Sicily Itinerary | Around the Italian Island, No Car Required!

Sicily Itinerary - Day Trip to Noto from Siracusa

This Sicily itinerary will show you exactly how to see the most amazing places on the island without having to rent a car.  Using a combination of buses, trains, boats, one bicycle and your own two feet, you’ll be able to see spectacular churches (like the one in Noto, above), breathtaking beaches (my favorite was on the island of Favignana) and charming medieval towns. Along the way you’ll get to taste delicious pizza, eat gelato for breakfast (it’s okay, it’s the Sicilian way!) and stop for more than a few Aperol Spritz(es?).

I recently visited Sicily without hiring a car, and I felt so free without the burden of navigating, parking, refueling and, of course, paying!  Sicily is a great car-free travel destination, and with a little bit of planning (often just the night before) you really can take in all of the island’s best destinations without a car.  Keep reading to see how!

Sicily Itinerary Overview

Sicily Transportation

This Sicily itinerary is easily accomplished without a rental car.  I should know, since I followed this exact route on my recent three-week trip around Sicily.  Thanks to Sicily’s good intercity transportation connections and pedestrian-friendly city centers, I didn’t rent a car – or even take a taxi – at any time during my trip!  When it comes to traveling in Sicily without a car, you should keep these points in mind:

  • Sicily has frequent, affordable bus transportation options, but it often feels like you’re using a different company for every trip.  Your route may involve buses on five, six or seven different operators.
  • Buses typically run late.  If your route requires a change (like Siracusa to Taormina, or Taormina to Agrigento, both of which change in Catania) leave yourself at least an hour between buses.  You can always pass the time in a cafe near the bus station.
  • Train service is decent along the coast but not practical for trips that require crossing the middle of the island.
  • Regional trains to popular destinations are often standing room only.  If you want a guaranteed seat, choose a more expensive intercity train (or take a bus).
  • In high season, book your ground transportation at least one day in advance and your boat trips as as soon as you know your travel dates.

Sicily Hotels and B&Bs

I traveled with The Lonely Planet Sicily.  Published in 2020, information about transportation, attractions and most hotels and restaurants was still current during my trip.  However, I often find their accommodation information to be either outdated (or missing some really well-loved, affordable options) so I rely on recent reviews from Booking.com (and their Genius discounts!) for accommodation.  That link will take you right to their Sicily page, where you can find all of the properties I stayed at on my trip.

As a solo, mid-budget traveler in Sicily I preferred to stay in B&Bs and family-run guesthouses, rather than hotels. They were typically more affordable, often had very central locations and came with a level of insider local knowledge that you can’t always get from a front desk agent at a chain hotel.

Sicily Food & Drink

The food and drink in Sicily was amazing.  As a vegetarian, I always had multiple options (and not just pizza and pasta!).

It’s common to start your day with a small, sweet breakfast, like a cup of granita (similar to shaved ice) or a pastry.  At lunch, I looked for restaurants with vegetarian buffets (usually full-service, rather than self-service) or that served big salads.  In the early evening I’d look for a nice aperitivo bar where I could have a cocktail and a few snacks, and that was often the last thing I’d eat (since I couldn’t stay awake long enough to have dinner too!).

I was in Sicily for the second half of July and early August, and it was hot.  Remember to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, and consider supplementing with a bit of Gatorade or Powerade if you’re feeling really run down from the heat.  I often buy a five-liter jug of water and keep it in my hotel room to refill the reusable bottle I take out exploring; while Sicilian tap water is drinkable, it’s not exactly delicious.

Now, with all that information out of the way, it’s time to jump straight into my Sicily travel itinerary!

#1 – Arrive in Catania

Fish Market in Catania, Sicily

Sicily Itinerary - Castello Ursino in Catania

Your Sicily itinerary will probably begin in Catania, which is home to Sicily’s busiest airport.  Most of the island’s intercity buses stop at the airport, so you could head directly to another destination, but I think it’s absolutely worthwhile to spend at least two nights in this busy port.

From the airport, the public ALIBUS departs regularly for the city center.  I suggest taking it to the end of the line, Piazza Borsellino, where it’s only two minutes by foot to the main plaza and to my recommended accommodation option: BAD (Breakfast & Design). This independent B&B has rooms with chic decor and the perfect, central location.  Your host, Alessandro, will give you a map with the city’s walkable highlights, so you can drop your bags and start exploring by foot immediately.

