There is so much to see and do on holiday in Sicily and so many fascinating places to explore that one of the best ways to explore Sicily is by hiring a car. This self-drive holiday itinerary gives you an idea of how much it is possible to achieve in 14 days spent exploring Sicily.
- Fly into Catania – Your holiday in Sicily begins when you pick up your car and make the scenic 1 and a half hour drive down the coast towards south east Sicily. The South eastern tip of Sicily is home to mile after mile of largely unspoilt sandy beaches and a series of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for you to spot along the way to Torre Marabino.
Set in the lovely south-east corner of Sicily, less than 10 minutes from Ispica and about 4km from the nearest beach,Torre Marabino
is about half an hour from Modica
and the Nature Reserve of Vendicari, and less than an hour’s drive from Ragusa
, so it is an ideal base for exploring. It is in a wonderful elevated position, with views over its lush gardens, the crops and rolling landscape, to the sea in the distance,and Ispica.
- Wander across to Noto
and explore Parco Archeologico della Neapolis, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, contains thousands of tombs dating back to 1000BC. In addition to the necropolis, you’ll find the Neapolis or “New City” archaeological park, which contains monuments from Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and other periods. Then take a long stroll through the Naturale Orientata Oasifaunistica di Vendicari. Watch for birds (there is known to be over 40 different types!), walk kilometres of natural trail, and get away from it all in total peace. There is no better place to end the day than at Torre Marabino's
hotel restaurant. Growers of organic vines, olives, fruit and vegetables, they certainly know their food. Torre Marabino’s
well-known restaurant spills out onto lovely terraces, in summer, and it is absolutely top-notch for the service and for the classy, fine food extraordinaire. Sicilian and Mediterranean specialities are transformed by Giovanni’s creativity and diners are in for a gastronomic delight. The wine is superb, supremely drinkable and exceptionally good. What a great end to the second day of your holiday in Sicily!
- A day of culture is at hand on day three of your Sicily self-drive itinerary. Head to the sort of place that drives English poets to grab their paper, pen, and ink: Fonte Aretusa. Legend has it that a nymph of the same name became the fountain itself.. The spring feeds the Cyane River; the image of freshwater emerging from the ground and feeding in to the sea fascinated writers like Milton, Pope, and Wordsworth. Papyrus plants grow abundantly in the pond here. Grab an ice cream and spend some time watching the ducks. Next on your Sicily holiday itinerary is the Duomo di Siracusa
, one of Sicily's
most notable religious monuments, which features intricate Baroque architecture and a rich historical legacy. On the Isle of Ortigia near the southern coast of Syracuse,
the church is a large repository of religious relics, statues, and the remains of saints. Architect Andrea Palma designed the large outer columns along the facade, which were completed in 1753. Explore the inner areas of the church, such as the fifth-century Temple of Athena. For the evening, head for the old town, Ortygia, wandering through its tight narrow streets, lined with oleander, pretty baroque balconies, tempting glimpses of blue sea and fabulous shops and bars. Have dinner at the harbour,the Porto Grande, site of a great sea battle between Siracusans
and Athenians in 413 BC. Today, there are only about 120,000 people living there and Ortygia, the small island, which is connected to the main part of Siracusa by bridges, still feels as if it is a miniature version of history, with almost 3,000 years of the past crammed into it. Noted for its dry, warm climate, Siracusa is a delight to stroll around and feel part of its history, at any time of the year.
