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Grand Escapades’ Travel Guide To Sicily

Antique & Baroque Cultural Highlights, Beautiful Landscapes And A Paradise For Gourmets!

Piazza del Duomo, Syracuse

Foreword

We chose Sicily as our first travel destination with our newly born baby (at the time of travel, Jules was merely 3.5 months) for 5 main reasons:

  • Sicily has a lot to offer;
  • Sicily is a place easy to travel, with limited distances between places (it is not advisable to drive more than 2 hours with in small baby);
  • We only had a maximum of 9 days at hand;
  • We found direct, convenient flights;
  • And last but not least, even though it is so close, none of us had been there before…

 

Itinerary And Time Of The Visit

We spent 9 days in Sicily in mid of October 2019 (Friday night to Sunday night) and spent 2 nights in Cefalù (including the night we arrived in Sicily), 1 night in Taormina, 3 nights in Syracuse, 1 night in Ragusa and last but not least 2 nights in Agrigento.

You would need at least 3 weeks to really scratch bellow the surface and somehow cover all the highlights of Sicily (and that doesn’t include time on the beach to rest and relax), so no matter how much time you have at hand, you will have to make some tough choices…

  • The Aeolian Islands altogether deserve a separate trip, and we didn’t even look into it, since we couldn’t imagine ourselves on a boat with a 3.5 month old baby.
  • With less than 2 weeks, except if you plan to rush from A to B all the time (some fellow travelers try to do it all in 10 days, but I would advise against it), you will not be able to somehow do it all, so it is best to focus on a part of the island.
  • We decided to skip larger cities (Palermo and Catania amongst others), as we thought it wouldn’t be convenient with an infant. The fact that we had red mixed reviews about those cities from several fellow travelers also clearly influenced our choice. Neither did we climb Mount Etna, for obvious reasons…
  • No itinerary is ever perfect, but it fitted our expectations and travel rhythm, and was convenient with an infant, enabling us to sample some of the highlights of the island.

 

Why Travel To Sicily?

Well, upon return, we can clearly say that it was an outstanding choice, a place that would actually deserve much more time – we had to skip altogether the West of the island, plus the Etna & the Aeolian Islands. Well, a good reason to return there at some point in the future.

And yes, Sicily has a wealth to offer, ranging from spectacular cultural highlights, Antique and Baroque, beautiful landscapes, fine beaches and a very refined Mediterranean cuisine. You will not be Off The Beaten Track, definitely, but you will not only and not always be confronted with busloads of tourists.

 

Challenges & Less Pleasant Aspects In Sicily

Once you have a clearly identified itinerary (and that will be a challenge, as indicated above), there are still a few points that you should keep in mind when organizing a trip to Sicily…

  • Large Crowds – You will not be the only tourist, by far (!!!), especially at major highlights like the Theater of Taormina or the Valley of Temples in Agrigento. Be ready to join the throngs, and be ready to start very early if you want to somehow be able to enjoy the places you visit. How it can be in the peak season, in the summer, I simply cannot imagine!
  • Select the time of visit carefully – Summer is supposed to be extremely crowdie, and hot! From what I understand, this time of the year should be avoided by all means, if possible. Shoulder seasons (Spring or Fall) are definitely the best time of the year to visit Sicily, though too early or too late, weather might be less predictable.
  • Driving – We red several blog posts describing some apocalyptical road conditions & driving habits in Sicily. True, it was at times uncomfortable, with people driving excessively fast and aggressively or excessively slow, but all in all driving is not that challenging in Sicily and road conditions are good. This is nothing in comparison with driving in other continents. But yes, local drivers can be nerve wrecking, sometimes…
  • Costs – Traveling through Sicily is no cheap undertaking (see our Budget Guide To Sicily), so if you are on a tight budget, this will be a major challenge!

 

Highlights Of The Trip

Each place we visited was actually a highlight! And I guess if we had ad more time, the list would simply be longer…

  • The Valley of Temples near Agrigento– This large Antique complex is one of the most stunning in the world

    Statue of Icarus and the Temple of Concordia, Valle dei Templi, Agrigento

  • The Theater in Taormina – The setting of this theater, with the sea and the Etna in the background (it was cloudy and we couldn’t see the Etna) is absolutely breathtaking

    The Teatro Antico di Taormina, the Ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina

  • Strolling the streets of Syracuse

    Duomo, the Cathedral, Syracuse

  • The Baroque cities of Ragusa and of Noto

    Duomo of San Giorgio, the Dome of Saint George, Ragusa

  • The laid back atmosphere of Cefalu

    Spiaggia de Cefalé or Beach of Cefalú

  • Watching the sunset from The Turkish Stairsnear Agringento

    La Scala dei Turchi, the Turks Staircase, Agrigento

  • The Greek Temples of Selimonte

    Temple E, Selimonte

  • A Paradise For Gourmets– Well, we had not plan to spend so much time sampling delicious Sicilian food. And yes, Sicilian food is as superb as it is healthy! Not to mention Sicilian wines, which are as great as Sicilian food. This altogether should be one of the focuses of your trip.

 

How To Go Off The Beaten Track?

Let’s face it: you won’t… Or at least we have not the slightest clue on how…

 

What Would We Do Differently?

Plan more time!

 

Best Time To Visit Sicily

Shoulder seasons (Spring or Fall) are definitely the best time of the year to visit Sicily, though too early or too late, weather might be less predictable.

 

Communication (Language Barrier?)

English is reasonably widely spoken in Sicily, and communication turned out to be surprisingly easy, even in les touristy areas in the center of the island.

 

Getting Around In Sicily

There seams to be almost no way around renting a car in Sicily if you want to really discover the island and its various highlights in a reasonable time frame.

And to be honest, driving in Sicily is not that complicated and nerve wrecking as some people pretend, road conditions are good, and travel time between destinations (see our Budget Guide To Sicily) is relatively limited.

 

Conclusion About Sicily

Sicily is a great travel destination, no matter if you have one week (then select carefully what you want to see) or 3+ weeks, when you will be able to dive deeper into the many highlights of the island and in its culture.

The most sensible advice will be to select the time of travel carefully, to enjoy pleasant temperatures and avoid the larger crowds.

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