Sicily is an island full of history and culture. During the summer the daily temperature hits around 35 degrees which draws tourists from far and wide. With so many beautiful beaches, great towns and well-preserved ancient temples, it can be hard to know how to spend your time. So here’s a list of 5 must-see sights in Sicily to give you a good mix of places to visit.
Cattedrale de Monreale, Palermo
The Cattedrale de Monreale is the number one sight in the capital city of Sicily – Palermo. It’s easy to get by local bus – and the trip is worth it for the hilltop view of the bay.
But once you’ve made the trip, you might as well venture inside because the entrance is free. The cathedral is also known as The Golden Temple because of the golden mosaics it contains. They’re really the crowning jewel of the place, and can be seen away from the crowds in the peaceful Palatine Chapel.
Teatro Greco, Taormina
This Greek Amphitheatre is situated in the cliff top town of Taormina. The Medieval streets of Taormina are a bit of a maze, and are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sicily. In July and August, the narrow streets are practically bursting at the seams. So the open site of the Teatro offers a welcome escape.
The Teatro Greco is surrounded by olive groves with an incredible view out over the Ionian coast. The theatre is still used for concerts, so you can see it in action if you visit at night. And it’s the perfect time to go, because – in the background – you can see Mount Etna erupting in the dark.
At 3350 meters Mount Etna is Europe’s highest active volcano. It also offers something very different from the rest of Sicily. For a start, you can ski on it in the winter. And in the summer it’s a brilliant hiking spot because it provides a cooler climate than the rest of the island.
For anyone who wants a more relaxed approach there are a number of tours that will take you up the volcano. Or you could hire your own car or moped. Either way, the drive through the changing landscape of old lava flow and alpine forests shouldn’t be missed.
Rabbit Beach – Lampedusa
Sicily is famous for its islands and Lampedusa is a beautiful place to start. It offers a lot of boat trips, snorkelling and fresh fish restaurants. But the highlight of the island has to be the unspoiled nature reserve at Rabbit beach – Italian tourists refer to it as a paradise. With the fine sand and warm, crystal-clear water, it’s hard to disagree.
The beach is a ten-minute walk over pretty rocky terrain, so be prepared for the scramble. And make sure you bring water, an umbrella and some lunch. Because there’s nothing once you arrive except for the stunning beach. But that’s all part of the charm.
The Wine Country
The far west of Sicily is made up of a wine region which is thousands of years old. Originally known for its Marsala wine, the industry has recently undergone something of a renaissance. So if you want to get off the beaten track, you should consider spending a day driving through the vineyards of old Sicily. And you can break up the journey by stopping off in the tiny villages and hamlets dotted around the region to sample some of the new wines.
Adriano Comegna writes for Thomson holidays, a leading travel operator specializing in beach holidays.
Tags: italy vacations, Sicily travel