What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you’re thinking about Sicily? Is it delicious spaghetti a la mama, sun-ripened tomatoes, fresh lemons or seafood? The Cosa Nostra? Maybe breath-taking landscape panoramas through which you can wander freely? We don’t know what it is, but our guess lies on the Spaghetti and honourable family traditions that made Sicily famous.
Another highlight of Sicily are hikes across the largest Italian island. Sicily offers its visitors year-round mild temperatures, which rarely ever fall below 15° C, thus making Sicily an ideal destination for long hikes in the colder months, while it’s snowing and raining back home.
- 1 Sicily: An overview
- 2 The most beautiful hiking trails in Sicily:
- 3 The most interesting sights in Sicily
- 4 Important entry information
Sicily: An overview
Sicily: Sunshine, a mild climate and award-winning beaches. Culinary incomparable, breath-taking nature and the highest volcano on the continent – Italy’s southernmost tip has a lot of great potential for beautiful days under the southern sun, or as some travel guides call it, the “perfect holiday”. The destination also has many assets for hiking enthusiasts, which we would like to shed some light on in this article.
For centuries, the largest island in the Mediterranean has been an absolute classic among culture travellers, but as a hiking area it is relatively undiscovered and young. Hiking in Sicily is almost a better way to experience one of the oldest and most varied cultural landscapes in Europe than to simply rent a car. The landscapes become more intense the longer you wander through them.
With a total of about 140 hiking opportunities around the island, Sicily offers varied opportunities for trails of different levels of difficulty. With the whole selection, it’s no wonder, if you sweat before planning your trip. For this reason, we have selected three of our most beautiful walks. Of course, we are always open for other suggestions and hiking tips in the comments 🙂
But for us it is very clear: A holiday in Sicily without climbing Mount Etna is like a trip to New York without visiting the Statue of Liberty. Don’t worry though, these days barely anyone hikes all the way up from the foot of the mountain. It’s easier to walk from Taormina to Castelmola, but you should practice hiking and getting fit for the Sant’Ambrogio circuit.
The most beautiful hiking trails in Sicily:
Hike from Taormina to Castelmola
Duration: about 2 hours / about 7 km
In the vicinity of the small, historic town of Taormina, you can do a few beautiful hikes of varying degrees of difficulty. One of them is the hike – some hiking experts would rather call it a walk – from Taormina to the neighbouring village of Castelmola. The path leads over the Via Crucis to the chapel of the Madonna della Rocca and then via a stairway up to the charming village. The trail is signposted most of the way. If you get lost just ask someone for the way – the Sicilians are used to tourists and are very helpful. At the end of the way you will be rewarded with great views of Taormina. Once arrived in the village, the view is topped again. From here you can look over the entire coast and over the hills of Sicily up to Mt. Etna. Our tip: make a stop at Turrisi Bar and be sure to try an almond wine tasting – the perfect treat for a not too demanding trail.
Hiking on Mount Etna, Europe’s largest volcano
Duration: about 7 hours / around 12 km
Mount Etna, which rises almost 3,300 meters into the sky, is probably the first thing you see when you head towards Sicily. Mount Etna is an active volcano – the largest in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013 – but sporadically erupting. Concretely: Most of the time of the year you can safely climb its slopes and craters. There are 20 different routes around Etna. Most walks begin at Rifugio Sapienza. The ascent of the Etna leads through varied climatic zones, each with its own vegetation. Every hike where so many meters are climbed, and climatic zones are wandered through is rather something for more experienced hikers. Especially beginners underestimate themselves again and again, as the Etna looks from the bottom does not look very steep. Our tip: Book a tour with an experienced mountain guide. On the one hand you get valuable tips along the way and on the other hand, you are simply safer on the way. In most cases you will be taken by cable car and then by a Unimog vehicle to a height of 2,920 meters. From here, most tours start to climb to the top of Mount Etna. Very important are sturdy shoes and hiking poles, which you can borrow locally but
Circular walk from Sant’Ambrogio
Duration: about 3 hours / about 7.5 km
This hike begins in the small picturesque village of Sant’Ambrogio, located between Palermo and Messina on the northern coast of Sicily. Nice little bars and friendly locals will welcome you here before and after your walk with refreshing drinks and excellent food, as Sant’Ambrogio is the start and end of the circuit. You start at 150 meters and leave the village in the direction of Guarneri, an old stony path, continue forest roads and through cork oak forests, “Bosco di Guarneri”, up to 360 meters. The trail goes around the mountain behind Guarneri, overlooking the Madonie Mountains. The view is gigantic, and you should take some time up here to fully enjoy the view. Back on a small path over the coast with spectacular sea views back to the village. Along the way, you will pass through picturesque clearings and even meet some shepherd’s huts where, if you are lucky, you will be able to taste and buy fresh cheeses – we recommend ricotta cheese. And the lunch is already secured. In this sense: Buon appetito!
The most interesting sights in Sicily
The Italian island of Sicily is a world apart. Ancient Greek temples and miles of beautiful beaches mingle with Roman ruins, volcanoes and beautiful cities. At least, the Mediterranean island is not lacking in sights. Undoubtedly one of the most interesting and famous is the famous volcano Etna. With a height of more than 10,000 feet on the summit, it is certainly the highest in Europe. The mountain dominates the skyline of eastern Sicily like a big skyscraper. You can hike the trails, take the train around the base and even ski down the slopes during the season.
There are countless beautiful, secret beaches in Sicily that nobody knows better than the locals. We have spoken to them and tell you about our two favorites: The beaches of Licata, located on the south coast near Agrigento, attract especially the locals for swimming and sunbathing. And maybe you too soon?! Another beach, which is still quite unspoiled, is in Sampieri, in the south around Montalbano, a few miles south of Ragusa. The golden beach is often deserted. So pshh … Please do not tell anyone!
In addition to beautiful beaches can be found in Sicily with a lot of picturesque cities. Palermo, Catania, Agrigento, Syracuse, Taormina – just to name a few. Even if it is no longer an insider tip, you should visit the city of Cefalu: The popular tourist destination lies on the northern coast of Sicily. The ocher-colored houses merge with the golden sand and form a beautiful contrast to the intense blue water. Fishing boats lined up along the shore, and the narrow-cobbled streets are perfect for strolling. The imposing cathedral in Sicilian Romanesque style will thrill the history lovers among you.
Another interesting sight in Sicily is the Valley of the Temples. This archaeological site from the time of Greek colonization outside of Greece is unique in Italy and since 1997 UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you are in Sicily, you should not miss these ruins.
The best travel time for an island hike in Sicily
The winters in Sicily are often mild and rainy. The summers, however, are hot and dry with up to ten hours of sunshine a day. Especially in the months of July and August, the thermometer likes to climb to over 40 degrees. The reason is the Scirocco, the wind from the Sahara. It often gets very hot on the southern coast of Sicily. Hikes in midsummer are therefore only conditionally recommended. Here, as in many southern regions, autumn and spring are best. To avoid heat, crowds and high prices, come from April to June or from September to early November.
Important entry information
Sicily belongs to Italy and Italy is a member of the European Union. For entry, therefore, only a valid passport is required or for EU citizens and citizens of Switzerland a valid identity card. This may not expire during the stay. Children also require their own identity papers.