Need a break from everyday routine? Sicily is a jewel in the Mediterranean Sea, which welcomes its visitors with compelling smells and colors. Let yourself be embraced by the warmth of its people and the magic of its culture.
Visiting Sicily is your opportunity to learn a lot about ancient history while enjoying the perfect weather and mouthwatering food. Not only there are plenty of places to see in Sicily but the list of reasons for visiting Sicily is very long! In this article, you will discover the main reasons for traveling to Sicily and the best places to see in Sicily!
Sicily, the biggest island of Italy and of the whole Mediterranean Sea with millennia of history, is located in a strategical position at the very center of the Mediterranean area, or of what we like to call, the paradise of Europe!
Here you are not only blessed with a perfect climate all year long, but also with mouthwatering food and very welcoming locals. Travel to Sicily is going to be one of the best decisions you will take!
Discover 37 reasons for visiting Sicily!
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the reading of the list of 37 reasons for visiting Sicily written for you by a local!
You Will Be Captivated by Its Ancient Traditions
Over the centuries and after the occupation of many different peoples, the territory of Sicily has seen the consolidation of a great number of traditions that still leave their mark, mostly in its villages. The natural geographical isolation from the rest of Italy, made Sicily develop a very peculiar and strong character which is different from the other Italian regions.
Visiting Sicily, you will realize that one of the main Sicilian traditions stands in the tales, passed down orally from family to family but also told to the villages from storytellers, which were used to teach a moral and are till today a huge part of the local folklore. In those tales you will often find the same characters, which were easily recognized by the audience, whose personalities have been influenced by the different ethnicities that have populated the island throughout the years.
Visit its Heritage Sites
The Heritage Sites are for sure one of the main reasons for visiting Sicily. At date Sicily counts with a long list of recognized UNESCO sites, which include: the churches of the Palermo’s area, the dome of Cefalu and Monreale, the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Mount Etna, the Roman Villa, the late baroque towns of Val di Noto, the Aeolian islands, Syracuse and the Necropolis of Pantalica.
Make sure to visit at least a couple of these sites when traveling to Sicily!
A Mouthwatering Culinary Tradition
Remember: Unless for specific health issues, it is forbidden to be on a diet while visiting Sicily! It is very difficult to summarize the best dishes of this paradise of food, but the local gastronomy is surely of primary importance in the list of the main reasons for traveling to Sicily.
The arancino or arancina, is probably the symbol of the Sicilian cuisine: it is a cone or a ball made of rice and other ingredients (the most common being meat and green peas) then breaded and fried; we then have the pannelle and crocche, traditional street food, made of chickpeas flour and filled with potatoes; the pasta with sardines; and then one of the best examples of the melting pot of Sicily: the fish cous cous, a recipe handed down in ancient times from the north of Africa, which is also referred to as, due to its multicultural roots, the Mediterranean dish of peace.
You should also not miss the great variety of pastries and desserts! The most traditional ones are cannoli, fried pastries filled with fresh ricotta, a local cheese which is also basic for cassata, the traditional almond cake decorated with candied fruit, and last but not least the famous granita, typical for breakfast and available in many flavors (lemon, almond and pistachio between others).
You Should Try its Traditional Drinks.
Besides of incredible wines which make Sicily known in the whole planet, the island has to offer many other special drinks you can find only here, like the fuoco dell’Etna (literally translated as: the fire of the Etna), a strong liqueur created with a secret recipe, a mix of natural aromas of strawberry, citrus and Sicilian herbs, for a pleasant and vigorous taste, usually drunk as digestive after meals, or different acquaviti, fermented grape juice distillates. Travel to Sicily to try its traditional drinks!
The Local Gastronomy Products.
Sicilian gastronomy offers an enormous variety. The Sicilian land is very fertile and rich, and on its soil, many are the products that grow naturally.
