Sicily, which is separated from mainland Italy by the Strait of Messina, is not only the largest island in the country, but in the Mediterranean Sea. Colonized by the Greeks in the 8th century BC, throughout the centuries Sicily has been ruled by the Romans, Arabs, Normans, and others, all of whom forged an eclectic history that is still on display throughout the island.
Featured Sicily Hotel
See All Sicily Hotels >
The Grand Hotel Timeo, A Belmond Hotel, Taormina is a Sicilian hideaway that fuels the imagination. Set in the heart of Taormina, it serves up views that have enchanted for more than a century.
Some of Sicily's most historic attractions include the Temple of Segesta, a well-preserved Doric temple built around 420 BC; Teatro Antico di Taormina, a venerated Greek theater constructed in the 3rd century BC; Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site possessing some of the best Roman mosaics in the world; Palermo Cathedral, which was built in 1184 by the Normans; and Valley of the Temples, which is teeming with ancient Greek temples. Sicily also has a wealth of natural wonders, including Mount Etna, one of Earth’s most active volcanoes, and Zingaro Nature Reserve with miles of pristine nature running along the sea.
When to Go
The best time to visit Sicily is during shoulder season, late April to early June and September to November. July and August tend to be sweltering and overcrowded, but ideal beach time.
What to see
Valley of the Temples – Valle dei Templi is a treasure trove of Greek temples. Located in Agrigento, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. Here you will find the Doric temples of Juno, Hercules, Olympian Zeus, Castor and Pollux, Hephaestus, Asclepius, and Concordia, the best-preserved temple.
Mount Etna – This majestic stratovolcano is the tallest peak in Italy south of the Alps, the highest active volcano in Europe, and the world’s oldest recorded active volcano. The best way to experience Etna is by hiking, and there are a plethora of trails traversing the volcano.
Palermo – Historic Palermo, founded in 734 BC by the Phoenicians, has the dubious honor of being the most conquered city in history. However, the capital of Sicily also has the distinct honor of housing a plethora of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Cathedral of Palermo, built by the Normans in 1184 on the site of a Muslim Mosque; the Norman Palace, once the seat of the Kings of Sicily where you will also find the Palatine Chapel; and Ponte dell'Ammiraglio, a medieval bridge that is part of the Arab-Norman Palermo route. Other must-see sights in the city that has Europe’s second-largest historical center include Teatro Massimo, the largest opera house in Italy; and Quattro Canti, a Baroque square that is the heart of Palermo and the perfect starting point for exploring the city.
What to do
Explore Selinunte Archaeological Park – Selinunte is the largest archaeological park in Europe and was once one of the biggest Greek colonies on Sicily. Located on the island’s west coast south of Palermo, it is home to an acropolis, a wealth of temples, and the ruins of residential buildings.
Take “The Godfather” Tour – Tour stops include some of the most famous film locations in Sicily of “The Godfather” movies, such as the quaint hilltop villages of Savoca and Forza d'Agrò.
Hit the Beach – As a large Mediterranean island, Sicily has no shortage of world-class beaches, including Mondello Beach, Palermo’s most popular beach that also has a tree-lined promenade; San Vito Lo Capo, a secluded stretch of sand next to Zingaro Nature Reserve; and the beach leading to Isola Bella, a small island in Taormina known as “The Pearl of the Ionian Sea.”