Are you planning on spending 7 days in Sicily? Well, lucky you! You’ve made a great choice. We’ve prepared a week-long Sicilian itinerary that’ll help you explore Sicily efficiently.
The island of Sicily is home to almost 5 million people and 1 very memorable (and very active) volcano. Sicily is also filled with incredible architecture, tons of old-world charm, rustic villages, sunny beaches, and more delicious food and wine than you could possibly consume.
We recently spent a week in Sicily as research for this article, and we’re happy to report that it is possible to see quite a bit of the island in 7 days. Is 7 days the ideal number for Sicily? We are advocates of slow travel, so we always urge people to stay for as long as they can and “sink into” or “sync up with” their destinations. However, the reality is that most folks don’t have the luxury to do so.
That being said a week in Sicily should give you enough time to experience the very best of the island. So, let’s get into it!
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Best Time to Visit Sicily
When is the best time to visit Sicily? The super short answer here is that any time is the right time to take a trip to Italy, and Sicily. The best time to visit Sicily depends on what you want to get out of your visit. If you are looking for Sicilian sun and sand, and want to spend time at beaches, you should target any time from late April to the end of October.
On the other hand, if you are interested more in exploring culture and cuisine we highly recommend visiting Sicily in off-season or off-peak months. We spent time in Sicily during summer and fall, and we enjoyed late November a lot more. Fewer tourists and better prices on accommodations led to a higher caliber experience. Your mileage may vary, of course.
Getting Around Sicily Efficiently
The easiest, cheapest, and most stress-free way to get around Sicily is via train. Sicily has a good train system along its coastline, and each of the destinations on our itinerary is reachable via train. For train schedules and tickets use the official site Trenitalia. You can book your tickets directly on the site, and get a QR code via email, which can save you the hassle of buying at the station and then getting your ticket validated. This is what we used to travel around Sicily and we had zero issues.
You can also rent a car if you want more freedom and want to experience the hectic roads of Sicily. Do drive carefully if you go down this route. Some of the things we saw drivers do made us never want to drive in Sicily.
7 Days in Sicily – An Itinerary
Try to book different arrival and departure airports for your visit to Sicily. If you are flying into Sicily you will be arriving in the Catania or Palermo airports. This itinerary assumes you will be arriving in Catania and leaving via Palermo. You can reverse this entire itinerary if your arrival city is Palermo.
Day 1 – Explore Catania
Upon arrival to Catania drop your luggage off in your hotel or Airbnb and get to exploring! Catania, like Palermo, is a city. And as a city, it has all the pros of cons of being a metropolis. It can be loud, it can be dirty, it can be chaotic. But it is also a fascinating melange of old and new, a blend that is quite distinctly Sicilian. A day here should be enough, unless you fall in love.
Here are three things you should do with your day in Catania.
- Piazza del Duomo – The main square and “heart” of the city. You’ll find the fontana dell’ elefante (elephant fountain) and the Duomo Di Catania here as well.
- Roman Theater – A few streets away you’ll find the ruins of Catania’s Roman Theater.
- Mount Etna – Catania is a great place to take a trip to Etna from. We’ve included it later on in our itinerary but if you’re ready to explore a volcano on day 1 of your Sicily trip, you certainly can do so.
Day 2 – Siracuse and Ortigia
Day two will take you south of Catania to Siracuse and the lovely Ortigia. Ortigia is one of our favorite places in all of Sicily, we fell in love with its cobblestone streets, glorious architecture, friendly locals, and delicious food. The train from Catania to Siracuse takes a little over an hour, so if you leave early enough you can have a full day of exploration in Ortigia.
Make sure to do these three things while in Ortigia.
- Stroll the city – Ortigia is very walkable, and doing so is extremely rewarding.
- Aperol on the water – There are many bars and eateries along the water in Ortigia, and we highly recommend taking a break from the walking to enjoy a chilled, refreshing, adult beverage.
- Castello Maniace – Located at the southern tip of the island, this impressive fort has been guarding Ortigia for 8 centuries. Worth a visit.
Day 3 – Taormina
Day three starts with an early morning train from Siracuse to Taormina. This journey will take you about 2 hours. You can save some time and money by preparing sandwiches and having your breakfast on the train.
