Best places to stay in Sicily
The regional capital of Sicily needs time to be explored properly. While the city can be dusty and chaotic, its beauty lies in the majestic architecture of the predominantly Baroque city. Having homed many kings and emirs, the Norman Palace and the Palatine Chapel are popular attractions. Palermo also boasts a great museum, art galleries and a magnificent cathedral. Via Roma connects many of Palermo’s main sites and offers fantastic shopping opportunities.
Visit the Vucciria market and admire colourful displays of fruits and vegetables along with clothing and crafts. The pedestrianised street of Via Principe di Belmonte has many stylish shops and cafeterias. Nightlife in Palermo is plentiful. While trendy bars and clubs light up the night sky, ballet and opera performances make for rich cultural experiences. During the summer months, outdoor shows are not to be missed.
Palermo is not only a very interesting city to stay in but makes a great base for day trips to Segesta, Agrigento, Erice and Cefalù. There is accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets from luxury five-star hotels set in historic buildings, modern and functional apart-hotels, hostels, guest houses, B&B’s and self-catering apartments and villas.
Read more about where to stay in Palermo.
Catania is Sicily’s second largest city, boasting a long coastline which becomes a lively resort area in summer. Laced with trendy clubs, lively beaches and pristine scenery, Catania spoils for choice when balancing a beach holiday with Sicilian culture and nightlife.
During the day, visitors can be seen soaking up the sun on the popular sandy beach of La Playa. Riviera dei Ciclopi is a breathtaking stretch of rocky coast to the north of Catania and is ideal for families with children wishing to snorkel and kayak. Conveniently located at the foot of Mount Etna, visitors can hike up the active volcano, enjoy the splendid views of the island, and taste the fine local wines produced from the fertile volcanic ash.
While Catania doesn’t offer many sightseeing opportunities, the city is beautiful and makes for spectacular photo opportunities and lazy evening strolls. Visitors can wander the famous Via Etnea and dine at its reputable restaurants. Being a student town, Catania comes alive after sunset as young people flock to bars and clubs. Beach resorts and hotels with pools and family-friendly facilities are plentiful and scattered all over the city, allowing parents to sit back, relax and enjoy the Sicilian splendour Catania has to offer.
Read more about where to stay in Catania.
With buildings hidden behind draping vines and flowers flowing over balconies, Taormina spoils visitors to a picture-perfect version of Italy. Perched on a hilltop and overlooking the Ionian coast, the town transforms into an action-packed resort during summer. There are plenty of good beaches with alfresco bars and restaurants serving traditional cuisine. Mazzarò is the closest beach and is easily accessible by cable car from Via Luigi Pirandello.
Visitors can watch performances at the Teatro Antico di Taormina, a well-preserved ancient Greco-Roman theatre, and explore the remains of a castle in the medieval village of Castlemola which boasts unparalleled views of Mount Etna. Mediaeval walls enclose the town, most of which is pedestrianised. Night owls can party until dawn in trendy clubs and bars. Panasia Beach is a fantastic lido during the day and one of the hottest nightspots in the evening.
There are superb hotels that cater to suit all tastes including the one in a restored monastery. Four-star hotels, family-run hotels, B&B’s, apartments and villas can all be found in or close to Taormina, some with commanding views of Mount Etna and others hidden down narrow alleyways where history has been made.
Read more where to stay in Taormina.
Being the famous site where Archimedes coined the term, ‘Eureka!’, Syracuse encapsulates Sicily’s timeless wonder. Syracuse is only an hour’s drive from Catania and ideal for a family weekend getaway or as part of a bigger trip around Sicily. The charming city has two main areas worth visiting: the ancient city centre, Ortigia, and Syracuse’s archaeological park.
Measuring approximately 1 square kilometre, the island of Ortigia is accessible by bridge. Visitors can explore endless winding cobblestone streets and discover piazzas boasting classical architecture and baroque facades. Enjoy coffee and gelato in the elegant Piazza Duomo while kids play, and afterwards stroll about the imposing Cathedral. Ortigia also boasts a market, a 13th-century castle and nearby beaches. The archaeological park is home to the famous Ear of Dionysus where visitors explore the manmade cave and listen to fascinating acoustics.
While stylish family-friendly hotels and apartments are plentiful throughout Syracuse, staying in Ortigia is ideal with its car-free piazzas and attractions, all within walking distance from each other. Syracuse by night sees families enjoying relaxing dinners and drinks by the waterfront, while the clubs and bars are found just outside the historic centre.
>> Hotels and places to stay in Syracuse
Built as a gift to God, the twin towers of Cefalù’s famous cathedral dominates the charming seaside town’s centre. Corso Ruggero is the main artery of the historic town and is laced with great restaurants and bars serving local food. Pasticceria Pietro Serio is the oldest pastry shop in Cefalù and is renowned among Sicilians.
Journey up La Rocca and discover the Temple of Diana. The views of the picturesque harbour, golden beaches and red-roofed town are worth the steep climb. For Sicilian charm, roam the tiny harbour west of the town, where picturesque fishermen’s houses are huddled around a small beach and boats are pulled up to their doorsteps. Cefalù’s beaches are great and have rental sunbeds and umbrellas - but be warned; the closer you are to the town centre, the more expensive they will be.
There are all levels of accommodation in Cefalú from basic B&B’s to four-star luxury hotels where your every whim is catered for. There are seafront hotels to choose from as well as fine all-suite hotels that have outdoor pools and their own private beach. If you ask the locals it is possible to find very cheap and cheerful accommodation in the heart of the town.
>> Hotels and places to stay in Cefalù
This super seaside resort is only a few kilometres from Taormina and is a wonderful place to stay in for families and friends who want a peaceful relaxing holiday. The long safe sandy beach is the focal point where children can splash in the shallow water safely while parents enjoy a spot of sunbathing.
The town is well-known for the seafood restaurants many of which are right on the beach and there are many pizzerias for when the fish just gets too much. The main square of Piazza Durante is a great place to start an evening out and is a favourite meeting place for locals and visitors. The Twin Pub has live music or you can opt for a delicious Italian ice cream from one of the many kiosks.
Accommodation ranges from a big four-star resort with family rooms and swimming pools to B6B’s, villas and apartments and cosy small hotels. Letojanni is recommended as an affordable destination in Sicily for anyone that loves beach holidays.
>> Hotels and places to stay in Letojanni