Sicily definitely does beach breaks but there’s much more to look forward to than simply sand between your toes. Family activity holidays here serve up cycling and trekking in river valleys; Greco-Roman encounters in archaeological sites; secret family recipes and semi-frozen sorbets. Sicily’s got more crunch than a freshly filled ricotta cannoli.
This is an Italian island that’s trapped in time, whose landscapes are almost as rugged as the suited, booted and coppola-capped old men aligning town piazzas every evening. Summer temperatures soar, matched only by the heat of the lava flowing from Stromboli and Etna.
Family activity holidays in Sicily are aimed at children aged nine and over. Sea kayaking, island hopping, thermal springs and trekking up active volcanoes are all great fun – and especially so when combined with late nights, summer sunshine and generous helpings of gelato and granita.


Small group holidays encourage friendships to be forged against a bubbling backdrop of active volcanoes, mud pools and black sand beaches. You can take part in guided group activities, as well as having plenty of free time to relax or explore on your own or with new pals.

Experiencing Sicily with a group leader, local guides, expert activity instructors, and other families, really adds value to an already enjoyable experience. A small group holiday is also a great idea for single parent families. Meeting new people and discovering Sicily in the company of Sicilians is a brilliant way to find out more about the island as well as building confidence without the stress of arranging everything yourself.

Where to stay & things to do

Sicily’s east coast is an ideal setting for active families. Mount Etna looms large as the coastal towns of Catania and Taormina look inwards with a certain amount of trepidation. Locally run, family friendly hotels in Naxos Bay provide home comforts as well as access to Isola Bella Marine Park and Etna’s simmering summit.
Our active family holidays always make Mount Etna the high point as you embark on a 4x4 Jeep excursion to 2,900m before opting to continue, on foot with a local guide, to the crater’s edge at 3,350m.
Giardini Naxos, between Cape Schisò and Cape Taormina, is another Sicilian seaside town that supplies smouldering views of Etna. This is also where the Alcantara River empties into the Ionian from its source in the Nebrodi Mountains, some 50km inland. The Alcantara Valley offers a chance to trek up river before floating, scrambling and swimming downstream – sure to excite even the surliest of teens.
On a free day, perhaps visit the Aeolian islands of Vulcano for volcano trekking, Lipari for mud baths and Stromboli for a stroll along the Sciara del Fuoco – the Stream of Fire. However, be warned, it’s about a two hour transfer from Catania to the port town of Milazzo, followed by an hour’s hydrofoil ride to Vulcano. Early starts are essential. The amphitheatres and temples of Syracuse – an hour’s drive south of Catania – are an easier option for families looking to balance out activity days with ancient coastal site.

Syracuse is also renowned for its seafood. Check out the little Sicilian savoury and sweet snacks on offer in Oritigia market and the surrounding street food stalls, including everything from arancini and cannoli to brioche and almond granita – a refreshing, semi-frozen sorbet.

Our top Italy family Holiday

Amalfi coast family holiday in Italy

Amalfi coast family holiday in Italy

Pompeii, Mt Vesuvius and the dramatic Amalfi Coast

From £1949 to £2249 8 days inc UK flights
Small group travel:
2023: 21 Oct
2024: 23 Mar, 30 Mar, 6 Apr, 25 May, 13 Jul, 20 Jul, 3 Aug, 17 Aug, 19 Oct
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Italy family or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

What else is there to do?

Sea kayaking is another outdoor activity to keep everyone afloat. There’s a gentle current from Cape Schisò that takes paddlers to Isola Bella Marine Park, a small offshore island that’s protected as a nature reserve. Snorkelling over the Ionian shallows is amazing and taking a boat to a quieter side of Isola Bella is a great way to escape the crowds and make some secret Sicilian underwater discoveries. Cycling trips take you into the Sicilian countryside where you’ll find crystal clear rivers, abandoned railway tunnels and pungent pine forests on a 20km ride from Etna into the Alcantara Valley.

When's the best time to go?

Sicily sizzles in the school summer holidays, so water based activities – sea kayaking, snorkelling and body rafting on the river – are perfect for keeping cool. May half term makes for a much more comfortable alternative for cycling trips and trekking up Mount Etna, and the Ionian is already starting to warm up. Typical of Italy: facilities and restaurants around the coast tend to only open between May and September. That’s why our small group activity holidays for families tend to follow suit.
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Andrea Schaffer] [Top box: joanne clifford] [Taormina: Andrea Schaffer] [Best time to go (Isole Egadi) : roberto]