Sicily is a breathtaking island located at the southern tip of Italy, known for its diverse landscape, rich history, and unique culture. As the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily boasts an array of breathtaking natural wonders, from the snowy slopes of Mount Etna to the crystal-clear waters of the Aeolian Islands.
If you're wondering where to stay in Sicily, Palermo is the best place to base yourself if you're visiting for the first time.
There are countless options to choose from that cater to your preferences and budgets. If you want to spend your days lounging on the sand and soaking up the sun, consider staying on the eastern or southern coasts of the island. Popular beach destinations include Taormina, Agrigento, and Syracusa.
For a trip filled with museums, art galleries, and historical sites, stay in one of Sicily's cities. Palermo, Catania, and Messina all offer a variety of accommodation types, including traditional bed and breakfasts and grand historical villas.
If you want to experience the quieter side of Sicily, stay in one of the charming towns or villages located in the interior of the island. The hilltop town of Erice offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, while the medieval village of Castelmola boasts a rich history and charming streets.
Here is a summary of the best places to stay in Sicily at a glance.
- Best area for first time visitors: Palermo
- Best area for day trips: Catania
- Most charming area: Taormina
- Best area for sightseeing: Syracuse
- Best area for families: Cefalù
- Most picturesque area: Aeolian Islands
- Best place for architecture: Messina
- Best place for history: Agrigento
- Best place for mountain charm: Erice
- Best place for quiet: Castelmola
- Best place for Villa Romana del Casale: Piazza Armerina
- Best place for nature lovers: Scopello
In this guide, I will elaborate on each area and explain in detail why it's interesting and ideal for your preference, budget and travel style.
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|❤️ Best Area for first-timers:||Palermo|
|💎 Best luxury 5* hotel:||Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes|
|🏨 Best mid-range hotel:||Ollen Apartments|
|🛏️ Best budget hotel:||Sicily in Love B&B|
Tips for selecting the best accommodation in Sicily
When it comes to choosing where to stay in Sicily, there are a few elements to consider, such as budget, location, and personal travel style. Here are some tips and recommendations to help you find the best accommodation option for your trip:
- Plan ahead: Sicily can get quite busy during the summer months, so if you're planning to visit during this time, it's a good idea to start making your bookings well in advance to ensure you get the best places to stay.
- Assess your budget: Sicily has a wide range of accommodation types to suit all budgets, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly bed and breakfasts. Determine how much you're willing to spend and search for options that fit your budget.
- Think about location: Sicily is a large island with many regions, each with its own unique character and attractions. Evaluate what you want to see and do during your trip and select a location that is convenient for your plans.
- Consider your preferences: From the snowy slopes of Mount Etna to the bustling streets of Palermo, Sicily is a destination with endless possibilities. When deciding where to stay, reckon your personal preferences and what you intend to get out of your trip.
- Create an itinerary: If you plan to drive around the island and visit several locations, you may want to think about staying in a different spot each night. This allows you to experience different parts of the island and create a more flexible itinerary.
No matter your location on the island, you can count on experiencing delicious local cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and a warm atmosphere while staying in Sicily.
Palermo, best area in Sicily for first time visitors
Palermo is a city that should not be missed on your first trip to Sicily. This unforgettable and bustling city boasts stunning, quintessential Italian architecture on nearly every corner.
From its stunning architecture to its many museums and cultural attractions, Palermo is a great place to explore and learn about the island's history and traditions.
Some must-see attractions in the city include the 12th-century cathedral, a classic masterpiece also known as Cattedrale di Palermo. The cathedral was built in the 12th century in the Norman-Arab-Byzantine style and is considered one of the finest examples of this architectural style in the world.
Don't miss the Norman Palace also known as the Palazzo dei Normanni or the Royal Palace of Palermo, which is a magnificent example of medieval architecture. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The palace is home to a number of important cultural treasures, including the popular tourist attraction Cappella Palatina, a stunning chapel decorated with Byzantine mosaics and gold leaf.
