Rome and Sicily are approximately 260 miles (420 km) apart as the crow flies. Quick flights and overnight train and ferry routes make the trip possible for even the shortest of itineraries. Air travel is the best choice for most travelers, with budget carriers offering multiple daily flights into the island’s main airports. Reaching the island overland from Rome requires about 435 miles (700km) of driving followed by a quick (30 minutes) ferry ride across the straight of Messina. From there you'd need to continue to your final destination on Sicily, for example just over 1 hour to Catania and 2.5 hours to Palermo.
The journey by train is long and slow but remains popular for its memorable descent down the country’s western coast and for the option of overnight cabins to maximize travel time. Ferries sail the Mediterranean from Rome’s nearby port of Civitavecchia to Palermo three times a week. The well-equipped liners offer comfortable cabins and on-ship dining, but the 14-hour journey is the longest and most expensive way to reach the island.
Find out how many days you should spend in Sicily, discover more with our ultimate guide to the island, and explore some of our recommended itineraries, like this seven day tour of Sicilian culture and sights.
Duration: 70 minutes
With several airlines offering plentiful low-cost flights in just over an hour, air travel is by far the most comfortable and efficient way to travel between Rome and Sicily. Rome’s Fiumicino airport is a 30-minute ride from the center, and can be reached via taxi and private transport, as well as by regular direct buses and shuttles from the central Termini station.
The island’s two largest airports are Catania (CTA), on the east coast, and Palermo (PMO) to the northwest. Catania is a good base for proximity to Taormina, Syracuse, and the Val di Noto, while the capital Palermo provides a gateway to the island’s rugged western region. Both offer excellent transport options to explore the surrounding areas, with travel by bus, rental car, or private transfer recommended over the sparser and slower rail system.
Duration: 9 - 12 hours
The train journey from Rome to Sicily is a long one, but it can be a good choice for those looking for a memorable journey on a budget. Total time from Rome to Catania is about 9 hours, and from Rome to Palermo it's about 12 hours. Trenitalia’s direct Intercity line offers air-conditioned overnight sleeper trains which leave Rome’s central Termini station in the evening and wind their way down Italy’s western coast. At the mainland’s southernmost tip, trains are loaded onto a ferry for a short and scenic sunrise trip across the Straits of Messina, before arriving at Messina’s Stazione Centrale.
Private or shared bunks can be booked ahead online, but make sure to pack food and drink for the journey—there’s little offered onboard. For those continuing on from Messina, trains run toward Palermo and Catania, and the city’s bus depot is directly next door to the station.
Duration: 14 hours
Travel by ferry is the least efficient option, but the overnight journey provides comfortable cabins and dining options, as well as the memorable experience of setting sail on Italy’s Tyrrhenian sea. The Grandi Navi Veloci line runs ferries from the Port of Civitavecchia to Palermo three times a week. Civitavecchia is a little over an hour from Rome, easily reached by bus, train, or private transport, with the latter dropping off directly at the port for easy boarding. Ferries dock in the Port of Palermo at sunrise and disembark directly into the city center, where further transport links are convenient and walkable.