Best Places to stay – history and attractions


Visit once, and you will keep coming back. We are listing below the most popular attractions and best places to stay in Sicily.

Sicily is Italy’s southern treasure and its warmest region with its mostly sunny weather and beautiful beaches to enjoy during the spring, summer until mid-October. You can visit and walk through the historical places for the entire year while enjoying the Mediterranean climate. The landscape is romantic, and the atmosphere is as colourful as its people and its exquisite foods. Passing by the natural wonders of mountains, hills and plains is like a dream, indescribable and entrancing.

“To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – famous German writer

The sites to see and things to do are endless, but we have listed the best 12 attractions for you below to help you plan your trip. Visit our blog page too for more exciting reads about this beautiful island. The featured photo of Taormina is courtesy of puffin11k.

12 Best places to stay and attractions in Sicily

Please see also Ultimate List of Best Destinations in Sicily

The Valley of Ancient Greek Temples in Agrigento (Valle dei Templi)


The Greater Greece golden age left some of its outstanding architectural pride in the coastal areas of Southern Italy. The city of Agrigento in Sicily was once a leading city during the Magna Graecia era. It is also the location of its glorious remains, the Valley of the Temples. The entire park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, an important archaeological site in the world. It is not only a tourist favourite but a history and myth lovers haven of discoveries. We suggest reading a few stories about Sicily to keep you entertained while visiting. It will take your trip to a whole new level.

After surviving the test of time and many natural disasters, the Valley holds the remains of seven temples. They warmly greet their new generation of visitors. The ancient Sicilians built these sanctuaries as homes of gods and goddesses. They were believed to have served and protected the ancient Greek city of Akragas.

Best Places to stay in Agrigento Sicily

Mount Etna

mount etna best places to stay in sicily

If there is an iconic place that represents the splendour and cultural voyage of Sicily, it is the volcano, Mount Etna. Etna is a constant reminder of events and legends about Sicily. It witnessed the island’s blended customs since the ancient times, from Greeks to Celts, Romans, Normans and its current issues. This UNESCO Site is a must-visit when in Italy. With thousands of tourists every year wishing to get a glimpse of the nature deity’s compelling beauty.

Mount Etna is also a prime host for a nostalgic hiking experience. Mountain climbers and regular visitors love the thrill of discovering its secret caves, quiet craters, viewpoints and breathtaking panoramas. It is in continuous eruptions, hence the entry limitations are also changing. Please make sure to check the weather and news update before your journey. Take photos and quietly admire the mountain’s majesty.

Best Places to stay in Etna Sicily

Taormina

taormina best places to stay in sicily

Boasting perfect postcard images on its every corner, that is Taormina. With its natural backdrop of the sea and mountains, the hilltown is a real jewel of Sicily. It provides one of the most picturesque views of the Etna volcano which is in less than an hour drive. You can also find the second largest ancient theatre on the island, the Teatro Greco. The ancient theatre hosted theatrical and musical concerts and many important events such as the 43rd G7 World summit.

The town serves as a quick getaway for locals who want a weekend vacation and relax while being close to home. It is a fairytale village for tourists who keep coming back to witness its beauty all over again. Enjoy walking its streets full of surprises. Further. wandering around, you can stumble upon impressive wonders of old churches and galleries showing antique Sicilian items and ceramics. There are plenty of bars, small food shops and restaurants to dine too. Or the most romantic set up will be a table for two in your hotel balcony. The entire family can also join while you admire amazing views. From overlooking the Ionian sea and its beaches, charming houses and their beautifully decorated terraces of bougainvillaea flowers.

Best Places to stay in Taormina Sicily

Palermo Historic Centre

palermo best places to stay in sicily

Palermo is the capital of Sicily. The city offers the best places to learn more about its rich history that transcends for many years. It continues to welcome diverse settlers and embrace different cultures and traditions since 734 B.C.

Travellers from all over the world come to the city to see and understand the remnants of its colourful past. It is still evident in the historic centre of Palermo composing of hundreds of palaces. The Norman Palace with the work of the art church inside, the Cappella Palatina. The Palermo Cathedral is also nearby, as well as, squares, convents, monasteries, museums, galleries, and theatres. Every corner and wall has a story to tell. Jaw-dropping landmarks are in walking distance to each other. Quattro Canti is the heart of the historic centre. Four buildings facing one another in the middle of the cross streets of Via Maqueda and the Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The Baroque square also features fountains and statues of prominent figures as the four Spanish kings of Sicily.

Best Places to stay in Palermo Sicily

Monreale Mosaic Cathedral 

photo courtesy of Dario Morandotti

Together with other eight Palermo monuments, the church of Monreale is also in the series of UNESCO World Heritage site. The list promotes the preserved combination of Norman, Arab, Byzantine arts and culture in Sicily.

King William II ordered the construction of the church in 1172 and later restored by religious orders. It consists of the main cathedral, a square, towers, monasteries and dormitories. Dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin Mary, the young king commissioned renowned artists and sculptors. They took inspirations from the Cappella Palatina. Only it’s grander and bigger. The glass mosaic covered the walls and ceiling portraying scenes from the Old and New Testament.