- Take the day to explore Siracusa
, once one of the most powerful cities in Ancient Greece, has retained its ability to wow, while the towns of the Noto Valley, comprising Noto, Ragusa
(Michelin star restaurants), Modica
(Aztec chocolate recipes), Scicli and Caltagirone (ceramics), are of immense architectural importance, shining examples of Sicilian
Baroque extravagance. Of huge importance to the Greeks, with a population of 500,000, Siracusa competed with Athens to be the most powerful city of the Ancient World. Explore the ancient dramatic performances at the Greek Theatre, originally built in the fifth century BCE and now inscribed on the World Heritage List. With the largest cave every build by the Greeks, though only traces of the 67 rows remain the site still regularly hosts performances in the sunset with its acoustics still perfect for a true amphitheatre setting. Venture into the ‘Ear of Dionysius’ (Orecchio di Dionisio
), a limestone cave that's shaped like a human ear and known for its excellent acoustics. The cave is 23 m (75 ft) high and extends 65 m (213 ft) back into a cliff. It has plenty of history and quirky stories that I am sure you will thoroughly enjoy hearing on your visit. And finally to finish off day four of your Sicily holiday itinerary, descend into a maze of tunnels, filled with early Christian tombs beneath the ruins of a Norman church at the Catacomba di San Giovanni
- Explore the enchanting town of Modica, arguably one of the most interesting slices of Baroque in this corner of Sicily. It spreads up two sides of a steep ravine, like layers of a cake. Dramatic and beautiful, its tiers of houses cling to the hillsides and churches dominate the skyline. Known as “the town of a hundred churches ” its bells ring the passing of time, but Modica
seems not to notice, feeling as if time has stood still. Its main street is full of incredible and fascinating architecture, which creates a breathtaking backdrop – you simply cannot help but be impressed!. Not only is Modica famous for its art and architecture, but also for its chocolate. They still use the ancient Aztecs’ traditional recipe and a chocolate festival is held each year, in March. There are some specialist cafés and shops where you can sample the town’s peculiar flavoured chocolate – try the famous chilli chocolate! Finish off your exploration discovering Ragusa.
Ragusa is probably best know for the Inspector Montabano TV series
, where you can discover filming locations and follow in his footsteps to create your own Inspector Montalbano holiday. Ragusa
is almost split into two with Ragusa Superior
(the new town built after the earthquake in 1963) sitting proudly on the top and Ragusa Ibla
(the old town) etched into the hillside further down. With 3 Michelin star restaurants to pick from you will be spoilt for dinner choices! But make sure you keep a spot for a gelato!
Day 6 -
Time to make the first big long road trip of your self-drive holiday in Sicily, which is a real voyage of discovery. On your way to Cefalu drive past the Roman Villa and stop off at the Piazza Amerina. The Roman Villa, a UNESCO heritage site, boasts incredible mosaics telling the story of Sicily’s Roman past. As you make your way up make sure to drive past and stop at the Lago di Pergusa
set amongst the Erean Mountain range, which could be the perfect spot for a picnic! Stop off and have a look round the town of Cefalu before continuing to Santa Anastasia
, where you will spend this night of your Sicily self-drive itinerary.
In a magnificent setting, between the pretty, coastal town of Cefalu
, which is about 7km away, and the mediaeval town of Castelbuono, set amidst the beautiful mountain scenery of the Monti Madonie, Santa Anastasia
is an unusual and special agritourist hotel,
well deserving of its five-star agriturismo rating. A glorious, old country estate of 500 hectares, with views of the rugged Sicilian countryside, which stretch down to the sea, it is only a ten minute drive from the coast..
Day 7 - Cefalù
is a popular spot for any Sicily holiday itinerary. It boasts sandy beaches, winding Mediaeval streets full of all manner of shops, excellent restaurants serving the freshest of fish and of course, its unique Norman cathedral in the heart of the town. Take a walk along the cobblestone streets to find traditional Sicilian shops and delicious cooking. In summer, it bustles with life, day and night. Very close to the motorway, it is also an ideal base for a beach holiday in Sicily. The lookout point of La Rocca can be reached from the town's main street. Follow the street signs to the rock's path and the Tempio di Diana. Halfway up the path, you'll get a view of the town. Head farther up to the entrance of the temple's ruins and the ruins of the ancient Greek settlers who were first captivated by Cefalu's Coast
Day 8 -
Boat trip day and time to take a break from driving on your Sicily holiday! North of Sicily, the Aeolian islands
are astonishingly beautiful, hugely varied and undeveloped. Dominated by volcanic mountains, rising steeply from the sea, their rich soil encourages a profusion of flowers, shrubs and greenery. Vulcano has sulphurous mud baths, which warm the sea. Lipari, the main port, is thriving and pretty. Fertile Salina teems with flowers. Scenic Panarea is the smallest. Stromboli, with its constantly active volcano, bursts with colour. Alicudi and Filicudi are the most distant. You could always choose to spend the next part of your holiday in Sicily staying on the Aeolian Islands
– sit in a boat at night, just off Stromboli, and watch red-hot lava leap into the sky and then trickle down into the sea or observe surreal scenes on Vulcano – people dressed in slippers and dressing gowns, wandering across the harbour to immerse themselves in the hot mud pools.
