Planning to visit Sicily and looking for the best things to do? I am here to help you discover the coolest experiences in Sicily and help you with the planning process.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and an autonomous region of Italy. It is located at the southern tip of the Italian Peninsula, separated from the mainland by the Strait of Messina.
The island is known for its beautiful coastline, stunning landscapes, and historical sites. Mount Etna, an active volcano and the tallest in Europe, is located in northeastern Sicily and attracts many visitors.
In this article, you will find must try experiences in Sicily that you simply have to include in your itinerary. As always, sharing my best tips, practical information, and keys to secret doors that others don’t know about.
*Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
But before we dive in…
The most popular tours in Sicily:
- 🚶 Make the most of your time in Sicily on this immersive, small-group shore excursion
- 🍷 Visit the dramatic Silvestri Craters and a farm on the slopes of Mt. Etna on this winery and tasting tour
- 🍲 Learn how to cook delicious Sicilian specialties in a family atmosphere, a few steps from the beach and the sea, with a professional Chef
- 📽️ Compare the unforgettable storyline of “The Godfather” saga with real-life Mafia history during this in-depth guided tour of two Sicilian villages
- 🚢 Take a break from the heat and crowds of the mainland and see Taormina and Mount Etna from the sea on this small-group boat tour
Best experiences in Sicily
Sicily food experiences: Arancino or arancina?
Food is one of the highlights of Sicily and you can’t visit Sicily without trying some of the local Sicilian specialties. I believe you have heard about arancina or arancino, but do you know the difference? This is where Sicilians get competitive.
In Palermo and its surroundings, it is called “arancina”, but if you are in Catania you will be served an “arancino”. Obviously, people in Palermo will say that they have the best version, while Catanians believe their arancino is way better.
I will let you try both and choose your favorite but make sure that you call it arancina (or arancine plural) when in Palermo or arancino (arancini) when in Catania. Maybe you are wondering where to try the best arancini? My personal favorites are Pasticceria Savia in Catania and Friggitoria da Davide in Palermo.
Market madness in Palermo
Market experience in Palermo was my personal favorite. Normally I am not a big market fan, but this is an experience that you can’t miss. There are 3 main markets in Palermo and your experience can be different in each one, so let’s find the one that you like the most.
Mercato Ballaro is the most popular one because it is considered authentic, but I am not sure that everyone is ready for this. It’s crowded with scooters passing by and sellers screaming in your ear. This is also the cheapest one and that’s where you will find all the locals. Keep in mind that all the restaurants in Ballaro have very low ratings, so probably they are there just because it’s the most popular market. If you want to buy food and you are not scared of mess, this is your choice.
Mercato Vucciria is just a tiny square of the market (with some additional streets), however, this is the market that you must try for a restaurant experience. Everything that they sell, they can cook for you. And it doesn’t get better than this. Especially if you are a fish lover like me and can give up fancy experiences once in a while. Find a place that doesn’t have a fixed menu, they will sell you food per kg. My personal favorite was Al Tentacolo and for a huge sea bass, we paid 10 EUR. 700 grams of fried fish was less than 20 EUR.
Mercado del Capo
Mercado del Capo is the safe hit. I can’t say it is touristic, but it’s the prettiest one. Everything is nice and clean and tourist-friendly, so I am sure that you won’t get culture shock here. Prices are slightly higher, but still very affordable for Italian standards. This was the one that I visited first and I think it’s a good start. You can also get fresh juice or find some typical Sicilian food for takeaway.
Ragusa from your balcony
Ragusa is still considered a hidden gem and it completely stole my heart. I did my research in advance and I found the accommodation with the best view – B&B Terra del sole Ibla. We choose the room with a terrace but every room has a beautiful view of Ragusa. On top of all, the owner is there to welcome you and help you with anything. These 2 days in Ragusa I felt like at home and it doesn’t happen often. Honestly, once you have a view like this, do you even need to go out?
Well yes, there are some places that you should visit. There are famous stairs that you should visit during sunrise or sunset and you will find these stairs right next to Chiesa di Santa Maria dell’Itria. Michelin Star restaurant called Duomo is a great option for gourmet lovers. And of course the heart of the Ibla – Duomo di San Giorgio.
