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Travel to Sicily - Where to base? Travel Ideas?

Hi Folks,

I am planning my next trip to Italy, and decided will be spending 5-6 nights in Sicily. I know folks will say not enough time, etc... But I am combining this with other locations, and this will be how much I have. I am not looking to "Do sicily in 6 days", rather plan a nice trip to see a section of sicily, with ideas on where to stay, what to see. I have been to Italy a bunch, but never Sicily, so first time. I am planning on needing a car, so will most likely not be looking to be staying in a city, where having a car is an issue.

As stated, I am in the early phases off planning (trip will be October 2019), but I like to at least map out the major areas I will be seeing.

Thanks!

Glenn

Posted by
17165 posts

I agree that Sicily calls for multiple bases, but if you have only 5 or 6 nights (especially if it's 5), I'd choose one of these options:

  • Siracusa with two days spent seeing Baroque villages (Rsgusa, Noto, Modica, Scicli). That can be done via a combination of trains and buses if you don't rent a car. Depending on the schedule for your onward transportation, you might need to spend the last night near Catania. Thar's a nice city, so (especially with 6 nights) you could head to Catania early on the last day.

  • Palermo with a day to Cefalu and part of another day to see the basilica at Monreale. This, too, can be managed via public transportation. Do not under any circumstances plan to drive in Palermo. If you aren't much interested in Palermo's fabulous churches, you'll need at least one more side-trip. With a car, Segesta might be viable. Or you could look for a bus tour to Segesta.

Posted by
109 posts

Fair enough. However, I know 6 days is not enough time to to circle the island, so perhaps an itinerary focusing in on a section of Sicily? What were the favorite areas folks had while visiting Sicily? I am very open to ideas.

Thank you acraven!

Glenn

Posted by
26 posts

Glenn:
First you should decide which side of the island interests you most - East or West. Fly into Catania for the eastern side or use Palermo for the western side. There is also Comiso airport which will put you into the far southeastern portion of the island.

Sicily most certainly does lend itself to using a hotel, apartment or agriturismo as a base. Trying to circumnavigate Sicily is six days is just crazy making! Since you have already recognized that your plan is to "see a section of Sicily", you have made an important decision in not trying to see it all. Once you decide on which area of the island you want to spent your six day, build from there. That's when people can help with accommodation and sightseeing suggestions and information.

Posted by
11983 posts

Acraven gave you two excellent options to choose from.

Choose either one:
- Siracusa base (eastern Sicily). Fly to CTA for this option.
- Palermo base (western Sicily). Fly to PMO for this option.

From Siracusa you could also visit Taormina on a day trip. Although you might consider visiting it from Catania the day before flying out.

Posted by
11182 posts

I like the two options acraven gave you.

If you don't mind more driving and you really want to avoid cities, a third option is to stay in an agriturismo in the center of the island - Azienda Agricola Silvia Sillitti. I had a wonderful stay there a few years ago - here's my review: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy-reviews/sicily-caltanisetta-central-sicily-agrigurismo

It's about two hours drive from either PMO or CTA airport, and so is about 1-2 hours from many places in Sicily. The proprietor's husband even commutes from there to his office in Palermo, but I wouldn't want to do that. However, places like Agrigento and Piazza Armerina are not far.

Posted by
6251 posts

In even less than the time you have planned, I was able to land in Catania and base my self in Siracusa. From Siracusa, I was able to see the Val di Noto/ Hyblean Region of Baroque towns of Noto and Ragusa, as well as spending a few days just in Siracusa (well worth it since there are many attractions there). I also saw Taormina as a day trip before flying out. I was able to do this entirely with buses and trains. If I had a car, I would have squeezed in Modica and Scicli as well.

It sounds like your constrained plan to just see a section of Sicily is doable because you're not trying to expand your geographic base in a way that would be infeasible. I would do some research to see which entry point you'll use to get into Sicily based on the region you'd like to explore. There are plenty of things to do in every corner of Sicily, so you just have to pick one. Good luck with our planning!

