Just off the “toe” of Italy's “boot” lies Sicily, the biggest island in the Mediterranean. Visiting Italy is already a fantastic choice, but heading to one of its islands makes it even better.

The natural beauty of Sicily is unmatched, with adorable little harbor towns and beautiful sandy beaches across the entire island. Top that off with ancient ruins, amazing baroque architecture, and some of Italy's best food, and you've got yourself the perfect summer vacation spot.

Now, when it comes to choosing where to stay in Sicily, this island is quite big, offering a variety of cities and towns to choose from. In this guide, I'll show you my favorites, so you can easily pick the one that suits you best.

Best areas to stay in Sicily

As I already mentioned, Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean and it's packed with amazing cities and towns. Let's dive into my favorite six areas and let me show you where to stay and what to do.

For all newbies to Sicily, I highly recommend staying in Palermo, the capital. It's bursting with rich history, stunning architecture, a beautiful old town, loads of museums, and a wide variety of restaurants and hotels.

Nightlife lovers will be thrilled with Taormina, a charming little coastal town on the East Coast of Sicily. You'll find plenty of local bars and restaurants to keep you entertained.

If you're looking for the ultimate couples' getaway, head to San Vito Lo Capo on the northern coast, just a short distance from Palermo. It's home to breathtaking beaches and crystal-clear waters.

Families, budget travelers, and beach lovers should make their way to Cefalu on the island's north coast. It's got some of the most beautiful beaches and offers great hotel and resort options.

Sicily is steeped in history, and the best town to explore is Agrigento, with its stunning ancient ruins.

Last but not least, my personal favorite is Syracuse, located on the East Coast. It's a picture-perfect coastal town with amazing little markets, breathtaking views, and plenty of authentic restaurants and shops.

1. Where to stay in Sicily for the first time: Palermo

where to stay in sicily - palermo

If you're planning your first visit to Sicily, Palermo is hands down the most convenient and amazing choice. You'll get the complete Italian experience here, with breathtaking baroque buildings, historical churches, stunning palaces, and fascinating museums.

Stroll through Palermo's Old Town, explore charming cobblestone alleys, or try some of the delicious Italian cuisine at traditional osterias can easily fill up your days. 

On top of that, Palermo offers a wide range of hotels, from luxury to budget options, which makes Palermo your perfect base.

Best area for:

  • First-timers

  • Foodies

  • Shopping

Things to do in Palermo

Palermo is an amazing blend of shopping, sightseeing, and vibrant nightlife with awesome bars and restaurants.

When it comes to sightseeing, I totally recommend checking out the Royal Palace of Palermo (Norman Palace), the Cathedral of Monreale, and the Arab-Norman Palermo Cathedral, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For all foodies and shopping enthusiasts, the Vucciria Market in the city centre is an absolute must-visit. They've got great street food and delicious seafood that you won't want to miss out on.

And lastly, if you're in the mood for some traditional and absolutely mouthwatering food, you have to try Osteria Pane e Alivi. Their seafood pasta is to die for!

Best hotels to stay in Palermo

($$$) Palazzo Ventimiglia

($$) Hotel Politeama

($) Ai Vicerè

2. Where to stay in Sicily for luxury & nightlife: Taormina

where to stay in sicily - taormina

At first, you might not believe me when I say that Taormina offers a vibrant nightlife, considering its breathtaking hillside location, adorned with historic architecture, castles, and a scenic cable car journey to the hill's summit.

The town itself has a charming medieval vibe, with beautiful flowers adorning the buildings and cobblestone roads winding through the streets.

Taormina's narrow streets are packed with cool cocktail bars, cozy wine spots, cute pizzerias, and chill cafes. So, once the sun goes down, there's plenty to do!

The town of Taormina also has an amazing beach where you'll find the occasional beach party. So if you're up for a fun night out, Taormina is definitely the place to be.

Best area for:

  • Nightlife

  • Luxury travelers

  • Couples

Things to do in Taormina

Besides its great nightlife, Taormina has some amazing sightseeing opportunities you shouldn't miss. The Teatro Antico di Taormina, an ancient Greek theatre, is definitely worth a visit. The views from up there are simply breathtaking.

If you're a beach lover like me, Isola Bella Beach is just a short walk away. You'll find crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches where you can easily spend the whole day. Be aware, that it does get crowded in summer! Mazzaro Beach is also amazing as it's lined up with some great local restaurants and bars.

Of course, I also have some favorite bars and pubs here in Taormina. Morgana Lounge is perfect for some delicious cocktails, and if you're in the mood for a beer and some pub food, Time Out Pub is the place to be. They have a super cool beer garden too!

