if you don't know what to see in Sicily read our mini guide

5 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN SICILY: GUIDES AND INFO VALID FOR THOSE WHO ARE LITTLE TIME IN SICILY.

First of all, the sea is a great first reason to spend your holidays in Sicily.

With its changing colors, it caresses some of the most beautiful beaches in the world (such as those of San Vito Lo Capo and Lampedusa), frames gems of rare beauty such as the Aeolian and Egadi islands, as well as shaping unreal reefs like the Scala dei Turchi .

But the reliefs are also noteworthy, starting from Etna ending with Stromboli and Vulcano, passing through mountain ranges such as the Madonie and Nebrodi, ideal for lovers of naturalistic journeys, trips inside woods and breathtaking views.

Furthermore, Sicily has traces of ancient cultures. A special mention goes to Taormina, Giardini-Naxos, Cefalù, Piazza Armerina, Noto, Selinunte, Segesta, Syracuse, Agrigento and of course to Catania and Palermo. Each of these stages will immerse you in history, culture and beauty.

From the gastronomic point of view, finally, Sicily offers a myriad of specialties and typical dishes of the place.

Every recipe here is the result of the many contaminations that have affected the island over the centuries: above all the dishes based on fish (grilled, swordfish rolls, grouper ravioli) or vegetables (parmigiana, caponata, peperonata) stand out. ), but homemade pasta and typically Sicilian ingredients such as pistachio (preferably Bronte) and almonds are also strong. The throne, however, belongs to sweets: granitas, ice creams, cassata, cannoli and other delicacies will represent the maximum for our land.

Let’s debunk the myth of the journey to Sicily only in the summer. Sicily must be discovered especially in cold periods (even if cold Sicily never is).

Places to visit in Sicily: our TOP 5

 

5) Alcantara Gorges

The Alcantara River has created in various stretches the characteristic lava gorges, known locally as gorges, with steep vertical walls.
Going into the spectacular but narrow Gole di contrada Larderia, better known as the Gole dell’Alcantara, basaltic prisms are particularly evident, extending for a stretch of about 400 meters, narrow a few meters and with walls up to 50 meters high .
Over time, numerous artists have tried their hand at trying to describe, reproduce and fix the images of a unique natural scenario which, in 2010, received the European recognition of European Destination of Excellence (EDEN).

SMALL GORGES OF ALCANTARA

Departure: St. Nicholas Bridge
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1 km
Difference in height: 30 m
Signpost: Park signage at the beginning
Municipalities: Castiglione di Sicilia
Notes After the first 200 meters on the lava basalt, a path to the left of the river leads to Byzantine Cuba.

The path, characterized by a flat and panoramic route, offers remarkable insights into a stretch of the river characterized by the lava riverbed and the presence of gurne and waterfalls. Along the way, parking areas are located.

 

itinerary of the Alcantara gorges

Photo source: www.parcoalcantara.it

 

Sport

In the territory of the Alcantara Gorges it is possible to practice different sports that allow the visitor to experience the Park more completely.
There are trekking activities starting from the historic centers, others with spectacular views of the river and the Alcantara Valley.

In the Park territory it is also possible to take horse rides that allow you to fully enjoy the surrounding nature.

Horse riding in the Alcantara gorges

Recommended: Excursion in Quod with departure from the parking of the Alcantara and arrival on the northern slope of the Etna to 1900 mt to (Piano Provenzana) where you will be conducted inside shelters where you will see photographic reports and videos of the most spectacular eruptions of the highest volcano of Europe.
There will be gadgets for objects lovers for an always indelible memory of this experience.

Recommended: Body Rafting on the Alcantara Gorges, an activity practiced by extreme sports lovers. The canyon of the Alcantara Gorges is one of the main natural attractions of the Alcantara Valley:

body rafting gole dell'Alcantara

The adventure begins with a river trekking excursion in a stretch of river channeled into an impressive basalt gorge more than 30 meters high, which in millennia due to the continuous erosion of the waters of the Alcantara River, has been shaped taking on forms unique that characterize the natural beauty of the canyon.

Inside the canyon the route becomes increasingly challenging, so there is a minimum of physical skill and a spirit of adventure to overcome natural obstacles.

One of the most desirable destinations within the Alcantara Gorges is certainly the waterfall of Venus, where the legend tells that the goddess of beauty Venus loved to spend her days relaxing and bathing.

Once the ascent is over, the descent begins. All the necessary info on – https://www.sicily-adventure.it/escursioni/body-rafting-gole-alcantara.html

4) Agrigento. The Valley of the Temples

the park of the temples in Agrigento | Travel with Jonicatour

The Valley of the Temples, is one of the most extensive, representative and best preserved archaeological sites of classical Greek civilization, included in 1998 by UNESCO on the list of World Heritage Sites.

The archaeological area corresponds to the remains of the ancient Akragas, the original nucleus of modern Agrigento: on a rocky ridge, which delimits the plateau on which the classical settlement once stood to the south, the imposing remains of the Doric temples dedicated to the Greek gods emerge.
Inside the area there is also the Pietro Griffo Regional Archaeological Museum, which houses 5688 artifacts that illustrate the history of the territory from prehistory to the end of the Greek-Roman age.