Posted by
6251 posts

You can do it all in 6 days.

Only in a Wonder Woman Jet.

Posted by
6251 posts

I don't know what "it" means...entire island? southeast region only? Everyone has different interests and they may spend more time in one area than another person. You don't have to see the entire island in a clockwise and counterclockwise direction if you don't have the time for it, there are no rules. My 4 (full) day side trip to southeast Sicily from Malta was incredibly crammed and went from early morning to late at night, not exactly relaxing. If I had a car, it would have made a marginal difference since I spent a lot of time on foot. Being efficient and hitting the ground running was not exactly Italian-style and I regret that kind of travel. I'm not retired yet though so I can't travel as slow as I want and take all the time I'd want to properly see/enjoy a place, but I wouldn't recommend fast (whirlwind) travel to anyone.

Posted by
17165 posts

No, Andrew, you cannot remotely see all of Sicily in 6 days. You cannot even pass through all the worthwhile places in 6 days, much less see them. Your style of travel must work for you, but it is very different from what most of us prefer. That is evident not only from your posts in this thread but also what you've written elsewhere.

Posted by
26 posts

"There's not that much to see there" - guess we've spent 12+ trips there seeing "not much". But then, we like the slow travel way when it comes to Sicily.

When the majority of advice is supporting your initial idea, go with that. You'll get a lot more out of concentrating your visit, rather than the "if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium" approach.

Posted by
2768 posts

As others have said, you’ll fly into either Palermo or Catania, so whichever has the best connections for you will probably determine which side of the island you’ll visit. I’m headed over there soon. I have five nights reserved in the Catania/Taormina area. Near Palermo I have five nights between Erice and Monreale. I will have a car and will also be staying in a couple other places. I have no idea how anybody could see the entire island in 6 days, especially since the speed limit on most roads (aside from the north coast) is 30mph.

Posted by
6251 posts

especially since the speed limit on most roads (aside from the north
coast) is 30mph.

It's not that slow (you must be talking about the train). There are real highways, although not as wide as what I'm used to. The bus I was on from Catania to Siracusa and from Siracusa to Taormina went about 60 mph or so (typical speed) until it got to narrower roads feeding into the city centers.

Posted by
11983 posts

To do all the best sights of Sicily in 6 days, that best sights’ list must be really short.
Assuming the best sights include at least (in counterclockwise order):
Palermo and Monreale
Zingaro Reserve
Erice
Segesta
Selinunte
Agrigento (Valle dei templi)
Piazza Armerina
Villa del Casale
Ragusa
Noto
Siracusa
Taormina
Cefalù

You can’t do it in 6 days, unless you do a drive by without stopping.

Posted by
151 posts

Lucky you to go to Sicily! We loved it and it was our third trip there. We flew into Catania and drove to Caltinesetta to visit family for a few days...so we did the following circle in 5 nights. Our first stop was to drive as far west as planned to:

Sciccia, (recommended by a Sicilian friend), One night and Scala di Turchi the next day
San Leone - one night went to the Valley of the Temples the next day
Ragusa - one night
Modica - Check out the cathedral and chocolate with a recipe from year 1000
Syracusa - two nights

I must add that the food in Sicily is truly outstanding!

http://www.visitsicily.info/en/scala-dei-turchi/

Posted by
109 posts

Again, thanks for the suggestions!! My Goal was never to "do Sicily" in 6 days :-). We can just eliminate that from this discussion :-). My goal is to MAXIMIZE my 6 days - which doesn't mean 6 cities in 6 days. I prefer to not be packing from hotel to hotel. I think we will "base" on the East side of island, and work in Siracusa, Taormina, and what is in between.

Now, to do more research for that area on places to stay, and things to see (and food to eat!).

Thanks again!

Glenn

Posted by
1106 posts

Well, I am enjoying this post because, I too, want to go to Sicily, but may not have a long enough time either, so I am trying to decide on the best "area" to start. I will go back!

And, no Andrew, I do not like to rush through, I prefer to savor.