Best hotels to stay in Taormina

($$$) Unahotels Capotaormina

($$) Hotel Ariston and Palazzo Santa Caterina

($) Hotel Le Chevalier

3. Where to stay in Sicily for couples & relaxation: San Vito Lo Capo

where to stay in sicily - San Vito Lo Capo

San Vito Lo Capo is an absolute dream for couples and a perfect spot for honeymooners in Sicily!

It's just a short drive, about an hour outside of Palermo. You'll find some charming boutique hotels, and incredible local restaurants with delicious food, and let me tell you about San Vito Beach – it's my absolute favorite beach on the entire island! Picture white sand and crystal clear water that'll transport you to the Maldives.

It's worth noting that during the peak season, the town can become quite crowded, as it's renowned for having some of Italy's most beautiful sandy beaches, which sets it apart from the more common pebble-strewn coastlines. So if you can, I highly recommend visiting during the shoulder season in May or September to avoid some of the crowds and get better deals on hotels.

Another tip is, if possible, to come in late September for the annual Cous Cous Fest. It is a culinary festival that celebrates cultural diversity with delicious dishes from all over the world.

Best area for:

  • Couples

  • Honeymoon

  • Snorkeling

  • Stunning sand beaches

Things to do in San Vito Lo Capo

The beaches here are magnificent. With their white sand, cliffs, and crystal-clear water, they are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Some of the best and most popular beaches include San Vito Beach, Bue Marino Beach, and Macari Beach.

For history buffs, there are some amazing sightseeing opportunities as well. The San Vito Sanctuary is an ancient fortress and definitely worth a visit. And if you want the best views on the island, don't miss the chance to climb up Mount Monaco for a breathtaking panorama.

My recommendation for all foodies is to check out Buena Vida Siciliana. It's a true institution in town, serving up authentic Italian seafood and pasta for centuries. Just a friendly tip: make sure to come early to avoid queuing for a table.

Best hotels to stay in San Vito Lo Capo

($$$) Hermes Hotel

($$) Hotel Perla Gaia

($) Vitorno Residence

4. Where to stay in Sicily for families & budget travelers: Cefalu

where to stay in sicily - cefalu

Cefalu is a charming town just a stone's throw away from Palermo. It's perfect for families with children of all ages, as it offers plenty of activities to do, particularly during the summer months.

The beach here is absolutely beautiful, with crystal clear water and soft golden sand. There are also some amazing restaurants and cafes along the promenade, offering delicious local specialties.

The town itself has a charming historic center with narrow streets, beautiful churches, and cozy little shops. Based on my experience, I must say that the food and accommodation here are definitely more on the cheaper side. Along the beach, you'll have plenty of chances to grab some super affordable snacks.

If you're planning on spending most of your vacation time by the beach, getting a tan, and having a blast with your kids, then Cefalu is definitely the perfect spot for you.

Best area for:

  • Families

  • Budget travelers

  • Beaches

Things to do in Cefalu

The main attraction here is, of course, the beach. It's perfect for families with young children as the water is shallow and calm. There are also some great water sports activities, such as jet skiing and parasailing, for those in search of a bit more action.

For culture lovers, I recommend visiting Cefalu Cathedral. It's stunning both inside and out!

And if you're feeling adventurous, take a hike up to La Rocca di Cefalu for some amazing views of the town and the sea.

And lastly, my dinner recommendation for Cefalu – If you're in the mood for the best pizza in town, you've got to try Ristorante Pizzeria Baglio del Falco. They make incredibly light dough pizzas, and their cozy terrace with an olive tree acting as a parasol is just perfect.

Best hotels to stay in Cefalu

($$$) Bohémien Boutique Guesthouse

($$) Ossuna Bay Hotel Boutique

($) B&B Panorama

5. Where to stay in Sicily for history buffs & nature lovers: Agrigento

where to stay in sicily - agrigento

Agrigento, located on the beautiful southern coast of Sicily, has a super interesting history, making it the ideal spot for all history buffs (and everyone else, to be honest!).

The ruins here date back more than 3000 years when a Greek colony founded the town and made it one of the richest colonies of its time. But hey, I don't want to tell you too much! You'll find out all about it yourself when you stay here.

The town itself has several main ruin sites, which I highly recommend visiting. Moreover, there are even more Greek and Roman ruin sites scattered around the whole south coast. It's no wonder this town has become quite popular with tourists. But don't worry, finding hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants won't be a problem at all!

Even if you choose not to stay here, I highly recommend making at least a day trip out of Agrigento just to see these remarkable ruins!

Best area for:

  • History buffs

  • Families

  • Nature

Things to do in Agrigento

In Agrigento, everything revolves around the ruin sites. So, most of the things to do here involve visiting them.

