The Best Hiking Trails in Sicily

Get a ferry to the Aeolian Islands from Sicily and enjoy a sunset hike
Get a ferry to the Aeolian Islands from Sicily and enjoy a sunset hike | © mauritius images GmbH / Alamy
Samantha Priestley

Many holidaymakers come to Sicily for the beaches and the cannoli, but if you’re looking for more action than lounging this Italian island has plenty of that too – from arduous mountain treks to leisurely strolls along coastal paths.

The volcanic island of Sicily, kicked by the toe of mainland Italy into the deep-blue Mediterranean sea, draws visitors to its shores for sun, beaches and incredible food. Then there’s the dramatic scenery and rocky landscape, which rises inland from the craggy coast. If you want to get up close and personal with that breathtaking topography, there are plenty of walks and hikes that will showcase the scenery first hand. From gentle coastal strolls to gruelling treks up ancient volcanoes, Sicily has a walk for all levels of experience and fitness. Here are the best hiking trails in Sicily, Italy.

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1. Stromboli, Aeolian Islands

Natural Feature

Beginning at sea level, this half-day hike on the only continuously active volcano in Europe is one for the bucket list. Get a ferry to the Aeolian Islands from Sicily in time to set out late afternoon – the ascent starts with an easy stroll through green vegetation and as you climb higher this gives way to stark black sand and steeper slopes. Scheduled to arrive at the summit at sunset, have your camera ready for spectacular views towards the Italian mainland and molten lava in the volcano’s craters. Proper hiking footwear and a headlamp are required for this guided hike.

2. Mount Etna

Natural Feature

Hiking over the top of mount Etna
© Giulio Ercolani / Alamy

Mount Etna rising almost 3,352m (11,000ft) into the sky is probably the first thing you recognise when you first arrive in Sicily. It is an active volcano, but one that erupts only sporadically. This means that most of the year you can spend the day exploring its slopes and craters. There are almost 20 different trails you can take, whether that’s a short easy stroll with the kids (Sartorius Mounts is the perfect choice for this), or a real challenge. We recommend the entire Move Valley trail. Most hikes begin at the Rifugio Sapienza and you can hire a guide, reach the summit via cable car and a bus, or go solo.

3. Vendicari Reserve

Natural Feature, Park

Phoenicopterus, Vendicari nature reserve. Sicily
© Alberto Perer / Alamy Stock Photo

Combine your love of the sea and hiking with a visit to this nature reserve in the southeastern corner of Sicily. The Vendicari Reserve has three hiking trails to choose from – including green for history buffs as there are several archeological sites along the way; and blue for beach lovers, which stops at three different beaches en route. In terms of flora, the wildflowers are pretty and the herbs aromatic, especially when the wind finds them – but it’s the cacti that steal the show.

4. La Rocca, Cefalu

Natural Feature

Old town and La Rocca Cliff, Cefalu, Sicily, Italy, Europe
© Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy

Cefalù is one of those Italian seaside towns that has the visitor searching the real estate ads in a shop window and thinking of moving there forever. For the best view of the ochre-coloured houses, sparkling sea and fishing boats, climb to the top of the rocky La Rocca hill. Look for the twisty Salita Saraceni staircase to begin your ascent, which takes just under an hour and rewards you with a 13th-century ruined castle at the top. It’s a steep climb, so you’ll need to be pretty fit, but the views from even halfway up are incredible. The beginning of the trail is paved and on even ground, but the higher up you go the more uneven and rocky the ground becomes. There are no amenities on this trail, and there is a closing time, so make sure you know when you have to be back down by.

5. Filo dell’Arpa

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature

The highest peak of the Aeolian island of Filicudi rises to 675m (2,215ft), and this mountainous hike rewards with dramatic vistas – including of an extinct volcano crater – once you get up there. A series of stone staircases lead the way and blue arrows let you know you’re on the right track. It’s arduous and you need to be fit, as it’s continuously steep with no let-up. This hike should take about two hours to complete and there’s a small church about halfway up if you need an excuse to take a breather.

6. Fossa delle Felci

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature

Italy, Sicily, Aeolian Islands, listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, Salina Island, hikers at the top of the old volcano Monte Fossa delle Felci observing the twin volcano Monte dei Porri during the picnic break, the islands of Filicudi and Alicudi in the
© Hemis / Alamy

Not for the faint-hearted, this climb up Monte Fossa delle Felci – the Aeolians’ highest point, at 962m (3,156ft) – takes around two hours and is pretty tough, unless you’re very experienced. The trail starts at the yellow-painted Santuario della Madonna del Terzito church and is well sign-posted and well maintained, with steps and handrails along much of the way. Some parts are woodland trails, offering cool shade and some respite. The views are worth the endurance but you’ll most likely need a couple of days to recover afterwards.

7. Fossa di Vulcano

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature

The name Vulcano Island pretty much tells you what’s in store. If you visit the island on a day trip from Taormina, it’s the dormant volcano that’s the central attraction. The route for the trek up to the top of the volcano is well signposted, and a zig-zag trail leads the way. You’ll reach the lowest part of the crater’s rim in less than an hour, depending on how quickly you walk, and it’s another 20 minutes to get to the higher point of the rim. The crater is pretty impressive, smouldering and steaming in the warm air – ambitious walkers can venture down, but watch out for steam vents and toxic fumes.

8. Capo Milazzo

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature

Capo Milazzo in Sicily with a view of the Aeolian Islands
© mauritius images GmbH / Alamy

This gentle walk takes you in a round loop, enveloping areas of the southern Sicilian town of Milazzo and parts of the dazzling coastline. A stroll through old olive groves brings some welcome shade and a chance to appreciate the hundreds-of-years-old trees. The ruin of a little chapel leads the way down to natural hot spring waters. Make sure you take a bathing suit and you can soak in the warm water after your walk – heaven.

Discover the top things to see and do on the beautiful island of Sicily, including the most impressive beaches in the area. Choose Palermo to sample excellent Sicilian cuisine and experience the best bars on offer, or perhaps Cefalú for its most mouth-watering authentic Italian food.

This is a rewrite of an article originally by Gillian McGuire.

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