Sicily Scuba Diving Tours

sicily diving tour

Scuba Diving at the Gulf of Catania

  • You can cancel these tickets up to 24 hours before the experience begins and get a full refund.
  • Deep dive into the depths of the Gulf of Catania and explore the marine flora and fauna.
  • Be guided by a professional marine biologist and experience a unique adventure underwater.
  • Take a sip into the wildlife beneath the ground as you watch white breams, octopus, and many other marine species.
  • Learn more about the diving equipment used in this new era, ensuring utmost safety for all.
  • Amateur swimmers can breathe a sigh of relief as experts will assist them throughout the experience.
  • Professional guide
  • Scuba Diving
  • Diving equipment
  • The minimum age for diving is 10 years.
  • The timings given are subject to change, up to a maximum of 30 minutes, even without prior notice, for technical reasons, traffic and force majeure.
  • The excursion schedule may be subject to change due to adverse weather conditions or access restrictions imposed by the authorities.

catania, isole ciclopi: snorkeling trip-1

Catania, Isole Ciclopi: Snorkeling Trip

  • Your experience starts with meeting your guide at Catania and heading to Isole Ciclopi, the volcanic islands off the coast for your diving experience.
  • At Isole Ciclopi you are sure to have a jolly good time snorkeling in the best spots.
  • Your expert guide will be with you throughout and teach you more about the marine life here.
  • Isole Ciclopi is home to abundant marine life, some of them even come close to the divers out of curiosity!
  • Learn the basic techniques of snorkeling in this scenic place with colorful flora and marine fauna.
  • Multilingual tour guide
  • Snorkelling equipment rental

diving for certified divers in aci castello-1

Diving for Certified Divers in Aci Castello

  • Discover ancient wrecks, underwater caves, and vibrant coral reefs by diving at Isole Ciclopi.
  • Explore the lava beds of the Gulf of Catania, formed by Mount Etna's eruptions.
  • Certified divers of all levels can take part in this guided experience.
  • A multilingual underwater expert (well-versed in English, Spanish, French, and Italian) will educate about marine life.
  • Dive license (mandatory)
  • Multilingual underwater guide (English, Spanish, French, and Italian)
  • Personal expenses
  • Underwater camera
  • Tip: Aci Castello is known for its strong currents, which can be dangerous for even experienced divers, so follow your diving expert's advice.
  • Individuals without a diving certification will not be allowed to take part in this experience.
  • This activity is not suitable for children under 10 years, pregnant women, non-swimmers, divers without a license, individuals with claustrophobia or epilepsy, individuals who have undergone recent surgery, or people over 95 years of age.
  • Fishing and touching marine life are not allowed.

sicily diving tour

Nike Diving Taormina

sicily diving tour


The Nike diving, has been operating since 1990 on the Isola Bella of Taormina, a pearl of the Ionian Sea, with a haunting beauty, and full of suggestive diving spots.

sicily diving tour

From Isola Bella we leave by boat to reach the main diving spots, which are 1 minute away by boat. Among these we mention the Blue Cave , Isola Bella South , full of breathtaking canions to cross, the Roman Columns and the Gorgonians.

Snorkeling Adventures

Two day trips are organized for snorkelers at 11 and 3 pm. The duration of the tour is 1.5 hours 1 : 30.

During our stops, refreshments will be offered to all our guests.

sicily diving tour

The center is located by going down the stairs in the left corner of the island.

sicily diving tour

The staff is made up of certified Padi instructors and the following languages are spoken: Italian , English , French , German .

sicily diving tour

The courses

sicily diving tour

PADI , Professional Associazione of Diving Instructor , is the most widespread and recognized association in the world, it is logical that almost all of the courses and trainings we offer are framed and validated by PADI instructors, even NASE courses can be issued on simple request.

The baptism of the sea

For those who are curious to try to go underwater with cylinders, but do not have a certification: starting from the age of 8 it is possible to do so . Our instructors, after giving you a briefing on the equipment, will accompany you along the bay of Isola Bella at a depth of up to 5 meters . In total safety, you can enjoy this unique experience!

sicily diving tour

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Escape with us

Evasioni blu diving ustica.


PADI 5 Stelle

Idc dive center in ustica - sicily.


Scuba Diving

Diving School

Diving School

Professionality à Safety

Professionality à Safety

Our philosophy

Our philosophy

Evasioni Blu Divin g is a PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Center in Ustica‚ Sicily . The dive center is strategically positioned at the enchanting small port of Ustica and has all comforts for divers . Discover the clear waters full of life of the Marine Protected Area of Ustica with us!

Our dive center offers all the comforts need for scuba diving : rinsing area‚ dive equipment storage‚ changing room with bathroom‚ multimedia classroom and a relax area on our sea view terrace. Our diving boats are two spacious and comfortable diving zodiacs of 7.50m and 8.00m. We are a Mares Diving Center : we have efficient and perfectly maintained diving equipment .

Evasioni Blu Diving is a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre . PADI enables the world to achieve their diving goals via the safest and most comprehensive dive curriculum on earth. The way everyone learns differs from person to person‚ some like to study independently‚ while others like to follow classroom lessons. We offer what you need; when you enrol for a scuba diving course you can choose your learning methods and you will get all the needed attention and dedication from our staff to get you towards your scuba diving certification . We offer scuba diving courses at all levels‚ for those who still have to discover the underwater world‚ to those who want to take it to a professional level.


Whatever your diving experience level‚ your safety is our absolute first priority. Each dive and diving course is planned following accurate and appropriate safety procedures‚ respecting your scuba diving certification level and experience. Every activity at sea is always conducted in compliance with the rules of diving and common sense. We are DAN partner. Our staff members are all professional divers‚ each specialized in a specific field of diving: PADI Divemasters ‚ PADI instructors ‚ diving medical physician.  

Our Philosophy

Enjoy the Blue‚ Think Green! We firmly believe that everyone must enjoy what the sea offers in the best possible way and with absolute respect for the environment. During all our activities we pay a lot of attention to make people aware of the threats of the seas and oceans and we work on the protection and care of the underwater environment through various projects like sea clean-ups. This is our contribution to support the preservation of all that beauty that lies beneath the water surface‚ so that we‚ and our feature generations‚ can continue dreaming away in it. We collaborate and participate in various environmental conservative programs like "Scuola d’Amare"‚ "Project Aware"‚ "Dive Against Debris"‚ "Adopt a Dive Site"‚ "Finathon".

Il Diving


Discover the beautiful island of Ustica , known as the "black pearl of the Mediterranean " and " Italy �s divers paradise". From Open Water Divers to advanced technical diving , from coral reefs to caves and wrecks , from critters to pelagic, the dives of the Marine Protected Area of Ustica have it all!

Conosci le nostre attività

Our activities.


The dive sites are located in the Marine Protected Area of Ustica in Sicily . The Marine Protected Area of Ustica offers a variety of dive sites from the beginner level scuba diver to technical diving . The dives are characterized by a good visibility‚ pleasant temperatures‚ high biodiversity and unique underwater sceneries: caverns‚ caves‚ wrecks‚ corals and much more.

Corsi sub

Learning to scuba dive is one of the most satisfactory experiences of a lifetime. Evasioni Blu Diving is a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre and offers PADI diving courses from PADI Open Water Diver level to professional levels such as the PADI Divemaster or PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor level.


If scuba diving is not your kind of thing‚ but you don’t want to miss out on the marvelous underwater world of the Marine Protected Area of Ustica ‚ s norkeling might be the solution for you! Book your guided snorkeling tour in the Marine Protected Area of Ustica with us!

Main diving courses

Padi discover scuba diving.

PADI IDC - Sicilia

PADI Open Water Diver

Padi advanced open water diver, padi rescue diver, offerte immersioni e corsi padi.



Desideri scoprire come ci si sente a respirare sott’acqua? Se l’idea ti alletta‚ ma non ti senti ancora pronto per un corso‚ allora prova con il Discover Scuba Diving!



Se desideri estendere il tuoi limiti di profondità per scoprire nuovi ambienti sottomarini poco esplorati‚ allora il corso di specialità PADI DEEP DIVER è proprio quello che fa per te!



Prenota in combinazione il tuo corso Padi Open Water Diver e il corso Padi Nitrox Diver ti conviene! Risparmi e aggiungi sicurezza alle tue immersioni. Immergiti in NITROX



Esplorazione‚ esperienza e miglioramento sono gli obiettivi del corso PADI Advanced. Scopri come  potrai migliorare le tue performace durante un´immersioni.



Scopri cosa si nasconde sotto la superficie del mare! Fai il primo passo ed ottieni il tuo brevetto come subacqueo. Con il corso PADI Open Water Diver.



Goditi le immersione a Ustica nel periodo meno affollato dell´isola. Scoprirai un incredibile opportunità di vivere una vacanza subacquea in totale armonia con il mare.

Offers and PADI courses

Curious how it feels to breathe underwater? Try it out! Try scuba diving and explore the wonders of the Mediterranean sea with the PADI Discover Scuba Diving program.



If you want to extend you depth limits to discover new underwater environments, then the PADI Deep Diver specialty course is just the thing for you!

Add safety and save money! Book your PADI Open Water Diver course and the PADI Nitrox Diver course in combination and with this promo you´ll have a big discount! 



Exploration‚ excitement‚ experience. That is the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course! You don’t have to be "advanced" to sign up - it’s designed to advance your way of diving.



Get your PADI scuba diving certification with the PADI Open Water Diver course - the most popular and recognized diving course in the world.



Enjoy the island of Ustica and the wonderful dives in all tranquility. An incredible opportunity to experience a diving holiday in total harmony with the sea. 

Brevetto subacqueo PADI - Sicilia

You Can! PADI diving license

Do you want to discover the beauties that the sea offers? Get your diving certification thanks to the PADI Open Water Diver course, the most popular and recognized diving course in the world!



Become a leader of the diving community. Become a PADI Divemaster! Start your PADI intership at Ustica and start your adventure as a scuba diving professional with us!


Go Pro! Become a certified scuba diving instructor , become a PADI OWSI ! If you are a PADI Divemaster, you can enroll in the PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) in Sicily.



Although the summer still seems far away, we can’t stop thinking about the sea and scuba diving. Participate in one of our PADI course presentations and start your next course now! 



Of all the dive sites of the marine protected area of ​​Ustica ‚ there is one that has been catching my attention for some time: the so-called " Grotta dei Gamberi "‚ a cave that is full of unicorn shrimp .  



The Mediterranean Orange Cup Coral is an animal with a very special and interesting feature in its behavior! Read and be amazed !!

DIVING COMMUNITY: Marine Protected Area's

DIVING COMMUNITY: Marine Protected Area's

What is a Marine Protected Area? Why is it so important for the marine ecosystem, scientific research, but also for the local economy?

SICILY TOURISM: the beautiful island of Ustica

SICILY TOURISM: the beautiful island of Ustica

The island of Ustica is well known for scuba diving in its marvelous Marine Protected Area . But Ustica has a lot more to offer: history, culture, geology, nature and so much more...



It takes a trained eye to spot him during scuba diving: the common octopus. Far from being "common"‚ the common octopus is intelligent‚ complex‚ particular and so much more...

PADI EXPERIENCES: Francesca's PADI Rescue Diver course

PADI EXPERIENCES: Francesca's PADI Rescue Diver course

Many divers had described the PADI Rescue Diver diving course as the most challenging‚ but also the most rewarding scuba diving course and i can fully agree with them now! 

PADI EXPERIENCES: Andrea's PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course

PADI EXPERIENCES: Andrea's PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course

After the first diving course ‚ I returned to London for work‚ but something was definitely missing now...   Ustica ‚ its splendid dives and the company of  Evasioni Blu Diving ... 

PADI EXPERIENCES: Roberta's PADI Open Water Diver diving course

PADI EXPERIENCES: Roberta's PADI Open Water Diver diving course

My PADI Open Water Diver experience starts March 16 th , 2020 when for my graduation, my mom gave me her gift...                                                                                                                         

What they say about us


Grazie a Evasioni Blu Diving per i preziosi insegnamenti durante il corso rescue. Esther e Rino sono dei veri professionisti e sanno coniugare bene divertimento e sicurezza. Nuovissima l´attrezzatura messa a disposizione. Consiglio vivamente...


Sabina Ustamujic

Amazing diving experience in Ustica! We were diving around the island with Rino, Esther and Alberto during a weekend the last summer that we enjoyed so much. They showed us wonderful dive sights with a very relaxed mood and at the same time with...

Google My Business

Stupenda esperienza con Rino ed Esther! Ottima attrezzatura, simpatia ed una perfetta combinazione di relax ed efficienza. Ci hanno portati in siti stupendi, sempre con attenzione alla sicurezza e facendoci sempre sentire ben seguiti. A parte le...

Paradise 815163

Paradise 815163

E´ stato bello "evadere" insieme a loro!! Ho avuto il piacere di fare qualche immersione con i mitici Rino e Esther, simpaticissimi, molto alla mano, organizzati e che dire dell´ottimo caffè freddo, offertoci sul...

Sarah M

Tailor made. Esther was super helpful and flexible in getting me to complete my advanced diving course (which I had started elsewhere). She was great with advice and was able to offer a wide range of completing dives and work with prevailing weather...


Amazing experience!! Today I had an amazing dive at Isola delle Femine, great location with amazing and interesting caves, beatifull sea life, clear and colorfull. Rino and his friend (I forgot the name, sorry) were great, friendly and very...

Hannah P Greater

Hannah P Greater

Really great professional and friendly dive company :) I travelled alone to Sicily from London- speaking zero Italian and only just recently qualified as a diver. Not feeling very confident, I was so relieved to find Rino and Esther at Evasioni Blu,...


