Dreaming of an interesting and shiny sunny destination but not too expensive? Welcome to Sicily! The largest island in the Mediterranean, an intriguing and considered destination with plenty of tourism, landscapes, history, picturesque villages, a luxurious and fine center, parks, hiking trails and one big sea all around. All of these meet every day on the famous Sicilian island with a comfortable Mediterranean climate and a lively atmosphere, which will never cease to provide you with original entertainment and lots of interest.
At the trip level, the island consists of several main areas:
The eastern port city of Catania
It is considered the attractive starting point for arrival and excursions and provides rich baroque architecture, ancient sites and scenic views.
the western port city of Palermo
Provides good food, good recreation areas and special villages.
The most central point on the island and also one of its famous sites.
The Aeolian Islands
A group of volcanic islands located north of Sicily and if you’re lucky you can watch spectacular but harmless volcanic eruptions.
Accommodation options in Sicily are very diverse and include all types of accommodation complexes, from cheap apartments and hostels to family villas on the beach and luxury hotels. In total, the island encompasses nearly 9,000 different accommodations!
Sicily does not have a “preferred” accommodation area, because it is a huge and divided island. If you are interested in spending time in more than one place, it is worth considering changing hotels according to the area you want to travel. For example, you can stay at a hotel in Catania for two days and then travel to a hotel in Palermo for another two days. In general, the prices on the island are relatively affordable (even in season) and range from NIS 500 per night for a couple to thousands of NIS, depending on the level of the hotel of course.
It is recommended to experience the accommodation in Sicily specifically outside the big cities and book a hotel in the tiny towns, or stay in the country houses which are considered an excellent option for nature lovers but require a car.
Out of season or at the ends (March and October) the hotels in Sicily are minimally occupied and the prices are very low.
An interesting anecdote about the island hotels concerns the bathroom: you will usually find a strange wire from the outlet, which functions as a distress button in case of emergency and is installed as required by law. And despite that, it’s not certain that if you use it, there will be someone who will refer to it…
Good food is commonplace in Italy, but here it is evident that the typical culinary influence is from North African food. While the restaurants in Sicily are stocked with good pizzas and pastas, couscous with seafood could be the “other” dish that makes your trip. The restaurants on the island range from modern Italian and Mediterranean food to traditional dishes from African cuisine and are usually open from noon. You will also be happy to know that in some restaurants the service is included in the price (look at the last line of the bill), but if you were served a basket of bread and even some wine, you will automatically be charged 2-3 euros per diner. You can say that it is a kind of replacement for the conventional tip.
It is very worthwhile to also address the issue of ice cream on the island, because it is truly one of the best gelato in the land of the boot. Ice cream parlors are found on almost every corner and a day without ice cream in front of the sea is probably a wasted day.
The second largest city on the island and one of its must-sees, functions as an important agricultural and commercial center. In the city you will find the Duomo Square in the center (Piazza Duomo), the symbol of the city – the Fountain of the Elephants (Fontana dell’Elefante) and the Palace of the Elephants (Palazzo Degli Elefanti), Via Vittorio Emanuele famous for its many shops and brands and beyond it the ruins of the Roman Theater (Teatro Romano) and the ancient baths (Complesso Archeologico Terme della Rotonda), the church of San Nicolò overlooking the city and of course the famous volcano Athena.
Among the things that no tourist in Sicily will advise you to miss is Mount Athena: an active volcano with frequent and impressive eruptions, which was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2013. The mountain can be reached from the south by a paved road, which also leads to the two local ski resorts There are guided tours on the mountain, a cable car to the summit and field trips up to the smoking crater. Please note – the summit is snowy throughout the year, dress accordingly. Also, the trip to Athena is relatively long and it is recommended to devote at least half a day to it.
The fourth largest city on the island (in the southeastern region) and in ancient times it was considered the most beautiful city in the world. Here Archimedes worked and lived and in the later period the city was conquered by the Romans. The old city includes a unique bridge and spectacular sites, an archaeological park and also the ruins of the Jewish quarter and the mikvah, which is considered one of the oldest in the world.
At a distance of about 5 km from the small town of Piazza Armerina, there is an impressive and noble villa from the Roman period, which houses the largest collection of mosaic paintings in the world, showing figures and fragments from mythology, alongside more recent paintings.
The Sicilian capital city is also the largest city on the island. Its ancient center is called the “golden shell” thanks to its special architecture, the spectrum of styles from different historical periods and the ancient cultural buildings. The main streets in the old city are Via Roma and Via Maqueda, which can be reached by public transport. Almost all the attractions in Palermo are nearby so you can travel by foot very easily. Among the best spots in the city are the Cathedral of Palermo, the Capuchin Catacombs (where 8,000 of Palermo’s wealthy were buried between the 16th and 20th centuries AD, in their clothes at the time of death), the Reale Palace, Massimo Theater and the lively Bellaro Market.
A small town with a breathtaking view, located about 100 km north of Catania. Bays, special alleys, plenty of food and delicacies in the many restaurants and cafes, a brand pedestrian street (Corso Umberto), Greek theater (Teatro Greco), guided tours (possible) to The volcano Athena and a magnificent cathedral.
