Sicily itinerary 15-Days Tour: Culture and Sea

Among all the road trip itineraries you can find on this blog, this itinerary in Sicily is definitely one of the most comprehensive.

Culture, good food, friendly people and a fabulous sea are the perfect ingredients that make a tour in Sicily an ideal trip…yes, but better at a time other than August. It is one of the best itineraries to do in the “in-between” months such as September and October, this is for basically two reasons: crowding and heat. The latter the main reason.

Discovering such beauties as the Etna, the beautiful Ortigia, the Valle dei Templi, the Scala dei Turchi, Erice, Selinunte , and the same Favignana off-season must be exceptional.

I’ve been promising myself for a long time to take a vacation in Sicily. Sicily certainly did not disappoint; on the contrary, it fully confirmed my expectations, which is why I want to recommend what I think is a perfect detailed itinerary for visiting this great island.

If you wish to visit only the western part or the eastern part, I have written two separate articles that might interest you, you can find them here:

Here, however, is what you will find in this article about all of Sicily.

Itinerary in Sicily of 10 or 15 days?

Let’s start with a big question mark that we cannot bypass. How many days are needed for a Sicilian itinerary? The answer is neither 10 days nor 15 days. From my point of view, to visit Sicily at its best you would need at least 3 full weeks.

The distances seem short, but in reality they are not. Travel times can be longer than you imagine. The consequence is that, as is often the case, you have to give something up; you have to make choices.

Seeing everything is impossible. This itinerary is calibrated to 15 actual days of travel and also features some sea days (we are in Sicily, don’t tell me you don’t want to take a few days of real vacation). If I had less time, say about 10 days, I would definitely have had to choose either the Western Sicily or the Eastern Sicily. Don’t despair, I have written mini-guides for both the one and the other “part of Sicily.”

saline di marsala cosa vedere sicilia occidentale
Salt pans of Marsala

Sicilian itinerary tips

An ontheroad trip to Sicily assumes many hotel/accommodation changes; you must be prepared to unpack and repack every day. If you follow this “sightseeing tour of Sicily” that I am recommending, the first 10 days will be quite intense, the last 5 will be devoted to relaxing on the west coast.

You can baste the itinerary as you wish, but I suggest you devote the final part of the tour to some leisure. Although I recommend that you take a trip to Sicily between September and October, in my case I went at the turn of August; 4 days at the sea was the icing on the cake to my Sicily vacation.

How to get to Sicily?

You are spoiled for choice:

  • By plane by flying to Trapani, Palermo or Catania from major airports.
  • By own car by ferrying between Messina and Reggio Calabria.
  • By ferry to Palermo (I recommend taking your own car with you if you can). For those leaving from northern Italy, I recommend the route from Genoa. You leave in the evening from the Ligurian capital and arrive in Palermo at 6 p.m. the next day. True, it is not a walk, but if the day is nice you can enjoy the stunning blue of the open sea.

Renting a car in Sicily

A driving itinerary in Sicily presupposes either owning your own car or renting one. This assumption is more likely if you arrive in Sicily by plane.

If you need to rent a car in Palermo, Trapani or Catania, I recommend doing so with Rentalcars with whom I always get along really really well -> click HERE to search Rentalcars.

Hotel reservations for your trip to Sicily

Lately I love to make reservations in itinere. I like not knowing until the last minute where I will sleep at night. It gives me a great feeling of freedom. Of course, this is only possible if the period you are traveling is not high season, otherwise the game is not worth the candle.

I always book all my hotels on Booking.com, there is always great choice and the site is very easy to use.

Western Sicily vs. Eastern Sicily

Choose between Western Sicily e Eastern is quite a dilemma. Both are stunning. All of Sicily is outstanding, including the south coast where, by the way, you will get to discover the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento.

If you have only a few days to devote to the Sicily itinerary, you will have to choose by putting off visiting the opposite coast until the following year.

Tour of Sicily: Recommended Itinerary

This itinerary will have you touch the entire Sicilian coast. First Cefalù, then the east coast with Taormina and the fantastic trekking on Mount Etna. Then Ortigia, Marzamemi, Ragusa and finally the south and west coasts respectively with Agrigento and Trapani. An intense journey, full of culture and beautiful views.

