Wondering where to stay in Sicily? Sicily is a regular contender and winner of travel awards. The triangular island sits right at the bottom of the boot-shaped Italy. This ancient land boasts several islets, archipelagos, archaeological sites, and popular beaches. The island may be small but its fame is huge as it has the legendary Mount Etna. One thing you can be sure of is that you will definitely find where to stay in Sicily tailored to your own preferences.
As an island, Sicily is uniquely endowed. It’s beautiful, sun-drenched, the landscape is dramatically diverse, the architecture and culture are unique, the food perennially good, and the accommodation awesome. You will be glad to know that Sicily has an all-year-round appeal with mild climate to compliment a rich history, great cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and a warm atmosphere.
Being the biggest Italian Island, it has some of the best places to visit. Here's where to stay in Sicily.
Where to Stay in Sicily (2020 guide) - Contents
Recommendations on Where to Stay in Sicily
This wonderful Italian island has so much to offer and choosing where to stay Sicily is very important. In particular, the place is seriously busy during summer and if you want to get one of the best places to stay in Sicily at that time, start making your bookings well in advance. However, Sicily is vast and it definitely has something for everyone. So here are some of the accommodation options on the island. You can also create a week or two long itineraries and drive around the island, in which case you can position yourself in several spots along the way.
Palermo, the Regional Capital of Sicily
Palermo, the capital, is one of the best places to stay in Sicily. This unforgettable and bustling city boasts stunning, quintessential Italian architecture on nearly every corner. Although you may find this city rather chaotic and dusty, its real beauty is found in the majestic architecture. In particular, look out for the 12th-century cathedral, a classic masterpiece.
Having a rich history, popular attractions include the Norman Palace as well as the Palatine Chapel. Today, the city is more known for its noisy street markets than for its historical and cultural attractions. However, there are historic churches and first-class museums in Palermo that you may want to explore. In Palermo, you get to see art galleries, a great museum, and a magnificent cathedral.
Why stay in Palermo
This is where to stay in Sicily if you plan to see other great sites within the city as Via Roma connects you to most of them. You can easily visit Palermo’s main sites as you also take advantage of the fantastic shopping opportunities. This is a great base for your one-day trips to places like Segesta, Cefalù, Agrigento, and Erice. Palermo has accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes ranging from B&Bs, hostels, guest houses, villas, self-catering apartments to luxury five-star hotels.
Where to stay in Palermo
Here is a list of all our favourite accommodations in Palermo. If you love history, culture and beauty, then this is the city for you.
Catania, Sicily’s Second Largest City
Located on the Eastern side of Sicily, along the Ionian coast, Catania sits in the shadows of Mount Etna. An eruption on Mt Etna in 1669 covered Catania in lava and only 24 years later in 1693, a powerful earthquake shook down the town to its foundations.
The amazing fact is that most of the old town got rebuilt, using lava. Catania is, therefore, described as a rather grey and dull city. What, however, brings visitors to the city is the people, the lively daily life, the bustling fish markets, and the city scents.
Why stay in Catania
Catania is among the best places to stay in Sicily. This will be the ideal base if you are planning on hitting the Eastern and Southern coast of Sicily. It also offers an endless list of day trip options that ensure your days in Sicily are never dull. If you want to enjoy an interesting city like no other, made of lava, then you'd want to stay in Catania.
Where to stay in Catania
Here is a list of all our favourite accommodations in Catania. They range in price so you can pick the most suitable for you.
Taormina, the Scenic Hilltop Town
The scenic town of Taormina is perfectly perched on a hilltop overlooking the open ocean. This is perfect for those seeking a blissful coastal break accompanied by stunning views. Love nature? This is a great place to stay in Sicily as you will have lots of hiking opportunities in the surrounding hills. If you are a history scholar, it may interest you to know that the history of Taormina goes back to the 4th century and is epic.
But what brings visitors to Taormina is its beauty, particularly the presence of important historical monuments. Another attraction is Greek Theatre where you get to enjoy many stage concerts and an endless list of cultural activities.
Why stay in Taormina
Although the town is set rather high in the hillside, two nearby beaches qualify it as one of the best places to stay in Sicily for families, couples, and groups. Beaches dot the bottom of Taormina’s rocky cliffs and getting to get to them is easy thanks to an efficient cable car system. 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.
Where to stay in Taormina
Although the picturesque Taormina only has a couple of hotels mostly in the upscale category, you cannot lack a decent place where to stay in Sicily when in these parts of the Island. The fact that you will certainly have to share it with lots of other visitors doesn’t diminish its beauty.
Mount Etna, the Legendary Volcano
If you are on the island of Sicily, it’s impossible to miss the Etna volcano. This ranks high among the main attractions and must be included in your Sicilian tour. From Catania and Taormina, there are many viewpoints that allow you to marvel at the volcano from a distance. However, being so close, it would be a pity if you missed the opportunity of climbing up and peeping into its crater, right? What will be more unforgettable than that!
Why stay near Mount Etna
For the views! The views are absolutely breathtaking, making it one of the most iconic places to stay in Sicily.
For adventurers, the best approach is to go for a one-day or half-day excursion either from Taormina or Catania. Many tour operators have full packages that cover transport (4WD), equipment, and guide. You could, of course, drive there, but because you will not be supervised, you must be careful in choosing the right gear.
Remember that if you don’t have a guide, you cannot go beyond the first level, that’s after the cable car. To climb to the 2nd level and reach the crater you must be in a guided minibus.
Where to stay near Mount Etna
Whether you fancy a chic villa with a vineyard or a stunning chalet with a rustic feel to it, there are several places you can pick from right at the base of Mount Etna.
