The 35 best sights of Sicily a must-see

Sightseeing in Sicily

Volcano Etna Taormina Greek theater Noto Gorge Alcantara Cefalù Cathedral Piazza Armerina Volcano Island

This site contains Sicilian sights – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and is presented by type, name and rating. Here you’ll find answers to questions: what to see in Sicily, where to go and where are the popular and interesting places in Sicily.

Volcano Etna

Volcano Etna (photo)

Mighty and formidable volcano Etna, home of giants, Cyclops and the Olympic gods, has existed for over 500 thousand years and still attracts many fans of extreme holidays.

On average, Etna volcano erupts every three months, and every 150 years lava flows wipe out some nearby settlement. But this in no way scares the native Sicilians, who quite densely inhabit the slopes of Etna, because the lava ash is extremely fertile soil.

One legend says that there are giants languishing in the bowels of Etna. Having lost the war with the Olympic Gods, they are chained together, and are waiting for the moment to break free and avenge their titan brothers. On the volcano itself lives the god Hephaestus.

Climbing Etna is possible from either side. There are cable cars, daily buses, or guided tours by off-road buses. It is also possible to hike, but in this case, it is better to hire a guide.

Coordinates: 37.75443000,14.99210400


Taormina (photo)

Taormina is an ancient town located on the Sicilian coast, between Catania and Messina. It reports to the administrative center in Messina. Nearby is the island of Isola Bella. The population of Taormina is 10,863 inhabitants.

After the destruction of the port city of Naxos in 403 B.C., on the shores of the Ionian Sea there is the Greek settlement of Tavromenion. Then in 394 B.C. King Dionysius the Elder settled the Siculians (the ancient people of Sicily). In 290 BC, the evil tyrant Tyndarion ruled this city. In 210 B.C. Taormina surrendered to the Romans and gradually fell into decline.

After the beautiful wide beaches and the ruins of the city, as well as the Roman odeon and the Greek theater, attracted the attention of European intellectuals, Taormina became one of the popular resorts of Sicily. Nowadays, international prizes are awarded every year as well as music, theater and dance festivals.

Coordinates : 37.850000,15.28333300

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Greek theater

Greek theater (photo)

The theater in Taormina is an ancient structure built in the III century BC. The stage with good acoustics and the grandstands, which can seat 10,000 spectators, are still intact and are still used for various events.

The building is perfectly preserved, despite the fact that no restoration work was carried out after it was converted by the Romans for gladiatorial fights in the first century AD and until the 19th century. Today the building is in excellent condition and is used for various film festivals, concerts and other events.

Coordinates : 37.85238600,15.29223300

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Noto (photo)

Noto and seven other towns in the area were completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1693 and rebuilt in the early 18th century in late Baroque style. Subsequently the original buildings were carefully preserved and the towns have maintained their historic appearance. In recent decades the Noto area began to develop tourism and organic farming.

Eight towns in southeastern Sicily – Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa and Scicli – were rebuilt in or near their former locations after the 1693 earthquake. It was an ambitious complex of joint measures, successfully implemented at a high architectural and artistic level. Built in the late Baroque style, these towns showed innovative methods of planning and building for their time.

32 km from Syracuse, it is known as the “capital of the Baroque” and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Alcantara Gorge

The Alcantara Gorge (photo)

The deep gorge of Alcantara and the river of the same name that flows in its valley, is the most interesting natural monument in Sicily. The gorge itself for its natural architectural beauty is sometimes called an unwrought baroque.

The gorge was formed because of the activity of the volcano Mojo, a side crater of Etna. More than 2,000 years ago it erupted so violently that the lava split the rock and poured into the gorge. Later, water rushed there as well, which polished the solidified lava and gave it a bizarre, folded shape.

You can admire the gorge from a special viewing platform, to which tourists rises a special elevator. The cost of such a tour is 3 euros.

Coordinates: 37.87797000, 15.17696200

Cefalù Cathedral

Cefalu Cathedral in Sicily (photo)

Cefalù Cathedral is the cathedral of the diocese of Cefalù, belonging to the metropolis of the province of Palermo, Sicily. According to legend, it was built by Roger II, the founder and first king of the Kingdom of Sicily, on the site of a miraculous rescue from a storm.

The cathedral is located at the foot of the rock with the same name (La Rocca), which is also the symbol of Cefalù.

Cefalù Cathedral was built on the site of an ancient settlement. Construction began in 1131 and was completed in 1267.

The architecture of the cathedral has a distinctly Norman style and pristine, as the cathedral practically avoided the later additions and reconstructions so common in these places. Only in the XV century a portico was added to the lower part of the facade, which blended in quite organically. The facade itself is notable for its two Norman towers that make the temple reminiscent of a knight’s castle.

Inside, the cathedral is a Latin cross and has a gallery of ancient columns. Experts say that Cefalù Cathedral combines typical features of Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles. Its walls are decorated with unique mosaics of the Byzantine school, dating back to 1145.

