Road Trip Around the Scenic Sicilian Coast - 15 Days

An island as beautiful and historically rich as Sicily deserves to be experienced at a leisurely pace. This 15-day itinerary features beaches and cathedrals, fishing villages and urban markets, a volcano and ancient archeological sites. Take your time as you circumnavigate this stunning region of Italy.
Route map of 14 days on Sicily
Route map of 15 days on Sicily

Highlights

  • Walk the streets of Palermo, a cultural melting pot and Sicily's capital, with its stunning monuments and vibrant local markets
  • Visit Taormina, the elegant village famous for its Greek theatre and the postcard views of Mount Etna  
  • Tour the archaeological masterpieces of Syracuse and Agrigento.
  • Summit Mt Etna, Europe's highest active volcano
  • See the paleolithic carvings in the Egadi Islands
  • Drive along Sicily's famous Salt Road
  • Walk the colorful streets of Baroque cities

Overview

This two week itinerary is a self-guided drive along the coast of Sicily. You will fly in and out of Catania or travel to the city by boat. Vehicle hire is possible in Catania. Begin your drive heading south along the east coast of Sicily before traveling the island in a clockwise fashion. You will stop in major towns and small villages along the way and see important historic sites, experience this world-renowned wine destination, get to know the Sicilian people, and enjoy the unparalleled natural scenery for which this island is known. 

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Catania and drive to Syracuse

A steam train waits for passengers in front of a cathedral in Catania. 

After landing in the Catania airport, pick up your rental car and begin the 50-minute drive to Ortigia, the historic center of Syracuse. Check in to your hotel located in the heart of town before going to dinner at a restaurant of your choice and settling in for your first night in Sicily.

Day 2: Explore Syracuse and Journey to Noto

Coast of Ortigia island at city of Syracuse

Take your time exploring the Classical Greek architecture of Syracuse. This scenic town was founded 2700 years ago and by the fifth century equal to Athens in size and importance. With a licensed guide, you will visit the Neaopolis Archaeological Park with its famous Greek Theatre.

From there, walk the narrow streets of Ortigia Island before packing up and beginning your afternoon drive to Noto. When you arrive, take an afternoon tour of the city’s stunning Cathedral. You’ll return to the farmhouse for an overnight stay, but don’t leave Noto without stopping at Café Sicilia for a typical granita - a semi-frozen dessert native to the island. 

Day 3: Enjoy the outdoors at Vendicari Natural Reserve or Plemmirio

The beach of Cala Mosche is a swimmer's paradise.

Following breakfast visit the Vendicari Natural Reserve, famous for it’s white sand beach of Calamosche, considered one of the most beautiful in Italy. The reserve has good hiking trails and birdwatching, or you may go snorkeling. If time allows, explore Plemmirio on your own, the area offers small sandy coves and tide pools. This region is a UNESCO site that was mentioned by the poet Virgil in his famous Aeneid. You’ll return to Syracuse for the evening.

Day 4: See the ancient towns of Marzamemi and Ragusa

The old town of Ragusa Ibla in Sicily before sunrise.

Hit the road in the morning and begin your drive to the beautiful area of Ragusa. On the way, you can stop for a nice swim in the small town of Marzamemi. An ancient fishing village, this area is famous for its old “tonnara,” or tuna fishery, and oceanfront views. When you arrive in Ragusa, check in to your accommodation and take a walk around the beautiful Ibla neighborhood, which is the older and lower region of town.

Day 5: Explore the Sicilian Baroque

The Baroque city of Modica at night

In the morning, visit the other two Baroque destinations, Modica and Scicli. Both have historic, cobblestone centers and breathtaking views of colorful alleys and stairways. Explore the picturesque cities at your own pace and return to Ragusa for your overnight stay. 

Day 6: Tour the ancient ruins of the “Valley of the Temples”

The famous Temple of Concordia in the Valley of Temples is an impressive sight. 

Continue along the South coast towards Agrigento, where you will meet your licensed guide for a tour of the “Valley of the Temples,” Sicily’s most enthralling archeological site. Walk the remains of the ancient city of Akragas and see the well-preserved Temple of Concordia. One of several ridge-top temples that once served as beacons for homecoming sailors, it was built around 440 B.C. and converted to a Christian basilica in the 6th century.