Things to Do in Catania

  • There’s a pretty figure-eight walking route through the city center.  It takes about half a day (if you stop at one or two of the sights) and includes one uphill section.  You’ll see the fish market, Piazza Duomo and the famous elephant obelisk, Teatro Massimo, the Roman Amphitheater and Castello Ursino.
  • On the uphill section of your walk, stop at NelsonSicily, a gourmet food shop where you can stock up on artisan products like Bronte pistachios, cream of pistachio, pistachio liqueur, pistachio chocolate bars… you get the idea.

Catania Restaurant Recommendations

  • My favorite restaurant in Catania was La Cucina dei Colori.  This is a healthy vegetarian restaurant with a full-service lunch buffet featuring local, seasons ingredients.  On the day I visited they were serving rustic panelle (chickpea pancakes), fritters made from local greens and stuffed with cheese, stewed chard, farro salad and a house interpretation of ratatouille.
  • Some people say you need to visit Trattoria del Forestiero while you’re in Catania, as its thought to have the best and most authentic pasta alla norma (and the nonna in the kitchen once taught Jamie Oliver how to make her iconic dish).  I’ve had equally good pasta alla norma elsewhere, and with far better service.
  • I’m a vegetarian, so I didn’t try any of the fish at Catania’s famous fish market.  However, I did stop by fish-centric street food hub Scirocco Sicilian Fish Lab for a cone filled with their vegetarian fritto misto, with battered and fried veggies, fava beans and pistachio-stuffed arancini.

Next Stop

You can travel from Piazza Borsellino to Siracusa on Interbus.  Buy your tickets a day or two in advance, if possible.  Take the bus to the end of the line (Corso Gelone) in Siracusa.

#2 – Explore Siracusa & Ortigia

Beach in Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily Itinerary By Bus and Train

Historic Center of Siracusa on a Sicily Itinerary

If you arrive in Siracusa by bus, you’ll half to walk about fifteen minutes to reach Ortigia, the island that was once the town’s historical center and that still offers the most evocative sightseeing in the city.

My recommended B&B option in Ortigia is right at the entrance to the island, which is ideal if you’re walking with your luggage.  B&B Casa Verga is a family-run bed and breakfast with spacious, high-ceiling rooms, some of which directly overlook the stunning Temple of Apollo.  Once you’ve dropped off your bags you can walk around the temple to the market, where you’ll find dozens of restaurants and sandwich vendors competing for your lunch patronage.

Things to Do in Siracusa & Ortigia

  • While Siracusa and Ortigia draw a crowd, even the touristic center of Ortigia feels less crowded and more authentic than Taormina (more on that coming shortly!).  This is one of the loveliest places to do nothing much beside wander the cobblestone streets with a gelato in hand.
  • There is a small beach at the south tip of Ortigia.  The water here was warm and relatively clean, but water shoes are definitely recommended because it’s quite rocky.
  • In Siracusa proper (not on the island of Ortigia) there is a well-known and celebrated archeological park.  It’s about thirty minutes by foot from Ortigia, and it’s mostly uphill, so I recommend taking a city bus up and walking back.  Before you buy a ticket, check to see if the Greek Theater is covered with scaffolding for the summer performance series.  If it’s even “partially” covered, don’t bother.

Siracusa and Ortigia Restaurant Recommendations

  • Have you ever had pistachios on pizza?  At Cosi Ristorante, in Ortigia’s market, they have a fun pizza with pumpkin cream, fontina cheese and pistachios (if you’re not vegetarian, it also comes with prosciutto).
  • MOON (Move Ortigia Out of Normality) is a contemporary, upscale vegan restaurant with a pretty terrace right on Via Roma.  I had a cocktail, the mixed salad and the “carbonara” with turmeric and smoked tofu.  Reservations are highly recommended.
  • The southwest tip of Ortigia is fantastic for sunset-watching with an aperitivo.  The enter waterfront is lined with cafes, bars and restaurants.  You can’t go wrong with an Aperol Spritz anywhere here, though I did enjoy nibbling on the rosemary flatbread and cream cheese trio at SunSet Ortigia.

