Palermo is brimming with palaces, churches, and castles featuring Byzantine, Norman, and Renaissance architectural styles. For a marvellous beach holiday, head to Cefalu, lodged between a spectacular mountain and stretches of sand. It has also a lovely historic centre with a splendid cathedral and quaint buildings. Not to be missed are the stunning Aeolian Islands with its cobalt sea, splendid coastline, awesome volcanic landscape and fantastic hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts. The medieval town of Taormina on the Ionian Coast used to be the capital of Byzantine Sicily. Sun, shopping, and food are plenty and if you have time to spare, wander along its medieval avenue and explore ancient quarters and a 12th-century clock tower. In southern Sicily, Syracuse is highly recommended with its baroque and Greek influences while Catania is an example of a city built on lava that engulfed the area during the volcanic eruption in 1669.
Owing to its rich history, Sicily is a paradise for temples, palaces, and archaeological remnants. Visit the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Study the complex of temples especially the well-preserved Temple of Concordia. The Museo Archeologico has also a huge collection of artefacts excavated from the ruins. The Capella di Palatina in Palermo is an exceptional chapel drawing hordes of visitors attracted to its shimmering gold mosaics, inlaid marble floors, and muqarnas ceilings. Apart from sightseeing, guests frequent the beautiful beaches on the island such as the Isola Bella in Taormina and the San Vito Lo Capo in Trapani. Lungomare di Cefalu has golden sands and offers picturesque views of the fishing village and nearby mountains whilst Fontane Bianche in Syracuse lures visitors with its white sands, wild coast, and intense blue waters.
When you look on the map, Sicily is separated from mainland Italy by the Strait of Messina. Its topography consists of rugged mountains, volcanoes, fertile plains, and coastlines. Europe’s highest active volcano, Mt. Etna, is in Sicily standing at 3,220 metres. The island enjoys a Mediterranean type of climate characterized by hot summers and mild winters. Forests occupy only 4% of its surface. The island has a thriving agriculture sectors thanks to investments in modern irrigation systems and its rich soil. Wheat, olives, olive oil, nuts, tomatoes, grapes, and oranges are the main produce. Its industrial sector is also booming with the establishment of chemical and textile factories. The hospitality industry is a significant revenue earner as well for the island with visitors drawn to its natural and historical attractions.
Catania and Palermo are the main entry points to Sicily if you’re planning to take an airplane to the island. Many airlines operate direct flights to Sicily from major European cities. Smaller airports in Sicily include the ones in Trapani, Comiso, Lampedusa, and Pantelleria. Upon arrival, you can pick-up your rental car if you made reservations beforehand or go to a car hire company desk to arrange for one. Driving in Sicily is not that difficult and like any other place, you need to be vigilant for heavy human and car traffic in bigger cities such as Palermo and Catania. People on the island drive on the right and overtake using the left lane. The speed limit on motorways is 130km/h, 90km/h on secondary roads, and 50km/h on built-up areas. The BAC limit in Italy is 0.5mg whilst the minimum age to drive is 18 years. Drivers under 25 years may have to pay a surcharge when renting a car in Sicily.