Coordinates : 38.03967500,14.02336100

Piazza Armerina

Piazza Armerina (photo)

Piazza Armerina is a commune in the province of Enna of the island of Sicily. It is located in the middle of the island, far from the sea, on the slopes of the Erea Mountains, not far from Mount Enna. The town, located at an altitude of 700 to 880 meters above sea level, is surrounded by mostly deciduous and eucalyptus forests. Piazza Armerina is often visited by fans of continental travel. Its elevation is a peculiarity – some places offer amazing views of the whole of Sicily.

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Many people come here just to admire the panoramic views of almost the entire island. Local places of interest such as the Villa Romana de Casale, the town’s main cathedral, the 14th century Spinelli Castle, and many more.

Coordinates: 37.38333300,14.36666700

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Island of Vulcano

The Island of Vulcano (photo)

The island of Vulcano is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea near the coast of Sicily. The name of the island comes from the ancient Roman god of smith Vulcano. It was believed that the pipes of his giant forge reached the surface of the earth here.

Vulcano is the southernmost of the Aeolian or Leparian Islands, owing its appearance to incessant volcanic activity. In fact, the island is an amalgamation of several volcanoes, one of which Fossa is still active. The last major eruption of Fossa occurred in 1888, but the volcano periodically demonstrates its vitality by emitting jets of steam and sulfurous gases called fumaroles.

Once the main occupation of the local population was to collect the sulfur that came to the surface after the eruption. Today, most people work in the tourism industry. People come to the island for the beautiful clean water, unusual scenery, excursions to the volcano crater and the famous sulfur mud baths. The island is also famous for the malvasia from the vineyards growing on its volcanic slopes.

Coordinates: 38.39091700,14.97433800

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Sightseeing in Sicily

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Sicily is slowly gaining points in the ratings of tourist popularity. Maybe because clearly does not want to be at the top of the most popular destinations. And most of all it values calmness and values established for centuries.

Some travelers are scared away by the dark legends about mafia and collective bondage. Others simply see no point in going so far away. When it is much easier to go to Tuscany, Abruzzo, Emilia Romagna, or even Piedmont.

However, it’s worth spending the time to see Sicily! After all, here time flows differently, not as in the rest of Italy, even in the south. And the whole way of life, traditions and beliefs make you look at yourself and your place in the universe from a different angle.

Taormina is the second thing to see in Sicily

When to go

Sicily is almost Africa, the island is separated from the sands of the Sahara for only 160 km. That’s why at the peak of summer it can be exceptionally hot here: +34 and above. And it is on a stable basis.

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Obviously, this weather is not good even for staying on the beach! Most tourists ask not to mention the sights at all.

That’s why it’s best to visit Sicily in May and June, so you can swim and wander around. Or in September-October, before the harsh autumn rains and Mediterranean storms.

So, let’s go – literally. After all, the best way to see Sicily in detail is by car.

Usually it is rented at the airport – but we believe that someone wants and can get and own! Especially since traveling in Italy by car – a pleasure.

We will drive counterclockwise – so convenient.

What to visit in Sicily.

Let’s start, of course, with Palermo. Especially since in 2018 the city was appointed the cultural capital of Italy. Taking into account both the presence of truly remarkable historical monuments of architecture and art. And the clear desire of officials to revive the not too boisterous tourist demand.

  • Although, honestly, there are enough sights in Palermo!

The local Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary literally catches the eye with its distinctly southern, even Moorish-Spanish, architecture. But far more famous is the Palatine Chapel, ornate and richly decorated with mosaics, its composition and decorations recall the times of the Byzantine Empire.

Palermo is a must-see in Sicily

The court chapel is where it should be – in the Norman palace, Palazzo Normanni. A building of unusual, castle-palace architecture, and an intricate fate. The royal apartments have been preserved, and today the Sicilian Parliament sits in Hercules Hall.

The ticket for an adult costs 12 €, children under 13 are free. It is difficult to find detailed practical information on the official site.

Because the resource is updated, and how long it will last – no one knows! Such are the traditions in Italy – here no one is in a hurry anywhere!

With its perfectly preserved mosaics from the XI-XII centuries, the church of Santa Maria del Amirallo, better known as Martorana (Piazza Bellini, 3), attracts tourists.

The portal “Your Italy” not unreasonably advises to visit the carved baroque church of Gesù or Casa Professa (Piazza Casa Professa, 21). Spend a day exploring the rich baroque heritage of Palermo –

The nearest beach to Palermo is Mondello. It is best to cool down after an overabundance of city experiences there.

The place does not belong to the best resorts in Italy. Although, in general, and it is not clear why – the arc of sandy coast hugs the scenic turquoise bay. With very clear water!

Montreal and Cefalù.

We don’t linger, though. We advise you to see the outstanding cathedral in the capital of Sicily, one of the top attractions of the country as a whole. It is located in the suburbs, a place called Monreale.

By public transport you can get only with transfers. At the main railway station of Palermo, take bus number 109 of Amat and go to Piazza Indipendenza. There you change to #389 of the same company.