Bellisima esperienza. Cercavo un diving in Sicilia per fare qualche immersione e tramite il sito Padi ho trovato Evasioni Blu. Ho apprezzato subito la chiarezza e i dettagli del sito web, ho mandato qualche email e mi hanno risposto velocemente e...

Aimee H

Great first diving experience. We took the PADI open water diver course with Evasioni Blu Diving, and were very happy with our decision to go with them. From when I first emailed them to find out more information, Esther was very helpful and had...

Nouk Rotterdam,

Nouk Rotterdam,

Diving with my 2 children. Very professional divingschool with brandnew materials. My kids were taught the essentials of diving by Esther while I was diving with Rino. After my dive my kids and I had a wonderfull second dive.staff is very...

Partners & Acknowledgments


For more information do not hesitate to contact us

diving during the covid19 period

Diventa un istruttore PADI con Dive Careers Europe presso Evasioni Blu Diving a Isola delle Femmine, in Sicilia! La tua Go Pro avventura inizia il 9 Settembre 2019!

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sicily diving tour

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sicily diving tour

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sicily diving tour

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sicily diving tour

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What travelers are saying.

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A sea for All

Water: the primordial ocean from which life originates, safety first, “the sea commands the sea”. safety first, discovers scuba diving, are you fascinated by the sea but have yet to try diving this is the perfect year, the depths of isola bella, taorminas’ isola bella offers picturesque sceneries, diving, snorkeling, boat excursions and more… taormina’s bay, there is a sea to see in sicily.

Taormina Diving Center Padi Resort (R 9847)operates in the Giardini Naxos-Taormina area since 1997

Taormina diving Center organizes many activities for national and international tourists of any age:

  • Scuba diving
  • diving for disabled people
  • diving courses
  • Snorkeling and underwater biowatching
  • coast to coast tours
  • sunset happy hour

With the aim to make your stay fun and unique.

A SAFE AND COMFORTABLE BOAT: Our centre boasts a comfortable and fully equipped 12.8mt boat called Tornado, which can carry up to 25 people and offers a bathroom with shower, a lounge area with a tv, a solarium and a kitchenette.

MODERN AND SAFE EQUIPMENT: on board you will find all the equipment necessary for both snorkelling and scuba diving.

A QUALIFIED AND FRIENDLY STAFF: Our staff is composed of highly qualified and certified dive instructors that speak several languages

Download the new Catalogue

Book now your next diving excursion in taormina.

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Snorkeling Tour from a Boat in Taormina

Sicilying Favorites

Italian and... arrow_drop_down

Italian English

Min: 1 Person

Offers details

Remove your feet from the mainland: it's time to explore an underwater World full of life and natural beauty! You will be depart by boat from Giardini Naxos Marina to discover the coast of Taormina and the nearby bays. The snorkeling tour will take about half a day . You will be on board of boat 12 meters long. Departure is from Giardini Naxos Marina . You will visit the “Grotta Azzurra” and " Isola Bella" nature reserve where you will admire a variety of multicoloured fish.

What is included

  • task_alt Snorkeling Tour from a boat along Taormina bay. Snorkeling set available for each participant. A free bus (10 seats) will be available for transfer from and to the hotels located in Giardini Naxos and neighbouring villages. To book the bus please contact the diving center at least the day before the excursion.
  • remove_circle_outline Everything that is not specified in the "include".

How to reach us

  • Largo I Aprile ( at the hotel Porto Azzurro), Giardini Naxos (ME)

Booking terms and conditions

  • An advance payment of 20% of the total amount is required for the reservation. The balance is due in cash upon arrival.
  • Upon booking, you are kindly requested to write down your phone number and name and address of your Hotel or accommodation to be contacted by the organizer, if necessary.

Terms of use

  • For under-aged participants, a specific written authorization issued by a parent or legal guardian is required. Please provide a phone number at which you can be contacted in the event of cancellation due to weather conditions. In any case, you are requested to contact the diving center the day before the trip to confirm the trip has not been cancelled due to weather.

Cancellation policy

  • The deposit paid upon booking is not refundable under any circumstances. Withdrawal allowed up to 48 hours before the service begins.

Sicily / Taormina

Diving in sicily, sport & adventure in sicily.

  • Date chevron_right Select the date.
  • Mistake! Missing service! Contact us for support with this offer. Contact us
  • Times 10:00 chevron_right Select the time. 10:00 14:30 17:00
  • Participants
  • Child age Select chevron_right Select Select the age of the children.

Min. 1 Person

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  • Chat with us
  • +44(0)20 86660407
  • [email protected]

Italian Breaks

These are the Best Spots to go Diving in Sicily

Scuba diving in the pristine waters lapping at Sicily’s shores is like drinking water from a mountain spring or shredding through fresh drifts of snow in the backcountry – a personalized gift from Mother Nature, herself. And diving near the largest island in the Mediterranean is the gift that keeps on giving as divers have […]

Scuba diving in the pristine waters lapping at Sicily’s shores is like drinking water from a mountain spring or shredding through fresh drifts of snow in the backcountry – a personalized gift from Mother Nature, herself. And diving near the largest island in the Mediterranean is the gift that keeps on giving as divers have the opportunity to not only experience the merging of the mysteries of the natural world, but also the bridging of modernity with the long-submerged past of this Italian getaway. Sicilian dive sites offer ample opportunities to explore pinnacles, caves, walls, shipwrecks and of course, wildlife. Swimming with parrotfish, barracudas, moray and conger eels and sea turtles is not uncommon, but this kind of Italian diving is most known for its geography and sunken history lurking in grottos and around neighbouring islands.

Beginners and advanced divers have the opportunity to maze through Sicily’s ancient world hiding under the ocean’s curtain for almost the entire year. From October to May, this area of the Mediterranean Sea offers visibility up to 130 feet with generally weak currents – which means clear, calm and brilliantly blue waters. There is no bad time to visit Sicily, but if you’re going on a diving holiday then August is the month to avoid the island paradise. With throngs of tourists and boat traffic, the usually peaceful ocean loses its serenity and calamity that is optimal for scuba diving.

Now it’s time to start planning and imagining this feeling: as you back roll off the boat, the sun rays fade in goodbye and the calming ripples of water envelop you into a curious world of ancient past and future discovery. You’ll lose your breath, but not because of a faulty oxygen tank instead you’ll be breathlessly in awe over Sicily’s sunken society of marine creatures and ancient artefacts – so who’s ready to explore the best diving spots in Sicily and take a selfie with 2,000-year-old statues?

Aegadian Islands

The Marine Protected Area of the Aegadian Islands lies off the northwest coast of Sicily in a cluster of five small landmasses. Favignana, Levanzo, Marettimo, Maraone and Formica run this archipelago a total expanse of 14 square miles. While each island shares the same turquoise gem crashing at its coast, Levanzo and Marettimo are the best dive sites by far.

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With silky smooth and remote waters, Levanzo is a paradise for experienced divers. Lurking below, about 100 feet (30 meters), is a Roman shipwreck. It rests between the waters of Cala Minnola and Punta Altarella with years and years of history to discover. Amphorae and first century B.C. pottery has already been found in the shadows of this prehistoric structure. As you explore the undertow of Levanzo, you can’t miss the Grotta del Genovese where one can see 10,000-year-old art carved into Upper Palaeolithic wall paintings and neolithic drawings. But be sure to make a reservation ahead of time or you may miss out! These cave inscriptions were discovered in 1949 by a wandering Francesca Minellono, a painter from Florence on holiday. Who knows, maybe the next discovery will be made by a curious diver? In Levanzo, the possibilities and history are endless!

Like its neighbour, Marettimo is a red x on the treasure map for divers. This little island with its many grottos and the jagged coastline is a saltwater haven above and below. Experienced divers can search for the 17 th -century iron cannon or explore the 1973 wreck of the Kent. The latter is a bit of an undertaking as it is about 150 feet (50 meters) below the surface, but certainly worth it for well-versed scuba divers. As a hotspot for diving, Marettimo has numerous opportunities for diving courses and excursions. So, if you’re rather new to the world of plunging yourself well below the depths of oxygen and sunlight then don’t fret, Marettimo attracts all kinds of travellers! Lovers’ Grotto, the Blue Grotto and the Grotto of Sighs also dot this island. Locals even say you can hear the Grotto of Sighs moaning against its cave entrapment during the peak of winter. From Sicily , catch a boat to the Aegadian Islands for a day of diving, grotto-hopping and discovery below the glassy blues of the Mediterranean.

Aeolian Islands

A tourist-must off of Sicily’s northeastern flank, the UNESCO-protected Aeolian Islands spread across the ribbons of blue into an archipelago of seven landmasses. Watched over by its namesake, the Greek god of Aeolus and the King of the Winds, these islands are a force of nature with at least eight wide caves, four volcanoes and all the diving anyone could want! Lipari, Panarea, Vulcano, Salina, Filicudi, Alicudi and Stromboli compose this string of islands, and all offer diving, diversity and incredible views of active and dormant volcanoes. Imagine your head finally breaking through the surface shattering the mirror of crystal-clear waters all around to a view of a desolate volcano off in the distance.

The biggest and busiest of the Aeolians. Lipari offers incredible diving for both beginners and experts alike. Strap on your goggles and oxygen, jump in and check out these dive sites off of Lipari: Ever see snow underwater? The white pumice stones at Punta Castagna and the seemingly perpetual quiet enveloping you in Poisedon’s home will make you feel closer than ever to winter’s frosty landscape. Pietra del Bagno offers exceptional diving for the whole crew, whether you are a beginner or well-seasoned diver looking to break barriers! Swim among eels, scorpionfish, groupers lobster, prawns, and parrotfish at the Secca delle Formiche dive site.

Panarea – a getaway for those who appreciate the finer things in life. Although the island’s diving welcomes all! Be sure to find the Lisca Bianca Wreck in the cobalt-blues lapping at Panarea’s shores. So far it is the only Llanishen wreck divers can reach in all of the Aeolian Islands. If for some reason you find yourself sick of the blinding blue waters, dive at Le Formiche. Le Formiche is home to rocks, sponges and seaweeds that work together with the shallow waters to give you a light show of red, yellow and orange shades.

Spend your day diving then relax your muscles and take a break from your hard work in the hot springs on this island. While diving near Vulcano, find the statue of Saint Mary at Quaglietto Rock, and experience one of the more historically significant dives. La Parete della Sirenetta also offers a treasure hunt to the famous stone called la Sirenetta. Just follow the vertical reef down! Also, you cannot miss the Grillo Cape when island hopping the Aeolian Islands! It’s famous for the volcanic ridge that leads the way towards the colours bouncing off the octopus, groupers, red prawns and clouds of anthias that call these depths home. No wonder photographers flock here.

The second-largest Aeolian Island stands out amongst its neighbours with its lush greenery and freshwater springs, but like the others, its diving sites are some of the best in the world. Secca del Capo is a challenge for any experienced diver with the ultimate reward: incredibly diverse reef and morphology. Be sure to watch the weather though because this dive is only possible during peak weather days. Or dive for the three peaks at the bottom of Puntra tre Pietre’s ridge. While Lipari, Panarea, Vulcano and Salina offer the most action for divers, Filicudi, Alicudi and Stromboli still offer a few dives, and regardless are worthy stops along your island-hopping tour! Not sure how to get to all of these places? Connect with La Gorgonia Diving Center . They offer half-day dives, night dives and more than 20 different diving sites!

Back in Sicily , follow Marsala’s shoreline to Capo Boeo for a day of diving or snorkelling to the underwater museum just a few meters below the surface. The shallow waters of this dive site do a poor job of obscuring the shadows of an ancient port from the city of Lilibeo, a 397 B.C. artefact. This area has seen it all, from the Roman Empire to the vandal invasions to present-day Italy. And divers can feel its immense past when they swim under the sun’s rays to the old sunken port and the seabed beyond. Divers, swimmers and snorkels alike can expect to see building remains, holds and bilges, ceramics and objects that passing ships discarded before docking centuries ago – recycling probably wasn’t around back then. No need to spend a beautiful day inside the confines of a museum, just dive at Capo Boeo!

Lampedusa – a stark contrast to the rest of the Sicilian diving sites. This Pelagian island is the last stop for your Italian culture fix before the African coast rises in the distant waters. Lampedusa is a popular destination for all tourists, but especially for divers. This island in the sun is home to far more sea creatures than any other Sicilian hotspot. Here wetsuit clad travellers can come face to face with sharks, idle along with sea turtles and match strokes with dolphins or watch the manta rays ebb and flow with the currents as if they were a leaf in the wind. Spend your days searching for the Madonna del Mare statue nestled between octopi and sargo fish burrows or pay your respects to Punta Parrino – the point of protection for the island from the chaos of wind and waves. While the waters to the south of Lampedusa offer better diving because of water clarity, a trip to the northern curve of the island is a must in April as the sperm whales migrate through.

Sicily makes it easy for divers when some of the best shipwrecks to explore, can be found just off of the coasts of its capital city. Throughout history, wrecks of all kinds have found their internal resting place in the cool depths of the seafloor, including a WWII German bomber fighter known as the Junker 52. Along with the WWII casualty, divers can plunge below to search for the Capua, the Arenella, the Paulus V and the Elpis I. Most of the wrecks are from the twentieth century, and some are in such good condition divers can imagine how the ship would look years before navigating the seas and heading for shore.  Palermo’s seabound cemetery is buried well below the surface, and thus should only be a bucket list item for experienced divers. Or maybe this is just the reason you need to start diving?

San Vito Lo Capo

Only an hour away from Palermo, San Vito Lo Capo is a laid back and weathered town, dedicated to diving. Like a small surf town, it offers good vibes, beachfront dive shops and a welcoming environment for all levels of divers. The pearly sand beaches and piercing waters are the perfect access point for diving excursions at San Vito Lo Capo. Scouring the seabed under the sun’s rays, archaeologists and recreational divers have discovered pottery jars once used for the likes of wine and olive oil, anchors and other artefacts from years dating back to the 4th century B.C. Grinders and Amphorae wrecks are also in abundance and reachable by this nostalgic seaside village.

