The beautiful island of Sicily sits just off Italy’s southern coast and is home to 5 million inhabitants. Its capital Palermo is a rich, thriving city which has blossomed as a tourist destination since the 1980’s. With an impressive cathedral, ornate chapels, palaces, and colorful markets, you will never be short of things to see and do. In other areas of the island, verdant landscapes beckon, punctuated with active volcanoes, ancient archaeological sites, and natural parks. There are beautiful beaches, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and elegant restaurants in which to enjoy fresh, farm-to-fork, authentic Sicilian cuisine. So, whether you wish to explore the historic sites of Syracuse and Catania or enjoy the romantic ambiance of Taormina, Sicily has a place for everyone.
Day 1: Taormina
Picturesque Taormina is one of Sicily’s most popular holiday destinations. If you are staying here as part of a couple, family or are travelling solo, there’s plenty to see and do. One of the best ways to get to know Taormina is on our Insider Taormina City Tour. You will be introduced to Sicilian culture in all its glory, taking in the magnificent Old Town, sprinkled with lemon trees, charming trattorias, cafes and gift shops, you will see the well-preserved Greek Theater and impressive Palazzo Corvaja. The tour offers a superb introduction to Taormina if it’s your first time in the city, plus you can revisit your favourite places again and again!
If you’re still buzzing from your day of exploration, why not continue the evening with a fabulous Taormina Food and Wine Tasting Tour? This guided tour begins at 18.30 from a central point in the old city. You’ll take a leisurely stroll through the centre to the first of three venues where you’ll sample fresh seafood, prosecco and white wine. In the second venue, a traditional Sicilian wine bar, you will be served traditional local cuisine and regional red wines and finally, head to a delightful patisserie for sweet treats and liquors. It’s the perfect way to end a day in Taormina.
Day 2: Taormina & Mount Etna
No visit to Sicily would be complete without spending time discovering mighty Mount Etna. Set along the eastern shores, this is the world’s most active volcano and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our Etna Food and Wine Tour from Taormina offers the perfect way to see simmering Mount Etna, learn about local culture and sample incredible food and wine along the way. On this tour you’ll discover family-run wineries, visit the cellars and learn about different grape varieties, whilst sampling cheeses, sun dried tomatoes and olive oil bruschetta. Continue your culinary adventure in a beautiful farmhouse restaurant, dining on the terrace overlooking vineyards, farmland and fields filled with flowers. Here, there’s an opportunity to sample further wines, plates of fried cheese, pasta dishes, vegetable omelette and traditional liquors from the Etna region. It’s a wonderful tour for food and wine connoisseurs and gives great insight into Sicily’s rich culinary heritage and culture.
In the evening, relax and listen to live music in Taormina’s piazzas, reminiscing about your day and take a stroll through the back streets, as they illuminate highlighting the wonderful architecture of the city.
Day 3: Taormina
If you have enjoyed sampling Sicilian cuisine over the past couple of days and would love to recreate your own dishes for friends and family back home, begin your day with a thrilling 4 hour Sicilian Cooking Class. You’ll visit Taormina’s Food Market to pick out fresh produce to use as ingredients, before heading to a charming family-restaurant to learn how to make home-made pasta, meat and seafood dishes. You don’t have to miss out if your diet is vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free or gluten-free either, the menus can accommodate all dietary requirements if the tour is informed in advance!
In the afternoon, it’s time for relaxation. You may decide to soak up the sun by the hotel swimming pool or enjoy a massage, or you could jump on the cable car to Taormina Mare and take a leisurely boat tour to the Blue Grotto.
On your final evening in Taormina, visit your favourite bars or enjoy a romantic terrace dinner overlooking sparkling waters lit by the light of the moon.
Day 4: Palermo
Palermo is a compact city, easy to navigate and all the major tourist sites are within walking distance of each other. One highlight is magnificent Palermo Cathedral. It dominates the skyline, a blend of architectural styles with Norman, Baroque, Gothic, Moorish and Neoclassical influences. If you enjoy art, history and culture combined, visit The Palatine Chapel, close to Palazzo dei Normanni in the old city. The structure dates to 1132 and boasts some of the best examples of Byzantine architecture inside. Columns and arches glisten with gold, blue and white frescoes creating a master storyboard which showcases the island’s rich history.
In the afternoon venture a few miles outside Palermo to Mondello Beach. It’s a lively area with crystal clear waters, ideal for swimming and snorkelling and it has an interesting lido building which dates to the 1930s stretching along the seafront.
Evenings in Palermo are a delight, you can dine in gourmet farm-to-fork restaurants, visit a local trattoria for scrumptious pasta dishes or follow energetic fun seekers to a glamorous nightclub and dance till the sun comes up.
Day 5: Palermo and Cefalù
Arise early and head for Ballaro Market. This lively area of the city is bursting with stalls packed with cheeses, olives, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, and the perfect place to pick up ingredients for a delicious picnic lunch!
When you are stocked up with tasty treats, drive an hour east to Cefalù. This is one of the most visited towns in Sicily. Nestled along the seafront, it has an interesting historic centre, a beautiful stretch of golden sandy beach and offers photo opportunities galore. For the best views, put on your walking shoes and head to La Rocca. There are 278 steps to climb, but you will be rewarded with some of the most incredible views in Sicily. Enjoy your picnic here or venture back down to see the Norman Castle ruins. The fortification offers 360 degree panoramic views of the city and coastline.
In the afternoon, explore the cobbled streets of Cefalù, learning about its rich history, browse speciality shops and stop for cappuccino or glass of wine in a piazza café. If you enjoy delving into the history of a new location, don’t forget to visit Duomo di Cefalù. This impressive cathedral dates to 1131 and inside, showcases a multitude of thought-provoking mosaics.
Spend the evening in Cefalù enjoying delicious cuisine and wine.
Day 6: Parco delle Madonie and Agrigento
Around an hours’ drive from Cefalù is the lush region of Madonie Regional Natural Park. A place where you can connect with nature, learn about flora and fauna, hike, mountain bike, go caving and horseback riding. If that sounds a bit too energetic, there are also several museums dotted around the park to explore. Spend the day here or continue 2 hours southwest to Agrigento. This is one of the most fascinating archaeological sites in Sicily and was once one of the most powerful cities of Ancient Greece. The Valley of the Temples stands overlooking the sea, stone columns of the main temple towering above as you wander around imagining life in ancient times. Visit the Garden of Kolymbetra, a delightful location which was once compared to the Garden of Eden. Alternatively, head for the Regional Archaeological Museum to learn more about Agrigento and artefacts discovered in the area.
When you’ve explored the ancient city, walk into the old town, browsing shops, boutiques and breaking for pecorino ice cream (yes, it’s made from cheese) in a local gelatoria.
Day 7: Agrigento to Palermo
The journey back to Palermo is just 2 hours by car, so as long as you leave plenty of time, you can still enjoy an upscale Sicilian lunch and a spot of last minute shopping in Palermo before you head to the airport.