The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily is located off the tail (or "boot") of Italy. Once a kingdom of its own, Sicily is now an autonomous region of Italy know for rich ancient history, fascinating cultural experiences, unique wines, a beautiful coastline, and one of the continent's tallest active volcanoes, Mt. Etna.
From the terra cotta architecture of each pizzeria, preserved ancient ruins, and natural landscape perfect for adventurists, Sicily offers a bit of everything for travelers. As an extremely populated island and popular tourist destination, a visit to Sicily takes some patience, planning, and guidance. Use this guide for advice on the best types of tours to book in Sicily and how to prepare for your trip.
Culture & Food Tours
If you are visiting Italy, you likely have food, wine, history, and culture tours on your radar. While each province and city may offer a different specialty, there is one guarantee: it is all worth experiencing! Taste Sicilian local fares and wines, visit the markets in Sicily's capital: Palermo, and explore Segesta and Selinunte's archaeological sites.
Being located right on the coast, Sicily is an amazing spot to go diving: the Mediterranean sea is always a comfortable temperature, with clear visibility. Black volcanic rock formations can be seen under the water, and history lovers will be fascinated by the wrecks lying deep below. In addition to the joys of beaching, swimming, and sailing off the coast of Sicily, diving offers the opportunity view a variety of marine life like lobster, congers, nudibranchs, and colorful coral reefs. For single or multi-day trips, visit the Aegadian islands nearby.
Take a ferry or book a tour to visit the Aeolian Islands, a Unesco World Heritage Site, and experience geological splendor among seven striking volcanic islands. For a thrilling adventure, head to the famous Mt. Etna and join a tour with an off-roading vehicle. This is a rare chance to see an active volcano up close and personal. You'll have the opportunity to view lava flows, ancient craters, and evidence of lost villages.
Where there are mountains, there's hiking available, and Sicily has plenty of it. Many tour companies provide excursions to the popular Mt. Etna. At 3,350 meters high, it's Europe's tallest volcano. If you choose to start at 1,800 meters instead of taking the cable car, you'll get even more of a workout. Mt. Etna is certainly not the only place to hike in Sicily though. If you prefer less crowds, head to the Nedbrodi Mountains to discover rivers and forests.
Planning Your Trip
Whether you decide to scuba dive into the Mediterranean's clear waters to see marine life and old shipwrecks, go hiking or off-roading through mountains, or tour cities to learn about Sicilian culture, wine, and gastronomy, preparing ahead of time is essential. Use these tips to help plan the logistics of your trip.
Best Time to Visit Sicily
Silicy's warmest weather is during the summer from June thru August. This also tends to bring the most tourists and highest prices though, so book your accommodations and activities at least several months in advance. If you want to avoid the crowds, autumn and spring months are comfortable, with temperatures between 50-60 degrees F. Snow covers the mountains from December until March.
What to Look For In a Tour to Sicily
Sicily is a popular tourist destination with lots to do. A good tour will focus on one or two niches while giving you a taste of a few signature treats along the way. Be sure to check reviews, cancellation policies, and included supplies and amenities. Some of Sicily's best sights may not be close to each other, so booking a tour with transportation included is ideal.
Typical Tour Costs
Tours in Sicily are surprisingly inexpensive. You can take a fun, reputable tour for 1-2 days for about $100 or book a 1-2 week tour for under $1900. Many of these tours include transportation and a guide. The more expensive tours might also provide accommodations and meals.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
If you are packing for a summer visit, include lightweight clothing, walking shoes, sun hat, and sunglasses. Make sure to wear sunscreen at all times, as the sun's reflection off the water can increase your chances of burning. It can become chilly at night (despite warm day temperatures), so a light jacket or long sleeves and pants will be helpful to bring along. Check with your tour operator about what equipment they'll provide if you are doing trekking and adventure tours, but note that almost all gear can be rented.
Other Tips for Travel in Sicily
- Budgeting & currency: Sicily uses the euro. Budgeting depends greatly on seasonality: going in the summer, for instance, will be the most expensive due to the high demand. Booking lodging and flights in advance to save money.
- Transportation: Buses and trains are available to get around Sicily. If you want to get off the island, ferries and hydrofoils can be taken for a reasonable price. Taxis are very expensive in the city, so try to take public transport if possible.
- Accommodations: Hotels are available all over the island to rent, ranging anywhere from low end to fancy resorts. Vacation rentals are also a popular option and might be a better choice if traveling with a large group.
Health & Safety
Sicily offers good emergency care and safe drinking water. Like the rest of Italy, the region doesn't require vaccinations upon entry for US travelers but still recommends visitors remain up-to-date on routine vaccines. Stay updated with requirements on the CDC website.
When visiting active volcanoes (or participating in any tour in an unfamiliar area), it's important to listen to your guide. Stay on the trail and with the group at all times, and consider safety the number one priority.
- As with any destination, take care of valuables and avoid bringing unnecessary items on tours.
- Don't carry large amounts of cash.
- Always keep a second copy of your passport in a separate location.
- Be mindful of pockets or handbags in large crowds -- beware of pickpocketing.
- Make sure your travel insurance covers any activities you plan to participate in.