As the setting of the latest season of Emmy award-winning 'The White Lotus', it’s safe to say Sicily is having a moment. But there’s more to the destination than pristine resorts and 'arancini' balls (though we more than recommend trying those, too). Get to know the island from coast to coast with the best road trips in Sicily. From remnants left behind from Arabic rule to Baroque gems, Sicily is steeped in history, and that’s before we’ve mentioned the beaches, food or vino. Read on four routes to try.
- Western Sicily road trip (from Palermo to Marsala)
- Central Sicily road trip (from Enna to Catania)
- Coastal Sicily road trip (from Palermo to Noto)
- Eastern Sicily road trip (from Catania to Taormina)
History and Hikes from Palermo to Marsala
Your tour of western Sicily starts in Palermo, where Baroque architecture and arancini await. Take a tour around the historic centre and marvel at sites such as the Church of the Gesù before stopping for deep-fried rice balls at Dainotti’s Cibo di Strada – don’t be put off by the ramshackle plastic seating, you’re about to make a core food memory. Follow the coast and then head inland to Segesta where you can spend half a day taking in the Doric temple and amphitheatre. The next stop is Scopello, known for the Zingarlo Nature Reserve. Swap driving shoes for hiking boots and explore the myriad walking routes and beaches. The small town of Erice is swamped in history and well worth a stop to snack on the famed almond pastries at Pasticceria del Convento. Heading back to the coast, you can be in Trapani for dinner; the harbour town is the place to try fresh fish. Finish up in Marsala and block out your final day for exploring ancient ruins and sipping the town’s famous fortified wine.
Exploring Central Sicily from Enna to Catania
Journey from the very centre of the island out to the coast on this three -day trip. Start in Enna, walk up to Castello di Lombardia and look north for a bird’s eye view of the route you’re about to take. Calascibetta is the first stop, where you can spend an afternoon immersing yourself in the mediaeval architecture and the old Jewish quarter. Next, go north to Leonforte where you’re treated to Baroque gems like the Granfonte (a public fountain with 24 bronze spouts gushing fresh spring water). Don’t forget to pick up a jar of local peach jam on your way out. Nicosia is worth a stop but prepare your quads, this historic town is spread across four peaked hills. Once you’ve explored, rest your feet in the Piazza Garibaldi, which comes alive at night and is a prime spot for people watching. One more hilltop town for the road – drive on to Agira, where ancient Greek history meets modern Sicilian life. Agira is also the spot for boutique shopping, home to the Sicilia Outlet Village. In the afternoon, get a view of Mount Etna from Centuripe before moving on to your final destination, Catania. Get one last taste of Sicily at Km.0, a fresh restaurant that (as its name would suggest) uses only local ingredients.
The Best of Sicily’s Beaches from Palermo to Noto
This is one of the best road trips in Sicily if you have time to spare, running right along the coast from Palermo to Val di Noto and taking you via the best beaches on the island. Sicily’s capital, Palermo, has so much to offer, it’s worth spending a full day or two trying the street food – hello, crocchè – and church hopping. When you’ve had your fill of fritters and fried rice balls (if that’s possible), head to Cefalù. Quieter than neighbouring Taormina (your next stop), the seaside town has a slow pace, offering respite after bustling Palermo. Sunbathe on Cefalù beach, pay the cathedral a visit and finish up your day with gelato at Sant Lucia (order the brioche con gelato if you want to eat like a local). Fronted by the Ioanian sea and backed by Mount Etna, it’s clear to see why tourists flock to Taormina. Head up to the mountain or walk the causeway to Isola Bella and explore the island’s leafy corners. Syracuse is the next stop for Grecian ruins, citrus orchards and bustling piazzas. Finally, finish up in Val di Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage site that simply can’t be missed thanks to its Sicilian Baroque architecture. For a celebratory end-of-tour gelato (or a pick-me-up cappuccino ghiacciato) there’s no place better than Caffè Sicilia.
Wine Tasting Along the Eastern Coast from Catania to Taormina
This short but sweet trip along the eastern coast of Sicily introduces you to some of the island’s best vineyards (and bottles). Pocket-friendly and pretty, too, Catania is one of the most beloved destinations in Sicily. Immerse yourself in the scents and sounds of Sicilian life, from browsing the La Pescheria fish market to listening to chatter in the central piazza while you sip an Etna Rosso at a lively terrace. Carry on your tour to the slopes of Mount Etna, where there are a host of vineyards to explore. This is where you can find the region's most famous wine makers, Scilio and Gambino, and the organic winery, Cantina, Etnella which does tastings of organic vino with a magical view of the volcano. Finish your petite jaunt in Taormina, where you can stock up on a bottle or two to take home at La Cantina di Taormina.