16 most beautiful places in Sicily

Last updated on March 15th, 2024.

Sicily is a destination that makes the perfect Italy vacation.

We’re talking sun, sea, history and a rich culture all packed within one island. And with so many beautiful places to visit in Sicily, it’s not surprising why many visitors consider it a dream destination.

A Sicily veteran

Regular readers of my website will know that we’re frequent visitors in Sicily. While our reasons are primarily familial, I never miss the opportunity to share and write about the new places we travel to.

And because of this, I think I’m a good person to comment on which are the most beautiful places in Sicily to visit.

This travel guide will be divided into categories of interest to help simplify different travel tastes. They are:

  • Sicily for history lovers
  • Sicily for beach lovers
  • Sicily for lovers of small villages/borghi

Make a note of which of these destinations you’d most like to see as you continue reading.

An island that constantly ranks as one of the best places in Italy, this practical post will help you plan your Italy trip.

A local’s insight

Our home on the east coast of Sicily is an ideal location for exploring the many Sicilian towns, big and small. An hour or so drive south takes us to the Sicilian Baroque city of Noto, home to our relatives’ magnificent glamping site.

Alongside my personal recommendations, I’ll also be adding some local Sicily travel tips that’ll help you prepare for your vacation.

16 most beautiful places in Sicily

Sicily for history lovers

Learn more about Sicily’s history from its extraordinary architectural sites.

From Ancient Greek temples to Sicilian Baroque architecture, the following destinations will provide a real-life education.

Taormina

The hilltop town of Taormina should need little introduction.

A destination that makes a great addition to any east Sicily itinerary, its popularity sees no signs of slowing down.

Instead, thanks to popular TV shows like The White Lotus being filmed in Taormina, visitor numbers have only continued to grow. Keeping on the topic of filming locations in Italy, Taormina was also one of several filming locations of The Godfather in Sicily.

Things to know about visiting Taormina

But while Taormina is one of the most beautiful places in Sicily to visit, visiting during the summer season can be problematic.

For one, Taormina gets extremely busy during summer. This makes parking impossible to find if you’ve rented a car to travel to Taormina.

Another thing to know about visiting Taormina in July or August are the prices. Hotels, eating out and booking tours tend to be much higher than dining or finding accommodation outside of the town.

I’ve written about these points, and more, in greater detail in my guide on things to know before visiting Taormina.

Two of the most popular attractions in Taormina include the Ancient Theater of Taormina (Teatro Antico di Taormina) and Isola Bella.

Ancient Theater of Taormina

The Ancient Theater of Taormina is an Ancient Greek-Roman theater that runs as an open-air museum and a concert venue.

Booking tickets in advance for the Theater of Taormina is advisable if visiting in July or August.

Lines build up quickly and there’s nothing comfortable about waiting in line beneath the sweltering Sicilian sun.

Taormina town center - most beautiful places in Sicily
Piazza Aprile IX in Taormina is one of the most beautiful places in Sicily to visit
Isola Bella

Isola Bella is a small island and nature reserve that’s accessible by a narrow sandy path. For me, it’s one of the best free things to do in Sicily.

It shouldn’t be confused by an island of the same name, Isola Bella, which is located in Lake Maggiore in Piedmont.

Syracuse (Siracusa)

A mecca for first-time visitors to Sicily, the city of Syracuse makes a perfect Sicily day trip.

Syracuse, located in south-east Sicily, has plenty of things to do in 1 day. One of the top Syracuse attractions include visiting the Neapolis Archaelogical Park, which is home to the Greek Theater (Teatro Greco) and more.

Greek Theater in Siracusa — Lisa Rivera outside Noto Cathedral - most beautiful places in Sicily
Enjoying the view from the Greek Theater in Syracuse — most beautiful places in Sicily

But, to discover more of Syracuse, you need to cross over to the island of Ortygia (Ortigia).

Explore the island on foot or on a boat trip, Ortygia is unmissable.

Stroll through the pretty Sicilian streets and get lost in the side streets until you reach the Piazza del Duomo. Here you’ll find the incredible Syracuse Cathedral (Cattedrale della Natività di Maria Santissima).

