Planning Your Trip to Sicily
The best way to see Sicily if you are strapped for time is to consider if you want a well-rounded experience or to prioritize a specific aspect of the island. For example, consider how important it is for you to spend time on the beach, touring the cathedrals and ancient ruins, or driving around the countryside. Once you know what you want out of the experience, you will be better able to maximize your time and balance these different activities.
Here are a few sample itineraries for a trip to Sicily, ranging from the shortest (3-days) to the longest (over two-weeks).
Sicily in 3 Days
If you have 3 days don’t try to see it all. Sicily has too much to offer to experience the whole island in just a few days. Instead, focus on one specific area. Cut down on your travel time whenever possible to maximize your time there. You can rent a car rather than wait on public transportation. That being said, don’t fill your schedule to the point where you can’t relax. Soaking in the scenery with a glass of wine in hand or a savory meal is an essential part of the Sicilian experience.
For some concrete ideas, take a look at our detailed article about 3-day itineraries.
Sicily in 4 Days
4-days in Sicily is enough to rent a car and hit the road. Depending on where you fly in, you can do a quick road trip on either the west coast or along the east coast.
If you fly into Palermo, drive west along the north coast to visit the coastal region of Trapani, where you can see the salt flats and plenty of white sand beaches. Most people fly into Catania, however, and from there visit Taormina and Mt. Etna to the North or Syracuse and Noto to the south.
In both cases, you can opt for popular resort experiences or seek lodging in the more remote villages located along the way for a quieter approach to travel in Sicily.
Sicily in 7 Days
Devoting a full week in Sicily opens up several more options for travel. You will be able to expand on the 4-day itineraries by visiting more archeological sites and nature reserves in addition to the cities and towns.
Along the west coast, stop in Trapani and take a boat out to the Egadi islands. You can also walk the cobblestone streets of Erice and make the drive down to Agrigento to see the legendary Valley of Temples, Sicily’s most impressive archeological site.
If you travel on the eastern side of the island, you can choose to tour the whole coast or target the southeast or northeast corners. Highlights in this region include the Riviera Dei Ciclopi, named for a story from the Odyssey, Mt. Etna, Europe’s largest volcano, Otigia Island, the cultural and historic hub of the city of Syracuse, and Modica, a prime example of Sicilian Baroque.
If you want to "see it all", consider this 7-day itinerary that ticks off all of Sicily's main highlights.
Sicily in 10-14 Days
Two weeks is the ideal amount of time for a road trip around the entire island and the most highly recommended amount of time to spend here, especially if it is your first time to Sicily or if you are traveling far to get here. If you are short on time but want to circumnavigate the island, it is possible to squeeze it into 10-days but you will have to cut at least a few activities from our recommended 14-day itinerary or sacrifice some of the built-in down-time.
A two week-tour along the coast will allow for plenty of archeological excavation in sites like Selinunte and Agrigento. You can also take in the scenery of the Egadi islands, Trapani’s salt flats, and parks that include the Zingaro Nature Reserve, Vendicari Nature Reserve, and Plemmirio Marine Reserve. You’ll also have time to get to know the smaller towns, including the ancient fishing village of Marzamemi.
Longer Trips to Sicily
If you can spend 15 or more days in Sicily, you will start to get a real feel for the culture, history, and character of this island. Whenever possible, hire a local guide to walk you through historic sites or urban neighborhoods. Take a cooking class and leave time in your schedule for spontaneity, especially if you think you might be drawn to one region over another.