why visit sicily

Why Visit Sicily? 12 Spectacular Reasons To Go

Discover the top 12 reasons why Sicily should be next up on your travel bucket list, from its rich history and cultural heritage to its stunning natural landscapes and delicious cuisine, there’s something for everyone in Sicily.

*This post contains affiliate links, and I will earn a small commission if you shop through the links on my page. To read more, please see my affiliate disclosure.

One thing about me: I have a massive soft spot for Sicily.

It was honestly love at first sight from the first time I visited, and now I can’t get enough. However, Sicily isn’t nearly as popular or beloved as (I think) it should be, so I want to spread the good word! Before I went to Sicily I was also thinking to myself, why visit Sicily, when there are so many other parts of Italy to visit? So many other islands to see? But I’m so glad I chose to go to Sicily, because it’s become one of my absolute favorite destinations, and I’m so happy to share it with you.

This post is for you if you’ve been wondering “Is Sicily nice?”, “Is Sicily worth visiting?”, or if you’re deciding between a few vacation options and want to get an idea of what might be waiting for you in Sicily. So keep reading to see all the best things this amazing destination has to offer you.

Delve into Sicily

Reasons to Visit Sicily

1. Delicious regional cuisine unique to Sicily

why visit sicily reasons to visit sicily

Sicilian food is insanely good. I’m sure I would have fallen in love with Sicily even without all the amazing meals, but I know for a fact that every time I sat down and had yet another perfect meal, I fell even harder. Between the expertly prepared restaurant meals, and the fresh and authentic street food, you’ll never go hungry in Sicily.

While there’s a lot of crossover between Italian and Sicilian food, Sicilian dishes have some unique elements that set them apart. Due to Sicily’s geographical location at the southernmost tip of Italy, it has historically seen a lot of Mediterranean, Arab and North African influences. Because of this, in Sicilian cuisine you’ll find a lot of seafood, pistachios, fresh produce and more varied spices than you might in mainland Italian food.

That being said, Sicilian cuisine still quite similar to Italian food, so don’t feel like you’ll be out of your depth when looking at a menu! Think of it as similar, but different. Sicily is a very rich and diverse culture, so there isn’t one particular food that is able to be identified as the most famous Sicilian food. However, I have a few that I want to recommend very highlyGranita, arancini, pasta alla Norma and cannoli are the four main Sicilian dishes that I think encapsulate the food that Sicily is famous for—and for good reason. They’re life changing.

For a full look at all the amazing dishes unique to Sicily that are beckoning you to visit, check out my guide to 15 unique Sicilian dishes.

If you’re a foodie – run, don’t walk, to book a trip to Sicily.

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

2. Stunning beaches of every variety

things to do in taormina

If you’re wanting to soak up the sun and have an ideal beach holiday, Sicily can absolutely deliver for you. Being an island, Sicily obviously has endless coastline, and there are beautiful, well kept beaches on basically every part of the coast!

Sicily surrounded on all sides by three different sea and the water temperature is ideal during the high season. One of the best parts about Sicily, though, is that being located just about as far south in Europe as it is possible to get, the realistic swimming season is much longer than in other parts of Europe. The water begins warming up a the end of April or May, and you can realistically expect to be able to take a dip well into November.

The endless opportunities for beach space means that you can have the exact kind of beach holiday you want. Whether you’re looking for a crowded party beach, a more secluded nature reserve, a luxurious beach club, or something family friendly—Sicily has something for you.

I didn’t get a chance to head to any smaller islands while I was in Sicily, but there are also loads of little islands around the coast, so you can even do day trips out to these little paradises if you want!

Cefalù and Mondello are the most famous options on the northwest side of the Island, while Isola Bella, Calamosche and Portopalo di Capo Passero are the best options for the east side. There’s also the stunning and famous Scala dei Turchi, which is a bit out of the way of a lot of other things, but if you’ll be near the Valley of the Temples, is absolutely worth it.