Historical food experience in Modica
Another amazing food experience you will find in Osteria dei Sapori Perduti in the heart of Modica. It all started with the Muriana family that proposed ancient recipes with nostalgic flavors. Nowadays, this place brings many tourists to Modica and you should try it as well. A door to the past, something that you can’t find anywhere else. This restaurant has won many awards, yet it’s still authentic and affordable. The big lunch for two people (with wine) was a bit more than 50 EUR. Oh and don’t forget to try their ravioli with chocolate – you might think it is strange, but go for it before you judge it.
Another famous product of Modica is their local chocolate. Modica Chocolate is cold processed and has no cocoa butter added, at 45 degrees Celsius sugar does not dissolve; that’s why it has a different texture. This chocolate will not melt easily, but you can’t be sure with Sicilian heat. The perfect souvenir to bring for your friends or family.Get your street food tour in Modica
Best beach experience in Sicily
Maybe you are thinking that it is enough activities? You are right, it’s time to relax on the beach and I am here to share the best beach in Sicily! Welcome to Mazzaforno.
Located only three kilometers from Cefalù, Mazzaforno is a seaside resort that gives its name to the seaside coves, the sandy and rocky beaches, and the sea of emerald and turquoise colors. A stretch of coastline that can be easily reached from the trunk road SS113 heading towards Palermo and following the directions for Mazzaforno.
It is not the longest beach, but it is not the most popular one either. In fact, part of it is private, so not many people know about it. You will find many beautiful beaches in Sicily, but this is at the top of my personal list. Don’t miss it!
Sicilian Granita tasting
Yet another thing that you have heard when mentioning Sicily is granita. Maybe you are wondering what is granita? Granita is a semi-frozen dessert made from water and various flavorings. However, in Sicily, they don’t add sugar or syrup, just pure water and the ingredient of your choice. Sign of a good granita? Pieces of fruit inside. I am a gelato lover, but when it’s more than 30 degrees outside, you want something light and refreshing.
Now let’s talk about the best granita experience in Sicily. No doubt it is hidden in Bam Bar in Taormina. It is very affordable, the staff is friendly and granita.. well the best one that you will ever try. Additionally the design of this place is marvelous. It doesn’t get more Sicilian than this!
Oh, and I forgot to mention, it comes with a weirdly shaped brioche. At first, I thought it was a strange combo, but go for it and thank me later.
Meet the sunset in Cefalu
Cefalu is another beautiful town that stole my heart as soon as I arrived, but it gets even better at sunset. This uniquely-shaped hill gives the town of Cefalu its striking appearance, rising up beside the picturesque colorful houses with its sheer cliff face. Add a bit of golden hour and it is pure perfection.
Once the sun goes down, Cefalu is filled with life and fun. People are out having drinks, meeting up with friends, and making the best memories in Sicily. Join them and discover the magic of Cefalu.
While in Cefalu, here are some other things to see: Castle Ruins, Cefalu Cathedral, Piazza Garibaldi, and other tiny streets of Cefalu.
Discover Ancient Greek history in Valley of the Temples
Valley of the Temples is an archaeological site and it is the biggest example of Greater Greece art and architecture in entire Italy. You can visit the archaeological site on foot, but there is also a tourist train shuttle service. It will cost you 3 EUR per person, one way. There is also a restaurant in case you didn’t have time to eat before your visit.
Make sure you plan at least 2 hours for this experience and I highly suggest visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon in order to avoid the heat.
From July to September, you have a unique opportunity to see the temples at night. It gets magical when illuminated in the dark. The entrance fee is around 15 EUR depending on your age and how you want to combine your ticket. Keep in mind that it is highly suggested to book your visit in advance and you can do it HERE.
See salt road in Trapani
Along the road that runs from Trapani to Marsala, you will find a unique landscape with salt. The part that you simply cannot miss is called the Saline of the Laguna Marsala. It is a fully functioning Sicilian salt mill that draws thousands of tourists each year.
Once you arrive, you will find a lot of parking options. You can visit the salt museum, see inside the windmill (highly suggested!), or take a boat around the island. Make sure you check working hours before you arrive, they change depending on the season.