Starting with fruit, we have to mention the typical red oranges, a product of which all Sicilians are very proud. Also, virgin olive oil is very important: here the oil has a very peculiar strong taste: the production of olive oil has 3000 years roots, in fact, the olive tree was introduced here by the ancient Greeks in the 9th Century B.C.. Many are also the local cheeses, the most important and used being ricotta, one of the main ingredients of many traditional dishes and sweets.
Finally, how not to mention the famous green pistachio of Bronte, used for the creation of many mouthwatering delicacies like pesto of pistachio, pistachio ice-cream, and pistachio cream.
Are these enough reasons for traveling to Sicily?
Its Pharmaceutical Traditional Knowledge .
Visiting Sicily, you will feel that tradition is everywhere, and people still rely on ancient pharmaceutical knowledges. A typical local product which mixes tradition and health benefits is the manna: according to the Bible, this is a substance, like a nectar, coming from heaven. At the origin of this belief stays the fact that manna is a dew falling on stone and trees. In reality it does not fall on them, but it is the lymph coming out of tree branches which crystallizes and takes the shape of a small stalactite. Its usage can be medical (for example to cure constipation, or to lose weight) or it can be used for beauty purposes, as a body butter.
Its Traditional Festivals.
One of the main reasons for traveling to Sicily is to enjoy its traditional festivals: an explosion of colors and a great opportunity for visitors to learn about ancient traditions. All year long, the local villages around the whole island organize festivals usually in conjunction with religious festivities and the seasonal production of gastronomy goods. Between many, we have to mention the ricotta cheese festival in Sant Angelo Muxaro, held every year on the Epiphany, the 6th of January, the kite festival at the beginning of each May in Capo Peloro, and the sea festival in Sciacca, at the end of June. Remember not to miss these local festivals when visiting Sicily!
Discover Sicilian Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Sicily offers as well three examples recognized by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage, two of them originally from Pantelleria, a tiny island which belongs to Sicily. The most famous is the puppet show of Pantelleria, with puppets of around one-meter height, used to tell the stories of knights and paladins.
The second one is the agricultural practice of the growing of the alberello (small tree) vine of Pantelleria, a traditional practice that represents a unique example of its kind of vine cultivation, handed down from generation to generation in the community of the island. The tree is low and sheltered by a basin of land created to allow the production of grapes and to protect the plant from the elements.
The last one is the Mediterranean diet! Yes, it has been included in the Intangible Cultural Heritage list as well, as an array of traditional practices handed through generations. Another of the important reasons for traveling to Sicily!
Its UNESCO Heritage Cities
UNESCO recognizes as material heritage 8 Sicilian towns located in the Val di Noto area, south-east of Sicily, all of them rebuilt in 1693 after a big earthquake and which are characterized by a late baroque style. The 8 towns are: Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Acreide, Ragusa, Scicli, Caltagirone and Militello. The cities keep their unique baroque style while also depicting distinctive innovations in their urban structure.
The Stunning Nature It Has to Offer You.
The magic of Sicily stands in its natural diversity. Here you will be able to see amazing beaches, mountains, volcanoes, gorges, lakes hidden among canyons, and caves. Literally, if you are a mountain lover or a sea lover, the island won’t let you down: there is nature for all tastes and plenty of natural places to see in Sicily!
Its National Parks.
There are four national parks and 76 natural reserves in Sicily! When you enter one of these areas you immerse yourself in a rich and wonderful nature with breathtaking landscapes. Just to mention the most impressive, we would recommend you to visit the Alcantara gorges, with natural small lakes where you can swim in fresh waters, the salt flats in Trapani, where you will be able to see the ancient way of collecting sea salt and the Pantalica reserve, which is not only an important natural reserve but also, as mentioned above, an archaeological site with one of the oldest necropolis of Europe.
The Beautiful Sicilian Villages.
In recent years, Italian villages have often been indicated as alternative destinations to large cities of art. There are various types: historical villages, medieval villages, seaside villages and many others. The whole island of Sicily counts with an endless list of traditional villages which still look special and are sometimes hidden even to other Italians. You will love the traditional villages of Sicily! Just to mention some of them, you should not miss the medieval village of Erice, the village of Ferla, located on the Sacred Way and Gangi, and ancient Sicilian village which joins the 1-euro house project designed in order to repopulate and renovate beautiful old villages.
