As the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily promises more sand, sunshine and secret anchorages than almost anywhere else. The Aeolian Islands – seven sub-tropical isles and scores of volcanic specks – are Sicily’s biggest yachting draw. Italian A-listers and humble fisherfolk sail atop crystalline waters suffused with seismic bubbles. Both enjoy platters of seafood spaghetti served on volcanic black-sand beaches. Sail in and join the club.
Take a leisurely sail around Italy with Culture Trip’s Sailing Trips.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
What to see and do
They don’t call the island of Stromboli “the lighthouse of the Mediterranean” for nothing. A puffing volcano stands 924m (3,032ft) above the sea, offering sailors a 24/7 navigation point for the other six Aeolian Islands. Tie up in Stromboli’s mini-marina. Then tuck in. Island cuisine is a fiery mix of volcanically charged chillies and swordfish steaks.
Mondello is an overgrown fishing village flipped into a 19th-century Liberty resort for Palermo’s elite. Imagine Nice, served with a frutti di mare side. A wide arc of beach is backed by more foodie treats. Like mobile carts selling lemon granitas and arancina (fried rice balls).
Alicudi is the Sicilian island that Instagram forgot. Irregular ferries and passing yachts call ciaoto the island’s 100 inhabitants. Islanders share a pastoral diet of wild figs and prickly pears served alongside a sustainable daily catch. That’s good news, because this tiny island has no shops, no ATM and no problems.
Best mooring locations
The creek of Cala, now home to Sitimar Marina, has welcomed foreign sailors since Phoenician times. You can stroll into Palermo’s historic centre in the time it takes to eat a gelato. Find scores of moorings alongside friendly staff who can source ebike rentals and airport transfers. Book one of 70 or so berths online or call on VHF 74. Portorosa Marina is Sicily’s largest private port with 650 berths. From here it’s a shorter sail across to Vulcano, the closest Aeolian island. Anchor off Spiaggia di Sabbia Nera, a beautiful black-sand beach.
Where to eat and drink
Drop the diet. Sicily sits at the culinary crossroads of the most gluttonous nations on earth. Arabs, Spanish, Normans and Greeks deposited a foodie fusion. Like pasta con le sarde, an Italo-Arabian blend of fennel, almonds, sardines and saffron. Then there’s sfincione, from the Latin word for sponge, which is half pizza, half bun, with an anchovy-cheese-tomato flavour. In Palermo, posh nosh means A’Cumcuma. Here street food and fisherman’s catches are raised into photogenic bites like red shrimps with oyster emulsion. For Sicilian cuisine as it used to be near Portorosa, try Agavos Agriturismo. Stuffed anchovies and chargrilled swordfish rolls served with a sea view.
Best charter options
A classic Sicilian sailboat makes for fabulous day-long tours around Palermo harbour plus overnight trips to the Aeolian Islands. There’s fishing gear and a barbecue to grill the grouper you’re sure to catch. Fingers crossed. So, grab your pals for a dreamy sail into the Sicilian sunset.
Where to get groceries
Carrefour operates several supermarkets near Sitimar Marina. Find every essential from Sicilian olive oil to chilled Moretti beer. Palermo’s trio of street markets – Ballaró, Vucciria and Capo – are alive with snails, octopus, rising bread and rapidly diminishing piles of tomatoes. It’s where locals do their weekly shop, so roll up your sleeves and get ready to join them.
Key annual sailing events
The Palermo-Montecarlo is an 804km (500mi) sprint from Sicily to Monaco, with breathtaking views over Sardinia and Corsica en route. The 50-plus sailboats that set sail from Mondello in Sicily in late August are big and beautiful. The offshore regatta also serves as a training ground for Olympians and America’s Cup sailors.
Climate and weather
From April to October, Sicily enjoys one long Mediterranean summer, which means low rainfall, northwesterly breezes, and temperatures hitting 30C (86F) in July and August. It rarely gets hotter at sea. Winds pick up in mid-summer to a regular 10 knots and frequently tail off each evening. Novice sailors should avoid the far windier Straits of Messina between Sicily and mainland Italy. Especially as there’s so much to see in northern Sicily and the Aeolian islands.
How to get there
Sicily has two equally busy airports. Aeroporto di Palermo Falcone e Borsellino is a 30-minute cab ride to Palermo’s marinas via the ritzy seaside resort of Mondello. Aeroporto di Catania–Fontanarossa sits under the shadow of Mount Etna in eastern Sicily, serving the northeastern marinas closest to the Aeolian islands.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
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