Sunny Sicily: 5 the most interesting places to visit

Sunny Sicily: 5 must-see places for tourists

Sicily is one of the most mysterious and picturesque islands, located at the tip of the “toe of the Italian boot”, is a favorite holiday destination for locals and will not leave indifferent even the most demanding tourist.

Here everyone will find something for themselves. Fans of resort recreation will be pleased by the abundance of beaches – with golden sand, fine pebbles or large stones, picturesque grottoes, the opportunity to dip into the Tyrrhenian, Ionian and Mediterranean Sea, which washes the sun of Sicily.

Those who are fond of history and prefers a rich excursion program will be surprised by the unique architecture and the impressive historical heritage of the region – most of the monuments have survived since the Antiquity and annually attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. And thrill-seekers can go to one of the most unusual museums – Catacombs of the Capuchins or conquer the volcano Etna.

“Rabbit Beach in Lampedusa

Spiaggia dei Conigli or “Rabbit Beach” is a paradise for those who want to escape from civilization. Thanks to the absence of large crowds of vacationers, the water here is crystal clear with bright turquoise shades, yet very warm, and the place itself resembles the coast of the Caribbean Sea.

In addition, “Rabbit Beach” is a sanctuary for sea turtles. Female adults lay eggs on the island, and in late summer you can see the amazing sight of dozens of baby turtles beginning their life journey with a marathon to the sea waters. According to TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Beaches Awards, Rabbit Beach has been considered the most beautiful beach in Italy for several years in a row.

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Volcano Etna near Catalonia

Volcano Etna can be called a calling card of Sicily, created by nature itself. Today it is the largest active volcano in Europe with a height of over 3 kilometers above sea level. Each year, thousands of extreme climbers try to conquer the summit of Etna, which offers an incredible panoramic view.

Small volcanic eruptions occur every few months and each time there is the possibility of danger to those living at the foot of the mountain. At the same time, Sicilians believe that Etna is a gift from above, because thanks to the eruptions, the local land is very fertile and rich in crops.

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The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento

The Valley of the Temples is one of the most spectacular sights in Sicily and a must-see for history buffs. It is a vast architectural complex, consisting of ancient temple buildings and theaters, dating from V-IV centuries before Christ. Now protected by UNESCO, the Valley of the Temples is one of the most striking examples of ancient culture outside of Greece.

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Catacombs of the Capuchins in Palermo

The Capuchin Catacombs is not a place for the faint-hearted. This is probably one of the most unusual museums in Italy, whose exhibits are the mummies of dead Sicilians. A kind of “cemetery” became operational in the 16th century, when a monk was buried here. The ideal temperature and humidity of the catacombs contribute to the preservation of the organs of the buried. The exhibits are arranged in several halls, depending on the sex, age and social status of the deceased. Today the museum is a popular place for those who like to “tickle the nerves”.

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Noto Historical Center

The small town of Noto on the island of Sicily can be called the real capital of Sicilian Baroque. The whole city is a real museum of architecture and history in the open air, which, like the Phoenix bird, was reborn after a tragic accident.

At the end of the XVII century, due to the earthquake, Noto was completely destroyed. To rebuild the city the local authorities chose another, safer place and created a true work of Baroque art. Nowadays, Noto is not only one of the most popular tourist destinations of Sicily but also a UNESCO-protected site.

Sicily tour in a week: itinerary

Ragusa

Sicily is a sunny island in southern Italy. Several million tourists come here every year. Several months are not enough to see all the beauties of Sicily, but we offer you a travel itinerary for 7 days. It includes the main sights of the island. Also on our website you can find an itinerary of an independent trip around Sicily by car.

Day 1 – Catania

Catania Airport is the largest airport in Sicily, and this is where most tourists arrive. If necessary, you can rent a car here at any time of the day or night. The airport has several local car rental services: Avis, Europcar, Firefly, Hertz, Thrifty and others. It is possible to rent a car on the spot, but it is better to reserve a car in advance through a special service and you can do it by following this link. In the hot season a car on the spot will cost 2 or even 3 times more expensive.

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If you decide to travel without a car you can get to the city by bus 457 (we describe the whole way here). It departs 3 times an hour and the ticket will cost 1 euro. The travel time is only about half an hour. You can also take a cab, which you can book here. Our tips for renting a car in Sicily can be found here.

To see as many sights as possible, we recommend staying in the heart of the city, near Piazza Duomo. You will not need to use public transportation and you will be able to explore the city on foot. The UNA Hotel Palace, San Demetrio Hotel, Hotel Villa Romeo and the Etna Suite Group are ideal. If you are traveling by car then book a hotel with a parking lot, otherwise you will have to look for parking by yourself for about 10 euros per day. Leave the car on the street risky – they can scratch easily.

What to see in Catania

Piazza Del Duomo. Here you’ll see many Baroque buildings: the Elephant Palace, the Seminary Palace and the city’s main cathedral, the Duomo, built in the 11th century. The fountains are considered the pearl of the square – there are still mystical legends around the main fountain, the Black Elephant.

The Fortress of Ursino (Castello Ursino). From Piazza Duomo, follow the ancient streets via Auteri and via Vittorio Emmanuelle to the ancient fortress built by Frederick II in the 13th century.

Visit the Teatro Massimo Bellini. Continue along via Vittorio Emmanuelle and you will find a majestic opera house, named after the great Italian composer.

Next, stroll along Catania’s main street, via Etnea, and eat some delicious Sicilian ice cream and do some shopping.

