A 7-Day Itinerary in Bella Sicilia

Published January 12, 2024 by Rileigh Tower
Journal
A 7-Day Itinerary in Bella Sicilia

Introduction

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and boasts a rich history spanning over 2,500 years. With its spectacular coastlines, mountains, volcanoes, ancient ruins, and mouthwatering cuisine, it’s no wonder Sicily is an increasingly popular tourist destination.

Planning a trip here can feel overwhelming at first. With limited time, you’ll want to make sure you see the best Sicily has to offer. That’s where this 7-day Sicily itinerary comes in. It includes the must-see sights and experiences so you can get a comprehensive taste of Sicily’s vibrant culture, complex history, and natural beauty.

Planning a Trip to Sicily

people on brown rock formation near body of water during daytime

When planning your Sicily trip, the first decision is determining how long you should stay. With so much to see and do, you’ll want enough time to explore without feeling rushed. Most travelers find that one week in Sicily allows them to see the highlights at a comfortable pace.

While you may wish for more time in Sicily, one week provides the perfect introduction. You’ll get a blend of history, culture, food, hiking adventures, and relaxation. This itinerary includes the top destinations and major sights so you experience Sicily’s diverse appeal.

Sicily Itinerary: the Essentials

a group of people walking down a street next to tall buildings

This 7-day Sicily itinerary brings you along the island’s northern coast with stops in Palermo, Cefalù, Taormina, Mount Etna, and Catania. It then takes you inland through the Val di Noto and ends along the southern coast in Agrigento.

The route provides a convenient loop allowing you to start and end in two major cities with international airports (Palermo and Catania). You’ll need to rent a car to follow this itinerary efficiently.

Along the way, you’ll discover top attractions like Palermo’s mosaics, Cefalù’s medieval charm, Taormina’s postcard views, Mount Etna’s volcanic landscape, Catania’s baroque buildings, Ragusa’s pedestrian-friendly centers, and Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples.

How Long to Spend in Sicily?

Most travelers find one week provides the ideal amount of time to experience Sicily’s highlights. Attempting to see Sicily in less than 7 days often feels rushed with not enough time in each destination. More than a week allows you to spend more time in places you enjoy, take day trips to nearby towns, or even island hop to Sicily’s smaller surrounding islands.

Getting Started

a car driving down a road next to a body of water

Now that you know the optimal Sicily itinerary length, it’s time to start planning your trip details. With limited time, you’ll need to map out transportation, accommodations, and trip pace to maximize your week.

How to see Sicily in 7 days?

This 7-day Sicily road trip allows you to see top attractions along the northern and southern coasts. Renting a car provides the most efficient transportation so you can follow this flexible itinerary at your own pace.

Driving times average 2-3 hours between destinations, leaving plenty of time to stop and explore. If you prefer not to drive, you can take trains or buses between the major cities. Just keep in mind public transportation takes longer with more rigid timetables.

Is a week too long in Sicily?

One week fits most travelers’ needs perfectly. Attempting to see Sicily’s highlights in less time often leaves people feeling rushed. Plus a week allows flexibility in your itinerary to accommodate weather delays or to slow down and spend more time in places you enjoy most.

Some travelers do find a full week too long, especially if not renting a car. Without a vehicle, you rely solely on public transportation which takes more time traversing between cities and attractions. If you don’t plan to drive yourself, you may want to shave this suggested itinerary down to 5-6 days.

Can you see all of Sicily in a week?

It’s impossible to see all of Sicily in one week. As Italy’s largest island, Sicily has over 1,000 miles of diverse coastline with mountains covering over 60% of its landscape. However, this itinerary includes the most iconic cities and historical sites to give you an excellent introduction in 7 days.

You’ll get to experience Sicily’s unique blend of Mediterranean island culture infused with remnants of its complex past inhabited by the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans and others. The week showcases delicious food, world-class wine, dramatic scenery and important historical attractions.

How many days do you need in Sicily?

Most travelers find they need at least 5-7 days to experience Sicily’s highlights comfortably without feeling rushed. Attempting an ambitious Sicily itinerary in less than 5 days often leaves people exhausted. More than 7 days allows extra time for a more relaxed pace, side trips or even island hopping.

The optimal number of days ultimately depends on your interests, mode of transportation and appetite for busy versus relaxed traveling. This 7-day itinerary provides the perfect amount of time for first-time visitors wanting to see the top attractions.

Travel Information

Now that you know how long to spend in Sicily, let’s review essential travel planning details. Transportation, accommodations and travel insurance all play important roles for a smooth Sicily trip.

How to Get Around Sicily (and Do You Need a Rental Car?)

white 3-door hatchback on road

The best way to get around Sicily is by rental car which allows ultimate flexibility. Roads are generally good quality and driving provides convenient access to rural areas public transportation doesn’t reach.

If you don’t wish to drive yourself, you can take buses or trains between major cities. Just keep in mind journeys take 2-3 times longer than by car. Be sure to map routes and schedules ahead to ensure you catch your connections.

Another option is hiring a private driver for door-to-door service. While more expensive, this frees you up to relax and enjoy views along the way.

Where to Start and End Your Trip?

The two most convenient cities to fly into Sicily are Palermo and Catania, on the northern and eastern tips respectively. Both offer international airports with frequent flights and affordable car rentals.

This 7-day itinerary starts in Palermo and ends in Agrigento, located along Sicily’s southern coast. From Agrigento, it’s an easy drive back to Palermo or onward to Catania if flying out from there.

