Unmissable destinations and hidden gems in Sicily
Let’s unveil the top unmissable destinations and the hidden gems in Sicily in a journey of luxury and discovery.
Think of visiting Palermo’s opulent baroque architecture, for example. Or relax on Taormina’s serene beaches, which recently became viral thanks to the tv fiction White Lotus. Taste the local, delicious cuisine, and soak up the sun at one of its many five-star resorts. Sicily offers a diverse range of sights that will leave you in awe.
Our expert team has curated a list of the best places to visit in Sicily for your next travel.
Sicily must see
We have selected the top 10 places to see in Sicily. These are must-see sights worth a special dedicated trip or D-tour:
- The mosaics of the Palatine Chapel in Palermo. This is an impressive mix of Byzantine, Norman, and Arab styles dating back to 1140.
- The Cathedral in Monreale, outside Palermo. It holds over 6,000 square meters of glittering mosaics covering every inch of the interior.
- The ancient ruins of Agrigento. This is one of the most important archaeological sites in Western Sicily. It is called the Valley of Temples and is listed among UNESCO world heritage sites.
- The Etna volcano and its exceptional environment.
- The UNESCO-protected Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto. This cluster of eight towns in south-eastern Sicily was rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake. Noto and Ragusa are the top unmissable destinations here. Also, visit Modica to taste the local chocolate produced following an ancient recipe from the Aztecs.
- Syracuse and Ortigia Island attractions: the Temple of Apollo, the Cathedral, the Archaeological Park, the Fountain of Arethusa, and the Ear of Dionysius. These remains are among the most impressive archaeological sites in Eastern Sicily.
- Selinunte. The city boasts several well-preserved temples, like the Temple of Hera, one of the largest and most impressive ancient Greek temples. The breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea make Selinunte a popular spot for sunset cocktails and romantic dinners.
- The Greek theatre in Taormina. This is one of the world’s most well-preserved ancient theaters. It has a seating capacity of up to 5,000 people and a stage that measures 120 meters wide.
- Cefalù’s Norman cathedral, built in the 12th century, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- The vibrant fish market in Catania, a bustling and colorful scene.
Sicily’s major cities
There are nine provincial capitals on the island, seven of which can be considered Sicily’s major cities for the number of interesting monuments and destinations worth seeing in their areas.
The capital city of the region. It is rich in Arab-Norman architecture, lavish palazzos, and gardens. A complete tour of Palermo is a must. Allow two full days to visit the city’s different monuments and taste the local delicacies.
Worth visiting for its baroque city center, and the Colombaia, a medieval fortress. The town hosts a famous couscous festival every year in September, as couscous is indeed a delicious and popular local dish.
This is a major city on the eastern coast, famous for its baroque architecture, noble palaces, and famous fish market.
A city located on the island’s western side. This city is best known for its vast archeological park, the Valley of Temples.
Syracuse is one of the Sicilian towns with the most extended history. It hosts an ancient Necropolis for its rich Greek and Roman history and its archaeological park, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sicily
The city, with the ancient hilltop district, Ragusa Ibla, features a remarkable collection of baroque-style buildings (in the featured image). Meanwhile, Ragusa Superiore, the city’s more modern section, is home to the ornate Ragusa Cathedral.
Five hidden gems of Sicily
So far, we have considered the most popular destinations. Now is the time to uncover five hidden gems spread throughout the island that only the most sophisticated connoisseurs have visited.
The impressive, well-preserved mosaics of the Sicily historical site Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina are one of the best archaeological sites to visit in Sicily. The mosaics cover a surface of 3000 square meters, approximately 32,300 square feet. Note that Piazza Armerina is located in the inner part of Sicily and requires a dedicated trip.
A medieval hilltop town connected to Trapani by cable car, Erice has over 800 years of history. It still shows traces of ancient Phoenician, Greek, and Roman civilizations today. Its main attraction is the impressive Norman castle, built in the 12th century. For a romantic stroll, go to the Giardino del Balio, a colorful garden filled with exotic plants and flowers.
Erice offers magnificent views over the Tyrrhenian Sea and the surrounding countryside, and it is also known for its almond pastries, a must-try when visiting the town!
Scala dei Turchi
The Stair of the Turks, or Scala dei Turchi, is located near Agrigento. This is a natural wonder where erosion has carved steps out of limestone.
In fact, the unique geological formation was created by thousands of years of wind and water erosion on brilliant white limestone, forming a series of steps that resemble a natural staircase leading down to the turquoise waters of the sea.
The view from the top of the stairs is awe-inspiring. It offers panoramic vistas of the Sicilian coastline that stretch as far as the eye can see.