Do not miss your chance to travel to Sicily and visit them!
The Variety of Its Attractions.
The list of things to do or of places to see in Sicily will never end. There is plenty to see in this beautiful island. Its historical cities will give you a taste of ancient times with many archaeological sites showing the influences of all the peoples which have passed from here during the centuries, especially the Greeks and the Arabs. The islands and all the perimeter of the coast offer amazing beaches and sea villages and the interior of the island is another world to discover. Visit Sicily and get lost in its beauty!
It is not Only a Summer Destination.
If you are more like a winter person, do not worry: there is plenty to do and many places to see in Sicily in this season as well!
First of all, as the island is blessed with mild temperatures in winter, you can still visit its beautiful cities all year long, but if you are specifically looking for winter destinations, you could visit one of its medieval mountain villages like Petralia Soprana, located on the Madonie mountains, or Castelmola, a tiny village located on the top of a mountain overlooking the sea and not far from the famous city of Taormina.
What most of the people do not know is that is also possible to ski in Sicily! There are in fact two ski areas, Piano Battaglia, on the Madonie mountains as well, and Piano Provenza and Nicolosi on the Mount Etna.
Each Area Has its Own Character.
Another reason for visiting Sicily is that being a big island its nine provinces are very diverse, each with its own peculiar character. Here you will find fancy cities like Taormina, traditional simple villages like Castelmola, towns which mix history and beautiful beaches like Cefalu, the paradisiac Aeolian islands where you can relax… there is much to discover when traveling to Sicily!
Its Paradisiac Islands.
The Sicilian main archipelago counts with 19 inhabited islands, being the smallest archipelagos: Aeolian, Aegadian, Pelagie, Stagnone and Ciclopi islands. All these islands are treasures to discover, with stunning beaches and paradises for diving lovers. They also have their own character with their own festivals.
Make sure to add some of the Sicilian islands on your list of places to see in Sicily!
Best Locations for Your Instagram.
While visiting Sicily you will probably feel the instinct of always being taking pictures… no worries, it is normal, we feel the same as well! In fact, Sicily is probably one of the best locations around the world for your perfect Instagram shots: a sunset in Taormina, in Ragusa Ibla or in the Valley of the Temples but also the beautiful unknown random street intersections in the Sicilian villages or a toast with a local wine are going to make you very popular between your contacts on social media!
Enjoy the constant photo opportunities of Sicily!
Your Opportunity to Run Away from Routine.
Sicily has so many things to offer that you will never get bored here! Many are the reasons for visiting Sicily if you need to relax from everyday life: spending hours on one of its paradisiac beaches, get lost in nature in a refreshing trekking in one of its natural reserves or on the mountains and why not, enjoying your time in one of its natural spas like the ones in Segesta, Bagno Asciutto, Terme di Nika or Terme di Vulcano and dedicate time to yourself. Surely your body and your mind will be grateful!
Do not miss your chance to run away from you daily routine and visit Sicily!
Its Wine Routes.
You will be amazed to see that in Sicily all roads lead to wine! In fact, with more than 50 grape varieties and being wine one of the main local products, there are many wine routes around the island, being more precise exactly 13 routes. Those routes have been created in order to make it easy for visitors to enjoy all the best that each Sicilian area has to offer. Just to mention some, the Wine Route in the province of Messina, the Wine Route of the Etna and the Wine Route of Marsala.
You can also find a map with all the routes, and if you are planning to do a road trip in Sicily, it will be very useful.
In these routes you will not only have the opportunity to make wine tastings in local cellars, but you will also try the local gastronomic products of each winery and farm.
Learn How to Dance Some Traditional Dances.