If you’d prefer to end somewhere else, the route’s flexibility allows you to customize. Just plan enough time to drive to your departure airport at the end.

Do you need travel insurance for 7 days in Sicily?

Purchasing travel insurance provides financial coverage should anything unexpectedly interfere with your trip. Policies often include cancellation for covered reasons, trip delays, medical emergencies, baggage loss and more.

For a 7-day Sicily trip, travel insurance gives peace of mind for lost pre-payments if an unforeseen event prevents your travel. It also covers medical costs abroad should you fall ill or get injured during your stay. Most policies allow customization based on existing health insurance and trip price.

Getting around & Where to stay

Renting a car makes getting around Sicily most efficient. Manual cars offer greater availability and lower rates. Auto insurance provides liability and collision coverage. For accommodations, boutique hotels provide local charm while vacation rentals allow you to settle in like a local.

Time and Season

aerial photography of brown town near ocean

In addition to transportation and lodging, choosing when you visit Sicily plays a key role in trip enjoyment. Sicily’s weather varies greatly by season, so it’s important to know the best times to visit.

The Best Time to Visit Sicily

The best time to visit Sicily is either spring (May & June) or fall (September & October). These shoulder seasons offer warm weather and fewer crowds than summer. Hotel rates also tend to be lower.

July and August bring peak tourism season with crowds and heat. Winter months see some attractions operating on limited schedules (or closed entirely). Plus the weather can be unpredictable with rain and strong winds.

Exploring Sicily

Now for the fun part – where to go and what to see! This 7-day itinerary brings you to Sicily’s must-visit destinations and top attractions. It mixes in iconic sites, hiking adventures, relaxation and delicious food.

Day One: Explore Palermo

woman walking on street

Start your trip in Sicily’s capital – Palermo. Begin with a walking tour of the historical center including sites like the Palazzo dei Normanni, San Giovanni degli Eremiti and Quattro Canti. Wander La Vucciria market and spend the afternoon at Monreale Cathedral. End with aperitivo and dinner featuring Sicily’s unique street food culture.

Day Two: Relax in Cefalù

people on beach near houses during daytime

After yesterday’s history lesson, spend day two soaking up Sicily’s coastal charm. The drive from Palermo to Cefalù takes just over an hour. Explore Cefalù’s medieval old town before finding a spot to relax at a beach club. If you have the energy, hike to the Temple of Diana for panoramic views over town. Spend the evening wandering the pedestrian streets and tasting Sicilian seafood.

Day Three: Enjoy the views in Taormina

a view of a body of water from an old building

On your third day, make the 2-hour drive to Sicily’s iconic resort town – Taormina. Meander narrow streets lined with colorful buildings, boutiques and cafes. Take the cable car up to Castelmola village for expansive views including Mount Etna. Wander the impressive ancient theater and watch the sunset with a cocktail on outdoor bar terraces.

Day Four: Climb Mount Etna

snow covered mountain near body of water during daytime

Spend day four ascending Europe’s tallest and most active volcano. Guided tours transport you up the mountain where you can walk across old lava flows and crater edges (weather permitting). On the way down, sample award-winning Etna wine at local vineyards. End your evening back in Taormina to enjoy its renowned dining scene.

Day Five: Admire the architecture in Catania

a view of a city with a mountain in the background

On day five, travel down Sicily’s east coast to vibrant Catania. Explore baroque piazzas and the bustling pescheria (fish market). Walk the long black-sand beach south to charming Aci Castello village. Sample fresh pistachios, arancini rice balls and canoli before a final Catania meal. The one-hour drive back to Taormina makes a convenient overnight stop.

Day Six: Visit small towns in Val di Noto

a tall building with a clock on the top of it

Depart Taormina for inland Sicily, stopping first in picture-perfect Ragusa. Meander Ragusa Ibla’s pedestrian streets and admire the unique elliptical Piazza Del Popolo. Continue on to Modica, renowned for chocolate-making. Check out Baroque buildings and sample the famous chocolate before spending the evening in beautiful Noto. Wander pastel-colored buildings, imposing palaces and attractive piazzas.

Day Seven: Step back in time in Agrigento

a path with trees and bushes on the side

On your final day, travel back towards Palermo while stopping at the famous Valley of the Temples. Dating back over 2,500 years, this UNESCO World Heritage site contains remarkably intact ancient Greek temples. Spend the morning exploring this open-air archaeological park before driving onward to Palermo or Catania airport.

Option Routes

If you have more than 7 days or wish to customize, Sicily offers endless itinerary options. Here are three flexible alternatives:

Option #1: From Catania, drive north to Taormina and Cefalú

This covers similar ground to the 7-day itinerary but in reverse. It’s ideal if flying into and out of Catania airport. You could then continue clockwise around the island or simply return to Catania.

Option #2: Drive south from Catania to Syracuse and the Hyblaean Mountains.

Rather than Sicily’s northern coast, head south to highlights like Syracuse, Noto Valley, Villa Romana del Casale and beach towns. End in either Catania again or continue westward to Agrigento before returning north.

Option #3: Arrive in Palermo to access the west coast wine region

Start by exploring Palermo, then head west to Marsala, Erice and Saline di Trapani coastline. Continue down to Agrigento before circling back north along the east coast.

Thank You Note

I hope this comprehensive 7-day Sicily itinerary helps you effectively plan your upcoming trip! Sicily makes for an epic vacation blending rich culture, dramatic scenery and historic sites. Please feel free to reach out with any other questions. Safe travels and enjoy your time in bella Sicilia!

a snowy mountain with a body of water below