Geographical outline

The Valley of the Temples rises below modern Agrigento. Although it is commonly called the valley, all the monuments stand on a plateau overlooking the rest of the valley that slopes down to the sea. The valley of the temples is closed to the east by the SS 640, while it is cut in two by the SP4. To the west the garden of the Kolimbetra is partially cut by the railway that separates the temple of Hephaestus.

climate in Agrigento

 

When to go

All year round it is valid to visit the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. Some difficulties can be had in the central summer months, July and August, due to the high temperatures in the hottest hours that put the unaccustomed tourist in difficulty given the vastness of the site, the duration of the visit and the little shade available. In this period you can touch the 40 C ° and over, for this reason it is useful to take advantage of the extension of the visiting hours even at night.

The best period goes from late February to early June, when the nature of the surrounding countryside gives its best as colors and scents, making the visit to this corner of Sicily special. Great September and October, still warm and bright.

Tourist itinerary

Per maggiori informazioni: https://www.lavalledeitempli.it/

3) Catania and Mount Etna

The spectacular nature of the sea and the majesty of the mountain. Catania is one of the most characteristic and beautiful cities in Italy and a destination for many tourists throughout the year. But what to see in Catania?

The ranking on the ranking.

Piazza Duomo and the historic center

The Piazza Duomo is the most beautiful square in Sicily
Source: www.wikipedia.it

Piazza del Duomo is the symbol of Catania. It welcomes visitors with “O Liotru”, the elephant symbol of Catania. The various legends that accompany him consider it magical, protector from the eruptions of Etna, memory of a forgotten religion and much more. CLICK HERE.
The Palazzo degli Elefanti (Town Hall) surrounds the fountain, the Palazzo dei Chierici joined the Cathedral by a passage above the Porta Uzeda. In front of the Town Hall is the Amenano fountain, the river that flows under Catania visible just below the fountain.

Reaching Piazza Duomo is very simple. Walk to Via Etnea. Avoid taxis or 4-wheel vehicles, you risk being trapped in the fierce city traffic.

On foot you will reach all the neighboring areas of the historic center. Not to be missed: Piazza Teatro Massimo, Piazza Stesicoro (with the remains of old Catania underground), Piazza Università, The Benedictine Monastery, Via dei Crociferi, Via Etnea, Villa Bellini.

 

The popular markets of Catania

the Catania market. The most characteristic of the world

To you the choice. You can come to Catania to visit the areas in, or decide to savor the taste of the city discovering it within its intimacy.
The first market of Catania is undoubtedly the Pescheria which is located behind Piazza del Duomo and in Fera ‘o Luni, in Piazza Carlo Alberto. La Pescheria is a fish market, the most colorful, lively, chaotic and therefore characteristic of Catania. As in many Sicilian markets, vuciate sounds resound here, that is the cries of merchants to attract customers. Not far away, in Piazza Carlo Alberto, a daily market of fruit, clothes, toys and other merchandise takes place in Fera ‘o Luni, which in recent years has assumed a strong multi-ethnic connotation. In the same square, every Sunday, there is a Flea Market, the joy of those in search of a bargain at a low price.

What to eat in Catania?

When you are in Sicily, visit unique places and immerse yourself in a unique experience in life.
You can’t try typical dishes from Catania.
Let’s start from the end, then from the desserts: cassate, cannoli with ricotta, Iris (fried or baked bombs with various fillings), Sant’Agata olives, brioche with granita and great Catania ice creams.

Before arriving at this, however, you have probably gone through the street food of Catania: an arancino (go to SAVIA in via Etnea), crispelle or schiacciate, offal or roasted artichokes. Sitting more or less comfortably you can taste a pasta alla Norma (with eggplant), a pasta with sardines, a caponata or a falsomagro. Especially in the popular districts, in the evening the butchers light the embers (Arrusti e mangia) and allow them to eat horse meat and other types.

ETNA

Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe that never ceases to offer lava and fire shows. For those passing through Catania, therefore, it is necessary to approach the volcano to look at it more closely.
Those who want to see it from much closer can take advantage of the many excursions offered by tour operators, agencies and single tourist guides or go privately with the means made available by Jonicatour.

But what can you see and do by climbing Etna? It depends on your tastes. You can visit the Valle del Bove, the summit craters, there are about 200 caves used since ancient times as a refuge, cemeteries, sacred places, to preserve snow and so on. Then you can do jeep excursions, ski descents, walks, or a more comfortable panoramic tour with the Circumetnea Railway that goes around the lower ring of the volcano.

In the section above (ALCANTARA GORGES) we suggest to see the same and book an excursion on Etna in Quod starting from the Gorges. You will have 3 simple choices. 2 hours in quod (not recommended), half a day in quod (Recommended – where you will climb up to about 1800 meters above sea level in Piano Provenzana), or opt for the third and best offer of the whole day. Unique and fun experience.

