What to do in Sicily in a short time?
When we talk about Sicily, we need to talk about time! It takes special time to get to know this region full of charms, but we understand that we don’t always have that time available, so with that in mind, we made a quick three-day itinerary in Sicily for you to see the be-all and end-all of this very special region. What to do in Sicily in a short time? Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams !!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”
Vídeo about Sicily
(Source: Drone Snap)
A little more about Sicily
Sicily is one of the great Italian islands. Located in southern Italy, it is a region full of charm. With an impressive history, due to the different peoples who passed through there, Sicily is one of the most beautiful regions in Italy: it offers us beaches, mountains, architecture, nature and unique details! From now on, we are going to take a three-day tour of the island for those who only have a few days in Sicily.
We will use the incredible city of Palermo, capital of the region, as a base to start our quick tour in Sicily. To get there you can go by plane, getting off at Falcone and Borsellino di Palermo – Punta Raisi airport, or opt for the train, getting off at Palermo Central Station. We also have a special post on where to stay in Palermo and you can access it by clicking here! To facilitate your movement, choose a hotel near a train station, it will help you and make your tour of Sicily in a few days much easier. Learn more about Palermo by clicking here!
1) What to do in Sicily? FIRST DAY
First day: Palermo. We can start our quick tour of Sicily at the beautiful Ruggero Settimo Square. One of the most symbolic squares in the city joins Castelnuovo Square, forming the incredible Politeama Square. This is where city life happens! With its namesake Politeama Theater, the square is an obligatory stop for anyone passing through Palermo. How about buying a 24-Hour Ticket for the Palermo Hop-On Hop-Off Bus? Click here to learn more!
Castello della Zisa (Zisa Castle)
Leaving Ruggero Settimo Square you can continue the tour to reach Castello della Zisa. You can walk for about half an hour while observing the details of the city, or you can take bus 124 (get off at L’emiro – Guerrazzi stop) or 106 (get off at Perpignano – Polito stop), which takes you to there in 10 minutes. If you are on a tight schedule, opt for public transport (the ticket costs 1.90 euros). As we have little time, also a few days in Sicily, we can’t waste any minute, so I suggest you take the bus!
When you arrive at the Castle, you will come across a building of singular beauty:
The castle dates back to the 12th century and is one of the signatures left by the Norman people in their passage through Sicily. The castle was designed as a summer residence by William I. When the Arabs arrived on the island, the castle became an Arab court and, to this day, it is possible to see the mark left by the Arabs on the ceiling decoration that was, in fact, designed to combat the heat of the city, letting the air circulate so that the wind could blow and cool the environment.
Palazzo Normando or Royal Palace of Palermo
Leaving there, take Via Colonna Rotta (10 minutes on foot) to reach Palazzo Normando. Also called the Royal Palace of Palermo, this building is something magnificent as well as colossal! The Palace dates back to the 9th century and, inside, there are countless works of art, rooms full of luxury and it is there that you will find the Palatine Chapel, one of the most spectacular places in the city. Still in the Palace: an area here is the seat of the Regional Assembly of Sicily.
Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti (St John of the Hermits)
Leaving the Palace, heading to the left of the building, you will find Via dei Benedettini, where the Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti is located, an architectural gem amidst the dense vegetation that presents itself within its courtyard. You don’t find anything inside this little church, it’s empty! But from the outside, its impressive beauty is shown in its cloister, which offers a splendid view of the Norman Palace.
Taking Via del Bastione and entering the famous Piazza della Vittoria, you reach Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the main artery of the city known as “il Cassaro”. Passing the Porta Nuova, on the left is the Palermo Cathedral. Its Gothic style is easily recognizable and stunningly beautiful. Its dome, however, is in late Baroque style and it is imposing!
Inside the Cathedral, you will find the neoclassical style, which is even more present with its Latin cross plan and three naves. Here are the remains of the kings of Sicily, Frederick II and Rugero II. Also housed here are the relics of St Rosalia, who is the patron saint of Palermo. In the Cathedral’s Treasury rooms, you can admire Queen Constance of Aragon’s golden tiara and other objects found in royal tombs. Anyone who wants to can climb to the top of the Cathedral, where there is a walkway that offers a wonderful view of Palermo.
Pretoria Square and the Trio of Churches
Before lunch, on the first day of our quick itinerary in Sicily, we continue the tour along Corso Vittorio Emanuele crossing Maqueda. This intersection houses an incredible example of Baroque architecture: this is where the so-called “I quattro Canti” (the four corners) is located.