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Working hours of the cathedral:

Weekdays: 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm to 5 pm on holidays: 8:00 am to 9:30 am, 2:30 pm to 5 pm

There is a 4 € fee to attend today (children up to 10 years old are free). The official website is:

Monreale Cathedral is one of the most interesting places in Sicily

If time permits you can make a trip to the town of Cefalù. The distance is 70 km in an eastern direction and it won’t take you more than an hour by train or car.

The place is popular among holidaymakers and travelers, so we recommend visiting it strictly out of season. Otherwise, head-on collisions are not excluded.

The highlight of the off-beach program is the city cathedral. According to a legend, it was built by the Norman king Roger II in gratitude for saving during the strong storm.


The town is not so famous as the village of Erice in the rocks nearby (12 km down a winding mountain serpentine). Two castles, Pepoli and Venere, a lot of preserved old houses, and most importantly – incomparable views around.

  • It is better to visit with a guide from the local (Russian-speaking) residents – you will learn more.

Another famous sight in Trapani province is Segesta. According to archaeologists – built not by the Greeks, but by the Trojans, brought here by unknown winds.

The temple of Segesta is one of the best preserved examples of ancient architecture. Yes, there is no roof. But archaeologists say it was meant to be!

The resort of San Vito-Lo Capo is famous for its 3 km long beach. The consensus is that it was mistaken for some tropical island in the Old World.

It is a popular weekend destination for weekend visitors from Palermo. Of course they do, because it’s only 110 K. Trapani is a 2 hour drive.

In Trapani itself, do not forget to visit the fields of salt and windmills, which in the Middle Ages were the basis of the prosperity of the town. And have a glass of marsala, the original Sicilian fortified wine.

The Archaeological Park of Selinunte on the southern coast of the province is not the most mentioned tourist attraction. Although it is considered the largest in Europe, it has eight dilapidated Greek temples.

It is easier to reach it by car (100-110 km from Palermo), but the train-bus combination (from Castelvetrano) will get you there on foot.

The ticket costs 6€ and is free every first Sunday of the month.

The Selinunte Park in Sicily is a must-see


It’s only 2,5 hours by car from Palermo (distance 130 km). The motivation is obvious – the Valley of the Temples is one of the main tourist attractions of Sicily.

Especially since it is very close to Agrigento. It is also accessible by public transport.

The Valley is open daily, from 8.30 to 20.00. Tickets without audioguide cost 10 € – children under 18 years are exclusively free.

Another impressive attraction of the province, but natural, is the Staircase of the Turks (Scala dei turchi). It is located on the coast between Realmonte and Porto Empedocle.

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Modica and Ragusa

These towns are famous for their buildings in the Sicilian Baroque style. And as an architectural monument are protected by UNESCO.

The catalyst for construction fever at the turn of the XVII-XVIII centuries was the earthquake of 1693, which destroyed much of the old buildings.

If you love old Italian towns with their yellow and ochre walls, barred windows, and cobblestone sidewalks, you will definitely be fascinated.


The rich ancient heritage plus the quarries of Latomia with its famous acoustic gallery of the Ear of Dionysius are the hallmarks of the city where the legendary Archimedes was born and lived.

Several churches, catacombs with history. Plus the magnificent old town on the island of Ortigia is reason enough to stick around for a couple of days.

And even take part in some informative excursion – velikolepnyie-sirakuzyi. Expensive – € 170 – but clearly “pays off” money invested!

It is very likely that the local atmosphere will soften you up to a semi-jellied, perfectly relaxed, state. And isn’t that, in fact, what people want from a vacation!

By the way, near Syracuse – Archimedes was a big homebody and never left Sicily – the Greek genius set fire to the attacking Roman fleet. He did it with the help of some clever mirror system. As everyone probably realizes, and in the olden days, solar power was plentiful here.


Known primarily as a starting point for the subsequent ascent of Etna – remember that the city is sometimes called the “daughter” of the famous volcano.

However, Catania itself also has a lot to see. There are several churches plus a powerful medieval fortress. And also quite a large Roman amphitheater, squeezed by urban development.

Many interesting things on a walk through the city will tell the guide. For not quite a budget, but in Italy, everything is expensive. Except maybe the food.


It is considered first of all a seaside resort, the most famous in Sicily. As early as the 19th century, respectable European travelers tasted marsala and coffee in local taverns while gazing at the majestic cone of Etna.

The well-preserved Greek theater is Taormina’s own attraction, in season packed with tourists like a jar with olives. It is better to stay in this city for several days. You will see the sights and have a rest on the shore of the warm Ionian Sea!

The view of Taormina is worth a visit in Sicily for its own sake

The Lipparian Islands

Messina is not usually included in the list of the most interesting places in Sicily. Probably the reason for that is the earthquake that semi-erased the city in 1908. But Aeolian or Aeolian Islands, and the main of them – Stromboli with a volcano with a regular pyramidal shape – is highly recommended to see with the eyes of every guidebook.

The visit involves a certain amount of risk. Most recently, in July 2019, a 35-year-old Italian tourist died in a sudden eruption of the reference volcano.

It can be reached by ferry from Sicily’s Messina and Milazzo. And even from Naples!

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