Also, in the square is one of my favorite baroque churches, Santa Lucia alla Badia. It’s known for its painted ceramic floor and for housing Caravaggio’s ‘Burial of Saint Lucy’ original painting.

Where to eat in Ortygia, Syracuse

There’s one restaurant we return to again and again when in Syracuse and that’s Ristorante Don Camilo.

A family-run restaurant, the food’s not just top quality, but it also has a wine cellar with over 800 varieties.

Ristorante Don Camilo, Via della Maestranza, 96

Ragusa and Modica

The Sicilian Baroque cities of Ragusa Ibla and Modica make an ideal 2-in-1 day trip in Sicily.

Prior to seeing both cities, we’d made a short stop to visit Ispica. Another small Sicilian town with several things to do and see, it should be included in this list of most beautiful places in Sicily.

For a small city, Ragusa Ibla has an impressive number of churches within its vicinity.

Dominating Piazza Duomo is the 18th century Duomo San Giorgio. Other notable attractions to see include St. John the Baptist Church (Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista) and Ragusa Castle.

One of the most beautiful places in Sicily, the culinary scene in Ragusa Ibla is just as impressive. We dined at the fabulous Locanda Don Serafino Historical Boutique Hotel and was blown away by the quality and service.

A cave turned boutique hotel and restaurant, a meal here will complete your visit to Ragusa Ibla.

Locanda Don Serafino, Via XI Febbraio, 15, Ragusa

What to see in Ragusa and Modica - Duomo San Giorgio
Duomo di San Giorgio in Ragusa

Delicious delights in Modica

Just 20 minutes’ drive from Ragusa Ibla is the smaller city of Modica.

Along with its spectacular 17th century cathedral, Duomo di San Giorgio, Modica is famously known for its chocolate.

What to see in Ragusa and Modica - Bonajuto chocolate
Sample Modica’s most famous export

An iconic export from Modica, the chocolate has a unique grainy texture and isn’t overly sweet. Sample different varieties of the chocolate and take some home as a souvenir from Antica Dolceria Bonajuto.

My favorite place to buy chocolate in Modica, one bite will make your trip that much sweeter.

Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, Corso Umberto I, 159, Modica

Map of Sicily

Noto

Moving further south, and to the east of Sicily, is another city bursting with Sicilian Baroque architectural delights.

There are plenty of good reasons to visit Noto, but the number one attraction has to be Noto Cathedral (Cattedrale di Noto).

Dating to the 17th century, the grand orchestra of steps leading to its entrance only adds to its magnificent grandeur.

Lisa Rivera outside Noto Cathedral - most beautiful places in Sicily
Standing outside Noto Cathedral — one of the most beautiful places in Sicily to visit

The cathedral’s located on the cobbled main street of Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Once you’re done exploring the church, walk the length of the street, where you’ll enjoy one architectural delight after the other.

Highlights of Noto

Another principle street in Noto, Via Nicolaci has two claims of fame to its name. The first is for the stunning Villadorata Palace, an 18th century building with wrought-iron balconies and theatrical figures hanging beneath.

The name also lends itself to a wonderful boutique hotel of the same name, Seven Rooms Villadorata. Located in Noto’s historic center, I can’t sing its praises enough.

Infiorata di Noto – most beautiful places in Sicily
A colorful floral display at the Infiorata di Noto

Noto’s second claim is the colorful Infiorata di Noto festival. A floral display that covers several of the streets in Noto, it’s a fiesta completely unique to the city.

For me, this makes Noto one of the most beautiful places to visit in Sicily.

Local tip: enjoy a granita Siciliana and brioche at Bar Pasticceria Mangiafico Mandolfiore. Located away from the main street of Via Nicolaci, it serves up flavorful granita, fluffy brioche and a whole host of other Sicilian sweets.

Bar Pasticceria Mangiafico Mandolfiore, Via Ducezio, 2, Noto

Palermo

A visit to Sicily’s capital has everything you could want from a city break: attractions, one of the best food cultures in Italy and an electric atmosphere. Palermo is also one of my picks for one of the most affordable cities in Italy to visit.

Spend 2 — or 3 — days in Palermo, and discover a side of Sicily that caters to both visitors and locals.

Palermo’s most iconic attractions include Quattro Canti, Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale), Palermo Cathedral (Cattedrale di Palermo) and Teatro Massimo.

