Ohhhh sweet Sicily …thinking back at our time on this beautiful island brings a smile to my face. Picture-perfect towns, amazing landscapes and food to die for!!

Being the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, there is just so much to explore in Sicily, and deciding on which places to visit can be a challenge.

As we only had one week to spend, we wanted to be sure that we make the most of it, so we put together an itinerary which turned out to be perfect! We got to see impressive historic sites, relax at beautiful beaches, do a bit of hiking and admire the gorgeous medieval towns of the island.

Keep in mind though that this 7-day itinerary is best suited for a person that’s used to fast-paced travel and is comfortable with moving to a new destination every 1-2 days. If you prefer a slower pace or have more than a week to spend, simply add a few days in the locations that seem the most attractive to you (more on that below).

How to get around Sicily?

Travelling in Sicily by public transport is possible but can be really slow, depending on where you want to go. If you’re interested in visiting only the major cities, taking the train is the quickest and the most convenient option. However, if you’re like us and are keen on visiting more remote destinations and small villages, opt for renting a car instead as these places don’t have good bus or train connections. Before our trip, we were warned that driving in Sicily is absolutely horrible, yet we didn’t encounter any particularly reckless drivers or crazy traffic jams and had in general a very pleasant driving experience.

When renting a car…

Bear in mind that the vast majority of car rental companies in Sicily require a credit (not debit) card to reserve a deposit. Even though you might have successfully booked a car online with your debit card, they can still reject you at the counter if you don’t have a credit card to show. Always carefully read the fine print in the contract to be absolutely sure what is required from you!
We made that silly mistake and as a consequence spent hours stressing and trying to find a new car. We did eventually find a company in Palermo airport that accepted debit cards. It was called Holiday Car Rental and the service, price and the car itself were perfectly fine. If you don’t have a credit card, this is your go-to place!

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Check out our Sicily travel video which gives you a glimpse of the places we visited during our week-long stay:

Here’s an overview of our 7-day action-packed itinerary for Sicily!

Day 1: Palermo

Day 2: San Vito Lo Capo

Day 3: Agrigento area

Day 4: Ragusa Ibla, Marzamemi & Ortigia

Day 5: Ortigia & Taormina

Day 6: Mount Etna

Day 7: Alcantara Gorge & Cefalu


Day 1: Palermo

The unique facade of Palermo Cathedral in Palermo, Sicily
Palermo Cathedral with architectural elements from Arabic, Western and Byzantine origin

What better way to start your week in Sicily than by exploring its vibrant capital city! Palermo is characterized by a fascinating mix of cultures which is clearly reflected in its architecture and cuisine.

I highly recommend visiting the Palermo Cathedral and Massimo Theater – two of the city’s main landmarks and impressive architectural masterpieces. After that, wander through the loud, colorful and centuries-old Ballaro street market to get a glimpse of the authentic Sicilian lifestyle and buy some fresh local produce.

If you’re curious about the Sicilian cuisine, eat your way through the city’s exciting street food scene. My personal favorites were arancini, cannoli and granita, which you can easily find in small stalls all over Palermo. When the night falls, head to one of the charming outdoor restaurants (for example Antica Focacceria San Francesco) and enjoy fresh seafood while listening to live music performances.

The main sights in Palermo can easily be reached on foot if you’re willing to walk a few kilometers, so there’s no need to rent a car for the first day.

If you’d like to explore the city on a guided tour, check out these options below:

Tuk-tuks driving through Quattro Canti, the center of Palermo's old town
Tuk-tuks at Quattro Canti square

Day 2: San Vito Lo Capo

I suggest you hit the road early since you need to do a fair share of driving this day. We decided to rent a car from Palermo airport as it is located on the way to San Vito Lo Capo anyway, and it’s also a convenient place to return your car right before flying back home. The easiest way to reach the airport is to take a train from central Palermo. The ride takes about 50 minutes and the ticket costs 6 EUR. Check the departure times at Trenitalia

From Palermo Airport, you’ll have a 1.5-hour drive to San Vito Lo Capo along scenic coastal roads, past soaring mountains and through charming little villages. Once you reach this tiny seaside town and make your way to the beach, you’ll be left speechless because this place looks like PARADISE! A long strip of soft powdery sand, crystal clear water, and an imposing mountain overlooking the bay. No surprise that San Vito Lo Capo has been named the most beautiful beach in Sicily.

