Recommended 7 days Sicily itinerary: the perfect road trip to see the best of Sicily in 7 days. Updated Nov. 2020
Sicily is one of the most beautiful and interesting parts of the whole of Italy.
Rich in history, art, culture and blessed with beautiful scenery and some of the most delicious food you will ever taste, it is a must see for any type of traveler, may they be an art lover, a beach seeker or a mix of both!
The island is big and so rich in attractions that is a world in itself, so if you have only 7 days to see Sicily, some careful planning is recommended.
In this guide, I share my favorite 7 day Sicily itinerary: I believe this will allow you to see Sicily’s highlights without having to rush.
At the end of the article, I will also add alternative ideas should you have additional time or prefer to swap some of the recommended stops with different ones.
I hope you enjoy it. Safe travels!
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Sicily itinerary 7 days
|Day||What you will see||Driving time|
|2||Taormina (town, ancient site)||3 h|
|3||Siracusa (city, ancient site)||1.5h|
|4||Marzamemi and Noto (fishing villages, UNESCO town)||1.5 h|
|5||Ragusa Ibla and Modica (Unesco towns)||1h|
|6||Valley of the Temples, Scala de’ Turchi (historical coastline)||3h|
|7||Scopello, Riserva dello Zingaro, back to Palermo (village, coastline)||2h|
7 day Sicily itinerary – day by day stops and tips
Day 1 – Palermo, the big city with immense charm
Palermo is the biggest city in Sicily and an absolutely wonderful one, likely to capture your heart with its beautiful architecture and your stomach with its amazing food!
The city is home to several architectural styles ranging from Arab Norman style buildings to Baroque churches and in this sense is a fantastic place to get a sense of the wealth of cultures and nations that called Sicily home over the course of the centuries.
Significant buildings and churches are scattered around the city and have that distinctive character of grandeur mixed with decaying splendor that is so typical and so charming about Sicily.
Things you cannot miss in Palermo are:
- Palermo’s cathedral and its incredibly elaborate architecture
- Palazzo dei Normanni and Cappella Palatina,
- Chiesa della Martorana (church)
- Teatro Massimo, one of the biggest lyrical theaters in Italy and Europe
- Palermo old neighborhoods, packed with charm
- Palermo food market, a great place taste some of Sicily’s specialties such as arancine (in Palermo they are feminine, I am told!), panino con la milza, sfincione (in between bread and pizza with a tasty sauce) and of course cassata and cannoli.
Day 2 – Taormina, small town charm with stunning views and archaeological ruins
Taormina is one of the most beautiful and famous sites in Sicily and a real treat, especially for history lovers and glamorous travellers.
Perched on a gorgeous hill overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean sea and with the backdrop of Mount Etna, Taormina is blessed with a wonderful location and has some important historical vestiges that make it a worthwhile cultural stop.
Here you have ancient Greek and Roman ruins, the most impressive of which is the stunning ancient theater.
It sits right in the center of town and is one of the most scenic places you will ever see as uses as scenographic backdrop the stunning Taormina bay!
Taormina is also an elegant town with beautiful shops and restaurants, beloved for decades by the the European elite (It was a stop on the Grand Tour).
You can read our full travel guide to Taormina here.
Day 3 – Syracuse / Siracusa, one of the most beautiful cities in Italy
Located on the Eastern coast of Sicily, Siracusa too my breath away when I saw it and I don’t say things like this lightly!
I found its historical center and the duomo absolutely stunning and are now one of my favorite places in the whole of Sicily.
Siracusa has two main areas of interest to the visitor: the ancient town center, which develops on the island of Ortigia and the archaeological park.
The jewel in the crown of Siracusa is Ortigia, the island that forms the ancient city centre.
The first site you encounter on visiting is the impressive temple of Apollo: now in ruins, part of its perimeter still stands and bear witness of the ancient origins of the city
From here, small alleys dotted with shops and restaurants meander across the island and eventually open onto the stunning Piazza Duomo.
Here, you have the impressive Siracusa cathedral, which towers above a sunny square with restaurants and cafes popular with locals and tourists alike.
Away for the centre but only a short bus ride away by local transport sits the other sight you cannot miss in Siracusa.
The city’s archaeological parks. With ruins dating back to Greek and Roman times, a stunning theater and the impressive latomie, this is gorgeous part of the city where nature and history come together to create a special corner of historical delights.