- If you want another day off from driving in Sicily, take the journey on the train for a day in Palermo. Nowhere is Sicily’s
exciting past more evident than in its capital city. Originally Phoenician, then a Carthaginian colony, built on a natural harbour and beneath the towering Monte Pellegrino, its setting is as dramatic as its chequered history. At the heart of the city is the Baroque Quattro Canti (Four Corners), which divides the historic centre into four parts, all of which are accessible, on foot, from here. Wherever you go, around every corner, behind every decaying façade, there are wonderful things to discover – Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, mediaeval, Baroque,Art Nouveau – in a maze of time and style. Palermo hints at the mystery of its way of life, with an atmosphere, which excites and feels exotic. It is a truly enthralling city.
Day 10 -
Today’s leg on your Sicily self-drive itinerary will take in the perfect coastal drive from Cefalu
to Taormina. Take a detour up into the Parco dei Nebrodi
, it includes the most important and largest woodland areas of Sicily (about 50,000 hectares ) and the most gorgeous lake. Then take a pit stop in Savoca at the Vitelli bar for lunch (Fans of the film ‘The Godfather’ will recognise it!) and finally arrive in Taormina. This dramatic town perched on a rocky promontory high above the sea is perfect for visiting the mighty Mount Etna. Taormina has been the most popular spot for holidays in Sicily for a couple of hundred of years, ever since it became an integral part of the Grand Tour and is one of the best places to sit and watch the world go by. We can recommend some wonderful hotels in Taormina. Those seeking five star luxury should consider a stay at the Metropole hotel
s narrow main street, with its incredible infinity pool. If you prefer something slightly cosier with authentic Italian style then a stay at Casa Turchetti
is a must with its incredible views over the town!
Day 11 -
Today is Mount Etna Exploration day. One of Sicily’s best known sights it is enormous, very active and incredibly impressive! Spend the day meandering around on either a organised tour or walk, it is a great hike and the views are totally worth it! When you are ready to relax at the end of another busy day on your Sicily driving holiday, there are plenty of incredible places in the centre of Taormina,
so take your pick!
Day 12 -
Today slows the pace of your driving holiday in Sicily down a little, with a visit to the gorges cut by ancient lava flows which make for ideal trekking at Gole Alcantara Terralcantara. Cold-water springs rush through the gorge's floor, so wear non-slip shoes and clothes that you don’t mind getting wet. If you choose to follow the Alcantara Trail, you'll be given a wetsuit so you can swim through the deeper waters of the gorge. Check online for an overview of guided tours, resort rates, events, and activities.
Day 13 -
The last day of your self-drive itinerary in Sicily provides an opportunity to enjoy views of Taormina
and Mount Etna from the ancient Greek Theatre, an open-air theatre dating back to the third century. The theatre once featured nine seating sections that could hold up to 10,000 spectators. Most of the original seats have disappeared over the centuries, but the wall surrounding the rows of seats has survived. The proscenium and its back wall are exceptionally well-preserved. Remaining fragments of architectural decorations help reveal the theatrer's Corinthian architecture. Today it still plays host to cultural events and musical performances. On the last evening it is time to kick back and relax with a glass of prosecco overlooking this beautiful part of Sicily
from a rooftop terrace and look back on your driving holiday in Sicily.
Day 14 –
Home time! Sadly, all good things must come to an end and your Sicily self-drive holiday is no exception. It could be time to get in touch, share your holiday experiences and let us start planning the next one.
If you would like to book this self-drive itinerary in Sicily and find out our hotel recommendations then do get in touch on 01694 722 193 or request a callback. Alternatively, we can tailormake a driving holiday in Sicily just for you.