COVID-19: Stay up to date with our coverage on the coronavirus pandemic. Read more >



What to see in Sicily

Sicily Attractions

Although once associated so strongly with the mafia that tourists were hesitant to visit, Sicily is now drawing droves of sightseers to its beautiful beaches and countless ancient archaeological sites.

Palermo, Sicily's capital, is still being dragged down somewhat by the crime and grime that was once the trademark of the island, but it also has some fascinating Byzantine, Baroque and Norman historic buildings and artefacts, and some great museums. Catania, Sicily's second largest city, spreading beneath the shadow of glorious Mount Etna, is similar to Palermo in that it is an ugly but ancient city with historic gems interspersed in its urban sprawl. Visitors passing through Sicily's big cities will find plentiful diversions, but for most tourists the smaller villages, like the stunningly picturesque Taormina, are where the real Sicilian charm can be found. Syracuse, which once rivalled Athens as the most important city in the ancient Greek world, is perhaps an exception to this rule, because its historic quarter on the island of Ortygia is one of Sicily's greatest attractions.

Must-see archaeological sites on Sicily include the Valley of the Temples, just outside Agrigento, the Roman ruins at Solunto, on the slopes of Mount Catalfamo, and, for those keen on diving, the underwater city of Ustica.

Sicily is also in demand for its stunning beaches; a dramatic, rocky coast gives way to some beautiful sandy beaches. It is warm enough for swimming between May and October. Rabbit Beach, at Lampedusa, has been called the best beach in the world, but it has some local competition: Mondello Bay, near Palermo, is very popular; San Vito lo Capo, between Trapani and Palermo, is one of the island's best resort areas; the Aeolian archipelago off Sicily's northeast coast boasts some magnificent beaches; and the southeastern coast of Sicily is beautifully unspoiled.

Capuchin Catacombs

The subterranean catacombs that contain the mummified remains of about 8,000 ancient inhabitants of Palermo may be macabre, but are fascinating to visit. The Capuchin friars began mummifying and embalming…

read more


Catania is an ancient city, founded in 729 BC. The second largest city in Sicily, Catania sits in the shadow of Europe's highest volcano, Mount Etna, on the east of Sicily between Syracuse and Taormina.…

read more

Galleria Regionale

Palermo's largest art museum, devoted to medieval works, is housed within the Gothic-styled Palazzo Abbatellis (built in 1488). The collection is fascinating and includes several particularly interesting…

read more

Marionette Museum

One of Palermo's most unique attractions is the engaging Museo Internazionale delle Marionette, a museum dedicated to the art of puppetry, an age-old Sicilian form of entertainment. The Opera dei Pupi…

read more

Monreale Cathedral

Of all the many architecturally beautiful and fascinating places of worship in Palermo, the most renowned is the 12th-century cathedral in the suburb of Monreale, high on the mountain slope, about…

read more

Mount Etna

Sicily's greatest natural attraction is the (very) active volcano, Mount Etna, which has been spewing lava and shaking the earth for centuries, most recently in 2008, while ash eruptions occur almost…

read more


The Ponte Nuova (New Bridge) connects the mainland city of Syracuse to the island of Ortygia, where most of the area's worthy sights are located. The island was fortified by Greek colonists…

read more

Palazzo Mirto

The excessive opulence of the Baroque period is nowhere better demonstrated than in the magnificent Palazzo Mirto, one of the few aristocratic homes of Palermo that is open to the public, offering…

read more


The Roman ruins at Solunto overlook the coast near Santa Flavia, on the slopes of Mount Catalfamo. The site was originally a Phoenician village that was expanded by the Greeks who conquered it in 396…

read more


Visitors to Syracuse may be forgiven for wondering whether they are on holiday in Italy or Greece. This city on the southeastern corner of Sicily's Ionian coastline once rivalled Athens as the most…

read more


Sicily's most famous holiday resort town, Taormina, was the 19th-century haunt of British aristocracy and the place chosen by D H Lawrence to write his erotic novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover.…

read more


An underwater city and a landscape of petrified black lava are the characteristics of the unusual little island of Ustica in the Tyrrhenian Sea, just a short ferry ride of 36 miles (57km) from Palermo.…

read more

Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi)

Although not technically a 'valley', but rather a ridge located just outside the Sicilian town of Agrigento, the Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) is one of Italy's oldest and most interesting…

read more


Become our Sicily Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Sicily travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Sicily or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.