If you decide to spend a night here, I highly suggest you stay in a bed and breakfast called La Finestra Sul Sale. They have the best views. In case you are on a clock, consider a drink in SEI – Mamma Caura. Espresso bar with a panoramic view over the salt mill. It might be a bit pricey by Sicilian standards, but you can see the sunset over the salt mill with a drink in your hand. Pretty impressive, right?
Horse meat in Catania
Horse meat is a traditional delicacy in Catania and it is usually eaten in the form of meatballs or small steaks. One of the best-rated restaurants is Achille in Catania according to Trip Advisor, so we decided to give it a try. Forget about fancy dining here. Near Achille you will find many other similar restaurants with a very inviting smell – everything is grilled on the street, right in front of you.
Let me tell you that I have tried horse meat once in my life and I didn’t like it, so I was prepared to order something else from the menu. However, I got to try horse meat meatballs before my dish arrived and I didn’t hesitate to cancel my initial order. I am not saying that you will love horse meat, but you certainly have to try it! And Achille is a typical place that offers the best-grilled options – vegetables, meat, or fish, it’s up to you.
Travel back in time and discover hidden Sicily
My partner has a passion for retro cars and I have a passion for hidden gems, so we found a perfect experience on Airbnb. It’s a car ride with MGA 1961’s 1600 MKII and Antonio, your host, knows all the best places in the area.
He comes to pick you up in Cefalu and takes you to tiny towns, historical attractions, and remote treasures in the area. During this tour, you are going to see places like the Sanctuary of Gibilmanna, Isnello, Castelbuono, Pollina, etc.
And yes, you can see all these places by yourself but it is way more fun when someone can guide you and share all the curiosities. Plus, a drive in a retro car in this particular area.. looks like a scene from an old Italian movie. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you can book it HERE.
RELATED: 30 Most Beautiful Places in Sicily
Ceramics in Caltagirone
What is a good trip without souvenirs to bring home, right? Sicily certainly won’t be a problem when it comes to souvenirs that last. If you are like me and you like ceramics, Caltagirone is your place. Ceramic production in Caltagirone is a millennium-old tradition making the town one of the most important ceramic production centers of Sicily.
The ceramic tradition is visible in every part of the town, not only in its numerous shops selling ceramics and maiolica. For example, you can’t miss the famous tile-covered stairs – Santa Maria del Monte. Also, there is the Regional Ceramics Museum, which contains examples of Sicilian ceramic objects dating from prehistoric times to the present day.
Authentic cannoli experience
We started with food, so I want to finish with food. Cannoli is another must-try thing while you are in Sicily and I found the most amazing place to taste them. The place is called Segreti del Chiostro di Palermo and it is located inside the sixteenth-century monastery of Saint Catherine.
Back in the time, they didn’t have enough finances to maintain the monastery, so the nuns decided to sell sweets. The recipes of the convent pastry are secret and were only revealed by the older nuns to the younger ones who inherited them. That’s the main reason why you should try their special cannoli.. it is certainly worth keeping the recipe a secret!
While you are here, you should visit Chiesa di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria. Actually, I have another tip for Sicily. Make sure you visit as many churches as you can. Sometimes they look insignificant from the outside, but you can find a real treasure inside.
+1! Pistachio festival in Bronte
This festival is another interesting experience that Sicily can offer to you. It is fully devoted to this tasty fruit and its unlimited food applications: you can enjoy the taste of ice cream, cakes, pasta, arancini, and pastries and discover much more recipes to delight this legacy of the Arabic domination of Sicily.
It takes place at the beginning of October, so if you are visiting during this time, make sure that you check out the exact dates. Pistachio is the green gold of Sicily, so when in Sicily – try everything with pistachio. Even pasta and pizza!
Further reading for the authentic experiences in Sicily
Other popular regions of Italy
Other useful tips for visiting Italy
🏠 Need a place to stay? Browse Booking or Agoda
💃 How about fun experiences? GetYourGuide and Viator have it all
🚗 Considering renting a car in Italy? Use Rentalcars
✈️ Looking for the best flight deals? Check WayAway
🔒 Don’t forget about travel insurance from HeyMondo
I love to try local experiences when traveling, it is a great way to discover the place that you are visiting. Sicily certainly has a lot to offer, so it is hard to try it all, however, I want to make sure you don’t miss the important ones. Plan your trip around these experiences and discover real Sicily. I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.