Day 1: Cefalù

Landing in Palermo was my first stop (I left Palermo as the last place to visit pre-departure). Unfortunately on this trip (on a previous one I did) I did not have a chance to “stretch” as far as seeing Monreale, but if you have time my dispassionate advice is to stop by and admire the splendid Cathedral of Monreale. It is disarmingly beautiful.

I also told you about Cefalù in the article on the best things to do in Cefalù, I recommend you read it to discover all the splendid places you can visit. This itinerary of mine in Sicily includes only one night in Cefalù.

A good idea might be to add a night. It is a very pretty town and is a good mix of sea, social life and hiking in nature. I definitely recommend going up to the Rocca di Cefalù, the view will be priceless. Itinerary in Sicily -> CLICK and DISCOVER Cefalù Hotels

Palermo -> Cefalù: 70 km – about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

cosa vedere a cefalù in sicilia
Overview of Cefalù from the old pier

Day 2: Cefalù and transfer to Taormina

Cefalù is beautiful even in the morning, when it is still not as crowded as during the day. A coffee overlooking the sea lulled by Sicilian scents is the right way to start the day. Explore the town in search of unforgettable sights and views. I have been to Cefalù twice, and this morning tour I thoroughly enjoyed both times.

The Sicilian itinerary gets into full swing with the first major move: from Cefalù to Taormina, which I have kept (and will keep if you wish to emulate my itinerary) as a base for two nights. You will have two ways to reach Taormina:

  • Proceed on the coastal highway to Messina.
  • Proceed on the inland road via Enna. I chose the latter because I wanted to see the Sicilian territory.

The landscape is barren, rugged, and as you reach Catania, Mount Etna is always clearly visible and dominates everything and everyone from above. For Taormina I recommend finding a hotel with parking space; I slept at Villa Athèna (find all the hotels at the bottom of the post), otherwise you might spend hours looking for parking. In Taormina you can see the fantastic Greek theater and walk in the beautiful avenue that every evening is populated with the classic comings and goings of vacationers.

teatro antico di taormina in sicilia
Ancient Theater in Taormina

Tip: Before arriving in Taormina, stop at Castelmola, a village with an extremely interesting panoramic view. Beware that the road up is not so smooth.

Itinerary in Sicily -> CLICK and DISCOVER Taormina Hotels

Cefalù -> Taormina: 233 km – about 2 hours 45 minutes.

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Day 3: Trekking on Mount Etna

Trekkingon Mount Etna is mandatory. Impossible not to trek its slopes. Of course, not all of us are trained or experienced climbers, but even simply reaching the viewpoint of the chairlift is an “almost obligation.”

Visiting Mount Etna fills the whole day. By necessity, leaving from Taormina and returning to Taormina itself, you are back at approximately 4 p.m.-5 p.m. (starting the day very early).

In the evening it is normal to be quite exhausted. The advice is: enjoy a nice dinner in romantic Taormina.

Taormina -> Etna: 56 km – 1 hour and 5 minutes.

itinerario in sicilia trekking etna
Trekking on Mount Etna

Day 4: Syracuse and the island of Ortigia

I saw the island of Ortigia and its beautiful Maniace Castle island in a documentary on the national network. I was very surprised and from that moment I set my mind on wanting to visit it. Well, I must say that the island of Ortigia, included in this itinerary in Sicily, is one of the best treats.

Between Taormina and Syracuse there is only a 2-hour drive. This means that by leaving Taormina early you can make a full day in Syracuse. The island of Ortigia is not to be missed; it is exceptional in the evening, extremely beautiful. Discover Ortigia with this ORTIGIA TOUR (in English) with free cancellation.

Taormina -> Ortigia: 120 km – 1 hour 30 minutes.

vista isola di ortigia itinerario in sicilia
Panorama of the Island of Ortigia

Day 5: Noto and Marzamemi

On this itinerary in Sicily, it is impossible not to be enraptured every 5 minutes. On the fifth day, I recommend admiring the beauty of Noto and then reach Marzamemi.

Two great Sicilian pearls, completely different from each other. The first a town of great cultural note. The second a small seaside town that at sunset is teeming with people in “evening wear” looking for a place to dine. A location in the extreme south of Sicily characterized by a romantic and unmistakable square. Flowers, colors and classic Sicilian scents seal a great day.

Ortigia -> Noto: 40 km – 40 minutes. Noto -> Marzamemi: 23 km – 30 minutes.

