Sicily Without a Car

My husband and I would like to travel in Sicily without a car.
We will be on the west coast--have already been to east coast. What would be a good place to stay? Elizabeth

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
5412 posts

I think you should stay at least 3 nights in Palermo. You don't need a car in Palermo and besides the city itself, you can visit Monreale (on the hill overlooking Palermo), Mondello (seaside resort west of Palermo) and Cefalu' (east of Palermo). They are all easily visitable by public transportation from Palermo. Then, if you can, after your Palermo stay, you should rent a car for just a few days and do the following. Drive away from Palermo to Scopello. It's a tiny village near Castellammare, west of Palermo. It's on the Zingaro Natural Reserve coast and it's very quaint. That should be your base. Once you are out of Palermo, driving in the area is easy freeway, country and small town driving, easier than Boston. From Scopello you should visit at least the following: Zingaro Reserve Coast (walking distance from Scopello), Segesta (temples), Selinunte (Greek ruins and temples, better than the Parthenon), Erice (small town on top of a hill), San Vito lo Capo. They are all within 30 to 60 min from Scopello by car. The west side of Sicily (the Province of Trapani) is the largest producer of grapes in Italy, therefore there are plenty of wineries in the area. So enjoy some of their wines too. The places I mentioned are kind of isolated in the countryside (especially the ruins), therefore a car would make it much easier. You live in Boston, where the traffic is horrible, therefore you shouldn't fear Palermo's traffic (only slightly worse than Boston). But if you rent a car from the Palermo airport, rather than the city, you can avoid the city traffic too, because the airport is to the west of the city already.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
5677 posts

You can do Segesta as a daytrip from Palermo. As for the islands, I spent five days bases in Lipari last summer and visited Stromboli, Vulcano and Panarea as daytrips; I don't know if this is the island group you are asking about. There are at least two different areas for lodging in Lipari, the town of Lipari itself or Cannetto, on the beach a few kilometers away (bus runs every 15-20 minutes in summer). I stayed at a place in Cannetto that had a terrace and view of Stromboli and Panarea.

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
6477 posts

Everyone I know who has been to Sicily has said "Rent a car."

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
5677 posts

Whether you will want a car depends on what you want to see in a specific timeframe. I've been to Sicily nearly a dozen times and never had a car (okay, once when traveling with friends for a week). You can get to all major sights (and some lesser known ones) by public transportation, some areas are better served by bus than train. For example, if you want to see the mosaics at Villa Romana di Casale, spend a night in Piazza Armerina and take the minibus to the Villa. The nearby ruins at Morgantina, however, aren't served by public transportation but you can arrange for a car and driver for the day and visit both sites.

Posted by Elizabeth
19 posts

Thanks for all your great ideas! Any suggestions about where to stay in Palermo? Elizabeth

Posted by Steve
Gaston, Oregon, USA
902 posts

Liz, the islands off the NW coast are the Egadi Islands. They are a great day trip. But if you ever get a chance to visit the Aeolians (off the NE coast don't miss 'em!) Plan on at least three days, and use Lipari as your base.

Posted by Ron
Cesena, Italy
789 posts

I stayed in two places when visiting Palermo. For a budget place Hotel Italia on Via Roma just a short walk from the train station. Not much as far as luxury but clean and cheap. For higher end Hotel delle Palme, also on Via Roma but WAY further up, it's a beautiful place full of history but pricey. Both are in walking distance of most things you'll want to see in Palermo.