I also wrote a whole post dedicated to sharing my favorite beaches in Sicily, so check that out below if you’re interested in more!

3. Exceptional local wines

sicilian food what to eat in sicily: wine marsala nero d'avola

Wine lovers, this one’s for you!

Sicily is a wine lovers’ paradise (which shouldn’t be a huge shock to anyone, given that it’s a part of Italy), but Sicily boasts so many of its own incredible wines.

Probably the two most well known and popular Sicilian wines are Marsala and Nero d’Avola – both of which are excellent. We also fell in love with Cerasuolo di Vittoria the last time we were in Sicily.

However, there’s actually a huge variety of Sicilian wines, including FrappatoZibibboCataratto Bianco, and even the very widely known (but not usually from Sicily!) Chardonnay.

Another great thing to do in Sicily is a wine tasting, so you can be sure to really get a wide sampling. The beauty of this is that almost all regions of Sicily produce wine, so you’ll find excellent tours whether you plan to visit the foothill vineyards of Mt. Etna, the stunning Val di Noto wineries (near Syracuse, Modica and Ragusa), the famed Marsala wine region, or the more off-the-beaten-track vineyards of the north coast and Madonie Park. Actually, you can even sample a range of Sicilian wines and cheeses without leaving Palermo!

4. It’s teeming with ancient history

the best places to visit in Sicily: agrigento

Now, most of us associate Greek ruins with, well, Greece of course. However, you can find a ton of ancient Greek history all over Sicily!

The Valley of the Temples site is probably the most famous in Sicily, and is one of the world’s best-preserved Greek temples outside of Greece. I’ve been to Athens, and I went to The Valley of the Temples while in Sicily, and I have to say that it was completely on par with the things I saw in Greece, and in some ways a bit cooler because way less people come to see it!

There’s also Segesta, which is easiest to visit if you’ll be in and around Palermo—another really impressive ancient city with a well-preserved temple, and Selinunte, which has the added bonus of being right on the coast, which makes for quite the view.

Last but not least, there are a number of Greek theatres across Sicily, the most famous probably being in Taormina, but there are similar experiences in Syracuse and Palazzolo Acreide, to name a few!

If you want to dip your toes into some ancient history, Sicily is the perfect destination.

5. Incredible (and diverse!) architectural styles

things to do in noto sicily

Sicily really is the type of place to leave you in awe no matter where you look.

The east coast is an unbelievable display of baroque architecture, from Catania, to Ortigia, to Noto, there is no shortage of opulent and impressive baroque structures to marvel at.

The reason for such an abundance of baroque buildings on the east coast is a devastating earthquake in the late 1600s, which led to most of the east needing to be rebuilt from the ground up! Today, it’s an impressive and unique aesthetic that makes for the perfect backdrop to any vacation.

On the other hand, cities like Palermo showcase the many phases of domination that Sicily has experienced, and you’ll see Arab, Norman and Spanish influence all in one city.

I feel like architecture is really taken for granted when considering a vacation, but personally, I love nothing more than looking at some pretty buildings while sipping on an aperol spritz in the late afternoon, and Sicily delivers this dream ten-fold.

6. A vibrant and welcoming culture

things to do in Catania

Like so many places in the Mediterranean, Sicilian culture is a breath of fresh air while on vacation. Stereotypically, Mediterranean culture emphasizes hospitality, neighbourliness, relaxation, and connection—and in my experience, Sicily embodies these all perfectly.

Everyone we have come across in Sicily is so unbelievably friendly and helpful, which totally adds to the already amazing experiences we’ve had there. Even when it has been difficult to communicate due to language barriers (which are very real in Sicily!) I’ve found people to be patient and so kind while I try not to butcher their language and pull up Google Translate.

Not only that, but the entire laid back atmosphere of Sicily is just ideal for a vacation. While it can be nice to fit a ton of things into your trip, sometimes it’s optimal to spend a day doing nothing but sitting at a cafe with a book, and Sicily makes that doable and acceptable.