Beyond these historical and cultural sites, Palermo is also known for its lively street markets and delicious local cuisine. While staying in Sicily, try the deep fried snack called Arancini, the rice balls filled with cheese. Try panelle, thin and crispy fried fritter with chickpea flour and of course, make sure to eat as much cannoli as you can master, the most classic and well known Sicilian dessert.
Palermo is the capital of Sicily and is well-connected to other parts of the island. Whether you are keen to explore the city or take day trips to nearby destinations, Palermo is a convenient base for your travels and the ideal place to stay on your first trip to Sicily. Palermo is a very well-rounded destination for those who want a lively night out or to enjoy a quiet drink while people watching. The city has a variety of bars, clubs, pubs, and cafés to choose from.
In terms of accommodation in Palermo, you'll have a wide range of choices within the tourist zone. These include hotels of all types, ranging from budget to luxury, as well as apartments and bed and breakfasts. Some popular choices to consider include budget hotels such as the Hotel Albergo Cavour, mid-range hotels like the L'Aquilone B&B, and luxury hotels like the Grand Hotel et des Palmes.
Best places to stay in Palermo
Our top hotel picks in Palermo are:
Catania, best area to stay for day trips
Catania is a city located on the east coast of Sicily, known for its proximity to the island's active volcano, Mount Etna. While the city has a moderate crime rate, visitors are advised to take precautions such as travelling in a group and keeping valuables out of sight to minimize risks.
Catania is a compact city that is easy to navigate on foot, with reasonable bus and train services available for travelling further afield. For day trips, consider renting a car. All popular rental companies have desks at the airport and branches dotted all around the city. Before renting a car in Catania, make sure to read about the local traffic laws.
There are several attractions you should enjoy during a stay in Catania. Climb Mount Etna or take a small train which circles its peak. See the Elephant Fountain, which features an ancient statue of an elephant of unknown origin combined with other unique features such as an Egyptian obelisk. Don't miss a trip to see the Roman amphitheatre, the Greek theatre, and the Roman baths.
If you love shopping, then Catania is a fantastic base for you. Catania is a great place to shop for souvenirs and local products such as ceramics, jewellery, and textiles. The city also has many traditional markets where you can find a wide range of goods to take home with you.
Catania is the best base for exploring other areas around Sicily. Popular day trips from Catania are to Taormina, the charming town located on the eastern coast of Sicily. The town is less than an hour drive away from Catania.
Syracuse is another popular day trip destination from Catania. Syracuse is home to a number of ancient Greek ruins, including the Temple of Apollo and the Ear of Dionysius. The city is also home to several beautiful beaches and it's just over an hour away from Catania. Road trippers will also want to consider Agrigento, home to the Valley of the Temples and Piazza Armerinaknown for the famous Roman Villa del Casale.
There's a wide selection of accommodation in Catania. Stay in a budget-friendly B&Bs, or, if you want a more indulgent stay, book a luxury hotel in the centre of the city. For families with kids, there are short-term rental apartments if you prefer a home away from home. Catania also offers a variety of holiday rentals, including villas and cottages, which are ideal for families or groups of friends travelling together.
Best places to stay in Catania
Our top hotel picks in Catania are:
Taormina, most charming area to stay
Taormina is a beautiful hilltop town located on the coast of Sicily, known for its stunning views and rich history dating back to the 4th century. Taormina is a popular destination for its historical monuments, such as the Greek Theatre, and its proximity to beautiful beaches, which can be easily accessed via a cable car system.
Taormina has been visited by many famous people, including Oscar Wilde, Alexander Dumas, and D H Lawrence, as well as numerous Hollywood celebrities. The town is known for its beauty, with stunning blue seas and picturesque buildings, as well as its medieval ruins and breathtaking views.
As with most Sicilian places to stay and visit, it is generally safe, with the usual precautions for pickpocketing and not displaying valuables.
