July is one of the hottest months of the year in Sicily (next to August), averaging a high of 86˚F (30˚C) in Palermo and 90˚F (32˚C) in Catania. Keep in mind the sea breeze tempers the heat, so if you plan on traveling inland, even in hilly regions like Ragusa, temperatures typically don’t decrease until you venture above the 1,500-foot mark. Ragusa averages 90˚F (32˚C) during the hottest time of the day, while Prizzi, at 3,300 feet (1,000 m) averages a high of 81˚F (27˚C). And if the sirocco winds blow (hot wind from Africa) temps in Prizzi can reach 95/97°F (35/36°C).
Pack light layers with your swimwear (the sea is now a solid 77˚F/25˚C) and slather on the sunscreen.
Crowds & Costs
If you can handle the heat that July brings, you might be able to snag a last-minute deal on airfare and hotels. Regardless, expect hordes of tourists lining the coast and on the islands, making a visit to the beach and famous attractions a time-consuming process.
With that in mind, confirm all reservations if you visit this month since many business owners take a break during the hot season. And places that are open shut down between 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm, the hottest part of the day, for siesta (a short nap taken in the afternoon).
Where to Go
Most travelers visiting Sicily will either start or end their holiday in Palermo, the regional capital for great restaurants, historic neighborhoods and architecture, and plenty of venues offering artistic performances. And it’s in the middle of the month that one of the island’s most famous events occur, the explosive (literally) Feast of Santa Rosalia. Celebrating the patron saint, there’ll be much to see, taste, and experience (see events below). And while in Palermo, head to the Kalsa quarter for the Kals’Art Festival for art exhibitions in the streets, parks, and piazzas.
A classic next stop would be to venture east to explore the coast and islands with a visit to Cefalù and its Lungomarre beach. From here you can take a hydrofoil to set out for the Aeolian Islands: volcanoes, mud baths, and Malvasia wine. Next, continue to elegant Taormina for a little culture and nature: excellent dining, resort-quality beaches, and a great jumping-off point to Mount Etna, Syracuse, and the southern coast.
From Syracuse, drive west for your fair share of historic cities like Noto and Ragusa Ibla, archaeological sites including the mosaics of Villa Romana del Casale and ridge-top temples of Agrigento, and breathtaking scenery like the chalk-white cliffs of the Scala dei Turchi and the sublime little-visited beaches of the Torre Salsa Nature Reserve.
And if you make it to the west coast of the Italian island, there’s the Marsala wine region to discover, the Trapani saltpans to explore, and the historic port city of Trapani at the foot of Mount Erice to wander. While here, take in an opera at Villa Margherita now that the Luglio Musicale opera season has begun.
For more ideas on where to go, read Best Coastal Road Trips in Italy.
What to Do
July is all about the beach scene and water-related activities and one great option to avoid the hordes of holiday-makers is to go on a sailing excursion from Milazzo to the Aeolian Islands, periodically stopping for a swim and a little exploration, like at the black sands of Mulberry Beach on Vulcano Island. Alternatively, sail in and around the Aegadi Islands off the coast of Trapani, each offering their share of charming towns, stunning beaches, and stellar underwater life waiting to be discovered.
Another consideration to beat the crowds is to pack a picnic and trek to a relatively empty beach. Consider the beach of Torre Salsa, just east of Sciacca on the south coast or the forested pine beach of Eracloa Minoa a little further east. There’s also the option to explore Zingaro Natural Reserve where you can choose between one of three hiking paths to pebbly coves and panoramic vistas. Access the reserve from charming Scopello or San Vito Lo Capo in the northeast of the island.
Meanwhile, if you find yourself on the western coast, make a trip to check out the dazzling salt ponds that edge the sea. For a truly otherworldly scene, wait until sunset to capture the perfect shot of windmills, saltwater lagoons, and mounds of harvested salt.
International Festival of the Arts. Taormina’s ancient theater hosts daily performances of music (rock, pop, and classical), opera, dance, and theater, from July through to September.
The Feast of Santa Rosalia. The patron saint of Palermo is celebrated over six days in the middle of the month, festivities culminating in a spectacular parade of Santa Rosalia’s carro (chariot) drawn by devotees. Expect lively entertainment from bands and religious choruses to circus performers and fireworks with numerous food stalls set up selling delectable fare.
July Music (Luglio Musicale). The Villa Margherita in Trapani is the stage for a series of cultural, outdoor events, including ballet, opera, and musicals.
La Scala Illuminata. Closer to the end of the month, one of Sicily’s better-known festivals sees the staircase of Caltagirone decorated in ceramics and flowers by day and candles by night in honor of patron saint, Saint James.
Traveling to Sicily in July? Check out these great itineraries.
Sicily's West Coast in 7 Days: Fishing Villages, Wineries, & Archaeology. This tour of Sicily starts in the island's largest city, colorful and vibrant Palermo, before continuing to the country for scenic drives and island hopping. Boat rides, visits to wineries, walks along cobblestone streets and exploration of archaeological sites are just a few of the bucket list items you can tick off on this Sicilian adventure.
Volcanoes of Sicily: Aeolian Islands & Mt. Etna - 9 Days. Dominated by volcanic peaks, some of them still active, Sicily and the Aeolian islands offer dramatic coasts and fertile interiors. Explore the beautiful Aeolian Archipelago—7 diverse islands including Lipari, Vulcano, and Stromboli. End your trip with a climb to the top of Mt Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano.