THE 5 ABSOLUTE HIGHLIGHTS IN SICILY YOU CAN’T MISS
In Italy’s boot, you’ll find the beautiful island of Sicily. The Italian’s themselves call Sicily ‘the true Italy’, because of it’s amazing nature and authentic Italian cuisine. With a five hour drive from Sicily’s east coast to the west coast this is the ideal island for anyone who’s looking for a great holiday in Europe filled with road trips. Popular spots are: Realmonte, Agrigento, Tripani, Syracuse and San Vito Lo Capo. I’ve selected the five absolute highlights in Sicily, so you won’t have to miss the best of what this Island has to offer. Let’s dive into it:
In collaboration with: TravelBird
1. SCALA DEI TURCHI, REALMONTE
Scala dei Turchi, or stairs of the Turks, is a mind-blowingly beautiful spot on the coast of Realmonte in the south of Sicily. With an enormous white cliff separating two sandy beaches, surrounded by piercing blue waters the Scala dei Turchi is a place of dreams.
The white cliff is formed out of ‘Marl’, a sedimentary rock with a white colour, which after centuries of wind and water formed into a stairs-like shape. This explains why the Italians have called it ‘the stairs’.
The latter part of the name, as the story goes, is derived from a time when Saracen pirates (Moors) who hid their boats in the bay behind the cliff, climbed the stairs and surprised the medieval villages of Realmonte.
Nowadays you can easily spend a day with the locals on these beaches. Don’t tell it you got it from me, but after the ‘stairs’ is a second sand beach. Which is way less crowded and visited mostly by local Italians only. You’ll need to climb down the cliff, so bring real shoes instead of flip flops… I’ll guarantee you: it’s worth the climb!
2. PARCO VALLE DEI TEMPLI, AGRIGENTO
After a nice day of relaxation on the beaches surrounding the Scala Dei Turchi, it’s time for a bit of history. Luckily for you it’s just a 45 minute drive to the Valley of Temples in Agrigento. The best thing about Parco Valle dei Templi, is that it’s open until after sunset. So you can visit this huge valley for when the temperature is dropping and the views are breath taking.
This part of Agrigento is an archaeological area that is enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage site. And for good reason: founded in the 6th century B.C. as a Greek colony, Agrigento became one of the leading cities in the Mediterranean. After which the Hellestenic’s and Romans made it part of their town. Even later the area was used by the early Christian inhabitants for burial practices.
In the Valley there are remains of seven temples: The Temple of Concordia, Temple of Juno, Temple of Heracles (which ones was one of the most honoured deities), the Temple of Olympian Zeus (build in 480 BC in celebration of the victory over Carthage), the Temple of Castor and Pollux, Temple of Vulcan and lastly the Temple of Asclepius.
Want to make the same trip as I did? Check out my trip here!
3. THE YARDS OF SICILY, SICILY
While you drive around the island of Sicily you’ll quickly notice the abundance farms and farmland, not such a surprise considering that Sicily’s major exports are pasta, wine and olive oil.
Although it’s not very easy to find access most of the olive yards, wheat fields and vine yards. (I even got chased away from one, while taking pictures from the roadside). There are a couple of friendly farmers where you can freely visit their yards and buy their products. I always love to see these fruits grow, and especially the smell when you pass by these yards on a warm and breezy summer day.
Visit the vineyards of Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano where in Greek mythology the deadly monster of Typhon was trapped under by Zeus. Or visit my favourite city in Sicily: Syracuse for a ‘Food & Wine tasting’. Keep on reading why I love Syracuse 😍
4. TONNARO DI SCOPELLO, TRIPANI
From everything that I’ve seen in Sicily, Scopello is a personal all-time favourite. Scopello lies in the north-west of Sicily, near the nature reserve of ‘Zingaro’. About an hour drive from Palermo and a 45 minute drive from the sandy beaches of San Vito Lo Capo.
The town of Scopello inhabits 118 people, but in the summer they quickly become 2.000 people strong. And for a good reason: the bays are filled with crystal clear, turquoise, blue waters and the rugged cliffs make this one of the most beautiful spots that Italy has to offer.
Close to the village of Scopello you’ll find ‘La Tonnara di Scopello’, once an Tuna factory, now a popular spot for locals to wind down for the day. The municipality of Scopello is in charge of this private seaside resort, and keeps a strict permission policy. They believe that in order to keep the idyllic vibe of La Tonnara intact, it shouldn’t become overcrowded.
The site opens around 09:00 hours and quickly fills with Italians that come by car and boat to spend their day here. When there are enough people, the doors close and a long line of people that want to get in form. From here on the ’two-in-two-out-rule’ takes effect. So do yourselves a favour and come early 😉
5. SYRACUSE, SYRACUSE
So why is Syracuse my favourite city on Sicily? Good question! Is it because of the enormous amount of picturesque alleyways? A coastline that begs for a trip by boat? The ‘solarium’ where you can spend your day tanning and dipping in the ocean? You’ve guessed it, it’s all of the above and more.
Syracuse features a vast number of restaurants with good food and good wine. An old part that is very viby both by day and by night, and more importantly it’s not entirely overrun by tourists. Of course, you’ll bump into a couple, but’s the town is not overrun by tourists.
At night, the locals from neighbouring villages will flock in for the food and the live music performed on the streets. The ladies all dressed up in breezy summer dresses, the gentleman all on their best behaviour. Which makes this intensely easy and chill to go out at night for a great dinner.
The city is known for being the birthplace of the famous Archimedes and its rich Greek history, culture and architecture. And is even mentioned in the Bible (Acts of Apostles book, 28:12). The city is about 2.700 years old and was a major power in the Mediterranean world. In the 5th century BC it equalled the size of the Greek city of Athens. Later it became part of the Roman Republic and Byzantine Empire. Nowadays the city of Syracuse is also part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
While you’re there, marvel at the rich history of the city of Syracuse. And make regular stops at those Gelateria’s, for tasty fresh ice cream. Because.. Well, you’re on a holiday right?
Want to visit Sicily? Check out these trips here!