Day 4 – Marzamemi and Noto, small village charm and important art city
In the South East of Sicily lies another area of incredible charm and interest, Val di Noto.
This area is famous for being home to 8 towns with stunning baroque architecture, so beautiful and unique to have been listed as UNESCO world heritage site.
They are: Caltagirone, Catania, Militello in Val Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa and Scicli.
These cities were all rebuilt in 1693 on or beside older cities that got destroyed by an earthquake that took place in that same year and are significant both for their beautify and for the peculiarity of their construction, which is proof of a remarkable collective undertaking and give a peculiar feel to the area.
The first town I recommend you visit is Noto itself, which gives name to the area.
I particularly love it at sunset, when the warm tones of the setting sun give its Baroque architecture as wonderful warm color, between golden and pink!
On the way to Noto, I recommend you stop in Marzamemi, a picture perfect fishing village that is an idea lunch stop.
Day 5 – Modica and Ragusa Ibla, stunning UNESCO cities (and the home of Commissario Montalbano!)
Modica and Ragusa Ibla are, like Noto, baroque towns part of the Val di Noto Unesco area.
They are beautiful, important from a history of art point of view and they are also the place where the Montalbano TV series was shot, so if you are a Montalbano fan, you know where to come!
As well as architecture the area of Modica is famous for a special sweet reason: Modica makes amazing chocolate!
Day 6 – Valley of the Temples and Scala de’ Turchi, breathtaking ancient ruins and coastline
One of the most famous attractions in the whole of Sicily if not the most famous of all is the so called valley of the temples, near Agrigento.
The valley is an invaluable archaeological site and is famous for a very well preserved series of Greek temples dating back to the VI century BC.
Now a Unesco heritage site, la Valle dei Templi is vast and deserves a few hours to be visited properly: I recommend you visit the temples first thing in the morning, before the sun gets too strong and the crowds fill the place.
After the Valley, which is wonderful but rather sunny and dry, you can take the short drive to nearby Scala De’Turchi.
This is a place you have most likely seen in photos, with blinding white rocks sloping into the bluest of seas – the perfect place to relax and slow down for the afternoon.
Day 7 – Riserva dello Zingaro and Segesta, coastal beauty and small village charm
The last day of this 7 day road trip itinerary in Sicily leads you back towards the area of Palermo but not quite to the city.
Rather, it focuses on two attractions: the Greek temple of Segesta and the area of the Zingaro Reserve.
I first visited Segesta when I was a child, over Easter, and I still maintain the memory of that first day there: the incredible temple against the Sicilian blue sky and a vast expanse of spring blossoms bursting around it in magnificent colors, definitely worth a stop!
The Zingaro Reserve is nearby and it is a protected area with pristine beaches, wonderful blue sea and old ‘bagli’, ancient walled estates now turned charming town center piazzas and villages.
I recommend you stop in Scopello to make the most of your day here.
Other things you can see in Sicily in 7 days
Sicily has many other attractions that can be worth your time. Some you can add to this itinerary are:
Cefalu lies about 70km east of Palermo and is a lovely seaside town with a charming old centre and great access to the sea.
The main things to see in Cefalu are the duomo, the ancient city walls and the town’s old churches.
Specific attractions aside, however, what is likely to charm you the most about Cefalu is its location and the gorgeous view over the sea you get from this ancient town.
This can be easily visited when going from Palermo to Taormina.
Only 8 KM from Palermo and offering sweeping views over the city, Monreale is a wonderful stop to add to any Sicily itinerary no matter how short, and a special treat especially for architecture lovers.
The town is famous for a glorious Duomo, dating back to the XII century and exceptionally well preserved.
Its facade has two towers and a (later) portico and the inside is decorated with wonderful mosaics, considered among the most remarkable in the whole of Italy.
Monreale is an easy day trip from Palermo and can easily be done while staying in the city.
Perched on a hill overlooking the Gulf of Trapani, Erice is a small village with meandering medieval alleys, charming corners and more churches that its small size may suggest possible.
The most famous sites in Erice are the duomo and the ‘castle of Venere’ but what steals the show here is the landscape around the town.
The views from here are wonderful and expected but be warned: the altitude and expose of Erice means especially in winter you want to wrap up!