If you are a nature lover who likes discovering the surrounding areas, tours of grottos carved out at the bottom of the rocky cliffs are also available.
Taormina is an ideal destination if you love outdoor activities, such as hiking in the surrounding hills. The town has a rich history dating back to the 4th century, making it a perfect place for history buffs to explore and learn about its past.
This charming town is easily walkable, and it offers a range of activities, including ancient sites to visit, boutique shopping, coffee shops, wine bars, and a variety of pubs, clubs, and lounge bars for evening entertainment.
Accommodation in Taormina include lavishing hotels and upscale holiday rentals, making it a great choice for families, couples, and groups looking for a charming coastal getaway.
Best places to stay in Taormina
Our top hotel picks in Taormina are:
Syracuse, best area for sightseeing
Syracuse is a city in Sicily that is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, making it a popular destination for sightseeing. It was founded by the Greeks and has nurtured many famous politicians, poets, and mathematicians throughout the centuries, including Archimedes, who famously coined the term "Eureka" while working in the city.
Syracuse has a mix of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Baroque influences, and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Explore Syracuse's many historical and cultural attractions, including the ancient Greek Theatre, which still stages productions, and the Archaeological Park, which is packed with monuments, temples, an amphitheatre, a theatre, and a necropolis.
Don't miss a trip to Ortigia, a small island located in the centre of Syracuse. It is known for its narrow streets, ancient Greek temples, and beautiful Baroque architecture. Ortigia measures a mere 1 km by 500 meters. The beauty of the place is that it has many little streets that amazingly all look the same yet they come loaded with over 2,500 years of glorious history. For example, you can visit the Temple of Apollo ruins that date back to 565 BC.
During the day, wander past the harbour that showcases sailing boats and yachts owned by Sicily’s elite. Drop by La Fonte Aretusa, the famous fountain of youth. This is the place for you if you want to soak up some lively Italian nightlife.
Visit the Cathedral of Syracuse, a historic cathedral known for its architecture and artworks. The main attraction in Syracuse has to be the gorgeous beach called Lido di Noto, known for its crystal clear waters and buttery sand that just invites you to lounge and relax with the best views.
Syracuse is a city that is easy to explore on foot, as most of the attractions are within walking distance. It is a convenient city to get around without needing to rely on other forms of transportation. However, for families with children, there are buses available.
While the city is not big on partying, there are a few nightclubs offering music, professional DJs, and other entertainment.
Syracuse is a great place to stay in Sicily, with plenty of stylish family-friendly apartments, as well as luxury hotels with views of the Ionian Sea. With its charming streets lined with excellent restaurants and stunning views of the sea and Etna volcano, Syracuse is a beautiful and elegant destination for your trip to Sicily.
Best places to stay in Syracuse
Our top hotel picks in Syracuse are:
Cefalù, best place to stay for families
Cefalù is a popular family destination in Sicily, known for its beautiful seaside area surrounded by houses and terraces where visitors can relax. Located on the island's north coast, it offers a mix of relaxation and cultural attractions, making it a great place to stay for a variety of travellers.
In addition to its low crime rate, Cefalù offers a variety of activities and attractions that are suitable for families. The town's beautiful beach, Spiaggia di Cefalù, which stretches for over two miles and is lined with palm trees and colourful umbrellas, is a great place for children to play and have fun in the sun.
There are a variety of water sports and other activities available to keep them entertained. The old town of Cefalù is also a great place for families to explore, with narrow streets lined with charming shops and restaurants, as well as historic buildings and landmarks such as the Cefalù Cathedral and Temple of Diana.
Make sure to visit the Roman baths and the Norman Cathedral, which is home to the world-famous fresco of Christus Pantokrator.
Don't miss the Temple of Diana, an ancient Roman temple built in the 2nd century BC. The Temple of Diana is a well-preserved ancient site that offers insight into the history and culture of the region.
