Sicily offers newlyweds a choice of gorgeous beaches, ancient archaeological ruins and natural wonders just a short hop away from mainland Italy.
The largest island in the Mediterranean is home to the ancient Greek city at Siracusa and the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento, as well as Mount Etna (3329m), Europe's tallest active volcano.
Choose from several great beaches that indent the coastline of Sicily, including the following…
(Taormina) – Relax on one of two sand and pebble beaches that gently shelve into turquoise bays framed by rocky headlands on one side and the picturesque Isola Bella on the other.
Once frequented by the stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, Lido Mazzaro offers an array of facilities such as sun umbrellas, loungers and pedal boats, as well as a choice of beachside bars and restaurants.
Water sports include windsurfing, fishing and scuba diving are also available.
Explore the many caves that indent the tiny coves and snorkel beneath the steep rocky promontories that also offer walking pathways.
Lido Mazzaro is a 15-minute cable car ride from the medieval hilltop town of Taormina.
(Taormina) – Unwind on this long sandy beach that’s perfect for sunbathing and swimming.
Enjoy a choice of beachside restaurants and hotels and facilities that include sun umbrellas, loungers and pedal boats.
Nestling between Capo Taormina to the north and Capo Schiso in the south, Giardini-Naxos Beach is located 6km south of Taormina town.
(Cefalu) – Did your toes into this long golden-sand beach that stretches out just a short walk from the medieval town of Cefalu.
Overlooked by a dramatic steep promontory, the beach is framed by a line of picturesque waterfront houses that stand on rocks just metres above the sea.
Stroll through the narrow medieval streets of the old town, visiting several old churches and the impressive fortress-like 12th century Il Duomo cathedral, with its stunning display of Byzantine-Norman mosaics.
Walk up to the summit of the promontory for fabulous views and to see ruins of an ancient castle and a 5th century BC temple.
Hike into the nearby Madonie mountains, which host numerous trails to suit all levels of fitness, including one track that leads to the hillside sanctuary of Gibilmanna (800m). Many more trails wind through the 39,679ha Parco Naturale Regionale delle Madonie, Sicily's finest national park.
Cefalu Beach’s facilities include umbrellas, sun loungers, pedal boats and freshwater showers. Choose from a range of bars, seafood restaurants and hotels, including the elegant 5-star Hotel Alberi del Paradiso, which sits surrounded by olive trees.
Cefalu Beach is located on the north coast, around 74km from Palermo, with good rail and bus connections.
(Palermo) – Unwind on the soft white sand of this 2km-long beach that nestles in front of a half-moon shaped bay framed by the immense promontories of Monte Pellegrino and Monte Gallo.
Lido Mondello is popular with the citizens of nearby Palermo and offers a range of facilities including umbrellas, sun loungers and peddle boats.
Behind the beach are a choice of bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels including the prestigious 5-star Mondello Palace Hotel, where only a manicured garden separates you from the beach.
Lido Mondello is located on the north coast, just 12km from Palermo.
(Acqualadrone) – Pick your own secluded spot to sunbathe on this 7km-long white-sand beach that stretches along the coast to the little seaside resort town of Acqualadrone.
The main section of the beach (known as Lido del Tirreno) offers a range of facilities including cabanas, sun umbrellas, sun loungers and peddle boats.
Nearby are a range of bars, pizzerias, restaurants and hotels including the elegant 5-star Grand Hotel Liberty. If Lido del Tirreno becomes too crowded, try walking westward towards Acqualadrone to find a more secluded spot.
Lido Mortelle is located just 12km north of Messina on the northeastern tip of Sicily.
In Palermo, discover an architectural legacy of Arab domes, Norman cathedrals and baroque facades.
Wander the heart of the La Kalsa Old Quarter, browse a treasure trove of archaeological artifacts at the Museo Archeologico Regionale, marvel at the amazing stuccos at the Chiesa di Santa Cita and walk among the dead in the dimly lit subterranean corridors of the Catacombe dei Cappuccini, a collection of 8000 embalmed bodies.
Visit the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento, one of the most captivating, largest and best-preserved ancient Greek temples outside of Greece itself. Stroll past a series of Doric temples including the Temple of Concordia and the Temple of Olympian Zeus, with views over the city and sea.
Elsewhere, watch a Greek tragedy in Taormina's rock-hewn amphitheatre (photo) and walk through the cloisters of the 11th century Cathedral of Monreale to sample Sicily’s rich mix of Arab, Norman and Byzantine history.
Or examine a complex display of world famous mosaics displaying nymphs, Roman sports and hints of eroticism at the Villa Romana del Casale.
During summer, hike through a diverse landscape in the Etna Regional Park; if you’re lucky, you may get to see bubbling lava inside one of the four calderas. Go skiing there in winter.