In the Sicilian culture there are some traditional dances with Arabic and Spanish roots you should try once here. Even if the traditional dances are one of the less known aspects of the Sicilian culture, it is very common to see these dances in the traditional festivals or also just on random Sundays in the villages, so you should get ready before you come! The most typical dances are similar to the tarantella danced in other southern Italian regions, but you will also see valzer, mazurka and polka.
Its Local Markets.
A way to get completely absorbed in the local Sicilian culture is to visit one of its local markets. An explosion of colors, they still retain the original character of older times. The way to make business here is very typical: do not forget to bargain in order to get the best deal at the market of Vucciria in Palermo, an historical outdoor market, the symbol of the city, which not only sells fruits, vegetables, fish and meat as in the past days, but also other goods, and it is loved by tourists! During the weekend you can also eat here some street food and enjoy street art and live DJs!
Its Beautiful Churches.
Even if you are not a religious person you will surely love the many churches you will see while visiting Sicily. Being the region of a very catholic country, many are the churches that have been built on its territory. One of the Sicilian areas with more churches is the World Heritage town of Modica, which is alternatively called for this reason ‘the city of the 100 churches’. Visit St John’s church in Modica Alta, located in a striking position at the top of a flight of steps, or the Palatine Chapel in Palermo, which has been included in the list of the 23 most beautiful churches of the world by a research of the Daily Telegraph!
Enjoy your Favorite Climate.
Sicily encompasses almost all the climates present in the European continent: from the alpine climate with perennial glaciers (on Mount Etna), to sandy dunes like the ones of the Sahara Desert. Literally, in Sicily you will find the perfect climate for all tastes!
Discover a New Language.
One of the reasons for visiting Sicily is to learn not only the beautiful Italian language, but also the local language: Sicilian. In fact, in Italy every region and even smaller areas count with a completely different dialect with mostly only an oral tradition, but in Sicily the local dialect has a very strong influence on the national language.
Learn some basic words in Sicilian and believe us, the locals will be amazed!
You Can Learn a lot From Its Locals.
You will for sure notice the most important values in which the Sicilian people believe once here and we think that you may also learn a lot from them. First of all, the importance of the family: in the Sicilian culture family and friends are sacred. The elderly people have a very important role in society and are always respected from younger generations.
As well the Sicilians are people who never give up, see for example the inhabitants of Messina, among the cities in the world most destroyed by earthquakes: thanks to the heart and the spirit of the Sicilians, even when the city has been destroyed till the 90% it has always been built back, and now it stands up, proud of its people!
As we mentioned above, Sicily is strategically located at the center of the Mediterranean Sea, so it has the perfect location if you are planning to combine your travel to Sicily with your visit to other neighbor European countries: cheap local airlines will take you to all the main European landmarks in next to no time!
Bonus: from the harbor of Pozzallo in the south of the island, you will be able to reach Valletta, the capital of the beautiful island of Malta in less than two hours!
Take our advice: head for the hills of Sicily!
Discover Centuries Old Music Traditions.
Sicilian traditional music has its roots in ancient Hellenic music, mixed then with Arabic music traditions. A very typical Sicilian instrument is the Jaw’s harp, who’s local name is scacciapensieri, which literal meaning sounds something like ‘drive thoughts away’. The popular idiophone instrument consists of an iron tongue that vibrates on a piece of metal. It has been said that its shape reassembles the lyra, an instrument introduced by the ancient Greeks in the area. It is believed that the sound that springs from it has therapeutic virtues. Discover Sicilian music and its benefits!
See Some of the Best Beaches of Italy.
Choosing the best beaches of Sicily to recommend you is a very difficult task. The island has so many beaches to offer that we are going to mention only a few.
If you are a snorkeling or scuba diving lover you should not miss the island of Ustica, roughly 70 km from Palermo.
Closer to Agrigento you will find Scala dei Turchi, a completely unique beach, where the coast has been shaped by the water in a way that it took the shape of stairs. A wonder of nature that gives you an incredible experience quite different to an ordinary day at the beach: (carefully!) reach the top and enjoy the stunning view.
If you prefer a more ‘traditional’ beach, we suggest you Giardini di Naxos, close to Messina.