Next Stop

Don’t miss a day trip to Noto!  You can go by bus or train, but I recommend taking an AST morning bus there and the Trenitalia train back (more on that below). This route is also served less frequently by Interbus (link above).

One you’ve seen Noto, you can travel from Siracusa to either Taormina or Agrigento by bus, with a change at the Catania airport.  Bus details are below.

#3 – Day Trip to Noto

Sicily Itinerary - Day Trip to Noto from Siracusa

Day Trip from Ortigia to Noto By Bus or Train | Sicily Itinerary

As far as I’m concerned, no Sicily itinerary is complete without a day trip from Siracusa to Noto!  This was one of the highlights of my time in Sicily and certainly a destination that I would love to revisit in the future.

Noto is a hilly town, with the historic center at the top of the hill and the train station at the bottom.  To save yourself a significant trek, I suggest that you arrive by bus, which will drop you off at the top of the hill, and then return by whichever method of transportation better suits your schedule (trains are certainly faster, but are less frequent).

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Things to Do in Noto

If you take the 7:00 or 8:00 am intercity bus to Noto you’ll arrive before the crowds.  Stroll down stunning Corso Vittorio Emanuele and snap a few photos of the beautiful church facades before they’re crowded with other sightseers.  Then, pop into either of Noto’s two famous cafes for a typical Sicilian breakfast of brioche con gelato, or a sweet bun filled with ice cream.  If that sounds like too much, you could also try a sweet and frosty glass of granita, typical Sicilian shaved ice.  Both breakfasts are great at either Caffe Sicilia or Caffe Costanzo.

Once you’re suitably caffeinated and carbed-up, you can go back and explore the interiors of Noto’s famous buildings, including the Cathedral, Palazzo Ducezio (worth paying for terrace access to snap some beautiful shots of the Duomo) and the many other churches and monasteries on the surrounding streets.

I also really enjoyed visiting Palazzo Castelluccio, a private palazzo that has been preserved and opened as a museum.  The opulent interiors and sun-drenched courtyards are so photogenic, and since few people venture this far (we’re talking less than ten minutes by foot!) from the Duomo, you could easily have most of the mansion to yourself during your visit.

If you end up falling in love with Noto, or are staying overnight for a special event, Hotel Porta Reale has a great location close to the bus stop and historic center.  Breakfast on the rooftop terrace will take your breath away.

#4 – Luxurious Taormina

Historic Centre of Taormina | Sicilia Senza Auto

Spiaggia Isola Bella | Sicilia Senza Auto

In some circles, Taormina is the must-visit destination in Sicily.  However, it was actually my least-favorite stop in Sicily and the place I would have cut from my Sicily itinerary with the benefit of hindsight.  Taormina reminds me of other “upscale” Mediterranean beach resorts, like Capri and Marbella.  Prices are high, the streets are lined with expensive boutiques, people get dressed up to walk up and down the main street all evening, and there really isn’t that much to see or do.

Taormina is built along and atop a steep, seaside cliff.  The train station is at the bottom (near the beach), while the bus station is closer to the top (near the town).  If you don’t have a rental care, you definitely want to arrive by bus.  From Catania, the line with the most frequent trips is Etna Trasporti.  From the bus station, it’s another ten minutes uphill, along a narrow sidewalk, to the main street in town.  In high season, buy your Taormina bus tickets several day in advance.

There aren’t many budget accommodation options in Taormina.  The place I stayed, Villa Mabel, isn’t up to my usual standards for accommodation, as the service was quite terse and the location about as far as you can get in town from the bus station and the cable car to the beach.  However, I was willing to overlook the inconveniences to avoid paying double or triple the price to stay somewhere nicer.

Things to Do in Taormina

  • You can spend a day at the beach at Isola Bella.  There’s a small public beach area, and a number of private beaches with sun chair rentals.  In high season, you need to arrive early (or book the day before) for a sun chair, otherwise you’ll be towel-to-towel with strangers on the sand.  Access from town via the cable car.
  • You can also visit the actual Isola Bella, a private nature reserve on the namesake island.
  • I went scuba diving in Taormina.  It was my first time diving in the Mediterranean (I think?) and I wasn’t really impressed.  I actually had more fun snorkeling directly off the beach.
  • Taormina also has a Greek theatre and a public garden (curated by the woman who originally owned Isola Bella).