The Valley of the Temples is the main ruin site in Agrigento. This archaeological site is home to some incredibly well-preserved Greek temples, including the famous Temple of Concordia. On top of that, you can also visit the Archaeological Museum. It's a great place to learn more about the history and significance of these fascinating ruins.

And for another incredible sight, be sure to visit the Scala dei Turchi (Stair of the Turks), a breathtaking white rock formation by the sea 20 minutes from town by car. Don't forget your camera because it's absolutely stunning!

I also highly recommend exploring Agrigento's Old Town, especially on Fridays when their market is bustling. You'll find amazing souvenirs, fresh produce, and some delicious food.

Of course, there is a beach here as well. Capo Rossello is a popular beach among locals, and it's the perfect place to hang out and relax after a day of exploring.

Best hotels to stay in Agrigento

($$) B&B MiraValle Agrigento

($$) I Segreti della Valle

($) Brio Bed & Breakfast

6. Where to stay in Sicily for the coolest town: Syracuse

where to stay in sicily - syracuse

Syracuse, located on the southeast coast of Sicily, is a mix of ancient history and modern vibes. This town has an amazing atmosphere with plenty of cute cafes, trendy bars, and delicious restaurants to discover.

But what makes Syracuse really special is its history. The historic center of Ortigia (a small island next to Syracuse) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and for good reason.

Here you can find significant ruins from the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods. It's like a mini Pompeii with incredible architecture, beautiful squares, and charming alleyways to explore.

Best area for:

  • History lovers

  • Couples

  • Culture

Things to do in Syracuse

As mentioned before, exploring Ortigia is a must-do when in Syracuse. The town is filled with history and charm, making it the perfect place for a leisurely stroll. Be sure to visit the Fountain of Arethusa, one of the most iconic spots in Ortigia.

Moreover, Syracuse is an absolute paradise for your taste buds. I've tried so much amazing food here that it's hard to narrow it down. A Putia is without a doubt the best Sicilian restaurant on the whole island, and right behind it is Ristorante Retroscena.

Both places serve up delicious Italian and Sicilian dishes, and their seafood and mussel pasta is fresh and simply fantastic. For my vegan friends craving some fine Italian dining, you've got to check out Moon in the city center. It's the best vegan Italian food I've ever had.

Best hotels to stay in Syracuse

($$$) Apollo Suite

($$) Hotel Mediterraneo

($) Maison Ortigia

Where to stay in Sicily – Frequently Asked Questions

🛫 How do I get to Sicily?

Sicily is easily accessible by plane or ferry. The quickest and most convenient way is to fly into one of the major airports in Sicily, like Catania-Fontanarossa Airport (CTA) or Palermo Airport (PMO). If you prefer a scenic route, you can also hop on a ferry from mainland Italy to various ports in Sicily. The easiest connection is a ferry ride into Messina from the mainland, which only takes 20 minutes. Plus, the ferry can accommodate cars in case you're arriving by car.

🗓 How many days should I spend in Sicily?

Sicily is an absolute gem in Italy, offering beautiful beaches, amazing hotels, fascinating history, and mouthwatering food. I recommend staying for at least a week or two during your summer vacation. But if you're short on time, spending just a few days in popular spots such as Palermo, Taormina or Syracuse is also a great option. Ultimately, it's all about what you want to see and experience in Sicily.

🚗 How do I get around in Sicily?

The best way to get around in Sicily is by car. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to explore all the different towns, villages and beaches at your own pace. You can rent a car from one of the major airports or ferry ports, and most hotels offer parking options for guests. Sicily also has a reliable network of buses that connect different towns, but it's not as convenient and may take longer to get around. 

🏠 What is the best hotel in Sicily?

My favorite and one of the best luxury hotels in Sicily is Rocco Forte Villa Igiea, a luxurious and historic hotel in Palermo, Sicily, offering a stunning waterfront location and impeccable service in a grand, Belle Époque setting.

💰 Is Sicily expensive?

Sicily can be expensive depending on where you choose to stay and eat. The major cities like Catania, Palermo, and Taormina are generally more expensive than smaller towns. However, there are plenty of budget-friendly options available all over the island for accommodation and dining. It's all about doing your research beforehand and planning accordingly to fit your budget.

Where to stay in Sicily – Final Words

Sicily is one of the best spots in the Mediterranean for a fantastic summer getaway. The beaches here are incredibly diverse, offering everything from rocky cliffs to sandy shores. The natural beauty of the island is simply incredible. Furthermore, the weather here is very mild, and I loved how sunny it was without being too hot, especially at night.

Sicily is also home to some of Italy's most fascinating archaeological sites, ancient Greek temples and the absolute best Italian food you could ask for. What more could you possibly want from your trip to Italy?

I hope that this guide has answered your question about where to stay in Sicily and has helped you plan the perfect vacation. Buon viaggio!

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