Some of the most beautiful displays of architecture and history in one place, Palermo is a city that doesn’t disappoint.

Inside La Cappella Palatina - most beautiful places in Sicily
La Cappella Palatina inside Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo

Eat your way around Palermo

One of my favorite places to eat in Sicily, don’t miss out on trying some Sicilian street food when in Palermo.

Head to one of the many vendors along Via Maqueda to try pane e panelle or a traditional pane cunzatu. If, however, you want to learn more about Sicilian street food, a guided tour is the way to go.

Polpo at Ballaro market - Palermo things to do
Dig into some fresh octopus at Ballarò market in Palermo, one of the most beautiful places in Sicily

Take a tour of some of Palermo’s food markets, before sampling the local street food on offer. A food tour is a fun, and delicious, way to learn more about the island’s food culture. Some of my favorite Palermo tours include:

Local tip: experience traditional Sicilian homestyle cooking at Trattoria Ai Cascinari. A family-run trattoria, this no-frills setting serves up rustic Palermitano meals.

Trattoria Ai Cascinari, Via D’Ossuna, 43/45, Palermo

Agrigento

Sitting high on a hilltop on the southwest of Sicily is the city of Agrigento.

The city’s known for being home to two famous sights, one of them being the Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi).

The archaeological site is home to the ancient city of Akragas, where you can see many of the Greek temples.

While some are more ruins than structures, others are incredibly impressive and provide great insight to the past. One of several sights we saw on our Sicily road trip, I encourage you to see it for yourself.

Lisa Rivera standing outside temple in Valle dei Templi - Sicily road trip - Palermo to Agrigento
A sight to be seen: Valley of the Temples in Agrigento Sicily

Like many popular attractions, it’s advisable to avoid visiting the Valley of the Temples in July and August. Another thing is to book your tickets in advance and arrive as early as possible to beat the crowds and the stifling temperatures.

To the west of Agrigento is the city’s second most popular spot: the Turkish Steps (Scala dei Turchi). The steep white limestone cliffs overlook the Mediterranean Sea, making it a prime spot for bathing and relaxing with friends.

Easily two of the most beautiful places in Sicily, Scala dei Turchi and Valley of the Temples shouldn’t be missed.

Catania

Over on the eastern side of Sicily is another major center, the city of Catania.

Though its historic center is smaller than Palermo, Catania has an impressive number of attractions within its vicinity.

If you’ve only 1 day in Catania, seeing everything the city center has to offer is doable.

Start at Porta Uzeda, one of the main entrances to the historic heart of Catania. As you pass through the arch, you’ll be greeted by the eye-opening Piazza del Duomo.

Outside St. Agata Cathedral in Catania Sicily
Outside St. Agata Cathedral in Catania Sicily credit: hein56didden via Wikimedia

It’s here where you’ll find several of Catania’s top attractions. They include the Cathedral of St. Agatha (Cattedrale di Sant’Agata), Chierici Palace (Palazzo dei Chierici) and the Elephant Fountain (Fontana dell’Elefante).

Local tip: one of the most instagrammable spots in Catania is Via Gisira. Overhead are streams of colorful umbrellas that makes for a very pretty photo.

Scicli

A destination that doesn’t feature on many Sicily bucket lists, but should, is the city of Scicli.

Pronounced ‘Sheek-lee’, there’s plenty of things to do within its small city center. This allows ample time to comfortably visit its main sights and at a leisurely pace.

Aside from August, Scicli also doesn’t get as busy as other Sicilian cities.

Gelato in front of the Comune di Scicli - most beautiful places in Sicily
The striking comune di Scicli, one of the most beautiful places in Sicily

Get up and close with the striking façade of Scicli’s town hall (Comune di Scicli). The film location of the Italian TV series, Inspector Montalbano, taking a tour is essential for fans of the franchise.

My local recommendation for Scicli is to visit the Antica Farmacia Cartia. Once a local pharmacy that today runs as a history museum, it gives you a first-hand look into Scicli’s past.

Antica Farmacia Cartia, Via Francesco Mormino Penna, 24, Scicli

Palazzolo Acreide

If you like your travels off the beaten track, make a note of Palazzolo Acreide.