Day 6: Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla

From pearl to pearl, this is how an itinerary in Sicily proceeds. Ragusa, divided into Ragusa Ibla and Ragusa, is spectacular.

Ragusa Ibla, set at a lower level than Ragusa, is a maze of very characteristic streets and lanes. Filled with stunning churches, it oozes Baroque everywhere. A spectacle to explore it during the day and admire it in “evening dress”.

Nestled among its alleys, the night lighting provides a unique atmosphere.

From Marzamemi to Ragusa is only a couple of hours’ drive, consequently, by leaving early in the morning, you will be able to enjoy a full day in Ragusa. From my point of view, one night is enough, with the caveat of taking the whole day to visit them. Remember that Ragusa, and in this case Ragusa Ibla, is an essential stop on a tour of Sicily.

Marzamemi -> Ragusa: 57 km – about 1 hour 15 minutes.

ragusa ibla di sera itinerario in sicilia
Ragusa Ibla immortalized in the evening.

Day 7: Scicli, Marina di Ragusa and Punta Secca.

This part of the Sicilian itinerary is linked to the mythical Montalbano. I imagine that many of you are familiar with this highly successful Italian series.

A Scicli, a few kilometers away from Ragusa, you can visit the police station and take a very short tour to discover the set where the filming takes place. If you are a fan of this series, you will not want to miss it. Scicli is also very pretty as a town, ideal for a stop on the way to the sea. In a few kilometers you can reach the marina of Ragusa.

On the seventh day of the itinerary, a swim in the fantastic sea of Sicily is rejuvenating. So don’t forget a few hours of relaxation on the beach of Marina of Ragusa.

Have you ever heard of Punta Secca? Mah, perhaps to those who do not watch Montalbano (famous italian series) will not say anything. To those who love that series surely the name Punta Secca evokes many scenes. Punta Secca is home to Enzo a Mare’s famous inn/tavern and Montalbano’s own house, actually a real B&B.

Ragusa -> Scicli: 25 km – about 35 minutes. Scicli -> Marina di Ragusa: 17 km – 25 minutes. Marina di Ragusa -> Punta Secca: 8 km – 10 minutes.

Day 8: Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples

We are at the halfway point of the detailed itinerary for visiting Sicily Agrigento is located exactly in the middle of the southern Sicilian coast. Here the land, especially in the summer, is scorched both by the heat and by bonfires that burn entire plots of land in the hills.

Agrigento is the magnificent location where the Valley of the Temples stands, whose Temple of Concord is even the symbol of UNESCO itself.

A Sicilian tour cannot be considered complete without a visit to the Valley of the Temples. I recommend avoiding the visit during the hottest hours. The heatwave takes over; it is very difficult to find shelter from the scorching sun.

Discover the Valley of the Temples with this GUIDED TOUR in English with free cancellation.

When the visit is over, it is possible to cool off in another earthly paradise: the Scala dei Turchi. During my tour of Sicily I was not very lucky, in August 2020 there were problems related to the security of the area. Currently (2021) it seems that there are no restrictions and it is possible to experience this gift of nature to the fullest. One more piece of advice, sleep in the area and maybe not exactly by the sea.

You will find exaggeratedly beautiful solutions, such as the one I stayed in: the Baglio Caruana Winery & Relais, absolutely recommended.

Marina di Ragusa -> Valley of the Temples: 122 km – 2 hours and 30 minutes.

valle dei templi di agrigento itinerario in sicilia
The Temple of Concordia in the Valley of the Temples

Day 9: Sciacca, Selinunte and Mazara del Vallo

Another day, more Sicilian beauty. The itinerary I am describing includes a visit to Sciacca and then an immersion in culture in the Selinunte archaeological park, the largest archaeological park in Europe.

Finally, overnight near Mazara del Vallo or, alternatively Marsala, without forgetting to stop at the beautiful Salt Pans of Marsala.

Agrigento -> Mazara del Vallo: 116 km – 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Day 10 – Day 13: Trapani, Erice, Favignana, San Vito

Finally 4 days of Sicilian itinerary with one base Trapani. Mazara is only an hour away, this allows you to experience the full day without wasting time in travel.

The time has come to embrace beach, sea and umbrella. But that’s not all, Trapani is also very pretty to discover by day and by night. Trapani is a perfect base for exploring neighboring areas such as the salt pans of Trapani. Also, within a few minutes’ drive you can reach the area of San Vito lo Capo, Scopello and the reserve of the Gypsies (riserva degli Zingari).

