Amazing Day Trips to Take Around Sicily by Boat

Walk the pretty streets of Levanzo on an adventure around Sicily by boat
Walk the pretty streets of Levanzo on an adventure around Sicily by boat | © Daniele Falletta / Alamy Stock Photo
Julia Hammond

The long history and breathtaking natural landscape of Sicily makes it a popular choice for visitors. Booking a sailing holiday from this island – the largest in the Mediterranean Sea – enables you to experience its multifaceted landscape from a different vantage point. While the volcanic Aeolian Islands are a bit ambitious as a day sail from Palermo or Catania, there are plenty of other options if you’re keen to make it there and back without staying overnight. Here we reveal some of the best day trips you can do around Sicily by boat.
Discover the top spots around Italy’s coast by Culture Trip’s Sailing Trips.

Mondello

The seaside resort of Mondello lies within easy sailing distance of Palermo. Here, you’ll find a sweeping beach ebbed by aquamarine waters, with both locals and tourists lapping up the sublime scenery. Facilities include water sports equipment rentals, sun loungers and pastel-painted changing cabins. Slap bang in the middle is the grand Antico Stabilimento Balneare di Mondello, a turreted art nouveau building that juts out from the beach on a short jetty. The early 20th-century abode was once used as headquarters by both the Italian fascists and German troops in World War II, but today you’ll find a smart restaurant and piano bar inside.

San Vito Lo Capo

The sloping summit of Monte Monaco and a broad swath of white sand dominate the resort of San Vito Lo Capo on the northwest coast of Sicily. This area is particularly popular with outdoor enthusiasts, with a network of trails weaving around the mountain – while the idyllic waters lure paddle boarders, kite surfers and swimmers. Set back from the coast is the church of Santuario di San Vito, which dates from the 15th century and looks more like a fortress with its boxy shape. Close by, it’s also worth visiting the Museo del Mare, a maritime museum that is home to hundreds of artefacts recovered from local shipwrecks. Nearby Bue Marino cove and Scogliera Macari match San Vito in terms of drama and beauty.

Isola delle Femmine

The name Isola delle Femmine (Island of Women) refers to both a Sicilian town and a pint-sized island that faces it. On the small outcrop, a ruined Roman tower stands sentinel above a nature reserve, which is home to peregrine falcons, cormorants and grey herons. On the other side of the water on the mainland, there’s another tower dating to the 15th century. Along with nature, another draw of the island is its beach and exceptional waters, which are perfect for diving and windsurfing.

Aegadian Islands

Levanzo, Favignana and Marettimo are the largest of the five Aegadian Islands, also known as the Islands of Goats. On Favignana, a former tuna processing factory now houses a multi-purpose museum, while on neighbouring Levanzo you should check out the prehistoric cave paintings in the Grotta del Genovese. Marettimo lies further west and offers a more wild and unspoilt landscape. Dip below the surface and you’ll see why the clear waters that surround the trio make this a popular destination for diving enthusiasts.

Ustica

The island of Ustica is all that remains of an extinct volcano, with its dark rocky exterior earning it the nickname the “black pearl”. From the main harbour, three interconnected piazzas lined with shops and cafes form a pleasant thoroughfare to the grand facade of the Chiesa Parrocchiale di San Ferdinando Re. In the north of the island, you’ll find the ruins of a prehistoric village dating from the 13th or 14th century BCE. The waters surrounding the sloping edges of the isle are a protected marine reserve, making them popular with divers and swimmers.

Riviera dei Ciclopi

This 12km (7.5mi) stretch of coastline, north of Catania, boasts some of the best geology and prettiest views in Sicily. One of the most photographed features is the faraglioni of the Cyclops, great chunks of rock created by underwater eruptions that now protrude from the azure waters. Nearby, visit Aci Castello for its Norman castle located on a rocky outcrop and Aci Trezza, a small seaside resort complete with colourful fishing boats in its harbour.

Acireale

Acireale is an elegant waterfront city, with an 11th-century castle built using rock from Mount Etna and geothermal hot springs. The action centres on the Piazza del Duomo, where you’ll find a cathedral dedicated to the Christian martyr Santa Venera. Other churches worth investigating for their photogenic exteriors and interiors include Santi Pietro e Paolo and the Basilica of San Sebastiano, both built in Sicilian baroque style. Even the council offices are worth a look at as they occupy a splendid palazzo adorned with intricate wrought-iron balconies.

Siracusa

Sail south along the coast from Catania and you’ll come to Siracusa. This city transports you back in time with its patchwork of archaeological sites. These include the fifth-century Greek temple, a Roman amphitheatre and the Catacombs of San Giovanni. By comparison, its old town is relatively new. You’ll find it on the island of Ortigia, with pretty baroque piazzas and a buzzing market. To reach it from the port, you’ll need to cross a narrow causeway.

Discover the top spots around Italy’s coast by Culture Trip’s Sailing Trips.
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