Situated among the Iblei Mountains in southern Sicily, the small city has Ancient Greek roots and remarkable Sicilian Baroque architecture.

One of the best things to do in Palazzolo Acreide is to visit St. Sebastian’s Church (Basilica di San Sebastiano).

Piazza del Popolo — Palazzolo Acreide, most beautiful places in Sicily
The Basilica di San Sebastiano in Palazzolo Acreide

A baroque façade of jujube stone secures the basilica’s place as the star attraction in the Piazza del Popolo. Other must-see churches include St. Paul’s Church (Basilica di San Paolo) and St. Michael’s Church (Basilica di San Michele).

Away from the communal areas are the medieval streets of Palazzolo Acreide. Uneven stones lead the way to original structures dating to the Middle Ages.

Local tip: make a detour to Corsino. A sublime pastry shop in Palazzolo Acreide, it has been keeping customers’ tummies happy since 1868.

Corsino, Via Nazionale, 2, Palazzolo Acreide

Sicily for beach lovers

When on an island surrounded by the glorious Mediterranean and Ionian Sea, visiting a Sicily beach is a given. And, Sicily doesn’t disappoint when it comes to beach lovers looking for a little R&R.

Isola delle Correnti

The (second) southernmost point of Italy, Isola delle Correnti is beach mecca.

As you continue the drive further south, you start to feel more detached not just from Sicily, but from Italy too.

Though the name of the area is called Isola delle Correnti, it actually refers to the small separate island.

To get there, you need to wade through knee-deep water (may vary depending on the season) from the mainland. On the island is a lighthouse, abandoned building and grasslands.

Wade through the water to reach Isola delle Correnti - most beautiful places in Sicily
Cross over to reach Isola delle Correnti

Food places in Isola delle Correnti are few, typically expensive and not great quality. The lines also tend to be painfully long and slow moving.

Instead, look for a bakery or supermarket beforehand and stock up on food and drink.

Lipari

The largest of the Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie), Lipari embodies the best of the Mediterranean.

A 1-hour ferry ride from Milazzo in Messina, the island offers a perfect blend of attractions and relaxation.

One of the best things do in Lipari is to visit Marina Corta. The beating heart of Lipari, the district is filled with bars, shops and restaurants.

Some of the main sights to see include Lipari Castle (Castello di Lipari). A castle complex consisting of buildings built atop a volcanic rock, it’s an iconic landmark on the island.

A marina with boats — plan a trip to Italy
Marina Corta in Lipari, one of the most beautiful places in Sicily

What makes Lipari one of the most beautiful places in Sicily are its beaches. There are over 8 to choose from, with some offering loungers and chairs for rent.

No trip to the Aeolian Islands is complete without visiting one of the other neighboring islands. Boat trips, like this one to Panarea and Stromboli, are popular and absolutely worth booking.

Visit the lava fountains in the Sciara del Fuoco on Stromboli or enjoy a day trip to Vulcano. It doesn’t matter what type of Italy boat tour you choose, just as long as you book one.

Favignana

On the west coast of Sicily is another group of islands called the Aegadian Islands.

Like Lipari, Favignana is a summer destination island on which Italians like to vacation.

A quiet street scene on Favignana island in Sicily
A quiet street scene on Favignana island in Sicily

Blessed with pretty beaches and dramatic caves, Favignana is a destination perfect for a honeymoon in Italy. The aptly named Lovers Cave (Grotta degli Innamorati) is one attraction that’s popular among couples.

My recommendation for where to stay in Favignana is the I Pretti Resort. Consisting of luxurious suites overlooking the sea, there’s no prettier location on the island.

I Pretti Resort, Via Molo S. Leonardo, 1

Sicily for lovers of small villages/borgi

Swap the crowds and noise of the bigger cities for the rural and rustic small Sicilian towns and villages. Sicily has plenty to see, each of them brimming with their own particular charm.

Marzamemi

The small borgo of Marzamemi exudes plenty of Mediterranean charm. Located in the south of Sicily, it’s an ideal stopover before visiting Isola delle Correnti.

One of the best things to do in Marzamemi is to explore its town center.

Piazza Regina Margherita is like a scene pinched straight from a postcard. Bright pink bougainvillea and hanging wall gardens provide a colorful backdrop to the brilliant white tables and blue chairs.

