A guide to things to do in Sicily

Whether you’re here for the history or the hiking, or just to unwind on the beach, there are plenty of ways to spend your time during holidays to Sicily. There are ancient cities within reach of a pair of active volcanoes, and plenty of opportunities for shopping, dining or whiling away time on a sun-soaked boat trip around the island.

Hills and hikes

Two of Sicily’s most famous attractions are Mount Etna and Stromboli – active volcanoes with incredible views. If admiring from a distance isn’t for you, you can take a guided hike up either, or rest your legs on an Etna jeep tour. Etna also has a cable car, the Funivia dell’Etna, which can take you 2,500 metres up the side of the volcano. Visit between November and March and it’s often possible to ski down Mount Etna as well.

Stromboli is its own island just off the coast of Sicily, and can be viewed from one of numerous boat tours. For the more confident hiker, guided walking trips are available, and going at night is recommended to see the mini-eruptions that occur every 15 minutes or so. Stromboli is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, so while you might want to avoid getting too close to the top, it’s worth visiting as the sun sets to get the best view of the action.

Black and white beaches

Depending on where you look, you can find vast stretches of pure white sand or shores black with the colour of volcanic ash. Sicily holidays offer a number of beautiful beaches spread over 1,000 kilometres of shoreline, from pebbled coves to golden bands of suntanning space that drift into scenic nature reserves.

There are no less than six Blue Flag awarded beaches in Sicily, an island that offers some of the cleanest waters in Europe for you to swim in.

Incredible histories

Sicily is home to some of the most incredible historic sites in Europe, from Roman theatres to some of the best preserved Greek temples in the world. The Valle dei Templi, or Valley of the Temples, in Agrigento is an Italian national monument, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s one of the main attractions for visitors to the island.

The valley is home to seven ancient temples, many of which were built more than 2,000 years ago and all of which can be explored today. Agrigento has a station, so it can be reached easily and affordably from Cefalu.

For spectacular views of Mount Etna, visit the Ancient Greek theatre of Taormina. This is Sicily’s second largest amphitheatre and dates back more than 2,300 years. Operatic events and other performances are still held here, so it’s worth checking to see if you can catch a show in these incredible surroundings during your stay.

The Sicilian cities of Palermo and Syracuse are each well over 2,000 years old and are both home to fascinating Archaeological Museums. It’s also worth making a trip to the Villa Romana del Casale just outside the town of Piazza Armerina in the centre of Sicily. This villa houses the world’s largest collection of mosaics.

A touch of retail therapy

Of course, it never hurts to treat yourself to a few trinkets and souvenirs on holiday. The bigger cities all have plenty of high-street fashion offerings, but check out the crafts and antiques market held on the second weekend of each month at Mascalucia if you want something a little more unique.

Palermo is a great place to find edible delicacies to take home, and you won’t struggle to find small shopping boutiques full of character wherever you go.