The east coast Sicilian staple, Taormina , is another hotspot for ancient wrecks. This is where the Column lays in peace. The Column is a 2,000-year-old shipwreck from the Roman Empire. It hides from the sun’s rays 26 meters below. And just a few minutes by boat from Taormina is the Grotto Azzurra or ‘Blue Cave.’ This grotto is like no other – its waters, shelter and the whispers of light that creep through the entry point intertwine to illuminate this cavern into a mystical glow of blue. No wonder it’s Sicily ’s most beautiful dive site.

To discover more about Sicily and the rest of your Italian holiday, check out Italian Breaks for where to go, where to stay and what to do .









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  • Mt. Etna and Alcantara Gorge
  • Mt. Etna to the top at 3330
  • Godfather Tour – Savoca & Forza D’agro’
  • Siracusa, Catania, Noto
  • Tindari and Messina
  • Caltagirone – Capital of the ceramic
  • Ragusa & Inspector Montalbano
  • The Villa Romana Del Casale – Piazza Armerina
  • Shore Excursions from Taormina – Giardini Naxos
  • Shore Excursions Messina Sicily
  • Shore Excursions Catania
  • Transfer Service Sicily
  • Canyoning Sicily
  • Trekking Sicily

Diving Taormina – Sicily


  Snorkeling and Diving Tour

The most beautiful dive experience in taormina., watch the video “dive in taormina” .

sicily diving tour


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Taormina Dolphin Tour

Naxos & taormina daily dolphin tours.

Captain Angelo’s dolphin tour: Join Captain Angelo aboard his boat for a guaranteed dolphin watch cruise in the protected waters of the Naxos and Taormina Bay. This two-hour cruise departs from a dock on the Naxos Port and is ideal for all ages. Enjoy breathtaking views as you listen to a factual narration on the mediterranean common Dolphins and Striped Dolphins, a type of dolphin found along the Mediterranean coast. You never know what you might spot!

About Dolphin Tours Captain: Captain Angelo, a 5th generation Naxos native, grew up two blocks from where the tours depart. He spent summers as a kid exploring the local waters — fishing, crabbing, hunting and trapping. He lives on waterfront property that has been in his family for more than 150 years. If you are looking for a nice relaxing trip from a captain/tour guide with rich local heritage and great knowledge of the area’s history and cultural beginnings then you most definitely want to check out Captain Angelo’s Dolphin Tours.

Sunset Dolphin Tour – 5:00 Pm or before Sunset time

From mid May to October, tours depart everyday.  Please call for the current schedule, as times are subject to change with the season. Reservations are required for all cruises and can be made via phone and Whatsapp.

Season:  May – October Days:  All days of the week Place of departure:  Naxos harbor Time of departure: Before Sunset Time (around 5 pm) Duration:  2 hours Age limit:  3 y.o Price: 45 €

Included:  Local guide, binoculars use, dolphins identification slates, soft drinks, mineral water.

Tips:  Take a light wind-breaker and your camera

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Snorkeling tour & bbq, sunset tour & dine onboard, cayaking & snorkeling tour, snorkeling tour, with your booking a free welcome drink.

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Sicily Road Trip Itinerary – Self Drive

  • self drive holiday

Sicily Road Trip Planner:

After we wrote this post  about  ‘ Things to know before you self-drive in Sicily ’ , we got a lot of questions about places we traveled across Sicily on our road trip. Yes … we are Sicilian … but we usually travel around our island!

Be it 1 week or 10 days, this itinerary will help you while driving around Sicily and covers most of the beautiful and famous spots in Sicily making it one of the best road trips in Sicily.
With such a pleasing experience , we would recommend that everyone should go road trippin in Sicily at least once in a lifetime! Assisting you in your road trip adventure is your travel buddy. So, here it is – Tour of Sicily

Road trip preparation for self drive holiday:

Well, for a good road trip, what do you need? A reliable and cost effective car and a comfortable place to rest for the day after a long day on the road.

I know you are nodding your head there. Let me ease this process for you by listing a couple of websites which we always use on our travels.

You can book the car rental using  Tour of Sicily , so that we can select the car that matches your taste and budget.


With so many booking sites and hundreds of B&B and Hotels, its indeed difficult to choose the place which suits your taste.

That is where this site comes into picture.

Tour of Sicily has a great selection of hotels which have been used for other clients. We do know their locations, facilities and quality. Furthermore, here in Sicily the hotel rating is completely different from the other side of the world and, because of it, we have created our own rating in: -3 star properties: moderate and B&B -4 star properties: moderate, first class, boutique … and a few B&B who are charming and with character -5 star properties: deluxe, luxury

Self drive Sicily itinerary

We list some places you can visit on your self drive holiday in Sicily.

  • Palermo , Capital of Sicily and the Arab-Norman Route
  • Monreale and the Mosaics at the Dome
  • Erice , the Marzipan and the Venus Castle
  • Salt Way Road  between Trapani and Marsala
  • Marsala, Saltpans and the Wine
  • Selinunte and Belice Nature Reserve
  • Agrigento , Kolymbetra Park and Turkish Steps

Piazza Armerina and the Roman Villa of Casale

  • Caltagirone , the Capital of Sicilian Pottery
  • Syracusa  mainland and Ortigia Island
  • Noto Valley : Noto, Ragusa Ibla, Modica, Scicli and the Donnafugata Castle
  • Syracusa-Ragusa Nature Parks and Reserves: Pantalica Necropolis, Vendicari and Cavagrande del Cassibile
  • Etna Volcano , the most famous highlight of Sicily
  • Taormina and Surroundings: Taormina, Castelmola and the Godfather villages (e.g. Savoca)
  • UNESCO sites in the entire Sicily

Our Recommended Sicilian Road trip Itinerary 

Let me split the tour in 5 legs.

First leg of the journey:  Palermo Second leg: Marsala Thirth leg:  Agrigento Fouth leg: Syracusa Fifth leg:  Taormina

Lets look at each stop and see what we recommend to do there and from there!

Palermo Main Town

You can fly into Palermo and flew out of Catania.

From Palermo airport to join the town you can: catch on the Public Bus — Prestia and Comandè Bus Company — with a very great schedule with departure every 0,30 hour from the airport spending a few euros. You can book the ticket in advance or pay it on the spot.

And, you can also take a Regular Multilingual Walking Tour of Palermo : -from Tuesday to Sunday, half day h 9AM at eur 38 per person LINK -from Tuesday to Saturday, half day h 2PM at eur 38 per person LINK

If you are a Meal-Lover do not miss our small size   collective Street Food Walking Tour  admiring the Massimo Theatre (external view to the Palermo Opera House), then explore a suggestive and lively  open-air market , a place with strong Arab influences, resembling a souk, with picturesque stands of fresh fish, cheeses, fruits and vegetables. During the tour you will have the opportunity to observe local people in their daily activities and to savor foods that a real Sicilian people love to eat!  T asting of typical street food is included . The walking tour through the ancient center of Palermo is around 3-4 hours and you will visit several monuments including Piazza Pretoria and the Cathedral. Contact us for it !

What to see and What to do while in Palermo

sicily diving tour

Welcome to the world’s most conquered city! A multicultural legacy in one timeless place where North meets South and East meets West. t’s in the air. And in the splendid churches, castles and palaces. A touch of the Classical with a taste of the Medieval and the Baroque. Even the food is a polyglot cacophony of flavours from every era: Phoenician, Greek, Carthaginian, Roman, Gothic, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Swabian, Angevin, Aragonese. Palermo has been home to Phoenician traders, Roman patricians, Arab emirs, Norman kings and at least two medieval Holy Roman Emperors, and the spirit of each lives on. What is Palermo? This eclectic crossroads of Mediterranean and northern European civilization is more than a museum.

It’s a vibrant — even chaotic — city whose unique culture has been forged and molded by three millennia of history emerging from three continents. There’s no other place on earth like Palermo, and to discover the history of this singular city is to experience something of the diverse worlds that have created something which has evolved into its own culture.

The streets of old Palermo are an intriguing labyrinth of outdoor markets, subtle niches and long-forgotten secrets — almost a subculture unto themselves. After nine centuries street markets still evoke the atmosphere of Arab souks. Only the Baroque churches and palazzi on the same narrow streets remind you that you’re in Italy, but then “Italy” has existed as a modern concept only since the middle of the nineteenth century; Sicily — ruled from Palermo as a Fatimid emirate and then as a Norman kingdom — transcends this by many centuries.

Palermo’s Norman Palace epitomizes the city’s heritage of diversity. It was built by the Normans upon the foundations of an Arab castle, al-Kasr. This, in turn, had been constructed in the ninth century on the site of a Punic (Phoenician-Carthaginian) structure. The Normans’ first chapel, built in the Romanesque style very late in the eleventh century, is now the “crypt” beneath the Palatine Chapel of the twelfth century. Today all can be visited.

After blissful 2 days of roaming in Palermo, hopped onto Monreale for a half day, which was just next door to Palermo. You can join Monreale by taxi or Public Bus spending a few euros. Monreale is far away from Palermo only 15/20 minutes driving distances each way.

Palermo Surroundings

1. Monreale

sicily diving tour

The cathedral and cloisters at Monreale are frequently cited as the island’s greatest Norman buildings.

They date to the twelfth century, when the Norman ruler William II, known as William the Good, founded a Benedictine monastery here; this Duomo was its abbey. In competition with the great cathedral being built down down the road in Palermo, Monreale’s cathedral was finished rapidly and extravagantly; William wanted this to be an important royal church where he and his successors would be buried, though these plans didn’t last beyond his own burial.

The upper part of the cathedral’s interior is completely covered in gleaming gold mosaics; more than 6,000 square metres of mosaic.

They were almost certainly created by Byzantine craftsmen, and the combination of Norman, Byzantine and Islamic art and architecture here is a spectacular demonstration of the influences which created Sicily’s most glorious era. In the apse, above the altar, the greatest image is of Christ Pantocrator, draped in a blue robe, his hand raised in blessing. Below him and around the walls are depictions of saints, including St. Thomas a Becket (two rows below Christ, helpfully labelled). The central nave is lined with pictures from the Old Testament. Look out for the lovely sequence of scenes of Noah’s ark, with animals being coaxed on and off the boat, and passengers crammed in like Ryanair customers peering through windows. In the side naves are scenes from the life of Christ. For a small charge, you can buy a ticket to view the  tesoro  – the treasury of the cathedral – to get a closer look at some of the mosaics, and to visit the cathedral’s panoramic terrace. Once you have seen the cathedral and taken your fill of the mosaics, have a look at the exterior and the marvellous decoration on the apse.

After exploring Palermo  and Monreale, now you can pick up a pre-booked rental car, thus flagging off your Sicilian road trip! For the entire day you can self drive to Cefalù and get back to Palermo in the afternoon.

sicily diving tour

The city is dominated by a monumental rock that rises up to 270 metres in height already known to the Phoenicians as “ promontory of Hercules ” on which the  Temple of Diana  stands, a megalithic building linked to the worship of the water, as indicated by the nearby cistern dating from the ninth century BC. The historic district is lying in the shadow of this bastion and clings around its beating heart which is undoubtedly the  Duomo , a gigantic cathedral built by Roger II, the Norman.

There are many sights to see in  medieval Cefalù  as well.

Entirely carved out from the rock and active until recently, is the  Medieval washhouse . After descending its suggestive lava stone, curved steps, we find ourselves in a half-covered space hosting a number of ancient basins, fed by the Cefalino river that flows out from twenty-two iron lion-shaped mouths.

In this special setting, full of  history and culture, we are thrown back into the  past, among songs screamed by the Sicilian laundresses, busy in their daily ritual.

It’s absolutely a must to see in Cefalù, for a magnificent taste of Sicilian Medieval life.

After this interesting immersion in art and culture, you just have to look for a good spot in front of the wonderful sea and order fresh fish while waiting for the sunset and for the spectacle of the enlightened port brightening the night up.

Next morning, early breakfast and departure for Marsala for a couple of nights there, with a stopovers to Erice and the Salt Way Road. Spend two days in Marsala

sicily diving tour

Two solutions to join Erice: drive by car up to the hilltown or park the car on the slopes of Erice hilltown and use the cable car. WE DO RECOMMEND to use the cable car where you can park the car and catch on the first cable car available.

From the time the cable-car approach the uptown, until your way back to the slopes of Erice, everything is amazing! During the cable car ride: look at the Tyrrhenian coast in the Gulf of Trapani and the tip of San Vito lo Capo at the horizon, and on the other, the port of Trapani, Saltpans and the  Egadi islands .

In spite of several of tourist inflow every day, much of Erice’s natural beauty is preserved to retain its charm. The proof of which are the narrow medieval roads just enough to pass only one local vehicle one way direction only.

To discover Erice,  let’s begin our tour from Porta Trapani  and walk through the alley streets and the squares, bordered by churches and palaces that, in open spaces, reveal majestic landscapes. Erice is famous for its numerous churches, indeed it was known as the city with a hundred churches.

Among the most beautiful places, there is the  Spanish neighborhood . It is said that this area was made during the Spanish ruling in order to accommodate Spanish soldiers, as it was mandatory for every city of Sicily. In Erice, a blockhouse was built, which we have fascinating remains, and a church dedicated to the cult of S. Antonio; however, the Spanish neighborhood was never finished because the soldiers were housed in the nearby castle.

