The Essential Sicily Itinerary For Ten Days

Here’s how to make the most of your time on Italy’s largest (and most famous) island


Embankment at the old city in Siracusa and the Mediterranean sea, Sicily

The truth of the matter is that you can never have enough time in a place like Sicily. There’s always another beach to laze on, another rustic village to explore, and one more ruin to uncover. However, with a ten-day itinerary, we’d say you’re pretty set for the perfect Mediterranean getaway. The question is, where to go and what to do? To help you make the most of your ten days, the experts here at Plum Guide have put together an essential itinerary. In our search for the very best, we’ve left no rock unturned. Get your bathers and sunscreen packed and read on to discover our Sicily itinerary for ten days.

Days One & Two: Meander around Palermo

Day One: Explore on foot

Street in Palermo, Sicily

Street in Palermo, Sicily

The luxury of having ten days in Sicily allows you more time to explore the island’s wonderful capital, Palermo. On day one, take the time to meander around on foot—it’s the best way to explore this city as you’ll uncover all kinds of hidden squares and ornate buildings, all linked together by a maze of charming sun-drenched streets. A few notable landmarks include the 12th-century cathedral, the Norman Palace and the accompanying Cappella Palatina, with its mesmerising Byzantine mosaics. Finish your evening with a visit to the Massimo Theater, well known for its acoustics and the best place for a night of Sicilian opera.

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Day Two: Visit the bustling markets

On day two, start the morning with a visit to one of the many bustling markets. The Sicilian street markets are renowned for their sensory indulgence—the explosion of colours, the delightful smells of fresh fruit, veg, fish and meat and the noise of the crowds and vendors (all of whom are bellowing at an incomprehensibly loud volume). They’re similar to Arab souqs found elsewhere, a clear link with the island’s past. Ballarò is one of the oldest street markets in Palermo (and the most famous), while Vucciria (a large bazaar area located in the ancient quarter of Castellammare) translates to ‘chaos’, which is very apt. Next, take a short twenty-minute drive out to the Cattedrale di Monreale. This medieval treasure is Italy’s oldest church, with some of the ornate mosaics dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries.

Day Three: Hike to the top of Mount Etna

Greek amphitheater ruins in Taormina with a view towards Mount Etna

Greek amphitheater ruins in Taormina with a view towards Mount Etna

We’re strategically placing this toward the beginning of our Sicily itinerary for ten days so that you have plenty of time to recover and relax afterwards. At 3,300 metres, Mount Etna is no walk in the park, but it is absolutely worth the hike if you feel up to it. Along the many hiking trails leading to the summit, you’ll pass through an other-worldly moonscape of ancient lava, craters and hot springs. The views at the top are, as you’d imagine, simply breathtaking.

For those not so keen on a gruelling hike, there is actually a cable car and narrow-gauge railway that gets you up to the top of the mountain without breaking a sweat (we won’t tell anyone if you don’t). During the winter months, you can even ski and sledge on the slopes as the upper reaches of the volcano receive dustings of snow.

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Day Four: Relax in Taormina

The main square and church in Taormina, Sicily, Italy

The main square and church in Taormina, Sicily, Italy

With the tough miles of Mount Etna under your belt (or just the ease of a cable car ride), you can join the many locals putting their feet up in Taormina for the day. The town sits on the hills above a dramatic Mediterranean coastline—a blend of boutiques, al fresco cafes and terraces that open up for incredible views out to sea. There’s a short cable car down to the beaches below where you can relax and unwind (Spiaggia Di Mazzeo is most popular), as well as the beauty of Isola Bella, which literally translates to ‘beautiful island’. Here, you can indulge in swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

Alongside its beauty, Taormina is best known for its ancient Greek-Roman theatre (Teatro Antico di Taormina), originally built in the 3rd century. Throughout the long summer months, the town plays host to plenty of dramas, concerts, symphonies, operas, ballet performances and music festivals.

Day Five: Discover Catania

The main city square Piazza del Duomo in Catania

The main city square Piazza del Duomo in Catania

Halfway through our Sicily itinerary for ten days and we’re in the ancient port city of Catania, Sicily’s second-largest city. Sitting under the shadow of Mount Etna, what will immediately strike you about this place is the unique ‘Black Baroque of Catania’, an architectural style that refers to the way the locals have built on, in and around cooled lava flows over the centuries of Mount Etna’s eruptions. It’s led to the nickname ‘the grey city’. Some particularly violent eruptions and accompanying earthquakes completely levelled the place, meaning everything has been rebuilt using the very materials that destroyed it. The best example of this is the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, in Piazza del Duomo.

Given its location on the east coast, it’s worth embarking on a tasty (and perhaps a little smelly) excursion to the famous fish market La Pescheria. You can sample all of the Mediterranean delights (freshly caught that very morning) with plenty of nearby seafood restaurants to choose from.

Day Six: Begin your adventure exploring the Val di Noto

View of the Cathedral of Noto, Val di Noto, Sicily

View of the Cathedral of Noto, Val di Noto, Sicily

Sicily is home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and one of the most beautiful is the Val di Noto, a valley that’s made up of eight delightful towns, all with their own unique history and an array of things to do and see. For the next two days, you’ll be exploring as many of them as possible.

Start in Militello in Val di Catania, just outside Catania (also one of the eight towns). Just like the ancient port city it neighbours, this town was largely destroyed in a huge 1693 earthquake. It was rebuilt with astounding architecture, the many churches and palaces filled with art and beauty.

In nearby Caltagirone, you can find famously beautiful enamelled ceramics that even pre-date Arab-Sicily. Practically every building in the old town is decorated with these tiles, the highlight being the 142 steps of Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte. There are, of course, plenty of places to pick up a souvenir or two.

End the day in Syracuse, one of the area's most notable cities. The historic centre, Ortygia, is technically an island, connected to the mainland by two bridges. It's full of beautiful baroque architecture, pretty piazzas, and plenty of spots to grab a meal in the sunshine.

Day Seven: Continue your Val di Noto experience

On day seven, continue your exploration of the stunning Val di Noto. In Modica, take a moment to visit one of the many chocolate shops or the chocolate museum, which explores the city’s rich history of chocolate making (as well as a working lab with edible samples, of course). Meanwhile, Scicli is home to many elegant palaces, and in Ragusa, there’s Giardino Ibleo, a serene public garden with sweeping views, ambling pathways, churches and fountains.

Head to Noto to see its famous San Nicolò cathedral alongside some of the best examples of Sicilian Baroque architecture. Finish in Palazzolo, representing the best of the Val di Noto where history (Greek archaeological heritage), tradition (Baroque architecture) and modern life all come together on the rivers of Anapo and Tellaro.

Day Eight: Uncover the wonders of Agrigento

The Temple of Juno in the Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily

The Temple of Juno in the Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily

One of the island’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites and perhaps its most impressive, the Valley of the Temples lies just outside Agrigento. No matter how long or short your time in Sicily, this is a must-do. The Greek temples, some of which date back as far as 500 BC, are preserved in astonishingly good condition, taking you right back to the island’s ancient past—it’s almost as if you’re stepping into a film set.

In Agrigento itself, you can visit the Pietro Griffo Archaeological Museum, which contains over 5,000 artefacts discovered within this area. The medieval town is also great for strolling around with its many narrow streets and alleys home to trattorias and bars aplenty. Chef Fabio Gulotta’s Terracotta ristorante comes particularly well recommended if you’re looking to sample the freshest Sicilian seafood, pasta and tiramisu.

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Days nine and ten: Unwind in Cefalù

The coastal city of Cefalù

The coastal city of Cefalù

This is Sicilian postcard perfection. We can’t think of a better way to spend your last two days in Sicily than in Cefalù, a charming seaside town on the island’s north coast. The old harbour is an absolute delight. Equally impressive is the 13th-century Cefalù Cathedral with its Cristo PantocratoreI (Christ All Powerful) mosaic. Meanwhile, strolling the narrow cobbled streets, you’ll find plenty of places to stop for a negroni or gelato. The delicious dessert shop L'Angolo Delle Dolcezze Pasticceria Gelateria proves particularly popular, alongside Neo Mediterraneo Vibes for the best cocktails.

For the sun-seekers, the beach offers plenty of sunbeds, umbrellas and a warm, crystal clear Mediterranean sea. If you’re feeling somewhat possessed, hike 268 metres up La Rocca, a huge hulk of rock that offers stunning views out over the town and coastline.

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