkel among the local wildlife in the Pools of Venus. The waters are utterly crystalline and surrounded by craggy cliffs and vegetation!

Along with an impressive 40 bird species and countless variations of flowering plants, Zingaro is also a dream come true for hikers.

You can trudge along the gravel tracks to find gorgeous hidden beaches, blooming meadows, and even secluded coves.

Zingaro has an incredible number of hikes, but the Sentiero Costiero (Coastal Walk) is a must. It’s a 13.5 km out-and-back trail that offers an excellent overview of the whole park. Plus, the views are truly sensational!

What to eat around Zingaro Natural Reserve

You absolutely can’t miss the Pane Cunzato (a rustic crusty bread filled with olive oil, tomatoes, oregano, and anchovies) at the small wood-fired oven bakery in Scopello that’s been serving it since 1965. It’s one of the best in all of Sicily.

Ready to explore Sicily?

A giant cactus in the Sicilian dry landscape.

I hope this article has given you some ideas about the best places to visit in Sicily. 

And remember: Sicily is an incredible land, a combination of sun, heat, land, and sea. Once you’ve been there, it will steal a piece of your heart.

It’s an unforgettable place for anyone who has visited it. 

And if you have any questions about visiting Sicily, let me know in the comments! I’ll be happy to answer.

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