After your tour, proceed to Menfi, where you will check into your hotel for the evening. 

Day 7: Visit small towns and archeological sites

Sciacca is one of the many scenic coastal towns you'll see along this drive. 

Spend the day exploring the sun-drenched beaches, wineries, and coastal towns of Sicily's primary wine region. Depending on your interests, you can visit the small fishing village of Sciacca or take another archeological tour of the ancient site of Selinunte. You will return to Menfi for the night.

Day 8: Drive along the Salt Road to Trapani

The unique scenery of the salt flats located between Marsala and Trapani

You can’t leave the west coast of Sicily without a scenic drive along the ancient salt flats that stretch from Marsala to Trapani. This famous road features windmills, lagoons, piles of harvested salt, and neatly arranged terracotta tiles. It’s a truly unique landscape.

Along the drive, stop in Marsala, a city well known for its excellent wine. You can also take a boat tour around the Stagnone and Mothya islands.

After checking into your hotel in Trapani, walk through the town's narrow streets and enjoy a fabulous meal at one of the many local restaurants.

Day 9: Travel to the Egadi islands by boat

Turquoise waters surround the island of Levanzo 

Take a boat ride to the lovely Egadi islands located just off the coast of Trapani. Levanzo is the smallest of the islands and a real jewel of the past. Palaeolithic-era petroglyphs and carvings found in the island's “Cave of Genovese” are approximately 12,000 years old. 

The closest island to Trapani is Favignano, known for it’s stunning white sand beaches and crystal clear water. After exploring the island of your choice, return to Trapani for the night.

Day 10: Tour Trapani and Erice at your own pace

A cobbled medieval street in the historic town of Erice

This relaxing day along the west coast begins with a cable car ride to Erice, a lovely medieval town located on a hilltop. The town offers amazing views of the ocean and features a stunning castle. Take a walking tour through the historic streets and return to Trapani in the evening.

Day 11: Take in the scenic beauty of the Zingaro Natural Reserve on your way to Palermo

A stretch of wild coastline at the Zingaro Natural Reserve. 

Continue your drive along the coast to Palermo. Stop in at the charming seaside village of Scopello, located on the southern edge of the Zingaro Nature Reserve.

This preserved stretch of land is famous for its sparkling waters and an ancient “tonnara,” or tuna fishery. It also features incredible limestone mountains and cliffs that drop dramatically into the ocean. Scattered throughout the Reserve are caves that make for endless opportunities for adventure. 

In the late afternoon, continue on to Palermo and check into your hotel.

Day 12: Experience the culture of Palermo and Monreale

There are many fantastic local restaurants to choose from in Palermo. 

Begin your exploration of Palermo with a guided food tour of the city. Experience the city’s culture up close and personal as you sample street food, interact with locals, and learn about Palermo’s artistic and historic points of interest. In the afternoon, drive to Monreale and visit an extraordinary cathedral considered to be the world’s greatest example of Norman architecture. Return to Palermo that evening. 

Day 13: Drive through Cefalù on your way to Taormina

Cefalú is a bustling resort town in the daytime, but is gorgeous no matter what time you visit. 

Continue on to Cefalú, a village famous for its cathedral and picturesque harbor. From there, continue on to Taormina and check in at a lovely farmhouse hotel located just outside of town. Enjoy a tasty dinner before settling in for the night.

Day 14: Stand on the summit of Mt Etna

The scenery and lava fields of Mt. Etna. 

Stand on the largest active volcano in Europe, Mt. Etna, by either hiking the mountain or taking a cable car to reach the 10,000 foot (3,350 meters) summit. If you opt for the hike, join a guided tour with a professional mountain guide. After the excursion, you’ll drive back to Taormina and tour the ancient Greek theater for which the town is famous. That evening, you will return to the same farmhouse for the night. 

Day 15: Say goodbye to Sicily

Catania is home to Sicily's largest airport and a cultural hub of the island. Pictured here are the remains of the Roman amphitheater at the city's Stesicoro square. 

Pack your bags and return to the Catania airport. Return your rental car and begin your journey home.