Bed down in a private palazzo or sleep in a basilica-spying suite at one of these smart Sicilian stays.
Italy’s most underrated destination? Sicily might just clinch it. The free-spirited, wild-at-heart Mediterranean island has natural beauty around every cove; undiscovered ghost towns stencilled with Arabic, Greek and Roman history; and the purest food plucked from the land. These apartments let you enjoy it with independence – but with restaurants, pools and wine tours never far away.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
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.
On Sicily’s west coast, Trapani is a city stuck between two seas that’s been lapped by waves of civilisations for centuries. These apartments almost mirror the city’s palimpsest-like past: set in an 18th-century palazzo, where modernity reigns supreme today. The best apartments (aim for the top-floor attic room) have views of the Basilica di San Pietro’s majolica-covered domes. Downstairs at reception, you can arrange car, motorbike and bicycle rental, or book onto a tour of Trapani’s salt pans and the Egadi Islands.
These classically decorated apartments are a short stroll away from Catania’s old town. The hosts here have over 40 years of experience in hospitality and can help you find the best places to eat in the ancient port city on Sicily’s east coast or organise a trip to the looming hulk of Mount Etna, which lingers in the distance. Apartments are impeccably dressed in neutral shades of taupe and cream; grander ones have polished parquet floors and two bedrooms tucked away inside. Despite the high style, they’re affordable and luggage storage, food delivery and tours can all be arranged.
Giardini Naxos was the earliest Greek settlement in Sicily and today its ruins lie among citrus groves, close to the sea, and with Etna as the dramatic backdrop. We can think of worse places to spend a week – and this resort modelled on a country village is only a brief drive away from the former Greek colony, with apartments that sleep up to five guests, an outside pool and a playground for kids. There’s even a restaurant, raised 300m (985ft) above sea level with great views, and you can bring four-legged friends to roam around the large, lush gardens.
The Planeta family owns several wineries in the Sicilian countryside and a vine-stitched resort in Menfi. But this historic palazzo is its Palermo base, with several renovated apartments that sleep up to five people. They’re all named after city sites – such as labyrinthine Ballarò and Vucciria markets, birthplace of Sicilian street food. Each stylish room comes with original timber beams, antique wardrobes and wall-hung terracotta plates mixed with modern kitchens, private terraces and opulent private tubs. If photographs of the vineyards don’t remind you of what the hosts do best, the free welcome pack with Planeta wines and products will. You can even visit their cellars in Menfi, Noto and Etna, or arrange a tour of the city with on-hand guide, Arianna Patti.
Conveniently located on the route between Palermo city centre and the airport, this apartment in the Mondello neighbourhood is perfect for beach-loving groups. It’s only a two-minute walk from city beach, Spiaggia di Mondello, and also features a roofed veranda with sun beds, hammocks and a dining table for al fresco meals. Host Francesco, a native Palermitan, will gladly share his favourite restaurants or even show you the city first hand: like most Sicilians, he’ll enthusiastically tell you about the island’s history and culture.
The Malandrina feels like the Sicilian second home of your dreams. Its furnishings are a modern take on a classic beach house; its location is only steps away from Taormina’s main street – a city famed for its Etna-spying amphitheatre; and its sea-view roof terraces are furnished with smart sun beds. Yep, this one has it all. The palazzo-turned-family home has been renovated with strictly Italian design, mid-20th-century furniture and sweeping marble staircases, created by local craftsmen. When you check in, a basket of fresh fruit, bottle of champagne or box of chocolates will be there to greet you. For an extra fee, lunch and dinner can be arranged in your room.
Elegant furnishings, a central location in Comiso’s centre and an extensive breakfast buffet of local products – all for a modest price. That’s the proposition at Palazzo Melfi, an apartment hotel that calls out to couples seeking a romantic getaway thanks to its atmospheric frescoed ceilings in many of the rooms. The icing on the cake? It’s only 30 minutes from Modica, a spectacular baroque village and custodian of Sicily’s centuries-old chocolate-making tradition.
This Sicilian countryside hideout is crafted from a hamlet of 17th-century farm buildings, and today features botanical gardens and tiered infinity pools, all carved into the rocks near Ragusa. You’ll find the island’s quietest beaches a 30-minute drive away and in the estate’s own grounds, you can go horseback riding, play tennis or opt for a round of golf. Rooms overlook a valley studded with century-old olive trees; the eight apartments can sleep up to six people, with private terraces and gardens adding space for all.
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meet our Local Insider
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WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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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.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.