With two full days, you could spend one at the beach and one visiting the sights in town, like the Greek theatre, the public gardens and the numerous churches dotted around town.  Again, though, if there is one place I would recommend cutting from your Sicily itinerary, it is Taormina.  I know that most of my readers value authenticity in travel, and Taormina felt the most artificial of anywhere I visited in Sicily.

Taormina Restaurant Recommendations

  • I had a nice, light vegetarian lunch at TreQuarti Taormina Antipasteria Siciliana, on an art-filled alleyway in the town center.  They served me a bruschetta platter with four different vegetarian toppings, a fresh citrus salad and a lovely glass of red wine from their selection.
  • I was in Taormina for two nights, and both nights I stopped at Arke for an aperitivo consisting of an Aperol Spritz and a little plate of snacks (potato chips, nuts, olives, etc.).  Sitting on the cushions on the steps, facing the piazza, watching everyone go by… life felt simple at Arke.
  • I was hungry after scuba diving, and I lucked out with some good beach food at Mendolia Beach Hotel’s restaurant at Isola Bella.  They had a grilled vegetable plate served with a ball of fresh mozzarella, and it was kind of the perfect Italian beach meal, IMO.

Next Stop

From Taormina, I traveled across the island to Agrigento.  This was one of my two long bus trips in Sicily, as the distance was more than 200 kilometers.  To make this trip I took a morning bus from Taormina to the Catania bus station, stopped for lunch at a cafe near the station, then got on an early-afternoon bus to Agrigento.  Both of these routes should be booked well in advance, if possible.  The Catania to Agrigento section is operated by SAIS Trasporti and the Taormina to Catania route was with Etna Trasporti.

#5 – Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples

Sicily Itinerary | Valley of the Temples in Agrigento

Sicily Itinerary | Agrigento & Valley of the Temples

Valley of the Temples & Agrigento | Sicily Itinerary

Agrigento’s bus station and train station are both about five minutes from the main street (Via Atenea).  I stayed at the lovely little (three-room, I think?) B&B Le Vie d’Arte on the opposite end of the town center.  It added about ten minutes to the walk each day, but in the evening it was nice to be on that side of town.  If walking for ten minutes doesn’t appeal to you, B&B PortAtenea is just a minute or two from both the bus and train station, at the beginning of the main road.

Visiting Valley of the Temples

There’s heat, and then there’s Valley of the Temples on a summer afternoon heat.  The step in planning your trip to Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples is to decide if you want to go in the early morning or the late afternoon.  The second step is to pack water, sunscreen and your favorite sun-protective clothing, because there’s approximately one square meter of shade throughout this entire 2000-square-metre site.  (On the plus side, there is a cafe with cold drinks, granite, gelato and toilets!)

To reach the Valley of the Temples, you can take TUA Bus 1 or Bus 2/ (note the slash!) from Agrigento’s train station. Take whichever bus comes first.  I accidentally took Bus 2 (no slash) and it wasn’t the end of the world – I just had to walk about 500 meters from the bus stop to the Porta V entrance.  These are regular city buses; you can buy your ticket before boarding from any tobacconist.

There are entrances at the east (Bus 2/) and west (Bus 1) ends of the site, but when it’s time to go back to Agrigento it’s better to use the middle exit (near the security booth by the Temple of Concordia – exit only!) as the bus stop here is used by every route.

I won’t spoil your visit by telling you everything there is to see at the Valley of the Temples.  Just show up, avoid the mid-day heat and enjoy your stroll through history at one of the world’s most spectacular archeological sites.  It is absolutely worth every minute you spend on the bus or train to get here, and the Valley of the Temples is, without a doubt, a can’t-miss stop on your Sicily itinerary.

Other Things to Do in Agrigento

I had really wanted to visit the Scala dei Turchi, a bright white rock beach just outside Agrigento.  Unfortunately, it has apparently been closed for several years due to landslides.  If this is on your must-visit list, be sure to confirm that it’s accessible before you head all the way there.  From Agrigento, it’s accessible by the community-operated Temple Tour Bus.