A Phoenician city on a small island off the coast of Marsala, Mozia, is only 45 hectares. Still, it is filled with archaeological ruins, including a rare and well-preserved Phoenician settlement. Mozia is also known for its beautiful salt flats and natural reserves, making it a unique destination for nature lovers.
The black pearl of the Mediterranean, Pantelleria, is a volcanic island in the area of Trapani located between Sicily and Tunisia. Forbes recently included it among the must-see natural parks to visit in Italy.
The island offers hot springs, deep blue sea water, and a rocky coastline. Here the traditional rural buildings made out of volcanic stones, called Dammusi, have been restored and turned into tourist accommodations. Visitors can also admire the old sapling vine cultivated for generations, a model of grape production, awarded the title of Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2014.
Natural wonders of Sicily
Probably the best world-renowned natural wonder in Sicily is Etna Park. Home to Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, the park can be safely visited by cable cars, jeeps, quads, or bikes.
Visiting Mount Etna is a must for those seeking a more adventurous experience. Enjoy a scenic helicopter tour of the rugged terrain to have one of the best sights in Sicily. Or hike to the summit for an unforgettable island view.
Etna is also the tallest mountain in Sicily. In winter, you can ski at the two main ski resorts on the hill’s northern and southern sides.
The river Alcantara carved a spectacular gorge in the Etna’s lava flows. This site is named Gole dell’Alcantara. Today, it is part of the beautiful Alcantara River Park, hosting various plants, vegetation, and migratory birds.
Sicily is also well renowned for its sandy beaches and rocky coastline. One of the oldest protected nature reserves along the northern coast of Sicily, near Trapani, is the Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro.
If you are looking for active exploration, you can visit the reserve on foot. The reserve is accessible from San Vito Lo Capo or Scopello. The panoramic path runs along the sea and connects two sandy or pebble coves where swimming is possible.
You can consider a private yacht tour for a more comfortable exploration of the coast.
Equally worth visiting is the Vendicari Nature Reserve, around Siracusa. Explore it on foot or by bike to reach beaches and historical sites, or by boat to try some snorkeling.
Islands of Sicily
Among the natural wonders of Sicily, we need to mention its smaller islands. They all make perfect destinations for private yacht cruises.
For a laid-back experience, venture to the Aeolian Islands. This is a collection of seven volcanic islands, including Stromboli, Panarea, Lipari e Vulcano. Here you will find some of the most transparent waters and beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean, as well as a lively nightlife.
The Egadi islands are perfect for nature and beach lovers. The best renowned are the islands of Favignana and Levanzo, rich in marine flora and fauna, sea caves, and historical evidence. The most impressive example is the Genoese cave, a cave with pictorial evidence dating back to Paleolithic era.
Finally, the Pelagie islands are the southernmost islands of Sicily with a subtropical climate. In one of these tiny islands, Linosa, it is possible to observe sea turtles.
How to reach your destination in Sicily
Private flights to Sicily have become increasingly popular in recent years, ranking the island among the top 50 major aviation destinations. The convenience and flexibility of private aviation make it an ideal choice for high-end tourists looking to explore Sicily.
Using a private jet, you can fly to Palermo, the region’s capital city on the northwestern coast. Or you can land in Catania, a city with the most important airport on the island and among the top 3 in Italy, a destination conveniently located mid-way on the eastern coast of Sicily. From here, you can continue to Taormina and Mount Etna in the north, and Syracuse in the south.
Regular flights connect Sicily to most of the main capitals in Europe, like London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Rome. Trapani, on the west coast, and Comiso, on the southernmost tip of Sicily, are two additional small airports available for scheduled flights.
Sicily can also be reached on board super yachts for a private cruise of the Mediterranean.
Once you are in Sicily, there are two good ways to travel around the island:
– By private car, and we suggest having a chauffeur drive you around.
– On a private yacht with crew.
The best part of Sicily
A common question is: which part of Sicily is the best to visit? Many places on the island are worth visiting. If you really have to choose only one side of Sicily, consider spending a few days on the eastern coast.
Taormina is a picturesque small town, offering the widest variety of luxury hotels and refined restaurants. It makes an excellent starting point for exploring the surroundings. Taormina is renowned for its beautiful views over the bay, the ancient Greek theater, and the lovely beaches.
Sicily can offer a wealth of unique destinations for travelers seeking an authentic and unforgettable experience. Whether exploring ancient ruins, soaking in thermal baths, or simply savoring a glass of local wine, Sicily promises to surprise and delight you at every turn.
If you’re ready to experience Sicily, head to our luxury tours to browse our sample itineraries and contact a local expert to design a tailor-made program just for you. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover the heartwarming experiences that await you in this incredible destination.