Top attractions in Sicily, include…
Mount Etna – Explore the slopes of Mount Etna (3323m), the highest volcano in Europe. Hike through a fertile volcanic landscape of palm trees, vineyards and orchards that give way to alpine firs and a moonscape of hardened lava scattered with several destroyed homes.
Given that Mount Etna is in an almost constant state of eruption, the summit is usually considered dangerous without a guide beyond 2900m. However, if conditions are favourable, you can climb to the volcano's summit or to one of the mountain’s four craters and peer down into a bubbling caldron of molten lava.
Mount Etna is usually covered in snow until June with skiing available at the Etna Regional Park during the winter season.
Alternatively, hike up to the ruins of 11th century Castello Normanno for scenic views across to Mount Etna and the coastline beyond.
La Kalsa (Palermo) – Discover some of the Sicilian capital’s most treasured sights in the heart of the Old Quarter.
From the central square (Piazza della Kalsa), follow a maze of narrow streets past ancient and faded former palaces and churches, including the Palazzo Abatellis and the Chiesa della Santa Trinità – a splendid Norman church built in 1191.
Then browse bustling outdoor markets, where you can savour local fast food such as the babbaluci (marinated baby snails) that are sold in paper cornets. Parts of La Kalsa are little changed since the city’s former Arab rulers created the walled city for the Emir.
Galleria Regionale della Sicilia (Palermo) – Admire this magnificent collection of Sicilian paintings and sculptures from the 13th to the 18th century.
Museo Archeologico Regionale (Palermo) – This is one of the finest museums in Italy. Explore a treasure trove of archaeological artifacts excavated from around the island.
Admire a Phoenician sarcophagi from the 5th century BC, Greek carvings from Selinunte, the Hellenistic Bronze Ram of Syracuse and more than 10,000 Etruscan artifacts.
Chiesa di Santa Cita (Palermo) – Marvel at the stunning oratory in this 14th century church, which was named after the patron saint of domestic servants.
The 17th century Oratorio del Rosario di Santa Cita contains a breathtaking display of stuccos by sculptor and baroque decorator Giacomo Serpotta, including the elaborate Battle of Lepanto on the entrance wall.
Necropolis of Pantalica (Syracuse) – Explore on foot more than 5000 square rock-cut tombs dating from the 13th to the 7th centuries BC at this amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Various trails make this area easy to wander around. Pantalica is located in the southeast of Sicily, around 9km from Feria.
Villa Romana del Casale (Piazza Armerina) – This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to one of the world’s richest collections of Roman mosaics, which carpet 40 rooms inside at one of the grandest of all Roman villas to have survived the classical era.
The villa dates back to the 4th century AD and is located around 5km from the town of Piazza Armerina in southern Sicily.
Valley of the Temples (Agrigento) – Walk among the largest and perhaps greatest collection of ancient Greek ruins in the world – especially stunning at dawn, sunset or at night when the UNESCO World Heritage Site is floodlit.
Among the magnificent ruins, marvel at the wind-eroded columns still standing at the Temple of Juno, which dates to 450 BC, and the immense Temple of Concordia, one of the best preserved Greek ruins in the world.
The Valley of the Temples is located near the town of Agrigento, on the southern coast of Sicily.
Temple of Segesta (Segesta) – Admire this almost perfectly preserved Doric temple, with a total of 36 wind-eroded stone columns that date back to the 5th century BC.
Nearby stands a magnificent Roman theatre with panoramic views over the surrounding countryside. Segesta is located in the northwest of Sicily.
Val di Noto – Discover one of Europe’s finest collections of Baroque architecture, built in 1683 on the ruins of several ancient towns (founded in 664 BC) that were destroyed by an earthquake.
The towns include Caltagirone, Militello, Cartania, Modica, Noto and Palazzolo Acreide. Val di Noto is located in the southeast of Sicily.
Medieval Erice – Wander narrow cobbled streets beneath flower-covered baroque balconies and courtyards. At 755m above sea level, this enthralling medieval walled mountain town offers panoramic views over the surrounding countryside and along the west coast of Sicily.
Some alleyways (known as vanelle) permit only one person to pass at a time.
Follow the pathway past the lovely Villa Balio gardens and along the cliff's edge to Erice's highest point – the Castello di Venere, a crumbling Norman ruin that occupies a sacred site where a temple to Venus once stood.
Erice is located 96km south of Palermo.
Monreale Duomo (Monreale) – Stroll the magnificent cloisters and marvel at the breathtaking interior of this 12th century cathedral, one of the greatest examples of Norman architecture in the world.
The church is a national monument of Italy and houses a stunning array of glass mosaics (6500m²) – the largest cycle of Byzantine mosaics in Italy.