Visit the medieval Cefalù Castle, a popular tourist destination which offers breathtaking views of the town and the surrounding countryside.
Take the family out for an evening stroll and enjoy the panoramic views from the pier and old port. Explore the narrow streets filled with restaurants and shops, and climb La Rocca di Cefalù, the cliff overlooking the town, for breathtaking views.
Cefalù can get quite crowded during the peak tourist season, so I strongly recommend that you book your accommodation well in advance.
For a quiet holiday, visit Cefalù in the off-season, to enjoy the warm weather and fewer tourists.
Cefalù is home to a number of family-friendly hotels and holiday rentals, many of which offer amenities such as pools, playgrounds, and children's programs. The town is easy to navigate and there are plenty of places to eat, drink, and relax, making it an ideal destination for families.
Cefalù is a safe and welcoming destination that is perfect for families looking for a relaxed and enjoyable holiday.
Best places to stay in Cefalù
Our top hotel picks in Cefalù are:
Aeolian Islands, the most picturesque place to stay
The Aeolian Islands, located off the northern coast of Sicily, are a popular holiday destination for over 200,000 visitors annually. These seven islands were formed through volcanic and seismic activity and are known for their stunning landscapes and natural beauty. Two of the islands, Vulcano and Stromboli, are particularly popular with travellers due to their active volcanoes, which provide a unique and exciting experience for those seeking adventure.
The Aeolian Islands offer a range of attractions that cater to a variety of interests and preferences. If you're an adventurous traveller searching for a unique experience, the active volcanoes of the islands may be a must-see attraction. The beautiful beaches and a variety of water sports provide endless opportunities for fun and adventure.
On the other hand, if you're seeking a more relaxed holiday, the Aeolian islands offer luxurious resorts and charming whitewashed villages as well as beautiful beaches providing the perfect setting for relaxation and rejuvenation. Make use of the unique features of the islands, such as the fumaroles and thermal waters, which provide a spa-like experience.
Take in the beauty of the Aeolian Islands on a boat excursion. With easy access to the islands via ferry, boat excursions are a popular and convenient way to see the islands and take in their stunning landscapes and natural beauty.
The Aeolian Islands are home to a wealth of ancient ruins, including sites from the Roman and Greek periods. These ruins are scattered throughout the archipelago, providing a glimpse into the rich history of the region.
The Aeolian Islands offer some of the most breathtaking accommodation in Sicily, with stunning vistas and beautiful surroundings. Given the popularity of the islands as a holiday destination, I do advise you to book your hotel well in advance to ensure that you get best prices and preferred accommodation.
You will find a range of acommodations on the Aeolian Islands including luxurious resorts, charming bed and breakfast accommodations, and self-catering apartments.
Best places to stay in Aeolian Islands
Our top hotel picks in Aeolian Islands are:
Messina, best place for architecture
Nestled on the point of the triangular island of Sicily, just a stone's throw from mainland Italy, Messina is a thriving port city that blends a rich history and cultural heritage with a vibrant, modern atmosphere. From its bustling tourism industry, particularly its popularity with cruises, to its thriving agriculture sector, including the production of delicious citrus fruit, olives, and wine grapes, to its bustling commerce, Messina is sure to have something to suit your interests.
Messina is a city with a rich history and cultural heritage, offering a range of beautiful old architecture, museums, and galleries that showcase its artistic wonders. Explore the city's rich history and culture by visiting its historic landmarks, such as its beautiful bell tower and cathedral, or by visiting its museums and galleries to learn about the city's past and its artistic achievements.
If you're looking to experience the lively nightlife of Messina, the city has plenty to offer. With a range of restaurants, pubs, and clubs that stay open late, you'll find plenty of options for chat, and dancing. Whether you're looking for a cosy bar to enjoy a drink and some conversation, or a club to dance the night away, Messina is a great place for it.