About beaches and natural paradises, you are spoiled for choice, not to mention that you only need to take a fast ferry and in less than an hour you can get to Favignana with its stunning beaches. (Discover Favignana with an organized excursion -> Discover HERE the Tour)

Last but not least, from the beach we go up to the mountain and the village of Erice, an exceptional village where you can spend a nice evening with a romantic dinner and an aperitif at sunset. By the way, dispassionate advice: go up at sunset by cable car and find a nice little spot from which to watch the sun get lost on the horizon.

Mazara del Vallo -> Trapani: 50 km – about 1 hour.

spiaggia a favignana itinerario in sicilia
A beach in Favignana

Day 14 – 15: Palermo

Palermo is beautiful, but somewhat chaotic. I put you at the end of the itinerary in Sicily the city of Palermo since in my case I arrived in Sicily by ferry and consequently I always had to leave from there. Ending a 15-day itinerary with 2 days in Palermo could be challenging.

It is definitely worth it because between Norman Palace, the Cathedral of Palermo, i Quattro Canti and the Massimo Theater, beauty is everywhere.

Palermo is also traffic, difficulty parking, markets…Palermo envelops you completely: choose whether to put it at the beginning or the end of your tour of Sicily. Do you want to visit Palermo for free? Discover this FREE City Tour.

Trapani -> Palermo: 107 km – 1 hour 15 minutes.

fontana pretoria nella palermo itinerario in sicilia
The Pretoria Fountain in Palermo

Alternatives to be included in the itinerary in Sicily

  • Eastern Sicily you will have the option of including Catania in the itinerary. I have not had a chance to visit it, but I have heard great things about it.
  • Eastern Sicily near Taormina you can visit the Alcantara Gorges, a Botanical and Geological Park with canyons up to 25 meters high. A canyon in which the Alcantara River of the same name flows.
  • Syracuse Area in Eastern Sicily: I have included Ortigia in this itinerary in Sicily, but Syracuse itself, if you have time, is an excellent addition to the itinerary.
  • Ragusa Area: stop in Modica, another really quaint little town.
  • Southern Sicily: if you have time, before arriving in Agrigento, move to central Sicily and visit Piazza Armerina, admire one of the most beautiful Roman villas: Villa Romana del Casale, also included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Where to sleep on this trip to Sicily

To simplify your choices, I point you to the hotels where I stayed. They are all comfortable accommodations designed to have the best value for money in relation to an itinerant trip such as this.

Cefalù -> Villa Rosa B&B

Located defiladed from the center of Cefalù, but in a perfect location because it is out of the mess and has car parking. In a 5-minute walk you can reach the center of Cefalù. The owner is very friendly and the view of the sea of Cefalù is exceptional. Value for money: 8

Taormina -> Villa Athèna

Exactly near the arrival of the city side cable car. Perfect location and with indoor parking (request parking when booking because there are only two parking spaces). in 2 minutes walk you are in the main avenue of Taormina. Value for money: 8

Ortigia -> Il Mare di Ortigia

Ortigia is quite problematic in terms of car parking. The town is restricted and to enter you have to be careful because there is a ZTL. This solution was the best found. A very large room in a big building, we also had a sea view and access to the ZTL by communicating the license plate of the car. Value for money: 7

Marzamemi -> Il Veliero

You’ll have to leave your car far from Marzamemi, but this hotel will pay you back for the few minutes of walking. Brand new rooms just a few meters from the center and the sea. Perfect. Value for money: 8

Ragusa -> Via Pezza 100

Ragusa is also not friendly to motorists. Small streets, dropper parking lots. On Pezza Street, however, there is this lovely, very clean rooming house with breakfast even brought to the room the next morning. The treat? The view of Ragusa Ibla from the room. Value for money: 7

Montallegro – next to Agrigento -> Baglio Caruana Winery & Relais

A little relaxation in the Sicilian countryside? This Relais was the top, we would have liked to spend much more than one night there. Highly recommended, absolute peace and amazing pool. Value for money: 9

Trapani -> Bite – Bike and Kite Accomodations

Another perfect solution. The guys who run this place are great. The apartment was giant, clean and very modern. Sea view and indoor parking, that’s all I’ll add. Value for money: 9

Sicily itinerary map

Here is a complete map of the entire Sicilian itinerary.

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