Sicily offers an excellent choice of accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets, including the following 5-star hotels…
NH Collection Taormina
Ave nightly price: AUD288 per room
Description: Featuring a roof-top terrace and panoramic views, NH Collection Taormina is set in the heart of Taormina's historical centre. It features spacious rooms, a modern wellness centre, and an infinity pool overlooking the bay. All rooms at the NH Collection Taormina hotel have design bathrooms with a shower, bathrobes, and slippers. They come with LCD TV with satellite channels, and free wired internet. The hotel has an exclusive 260 m² spa area that comes with a sauna, a Turkish bath, and therapy showers. It also includes a tea room. The outdoor swimming pool is equipped with sofas, sun loungers, tables, and chairs. Each morning, guests start the day with a breakfast buffet featuring organic product, such as yoghurt, jams and a selection of homemade pressed juices. The restaurant specialises in national and Sicilian cuisine. Corso Umberto I, the city's main street, is just a few minutes away on foot. The property is well connected by the A18 motorway.
San Domenico Palace Hotel
Ave nightly price: AUD432 per room
Description: San Domenico Palace is a unique hotel, with terraces overlooking Mount Etna and the Bay of Taormina. It features a fitness center, a beauty corner, and an outdoor swimming pool. This luxury hotel in Taormina is made up of 2 historic buildings. The Garden Wing is a former 15th-century convent with a monastery. The Grand Hotel Wing was added in 1896. All rooms are uniquely decorated, and equipped with air conditioning and TV with satellite channels. Most rooms have views of the sea, and some also have a private balcony. Mentioned in the most famous food guides, the restaurants and bars of San Domenico Palace Hotel serve traditional Sicilian cuisine. Breakfast buffet is served at the restaurant and includes local pastries.
Grand Hotel Villa Igiea Palermo - MGallery by Sofitel
Ave nightly price: AUD177 per room
Description: Offering panoramic views across the Bay of Palermo, Grand Hotel Villa Igiea - MGallery Collection is 2 km from Palermo Harbour. It features an outdoor swimming pool, tennis court and elegant rooms and suites. Every room has a different design and layout at Villa Igiea - MGallery Collection and no two are the same. They do however have many facilities in common, including air conditioning, satellite TV with pay-per-view movies and a writing desk. Some offer views of the Tyrrhenian Sea or Pellegrino mountain. Drinks are available from the bar, while the restaurant serves Sicilian specialities. You will also find a gym, solarium and massage rooms at this luxury 5-star hotel.
Hotel Villa Athena
Ave nightly price: AUD281 per room
Description: Villa Athena, a modern 5-star hotel, is located within Agrigento's Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features a wellness centre, an outdoor pool, and both free parking and free Wi-Fi throughout. This elegant 18th-century villa is just 200 m from the Temple of Concordia, a true masterpiece from the 5th century BC. The rooms of Hotel Villa Athena are air conditioned, and feature a TV and a private marble bathroom. Some have views of the garden, and some overlook the temples. An American breakfast is served daily. There are 2 famous restaurants on site, Il Granaio di Ibla, and the Terrazza degli Dei, with panoramic views.
Grand Hotel Ortigia
Ave nightly price: AUD155 per room
Description: Offering a rooftop terrace and glass elevator with sea views, the Grand Hotel is next to the main harbor and a 5-minute walk from the Aretusa Fountain. It is the only hotel in Ortigia with a private parking. Rooms at the Grand Hotel Ortigia are spacious, and offer free Wi-Fi access, a flat-screen TV, and air conditioning. Some have a whirlpool bathtub. The Terrazza sul Mare restaurant is on the top floor of the hotel, overlooking the sea and harbor. it serves a variety of fine wines and regional specialties. From the end of June, a boat shuttle is available to/from the hotel's private beach. Alternatively, it is just a 10-minute drive away.
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The best time to visit Sicily is from April to June and late September to October when temperatures are still warm and the crowds are not quite so intense.
Sicily enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and warm rainy winters.
Summer, from June to September, offers clear sunny skies with an average high of 25°C (77°F) in June climbing to 29°C (84°F) in July and August before falling to 27°C (81°F) in September.
For more climate info: Sicily Weather Guide…
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and lies off the southern tip of Italy – separated by the 5km-wide Straits of Messina from the mainland region of Calabria.
The most convenient route to Sicily is by air to Palermo Falcone Borsellino Airport (PMO), located about 35km (21mi) northwest of Palermo, the capital city, which is located in the northwest of Sicily.
Buses outside the terminal building run frequently to Palermo city, with further connections from Palermo to Catania, Messina and other towns in Sicily.
Alternatively, you can fly to Catania–Fontanarossa Airport (CTA), also known as Vincenzo Bellini Airport, located about 4km (2.6mi) southwest of Catania – the second largest city in Sicily, and gateway to Mount Etna as well as the resort town of Taormina.
Several long distance trains operate to Palermo and Catania from Rome, Milan, Venice and Naples.
Latest update: Sicily Honeymoon Guide: 7 February, 2020
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