Sicily is one of the poorest and most diverse Italian regions. The history of the island is marked by the influences of various civilizations that have settled here successively. Both the Romans and the Greeks, Arabs and Normans had their colonies here.
All this has created an unusual mixture that is reflected both in the historic remains, local culture, and in local cuisine, and even in the mentality of the island society.
The people of Sicily do not call themselves Italians, but Sicilians.
What attracts millions of tourists to Sicily every year is mainly the number of attractions that are scattered throughout the island. There are many ancient monuments here, some of which have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Tourist attractions in Sicily
Due to its location, the island tempts with various beaches – sandy, rocky and pebbly. You can go crazy in the water, dive, or just sunbathe. In addition, Sicily is also an interesting place and very diverse in terms of nature, from mountain trails through picturesque gorges, to canyons and volcanoes. The landscape of the island changes significantly with the distance from the coast. In Sicily, three national parks and as many as 63 reserves have been created.
Holidays on the island are a perfect idea for both families and people who actively spend their free time. However, lovers of historic architecture and charming towns, connoisseurs of fantastic cuisine and wild nature will have the most joy here. On the other hand, the perfect weather in Sicily for most of the year will await everyone.
So let’s see what attractions, monuments and interesting places are worth visiting and visiting while spending your holidays in Sicily.
One of the greatest attractions of Sicily is Mount Etna, which is still active. In 2013, it was entered on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List.
Despite his constant greater or lesser activity, Mount Etna can be seen up close. We can get to the level of 2,920 meters above sea level by cable car. You can go on a further trip to the very top of the crater on foot or in an off-road car, but in both cases only under the supervision of an alpine guide.
San Vito Lo Capo Beach
Another very famous place in Sicily is San Vito Lo Capo beach. Located in one of the largest resorts of this island (of the same name), on the northwest coast, at the foot of Monte Monaco. San Vito Lo Capo beach is one of the most beautiful and visited places on the island.
It mainly attracts families with children due to its sandy bottom and coastal shallows. On the San Vito Lo Cupo beach you can of course also rent sun loungers with umbrellas and water sports equipment.
City of Palermo
A big attraction for tourists visiting Sicily is also the largest city on the island – Palermo. They are crossed by two main streets – Corso Vittorio Emanuele and via Maqueda, and it is within them that the most important monuments of the island’s capital are located.
Next to the first one there is a large cathedral – Cattedrale di Palermo, built in the Catalan Gothic style. In Palermo, it is also worth going to Piazza Bellini, where there are as many as three medieval churches – La Martorana, San Cataldo and San Caterina.
A famous place in the city is also the Quattro Canti, i.e. the intersection where four tenement houses stand, with decorations referring to the four seasons. When in Palermo, visit the Palazzo dei Normanni, dating from the 11th century and combining different architectural styles.
When escaping the heat pouring from the sky, it is also worth visiting the local Botanical Garden, or in a more macabre version, to the Capuchin catacombs, where over 8,000 monks were embalmed.
Quite a big attraction during a visit to Sicily is also the opportunity to visit the places where the famous film “The Godfather” by Francis Ford Coppola was shot. One of the most important movie locations is a small town – Savoca.
It is here that the famous Vitelli bar, which normally performs its function to this day, and the church where the main character – Michael Corleone was married with his beloved Apollonia, is located.
Now a few words about monuments in Sicily.
Valle dei Templi
One of the most famous monuments in Sicily is the archaeological park of Agrigento, called Valle dei Templi – the Valley of the Temples. This is the most important excavation site on the island, where you can see the remains of the ancient city.
The best-preserved building in the park is the Concordia Temple, dating back to 440-430 BCE. In addition, you can admire the ruins of other temples in honor of Zeus, Hera and Hercules. The entire area of these excavations has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Syracuse is also a place where there is no shortage of historic buildings. This is where the famous old town on the island of Ortygia is located. Strolling around it, it is worth visiting the Cathedral Square with the Senate Palace and the cathedral, and Archimedes Square with the spring of Arethusa.
The second interesting place with monuments in Syracuse is definitely the Archaeological Park. In turn, in its area you can see the ruins of a Greek amphitheater, the tomb of Archimedes and fragments of an altar dedicated to Zeus. Additionally, you can visit a cave called the Ear of Dionysius, located in former quarries. At one time it also served as a prison.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Nuova in Monreale is another monument in Sicily, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is the perfect proof that a mix of styles in construction can look good. The influence of Byzantine, Arab and Norman architecture is clearly visible here. It is worth paying attention to the bronze doors from the 12th century and decorated with scenes from the Bible. Inside, you can admire extremely ornate, golden mosaics. Outside, the cathedral cloisters, made of arcades, are also worth seeing. This is the only remnant of the Benedictine monastery that once existed here.
