Are you planning a trip to Sicily, the beautiful island at the end of the Italian boot? Pick a city to stay in while in Sicily!
Sicily, the largest of all the islands in the Mediterranean Sea, is only two miles away from the mainland and is an autonomous province of Italy. Its capital is Palermo, one of the largest cities in Italy. With 5,032,818 inhabitants (2017) spread over 25,709 km² and more than 4 million tourists visiting the island each year, finding accommodation to stay in Sicily will be relatively expensive, so you should be informed and plan in advance. In summer, the prices of youth hostels, hotels, studios, villas, “pensione” in the home can literally rise. But Sicily has something to seduce everyone and it is not just the escapades of Cosa Nostra and the beaches: 1,000 miles of coastline, a dream climate, a cultural wealth and landscapes as varied as they are sumptuous.
Travelling through Etna, Stromboli, the lush mountains to hike in, the north coast with Palermo, the east with Catania and Syracuse, Agrigento and Gela on the south coast and Trapani on the west side will convince you of one thing: Sicily offers many choices of places to stay, each with different things to do, with different atmospheres and with diverse cultures. Despite all being part of the same island, cities in Sicily have very unique origins, depending on how well they resisted during the numerous invasions of the island, on whether they were besieged or swiftly captured . Some will have retained a Byzantin or even Greco-Roman identity, others will have mainly Arab-Norman architecture. Sicily is a truly diverse and heterogeneous island and we hope this small guide will help you pick where to stay in Sicily.
Also read : The 17 best things to do in Sicily
Palermo and the North Coast
The fruit of numerous consecutive influences, Palermo has an infinitely rich history: it was successively Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Arabic, Norman and Spanish. Proud of these past dominions, this city of 676,118 inhabitants is home to countless architectural masterpieces: churches, palaces, ancient ruins and other historic buildings to visit without fail. The districts vibrate with their authentic markets where Italian and oriental flavors mix, where you can enjoy a myriad of Italian cuisine restaurants and of course, many trendy and festive bars devour the streets in the evening. Eating well will be one of the first things to do in Palermo, a city famous for its culinary traditions. Accommodation in Palermo, as in any major Italian city, can be expensive but it is really worth spending a budget to visit it. As you travel along the coast to Messina, don’t miss Cefalù, the Peloritan Mountains, Nebrodes and the Madonies.
Syracuse and its surroundings
The south of Sicily will undoubtedly seduce lovers of Baroque architecture: from Syracuse to Mazara del Vallo, the villages can be summed up in one word, splendid. If you have not been seduced by Palermo, you still have Catania and Syracuse. While we revisit the ancient corridors of Syracuse – a powerful city that resisted Athens and the Romans (thanks to the famous scientist Archimedes) – we enjoy the more popular Sicilian interior. Not to be missed: the Vendicari nature reserve. Since we are in Sicily, to enjoy excellent swimming, you are in the right place because the water is warm in summer, crystal clear and turns from green to turquoise depending on light and depth.
Catania and Mount Etna
Catania has the primary advantage of offering direct access to the slopes of Mount Etna by a public bus or via private tours. Eastern Sicily shows a gentle mixture of sometimes thundering urban areas and natural settings where Olympian calm reigns. There is always something to do in Catania, a bustling city day and night, with its markets and fish markets, the Roman amphitheater in the middle of modern buildings – a singular anachronism -, Piazza del Duomo, Castello Ursino – a medieval Norman fortress – or its bars to party and enjoy the terraces. If you choose to sleep in Catania, don’t miss Aci Trezza, a small seaside resort with its 8 “Rocks of the Cyclops” in basalt.
To the west, Trapani and Agrigento
If visiting Sicily during a road trip is in your plans, you will necessarily pass through the cities of Trapani and Agrigento on your way. These are two key steps where you need to stop for a night. Trapani is a charming coastal city situated an hour and a half West of Palermo and makes for a great stop right before of after going to the region’s capital. Agrigento is further out South but is absolutely worth staying the night as it is the home of the famous Valley of Temples.
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