The first two or three weeks of Sicily in September feel like an extension of July and August. By mid-month, however, the evenings are cooler and the rain starts to fall, leading into the autumn and winter rainy season. With that said, there are as little as two inches of rain this month, so pack your summer gear with your lighter layers and an umbrella.
Palermo, Messina, and Syracuse range between 68-82˚F (20-28˚C), while Catania in the east has a range of 63-84˚F (17-29˚C). Inland in the hills and mountains, the weather will be cooler, more noticeably the further in elevation you go. At 1,600 feet (500 m), Ragusa sees a range between 61-82˚F (16-28˚C) and at 3,300 feet (1,000 m), Prizzi is cooler yet with 57-73˚F (14-23˚C).
Crowds & Costs
Much like May and June, September is one of the best months to visit Sicily: the weather is more comfortable, and the crowds start to thin as locals return to the office, children go back to school, and tourists head home. Popular beaches and nearby islands won’t be empty by any means, but most won’t be overly cramped either. Having said that, if you’re looking for a bargain, you’ll want to search for hotel and flight deals closer to the end of the month.
Note that many establishments and sites close for a few hours in the afternoon (1:30-4:30 pm) for siesta, so plan your daily itinerary according to the rhythm of the Italian island.
Where to Go
September is one of the best months to explore Sicily, with fewer crowds and pleasant weather you’ll have an all-access pass to the island. Start with a few days in Palermo, the regional capital and a great starting point for a round-the-island self-drive tour. Head west along the Tyrrhenian coastline to the historic fishing port town of Scopello, the Zingaro Natural Reserve, and San Vito Lo Capo, a small town in the northwest with two miles of sandy beach.
A classic next stop is to visit Trapani and the beaches of the nearby Aegadian Islands, like Cala Rossa on Favignana. Continue along the western edge, through the Stagnone Nature Reserve amid the stunning landscape of historic windmills and saltwater lagoons to Marsala. From there make your way to the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento before spending a little time in Modica and the surrounding UNESCO-listed baroque towns of Ragusa Ibla and Scicli in Sicily’s southeast.
Stop to walk along Corso Vittorio Emanuele in picture-perfect Noto before spending a few days in Syracuse to take in the ancient Greek ruins and historic center on Ortygia Island. End your trip with a few days in Catania, Sicily’s next largest city and a convenient locale to the nearby slopes of Mount Etna and the sophisticated beach resort town of Taormina.
What to Do
There are endless options to take advantage of in September, from outdoor activities and cultural events to wine-and-food festivals. The wine and olive harvest continues and hazelnuts and almonds are plentiful, showing up in a number of sagre. Other notable festi, include San Vito Lo Capo’s Couscous Fest offering an international affair of live music and couscous (see events below).
Bronte, just west of Taormina, hosts their Pistachio Festival, and Milo on the slopes of Mount Etna accommodates ViniMilo, an event dedicated to the region’s wine. Enjoy guided tastings and workshops, themed dinners, and winery visits before getting yourself to Cefalù in the central north for a scoop or three of dessert—here, you'll celebrate Sherbeth Festival with three days of freshly made ice cream. For more on culinary experiences in Sicily, see this article.
As the weather is less stifling and the crowds are starting to thin (especially toward the middle of the month), September makes for a smart time to visit popular attractions that would otherwise be cumbersome to explore (though you’ll have to be mindful of the slew of festivals taking place). Discover the baroque architecture, villages, and town centers and explore archaeological sites throughout. If you find yourself on the southern shore, be sure to visit Selinunte’s archaeological park, Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples, and Piazza Armerina’s Villa Romana del Casale.
Sporty types will want to take advantage of the excellent weather and hike, bike, and climb in the Madonie and Nebrodie mountains. There is, of course, the option to explore the slopes of Mount Etna and if you’re daring, summit the active volcano. Alternatively, don your swimsuit and scuba dive and snorkel off the coast of the Aegadi Islands for great marine life. Head to the island of Ustica for Italy’s largest marine reserve, or take a surfing lesson off the coast of Catania or Cefalù.
If you’re more inclined to lie out on the beach, you can’t go wrong; Sicily is home to many top-notch beaches.
Carretti Siciliani. Every Friday in September (and October and May), Taormina sees the Carretto Siciliano (native horse cart) and their horses decorated as well as the drivers theatrically dressed.
International Festival of the Arts. Taormina’s ancient theater hosts daily performances of music (rock, pop, and classical), opera, dance, and theater, from June through to September.
Couscous Fest. This 10-day international event featuring couscous and the many ways in which it is prepared, sees San Vito Lo Capo in Trapani put on cooking shows, food stalls, and live music performances.
Traveling to Sicily in September? Check out these great itineraries.
Volcanoes of Sicily: Aeolian Islands & Mt. Etna. 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—whose active volcanic cone dominates the horizon. End your trip with a climb to the top of Mt Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano.
Best of Sicily - 9 Days. Explore why Sicily has been one of the world's most densely occupied regions for over 2,000 years on this colorful 9-day itinerary. Begin in the food capital of Palermo to see 12th-century churches, Italy's largest opera house, and learn to make a 4-course meal. Continue to the resort town of Taormina to hike Mount Etna, see a show at the Greek theater, and explore the beautiful little island of Isola Bella. End in Catania, where finger-licking street food and Baroque architecture dominate the scene.