Wondering what to see in Eastern Sicily? I know, it is always quite a dilemma to choose. When visiting Sicily on an itinerant trip, one often wonders which part is best to delve into: the whole island or just a part of it?
It always depends on how many days you have available. If you can carve out at least two weeks, then I recommend following this 15-day Sicily itinerary of mine. Alternatively, you must necessarily choose for Eastern or Western Sicily.
Visiting Eastern Sicily: 15 places to see
It is amazing how in just a few kilometers there is such a concentration of incredibly beautiful places to visit. And we are only talking about the eastern part of Sicily. That’s why in the itinerary in Sicily I recommended to you I was even talking about 3 weeks, if not a month should we want to visit Sicily very slowly. Let’s cut to the chase, what are the places to see in a tour of Eastern Sicily? Let’s proceed from north to south. You might also be interested in:
1 – Aeolian Islands
When discovering Eastern Sicily we can also include the Aeolian Islands located in the Tyrrhenian Sea. 7 islands of volcanic origin: Alicudi, Filicudi, Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Panarea and finally Stromboli.
They will be a perfect stop if you like the power of nature. Stromboli and Vulcano with their still active craters will leave you speechless. 7 islands so close, but with different characteristics.
If your idea is to visit all 7 islands, to include them in an itinerary to discover the whole of Eastern Sicily you will really have to have a lot of time. The advice is to choose one or two based on your preferences.
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2 – Taormina
The beautiful and renowned Taormina enjoys a wonderful view of the sea in eastern Sicily. It is not a seaside resort, or rather, it is divided between “sea and mountains,” and the main promenade, as well as the center of Taormina, is on the slopes of Mount Tauro.
Its historic center is really interesting and romantic. Beautiful in the evening, just as beautiful in the daytime, perhaps sheltering sometimes in some local place to drink good Sicilian wine. From the top of Taormina you can admire the Gardens of Naxos and the beautiful Ionian coast.
Last but not least, Taormina is known for being home to the grand Greek Theater of Taormina. I imagine you have seen it more than once on television. It is often used as a setting for major events. In short, on a tour of Eastern Sicily, Taormina is an essential stop, by the way you could keep it as a base for visiting Mount Etna, as I did in my Sicily itinerary.
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3 – Castelmola
Small village behind Taormina. Even more perched on the mountains, this small village of just over a thousand inhabitants is the setting for the“perfect panorama.” Yes, because glimpse after glimpse you will fall in love with the landscape below and be amazed at how small we really are in the face of nature. Castelmola also features the eponymous Mola Castle, or rather the little that is left of it.
To go up to Castelmola you have to pass through Taormina and proceed uphill. The road is at times easy, at times narrow, however, it does not present great difficulty. Of course it is all paved and experienced by the local people.
When you get to Castelmola, don’t miss the view from Piazza Sant’Antonio.
4 – Alcantara Gorges
Located just a stone’s throw from Taormina, they are another must-see stop on an itinerary in eastern Sicily. Gorges up to 25/30 meters high with a width varying between 2 and 5.
The Alcantara River flows through the gorges and determines their very name. Here nature has been at its best: volcanic activity, water and the millennia that have passed (we speak of about 300,000 years ago) have shaped the territory, forming this natural paradise.
Among the various activities that can be done at the Alcantara Gorges are hiking of various levels of difficulty, river trekking, rafting and more. Do you want to discover the Gorges starting from Taormina?
Here is the one for you, a tour with Mini Bus transportation and guided tour in Italian, CLICK HERE to view it.
5 – Catania
An itinerary in Eastern Sicily, is not a complete Eastern Sicily itinerary if it does not include the second largest city in Sicily: Catania. Shaped by the proximity of Mount Etna, it is certainly one of the starting bases for climbing and trekking the famous volcano, but the focus must not be on Etna, rather on the city itself.
Appreciate it by discovering the splendid buildings including the Palazzo Municipale, the beautiful Piazza del Duomo, the Badia di Sant’Agata, the Cathedral and theStone Elephant, the city’s symbol.
Catania is certainly one of the major places of interest on the east coast of Sicily and is also particularly linked to its famous volcano in terms of its architecture. Indeed, there are many buildings in the historic center that were built with lava stone. They add to Catania’s charm and create what is commonly called“black baroque.”
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6 – Trekking on Mount Etna
Impossible not to mention and include in a Sicilian itinerary one of the most interesting active volcanoes in the World: Mount Etna. Over the centuries, indeed millennia, it has shaped much of Eastern Sicily. This giant determines the lives of local people.
Its puffs, its whims, affect the way of life of the people who live on its slopes. In fact, it seems to be seen yes as a danger, but at the same time as a pride. And so, a tour of Eastern Sicily prescinds from a trek up Mount Etna.
I advise you not to miss it. No need to trek for hours and hours, try to do as much as your physique allows, but definitely go and enjoy the view of Etna and hear the volcano mumbling.
