Date of travel: 16th July – 21st August 2018
We went on an epic 6 week road trip around the beautiful island of Sicily and have compiled a trip taking you from our starting point of its capital city Catania.
On our other post we described Sicily and it is well worth a read before you explore it for your self. Click here to read: Sicily – Our Thoughts
Allowing yourself 4 weeks will give you time to really enjoy all that Sicily has to offer and more. We had an extra 2 weeks around the beautiful lagoon of Lo Stagnone, Masala playing with the wind learning to kitesurf. So why not do the same!…
Catania, the busy bustling capital is really just a necessity to get access for you. If you need to stock up on anything here is the place but I would leave Catania to the locals. For us it was more of a working city and the highlights weren’t worth the sweat and stress that a city brings. From Catania head towards Syracuse but on the way stop at Agnone Begni Beach. A long sandy beach which sprawls out of the city. Head to the very end where there is a couple of restaurants where you can have a beer and watch the amazing sunset as it rests behind Mount Etna.
Syracuse. This 2700 year old, Old Town purched on top of an island accessed by a small bridge. Once you cross the bridge your taken to a beautifully preserved Italian Old Town. The Venetian buildings are built almost to the edge with walls dropping down to small beaches below. It offers a really unique Italian feel. Venturing inside to the marble floors with plenty of churches and the temple of Apollo, it’s hard to resist its charm.
Exploring out side the Old Town on the mainland you will also find the archaeological park with a roman amphitheater, a museum and plenty of other sites to explore. So allow yourself plenty of time basing yourself nearby to make sure you see all the sites over a couple of days or more.
Once your ready to relax and cool off from all the exploring, head to the one of the beaches between San Lorenzo and Marzamemi. Lido Agua beach being one. With beautiful white sand and crystal clear turquoise waters it’s an absolute gorgeous place to relax and soak up the beauty and atmosphere amongst the friendly Sicilian locals.
In the evening head to the beautiful hamlet of Marzamemi a tiny gem built on a little rocky outcrop with a small harbour behind it. A lovely romantic town which looks like it’s never been touched but for a few restaurants and bars you feel lucky to have found it (or we did) giving your day that parfect finish.
Now your rested, head in land, straight to the baroque town of Ragusa.
The very southern part of Sicily, as you travel towards Ragusa has an abandoned feel with farms and fields overgrown. Why this is, we do not know but trying to navigate to the coast is not worth the trouble so head for Ragusa where being inland gives another perspective to Sicily.
Ragusa, is built on top of the hill as you make your way from the coast you appreciate the scale of the task to build this beautiful city set in an idyllic location surrounded by valleys.
Once you arrive you will be amazed by the grand buildings all across the city and the amazing marble cathedral, the centre piece with cobbled streets to wonder though and plenty of restaurants and bars to relax and enjoy the views across the valleys.
From Ragusa head back to the coast but this time to the unmissable Valley of the Temples.
It’s hard not to feel infearier when you reach the Valley of the Temples. The road leading into the valley certainly gives you the Wow factor. With temples jotted high on the hill, along side one by one they stand tall, towering over you as you drive though. Once you enter the site, it is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Europe and that is saying something considering the competition. Having been to many of the main sites all across Europe including Rome and Athens this area has the same awe around it and offering 7 temples, what an incredible place!!!..
We would advise getting to the temples first thing in the morning, as it can get very hot and offers no shade up amongst the temples. We found half a day was enough, you can then set off to a famous Sicilian postcard picture at the Scala dei Turchi. These are white cliffs that have erroded to form a giant step like formation. You can walk down them to the beach below of enjoy the picture from above, either way it’s a great stop.
You can then spend the rest of the day or night at the Siculiana marina. We parked on the sand flats and enjoyed a wonderful sunset and were even lucky enough to see the Red Moon.
There are plenty of sandy beaches around here and it’s a relief from the tourists and the heat of the Valley of the Temples.
Next, head not far to the beautiful nature reserve Riserva Naturale Foce Fiume Platani. This beautiful long expanse of sandy beach surrounded only by fern trees stretches for as far as the eye can see, on one end are beautiful white cliffs.
This is a parfect place to kayak around the cliffs and see the beauty from the ocean.