If we are nearby, it is also worth visiting the charming town of Noto. Its main street with baroque palaces, churches and theaters is considered one of the most beautiful on the island. The more that Noto suffered a lot during the earthquake in 1693, but everything was rebuilt.
Interesting places in Sicily
One of the most interesting places in Sicily is definitely the mountain village of Erice. Its phenomenon lies in the well-preserved medieval buildings. On site, it is worth walking through the narrow, slightly dark streets to feel the atmosphere of the old days. Interestingly, Erice can be reached by a gondola from the nearby town of Trapani.
An interesting place on the map of Sicily is also the Pantalica Necropolis. It consists of five thousand tombs carved in the rock. Although the Pantalica necropolis is a lesser-known attraction on the island, it forms the largest ancient cemetery in Europe.
Its location, on a cliff by the river, adds to its charm. It is worth going for a trek here, away from the crowds that can be found in other parts of Sicily.
A lot of people, during their holidays in Sicily, also go to the nearby Aeolian Islands. It is an archipelago of 17 volcanic islets located in the Tyrrhenian Sea. They are often called the Aeolian Islands due to the legend of the Aeolian wind god who was said to have inhabited them.
The most popular are cruises to the islands of Vulcano and Stromboli with active volcanoes and to Lipari.
An interesting town to visit in Sicily is Cefalu. It is located at the foot of the La Rocca rock, practically by the sea, so that the waves sometimes break against the facades of the local buildings.
It is worth visiting the local cathedral, dating back to the 12th century and combining various architectural styles: Byzantine, Arab and Norman. In Cefalu you can also visit the Mandralisca Museum with a collection of archaeological excavations, paintings, antiques and artifacts. A portrait of Antonell da Messina is a valuable exhibit here.
Visiting the island cannot be complete without visiting the charming town of Taormina. It is here that one of the Greek theaters is located – Teatro Greco with the most beautiful view of Mount Etna. In the town, it is worth walking along the main pedestrian street – Corso Umberto, until the square on April 9, where the baroque church of San Giuseppe is located. On the way, passing the city gates: Porta Messina and Porta Catania, and reaching Porta di Mezzo. If we also reach the beach in Taormina, we will also be able to see a tiny, picturesque island – Isola Bella.
On the other hand, in Trapani it is worth visiting the Old Town with its baroque churches and historic tenement houses. A walk through the narrow streets forming a kind of labyrinth can create the impression that we have moved to the Middle Ages. An attraction here are also the nearby, extensive salines.
When visiting Sicily, it is also worth noting the small town of Piazza Armerina, where there are the remains of a Roman villa – Villa Romana del Casale. It is here that you can admire dozens of colorful Roman mosaics, depicting various life scenes as well as people and animals.
What to see in Sicily
A place worth seeing in Sicily is also the Scala dei Turchi, or the Stairs of the Turks. There is a white, limestone cliff (90 meters) whose undulating shape resembles stairs. The name has plenty of explanations, from the legends of Turkish pirates hiding here, to the stories that these limestone steps helped the Turks capture the island, to a vision reminiscent of Pamukkale from Turkey. It is worth knowing that this place has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
It is also worth seeing one of the nicer natural attractions in Sicily, the Zingaro Reserve. It is an area that protects over 1,650 hectares, both the coast and the mountain areas. You can see many endemic species of plants and animals, such as buzzard and peregrine falcon. Interestingly, among the rocks and small coves, you can swim normally. You can walk or ride on the back of pack animals in the Zingaro Reserve.
The Alcantara Gorge is also a frequently visited place in Sicily. Probably because of its picturesque landscape, because the rapid Alcantara River flows through the basalt rock walls.
The attraction of this place is the passage of the gorge, squeezing between the rock walls and sometimes wading waist-deep in cold, swift water. For more information on attractions in Sicily, please visit the official website of the island.
Map of Sicily
On the following map of Sicily you will locate all the interesting places, monuments and tourist attractions that attract tourists on holidays in Sicily:
What are your favorite attractions, monuments and interesting places in Sicily? Drop your opinions on the forum and in the comments.