Erice’s symbol is the Venus Castle ( Castello di Venere ), built by the Normans who used materials from the temple of Venus in Erice, from which the castle takes its name. The castle was surrounded by towers and beside them there is the  Balio , a wonderful garden from which you enjoy an  extraordinary panorama .

sicily diving tour

Let’s taste the  famous sweets of Erice . We have a great choice among historical laboratories of sweets from Erice. There are sweets made from ancient recipes of the nuns of cloistered monasteries.

Decorated like lace, the  marzipan sweets  are stuffed with preserved cedar. The  genovesi ericine  are filled with hot custard and sprinkled with icing sugar.  Mustaccioli , classic or honey types of cookies, are flavored with a hint of clove. Finally, the marzipan fruits, almond based, with soft and natural colors, cannot miss in this list.

Salt Way Road between Trapani and Marsala

sicily diving tour

The tourist paths for visits to the salt flats wind their way around the great basins and, running along the edges of the tanks of seawater – which glistens in the sun as it crystallizes – finally reach the mounds of salt. These mounds are topped by a series of recently restored windmills that recall the days when they were among the main instruments for pumping the water and grinding the salt.

A panorama that has to be enjoyed, preferably at sunset, when everything becomes tinged with red. We then arrive at the salt pans  Saline Ettore Infersa  ( Admission fee: payable on the spot at the ticket office ) which offer a truly unique landscape. Windmills, first introduced during mediaeval times, dot the horizon, a testament to how things were once done, though one or two continue to function, pumping water through the sluice gates into or out of the various basins. Piles of harvested salt, neatly covered with terracotta tiles, lie between the road and the basins waiting to be despatched.

If you have the chance, await the sunset …. is amazing taking a Prosecco here in the bar which is next to the Saltpans. Colours, sky, sea, salt hills, windmills …. trust us and drink your prosecco here!

sicily diving tour

A significant date in Sicilian wine history is 1773, the year John Woodhouse began producing what was destined to become one of the island’s best loved products: Marsala.

Woodhouse understood immediately that the decent local wine could be transformed using  in perpetuum  techniques (similar to the solera system used to make sherry). The addition of alcohol would not only fortify the wine but also help it survive the sea journey back to England intact. It was an instant success with the British, and soon other entrepreneurs, such as Ingham and Whitaker, were exploiting the wine’s popularity.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the English dominion in Marsala-making was brought to an end by the arrival of Vincenzo Florio , one of Italy’s first tycoons, who bought up much of the land around Marsala. Cantine Florio, though in different hands today, remains one of the best producers of Marsala, and a visit of their enormous barrel-filled winery is recommended.

For most of the 20th century, Sicily continued to produce enormous quantities of grapes, most of which were exported to be added to wine made elsewhere in Italy and France.

Plan with us the visit to the Florio Winery with wine tastings … is a must no miss

If you are a Gastronomy Lover let us indulging you in the local culinary tradition or Cooking Class. Busiate pasta with pesto or a cous cous soup with fish …. the culinary tradition here in this part of Sicily is definitely delicious! Contact us to arrange a Meal Experience!

Our Sicilian experience continue with the amazing visit of the most imposrtant archaeological sites: Selinunte on the way to Agrigento. Here we spend 2 days.

sicily diving tour

We do recommend to hire a Licensed Local Guide to visit this huge Archaeological Site.

Located on the south west coast of Sicily, Selinunte (named Selinos by Greeks) was one of the richest and most important cities for Magna Grecia. Unfortunately, it was turned into ruins by a fierce attack of Carthaginans who massacred or took into slavery its inhabitans.

Undoubtedly, its ruins runk among the most remarkable and fascinating archaeological sites in Sicily. The archeological site is the largest in Europe.

If you are passionated about history and archeology, or just curious and eager to see world’s wonders, you will spend very suggestive time by visiting this coffer brimming with Mediterranean history.

Furthermore, Selinunte benefits from a beautiful position: it overlooks the sea and it is surrounded by golden beaches.

To the west lies the archaeological site of  Selinunte , to the east, the seaside resort  of Porto Palo. In between is a 3km stretch of sandy beach, dunes, and coastal flora: the  Belice Nature Reserve .

Instituted in 1984, the Belice reserve is a wonderful place to visit in all seasons. Beach lovers will always find space on its generous sands during the spring, summer, and autumn, and swimmers will appreciate the cleanliness of its waters. In the cooler months, it’s a great spot for a brisk walk, following the disused Castelvetrano-Sciacca railway line while working up an appetite for a long lunch at La Pineta, a traditional seafood restaurant at the western extremity of the beach.

For nature lovers there’s also plenty to see. The dunes alternate with depressions, which form saltwater pools when the tide comes in. A vibrant, hardy range of flora thrives on the sandy, saline terrain, including sea daffodils, sea rocket, wild asparagus, lentisk, and tamarisk. On the fertile banks of the river delta grow towering reeds and bullrushes, while carob trees, dwarf palms, and the occasional pine rise discreetly above the dunes.

During the afternoon continue onto Agrigento from the sea. The view of the Greek temples and the hilltop city backdrop is one of the most memorable panoramas in Europe.

Two days in Agrigento to visit the amazing Valley of the Temples , the Kolymbetra Park and the Turkish Steps .

Agrigento, the Kolymbetra Park and the Turkish Steps

sicily diving tour

Walking on the temple hill with the huge doric temples all around us, is an impressive experience. The  temple of Hercules  is the most ancient of the temples of Agrigento. This ancient building has an extremely elongated structure.

The  temple of the Concord  is one of the greatest attractions of the archaeological park.It was build in doric style with six columns on the frontside. During the middleage, the temple was transformed into a Christian church..

At the highest point of the hill is setted the  Juno Lacinia temple . This hexastyle peripteral temple is the best preserved of the valley toghether with the temple of the Concord.

The other buildings are in the other area of the archaeological park, on the other side of the street (same ticket for entrance).Here are the ruins of the huge  temple of Olympian Zeus .The structure of this temple was supported by giant figures named Telamons (visible near the temple and in the archaeological museum of Agrigento with a reconstruction). The construction of this temple began in the fifth century B.C. but the building was never finished. In size it was only second to the temple of Diana in Ephesus. The  temple of Castor and Pollux  is an other famous sicilian panorama. The doric columns were raised up again in the nineteenth century. Near this temple it is also possible to visit the sanctuary of the chtonic divinities and the  Kolymbetra gardens .

Many people visit the  Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily and completely miss the luscious botanical garden called the Kolymbetra .

The history of the garden dates back to around 500 BC when the Greeks occupied Sicily. The garden was established as part of the ancient town of Akragas (today, Agrigento), once home to some 200,000 people. Because the area was mostly arid at the time, an extensive irrigation system was developed and as a result, a lush garden conceived.

What makes the garden so unique is the combination of ancient ruins  and  flora and fauna as well as many plants no longer cultivated in the Agrigento region but still grown here. You’re even allowed to pick citrus fruit off the trees and consume it right there on the spot! There are small bins all over to avoid littering as well as streams where you can wash your sticky fingers thereafter.

The citrus fruit is as fresh as anything and there is nothing like sitting in the sun eating a freshly plucked piece of fruit in utter tranquility. Thank heavens there were not a lot of  tourists around either! As you can imagine this made the experience even more special.

Then, a short drive to join the Turkish Steps

sicily diving tour

One of the most stunning natural sites to visit in Sicily is the  Turkish Steps  or the  Scala dei Turchi .

It is a rocky cliff on the coast of Realmonte and conveniently located only 15 minutes away from Agrigento. It is  one of the best spots to relax and take a break from site seeing as well as to enjoy a nice dip in the ocean .

The Turkish Steps in Sicily are beautiful white cliffs that have eroded in a way that looks like a staircase sloping into the blue waters of the Mediterranean. It is an amazing spot to  take photographs  and to  dive into the warm ocean  off of the amazing white cliffs. You can walk along the cliffs or simply lie out and take in the sun on this truly unique geological formation.

Furthermore, the name of the site comes from the Arab pirates who anchored their boats on the cliffs while they pillaged surrounding villages. The stone is specifically Marl which has eroded from the elements over the ages. Wet clay is supposedly good for the skin so many beach goers cover themselves in the sediment while they take in the sun. Think of it as a giant white natural lounge chair sloping into the ocean, which also has a clay spa built right in!

This natural wonder is  a perfect place to absorb the rays, enjoy a romantic sunset or hike along the coastline .

Maybe even take a nice bottle of Sicilian wine and just relax while looking at the incredible view!

After exploring Agrigento area , now you can continue to Syracusa with a WOW recommended stopover to visit the Roman Villa or Villa Romana del Casale located in Piazza Armerina and shopping time in Caltagirone which is famous for the lovely pottery.

We do recommend to spend in Syracusa 3 to 4 days … there are so many amazing sites to visit from here!

sicily diving tour

The Villa Romana del Casale (trans. Roman Country Villa) in Piazza Armerina is considered to be one of the most important exemplars of an official governmental residence, attributed to the elaboration and exceptional beauty of its architectonic and decorative elements. Dated back to  320-350 A.D. , the villa most likely belonged to a member of Rome’s senatorial class, probably a governor of the Eternal City itself ( Praefectus Urbi ). However, some scholars would maintain that the villa was built and eventually expanded upon the official commission of an Imperial functionary of a rather high order; they have identified this person to be Maximian, a Tetrarch (one of four co-Emperors) of Diocletian.

Archaeologists undertook an important excavation project in the mid-18th Century, bringing to light 37,674 sq ft of  mosaic flooring  – figurative and geometric – along with  wall mosaics , columns, statues, capitals and coins. The theme of the mosaics? They are essentially, in part, paeans to the homeowner himself, and they are done, one might add, with a certain profundity and eloquence. Moreover, much of the house exhibits a definite influence from North African art styles, leading diggers and academics to believe that some of the construction workers from the African Continent.

In the mosaics, the viewer can detect varying styles and narrative cycles: one is dedicated to mythology and to Homeric poems, while another refers to nature and scenes from the Roman aristocracy’s quotidian life.

Caltagirone, the Capital of Sicilian Pottery

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Tourism and ceramics are the most important resources of this pretty town where every corner tells an interesting and ancient story: the name itself comes from an Arabic term that meant  “Castle of pottery jars” . Plenty of extraordinary works of art are still preserved in the city’s Museum of Pottery, where some of the terra-cotta objects date back to the period of Magna Grecia.

The outstanding quality and creativity of Caltagirone’s ceramics is best admired in the most famous landmark of the town:  the monumental Santa Maria del Monte staircase , whose 142 steps are all decorated with hand-painted ceramic tiles, using the typical colors, shapes and patterns of the most traditional pottery production and art. If you happen to be around by that time, don’t miss the marvellous show of the staircase illuminated by thousands of candles creating an artistic image on Saint James’ day (July 25th).

As it happened for the other baroque towns of the Noto Valley, Caltagirone was destroyed by the massive earthquake of 1693 and then rebuilt with a very perceivable baroque imprinting: its  elegant historical centre  includes beautiful examples of the most typical Sicilian baroque architecture, such as the church of San Giorgio and Santa Maria del Monte, located on top of the famous and colourful monumental staircase and rich in invaluable paintings and statues.

Together with elegant and refined palaces and churches, the historical centre of Caltagirone is studded with a multitude of  tiny lovely boutiques and shops selling beautiful ceramics , pottery and terra-cotta works of art from the local laboratories: a souvenir is compulsory!

After a long day-self-drive-transfer-tour connencting Agrigento to Syracusa with the two recommended stopovers to Piazza Armerina and Caltagirone you arrive in Syracusa.

In Syracusa spend 2 or 3 or 4 days or 5 days … or more visiting the Town of Syracusa (which involves also Ortigia island) as well as the amazing villages outside Syracusa which we will shown you below in this article.

Syracusa Mainland and Ortigia island

Today you can park your car and we recommend to hire a Local Guide which is able to escort you to visit the most important local highlights.

Like in Palermo, Syracusa city centre is padestrian with ZTL restrictions  so is convenient for you walk to explore and use taxi to cover the long distances.

To hire a Local Guide feel free to contact Tour of Sicily and decide with them to hire the local guide for half day or a full day .

Of course, you can inquiry Tour of Sicily also for e.g. – Syracusa Cooking Class and Open Air Market – An amazing Boat Tour around the Ortigia island

Syracuse is a city on the south eastern coast of the Italian island of Sicily.

As one of the oldest cities in the Mediterranean, Syracuse has a wonderful collection of historical sites from both the ancient Greek and Roman time periods. Furthermore, this city was considered one of the main powers in the Mediterranean sea during these ancient times and allied with both the Spartans and Corinthians.

In ancient times, the rulers of Syracuse were embroiled in various battles with enemies such as Carthage and the Romans. Today the city has a budding economy, mainly driven by tourism, shipping and agriculture.

Syracusa is a window into the ancient history of the Mediterranean and Europe.

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This was a center of Greek, Byzantine and Judaic civilization.

Physical evidence of these three cultures can still be seen today, making Ortygia a fascinating place to visit for anybody curious about the historic patrimony we have inherited from classical mythology, early Christianity and medieval Judaism.

Let’s explore the  best things to do in Syracuse :

1. Archaeological Park

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The Archaeological Park in the western part of Syracuse is undoubtedly one of the main attractions of the region.

Within this fantastic area is a series of ancient ruins and the most renowned is the Greek Theatre.

Created in 470 BC, this ancient amphitheatre played host to some legendary play writes such as Aischylos and Sophocles, and has a diameter of 138 metres. is a series of ancient ruins and the most renowned is the Greek Theatre.

Today, much of the originally semi-circular seating survives in fantastic condition, although it is sometimes covered with wood to preserve its quality.

Furthermore, you can still see sections of the stage and scenery buildings.

This is one of the best preserved theatres in Sicily and is a must see attraction when visiting Syracuse.

