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3 weeks in Sicily Trip Report

Part 1

Our 21 day Sicily trip 4 years in the making finally happened in September 2022. We left New York on September 7 via ITA airways with a connection in Rome we arrived in Palermo on September 8th. Thanks to all the contributors to this forum to help us plan this perfect dream vacation. The sights, the food, the people of Sicily was something we will never forget!

Trapani – 3 nights. We had a driver arranged by our hotel to drive us to Residenza La Ganzia in Trapani (1 hour ride 100 Euro). Located on the Tyrrehenian Sea we opted for a sea view room, which was amazing. We were able to swim directly across the street. A delicious breakfast served on the rooftop terrace was included in the hotel rate. A view to die for. Centrally located in Trapani, it was an ideal location to walk around all of Trapani. The food was out of this world. As it was all over the island. We made sure we had couscous, which was a specialty of Trapani area. The first time we ever had pistachio pasta and was introduced to pasta Norma (pasta with eggplant).

After breakfast one morning we took a taxi arranged by hotel (20 minute ride 40 Euro round trip) to the cable car that took us up to Erice. The ride was 15 minutes and on this clear day we were able to see an amazing view of Trapani. Erice was as lovely as we had imagined. Of course, we had to stop in at Maria Bakery for some almond cookies. We were a bit disappointed. We walked around the cobble stone streets for a couple of hours. We loved Erice!

The next day we had debated about going to Favignana Island, but opted instead to go to the Salt Pan museum. The taxi arranged by hotel (20 minute ride 40 Euro round trip). We took a very interesting tour that took about an hour. With 3 nights in Trapani we felt that we had enough time to see and experience a lot.

Time to move on to Palermo. We took a Segesta line bus to Palermo (2 hour ride - 10Euro each). We purchased tickets the day before across from bus stop at the Trapani port).

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Part 2
Palermo – 4 nights. Arrived at bus station in Palermo located right near the train station. We had a 10 minute walk to our B&B Casa Vacanza, which was located a block off of Via Roma down a very sketchy looking small street. It turned out to be nothing to worry about. Palermo, as we had read about was very gritty. But, the people were so nice and friendly. We felt very safe there. We chose a B&B with a washer & dryer because we only packed a carry on and it was time to wash and reload our suitcases. This B&B was located between Via Roma and Via Maqueda. A couple of blocks up Via Maqueda and we were at Quattro Canti. We got ourselves situated and just roamed around to get acclimated to our new city.

The next day we walked about 1 ½ miles to the Capuchin Crypt, which is not for everyone. There were hundreds of mummified bodies the earliest from 1599. We were fascinated. From there we went to the Ballero Market. What an experience! We had the freshest fish, grilled octopus, fried calamari and arancino. The next morning we walked to the train station and took a (1 hour train – 10 Euro each) to Cefalu. Lovely beach, but we didn’t go swimming. We walked around for a couple of hours. We decided to walk up to see if we can go all the way up to LaRocco. At this point it was mid-afternoon and very hot. We walked up hill to the point where you pay to get on the trail to LaRocco. We realized without having water with us that we were not prepared to make the hike. Regretfully, we went back down the mountain and took the train back to Palermo. We enjoyed our day trip to Cefalu.

The next morning we took an AST bus (took 90 minutes due to accident – should have taken about 1 hour – 2 Euro per person) to Monreale. Had a lovely lunch and waited for Duomo to open. Toured the Duomo for 90 minutes. We walked everywhere in Palermo. People we very friendly and the food was delicious. We saw a lot in 4 nights. If we stayed longer we wouldn’t have been bored.

Next morning we took a (2 hour train – 10 Euro each) to Agrigento.

Agrigento – 1 night. From the Agrigento train station we walked about 10 minute to B&B MiraValle. It was a small room with a view of the temples. Baked goods where left for us to have the following morning. Perfect place for a one night stay. We wanted to see the temples at night, so we walked around Agrigento and had lunch. We didn’t want to try to figure out the bus, so we took a taxi (10 minutes – 30 Euro round trip) to the temples at 5:30. Easy to buy tickets upon arrival. Spent a couple of hours. Temples were amazing. No need to go to Greece now. Waited to see the temples lit up and caught our pre-arranged taxi to go out to dinner near B&B. Another delicious Sicilian dinner in the books.

Without a car, we felt 1 day was enough for us in Agrigento. Travel to our next stop would have been challenging without a car, so we hired a driver from mydaydrip.com (3 hours – 229 Euro) to Ragusa Ibla.

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Part 3
Ragusa Ibla – 4 nights. Walked up 75 steps right next to Duomo to Bubamara Apartments. Lovely 2 bedroom apartment directly next to the entrance to the duomo. Special surprise to have church bells chiming 7 times every morning at 7:00 AM! The location was perfect. Right above the mains square. Our B&B owner suggested we try something we never had before scacci. A wonderful sandwich like lasagna. The food at every restaurant was outstanding. Charcuterie boards were amazing. We spent the next day walking all over Ragusa Ibla. Up steps and down steps. In and out of back streets. And, of course, eating and drinking.

The next morning we climbed 250 steps to Ragusa Superior. We saw the Cathedral and walked back. After dinner we walked to the beautiful park right near our B&B.

We planned for 4 nights thinking we might go to Modica, but got lazy and just decided to spend the next day relaxing at Ragusa Ibla. So, maybe 3 nights would have been enough. Our B&B owner drove us (2 hours – 100 Euro) to Ortigia/Siracusa.

Ortigia - 3 nights. We stayed at Isabella di Castiglia a cute little B&B down this cute little pedestrian street. Spent the first day getting acquainted, food shopping and dining. Found the market and ate there a couple of times.