4) Aeolian Islands

The archipelago of the Aeolian Islands takes their name from the god Eolo, undisputed god of the winds, and is formed by seven islands scattered along the north-eastern coast of Sicily, they are scattered as to form a large y of which Vulcano is the extremity lower and Alicudi and Stromboli the two peaks more to the west and more to the east respectively.
The “seven pearls of the Mediterranean” have been defined, this is because they are islands of extraordinary charm. These are always active volcanoes and when you approach them you can’t help being encouraged to explore them. Panarea is the smallest but also the most frequented by young people and offers a good night life.

What to do and which islands to see

On board a motorship or hydrofoil (faster but more expensive), you reach Lipari. Free visit of the city, with the possibility of shopping in the characteristic lanes of the center and visit to the Archaeological Museum as a mandatory stop.
Continue to Vulcano with a sulfur bath and the opportunity to climb the Gran Cratere or sunbathe on the black beach.

Tour of the island by sea to see the Faraglioni, the Valley of the Monsters and the beautiful Iron Horse Cave. For the younger ones you cannot miss the pumice stone beaches and the famous White Beach of Lipari known for its nightlife and disco dance.

Panarea, with the beautiful natural bay of Calajunco, above which is the prehistoric village of Capo Milazzese and the magnificent Cala Zimmari. Panoramic tour among the islets and visit to the Cave of Lovers. We will continue to Stromboli where we will stop for a swim. Do not miss the tour of the Island of Strombolicchio, a mammoth rock shaped like a medieval castle with a stop to admire the Sciara del Fuoco.

5) Taormina

We cannot fail to include Taormina as our top tourist destination in our ranking.
One of our previous guides available for consultation at the following address: https://www.ionicatour.it/escursioni-per-croceristi-taormina/ will make you enjoy the beauty of the town more.

A few steps from the strait that separates Sicily from the Italian peninsula, on a natural terrace overlooking the Ionian Sea, rises the splendid Taormina, the ancient Tauromenion.
With its appearance of a medieval village, its ancient Greek soul, the colors and scents of the Mediterranean vegetation, Taormina is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the world. And the climate of Sicily makes it an ideal destination at any time of the year.

exclusive photo of the panorama of Taormina

The symbol

One cannot fail to be fascinated by the immense beauty of this place, as happened to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, when on his trip to Italy he visited the Greek theater (III BC), symbol of the city.
Nestled among cypress trees and prickly pear plants, with the cavea carved into the rock, the Hellenistic theater of Taormina, transformed into an arena by the Romans, offers a spectacular view of the turquoise sea from the coasts of Calabria, the city of Syracuse and the steaming summit Etna.
History and art lovers will find in Taormina the ideal place to satisfy their passion.

To be seen

Entering the city from Porta Messina, you reach the medieval heart of Taormina.
Not far from the door, Palazzo Corvaia is the seventeenth-century church of San Pancrazio, which stands on the remains of a Greek temple. Not to be missed is also the cavea of ​​the ancient Odeon and the nearby church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria.
Nearby the road widens in Piazza IX Aprile, a terrace from which you can enjoy a wide view, while the Mezzo gate opened in the seventeenth-century clock tower leads into the medieval quarter of Taormina, with characteristic buildings with Romanesque and Gothic architectural ornaments and elements .
The massive defensive palace of the Dukes of Santo Stefano, with Gothic, Arab and Norman elements, and the Badia Vecchia date back to the Norman era.
Not only history, Taormina is also characterized by a luxuriant nature like that of the public gardens of the Villa Comunale.

To do

Inevitable a walk along Corso Umberto I, the main street of the city, ideal for a bit of shopping; here in fact there are many craft shops that sell everything from ceramics to jewelery, from clothing to souvenirs. To enjoy a bit of tranquility you can enter the picturesque alleys and courtyards of the oldest part of Taormina.
Undoubtedly Taormina is also sea and beaches and during the summer, one cannot resist a refreshing bath in the transparent waters of Giardini Naxos or the beaches of Mazzarò, which can be reached with a cable car, of Mazzeo and Lido Spisone, where the evening there is also a disco.
The other beach is Isola Bella, a tiny island located in the Bay of Taormina, connected to the mainland by a strip of land, visible at low tide. It is a protected natural oasis that offers unparalleled naturalistic views.

Around

Considered one of the most beautiful seaside resorts on the east coast, Giardini di Naxos is very close to Taormina and is one of the favorite places for Sicilians for its splendid sea. The extended promenade alternates free beaches with equipped beaches, and is full of hotels, restaurants, pizzerias and discos. In Giardini di Naxos there is also a port where large boats also moor.
In the hinterland, an excursion to the medieval village of Castelmola, located higher up than Taormina, on Mount Tauro.

Not to be missed

A show at the Greek theater. From June to August, the program Taormina Arte is scheduled, which includes a large poster with music, theater and dance performances. In addition, the Taormina FilmFest takes place in June, one of the most important Italian film festivals, with international guests.

To try

A good fish-based lunch, perhaps outdoors in a lemon garden, tasting Sicilian extra virgin olive oil and one of the finest DOC wines of the province.
Or a break sitting at the tables of one of the many cafés in Corso Umberto for a lemon granita served in warm croissants or a typical Sicilian cassata.