Taormina is a delightful town located atop a steep cliff which overlooks the sea. It’s a rather magical place, filled with twinkling lights, cobblestone alleys, and quaint side streets. It is also the location of the resort featured in season 2 HBO’s White Lotus, which has increased its fame a bit in recent years.
Here are three things you have to do when in Taormina.
- The Greek Amphitheater – Extremely cool cultural site, this amphitheater was first constructed in the third century B.C. That’s literally over 2,000 years ago. The views from here are superb, and you simply HAVE TO go visit it when in Taormina. You can buy tickets here.
- Castello di Mola – This castle looms above Taormina. You can take a 20 minute bus to the tiny town of Castelmola, and then enjoy a leisurely hike back down to Taormina if you want to stretch your legs.
- Isola Bella – Connected to the beach below Taormina by a thin strip of sand this lovely little location was also featured in season 2 of White Lotus.
Day 4 – Climb Mount Etna
You can’t go to Sicily and not notice the giant volcano that looms over the entire east coast of the island. If you’re lucky enough it might even erupt at night, bathing the summit, and the sky, with glowing red fire and lava. We experienced an eruption on one of our trips and it was a truly unforgettable sight.
From Taormina you can book a tour that will take you to Etna. Once near the summit of the volcano you will have to pay extra and have a guide to go up any further. Please be aware that on some days you can’t climb Mount Etna at all, depending on how active the old mountain is feeling.
After you are done return to Taormina, have yourself a drink and a nice meal, and get to bed. It’s going to be an early morning tomorrow!
Day 5 and 6 – Cefalu
On the 5th day, you’ll be taking an early train from Taormina to Cefalu. The trip should be around 3 hours, although you might have to transfer trains in Messina. Once you arrive in Cefalu, check into your accommodations and hit the town.
If you are traveling in the summer you probably want to stay in Cefalu for a couple of days for some sand and sun. This small seaside town packs a lot of character. We stayed here for a few days, enjoying the laid-back vibes, the sun, and the shore. If you are traveling in colder months you might want to stay here for only one night, and move on to Palermo a day earlier.
If you are traveling in off-season months a day and night here might be enough.
Here are two things you have to do when in Cefalu. We’re reducing it to two recommendations for Cefalu, because truth be told, we spent most of our time eating, drinking, and enjoying the beach when here in the summer.
- Hit the beach – Regardless of when you visit, a stroll on the beach is an absolute must. Take in a sunset from the Old Harbor with a drink in hand.
- Climb to the Castello di Cefalù – This ancient fort is perched on La Rocca di Cefalù, which looms over the town. It makes for a nice little hike. Once at the very top you get sweeping views of Cefalu from above, which are a reward all of their own.
Day 7 – Palermo
Once you have sufficiently explored Cefalu you will be taking an hour-long train to your final destination on this itinerary. Palermo is the largest city in Sicily, and has big city vibes, and all that comes with those. Sprawling, chaotic, messy, and exciting Palermo might hit you in the face when you first get off the train. The city has a lot to offer, from dining to museums, and if you want to party you can do that here as well.
Here are three things you will want to do in Palermo.
- Quattro Canti – All the tourism in the city seems to converge at this intersection and its 4 astonishing buildings. You will likely be spending a lot of time walking around in this area.
- The Ballaro and Capo Markets – Fascinating chaos in market form. Watch out for pickpockets are you explore the myriad of stalls in this fascinating market.
- Eat, Eat, Eat – If you haven’t yet had your fill of Sicilian cuisine, you’re in luck as Palermo features buckets and buckets of restaurants and eateries. Put on a few more pounds before you leave!
7 Day Sicilian Itinerary Wrap-Up
As you can see it’s possible to visit a whole lot of Sicily in 7 days. And it’s totally worth doing. Sicily is an amazing enchanting destination. Does our itinerary cover everything that Sicily has to offer? Absolutely not. We have been there three times and still have not visited every single place we would like to. But we can’t wait to go back again!
We hope this write-up helps you plan your own incredible Sicilian adventure. As always, happy travels all! We’ll see you on the road!