Go for a hike
Outside the hottest summer months, Sicily and its dozen or so islands are a treat for walkers. Walking on Sicily ranges from easy ambles through flower filled meadows, to dramatic hikes along precipitous coastlines. The views of Etna are breathtaking, but if you want to get a close up of Western Europe’s largest active volcano, the only way is up. Sicily’s Aeolian Islands are also volcanic and best seen by pulling on a protective helmet and hiking the dusty lava trails. Peering into the crater of Stromboli as it spews lava against the darkening twilight sky (yes, it is safe!) is pretty much the definition of dramatic.
Even little ones can enjoy a walk here, hiking on Etna through woody trails, exploring a volcanic cave en route and eventually reaching the Sartorius Mounts, old craters created during a lava flow in 1865. On Stromboli, it’s an easy, hour long walk to the viewpoint over the Sciara del Fuoco, a black lava scar down the side of the volcano, to see the regular eruptions which, when violent enough, send red hot rocks tumbling down the slope into the sea.
Step back in time
You can’t really ignore Sicily’s long history; it’s dotted across the island, in the form of ancient architecture left by Greeks and Romans, Phoenicians and Carthaginians. The amphitheatre at Syracuse, the beautifully preserved Concordia temple in Agrigento and the monumental ruins of Selinunte are three of the island’s most celebrated ancient sites, and this classical heritage is complemented by architectural gems from more recent history. In Palermo alone you can see Norman palace walls, Arab arches and Byzantine mosaics. Down in the southeast of the island, Sicilian baroque architecture dominates the UNESCO World Heritage towns of the Val di Noto in gorgeous style – think grand palaces, lavish cathedrals and sculpted balconies. Inland, meanwhile, the island is peppered with the ruins of Arab and Norman castles.
Obligingly, most of Sicily’s best historic highlights are clustered around the coast and a week or so is enough to execute a circuit of the entire island to take them all in. Guided small group holidays that emphasise Sicily’s history will also dip into its cultural treats, with wonderful food, wine tasting, hikes through nature reserves and exploration on Mount Etna.

Our top trip

Sicily history tour

Sicily history tour

Discover Sicily with a knowledgeable guest lecturer

From £2899 to £3150 15 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2024: 27 Apr, 11 May, 1 Jun, 31 Aug, 14 Sep, 5 Oct
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Sicily or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Come hungry
Sicily’s street food is delicious, cheap and, sometimes, challenging – pani ca meusa is beef spleen in a bap.
Every town in Sicily has a speciality to devour or local wine to quaff, and the island’s location in the heart of the Med means the food is a fusion of French, Greek and Arab influences (which explains the couscous and cassata). Tuck into arancini rice balls, chocolate from Modica made to an Aztec recipe that arrived with the Spaniards, granita and satisfyingly thick sfincione pizza.
Try two wheels
Cycling’s a great way to explore beyond Sicily’s beautiful baroque towns, to its olives groves, nature reserves, coastal plains and canyons.
Cycling in Sicily is a joy, with good roads forming fantastic week long circuits in the southeast or northwest. Expect some long ascents and freewheeling descents, so you’ll need to be reasonably fit, but pretty much anywhere you pedal, you’ll find Greek and Roman ruins, Baroque beauty and gorgeous landscapes to stop off at. Pack swimmers in your panniers, too, so you can grab a cooling coastal dip.
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: Gandolfo Cannatella] [Go for a hike : Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho] [Step back in time : Andrea Schaffer] [Come hungry : kennejima] [Try two wheels : Herbert Frank]