In town, there are some nice churches, including one at the Monastery of Santo Spirito where you can buy homemade sweets and baked goods from the nuns who live on site.  Just ring the “dessert doorbell” and they’ll tell you what treats are available.

Agrigento Restaurant Recommendations

  • Caffe Concordia‘s almond milk is out of this world.
  • It’s a short uphill walk from the main street, but Terra&Mare Trattoria and Pizzeria is popular with locals (seriously, no tourists here!) and they have a great vegetarian pizza.
  • For a light lunch before or after your visit to the Valley of the Temples, Siculo is close to the train station and has fun dishes like fresh panelle (chickpea fritters seasoned with rosemary) and salads served in crispy flatbread bowls.

Next Stop

The last long bus trip of your Sicily itinerary will be on one of the infrequent buses that go directly from Agrigento to Trapani. Autolinee Lumia operates this route (and they have one of the worst websites I’ve seen since 2003).  The local ticket office is closed, so you have to buy your ticket on board the bus (cash, exact change recommended).  I suggest you show up at Agrigento’s bus station twenty minutes early to secure your seat.  At the time I visited, there were two morning buses and one in the early afternoon.

#6 – Trapani & Erice

Sicily Itinerary | Trapani

Stay on the bus from Agrigento all the way to Trapani’s port (the driver might ask what stop you want if the bus isn’t very full).  From the port bus stop it’s just a two-minute walk to a cute little bed and breakfast (B&B Almaran) or a proper hotel (Hotel Trapani In).  You want to stay on this side of the peninsula for easy access to both the intercity buses and the ferry to Favignana – you’ll thank me for this tip when you have a 7:00 am boat to catch!

Half-Day Trip to Erice

Historic Medieval Erice | Day Trip from Trapani Sicily

You don’t need a rental car to visit Erice from Trapani.  From the port, buses 21 and 23 (buy tickets at any tobacconist)  weave through the modern city center to a cable car station.  From there, it’s a quick ride up the hill to the medieval village of Erice, one of the most picturesque places on this Sicily itinerary.

At the top, head straight for the Duomo, where you can buy a ticket that includes access to a number of other churches and the neighboring tower.  Visit the beautiful church and then spent an hour or two wandering the (slippery!) cobblestone streets that offer panoramic views of the lands below.

Most tourists make a stop at the Pasticceria de Maria Grammatico, whose journey from orphaned child laborer to world-famous pastry chef was told in the book Bitter Almonds.  The service is a bit haphazard thanks to the crowds who pack this little pastry shop, but it is a good place to sample a wide range of Sicilian treats (without judgement, since everyone else also seems to have a heaping plate!).

Other Things to Do in Trapani

  • Trapani has the best city beaches that I visited in Sicily.  The sand is soft, the water is clean, and I swear the nearby salt flats make you extra-floaty.  I went swimming near the lighthouse and at the Spiaggia delle Mura di Tramontana.  Both are right in the historic center and easy to access by foot from the accommodation noted above.

Trapani Restaurant Recommendations

  • I visited Locanda dei Poeti on their opening weekend.  I hope this new vegan restaurant is successful, as their plant-based aperitivo plate was delish!
  • One night, I splurged on a meal at Temptation of Taste. I couldn’t leave Trapani without having a bowl of pasta with pesto trapanese (made with olive oil, almonds, tomatoes and garlic), and I also sampled their caponata (a sweet and sour vegetable starter).  This is a lovely option for a special occasion meal.

Next Stop

Lots of tourists don’t spend any time in Trapani at all.  Instead they head directly to your next stop: the island of Favignana.  Book your hydrofoil tickets on Liberty Lines well in advance, otherwise you may be stuck on the slow ferry (operated by Siremar).  If you’ve left it too late and can’t find any tickets, try going in person to the travel agency opposite the Liberty Lines office and they may be able to help you.

#7 – Beautiful Beaches of Favignana

Sicily Itinerary Without a Car | Favignana Island Day Trip from Trapani

When I think back to my Sicily itinerary, the stop that makes me most nostalgic for the trip is Favignana, a small island off the coast of Trapani.  The largest of the Egadi Islands (which also include Levanzo and Marettimo), Favignana can be visited as a day trip from Trapani, but on my next visit to the area I will be sure to stay for at least two or three nights.  It’s just that amazing!

