The Most Beautiful Towns to Visit in Sicily, Italy

Don't miss a visit to Cefalù when in Sicily
Don't miss a visit to Cefalù when in Sicily | © Cristian Mircea Balate / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Barbara Boda
2 September 2021

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.

Catania, for hiking Mount Etna

Architectural Landmark
City buildings in Catania and Mount Etna volcano in the background in, Sicily, Italy
© Antonio Violi / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Palermo, for grand Sicilian architecture

Architectural Landmark
View of the baroque Piazza Pretoria and the Praetorian Fountain in Palermo, Sicily
© Konstantin Kalishko / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Count yourself as a bit of a foodie? As well as our tasty trip to Sicily we also have Mini Trips in Bologna, Puglia and Naples that will get your mouth watering.

Syracuse, for ancient Greek history

Architectural Landmark
Jets of water and statues at the Diana Fountain on Piazza Archimede in Syracuse, Sicily
© Gunter Kirsch / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Taormina, for views from the rocky hilltop

Architectural Landmark
Colourful buildings of Taormina perched on a hill, overlooking the sea
© Marius Dobilas / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Agrigento, for historical ruins

Architectural Landmark
The Temple of Concordia in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, next to a large tree
© Giuseppe Masci / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Messina, for easy ferry access

Architectural Landmark
Boats in the harbour and pretty buildings in the town of Messina in Sicily, with hills in the background
© NAPA / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Cefalù, for a family-friendly seaside destination

Architectural Landmark
A fishing boat and medieval houses lining the water in the old town of Cefalu, Sicily
© Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Discover our full selection of trips in Italy – where will you go first? Choose an Epic Trip for the full cultural deep dive, or a shorter Mini Trip for an equally-delicious bite of Italian adventure.

These recommendations were updated on September 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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