The Most Beautiful Towns to Visit in Sicily, Italy
Don't miss a visit to Cefalù when in Sicily | © Cristian Mircea Balate / Alamy Stock Photo
Sicily, just off the toe of Italy’s boot, has Greek and Roman heritage, seemingly eternal sunshine and a warm sea even in November. This package makes it one very attractive destination. From Palermo to Messina, here are the top towns to stop at when touring this beautiful Italian island.
Want to visit some of these beautiful towns? Book Culture Trip’s 10-day Sicilian adventure with stops in Palermo, Syracuse and Taormina. You’ll also get to enjoy gazing out at the Tyrrhenian Sea from a hillside hotel in Cefalù.
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Sitting on the eastern coast of Sicily, at the foot of Mount Etna, this town offers something for everyone. Following a huge volcanic eruption in 1669, most of the old town was destroyed. After this calamity, it took a long time to rebuild Catania, but, thanks to the stamina and determination of the locals, it is in bloom once more.
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As the capital of Sicily, this majestic town boasts many grand sites that are well worth a visit. Have a look at the cathedral, the Palazzo dei Normanni and the Palazzo Abatellis for starters. The Museo Archeologico Regionale Antonio Salinas, the botanical gardens and the creepy catacombs at the Capuchin Monastery are also worth exploring. And don’t ignore the great restaurants and the amazing street-food culture for which Palermo is rightly famed.
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As with pretty much everywhere else in Sicily, you’ll find relics of the past around every corner in Syracuse. Founded by the Greeks, this town nurtured many famous Greek poets, mathematicians and politicians. The Syracuse Greek Theatre was one of the biggest the Greeks ever constructed, but the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Fountain of Arethusa, the more modern cathedral of Castello Maniace and the many palazzi deserve a visit, too.
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This town lies on a rocky hillside and is accessible by car or bus. The road leads up a steep and narrow hill, which can sometimes be tricky to navigate. It is well worth a visit if you long for a small town offering a little peace and quiet but also wish to catch a glimpse of the rich historical heritage that Sicily has to offer. History buffs will love the ancient amphitheatre in town.
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Agrigento is well known for its Greek ruins, including those in the Valley of the Temples. Some of the ruins were sadly damaged and destroyed over the years, but most of them are still in very good condition. Agrigento was once a wealthy town, due to its trade agreements with Greece, and is now thriving as a major tourist centre.
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If you arrive from the Italian mainland, the ferry will drop you off in Messina, and you’ll be impressed from the minute you step off the boat. Huge trees line the roads, and orange, lemon and olive groves cover the sloping hills as far as the eye can see. Stop for a look at the cathedral or the Church of Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani, as well as the botanical gardens and the lovely Porta Grazia.
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Cefalù is among the most popular places in Sicily. There is a wonderful family-friendly seaside area, where you can relax while surrounded by locals’ houses and terraces. You can also visit the Roman baths or the ancient cathedral, where there is a world-famous fresco of Christ, the Christ Pantokrator. If you don’t like crowds but would like to visit Cefalù, try to go around October and November or in the spring; the weather is lovely and still warm, but there are hardly any tourists.
These recommendations were updated on September 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.