If you’re just taking a day trip to Favignana from Trapani, you can pack light.  I wore a swimsuit under shorts and a tank top, and packed a tote bag with my boat tickets, a bottle of water, some cash, photocopies of my ID, water shoes, sunglasses and sunscreen.  I left my passport, credit cards and most of my cash back in Trapani.

I’m not a confident cyclist, but I took the plunge and rented an eBike from one of the shops at the port.  I looped around the east side of the island, visiting a number of famous beaches, but I ultimately returned to Cala Rossa (shown in the photo) for most of the day.  It had the most beautiful, crystal clear water I’d ever seen and it was perfect for swimming.

Next Stop

From Favignana, you could continue on to Levanzo or Marettimo.  However, I was running out of time so I went back to Trapani for the night and caught a bus from the port to Palermo the next morning.  SEGESTA operates most buses from Trapani to Palermo.

#8 – Palermo

Sicily Itinerary Without a Car | Palermo

Visit Palermo on a Sicily Trip (Without a Car Hire!)

I made a terrible mistake when booking my accommodation in Palermo.  I chose a B&B with great reviews, but that was too far outside the historic center (down by Castello della Zisa) and poorly served by public transportation.  When the temperatures hit forty-five degrees Celsius during my early-August visit, I could barely muster up the energy to walk to the nearest supermarket, much less all the way to the center.

If I was going to return to Palermo, I would stay right in the historic city center.  I would probably start my search with Le Cupole if I was on a budget, or Hotel Principe de Lampedusa if I wanted to splurge a bit more.  Both have great locations and great reviews.

Things to Do in Palermo

  • Palermo has a lot of beautiful churches.  However, unlike in Rome where you can walk freely into magnificent, world-famous churches like Saint Peter’s Basilica, it feels like every church in Palermo nickel and dimes you for an entrance fee.  If you do pay to go inside, save your ticket as it often gives you a discount at the next church you visit.
  • For me, the one church that was worth the admission price was Santa Caterina.  The interior of the church itself is stunning, and a combined ticket gives you access to a number of vantage points on the upper level, as well as the historic monastery itself.  Like Santo Spirito in Agrigento, the nuns here also prepare indulgent pastries and sweets that visitors can purchase.
  • As you walk through the historic center you’ll also pass the Cathedral, the Quattro Canti (the Four Corners) and the Pretoria Fountain (pictured above).
  • Although Palermo is famous for its street markets, I wasn’t particularly impressed.  If you want to visit a street market in Sicily, I would recommend the fish market and surrounding streets in Catania instead.

Palermo Restaurant Recommendations

  • Sicily is only 140 km from Tunisia, and the North African influence can be found in both the architecture and the food.  Kus-Kus serves tagines (kind of like North African casseroles, you could say) with couscous (tiny pasta).  I had their vegetarian couscous dish with hearty vegetables and flavorful broth, and can recommend it for anyone looking for a break from typical Italian dishes.
  • There was one day in Palermo where I almost reached my breaking point.  It was forty-five degrees out, I’d walked from my B&B into town, and then I’d walked to two restaurants that had good online reviews, only to find them both closed (despite their listed hours).  I was ready to faint when I found Cuma, a restaurant focusing on healthy dishes like salads and poke bowls.  The staff practically had to resuscitate me, but they did it with a smile!  Poke Hawaiian Taste had a similar, but more limited, concept, and I also visited them for a salad one evening.
  • Outside of the touristy area, but not impossibly far from the centre, Sapurito is a pizzeria and restaurant popular with locals.  I had a lovely veggie pizza and glass of wine on their front terrace on my last evening in Palermo.

Next Stop

Keep reading for two great day trips from Palermo: Monreale and Cefalu.

When you’re ready to leave Sicily, I recommend taking the overnight sleeper train from Palermo to Rome.  It departs around 9:00 pm and arrives about twelve hours later.  This route is particularly cool because there’s not a bridge from Sicily to mainland Italy.  Your train actually splits in half in Messina, with half the train continuing down the coast to Catania and the other half boarding a ferry to travel across the Strait of Messina.