A bird's eye view of the beautiful beach with white sand and clear water at the town of San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily
Tropical blue water at San Vito Lo Capo beach
San Vito Lo Capo beach and its beautiful turquoise water

If you have more than one week to spend in Sicily, I’d say this is the spot where you should allocate an extra day.

Once you’re done relaxing on the beach and walking the streets of San Vito Lo Capo, drive to Agrigento where you’ll be spending the next two nights. This is a fairly long drive (about 3 hours), so if you prefer to cut it shorter by an hour, you can instead spend the night in a small town called Sciacca, and do a bit of extra driving the next morning.

Palm trees at San Vito Lo Capo beach in Sicily

Day 3: Agrigento area

Start your third day with a visit to Scala dei Turchi (“Stairs of the Turks”), a massive white cliff stretching out to the sea with ‘steps’ carved by wind and waves over time. Apparently, in the past Turkish pirates used to climb up this cliff to raid the neighbouring villages. You can easily spend an hour or two here – join the many locals sunbathing on the cliff, take a dip in the sea, or grab a bite in the restaurants near the entrance to the beach.

The white marl cliff of Scala dei Turchi on Sicily's southern coast
Remember to bring your sunglasses because this cliff is BRIGHT

Next, head to Valle dei Templi (“Valley of the Temples”) to admire one of the largest archaeological sites in the world. The place we today know as Agrigento used to be an ancient Greek town called Akragas whose ruins can now be seen in the Valley of the Temples. The area includes the remains of seven temples, some of them incredibly well-preserved.

For adults, the ticket price to this UNESCO World Heritage Site ranges from 10-12 EUR depending on the time of the visit while people under 18 get in for free! Remember to bring water and sunscreen with you as you’ll be walking around the park for a few hours with no shade from the sun. In case you have mobility issues or simply prefer to walk less, shuttles are available that will take you through the park for an additional fee.

There are also several guided tours you could join if you want to get a deeper understanding of the history of the Valley of the Temples:

The ruins of an ancient Greek temple in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento
Valley of the Temples

If you still have any energy left after exploring the Valley, I recommend you check out a place called Farm Cultural Park in the neighbouring town of Favara. It was opened in 2010 when a semi-abandoned neighbourhood in the centre of the town was turned into a modern art and cultural space. The area consists of seven courtyards in which you’ll find cool murals, sculptures, exhibitions and restaurants.

Farm cultural park in Favara, Sicily

Day 4: Ragusa Ibla, Marzamemi & Ortigia

Once again, hit the road early, since you need to drive quite a bit to visit the three destinations planned for this day. 

The first stop is a small town called Ragusa Ibla which is a 130 km drive from Agrigento. With its Baroque churches, cobblestone alleys, cozy courtyards, and scenic views, Ragusa Ibla is a truly charming place and definitely worth visiting even if it’s just for a few hours. My favourite spot in the town was Giardino Ibleo – a peaceful little park with fountains, sculptures and palm trees, a perfect place to hide from the blazing sun.

Rows of palm trees in Giardino Ibleo, a public park in Ragusa, Sicily

An hour’s drive south-east from Ragusa Ibla, you’ll find Sicily’s prettiest seaside village Marzamemi – the second destination of the day. Grab some lunch or a refreshing drink in one of the gorgeous beachside restaurants, take a dip in the sea or simply stroll around and admire the beautifully decorated houses. With many turquoise blue doors and windows, Marzamemi reminded me a bit of Greece! I would have loved to spend a night in this scenic village if we only had more time.

A Sicilian vase and blue chairs at a restaurant in Marzamemi
How pretty is this restaurant in Marzamemi!

After exploring Marzamemi, drive one hour north to Ortigia where I recommend that you spend the night. Ortigia is a small picturesque island and the historical centre of the town of Syracuse. Its churches, squares and fountains are simply stunning and become especially impressive at night when they’re illuminated. As the island is very small, you can go anywhere by foot. Have dinner at Piazza del Duomo, admire the Fountain of Diana and finish your night with a romantic stroll along the waterfront promenade.

Note: You will most likely need to leave your car at Parcheggio Talete parking house as it’s incredibly difficult to find any parking on the narrow streets of Ortigia.

The Fountain of Diana in Ortigia, the historical centre of Syracuse, Sicily
The Fountain of Diana in Ortigia

Day 5: Ortigia & Taormina

Before leaving Ortigia, you might want to make your way to the island’s street market which takes place every morning (except Sundays) at Via Emmanuele de Benedictis. There you’ll have a chance to buy a wide variety of fresh produce, cheese, nuts, seafood etc. and hear the shouting of vendors which is typical to Sicilian street markets.

After exploring the market, drive north to Taormina, where I recommend that you spend the next two nights. Taormina was my favourite town in all of Sicily!

Piazza IX Aprile square in Taormina, Sicily
Piazza IX Aprile in Taormina

“Should you only have one day to spend in Sicily and you ask me ‘what is there to see?’ I would reply ‘Taormina’ without any hesitation. It is only a landscape but one in which you can find everything that seems to have been created to seduce the eyes, the mind and the imagination.”

Guy de Maupassant

I couldn’t agree more! Perched on top of a hill on the eastern coast of Sicily, Taormina offers stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea and the neighbouring coastal areas. In the center of the town, you’ll find the most charming little streets, beautifully decorated stone houses, and cozy courtyards with amazing restaurants and cocktail bars. All of this just creates a surreal romantic atmosphere!

Make sure to visit Villa Comunale Di Taormina, a public garden with lush vegetation, fountains and the best views in town. On a clear day, you can even see Mount Etna from there!

The view from Villa Comunale Di Taormina, a lush public garden
The view from Villa Comunale Di Taormina – just WOW!

If you’re into history, visiting the Greek Theater of Taormina is a must for you. This 10,000-seat amphitheater was built in the third century BC by ancient Greeks and is nowadays used as a concert venue. You can visit this historic site for a fee of 10 EUR.


Day 6: Mount Etna

Finally, it’s time to head to Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe! I urge you to get a guide as they can provide so much valuable information on the volcanological processes, the history of the volcano and the different phenomena you’ll see while hiking around the craters.

red volcanic sand and steaming landscape at Mount Etna crater

We opted for a tour offered by Ashanara Volcanological Guides which we found through Airbnb experiences, and can highly recommend! Our guide Massimo was truly passionate and knowledgeable of Etna. Without his vivid descriptions, personal stories and humor, it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun and educating experience as it was. He also provided us with trekking poles, helmets and proper hiking shoes which proved to be very useful when walking on loose volcanic gravel.

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Aside from walking through lava fields, gazing at the massive craters, and admiring the odd steaming ground around us, we were truly impressed when Etna started spewing out huge ash columns indicating increased volcanic activity. Just two days after our visit, the volcano erupted!

ash column rising from Mount Etna in July 2019

Our tour lasted in total for about 6 hours including cable car rides and several breaks for resting and having lunch. Keep in mind that it gets quite cold up there at 3000m above sea level so dress accordingly. We experienced temperatures of down to 12 degrees Celsius in mid-July. 

Here are some other tours for exploring the magnificent Etna and its surrounding areas:


Day 7: Alcantara Gorge & Cefalu

Kick off your day with a trip to Alcantara Gorge. In this natural reserve, you’ll find a river that has carved its way through volcanic stone and created a narrow canyon. What makes this place special are the impressive rock columns that were formed by the crystallization of the lava that flowed here from Mount Etna thousands of years ago.

We planned to try something called body rafting where you float down the river wearing a life jacket as this seemed like a really fun way to see the gorge. Unfortunately, in the morning of the day of our visit, the area was hit by torrential rains which caused the water levels to rise too high so our plans were cancelled.

Apart from swimming in the river, you can also go for a short hike along the top of the gorge and enjoy some pretty cool views down to the bottom. The entrance fee to the park is 8 EUR. We found out later though that you can also access the park through a smaller municipal entrance a few hundred meters from the main gates and only pay 1.5 EUR.

The grey walls of Alcantara Gorge formed by crystallized lava that has flown there from Mount Etna

Next, drive 2.5 hours to reach the very last stop of our Sicily itinerary – the medieval seaside resort of Cefalu. It is yet another small Sicilian town packed with history, amazing restaurants and charming little streets. On top of that, Cefalu has a lovely sandy beach which is a great spot for relaxing after a long drive and also happens to be the perfect place for watching the sunset! If you’re in the mood for something more active, hike to the top of the La Rocca mountain to enjoy the best views of the town.

Due to Cefalu’s laid-back atmosphere, it was the ideal way to end our week on this idyllic Mediterranean island!

Colorful boats at a beach in Cefalu at sunset

Day 8: Fly home!

Time to say arrivederci! Return your car to the airport and remember to fuel it up on the way as there is no gas station at the airport.


I hope you enjoyed reading this guide and that you’ll find it helpful when planning your own little Sicily getaway. In case you have questions about any of the above mentioned locations, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments section below.

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