October is relatively pleasant in Sicily. The weather is mild and comfortably warm, yet the days are shorter, and there are more bouts of rain and wind. Temperatures across Sicily run between 56-69˚F (14-21˚C), where Palermo sees an average high of 75˚F (24˚C) and most other coastal towns experience something similar, plus or minus a couple of degrees. The sea, too, remains inviting at 73˚F (23˚C). And on days when the sirocco blows in from Africa, temps spike making a trip to the beach all the more pleasant.
Except for the eastern Catania plain, the interior of the island consists of hills and mountains with temps averaging between 54-72˚F (12-22˚C) in Ragusa and Caltanissetta and cooler yet further up in Prizzi and Enna (50-63˚F/10-17˚C).
Crowds & Costs
Airlines and hotels will have introduced shoulder-season rates that offer significant savings, making October an ideal time to visit if you’re in want of avoiding crowds and looking for a bargain. This is especially true toward the end of the month, where there are even fewer tourists in the cities. With that said, know that this is the time when sites and attractions tend to close a little earlier, and ferries to the nearby islands reduce their schedules.
And while the weather is refreshing rather than suffocating, Sicilians still take a daily siesta between 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Because of this, local businesses, as well as some attractions and churches, will close during these hours.
Where to Go
With fewer crowds and cooler temperatures, October is an excellent time to explore Sicily’s major sites. A popular option to see as much of this gem of a region on your schedule is to rent a car. Start with a couple of days in Palermo, the regional capital, to discover the thousands of mummified bodies preserved in period dress in the Capuchin Catacombs and visit the celebrated Norman-Byzantine Cattedrale di Monreale (Monreale Cathedral).
If in the southeast of the Italian island, you’ll want to spend some time in the UNESCO-listed Baroque jewel of Modica, the perfect jumping-off point to the hilltop town of Ragusa Ibla, the oft-overlooked Scicli, and pretty Noto.
October is still a good month to get in some beach time, particularly toward the beginning of the month. For the best beach options, consider San Vito Lo Capo in the northwest for close to two miles of sandy beach, Porto Palo in the southwest or head to the striking white limestone cliffs of Scala dei Turchi and the sky-blue waters and golden sands of Licata in Agrigento province. And while in the area, there are two leading Greek archaeological sites worthy of your attention, the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento and Selinunte's ancient Greek ruins, including temples, streets of houses and shops, and cemeteries.
What to Do
Food festivals related to the season can be found in cities and towns throughout Sicily, making it the perfect time to indulge in Italian delicacies that include artisanal olive oils and cheeses, chestnuts, mushrooms, and prickly pear. If you’re near Mount Etna on a Sunday, you’ll want to check out their weekly sagre featuring locally sourced eats: apples, honey, chestnuts, mushrooms, and of course, wine. For something a little more unique, consider visiting the small town of Belpasso for their Ficus Indica Fest to sample everything prickly pear. For more on culinary experiences in Sicily, see this article.
While the weather is in your favor, head into the Madonie Regional Natural Park to choose from several routes varying in difficulty and length to get in some hiking. And beyond enjoying the autumn foliage, you’ll want to visit Castelbuono to mingle with the locals and take part in their annual mushroom hunt. Another, possibly more obvious choice for hiking, is to stick to the east coast and explore Mount Etna. You can reach the summit by a combination of cable car, optional four-wheel-drive vehicle, and walking.
Read 6 Unique Experiences in Sicily for more ideas.
Carretti Siciliani. Every Friday in October (and May and September), Taormina sees the Carretto Siciliano (native horse cart) and their horses decorated as well as the drivers theatrically dressed.
Chocomodica. Taking place at the end of October, Modica celebrates 400 years of chocolate making over four days with music, art, cooking workshops, food and wine pairings, and tastings.
Ottobrata Zafferanese. A month-long festival of five sagre in the small village of Zafferana, featuring classic autumnal specialties sourced on Mount Etna: the Sagra dell'Uva (grapes and wine); the Sagra del Miele (honey); the Sagra delle Mele (apples); the Sagra dei Funghi (mushrooms); and the Sagra delle Castagne (chestnuts).
Opunti Ficus Indica Fest. Roccapalumba and Belpasso host two separate events, each celebrating all things prickly pear or “ficus indica,” from jams to liquor.
Traveling to Sicily in October? Check out these great itineraries.
Mt. Etna, The Ionian Coast, and Cefalú - 7 Days. This region of Sicily is perhaps the most popular part of the Mediterranean's most iconic island—and for good reason. Europe's largest volcano, ancient archeological sites, shimmering turquoise waters, and easy to navigate resort towns are all reasons travelers flock here, and this itinerary covers it all in a week.
Best of Sicily - 12 Days. Sicily's hilly landscapes are perfect for travelers who want big views, lots of culture, and pleasant October weather. Tour medieval churches in Palermo, then head to Taormina to dive into the arts and theater scene. Explore Mount Etna and the local winemaking culture, and end your trip in Catania, where street food and views of the Ionian Sea create the perfect Mediterranean atmosphere.