Another true gem within the Archaeological Park in the western part of Syracuse is the impressive Roman Amphitheatre, the Latomie and teh Dionisio Ear.

2. Ortigia Market

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The market is  colorful and lively  and, as in many markets, is characterized by the cries of the vendors. It is not, however, the chaotic atmosphere of a North African souk; on the contrary, what is surprising is that absolute order reigns in certain stalls, with piles of produce stacked in meticulous rows and aligned with geometric precision.

It’s best to go as early in the day as possible, especially in the warmer months, not only to avoid the heat of the South but also to ensure the best  selection of goods  (and of course to have the rest of the morning available for other activities).

3. Piazza Duomo

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Other notable structures include the Palazzo della Sovrintendenza, the town hall, and the Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia.

Furthermore, there is also a beautiful garden and a series of restaurants and cafes.

On certain days, a local market is held here which is the perfect place to pick up a bargain.

4. Juwish Quarter and the Mikva – Ritual Jewish Bath

Up until their  expulsion by the Spanish sovereign in 1492 , Jews  constituted a very important portion of Syracuse . They amounted at times to a third of the population, which is to say several thousand people.

The Jewish community of Syracuse was, in fact, the  most populous in Sicily after that of Palermo .

The Jewish presence in Syracuse was already documented in Roman times and counted among its population numerous and rich merchants and bankers. This presence, maintained into the Byzantine age, was increased during the Arab domination of the area thanks to the influx of Sephardic populations from North Africa, where several Berber tribes converted to Judaism prior to Islam.

Although the Jewish presence in Syracuse preceded the date by which all of the Jewish populations of Catholic countries were obligatorily confined to ghettos (starting in 1555), a large part of this population preferred to collect voluntarily in a “ Jewish quarter .” This was for very practical and emotional reasons but also for understandable self-protection, and the practice can be credited with giving birth in modern cities to neighborhoods of prevalent ethnic populations, such as “Italian quarters,” “Chinese quarters”, and so forth.

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For half a millennium the existence of this space was forgotten. The conversion of to the existing building above the mikvah into a hotel, however, revealed its long access stairway, and the earth (five truckloads!) covering it was removed. Then, the discoverers found the space perfectly preserved yet full of fresh water up to the ceiling.

Mikvah of Syracuse –Ritual Jewish Bath —  appears today to visitors as a rectangular principal room, entirely excavated in the limestone rock (to a depth of 18 meters / 59 feet). Its ceiling is supported by four pillars, and the floor is punctuated with three dug baths. Its walls contain three side niches, two of which also feature a bath. One of the side niches intersected a circular well, probably from the Hellenistic period.

An opening in the ceiling provides ventilation and illumination, which runs to the surface next to the current access to the stairs.  In the past, the small amount of light provided by this shaft was the only illumination available, save for the addition of oil lamps. Examples of these lamps were found during the excavation and are now displayed in a case in the hotel above.

According to the most recent scholarship, this space may be the most ancient ritual Jewish bath left to us in Europe: the period of construction suggested by scholars is, in fact, the  6th century A.D. , in the peak years of the  Byzantine period .

For what reasons did the Jewish community of Syracuse take it upon itself to conduct this impressive work?  For religious reasons. The water of the mikvah had to be “living water,” that is to say it can ebb and flow without human intervention. The constant subterranean filtration of that depth guaranteed such a characteristic, even in the middle of an island. This was the reason why the this space required such deep excavation into the subsoil: the stagnant water at surface level was not appropriate for ritual use, so the search for an appropriate water source moved deep underground.

Still today, with the out-flowing canal being obstructed by work conducted in modern times, the owner of the hotel has to regularly operate the pumps (obviously not during tours). If this is not done, the water that continuously filters through the walls of the tubs will again fill them.

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Since ancient times the fountain was, in fact, cited by poets and writers (Pindar, Moschus, Ovid, Virgil, and then John Milton, Alexander Pope, Gabriele D’Annunzio), and even inspired the Polish composer  Karol Szymanowski .

In ancient Greek myth, the origin of the spring was attributed to the fate of a nymph,  Arethusa , who was transformed by the goddess Artemis into a spring to escape the stalking courtship of  Alpheus  (son of the god Oceanus). He, in despair, was in turn transformed into a river by Zeus and thereby succeeded to finally mix his water with that of Arethusa. The myth probably attempts to explain the brackish taste of the water that results from the infiltration of the bordering sea. Take note that the fountain has changed in appearance many times over the centuries and the last alteration was in 1540 when, constructing ramparts around the island of Ortigia, the Spanish reduced the lake created by the spring of approximately 200 meters to the much smaller, semicircular pool (at the foot of the wall) that one sees now.

These overlying walls were demolished in 1847, with the bases of the ramparts transformed into the Belvedere (redesigned in 1947) that one can admire today.

This pond also has a second peculiarity: at its center a collection of  wild papyrus  has grown for millennia.

This thicket, together with the similar growths along the Ciane/Anapo river, constitutes the only wild papyrus existing in Europe. 

To the delight of youngsters, freshwater fish and domesticated ducks swim in the deep water of the spring.

6. and more important highlights

We cannot write a poem and tehre are too many sites to see in Syracusa and Ortigia. Let us just mention them e.g.:

– Maniace Castle : The castle that covers the entire point of the island of Ortigia is situated on the spot where a temple of Hera once stood and later served as the location for the palaces of the Greek “tyrants” of Syracuse and of the Roman administrators stood). The present castle, though, takes its name from its first builder, the  Byzantine  general  George Maniakes ,  who liberated Syracuse from Arab rule  for a few years (1040-1043), and fortified the port at this point.

– Syracusa Dome : a monument of singular charm, and its extraordinary characteristics are virtually unequalled in Italy. The building was, in fact, made by enclosing the columns of a Doric Greek temple of the 5th century BC , which, resultantly allowed the temple to survive  virtually intact. The imposing Greek columns are still clearly visible both inside and outside the church. While keeping up with the times and changes of religion (Greek temple, church, mosque, and then a church again), the site has remained a place of worship for a good two and a half millennia!

– The Hypogeum of Piazza del Duomo:  The limestone that exists in and around Syracuse is relatively soft and easy to cut. This feature made it practical and economical to dig cisterns, aqueducts, and catacombs,and also to mine building stone. Stone quarries have been found not only on the margins of the ancient Greek city but even directly on the island of Ortigia itself. The ground beneath Syracuse, after millennia of mining, is thus crossed by a dense network of passages and tunnels, many of which are extremely impressive.

– Santa Lucia alla Badia:  Overlooking the  Piazza del Duomo  is the whimsical façade of the  Church of Santa Lucia all Badia . A Baroque-Rococo blend of styles, the church is crossed by a long balcony enclosed by tall, wrought-iron railings, behind which sits the cloister for the nuns of the convent. From this secluded location they could observe the ceremonies of taking place in the town piazza. The bright interior of the single-nave church is relatively bare and decorated with  modern sculpture and modest paintings . The remarkable exception, however, is the masterpiece recently placed on the high altar: The Burial of Saint Lucia by  Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

– Castello Euralio:   is the largest castle dating back to Greek times that survives until the present day and one of the most important Greek monuments in Sicily.  Castles, as one knows, are created for fortification during war, and as soon as the opportunity presents itself they are razed to the ground either during or after a war. In spite of this, thanks to the fact that a large part of this building was dug directly into the rock, part of the structure of this particular castle survives (a case more unique than rare). The castle is impressive in size despite two and a half millennia having passed since its construction and despite the hardships it endured: of the wall’s original height of 8-10 meters / 26-32 feet,  today their highest point is a mere 3 meters / 9 feet.

-Catacombs of San Giovanni:  Along with the  Catacombs of Santa Lucia , those of  San Giovanni make up the part that is easiest to visit in the whole complex of Syracuse’s catacombs, which in terms of expansiveness and articulation are second only to   those of Rome . The atmosphere that permeates this underground place is extraordinary, full of charm and mystery.

– Puppet Lab and Theater:  The charm of the traditional “Puppet Theater” (or “ Opera dei pupi “, the Sicilian marionette show) is such that it is common to find foreign tourists, who do not speak Italian, at the performances offered for more than a century by the Vaccaro-Mauceri family. Born in the 19th century by adapting to the cultural nostalgic love for the chivalrous knights of Charlemagne and that of 16th century writer  Torquato Tasso ’s  Liberation of Jerusalem  and  Ludovico Ariosto ‘s  The Frenzy of Orlando , the puppet theater has become an art form in itself, to the point of outliving the models from which it developed. Today it has been proclaimed an “ Intangible Heritage of Humanity” Site by UNESCO .

Surroundings of Syracusa

Now … how long you will spend in Syracusa? Based on your stay you can decide how to spend the time!

There are a lot to see and explore in the Syracusa’s surroundings:

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Marzamemi , It is an enchanting  fishing village , not far from the famous “regina barocca” (baroque queen)  Noto ; it features in its blue venues of its waters and the pure white of the, kissed by the sun, houses.

It is  Marzamemi , with its  tunny fishing nets  dated 1600, one of the most important in Sicily, with its docks for yachting boats, ruins of ancient vessels, narrow alleys, beaches impressed at sight, traditional cuisine which highlights the strong and original fishing tastes, and the wise processing of fishing products (red tuna bottarga), very often matched to the  tomato  of the nearby Pachino .

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A native of Porto Empedocle, Sicily, author Andrea Camilleri set the investigations of his famed character, Inspector Montalbano in fictional Sicilian locations.

He gave his book’s cities imaginary names such Vigata, Marinella, or Montelusa, yet he based them off of Sicilian towns he knew. The subsequent television series recreated these imagined cities in the splendid landscape of eastern Sicily, between the provinces of Syracuse and Ragusa (namely Syracuse, Brucoli, Noto, Marzamemi, Modica, Donnafugata, Scicli, Ragusa Ibla).

The commissioner’s office of Vigata (the town hall) and the police headquarters of Montelusa (Palazzo Iacono), for example, are found in Scicli, while its main square is that of the Duomo of Ragusa Ibla. Donnafugata Castle is the home of mafia boss Sinagra and not far away one finds the “hamlets of Marinella” with the Commissioner’s house (in reality Punta Secca) and the ancient, early Christian catacombs of the Grotta delle Trabacche (“The Terracotta Dog” episode). Returning to Syracuse, you can visit the infamous “La Mannara” beach with its atmospheric ruins of industrial architecture of the Fornace Penna (at Punta Pisciotto). Then you can head to Noto and Marzamemi, where the last series set several murders and investigations, and finally to Brucoli, north of Syracuse itself, with the castle and splendid beach that also hosted a few episodes. In addition to Montalbano, you can also experience the locales of the great cinema of Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard (set at the Castle and in the majestic Donnafugata park). One can also chart the cinematographic course of   Gabriele Salvatores ’ Sud in Marzamemi, a location in which other film directors (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Giuseppe Tornatore, Nello Correale, to name a few) chose to shoot their films.

Let us also enphasize a village which is considered the Sicilian town with an ancient segret: Made in the Sicilian town of Modica, the Aztec-inspired chocolate is one of the world’s best-kept secrets.

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Unlike the often over-sugared and creamy snack we know as chocolate, the original xocoàtl was bitter and used to enhance sauces for meat dishes, grated over salads or eaten on its own as a dietary supplement. If prepared with certain spices, it was considered an aphrodisiac.

In Modica, generations of families have followed the same techniques, using metates crafted with lava stone from Mt Etna. Locals would mix the chocolate paste with sugar, “cold working” it so that the sugar doesn’t get hot enough to melt; it gives the treat an unusual but deliciously crunchy texture. Then, they would incorporate flavours typically enjoyed on Sicily such as lime oil or pistachio. Today, flavourings are occasionally adapted to more modern tastes such as the current European fashion for sea salt chocolate.

The first shop we encountered is the grand  Antica Dolceria Bonajuto , which dates back to the 1880s, and is still run by the family who founded it. When the rest of Europe began to develop a taste for milk chocolate in the 19th Century, the Bonajuto family eschewed the practice and continued making dairy-free, dark chocolate in the Aztec style. All along the counter were dishes filled with samples infused with chilli, cinnamon, lemon oil, sea salt, vanilla, caramel and other flavours.

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We can recommend no better day out in the Province of Syracusa and Ragusa than a visit to the Castello di Donnafugata . Those among you who love the Commissario Montalbano TV series, the on screen adaptation of Andrea Camilleri’s detective novels, will recognise the building. It is featured in some episodes of the series as the villa of Mafia boss Balduccio Sinagra.

Recently fully restored, the Castle, with its white façade and Venetian Gothic loggia, gives me a warm feeling of pleasure every time I see it, perhaps because it is a castle that could have illustrated a book of fairy tales and there is an immediate sense of recognition.

Disappointingly, though, the Castle’s name, whose literal translation would be “the woman who fled”,  is just the result of a linguistic corruption and not a reference to any romantic escape.  In the tenth or eleventh century, the Arabs, finding a fresh water fountain on the site, built a fortification there and named it “Ayn As Jafat” [“Fountain of health”]. This became “Ronnafuata” in dialect and later “Donnafugata.”

Another illusion held by some visitors is that the Castle is the Donnafugata mentioned in  “The Leopard”  – there are even some guide books and websites which tell you that this is so – but it is not. Nevertheless, when I am there I like to imagine the ladies of the Prince of Salina’s household living in such surroundings and, if I listen carefully, I am sure I can hear the swish of their crinoline skirts upon the floors.

One Day Trip to Pantalica Nature Reserve

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It is a vast, vast canyon (“cava” in Sicilian) of nearly 4,000 hectares and unique characteristics: At the top is unique archeological testimony from the prehistoric to the Byzantine ages; on the steep limestone cliffs there are about 5000 cave tombs carved in the rock; and at the base, a river flowing through lush Mediterranean vegetation.