Piazza Regina Margherita - most beautiful places in Sicily
Piazza Regina Margherita in Marzamemi

Do as many visitors do in Marzamemi, and dine — and drink — at one of the many restaurants and bars. Seafood and fish are king here, but there are plenty of other options if you’re not keen.

Follow in our footsteps by dining at two of our favorite restaurants in Marzamemi. Located right in Piazza Regina Margherita, Liccamuciula or Ristorante Cortile Arabo serve fresh fish and other typical Sicilian dishes.

Liccamuciula, Piazza Regina Margherita, 2, Marzamemi
Ristorante Cortile Arabo, Vicolo Villadorata, Marzamemi

Castelmola

If I’d to describe the village of Castelmola in one word, it’d be ‘cute’.

Perched high on a hilltop on the south-east coast of Sicily, this pocket-size village has enough sights to see in one day.

Castelmola, along with the small town of Savoca, holds the title as one of the most beautiful borghi in Italy (and in Sicily). The small village has been ruled by several different rulers, including the Greeks, Byzantines and the Normans.

Piazza San Antonino - Castelmola, most beautiful places in Sicily
Piazza San Antonino in Castelmola, one of the most beautiful places in Sicily

And, it’s the latter that left the most noticeable influence on Castelmola. The ruins of the Norman castle walls are all that’s now left of the once impressive fortress. From the top, the views are pretty and far reaching, overlooking Sicily and the Ionian Sea below.

Local tip: stop for a drink, a bite to eat, or both at Bar Turrisi. Pay a visit to this eccentric bar in Castelmola, have a drink and discover it for yourself.

Bar Turrisi, Via Papa Pio IX, 19, Castelmola

Forza d’Agrò

Like Castelmola, you won’t need a full day to visit Forza d’Agrò.

The small village is known for its Norman castle that sits at its highest point.

However, whether the castle’s open to the public remains a grey area. Some search engines report it as ‘temporarily closed’ while other sources say it’s permanently closed.

The view from Forza d'Agro
The view from Forza d’Agrò

Despite its status, it’s still possible to climb the steps to the padlocked door. Rough, rugged and uneven steps pave the way to the clifftop location.

Along the way, you’ll pass rows of quaint stone houses; some lived in, others vacant. Panoramic views from the top make it worth the climb. It’s at this point, that Forza d’Agrò earns its title as one of the most beautiful places in Sicily.

Local tip: stop by the ‘Casa di Il Padrino’ on Via Roma. The exterior of the house, and some of the street, was used in The Godfather franchise.

Mount Etna

I can’t write a post about the most beautiful places in Sicily and not mention Mount Etna. The colossal active volcano overlooks the entire island and doubles as an attraction and a destination.

Mount Etna - most beautiful places in Sicily
Mount Etna is one of the most most beautiful places in Sicily

Activities here include everything from a summit hike with cable car tour to a morning jeep tour. An unmissable attraction, it’s your chance to explore an active volcano up close.

Sicily travel resources

Plan your trip to Sicily with this collection of helpful guides covering airports, transports and general Sicily advice.

What do you think of this list of the most beautiful places in Sicily? Which of these would you most like to visit? Let me know in the comments.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. Thank you for your support.

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Welcome to my site. I'm Lisa, an Italy-based travel and lifestyle blogger behind Following the Rivera. Find out more about me and my story.

What are the most beautiful places in Sicily?
The fantastic portico at Palermo Cathedral

1. Taormina
2. Syracuse
3. Ragusa and Modica
4. Aeolian Islands
5. Palermo

74 thoughts on “16 most beautiful places in Sicily

  1. Linda (LD Holland) says:

    Having just left Sicily I had to go through this post to see if we missed any of your top places. We sadly missed the city centre in Syracusa as we got immersed in Ortigia. And did not make it back to Ragusa after driving through to our stay in Modica. But we sure did not miss out on Modica chocolate. We had planned to visit Scicli and Castelmola but just ran out of time. All good reasons why we need to go back to Sicily!

    • Lisa says:

      It sounds like you still had a great trip in Sicily! Ortigia has more of the sights but Siracusa is still worth seeing. We know we will see you again!

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