Around the cliffs is another long beach so there is no escaping the stunning beauty of Sicilian nature.
Marsala/ Lo Stagnone
Lo Stagnone, a giant lagoon with its history based around salt, with salt planes that are still visible today. But to stop here would really all be about kite surfing or windsurfing. There is no better place to learn, it’s flat, safe and most part shallow. Have a bit of adventure whilst you travel.
It has wonderful sunsets and if you go to Kitelaguna they will look after you with a wonderful bar to enjoy a beer afterwards.
You can also hire a boat from the nearby town San Teodoro and explore the island of Favignana, so if the wind is not up, you have something to keep you entertained .
A short drive from here, is Erice. Built high up on the only mountain in sight, its almost like a scene from a land of the giants. You drive up and up until you fill like your in the clouds. You’ll find this mystical old town and castle perched overlooking the ocean and land below. Meander around the character filled lanes, it’s another great place to get lost in.
The next city you should stop at is Cefalu.
You will pass Palermo, this is Sicily’s second largest city and although it’s not so gritty and is more glamourous than Catalonia, I wouldn’t recommend stopping. We do not like large city’s and with so much more to see, for us a drive through was enough.
It’s worth noting that Palermo has a major port and ferrys run from here all around the Med. So it may be you enter or exit from Sicily. We have created a loop so just carry on until you come back to Palermo.
Cefalu. Gorgeous medieval Cefalu. Energetic, powerful and majestical. It’s a beautiful place to see across the bay with its cathedral appearing to float above the city. This city has character a plenty and if Syracuse is a bit quiet and Toarmina is a bit glamourous then Cefalu is for you. Fire juggling, live djs, light displays, your certainly be entertained. Put all this in a medieval town with a distinct difference in feel to the usual marble and stone buildings, its more flags and coat of arms here, your in for a treat.
During the day there is a long city style beach which although does not have a beautiful natural back drop its sandy and with beer umbrellas and deck chairs a plenty at least you can look down at any time and with a view of that city that’s all you will need.
Toarmina. Beautifully parfect Toarmina. Many people’s favourite. It’s emphatically Sicilian, beautiful sculptured and wonderfully charming. When you think of a Italian picturesque seaside town you won’t get anywhere that suites that roll more than Toarmina. Sicily may have rubbish in places but you could almost eat your dinner of the marble floors here. It is that clean. Every flower seems like it has been dressed for the job of glamourising.
The main town is based up on top of the hill with an old town which has a main walking street, marble obviously and many streets that take you into the narrow meandering streets around it. The streets are lined with designer shops but it has a wonderful holiday feel as you join the energetic bubbly Sicilians enjoying all of the best Sicilian delacasies. The Roman theatre has a great view and still puts on shows today. To top all this off you have the magnificent Mount Etna peering down at you.
Down at the base of the hill and on the coast are bays perfectly formed with little islands that you can swim too, almost like they have been placed there to create the beautiful look. Back that with Venetian hotels and restaurants with plants and colourful wooden shutters, that’s the Sicilian holiday brochure taken care off.
Your final stop for this epic trip has to be Mount Etna. You started with a picture looking back at her and now it’s time to climb her to view Sicily from a higher perspective.
Arrive at Mount Etna’s base in the late afternoon the day before you are to climb her, there is a huge car park where you are allowed to sleep in your motor home. There are plenty of things to explore, even from here, volcanoes and craters are almost everywhere you look so you can climb and enjoy until the sunsets.
In the morning we took the cable car, which takes you to about half way up Mount Etna. From here we recommend you walk the rest of the way to the top, you get a great feeling, it’s more like mars or the moon than it is earth. Walking gives you the opportunity to stop and take in that endless view.
Once you reach the top, steam is rising not just from the peak but from places in the floor around you. You have the most incredible view right across Sicily and the epic journey that you just travelled, there is no more a fitting place to finish your journey than on the top of Sicily. It’s a unique trip and the fact it’s still an active volcano only adds to that adventurous feeling.
She is also known as the mother because Mount Etna created almost all you can see.
Hope you enjoy it!!
This is only a guide to the places we enjoyed. Enjoy the island explore the island get lost in the island and most of all embrace the island.