Pantalica is truly breath-taking, a good part of it still to be explored. It is a realm of silence, of raptors flying over these deep and mysterious gorges, of the most excellent example in the world of funerary architectural ruins. As if that wasn’t enough, there is a megalithic building (Anaktoron) of unknown origins.

The reserve comprises the Anapo river valley on of the longest rivers on the island and the principal river of the Iblean mountains, that over time eroded the limestone over which it flows, living rise to the characteristic canyon surrounding the archeological site of Pantalica.

There are two Karst cave, the cave of the bats and the Found cave. But Pantalica is, first of all, the valley of the River Anapo, clear and fresh. The water is inhabited by crayfish and the painted discoglosso, a rare frog

Give a look at our Tour shown on:

One Day Trip to Cavagrande del Cassibile – Hike and Swim

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Give a look at our Tour shown on:

After a few –or more — days spent in Syracusa is the time to move to Taormina, the world famous resort town of Sicily.

Spend in Taormina 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or more days and decide how to spend the overnights

Let’s explore the  best things to do in Taormina :

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1. Greek Roman Theatre

The ancient Greeks loved to construct their buildings in beautiful scenic locations and  here they found the pairing of Etna and the Naxos bay, with a wonderful view, when sky is clear, to can admire  Calabria coasts.

It is, surely, the main monument of the city, not only for its intrinsic artistic value, but also for the scenic location in which it is placed. The view enjoyed from up there is even defined as the view par excellence, the one that is not to be missed when in Sicily.

2. Walk Around and Explore

There are several sites to see in Taormina which are located in the hill of the town and not far away from the Greek Roman Theatre. Walk in Corso Umberto Street, sit in a bar and drink a cappuccino or eat a granita with brioche –a sort of sorbet and ice cream–, visit the Palazzo Corvaja … and if you want to swim, take the cable car ride down to Mazzarò and swim in the blue sea … or take a Taormina boat tour wih us

You can also decide to hire a local guide to visit the town

If you are a Cooking Lover indulge your senses in a half day cooking class with a local chef. Tour of Sicily can book it for you as shown on

Taormina Surroundings

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1. Etna Volcano

EUROPE’S HIGHEST VOLCANO,  Mount Etna is one of most active of the world.  Its impressive size ( more than 3327 meters  high  with an average basal diameter of 40 km)  overlooks  the whole region.

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In relation to the different altitudes and exposure of the slopes, Etna offers a high biodiversity with a rich Mediterranean scrubland and numerous wood species:  birches  with clear bark, evidence of ancient glaciations, oaks ,  beeches ,  pines ,  brooms  of Etna and  chestnut trees . In the area of Sant’Alfio we find the oldest and largest tree in Europe, the  Hundred Horses Chestnut , awarded with the title of  UNESCO Messenger of Peace.

A day tour to spend is necessary and is a must not miss

If you are active and hiker guy do not hesitate to check our amazing Hiking Tour: Etna Hiking and Descent by the volcano ash

If you want to handle the day tour to the Etna Volcano on your own give a look at our blog:

If vice-versa you are looking us to plan a funny experience including the visit of local wineries and wine tatsings do not use your vehicle but ask us to hire a private WD4X4 Land Rover as shown on

2. Castelmola and the Almond Wine

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If with a single glance you can you can catch the Ionian coast, the monumental  Etna , the Bay of  Giardini-Naxos , the  Cape of S.Alessio , the strait of  Messina  and the Calabrian coast, either you are on Google Maps or you are in Castelmola.

This small village above  Taormina  is a real genuine natural terrace built on the ruins of a Norman castle that, over time has assumed a concave and smooth shape, similar to that of a millstone (grindstone). Therefore, it is easy to guess the origin of the name. It is an instant contraction of “Castle” and “Mola”.

Of the whole fortress we can admire just what remain of the norman walls. A plaque from the tenth century with Greek-Byzantine engravings placed on the façade of the cathedral states: “ This castle was built under Costantino, patrician and strategist of Sicily “.

A easy way to join Casstelmola from Taormina is taking the Public Bus who leaves next from Porta Messina –Messina Gate–. Ticket costs a few euros and you can purchase the ticket on the spot or buy the round trip tickets in the bar next to the bus-stop. The ride is around 20 minutes by bus each way.

The square is a mosaic of white lava stone, bordered by tree-lined and shady pavements that open up onto the lookout where you can see Taormina from. In general, the urban design is very nice, the street names, the street numbers and signs are almost always in stone and wrought iron. The doors and windows of the houses are framed in Taormina stone and the houses are covered in light colours ranging from a delicate yellow to antique rose. The Sicilian style roof tiles are still on the roofs and, excluding some questionable buildings from the 60s to 70s, everything is as you would expect from a Sicilian village.

A half day tour to spend in Castelmola

Still on the on the square overlooking the historic  Caffè S. Giorgio , founded by monks in 1700. The special feature of this building used as a tavern, in addition to the album that collects the signatures of famous people who have passed through Castelmola since 1907, has the authorship of one of the most distinctive products of the village:  the almond wine .  Don Vincenzo Blandano, the historical owner of the café, used to welcome people, coming to visit the village. This drink, made with almonds and oranges essences is, probably, one of his invention.

3. Savoca and the Godfather Movie

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This small town set in the rock of a hill of dual tip, experienced the interest of kings, popes and Archimandrite prelates, in a succession of periods of serious crisis and prosperity. The basalt blocks lying on roads leading between separate small houses, freshly restored with Sicilian tiles on the roofs and windows framed in stone, then following streets in the rock here you’ll find extremely fragmented ruins and old cisterns.

A half day tour is recommended to visit Savoca

Up high, overseeing, are the ruins of the  castle Pentefur , a building of questionable origin, perhaps Phoenician, Arab or maybe Norman. It is a bastion which, over time, claimed the title of the Royal Castle, by the will of Philip IV of Sicily. In medieval times, the village of Savoca was surrounded by a wall with double entrance built by the Normans. It is an imposing structure that still remains the City Gate today, a pointed arch made of local stone.

Finally, there is the  Church of San Nicolò , which seems almost stretch out into space, built as it is on a massive outcrop of rock. It has three wide aisles and an austere atmosphere of the steep fortress over the valley. The curious thing is that the church was one of the famous  sets  of the  film  “ the Godfather ” along with the  Bar Vitelli , housed inside eighteenth century  Palazzo Trimarchi . A Byzantine mural has recently been uncovered which depicts St. John Chrysostom, the father of the Christian Church of the East.

If you get to Savoca and you are hungry, you can enjoy typical fresh homemade  tagliatelle pasta , dressed with a wild fennel and pork meat ragù sauce or alternatively, the maccarruna, fresh  macaroni  pasta with pork rind in winter and with aubergine in the summer.

The gastronomy of Savoca, refers to the rural and Sicilian culinary traditions: we can try  piscistoccu ,  dried cod cooked with plenty of extra virgin olive oil, tomato paste, green and black olives, capers, chili, potatoes, celery, u  cunzatu breads  local homemade bread that is baked in a wood oven and seasoned with extra – virgin olive oil, salt , pepper, to Cuzzola, a fresh pasta sourdough , fried in olive oil and roasted on charcoa. Don’t miss  granita ca ‘ zzuccarata  is a lemon granita served with zzuccarata,a very crisp local biscuit topped with sesame seeds.

And now we are at the end of our tour. Tomorrow you can self drive to Catania airport and drop your car off.

Hope you have appreciated all teh information shown in the article and feel free to contact Tour of Sicily Tour Operator to customize your tour, decide what to see and what to do, focus all on the gastronomy, wine, experiences, landscape …. as you have read, the island of Sicily has so many important locations which are awaiting for you.

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Sicily Self-Drive Tour – Your 7-Day to 14-Day Itinerary

Our 7 to 14-day self-guided Sicily road trip takes you to all of the best places on the Italian island of Sicily, including seven UNESCO sites.

From the unique cuisine in local markets to the architectural ruins of past Greek and Roman civilizations, Sicily has the perfect blend of culture and history.

Table of Contents

Sicily Itineraries

We’ve created three Sicily road trip itineraries which explore the must-see sites of Sicily.  We recommend 14 days in Sicily to drive around the island.  However, choose which itinerary works best for the length of your stay in Sicily. 

14-day Sicily Itinerary

This 14-day self-drive road trip hits the island’s major attractions including all 7 of the UNESCO sites.  The maximum daily drive is 225 kilometres and most days are 100 kilometres or less.

This itinerary covers all of the Best Things To Do in Sicily.

  • Day 1:  Siracusa
  • Day 2:  Noto
  • Day 3:  Modica and Scicli
  • Day 4:  Ragusa
  • Day 5:  Villa Romana del Casale
  • Day 6:  Valley of the Temples and Agrigento
  • Day 7:  Selinunte and Trapani
  • Day 8:  Erice and Temple of Segesta
  • Day 9:  Palermo
  • Day 10:  Monreale and Cefalu
  • Day 11:  Aeolian Islands
  • Day 12:  Taormina
  • Day 13:  Mount Etna
  • Day 14:  Catania

Sicily road trip itineraries for 7, 10 and 14-day tours by AvrexTravel.

10-Day Sicily Itinerary

On this 10-day self-drive road trip, we’ve shortened the 14-day route, by excluding the western part of the island.  We still visit most of important places to visit in Sicily, including 6 UNESCO sites.

Like the 14-day trip, the maximum daily drive is not more than 225 kilometres but several days are over 100 kilometres. 

7-Day Sicily Itinerary

A shorter 7-day self-drive road trip of Sicily travels to the island’s must-visit attractions.  For one day, the drive is more than 250 kilometres, but most days are 100 kilometres or less.

Follow the same 10-day route, except visit Ragusa and Villa Romana del Casale in one day, skip Agrigento and visit Monreale on the same day as Valley of the Temples.

Map of Sicily Road Trip

Use our map as a guide on our self-drive tours of Sicily.

A map of the Sicily road trip routes with starred cities to visit.

UNESCO Sites in Sicily

The island of Sicily is home to 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Our road trip visits parts of all seven. (Note: Several have multiple locations within the same Heritage Site.)

  • Siracusa Two areas of Siracusa, our first road trip stop, are included in the World Heritage Site called Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica .  The first is the Island of Ortigia , Siracusa’s old town centre.  The second is the Archaeological Park of Neapolis.  Make time to visit both.
  • Noto Valley UNESCO recognized eight late Baroque towns of south-eastern Sicily in the Noto Valley (Val di Noto) as a World Heritage Site in 2002.  Our road trip visits the towns of Noto, Modica, Scicli, Ragusa and Catania.  All towns were rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake, in the new Sicilian Baroque style, on top of or beside their original townsites.
  • Casale The magnificent Roman Villa of Casale , near Piazza Armerina, was the centre of a large, country estate.  The site showcases one of the largest and most complex collections of Roman mosaics in the world.
  • Valley of the Temples The Valley of the Temples , near modern day Agrigento, is what remains of the ancient Greek city of Akragas, the 4th largest city in the 5 th century BCE.
  • Palermo, Montreal and Cefalu In 2015, nine religious and civic structures, built during the period of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily (1130-1194), were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Called the Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale , seven sites are in Palermo and the other two are the cathedrals in Cefalú and Monreale.
  • Aeolian Islands The Aeolian Islands are a set of volcanic islands to the northeast of Sicily, recognized by UNESCO as an example of volcanic island-building. 
  • Mount Etna The Mount Etna World Heritage Site (19,237 hectares in size) is strictly protected and the most scientifically important area of Mount Etna.  Europe’s more active volcano was recognized by UNESCO in 2013.  This is a must-see when visiting Sicily.

The first road trip stop is Siracusa on the southeastern coast of Sicily. 

The historic city of Siracusa (Syracuse) offers an abundance of ancient ruins and baroque architecture to explore.  In ancient times, the city was one of the major power centres of the Mediterranean world.  The Island of Ortigia , Siracusa’s small, atmospheric, old town centre, is recognized by UNESCO.  Its narrow alleys are lined with medieval palaces and grand Baroque cathedrals.  

Andy standing in front of the ornate Baroque Siracusa Cathedral.

Piazza Duomo, the main square, is dominated by the imposing Cathedral of Syracuse (Duoma di Siracusa), originally a Greek temple dedicated to Athena built in the 5 th century BCE. Inside, its columns still bear the marks from when it was converted into a church in the 7th century CE.  Its current Baroque façade was added in the late 1700s.  Visit Ortigia’s street market on Via Emmanuele de Benedictis.  Vendors sell fresh produce, cheeses and seafood from colourful stalls. 

To the north of Ortigia, on the western edge of modern Siracusa, visit the Archaeological Park of Neapolis, the other UNESCO protected area in Siracusa.  The Greek Theatre ’s current appearance is from the 3 rd century BCE but parts were carved out of rock in the 5th century BCE.  It is used now for performances.  Fairly nearby find the Roman Amphitheatre , thought to be from the 1 st or 2 nd century BCE, where gladiatorial combat and horse races were held.

An aerial view of the ancient Roman amphitheater in Siracusa Sicily

Wander through the quarries at the north end of the park which were the source for the limestone for many of Siracusa’s buildings. Saltpetre, used in the production of gunpowder, was also mined here.  One of the resulting caves is called the Ear of Dionysius .  Its acoustic properties were so sensitive that Dionysius, a tyrant of Siracusa, is said to have used it to eavesdrop on the prisoners he held there.

The town of Noto is the next stop on our road trip route and the first of the UNESCO Baroque towns we visit.

This hilltop town’s magnificent Baroque architecture is on display on a walk down the main street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele , past a blend of palaces and churches.