The next morning after breakfast we went to the catacombs in Siracusa. Also, saw the Cathedral. Siracusa was about a 15 minute walk from our B&B over a small bridge. We found Ortigia such a nice place to walk around. Finally a place that was flat and no steps!

The following morning we woke up to light rain, first rain since arriving in Sicily. A good day to go around the corner to the laundry mat. Also, went to the puppet museum, which was under whelming. But, it was perfect for a rainy day. The following morning we walked 30 minutes into Siracusa to the Archeological Park. We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of ruins in this beautiful park. The weather was perfect and we spent about 90 minutes there and walked back to our B&B in time to get ready for dinner.

We rated Ortigia as one of the best highlights of our trip. If we had more time there it would have been fine. Took a taxi (15 minutes – 15 Euro) to Siracusa train station. Took (2 hour train – 10 Euro each) to Taormina. Took (10 min. taxi – 20 Euro) uphill to hotel.

An after thought, we should have just taken a driver from Ortigia to Taormina. since we couldn’t walk to train station in Siracusa or walk from Taormina train to hotel.

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Part 4
Taormina – 3 nights. Since it was close to the end of our trip, we decided to splurge. We stayed in a sea view room at Hotel Villla Schuler. A very nice location. Right near the action, but not on a busy street. The hotel was very classy. Breakfast was not included. But 10 Euro each for breakfast was not bad. We checked in and went straight to the Teatro Greco. The weather was clear and the sights up there were amazing! After that we walked up over 600 steps to go to Madonna Rocco church to light a candle. The smallest church we’ve ever seen. But, the view of Taormina was beautiful.

The next morning we were picked up by our tour guide Davide of mountetnatours.com for an all day private tour of Mt. Etna. He drove us for about 1 hour to get to the spot where we would start our hike. Slowly we made it up to 6,300’ above sea level. Words cannot describe the feeling. Davide was amazing and explained so much about Mt. Etna. It was a picture perfect day! We spent 7 hours with Davide. I cannot say enough about Davide and the day we had up on Mt. Etna. Well worth the 200 Euro cost. This was the icing on our Sicily trip.

Next morning it was raining. We walked to the public gardens, which was right by our hotel. Lovely gardens and view down to Isola Bella. Since it was raining we didn’t get down to the beach. Instead we took a trail up to Castelmola. When there was a break in the rain we decided to take a very hard uphill walk for 1 hour, but we made it before it started to pour. When we got up there we stopped in a church till the rain stopped. We quickly went to find the bus stop because we were trying to avoid walking down. After 30 minutes of waiting by bus stop and not seeing a bus, we started the trek down the mountain.

We did a lot of walking around the lovely streets of Taormina and people watching. This town reminded me of the Amalfi Coast. Very upscale. But, the food, the people, the sights were on target. We could have stayed longer in Taormina. We wish we could have gone to Isola Bella. Took a taxi (1 hour – 80 Euro) to Catania.

Catania – 1 night. We stayed right near the Duomo and fish market at Duomo Suites & Spa. The view from our room was the Duomo and the umbrellas that hang over the fish market. We ate at the fish market and watched the fisherman clean the fish as we ate. We visited the Duomo and walked around Catania. We couldn’t believe how many beautiful old buildings in this area and they looked abandoned. It was a short, but sweet 1 day in Catania.

We feel 1 night was enough and chose it to be close to airport to start our trek home to New York. Took (15 minute taxi – 30 Euro) to airport. ITA Airways with a 4 hour layover in Rome.

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Just tuned in for the Palermo segment and loved reading "We saw a lot in 4 nights. If we stayed longer we wouldn’t have been bored" - great info because I'm circling 6 nights for my only stop in Sicily. Using Heavy Bold in the notes to highlight the Ballero Market - I'll likely be there for half my meals - Octopus is one of my favourite dishes.

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549 posts

Diane, Thank you so much for this detailed trip report. I very much enjoyed reading it and it sounds like you very much enjoyed your trip and I can see that you have an adventuresome spirit. I have been to Sicily twice and look forward to going again. I am saving your info on BnBs for future reference. For some reason I cannot seem to find the BnB you stayed at in Palermo between Via Roma and Via Maqueda. Can you tell me the name of the street that it was on or PM me with a link to its website? Thanks.

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3351 posts

Diane, thank you for writing up your trip report. It's great that you finally got to take your trip and made memories that you will never forget!

I'm overdue for my return trip to Sicily to visit the western side. I've been a bit stuck, considering whether to take a full guided Sicily tour or drive, as I did on the eastern side. Your description of using public transit, with taxis and drivers for efficiency or to fill in, has given me an appealing alternative to consider.

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3907 posts

Thanks Diane for sharing your wonderful trip report. I remember when you were planning your trip. It sounds like you had a great time. I especially appreciated hearing about your transportation arrangements and including the cost. Our canceled plans for 2020 were very similar. I am familiar with Mydaytrip. My cousins used them in Central Europe and were very pleased. I noted that your B&B in Ortigia was about one minute from our B&B in 2014. Great area. I am bookmarking this! Everything is very helpful. Our time in Sicily in 2014 was limited to Eastern Sicily. Sicily is calling us back!

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Hi Diane, I just saw your trip report. Very informative. Thanks for including so much detail! Seems Sicily is truly what other travelers have said--friendly people, great food, and wonderful sights. Great to hear that the market food is delicious and safe to eat. We are headed to Sicily this Spring...it's been cancelled 2 or 3 times [I've lost track :) ] But we are excited that 2023 will be it!
Warm regards,
The Vitales.

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1349 posts

Thanks for this trip report. It's been almost 10 years since we were in Sicily but your report brought my memories to the forefront. Your descriptions of just wandering the streets are great. we had a rental car, I appreciate your information about the transportation costs. It seems you had a great trip!