7 – Piazza Armerina
To get to Piazza Armerina you will have to move from the east coast and proceed inland into the territory of the province of Enna. This beautiful Sicilian place of interest features one of Italy’s most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Villa Romana del Casale. Rich in priceless mosaics, it is an extraordinary heritage that I recommend you include in your tour.
Just think that the historic center of Piazza Armerina is considered one of the largest and most interesting in all of Sicily, rich in churches and dominated by the beautiful Cathedral that can be glimpsed even in the distance.
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8 – Caltagirone
Let us proceed this itinerary of Eastern Sicily by going back east a bit. A few kilometers away from Piazza Armerina we find Caltagirone, which is spread over three different hills. Caltagirone is famous for the ceramics that also characterize its famous Steps of Santa Maria del Monte.
It dates back to 1606. Over 130 meters long, it was built with the purpose of connecting the oldest part of the city to the newest part located upstream. In Caltagirone, in addition to the staircase, you can visit the Museum of Ceramics, the Cathedral of San Giuliano, and the Villa Comunale.
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9 – Syracuse and the island of Ortigia
The island of Ortigia is definitely one of the jewels not to be missed on a tour of Eastern Sicily. Completely surrounded by the sea it deserves a whole day, if not two.
Walking through its alleys, discovering it corner by corner, is the right way to visit it. Don’t miss Maniace Castle and the stunning Piazza Duomo.
A word of advice: visit it both during the day and in the evening, a time of special charm.
Another tip: since you will be on the sea, take advantage of it for a swim in one of the coves under the walls of Ortigia. Finally, if you have time, visit the Neapolis Archaeological Park in Syracuse.
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10 – Noto and the Vendicari Reserve
Visiting Eastern Sicily means getting your “fill of Baroque.” In the Val di Noto you will be spoiled for choice on monuments in Baroque art. Noto in particular, a UNESCO heritage site, with its churches is definitely the jewel in the crown of this inland Sicilian area.
All the monuments are developed along the main street, and although I did not particularly like the interior of its cathedral (since it was too modern to my taste), it represents one of the iconic places in Eastern Sicily that should definitely be included in the itinerary.
A short distance from Noto you can visit the Vendicari Oriented Nature Reserve, established in 1984; it is located between Noto and Pachino.
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11 – Marzamemi
We are always on the beautiful Sicilian sea. Marzamemi is part of the places to visit in Eastern Sicily, you will not be able to do without it. Regardless of whether your trip is as a couple, family or single, the town of Marzamemi is very characteristic. Its square is extremely romantic and a dinner in this setting cannot be missed.
An itinerary in Sicily, especially when it is hot, could be quite stressful. A break in a place like Marzamemi represents a breath of relaxation.
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12 – Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla
Distinguished into Ragusa Ibla and Ragusa, this fascinating destinationin Eastern Sicily is within easy reach of another gem I will tell you about later: Modica.
The upper part of the city of Ragusa is the more modern part, Ibla the older part, rich in churches and Baroque elements. Endless steps, narrow cobblestone streets , churches and fabulous views are the characteristics of Ragusa. The view of Ragusa Ibla in the evening is magnificent, which is why I recommend you look for a hotel that has rooms overlooking that part of town. You will be impressed by such beauty.
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13 – Modica and Scicli
With these two small towns we approach the final part of the itinerary in Eastern Sicily. They are located in the Ragusa area a very short distance from Ragusa.
If you have time I recommend that you visit them both and, as for the beautiful Modica, also make the classic “chocolate stop.” I think you know that a very special chocolate is produced here. The city of Modica is not only famous from a gastronomic point of view, but also thanks to its particular conformation and fantastic Baroque palaces and churches.
Finally, Scicli, also very pretty. A stop to include especially if you are a fan of the “Montalbano” series. You will have the opportunity to visit the set of the police station, an iconic place where most of the scenes of the fiction take place.
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14 – Marina di Ragusa
In the mood for the sea? I am convinced that at the end of this itinerary in Eastern Sicily, given the intensity you have maintained so far, a sea-only stop will be a panacea. Yes, also because the sea of Marina di Ragusa has been Blue Flag for several years.
The coastline is quite long. Enjoy a day at the beach.
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15 – Punta Secca
You cannot visit Eastern Sicily without making a “detour” to the places where Montalbano’s scenes take place. Prominent among them is Punta Secca, the place where the restaurant “Enzo a Mare” is located. In the fiction, “Montalbano” often lunches at this sea-view inn.
A short distance away you can also see Montalbano’s house, which is actually a real B&B. Imagine how difficult it is to find a place in this inn.
Punta Secca is very pleasant, however, and I recommend spending a late afternoon and evening there. If there is a full moon, it will shine in front of you on the spectacular Sicilian sea.
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Map of the Itinerary in Eastern Sicily
Here is an explanatory summary via map.