The star of the show is the Noto Cathedral (Cathedral of San Nicolo) and the beautiful Paolo Labisi staircase to its front door.  It was built in the early 18th century after the 1693 earthquake.  In 1996, its dome collapsed forcing extensive renovation in the early 21 st century and refocusing attention on the need to preserve the buildings of Noto. 

Piazza del Duomo , in front of the church, is the main plaza of the reconstructed 18 th -century town.  Noto’s town hall, in the Baroque Palazzo Ducezio, is directly opposite.

An aerial view of Noto Cathedral, huge staircase and city around it.

Don’t miss the Church of Saint Clare (Chiesa di Santa Chiara) a block east.  Its entrance is tucked away on a side street.  The elaborate Baroque interior decorations are stunning. Find the 16th-century statue of the Madonna and Child. We visited the roof for a bird’s eye view of the Baroque town centre.

Similarly, the bell tower of St. Charles Church (Chiesa di San Carlo), on the west side of the cathedral, provides an impressive view. 

Theatre lovers shouldn’t miss the Tina Di Lorenzo Municipal Theatre (Teatro Tina Di Lorenzo). The 19th-century theatre has a stunning, curved facade and opulent interior.

Enjoy strolling Noto’s pedestrianized streets, lined with wrought-iron balconies and intricately carved doorways.  It’s like stepping into a work of art.

Between Noto and Modica, the next rebuilt Baroque town on our road trip, enjoy a detour to the archaeological site of a Roman villa on the bank of the Tellaro river.  Discovered by accident in the early 1970s, the floors of the Roman Villa of Tellaro are decorated with mosaics dated to the mid-4 th century CE.  Full mosaic floors were discovered in some of the rooms.

A person standing above a mosaic floor at Roman Villa of Tellaro Sicily

The town of Modica, a powerful town in the 14 th century, covers both sides of a deep gorge.  The 1693 earthquake damaged buildings.  The town’s nobility ensured that many were rebuilt in the new Sicilian Baroque style.  

Discover beautiful churches, taste world-famous chocolate and experience authentic Sicilian traditions in this unforgettable town with layers of history and culture.

Modica’s highlights are throughout the town on winding, cobblestone streets.  Its centerpiece is the San Giorgio Cathedral (Duomo di San Giorgio) at the top of a 250-step, 19 th -century staircase.  The butter-coloured church was reopened in 1738 after its reconstruction.  The interior has ornate altars, vivid frescoes, and 22 columns with Corinthian capitals.   Visit at noon to see the floor sundial in action.

Andy standing in front of the green facade of Antica Dolceria Bonajuto chocolate store.

Wander the old town’s narrow streets along the hillside which are often connected by staircases.  Discover more architectural gems in numerous palaces and churches.  The impressive Church of Saint Peter (Chiesa di San Pietro), also damaged in the earthquake, was rebuilt over the next two centuries.  Life-sized statues of the Apostles line the staircase to the church.   Inside, its domed ceilings are covered in glittering mosaics.

Modica is famous for its chocolate making.  The method of cold processing cocoa was likely introduced after the Spanish conquest of Sicily in the 1500s. Visit Antica Dolceria Bonajuto , the oldest and most famous chocolate producer in town, to taste their decadent chocolate creations handmade in antique copper vats.  Learn about chocolate’s history at the Chocolate Museum of Modica (Museo del Cioccolato di Modica).

Our road trip continues through lovely southeastern Sicily to Scicli, another UNESCO protected Baroque town of the Noto valley. 

This pretty place is a bit off the typical tourist route.  We found it quieter and more relaxed.

Explore Scicli’s historic centre on Via Francesco Mormino Penna . Walk past a couple pretty churches and attractive palaces-turned-museums, cafes, restaurants and small shops. We went into the Church of Saint John Evangelist (Chiesa di San Giovanni Evangelista).  Nearby Piazza Italia hosts Scicli’s lively morning fruit and vegetable market.

Val standing on a cobbled street in old town Scicli.

From the square, we walked uphill into a maze of quiet backstreets showing everyday Sicilian life.  We climbed to the abandoned Church of Saint Matthew (Chiesa di San Matteo) perched above the town.  The terrace offers breathtaking views over Scicli’s red-tiled rooftops.

Continuing west, Ragusa is another rebuilt Baroque town on our road trip.

A town has existed on the hillside here for centuries.  After the hillside collapsed in the earthquake, Ragusa Superiore was built on the plateau above the destroyed town.  Some residents rebuilt in the new town, but many of the aristocracy stayed and rebuilt on top of the old town, now Ragusa Ibla . 

Enjoy the winding cobblestone streets, alleys and grand staircases of Lower Ragusa.  We walked through the lovely, 18th-century Giardino Ibleo , a public garden with beautiful views over the valley below.

The St. George Gate (Portale di San Giorgio), all that is left of a 14 th -century Gothic church destroyed in the earthquake, is the beginning of the Corso XXV Aprile .  This pedestrian zone and the Piazza Duomo come alive when residents fill the streets for their evening stroll, the passeggiata. 

Val standing in Cathedral of Saint George Ragusa Sicily.

Towering over the square is the magnificent Cathedral of Saint George (Duomo di San Giorgia), built in the mid-18th century.  See its beautiful dome, stained glass windows, and tall, central bell tower.

A walk between the two towns offers stunning valley views and a true sense of the area’s geographic setting.   Holy Souls in Purgatory Church (Chiesa delle Santissime Anime del Purgatorio) is on the western end of Lower Ragusa.  Climb the stairs at Via Gusti to St. Mary of the Stairs Church (Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Scale) in Upper Ragusa.  The view below of the lower town is worth the climb.  Both churches survived the earthquake and were updated to the new Baroque style of architecture in the 18 th century.

For those wanting more Baroque towns to explore, Caltagirone , is on route.  Enjoy the Sicilian countryside as you continue west to the next stop, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a roman villa south of the town of Piazza Armerina . 

Villa Romana del Casale

Step back in time and learn about the opulent lifestyle of the Roman nobility and the site of one of the world’s largest collections of Roman mosaics.

Most of the Villa Romana del Casale was built in the 4th century CE above an older structure, eventually becoming the centre of a large settlement which was destroyed in the 12th century.  Repeated floods drowned the villa in mud and water and all evidence of it was lost.  Some of the ruins were discovered in the 19 th century including parts of the mosaic floors.  Concerted efforts to preserve the mosaic tile floors, found in almost every room, began in the 1950s and continue to the present.

Long corridor's floor of mosaic tiles Villa Romana del Casale

Enter the ruins at the peristyle courtyard , a large area with the roof supported by columns.  The complex, with over 3000 square metres of multi-coloured mosaic floors spread over 40 rooms, unfolds from here. See mosaics depicting lively scenes of mythology, daily life, sports and hunting.

The vivid Ambulatory of the Big Game Hunt shows wild, exotic animals being captured and transported for Roman spectacles.  The display fills the entire room which is about 60 metres long.  Nearby, mosaics commonly called the “bikini girls” show athletes practising various sports.

Stay in Piazza Armerina if you are arriving toward the end of the day.  The Cathedral of Saint Mary ‘delle Vittorie’ is beautiful.  The view of the valley from the pretty street plaza is stunning.

The interior of Piazza Amerina Cathedral with dome and an ornate ceiling.

The road trip route turns south toward the coast to the city of Agrigento.  Visit the Valley of the Temples, Sicily’s top ancient Greek site with stunning temple ruins.

Valley of the Temples

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the world’s largest archeological sites. 

The Valley of the Temples Archaeological Park includes the temple ruins on the hill as well as the Garden of Kolymbethra . The garden is vast, filled with orchards, olive groves, vineyards and many species of trees and shrubs within the valley both to the north and the southeast.  The entire area was the site of the city of Akragas.

Many people standing in front of the Temple of Concordia Sicily.

The sturdy columns of the Temple of Juno stand tall on the highest point on the hill overlooking the valley. Nearby, the Temple of Concordia is one of best preserved Greek temples in the world (and the model for UNESCO’s logo). Both temples were built between 430 BC and 435 BC. The Temple of Hercules is the oldest, dating from 6th century BC.  Only eight of its columns remain standing.

Wander among the columns and foundations of these temples and others built over 24 centuries ago.  Climb the slopes for panoramic views over the entire archaeological park. The Valley’s excellent Archaeological Museum displays artifacts found at the temples and provides background on their historical significance.

After exploring the Valley of the Temples, Agrigento is a good place to relax and spend the night.  

Andy sitting at a table with a cup of coffee in Agrigento Sicily.

One of Sicily’s busier, modern cities, Agrigento’s medieval centre is the perfect place to spend the evening. 

The main thoroughfare, Via Atenea, is a pleasant pedestrian street lined with graceful medieval and Baroque buildings.  It runs between Piazza Luigi Pirandello and Porta Di Ponte, the bridge gate.  Historic palaces hold shops, cafes and restaurants.  Lovely churches, like the 17 th century San Lorenzo Church , are a pretty backdrop for the cafes in the squares.

The undisputed highlight of Agrigento is the majestic Cathedral Basilica of San Gerlando . The first church was built on the site in the 11th century.  Over the centuries it has been remodeled over and over again in a mix of styles. 

Stairs with potted plants in front of them lead to Agrigento Cathedral.

From Agrigento, the road trip route splits.  For those on the shorter road trips, your road trips continue north from Agrigento toward Monreale and Palermo .

Otherwise the full road trip continues west.

Make a brief stop at Scala dei Turchi (Stair of the Turks) to stretch.  This is a stunning, white, cliff formation on the southern coast. After it is on to the ancient Greek city of Selinunte. Built around 630 BCE, ruins sit on a rocky outcrop above the sea.

Andy and Val taking a selfie on a cliff overlooking the Scala dei Turchi and Mediterranean Sea.

The ruins of Selinunte, on Sicily’s southwest coast, are part of one of the largest archaeological sites in the Mediterranean.  The main attractions are the Acropolis , on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean and the inland Eastern Hill .

The layout of the main and secondary roads of the hilltop Acropolis is still clear.  There are a number of temple ruins, many just a jumble of broken columns.  The area is surrounded by huge stone walls which acted as fortifications.  Temple C , the oldest in the Acropolis, was constructed about 550 BCE to the God Apollo.  Of the original 17 columns along the north side, 14 are standing today.

On the Eastern Hill, there are three temples, E, F and G.  Temple E was built around 450 BCE to either the God Hera or Aphrodite.  It has been partially rebuilt.

Val standing in front of a large group of pillars of Tempe E at Selinunte Sicily

From the tops of the hills, enjoy panoramic views over the ruins, the sparkling Mediterranean and the river valley. The sheer size and detailed stonework of the temples hint at Selinunte’s power and wealth in the ancient world before its destruction by the Carthaginians in 409BCE.  After an attempt at an alliance failed, the city was never fully inhabited again. 

Our road trip continues to the west coast of Sicily and the port of Trapani. 

If you make your way along the south coast, stop in the city which is famous for its sweet dessert wines, Marsala . One of the city gates still stands, Porta Nuova.  Stretch your legs and walk the marble street, Via XI Maggio, to the Parish Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury.  It is in a pretty square with city hall opposite.

The lively, west coast, city of Trapani offers a blend of history, culture and natural beauty.  Wander the historic centre and see elegant churches around every corner.  From the statue of Garibaldi in Piazza Garibaldi , walk a block to St. Francis of Assisi Street.  A block to the left is the 18 th -century, Baroque Church of the Holy Souls of Purgatory (Chiesa Anime Sante del Purgatorio).  The church was severely damaged in World War II.  Twenty life-sized wooden representations of the Passion of Christ, carried in procession on Good Friday, have been housed in the church since 1960. 

Two blocks north is the massive Trapani Cathedral , also called the Basilica Cathedral of St. Lawrence the Martyr (Basilica cattedrale di San Lorenzo martire).  The church, with its stunning dome and bell tower, was built in the 15 th century and restored in the 18 th -century. 

Several statues of Jesus during the Passion of Christ stored in Trapani church.

Stroll Trapani’s harbour promenade and explore the outdoor fish market .  See the day’s catch on colourful display, often on the back of the boat the fish was caught on.  Watch and listen to the vibrant banter of bartering often between fishermen and restaurant owners.  Regular citizens get in on the act too.

Just outside the city to the south, visit the Salt Pans of Trapani and Paceco (Saline di Trapani e Paceco), a protected area of wetlands and salt ponds. The salt, produced here for centuries, was considered the finest in Italy.  Artisanal producers are the only ones working the salt pans now.  Before leaving the area, don’t miss Trapani’s famous local delicacy, pesto alla trapanese, the Sicilian version of the well-known basil-pine-nut pesto.  In Trapani, the nuts are almonds and tomatoes and garlic add even more flavour.

North of Trapani, at the top of Mt. Erzy, sits Erice at an elevation of 750 metres.  If overnighting in Trapani, consider taking the cable car from Trapani to Erice to avoid driving the zigzag route up and down the mountain.

Walk the peaceful, cobblestone streets and alleys of the medieval, hilltop town of Erice lined with Gothic palaces and churches.  Enjoy its well-preserved historic character.

The Mother Church, St Mary of the Assumption (Chiesa di santa Maria Assunta – Chiesa Madre) is near the Trapani Gate at the southwest corner of Erice.  The Gothic church was built in 1314 by King Frederick III.  Inside, a museum displays religious artwork and sacramental silverware from the 15th- and 16th-century.  Next door is the cathedral’s freestanding bell tower (Torre di Federico). Climb the 108 steps of the spiral staircase to the top of the 28-metre tower for spectacular views over the rooftops of town.

Andy walking a cobblestone street with colourful rugs hung outside Erice shop.