The culture in Sicily is unmatched, and is definitely a top answer to the question “Why visit Sicily?”

7. Impeccable weather

things to do in taormina

Sicily is obviously mostly known as a summer destination, and with good reason—considering the beautiful sun and endless coast, but one amazing perk of Sicily is that the weather is never truly bad. Even in the worst parts of the year, the average temperatures are around 53 F / 12 C, which is certainly not ideal for a beach vacation, but hardly too cold to still have a nice time traveling!

In the summer on average you’ll see temperatures up to  83 F / 28 C give or take, and I’ll be honest the heat can be brutal. But the coast and pristine sea water make it all worth it.

Because there’s really never a bad time to visit, why visit Sicily only in the summer? I went to Sicily this past March, and had a really lovely time. Honestly in some ways it was a nicer trip than when I went in August last year. I love the versatility that the weather lends to your planning, and it definitely makes for a great reason to visit Sicily.

8. Something for everyone

why visit sicily

No matter what kind of traveler you are or what kind of vacation you’re after, there’s something in Sicily for you.

If you’re going for the backpacking, city-break traveler vibe, Palermo and Catania have the perfect alternative vibes for you.

If you’re looking for adventure and nature, Mount Etna and the surrounding park is perfect, as are all of the ruins you can find across the island.

If you want to explore small towns and enjoy the charms off the beaten path, Savoca, Noto, Ortigia and Cefalu are ready and waiting.

If you want to sit on the beach and not move until it’s time to fly home, you have endless coastline to choose from.

And if you’re a foodie then it’s genuinely not possible for you to be disappointed.

Even the fussiest traveler can find their perfect vacation experience in Sicily.

9. Mount Etna

the best places to visit in Sicily: mount etna

Mt. Etna is the largest volcano in Europe, and more interestingly, is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Even if you aren’t typically an outdoorsy type (guilty), seeing Mt. Etna looming in the distance is an incredible sight to see.

Visiting Mt. Etna is one of the top things to do in Sicily, and is especially perfect if you’ll be spending time in Catania or Taormina. If you have a car it is possible to visit on your own, but my recommendation would absolutely be to take a Mt. Etna guided tour. Not only will your guide help keep you safe on the mountain, but there’s just an opportunity to learn SO much more about whatever it is that interests you – from the geology to the history to the mythology of the volcano.

Oh, and you don’t have to be a major hiker to enjoy Etna! There are plenty of experiences that involve either a jeep ride, cable car, or both. Just keep an eye out for any that don’t prominently advertise “trekking”!

And then, for those who just want a nice view of Etna in the background while they sip on local wines, there are plenty of Etna wineries to explore as well!

10. Stunning nature all over the island

things to do in noto: cavagrande del cassibile

Even though it’s a common fact that Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean, it’s easy to forget just how large it really is! One of the coolest things you’ll discover as you explore Sicily is that the landscape and terrain vary drastically as you move around the island.

From dramatic limestone cliffs in the southeast to rolling hills in central Sicily to surprisingly steep hills and mounts that seem to rise straight up out of the ground all around Palermo—you will find yourself constantly awe-struck by the natural wonders that Sicily has to offer.

While active travelers will of course want to explore Mt. Etna, a few other must-see destinations for hiking and outdoorsy exploration include Cavagrande del Cassibile, the Alcantara Gorge, and the Madonie mountains.

11. Stunning and affordable accommodations

where to stay in noto: q92 boutique hotel

Ever wanted to stay in a beautiful Italian villa or have a quaint apartment with a seaview? More often than not luxurious stays can be a bit pricey and out of reach in Italy, but that isn’t always a problem in Sicily.

In Sicily you can stretch your accommodation budget a lot further, so if you want to keep things on a budget you still can, but if you want a splurge, you’ll get more bang for your buck. This is an especially great opportunity to take advantage of at beautiful historic properties or stunning resorts.