Messina is known for its delicious local cuisine, which is influenced by a range of culinary traditions, including Italian, Greek, and Arab. The city is located on the coast, so it's no surprise that seafood is a staple of the local cuisine, with a variety of fresh, flavourful fish and shellfish dishes to choose from. Try Frutta Martorana, a sweet made from marzipan to made look like tiny fruits and vegetables. Don't miss the local favourite, Focaccia Messinese, a pizza-like Italian flatbread with tuna, provolone cheese, anchovies, endive and tomatoes. You'll also want to order caponata (a savoury aubergine dish), and cannoli, the tube-shaped pastry stuffed with a sweet and creamy ricotta filling.
Messina offers a range of places to stay to suit a variety of budgets and preferences. Hotels in Messina range from upscale, luxury properties with a range of amenities and services, to more modest, budget-friendly alternatives with basic facilities.
Apartments and holiday rentals are also a popular accommodation option in Messina. These self-catering properties offer more space and privacy than a traditional hotel, and are ideal for travellers who want to have the freedom to cook their meals or spend more time in the city.
Best places to stay in Messina
Our top hotel picks in Messina are:
Agrigento, best area to stay for history buffs
Agrigento is a city is a city located on the southern coast of Sicily, known for its rich history and cultural heritage, especially the Valley of the Temples, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's home to the remains of several ancient Greek temples, and it's really wonderful to see. The city was actually a seat of the ancient Greek Empire, so it has a long history dating back to the 5th century BC.
In addition to the Valley of the Temples, Agrigento has some other fascinating historical and cultural attractions, like the Archaeological Museum, which has tons of artefacts from the ancient Greek and Roman periods. And the Agrigento Cathedral is a beautiful medieval church that's definitely worth a visit. Plus, the city has some gorgeous beaches, so it's great for sun lovers too.
Agrigento is a city known for its delicious local cuisine, featuring a variety of fresh seafood, citrus fruit, olives, and wine grapes. Some must-try dishes in Agrigento include pasta alla Norma (pasta with fried aubergine, tomato sauce, and ricotta cheese), and panelle (chickpea fritters). For dessert, be sure to try some local sweets and pastries such as cassata (a layered dessert made with sponge, ricotta, and candied fruit).
Safety-wise, Agrigento is pretty low-risk - the crime rate is pretty low. And it's easy to get around by walking or taking the bus.
As for accommodation, you have plenty of places to stay, like hotels, B&Bs, and hostels, so you can find something that fits your budget. Just be aware that parking can be a bit of a challenge in the city, so if you're driving, it might be worth looking for a hotel with includes parking.
Best places to stay in Agrigento
Our top hotel picks in Agrigento are:
Erice, best place for mountain charm
Erice is a charming walled 12th-century village located close to the port city of Trapani on the island's western coast. Erice is a charming town located atop a mountain with breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and the Mediterranean Sea. It's a place rich in history, with roots dating back to ancient times.
There are several notable landmarks and attractions in Erice. Visit the Castello di Venus, a castle was once used as a temple dedicated to Venus, and the Church of Santa Maria di Custonaci, a stunning Norman-style church from the 12th century.
In addition, there are over 60 churches to explore in Erice, including the Gothic Chiesa Madre and the Mediaeval Church of Saint John the Baptist. The cobbled Mediaeval streets are a pleasure to wander through, offering stunning views of the Egadi Islands, the Tyrrhenian Sea, and the coastline towards San Vito Lo Capo and Monte Cofano.
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Erice is by taking the cable car from Trapani, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and the Mediterranean Sea as you make your way up the mountain.
I recommend visiting Maria Grammatico's pastry shop in Via Vittorio Emanuele. Opened in 1950, this shop has gained a reputation for its delicious pastries and is also known for the owner's book, Bitter Almonds.
Whether you're a history buff or just searching for a picturesque place to relax and take in the views, Erice is definitely a great place to stay in Sicily.
Erice is a small town, so there is limited accommodations available. There are a few small hotels and B&Bs located in the town centre, many of which are housed in traditional Sicilian buildings with charming architectural features. Some accommodations in Erice offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the Mediterranean Sea.