Syracuse, the Timeless “Eureka” Wonder
‘Eureka!’ We have all come across that famous exclamation. Being the site where Archimedes coined that term, Syracuse not only encapsulates the timeless wonder that is Sicily but is also one of the best places to stay in Sicily. Founded by the Greeks, Syracuse has nurtured many famous Greek politicians, poets, and mathematicians. You can enjoy the ancient past as you tour its archaeological area that is packed with monuments, temples, an amphitheatre, a theatre, and a necropolis.
Why stay in Syracuse
The 5th-century Greek Theatre still stages theatrical productions and boasts one of the largest open seating areas that the ancient Greeks ever built. Syracuse also has plenty of stylish family-friendly apartments and hotels. Also, if you want luxury, some of the hotels are pretty fantastic looking.
Where to stay in Syracuse
Syracuse looks elegant and it's home to several luxurious hotels with views of the Ionian Sea. With its small quaint streets all lined with fantastic restaurants and breathtaking views over the sea and Etna volcano, Syracuse is one of the most beautiful places to stay in Sicily.
Ortigia – Siracusa’s Island Heart
Technically part of Syracuse, Ortigia comes highly recommended as a great place where to stay in Sicily. If you want to get the best out of this island, we recommend you simply wander. Why do we say that? Because it’s rather difficult to get lost on the island of Ortigia as it measures a mere 1 km by 500 meters.
The beauty of the place is that it has lots of 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.
Why stay in Ortigia
Travelling with family? Ortigia is ideal as it has plenty of family attractions all found within walking distance from each other. You will also love its car-free piazzas.
Where to stay in Ortigia
Ortigia has a handful of hotels but they all have their virtues. We recommend relaxing in an apartment with stunning views or renting a luxurious room with sunset views. Here are our favourite places to stay in Ortigia.
Cefalù, the Family-Friendly Seaside Area
This is a popular family destination in Sicily. It boasts of a superb family-friendly seaside area surrounded by houses and terraces where you can comfortably relax. Take time and also visit the local Roman baths or head to the ancient Norman Cathedral and catch a glimpse of Christus Pantokrator, a world-famous fresco of Jesus Christ.
If large crowds discomfit you but still want to visit, try Cefalù around October-November or during the spring. At that time, the weather is still warm and lovely with hardly any tourists around.
Why stay in Cefalù
If you are looking for a break on the beach, Cefalù may not be your best option but it remains one of the best places to stay in Sicily for many other reasons. Admire the amazing panorama from the pier and old port, or stroll through the town’s narrow streets packed with restaurants and shops. Finally, climb La Rocca di Cefalù, the cliff overlooking the town for some spectacular views.
Where to stay in Cefalù
Cefalù is a wonderful place to stay in Sicily but also very popular. So expect more expensive accommodation. However, we collected an array of options to suit you and your budget.
The Picturesque Seven Aeolian Islands
The Aeolian Islands are located on Sicily’s northern shore and it’s estimated that over 200,000 visitors come here annually. The seven islands making up the archipelago were formed by volcanic and seismic activity. The islands of Vulcano and Stomboli have active volcanoes which attract adventurous travellers from all corners of the world.
Why stay on the Aeolian Islands
If climbing active volcanoes is not your idea of fun, then the luxury resorts and white-washed villages may appeal to you. They give the Aeolian Islands a picturesque look comparable to none. Steaming fumaroles can be found on most of the islands and nothing beats relaxing in a percolating mud pool or lazing in comfy bubbling thermal waters.
Love water sports? Then you are in for a treat as the Islands have great beaches, diving, boat rentals, and scenic boat excursions. You can also move easily across the islands as they are well-connected by ferry. Prehistoric sites are also plenty including sites from Roman and Greek periods.
Where to stay on the Aeolian Islands
The Aeolian Islands offer some incredible accommodation with fantastic vista points. However, given the popularity of the islands, we do recommend that you book your hotel in advance.
The UNESCO Recognized Villa Romana del Casale in Enna
A landslide in the 12th-century buried the sprawling Villa Romana del Casale outside Enn. 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.
Why stay near the Villa Romana del Casale in Enna
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 of the 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 collonaded courtyard. The Villa Romana del Casale is a UNESCO recognized World Heritage Site.
Where to stay near the Villa Romana del Casale in Enna
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.
Segesta, and the Amazing Doric Temple
Looking for a vintage place where to stay in Sicily? Think Segesta. Located on the island’s northwestern part, this was among the major cities of the Elymians, an indigenous Sicilian people who also founded Erice. You must visit the Doric temple in Segesta.
Why stay near Segesta
Built-in the late 5th century BC, the temple is well preserved and lies just outside the ancient site. You will marvel at the 6×14 Doric columns. Perched on a hill, the temple setting is simply beautiful. It will give you stunning views that stretch all the way to the sea.
Where to stay near Segesta
There are some villas with lovely rooms in the vicinity of the Segesta. Here you can really take a moment to appreciate the rural Sicily and indulge in the quiet countryside life. You can rent a car and head over to the nearby sea town called Castellammare del Golfo.
The Zingaro Nature Reserve
Concluding our list of the best places to stay in Sicily is Zingaro Nature Reserve. Undoubtedly, this is Sicily’s most famous nature reserve. You can easily access Zingaro Nature Reserve from Trapani or Scopello.
Why stay near the Zingaro Nature Reserve
On the easy 3-hour long trail (back and forth), you get to enjoy the stunning panoramas as you walk through a beautiful path that overlooks the blue sea. Need more reason to head to Zingaro Nature Reserve? It offers access to several super beautiful coves where you can go for a swim anytime during your hike or after. Isn’t life in Sicily beautiful?
Where to stay near Zingaro Nature Reserve
From private villas for up to 6 adults to lovely suites with a pool, there is plenty of accommodation available near the Zingaro Nature Reserve. Here are our favourite places to stay.
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