Walk uphill the full length of Viale Conte Pepoli to the southeast corner of town and Erice’s highest point.  This is the site of the legendary Venus Castle (Castello di Venere). The castle was built by the Normans, over the ruins of the 7 th -century BCE Temple of Venus. It offers panoramic views over the countryside and sea below. Don’t miss the English Gardens of Balio next to the castle.

Throughout town, enjoy stopping to sample fresh homemade cookies, cakes and gelatos from local pasticcerias. Erice is renowned for its sweets and pastries.

The next road trip stop is less than an hour away.

The highlights of the Segesta Archaeological Park are two ruins which are all that remains of the ancient city of Segesta.  New excavations are finding evidence of later occupation of the area by different cultures.

From the entrance, walk uphill a short distance.  The majestic Temple of Segesta , (Tempio di Segesta), sits at the edge of the hill.  The incredible Doric temple, built by the indigenous Elymians, in the mid-5 th century BCE, was never completed.  All 36 of its columns are still standing today (6 on the short side and 14 on the long) remarkably preserved.  Some say they sing on windy days.

A short shuttle ride away is the Theatre of Segesta , (Teatro di Segesta), believed to be from the 2 nd century BCE.  Carved into the side of Mount Barbaro, its tiered, stone seats overlook a peaceful, green valley.  The bulk of the ancient city of Segesta was on top of Mount Barbaro.  Climbing to the top reveals a sprawling view over the entire complex and rolling landscapes beyond. Modern theatre performances were first held in the theatre in 1957 and have been held sporadically since.

The ruins of an ancient amphitheatre built on a hilltop at Segesta Sicily.

The theatre and temple’s remarkable state of preservation and the stunning views of the area, make this a must-visit destination.

Our road trip moves from Sicily’s west coast to the north coast.  The next three stops on our road trip are home to beautiful structures, recognized by UNESCO and highlighting the successful blending of Western, Islamic, and Byzantine cultures. 

Palermo, a city over 2700 years old, is the first of the three. 

The capital of Sicily, Palermo rewards visitors with a vibrant mix of culture, cuisine and history.  Its seven UNESCO-designated sites include the Palermo Cathedral, the Church of San Cataldo, the Norman Palace with its popular Palatine Chapel, two more churches, a palace and a bridge.  All are worth a look as you explore the streets of Palermo.

The interior view of elaborately ornate Palermo church with people sitting in the pews.

The Palermo Cathedral (Cattedrale di Palermo) is a must-see and a great place to start a walking tour of the city.  Its unique Arab-Norman architectural style is still visible after numerous reconstructions over centuries. Inside, don’t miss the royal Norman tombs and crypts containing sarcophagi dating back to the Roman era. For sweeping city views, climb to the cathedral’s roof terrace.  The Norman Palace (Palazzo dei Normanni) is about a 2 minute walk to the southwest.

Spend time getting lost in the maze-like Ballarò Market (Mercato di Ballarò) which covers several blocks.  The oldest and most authentic of Palermo’s street markets, it is a mix of noises, smells and lively street life.  It is always busy and overflows with fresh produce, cheese, meat and seafood.

A man is grilling meat on a barbecque grill while another fans the coals.

The UNESCO-protected San Cataldo Church (Chiesa di San Cataldo) is close to the heart of the historic city.  The area is full of stunning buildings and fountains.  12 th -century San Cataldo is an iconic Palermo landmark with its three red domes and square blocky shape, blending Arab and Norman architectural styles. 

As the sun sets, join the locals on their evening passeggiata along the new waterfront promenade of Foro Italico Umberto I .

To see all of highlights of Palermo, including the UNESCO churches and bustling markets, check out our detailed article, One Day in Palermo – A Free Walking Tour Itinerary .

The word Palermo is added on top of the picture of the front of the ornate Church of St. Mary of the Admiral and Church of San Cataldo.

The hilltop town of Monreale is just southwest of Palermo.

Inside the UNESCO-designated Cathedral of Monreale , one of Sicily’s greatest artistic treasures, nearly 6500 square meters of shimmering Byzantine mosaics cover the walls and ceilings. Biblical scenes, saints and angels are depicted in glittering, golden detail.  

Next to the cathedral sits the peaceful Benedictine Cloister with over 200 twinned, marble columns surrounding a lush courtyard filled with a beautiful garden. We also climbed up to the Cathedral Roof Terrace for some great panoramic views.  The cathedral complex was commissioned by William II in an effort to outdo his grandfather Roger II who was responsible for the Cefalu Cathedral and the Palatine Chapel in Palermo.

A woman is sitting on the mosaic floor of Monreale's cathedral.

After visiting the cathedral complex, explore Monreale’s small town centre. Stroll down Via Roma , stopping for a coffee or granita in one of the cozy cafes. The pedestrian-friendly streets showcase Monreale’s laid-back vibe and friendly local community.  The town makes an easy and rewarding day trip from Palermo.

Our road trip moves to the seaside of Sicily’s beautiful north coast.

The picturesque seaside town of Cefalù, midway along Sicily’s northern coast, combines a historic medieval centre, long sandy beach, and dramatic rocky coastline. Begin at the crescent-shaped Cefalù beach and old port with views of the massive headland Rock of Cefalù towering over the town. Relax on the beach or at one of the lounge bars before strolling along the beach promenade.

Explore the medieval centre of Cefalù, with its winding streets full of restaurants and boutiques.  Walk the main street Corso Ruggero past historic palazzos, churches and shops to reach the UNESCO-listed Cathedral of Cefalù .  Dating to 1131 CE, this impressive, Norman cathedral has elaborate, Byzantine mosaics covering its apse and a huge figure of Christ.

Several boats on a beach with Cefalu Sicily and hills in background.

Continue uphill, past sleepy piazzas and artisan workshops to reach the base of the rocky outcrop known as the Rock of Cefalù .  Climb the Salita Saraceni, a switchbacking staircase through the city walls up the craggy peninsula.  At the summit, find the ruins of an Arab fortress, a Norman castle and 4 th -century BCE temple.  Enjoy panoramic views along the coastline and back to Cefalù’s red-roofed old town below. The staircase may be closed in poor weather (as it was during our visit).

In the evening, enjoy the town’s lively bars and trattorias abuzz with local families and couples enjoying the passeggiata.

The next stop on the 10-day road trip is Taormina . For those on the full tour, continue to Milazzo, the perfect place to overnight before heading to our next stop, the Aeolian Islands, off Sicily’s northeast coast.  Ferries run frequently between the islands and Milazzo, on the mainland.

Aeolian Islands

The Aeolian Islands offer stunning volcanic scenery, picturesque villages, and tranquil beaches. The seven inhabited islands are part of a 200-kilometre long volcanic ridge between the active volcanos Etna (Sicily) and Vesuvius (Naples Italy). Enjoy a great day trip to one of the three largest islands: Stromboli, Volcano or Lipari.  Two of these (Stromboli, Volcano) are active volcanos.

The island of Stromboli is one of the most active volcanos in the world.  Access is regulated, typically by organized hikes, which are a demanding 5 to 6 hours round trip.  Alternatively, enjoy an hour-long, self-guided hike to a lookout at the 400-metre level. 

Most of Vulcano ’s activity is sulphurous steam being emitted from vents along the crater.  We hiked to its steaming Gran Cratere at the top for views of the whole island and nearby islets. Down below, soak in the healing sulphuric mud baths near the port of Levante (where the ferry arrives).  During our visit the mud baths were closed.  Travel a bit further to the small beach Spiaggia delle Acque Calde. Enjoy the natural “hot tubs” at the edge of the beach.

Vulcano Sicily's volcanic crater with steam flowing from its edge.

The island of Lipari provides a perfect base for longer stays or a great place to spend a couple hours.  While it is an active volcano, Lipari’s last eruption was in the 13 th century. Enjoy this colourful harbour town lined with pastel buildings, lively cafes and shops. Explore the excellent Archaeological Museum to learn about the islands’ ancient history. The museum is a complex of buildings, including the Lipari Castle, Basilica of Saint Bartholomew, several churches and an amphitheatre. Take a boat trip around Lipari to admire the rugged coastline punctuated by obsidian cliffs.

Andy walking down a cobblestone street with yellow buildings in Lipari Sicily.

Enjoy the drive along the north coast to the resort town of Taormina on Sicily’s east coast.

The hilltop town of Taormina was founded in 4 th -century BCE.  Discovered by wealthy northern Europeans in the 18 th century, it is now a very popular summer destination. 

Stroll along the lively pedestrian street Corso Umberto I .  Along the way, explore the pretty squares and their churches, flower stalls, restaurants and lively outdoor cafes.  Many of the shops and cafes are in historic palazzos. It is about 800 metres from Porta Catania (on the west side) to Porta Messina (on the east).

In Piazza Duomo, see the ornate, baroque fountain and the impressive 13 th -century Cathedral of Taormina with its mix of architectural styles. See the delicate rose window.

People in Piazza IX Aprile watching street musicians in front of a Taormina church.

The Church of San Giuseppe anchors the pretty Piazza IX Aprile , Taormina’s lively hub. Grab a table at one of the piazza’s cafes for excellent people watching while admiring panoramic views of the ocean and Mount Etna. Don’t miss wandering through the flower-filled public gardens a short walk to the southeast.

Near Porta Messina at the east end of Corso Umbretto, turn south and walk to the end of Via Teatro Greco.  The Ancient Theater of Taormina (Teatro Antico di Taormina), built by the Greeks in the 3 rd century, was remodeled by the Romans.  It is still used today.

If time permits, take a walk along the beach to see the nearby rocky island, Isola Bella .

On the east coast of Sicily, the next stop on our road trip is the tallest Italian mountain south of the Alps and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount Etna.  This is the last road trip stop for those on the 7-day tour.

A trip to Sicily is not complete, without a visit to Mount Etna.  Etna is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, in an almost constant state of activity, though typically not explosive activity.  The volcano has 4 summit craters plus fissures and old craters on its flanks.  There is an excellent infrastructure system to get visitors as close to the top as possible, regardless of physical abilities.  

The best access point is on the south side of Etna.  Drive to the Base Station at 1900 metres elevation. From here, take the cable car up to Top Station at 2500 metres.  Enjoy the Etna Cable Car Bar and check out the gift shop.  From here, there are options regarding the next stage of the climb to the authorized viewpoint areas nearer the craters.  

Andy standing in front of a snow covered Mount Etna volcano.

From Top Station, hike up to the authorized viewpoint areas or ride up in a 4×4 minibus shuttle . A 40-minute guided hike to the highest accessible point is included with the shuttle ride.  Weather quickly changes on Etna.  In our short stay up top, Etna was visible and invisible a number of times.  Viewpoints change depending on Etna’s activity levels to ensure that visitors are always safe.

When you return to the Base Station, check out the old craters on Etna’s lower flanks.  We hiked the Goat Climb, to see its massive crater

Our final road trip stop and the last of the Noto Valley Baroque towns recognized by UNESCO is the port city of Catania, on Sicily’s east coast.

This lively town reveals its long history through magnificent monuments.  The best way to explore the city is on foot starting at its expansive main square, Piazza del Duomo. This is the centre of old Catania, rebuilt in the local Baroque style after the earthquake of 1693.  In the square is the 18 th -century Elephant Fountain (Fontana dell’Elefante), built around a smiling black-lava elephant.

The square is dominated by the grand Baroque facade of Catania Cathedral (Basilica Cattedrale di Sant’Agata) built of black rock and trimmed with white limestone. This 18 th -century church honours the city’s patron saint, Agatha, with ornate silver busts and crypt.  The church was originally a Norman fortress church. Most of it was destroyed in the earthquake and rebuilt in the Baroque style.  The Abby Church of Sainte Agatha sits to the north.  Climb to the rooftop terrace for great views of city.

A group of people walking in front of Baroque Palermo Cathedral.

Steps away, stroll through Catania’s enormous daily fish market (La Pescheria di Catania).  Fish have been sold here, every workday morning, for over 1000 years.  Vendors loudly hawk the catch of the day, from swordfish to sardines, in a riot of sights and smells. Nearby, the central food market and produce stalls overflow with local fruits, cheeses, and spices.  This is a great place to grab a bite to eat.

Evidence of Catania’s past as an ancient Greek colony appears periodically throughout the historic centre. The best example is the well-preserved Ancient Greek-Roman Theatre (Teatro Antico greco-romano) from the 2nd century BCE.  It was buried under lava and residential apartments were built over top.  Archaeological excavations eventually removed the majority of the apartments but some still remain.  What an interesting view they have. 

In the evening, join locals on a stroll along bustling Via Etnea with its chic shops and cafes.

Know Before You Go – Travelling to Sicily

Driving in sicily.

The best way to see Sicily is by car.  While public transport is available to many of the places in these Sicily itineraries, some are inaccessible without a car.  The best and easiest way to see everything is to rent a car.

You can easily pick up a rental car when you fly into the airports in either Palermo or Catania. 

Be aware that car rental costs in Sicily do seem higher than in other parts of Europe.  I’m not sure of the reason for this.  Some say that the local driving culture tends to be more ‘aggressive’, hence resulting in more fender benders which drive insurance costs up.  I’m not sure if this is the reason for the higher costs, but I can attest to the fact that drivers in Sicily were much more aggressive than I’ve experienced elsewhere.

In any case, car rental is definitely the best way to make sure you don’t miss anything when travelling in Sicily.

Best Time to Visit Sicily

The best time to visit Sicily is in the shoulder seasons of Spring and Autumn .  There are fewer tourists and visiting is more enjoyable.

During the summer, the temperatures can surge up to 38°Cs. The popular attractions become even more crowded.

We visited in April and had lots of sunny days and pleasant temperatures.  There was hardly any rain.  Accommodations were plentiful and relatively cheap.

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Andy is the co-founder of Avrex Travel, where he shares his many travel experiences. Andy enjoys videography and creating great Road Trips for his readers.

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