The Valley of the Temples in the south of the island (on the outskirts of the town of Agrigento) is considered a world heritage site thanks to the seven Greek temples that exist there, including Tempio della Concordia (Temple of Concordia) and Tempio di Ercole (Temple of Hercules). At the end of the valley is the Tempio di Castore e Polluce – a Hellenistic temple whose four corner pillars have become the symbol of the town. The entrance to the valley is paid.
A dreamy archipelago that includes the seven Aeolian Islands is also on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The islands have known many volcanic eruptions in the past and most of them are uninhabited. The experience is volcanic in every sense: hot thermal springs, black sand, ancient harbors, special sites, small village houses And a lot more. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit the tiny island of Strombol, which has a volcano in the center that is prone to the most intriguing eruptions. You can also visit the larger and more commercialized island of Lipari, and the island of Vulcano with its beautiful landscape, successful spa complexes and a variety of unique natural phenomena.
A tiny island connected to the city of Syracuse by a bridge after which there is a canal. This is a less popular location and therefore devoid of mass legions of tourists. However, the island has a lot to offer: interesting views of the sea, good restaurants (very!), brand stores, special buildings and more.
Must stop in Sicily! The beach is located on the island of Lampedusa which is south of Sicily and can only be reached by boat. The beach is considered one of the most beautiful in the world as well as one of the only places in the Mediterranean that serves as a nesting area for brown sea turtles.
There is no other way to say it – driving in Sicily is a difficult, complex and exhausting experience. Most of the roads are very narrow and without curbs and, as befits Italians, driving is done very fast. Sicilians are rude people on the road, clinging and not keeping their distance often. Renting a car in Sicily is worthwhile as long as you have a predetermined itinerary between the destinations of the island and as long as the driving is not done for long distances. It is mainly recommended to avoid driving in the rain and at night on the highway.
Car rental companies operate here differently than rental companies in other cities such as Rome or Naples. Usually, you will be charged for “extras” when receiving the car (even if it was ordered in advance) that each rental company determines for itself and it is not possible to waive them. In addition, it is not possible to rent a car in Sicily and board a ferry with it to other places in Italy or vice versa. The representatives at the counter do not usually lead you to the car and they will simply give you the key and the license plate number at that moment. This will require you to play “find the treasure” in a field full of similar vehicles.
Most rental companies are based on the “traditional” Fiat Uno, the “modern” Fiat Punto and the “feminine” Fiat Cinco Santo. The reason for this is that the policy of spare parts for cars on the island is rigid and expensive, so renting cars of a different model is a rare thing and only for the wealthy. If you prefer, you can rent “the nose” – a scooter and a sofa with a back compartment.
The company’s policy takes local driving into account, so any knock with damage of less than 10 cm is not considered damage that you will be charged for.
Fuel costs in Italy are not cheap, but in Sicily they are exceptionally expensive. Consider the budget for the issue and also consider the costs of the toll roads and the heavy fines for traffic violations. Even if the rental company will happily let you return the car with a scratch or a very minor hit, it does not mean that you are allowed to drive wildly and break the traffic laws. A routine fine also reaches hundreds of euros and sometimes includes administrative license revocation. Regarding the laws – there is an obligation to always drive (even in summer) with lights on. Please note that when turning left, if the vehicle in front of you is flashing its lights, unlike all of Europe where it is a sign that it is signaling you to pass, in Sicily it means that it is signaling you to stop because it is speeding by.
The road signs in Sicily are not enough to produce the correct direction. It is advisable to use Wiz or Google Maps.
Rain in Sicily is a kind of “opening the gates of heaven” with heavy and powerful volleys. Be very careful driving in the rain, allow motorcycles and scooters to overtake you to get to a safe place before the rain gets stronger and give emphasis to the issue of possible flooding everywhere.
And for dessert the issue of Sicilian driving: blue fringes – paid parking. Yellow border – parking is prohibited. Round and red sign (ZTL) is prohibited entry with the vehicle. On toll roads, payment is made at the end of the road section.
There are direct flights from Israel to Sicily, but they are irregular throughout the year. The flights usually land in Palermo or Catania, and from any of these cities you can go on a magical journey through all of Sicily. You can also fly to Rome or Milan, rent a car, travel along the way and eventually board a ferry directly to Sicily. As mentioned, if you are traveling in the off-season or at the edges, most likely this is the option you will need because outside of the summer season there are no direct flights to Sicily.
Although it is an impressive Mediterranean island with beaches that beckon in July-August, the recommended season in Sicily is from March to June. Those of you who still prefer the tan lines of the great vacation, should take into account the heavy heat that may make hiking very difficult and the heavy loads at the popular sites.
Officially, the tourist season here takes place between March and October. In the off-season most restaurants and shops are closed, but the sites are completely empty and there is a good chance you will have them all to yourself.
Sicily is a physically separate island from Italy but belongs to the country. Visiting Sicily is a completely different experience and you should dedicate a separate trip to it. On the site you will find suggestions and tips for a trip to Sicily.
סיציליה היא האי הגדול ביותר במזרח התיכון ויהיה קשה לכסות את כולה בטיול אחד. אם זו הפעם הראשונה שלכם בהחלט כדאי לא לוותר על ערי הנמל המפורסמות. את כל המידע עליהן תמצאו באתר.
Because Sicily is a vast island, getting around without a car can be cumbersome, so it is very worthwhile to rent a car to make life easy for yourself. You can do this through the website easily.
You should find a good place in the center of the island that will allow you to go on star tours in the area. You can find one on the website and book yourself a place in advance.