#9 – Day Trip to Cefalu

Sicily Itinerary | Cefalu Day Trip from Palermo

Cefalu is an easy-peasy day trip by train from Palermo.  The trip takes about an hour and is served by regional and intercity trains (I highly recommend the intercity trains as you can reserve a seat, while the regional trains can easily fill to standing room only during the high season).  Once you arrive, it’s a short walk (less than ten minutes) to the beach, where there are free stretches of sand for the public, along with lots of sun chairs and umbrellas for rent from the beachfront bars and restaurants.

The water here can be quite rough.  In fact, the beach was red-flagged for almost the entire day that I was there, with waves similar to those shown in the photo above (I went to add my own photo to the post and I realized I’d accidentally caught someone changing on the beach, so I decided to protect their modesty and use a stock photo!).  If you’re not able to swim and don’t feel like suntanning, you can still explore the town’s attractions, including the beautiful Duomo (you can see its towers in the photo) and, rather funnily, the historic medieval laundry facilities (which are free to enter).

For lunch, I recommend Tatiana Melfa Bakery, where they have a surprisingly American-inspired menu (including veggie burgers and a scrambled egg breakfast… exactly what I’d been craving after eating so many brioches with gelato for the past three weeks!).  On the way back to the station for the train ride home I detoured to L’Angolo delle Dolcezze, a gelateria popular with locals who flock to the little shop on the corner for creative, seasonal flavors. On a hot day you may have to queue, so leave yourself enough time!

Next Stop

Travel back to Palermo on the train and then onward to your next destination.

#10 – Day Trip to Monreale

Mosaics in the Cathedral of Monreale, a Day Trip by Bus from Palermo

From Palermo, it’s easy to travel to the hillside town of Monreale and its UNESCO World Heritage Site cathedral.  I wrote an entire guide to the bus from Palermo to Monreale so that you’d have the most up-to-date information about bus stops, bus times, tickets and what to do when you arrive in Monreale.  I recommend spending half a day in Monreale, and timing your trip to avoid the early-afternoon cathedral closure.

Next Stop

Travel back to Palermo on the bus and then onward to your next destination.

Sicily Itinerary & Schedule

I followed this Sicily itinerary over about three weeks.  Here is exactly how long I spent in each stop, and what I’d do next time:

  • Catania – Three nights • Just right
  • Siracusa & Ortigia – Three nights • Just right
  • Noto – Day trip • Just right
  • Taormina – Two nights • Either add a day (making one full beach day and one full town day) or eliminate entirely to add more time elsewhere
  • Agrigento – Two nights • Just right
  • Trapani – Three nights • Just right (when including a day trip to Favignana)
  • Favignana – Day trip • Major regret!  Stay at least one night!
  • Palermo – Four nights • Move one night to Favignana
  • Cefalu – Day trip • Just right
  • Monreale – Day trip • Just right
  • Overnight train to Rome – One night • Fixed duration

Should You Travel Around Sicily Without a Car Hire?

Absolutely!

Yes!

Do it!

Personally, I kind of went into Sicily without much of a plan, and I was so impressed by how well everything worked out for me, even without a rental car.  It was so easy to get around and to find the things that I was looking for.  Prices were generally quite low (outside Taormina) and even as a solo traveler I felt like I was getting a good deal on accommodation and dining out.  If you’re able to visit in the shoulder season (April to mid-June, September and October) then you’ll get even better deals and encounter even fewer crowds.

Looking back, I am so glad that I chose Sicily as my Italian travel destination, and that I took the risk of managing the itinerary without a rental car.  I can’t wait to return (seriously, I’m already thinking ahead to next summer and checking out apartment rentals on Booking.com)… maybe I’ll see you there!

Have you been to Sicily?  What was your favorite spot on the island?  Let me know in the comments!

(And of course, you can always ask me any Sicily travel questions in the comments too!)


Dreaming of Sicily?  Pin this post for later!

A complete Sicily travel itinerary with no car hire or rental car required. See Palermo, the Valley of the Temples, beautiful beaches and historic medieval towns using easy public transportation connections.With this Sicily itinerary you can see it all by bus and train (no rental car required!). Explore beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, ornate churches and other hidden gems in Sicily, Italy!

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