Remember to wear sunscreen and you are ready to enjoy these paradises!
The Warmth of its People.
We know that the personal character is something that changes a lot from person to person, but we can find some common traits between Sicilian people. Sicilian people are not considered to be very open to people they do not know. Even if you may have this initial idea, bear in mind that they are actually analyzing you, and if they will eventually like you, you will have a place in their hearts, just give them time! This does not mean that you will ever feel at discomfort: for a Sicilian, being welcoming and making a guest feel at home is more than a pleasure. It is a ‘duty’ lived with enthusiasm, a joy.
Remember, even if at the beginning people may look wary towards you, you will always be welcomed with kindness and warmth on this beautiful island!
You Can Easily Visit the Whole Island.
The shape of the island makes it very easy to move around. You can also use public transport but for a more convenient experience we suggest you to use your own car or to rent one. If you prefer to use public transport the best would be to plan in advance. Depending on what you would like to see, you can organize a road trip around the perimeter of the island or concentrate on a specific area.
It Won’t Cost You a Fortune.
Another important reason for visiting Sicily is the great value for money. Sicilians are very honest and, excluding some inescapable exceptions, you will not find tourist traps and there is always a travel solution for all budgets. What we are sure about is that you will be surprised about the cheap prices for unforgettable meals!
It is your Door to the Rest of Italy.
Visiting Sicily is a great opportunity to visit also the rest of Italy. Many are the cheap European airlines that will let you travel around for just a bunch of euros. All the most famous Italian destinations like Rome, Milan, Florence and Venice are just less than two hours of flight away!
Do not miss your chance to visit the most popular Italian cities while in Sicily.
Dolce&Gabbana Brand Was Born Here.
Sicily is the Land of Domenico Dolce, the co-founder world famous stylist of Dolce&Gabbana! Domenico was born in Polizzi Generosa, a village close to Palermo, and started to design clothes at the age of 6. Before moving to Milan and start its worldwide successful career, at a very young age he started collaborating in the family clothing’s company. In Sicily you will be able to find many Dolce&Gabbana shops.
It is the Favorite Destination of Many Famous International Celebrities.
While in Sicily it is not uncommon to catch some familiar faces. In fact, many famous international celebrities are openly in love with beautiful Sicily and love to spend their holidays here: Michael Jordan, Beyonce, Sarah Jessica Parker, just to mention some. Feel like a VIP in Sicily and meet your favorite Hollywood stars!
It is Ideal for All Vacation Types.
Whether you are a solo traveler or if you are going to travel with a group of friends or with your family, Sicily is going to be an ideal destination. If you are traveling with kids or if you are looking for a relaxing holiday with your other half, you could enjoy one of the many locations close to sandy beaches and shops and restaurants. If you are looking for more adventure you will easily meet other solo travelers or group of friends looking for the same and have an unforgettable time!
It is the Land of Great Writer Camilleri.
The great Sicilian author Andrea Camilleri made Sicily famous to the world thanks to his stories and catchy mystery fictions books about inspector Montalbano. His peculiar writing style has made millions of readers around the globe fall in love with the island and made mysterious Sicily more accessible to everybody. If you did not read any of his books yet, it is now your time to get lost in the pages of The Shape of Water, The Terracotta Dog or The Scent of the Night, and discover authentic Sicily.
See the Location of Cinema Paradiso.
Last but not least, how not to mention that Sicily has been the location of movie masterpieces that made us cry? Between many, we would like to remember a 30 years old classic, Cinema Paradiso, one of the movies that makes Sicilians and Italians proud, with the great soundtrack composed but Ennio Morricone, music for the soul. The movie was shot in different Sicilian villages. Sit back and watch this great movie to get emotionally ready for your trip to Sicily!
If you would like to visit a place that will change your life forever, you should definitely travel to Sicily! Hope that with this article we managed to give you a deeper idea of what this beautiful island has to offer to its visitors.
Need more reasons for visiting Sicily? Come here and discover your own reasons, then let us know!