Best Places to stay in Monreale, Sicily

The beach town of Cefalù

About 70 km away from Palermo city is the scenic seaside village of Cefalù. It is a townlet that seems to be straight out of a fairytale. With the fortress cliff and the Tyrrhenian sea, its fascinating background is comparable to a dream too. The narrow streets of Cefalù will take you to medieval houses, 17th-century churches and Sicily’s hidden gem, the Cefalù Cathedral. The Cathedral manifests the Arab-Byzantine-Norman architecture of the 12th century and receives millions of onlookers annually. The village is also famous for its lovely beach which one can enjoy all year long. Soak up under the sun, stroll on the sand or dine in on Michelin restaurants that serve authentic Sicilian cuisines.

Best Places to stay in Cefalu, Sicily

Aeolian Islands

The Aeolian Islands offers its visitors a majestic experience to reflect life’s meaning and be one with nature. The islands formed on the Tyrrhenian sea due to earth movements thousands of years ago. Aeolus, the demigod of the wind, was believed to be the owner of these lands. They have eight small islands and other uninhabited islands and are isolated from the mainland.

You can access them through the sea by ferries or private boats. The ferry routes usually start from the largest island Lipari. You can begin your exploration and move on to the other islands afterwards. There are many activities such as trekking and swimming in Lipari and hiking and mud bathing in Vulcano. You can do beach hopping in Salina too as well as climbing the active Stromboli volcano. Partying in the posh island of Panarea is also a great idea.

Best Places to stay in the Aeolian Islands, Sicily

Selinunte

selinunte best places to stay in sicily

The archaeological site of Selinunte is located in the province of Trapani. It was an ancient Greek colony that played an important role in spreading the Greek culture in Sicily. The territory of ancient Selinunte was vast from the Mediterranean coastlines up to the present Belice river. Also included were its hills where you can see the ancient ruins. Because of its strategic and abundant location near the sea, the city encountered wealth as well as conflicts. It was in a dispute against the Segestans who were the indigenous people of Sicily. Carthaginians helped their enemies and defeated them too.

Many of the remains feature evidence of its affluent past, culture, and religion. The site comprises of necropoleis, sanctuaries and the main settlement area. The Acropolis has the ruins of Greek Doric-style temples honouring deities like Hera, Demeter, Kore and a few more. Metopes of these mythological gods were found in the site. They are now preserved in the Antonio Salinas Museum in Palermo.

Best Places to stay near Selinunte, Sicily

Villa Romana del Casale in Enna

piazza armerina best places to stay in sicily
piazza armerina where the villa is located, photo courtesy of Eduardo M.

After conquering Sicily during the First Punic War versus the Carthage in 241 B.C., the Roman Republic(which later became the Roman Empire) transformed the island as their first province assigning governors in ruling the entire land. As part of the territory, Sicily became the summer retreat for aristocrats and high ranking officials of the empire. The Villa Romana del Casale in Enna is the excavated remains of one of the wealthy example of Roman-era lifestyle.

The area is protected and one of Piazza Armerina’s main tourist sights. It exhibits sets of detailed Roman mosaics made less than two millennia ago. Majority of the mosaics show hunting adventures and images of animals. There are many hypotheses to which residence it belonged but nothing is definite yet. Perhaps, it was owned by a Roman senator or a consul or one of the prominent patrician families.

Best Places to stay near Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily

Historic City of Syracuse

syracuse sicily best places to stay
photo courtesy of Massimo Frason

The history of Magna Graecia period in Sicily is not complete without mentioning the powerhouse ancient city-state of Syracuse. Syracuse was a rising star then. Often compared to Athens and challenged by wars. It grew to be a dominant force across the region. Like all of Sicily, Syracuse had watched the changes on the island. From one ruler to another, calamities, epidemics, its faith, from paganism to Christianity and Islam and back to Christianity again. One can imagine the variety of influences that were left behind here.

The Old Town of the captivating Ortygia retained the original foundation of ancient Syracuse through the Cathedral of Syracuse. It is a Baroque style church built from the ruins of the ancient Greek temple of Athena. The locals dedicated the church to the Syracusan native martyr and the patroness of the city, Santa Lucia. Two miles from the island was the seat of the preserved ancient city of Neapolis. It is an archaeological park displaying both Greek Theater and Roman Amphitheater.

Best Places to stay in Syracuse, Sicily

Modica

modica best places to stay sicily
photo courtesy of Bernt Rostad

A flamboyant hill ranged municipality in the province of Ragusa, Modica. Modica gives off a dramatic and stage-like ambience that can put anyone in awe. It lies in the Hyblaean Mountains and adorned with Baroque style buildings. It is the result of the continuous rebuilding during the 17th and 18th century after the earthquake of 1693. The calamity destroyed several parts of Sicily including Modica and gave way to the Sicilian Baroque architecture on the island.

Modica is also globally known as the chocolate capital of Sicily. It is known for its traditional chocolate production and offers gastronomical feasts to its explorers.

Best Places to stay in Modica, Sicily

You did not see your favourite Sicily attractions on the list? Please write it on the comment section so we can or any of our readers can visit them. We love discovering more of Sicily’s enchanting beauty.

Ciao beddi!

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