Italy has countless beautiful places, but the southeast of Sicily stands out for many reasons. Sandy beaches, lively cities with wonderful architecture, a rich history and culture, delicious food made of the best Mediterranean ingredients, and sun all year round. Take a trip on the southeastern coast and be prepared for some unforgettable beauty. Here are the best things to see and do when you’re here.
Want to visit Sicily? Book Culture Trip’s 10-day adventure where you’ll be able to bounce along Mount Etna in a 4×4, eat local cuisine and be guided through the ancient towns of Noto, Ragusa and Modica by our local insider.
Wander through the streets of Noto to admire the overwhelming number of beautiful baroque buildings and churches – this small town in Syracuse has understandably been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. For an authentic taste of Sicily go to Trattoria Fontana D’Ercole to feast on antipasti, fresh fish and seafood, and a selection of pastas. The simple yet divine pistachio pesto is a perfect example of the genius in the kitchen. Got a sweet tooth? Stop by Dolce Barocco for a cannolo, cassata cake or paste di mandorla. Satisfaction is guaranteed.
Syracuse (Siracusa in Italian) is known for having a rich history that dates back 2,700 years. It was a powerful city in the ancient Mediterranean and its glorious past is visible everywhere today. Greek temples with giant columns have been transformed into churches, such as the majestic Duomo (formerly a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena). Find that on Piazza Duomo, considered as one of the most beautiful piazzas in Italy.
Also make sure to stroll through the narrow streets in the well-kept centre, dipping into the elegant shops and restaurants. Stop by Ortigia Sicilia, which offers a range of luxurious perfumes, scents, candles and other products for bath and body inspired by the scents and colours of Sicily.
Situated at the southernmost point of Sicily, Marzamemi is a place where time seems to stand still. The main attraction of this cute town is the little piazza surrounded by small shops and bars, just a few steps from the sea and the port. It comes to life at night when the town comes together to enjoy the lower evening temperatures with music and drinks. The history of Marzamemi is strongly connected to tuna fishing – explore that by visiting the Tonnara, a former tuna factory now restored as a venue for weddings and other events.
Tuna is still an important part of the local cuisine, but you’ll also find a variety of regional specialties, such as bottarga, capers or dried pomodorini from Pachino, a nearby town famous for cherry tomatoes. Visit the restaurant Campisi to enjoy delicious fish specialties right by the sea. The ideal place to try the Sicilian breakfast consisting of a fluffy sweet brioche and a refreshing and tasty granita is Bar al Ciclope 2, situated on the main street along the harbour. And for a beachy vibe with a sea view, head for an aperitivo at Blasè. Situated directly on the seaside, it is the ideal location for a moment of relaxation and offers lovely views of the town.
Modica is another gem in the Val di Noto. The region suffered major damage during a devastating earthquake in 1693 and entire cities were reconstructed in a style widely known as Sicilian baroque, which gives Sicily a unique architectural identity. The city consists of two centres, Upper and Lower Modica. Climb the steps of the cathedral of San Giorgio for views of the lower part of the city.
Modica is also famous for its chocolate which is made from an ancient and well-kept Aztec recipe, brought to Sicily by the Spaniards. Different from other versions later produced in Europe, this chocolate has never been industrialised. For a sweet treat, head to Antica Dolceria Bonajuto – said to be the oldest chocolate factory in Sicily. Embark on a guided tour or purchase a selection of chocolate bars.
On top of a hill overlooking the valley, this small town could come straight from a fairytale; think beautiful baroque churches and buildings, old Sicilian men chatting beside doorsteps and linen hanging outside the windows. The old part of the city, Ragusa Ibla, is connected to the newer part, Ragusa Nuova with a winding street that allows for views of the sandcastle-like town. Hungry? Head to Ciccio Sultano, a ‘basilica of taste’, for delicious breads, appetizers, main dishes and homemade desserts. Alternatively, I Banchi serves the best Italian and regional products.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
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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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
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.