You can see Erice in a matter how hours and can be visited between the Valley of the Temples and Palermo.
Piazza Armerina is a lovely, landlocked town in the center of Sicily famous for impressive Roman Mosaics and a lovely city center.
It can be easily reached when traveling from teh area of Modica towards Palermo.
Catania is the first glimpse of Sicily for many thanks to the city’s international airport but this city is way more than an entry point to the island and this is why I include it in this long itinerary.
Located just beside the mighty Etna volcano, the city has a wonderful natural location and stunning baroque architecture in its historical centre.
The city is worth visiting in itself and it is also a great place to make your base for local excursions to Mount Etna, the Alcantara gorges and this part of the Eastern Sicilian coastline.
Planning a trip to Sicily: the best time to go to Sicily
Sicily is a large island in the centre of the Mediterranean, in between mainland Italy and Africa.
This location means that the island gets a typical Mediterranean climate with short, mild winters and very hot summers, with pleasant fall and spring months.
For sightseeing, the best time to go to Sicily is the spring.
At this time you get sunny, dry days but unless you hit a heatwave you are usually spared the really hot temperatures of the summer months (June, July, August).
The fall is also a lovely time to visit the island while winter is a bit hit and miss: while never very cold, Sicily does see rain and grey sky so if you go in winter, it is important to be ready.
This is definitely not a summer-all-year-round destination.
Summer is a great time to visit Sicily if you want to enjoy the beach or want to head to the islands.
It is however not a great time for sightseeing and must be avoided if you don’t like strong heath or get burnt easily.
The sun here is relentless and sightseeing will expose you to the worst of it.
At a glance, this is what to expect in each season.
Visiting Sicily in spring
April – June: this is best time for sightseeing. However, it is crowded with school trips and Easter holiday visitors.
Advanced booking is recommended.
Visiting Sicily in summer
July – mid September: very hot, only suitable for a sea and sun vacations. Advance booking for locations on the coast is mandatory.
Visiting Sicily in fall
Mid Sept – mid November: this is a great time for sightseeing and to avoid excessive crowds.
The only area that might not be ideal at this time are the islands, which get better weather and temperatures as you get close to the summer.
Advance booking recommended
Visiting Sicily in the winter
Mid -Dec to mid March: this is low season, with the exception of Christmas weeks that do see some more tourism.
Many places are closed or close early so while this can be a good way to sight-see without the crowds, you want to make sure you plan your days in advance to avoid disappointments if visiting Sicily in winter.
Festival and festivities in Sicily
Sicily is full of local traditions and festivities and it is worth keeping an eye out for them if you find yourself in the area when they happen.
They can be a wonderful opportunity for a local experience although do be aware that some attract tourism and can also translate into fewer and pricier accommodation options.
Some festivals to keep an eye out for are:
- Festa di Sant’Agata, February 3-5, Catania
- Sagra del Mandorlo in fiore (Almond-blossom Festival), First two weeks of February, Agrigento
- Martedi Grasso (Carnival), Tuesday before Lent, Many towns and cities
- Easter (dates vary)
- Infiorata, Third week of May, Noto
- Festa di St. George, Last Saturday of May, Ragusa
- Greek Classical Theatre, May-July, Siracusa
- International Festival of the Arts, July-August, Taormina
- Festa di St. Rosalia, Second week of July, Palermo
- Cefalù festivals, August (first two weeks) & all of September
- Renaissance Music Festival, August 13-15, Erice
- Ferragosto, (Assumption Day), August 15, National holiday
- Festa della Santa Lucia, December 13 & 20, Siracusa
Driving in Sicily need to know
Driving in Italy is scary for many (see our best tips here on how to handle the Italian traffic), however, I fond Sicily less stressful than expected.
Palermo is a stressful place to drive and if you can, I would recommend you add taking the car into the city, and go to your next stop straight from the airport.
Aside from that, if you stick to motorways (which you will, for many of the locations on this itinerary) you will have no more difficulties in Sicily than anywhere else.
I highly recommend you bring a paper map as well as your gps and also that you rely on the kindness of strangers for directions as sometime, they are less than straightforward!
I hope you enjoyed this 7 day Sicily itinerary and it will be a useful starting pint for you to create your own and have a wonderful stay in Sicily. Safe travels!