Day 2 – Etna

A visit to the famous Etna volcano is a must while traveling in Sicily. The excursion can be arranged in several ways:

  • Book a tour, where an experienced guide will tell you about the volcano and lead you along safe trails to its craters, you can do it here. This is the easiest and most reliable option.
  • Get to the volcano by bus. From piazza Papa Giovanni there is a bus directly to the tourist base Rifugio Sapienza. There you can buy a ticket for the cable car, which will cost about 30 euros. Buying a guide will also cost about 30 euros.
  • See Etna from the Circumetnea (Circumetnea) train. Its route goes through small villages around Etna. You can take the train at the station at Via Caronda, 352. For more details on how to do this, read our article.
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Day 2 – Taormina

If you are not interested in volcanoes, you can go to Taormina on day 2. Trains leave from Catania Central Station every hour. The distance is 54 km. Travel time is 1 hour. The ticket costs about 8 euros.

If you are planning to stay overnight in Taormina, we recommend accommodation in the historical center of the city (the best hotel offers can be found here). Excellent are hotels Eurostars Monte Tauro, Hotel Continental, Hotel Bel Soggiorno.

What to see in Taormina

The Arena of Taormina, built by the ancient Greeks and remodeled by the ancient Romans, is well preserved. This historical monument can now be visited for 10 euros. Sometimes concerts are held here and the arena offers a great view of Taormina Bay.

St. Nicholas Cathedral (Dom San Nicolò). A 15th-century cathedral built in the Gothic style.

Piazza IX Aprile. Located near the cathedral, lined with brightly colored tiles. There are many medieval buildings and a beautiful view of the mountains.

The Church of Our Lady in the Rock (Madonna della Rocca). An extraordinary temple that attracts pilgrims from all over the world, built in a niche on Mount Tauro.

Day 3-4 – Syracuse

If you spent day 2 on Etna, to get to Syracuse, you must take the train that leaves every hour from Catania Central Station. The first flight is at 05:14, the last one at 15:09. The distance is 67 km. Travel time is one hour and 50 minutes. The ticket price is 6.90 euros.

From Taormina trains also depart every hour. The first flight at 05:52, the last one at 17:58. The distance is 119 km. Travel time is about 2 hours.

Syracuse is an ancient city inhabited by Greeks in the pre-Christian period. However, travelers come here not only to see the historical monuments, but also to bask on the white beaches.

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It is best to stay in the historic part of the city, on the tiny island of Ortigia. The historic center is ideal because all the attractions of Syracuse are within walking distance. If you prefer the historic spirit of Ortigia, stay at the small, family-run L’Approdo delle Sirene, and for those who like designer hotels, the Scandinavian-style Gutkowski is a must. See more hotels in Syracuse here.

What to see in Syracuse

The first day in Syracuse is a tour of the historic buildings, many of which are listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Archaeological Park Neapolis. Archaeological Park is located at Via Paradiso, 14. The ticket costs 20 euros. The main exhibit is the ancient amphitheater (Teatro Greco) built in the 5th century BC. Also here you can see the Roman amphitheater (Anfiteatro Romano) built in the 1st century AD. Not far from the amphitheater in a secluded place is the grotto of the Ear of Dionysus (Orecchio di Dionisio). Its entrance is shaped like a human ear. In Neapolis there are many temples and altars built in honor of pagan gods as well as Christian saints.

On your second day in town, we recommend that you enjoy a beach vacation. The best beaches in Syracuse are Spiaggia Fontane Bianche, Lido Arenella, Spiaggia Pineta del Gelsomineto. They are all equipped with umbrellas, sun loungers, bars and cafes.

If you want to learn more about Syracuse, admire the monuments of antiquity, admire the beauties of modern times and get to know the most interesting historical stages of the ancient city, you can book a tour of Syracuse by following this link.

Day 5 – Noto

The train from Syracuse to Noto leaves every 2 hours. The first flight is at 05:15, the last at 20:10. The distance is 37 km. Travel time is 30 minutes. The ticket price is 3.80 euros.

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We recommend to settle near the city center, book a suitable hotel here. The highest ratings can boast La Dependance Hotel, Grand Hotel Sofia, Casa Malacla.

Noto is a small town, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as a historical monument of the Baroque, where only 20 thousand people live.

What to see in Noto

The Church of San Francesco (Basilica di San Francesco). The building was built by architect Vincenzo Sinatra and inside you can see a 17th century statue of the Virgin Mary.

San Nicolo Cathedral (Duomo di San Nicolo). A huge cathedral built at the end of the 18th century. Destroyed several times by an earthquake and then rebuilt.

Lido di Noto (Noto Beach). A quiet and sparsely populated beach with clean sand and clear water.

Day 6 – Ragusa

From Noto to Ragusa the train runs three times a day – at 11.08, 14.30 and 18.15. Distance – 57 km. Travel time – 1 hour. The ticket costs 6.20 euros.

It is better to stay in one of the hotels of Old Ragusa (Ragusa Ibla), such as La Dimora di Piazza Carmine, B&B L’Orto Sul Tetto, Locanda Don Serafino Hotel, see all offers in Ragusa here.

Ragusa, like Noto, is considered a monument of Baroque architecture and is listed as a Heritage Site by UNESCO.

What to see in Ragusa

The Old Gate (Portale di San Giorgio). This is the gate of a medieval church from the 14th century, preserved after the terrible earthquake of 1693.

Public Gardens (Giardini Iblei). Decorated in Italian and English styles. There are several medieval churches in the park.

Archaeological Park Kamarina. Excavations of an ancient Greek city. Next to the park is a museum with an exhibition of archaeological finds.

Day 7 – Return to Catania

The train from Ragusa to Catania runs from 05.50 to 16.03. The distance – 120 km. Travel time is 4 hours and 50 minutes. It is necessary to make one change.

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