Here are a few posts where I have hand-picked my favorite hotel options all around Sicily:

12. You’re going to fall in love with granita—Sicilian breakfast!

sicilian food what to eat in sicily: granita con brioche

Now you may think I’m being dramatic, but I personally believe that granita and brioche is absolutely one of the main reasons to visit Sicily. Like, I’m not even joking, I would die for this stuff.

Granita is hard to describe because it is quite similar to gelato; it’s a bit slushier, but it’s not a slushy. It definitely requires a spoon, but it’s also so smooth. Honestly you just have to try it.

There are tons of flavors, a lot of fruit options, and then the famous pistachio and almond flavors (my personal favorites). To really round out the breakfast you need to get it with a fresh brioche on the side. It’s actually insane how fresh they are and they go together so well. Personally, I loved having my granita with whipped cream on the top (“con panna”), so definitely try that out as well.

FAQs about Sicily

What is so special about Sicily?

In short, Sicily is special because it genuinely has something for everyone. It’s the perfect destination for any traveler. Sicily has stunning and pristine beaches, ancient historic ruins, an impressive active volcano, cliffside towns, bustling cities and everything in between.

You can have any kind of vacation you want in Sicily, whether that’s backpacking and roughing it, or splashing out and living large. I honestly don’t think anyone will find themselves disappointed by a trip to Sicily, because you can get whatever you want out of it!

Should I go to Sicily or Sardinia?

Frankly, I think that Sicily beats Sardinia in nearly every category, and I think that you should visit Sicily, hands down, if given the chance. The only time I would suggest that someone may want to go for Sardinia instead of Sicily is if their main priority is to have a purely relaxing beach holiday.

The beaches in Sardinia are a lot quieter and more secluded on average than those in Sicily, and in general Sardinia is a lot less crowded. It has about 1/5 of the population of Sicily. So for that reason, I think that Sardinia wins if your main concern is having a quiet holiday, and don’t want to encounter as many crowds.

things to do in taormina

Which is better, Sicily or Amalfi Coast?

In short, Sicily is better than the Amalfi Coast. You can get way more bang for your buck, and overall have a much nicer time in Sicily, in my opinion.

The Amalfi Coast is obviously super famous and well known as a luxurious coastal holiday destination. However, that notoriety comes at a price—literally. The Amalfi Coast is crazy expensive, and while it’s certainly super nice, the price doesn’t always feel worth it to me.

Sicily, on the other hand, is pretty shockingly affordable. You can have an equally, if not nicer, vacation in Sicily for a fraction of the price most of the time.

Is Sicily safe?

Yes, Sicily is incredibly safe to visit, even as a solo female traveler. I’m naturally a fairly nervous person, so I expect to often feel on edge when I’m in new places, but Sicily shocked me by making me feel so at ease while I was there. The people I interacted with were so nice, and the energy is so welcoming and exciting, I felt completely at home while I was in Sicily. I spent time on all different parts of the island, and this feeling persisted no matter where I was!

And if you’re worried about mafia activity, you’ll be happy to know that that’s almost entirely in the past. Your biggest safety concern in Sicily should be getting ripped off by tourist traps, or pickpocketed in a crowded place—the exact same risks that come with literally any destination! If safety is your main hangup about visiting Sicily, I promise you don’t have to worry.

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

Why visit Sicily… Why not?

I feel pretty confident that I’ve made a compelling case for why you’d want to make Sicily your next vacation destination.

When I tell you I fell in love, I’m not even exaggerating a little bit. I think that if you’re wondering about the reasons to visit Sicily, you should just take the plunge. I feel confident that you’ll love it as much as I do.

If you do decide to visit, you can check out all of my advice, guides, and top picks for things to see, do & eat compiled in one place here.

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why visit sicily
why visit sicily

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