Best places to stay in Erice
Our top hotel picks in Erice are:
- Luxury: Appartamenti Liberty
- Mid-range: Residence San Martino
- Budget: Sogno Siciliano Turismo Rurale
Castelmola, the best place to stay for quiet and beauty
Castelmola is a village located on a hill behind Taormina, on the island of Sicily, Italy. It is known for its stunning views of the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna, as well as its narrow alleys, bars and restaurants, and ancient buildings. One of the main attractions in the village is the Piazza San Antonino, which offers views of Taormina, the coast, and the surrounding countryside.
The Caffè San Giorgio, a bar that has been open since 1700, is also located in the Piazza and is a must-visit for anyone looking to try the famous almond wine. The village is also home to the Bar Turrisi, which is renowned for its collection of quirky phallic ornaments and statues.
Other landmarks in Castelmola include the small cathedral, or duomo, and the Church of Saint Biagio, which houses a stunning 18th century fresco. The village can be easily reached by car or bus from Taormina, or by taking a scenic hike up the staircase from Porta Messina. Castelmola is one of several "most beautiful villages" in the area.
Castelmola is fairly small, so expect a limited number of accommodation. You can book hotels and bed and breakfasts, as well as holiday rentals and apartments. It is recommended to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak tourist season. If you can't find any places left during peak season, the closest option is to book your stay in Taormina.
Best places to stay in Castelmola
Our top hotel picks in Castelmola are:
Piazza Armerina, best place to stay for Villa Romana del Casale
A landslide in the 12th-century buried the sprawling Villa Romana del Casale. It preserved nearly everything intact, only to be discovered by archaeologists and excavated 8 centuries later. To reach the remote Villa Romana del Casale, you will certainly need a car, and you may want to schedule half a day if you are to explore the entire estate.
One of the Roman Empire’s best-preserved villas, it still retains most of the original interior decorations. The villa is among the most luxurious from that era. You can find some best-preserved mosaics in the world here. You cannot fail to note the quality and richness of the mosaics decorating the rooms; the finest mosaics that are still intact from the Roman world.
In the rooms excavated so far, the mosaic floors detail amazing scenes from contemporary life and mythology. Particularly beautiful are the thermal baths complete with their fountains and colonnaded courtyard. The Villa Romana del Casale is a UNESCO recognized World Heritage Site.
There are a few apartments in the area, located just minutes by car from the villa. Just please remember that the area is more rural and access to a car is desirable and recommended.
Best places to stay in Piazza Armerina
Our top hotel picks inPiazza Armerina are:
Scopello, best area for nature lovers
Many come to stay in Scopello to be close to the Zingaro Nature Reserve. Zingaro Nature Reserve is a protected area located on the northwest coast of Sicily, Italy. It covers about 7.5 miles of coastline and includes a range of habitats, including rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, and Mediterranean shrubland. The reserve is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including many rare and endangered species.
It is a popular destination for nature enthusiasts, with a network of trails that allow visitors to explore the reserve and observe its wildlife. The reserve is managed by the Italian Forestry Corps and is open to the public, although certain areas may be closed to protect the environment.
In addition to its natural beauty, the reserve is also known for its cultural and historical significance, as it includes several ancient ruins and archaeological sites.
The trail at Zingaro Nature Reserve is a 3-hour round trip that takes you through a beautiful path with stunning panoramic views of the blue sea. Along the way, you'll have access to several beautiful coves where you can swim during or after your hike. This trail is easy to navigate and offers a great opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the reserve.
Scopello is extremely popular with local and international tourists, and I recommend visiting the reserve during off-peak seasons or on weekdays to avoid large crowds.
There are various accommodation options available near the Zingaro Nature Reserve, ranging from private villas for up to 6 adults to suites with a pool.
Best places to stay in Scopello
Our top hotel picks in Scopello are: