Planning a trip to Sicily is no easy task. And when you only have seven days to explore an entire region, choosing where to go and what to do is quite difficult. In Sicily you can find ruins, volcanoes, small coastal towns, boat rides, relaxing inns, amazing food and so much more. There’s no way you could fit everything in, no matter how quickly you move, so what do you choose? It’s a tough question to answer but for a trip around Sicily, which catches many of the major highlights, try a trip like this one.
You’ll start your journey in Catania, a city available by flight to Fontanarossa Airport or a train from Messina. Sicily’s second-largest city has a lot to offer so find a hotel based upon your budget. Plenty of low-cost options are available but if you’re splurging try a cozy bed and breakfast or a luxury hotel. A walking tour of the city is a must, taking you to see baroque architecture, Roman theaters and more history alongside the newer buildings. If you have time, a trip to the fish market is a must but above all make sure you take a stroll along Via Etnea, one of Italy’s most elegant boulevards. While you’re exploring the city make sure you sample the local treats – a brioche (a bun) available in many flavors and granita, a flavored ice which boasts a consistency similar to ice cream.
Start your second day with an adventure, exploring Mount Etna. It’s the highest volcano in Europe, coming in at 10,801 feet. You can reach the top craters from a few different access points, dependent upon your hiking ability. When you make your way up there you’re rewarded with breathtaking views farther than the eye can see. After trekking around Etna, clean up at your inn and then relax in Taormina. Always remember to plan some relaxing time into your itinerary or you’ll leave your “vacation” far more exhausted than you began. Taormina is a small, chic city with lots to see, eat and drink. If you’re ready to splurge, consider grabbing a drink at the Wunderbar, a bar facing the beautiful Bay of Naxos.
On day three, it’s time to head out of Catania and explore more of Sicily. Head down south to Siracusa, home to a lot of famous art and architecture. If you’re into theater, you can check out the working Greek Theater or visit the Roman Amphitheater for a look back at the many bouts that took place there. Head over to Ortygia Island for a classic, romantic spot to spend the afternoon. Grab a bite to eat at the eateries around the beautiful Piazza Duomo and make sure you get a look at the cathedral after lunch. Enjoy a nice stroll and perhaps do a little shopping. Then check into a romantic hotel and spend a quiet evening on the island.
In the morning, head Northwest to the Piazza Armerina. Here you can explore the famous Villa Romana del Casale. It houses magnificent mosaics on the floors enacted painstakingly. Then head west to Selinunte, an archaeological park which houses some amazing ruins. In fact, many archaeologists and historians still study the area today. Several of the temples have been reconstructed and many embellishments are carefully guarded at a museum in Palermo. When you’re tired of architecture (or if you’re just sick of ancient ruins), head down to the beach. Catch some sun and swim out to explore the temples. Afterwards grab a traditional Sicilian meal at one of the small eateries in the area and check into a small, affordable inn or guest room.
On the fifth day, head to another beach town, San Vito Lo Capo. The small town is located between gorgeous mountains and houses a beach popular with the locals. During your day in San Vito Lo Capo there are a few things you can try. If you want to relax, spend the day at the beach. For some adventure, explore the mountains to the east and go for a nice long hike. Learn more about traditional Italian agriculture by checking out the olive groves and you might even get to sample some olives or olive oil. If you make it to the town in May make sure you check out the International Kite Festival at the local beach.
The last two days are to be spent in Palermo, the capital of Sicily. It’ s a beautiful city, offering 8 millennia of history. Sights to see include the Normal Palace (make sure you visit early to avoid all of the crowds). For mosaics, visit the Palatine Chapel, which is also home to a variety of both Eastern and Western art. Make a wish at the Tuscan fountain in the Piazza Pretoria. For food, it’s best to eat like a local. Grab a bite to eat at any of the stands that pop up and enjoy the food – don’t ask about it.
Palermo has many historic sites, which are worth checking out, but by day seven you might need a different perspective on Sicily. Palermo is a chic town with a lot to do. Spend your morning in Via Principe di Belmonte, a classy pedestrian area. Eat lunch from a different pop up stand, then spend the afternoon wandering the city and doing any last minute shopping. Grab a romantic dinner with your partner (or the sexy Italian you met on the trip), and then think about taking a nighttime walking tour of the city to round out the experience.
Sicily is full of towns to visit, beaches to swim at, ruins to explore and delicious food to eat. When planning a trip, it’s good to loop around the region and spend some time in several different areas. Cater the activities to your preferences, packing in as many or as few activities as you choose. Remember to leave time to eat, relax and enjoy the company of your fellow travelers and Sicily is sure to please.
John Gower is a writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance website dedicated to helping you save money with financial tips on everything from travel in Sicily to the best interest rate on credit cards.