This region gathers, in 20 meters, wonders for our eyes. Pretoria Square, with its Fountain of Shame (so called because of the nudity of the statues present here), while in the adjacent square we find a wonderful trio of churches: that of St Catherine, the church of St Cataldus and the church of St Mary of the Admiral, also called La Martorana.
Stop for lunch
Go up Via Maqueda heading towards Politeama. Here you reach the so-called “Descent of the Youth” and, turning left, you will find an excellent place for lunch: the traditional Vecchio Club Rosanero. With typical food and a pleasant atmosphere, the value for money is excellent. Also check out our section on Food in Italy!
After lunch, go down towards Maqueda station, passing Porta di Vicari and turn right along Corso Tukory. Down the Corso, you find the Ballarò Market, which is by far one of the liveliest places in Palermo. Here you will find inebriating colors, flavors and odors. To return to our starting point, head straight down Via Maqueda, on the left, and get ready for a light dinner and a good night of sleep.
Map with the first day in Sicily
Source: Google Maps
2) What to do in Sicily? SECOND DAY
Second day: Catania. We depart early from Palermo to Catania, in the east of the island. The train journey takes about 3 hours. Suggestion: leave Palermo early to enjoy Catania! Catania is a beautiful city that offers us great options for fantastic tours and even with a few days in Sicily, it is a mandatory stop! Arriving in Catania, after having settled in the hotel of your choice, we can start the tour. If you need ideas for staying in Catania, you can access our special post on the subject by clicking here!
We will start the tour through the heart of the city, Duomo Square. Here you can soon see three of the most beautiful and famous monuments in Catania: the Cathedral of St Agatha, the Fountain of the Elephant and the Amenano Fountain. How about, from Catania: Morning Tour to Mount Etna? Click here to learn more!
Cathedral of St Agatha
The city’s Duomo is a majestic symbol of Catania. The Cathedral of St Agatha, dedicated to the city’s patron saint, has his image preserved within it. Inside, there are also other works of art, such as, on the right, the funeral monument of the famous composer Vincenzo Bellini.
Fountain of the Elephant
Leaving from there, not far away, we can soon see the famous Fountain of the Elephant, composed of a base above which stands an elephant made of lava rock that has an obelisk on its back. Its name is U Liotru and it has been the symbol of the city since 1239.
Don’t miss another famous fountain, Amenano Fountain, on the south side of Duomo Square. The Fountain represents the Amenano River and shows us the image of a young man holding a cornucopia from which water flows.
Abbey of Saint Agatha
Opposite the Cathedral, on the other side of Via Vittorio Emanuele II, we find the Church of the Abbey of Saint Agatha, which should be visited by anyone who wants to climb its dome for a fantastic view of the city. If you are lucky and get a clear day, you can also see, in the distance, “his majesty”, the splendid Mount Etna.
Carlo Alberto Square
From there, head to Pescheria de Catania, which is a colorful, lively, chaotic and therefore characteristic market of Catania. Not far from there, you will find Carlo Alberto Square, where there is a daily market where you can find fruits, clothes, toys and other goods. Here too, on Sundays, there is a flea market, where you can find real finds!
Massimo Vincenzo Bellini Theater
From Pescheria, take the same Via Vittorio Emanuele II and arrive at the magnificent Massimo Vincenzo Bellini Theater. Catania, in an incredible way, paid homage to her most famous son: the composer Vincenzo Bellini. The Theater was built in 1890, 55 years after his death, at 34 years old. From there, take Via Antonino di Sangiuliano to Via Crociferi. After a few meters, on your left, you begin to see the numerous Baroque churches and convents. They’re all beautiful and it’s hard to choose just one.
Roman Theater, Benedictine Monastery and St Nicholas Church
At the end of Via Crociferi, turn again onto Via Vittorio Emanuele. After a few steps, you will reach the Roman Theater, which “hide” behind a row of houses. After a quick visit, continue along Via Vittorio Emanuele II and from there, you can reach the Benedictine Monastery and the Church of St Nicholas, via Via Quartarone, turning right. At the Monastery, it is possible to climb to the top of its dome for an incredible view of the city. Leaving there, turn left towards Santa Maria dell’Itria Square. From there, you can head to the Roman Theater, an ancient Roman amphitheater of unique beauty.
Stop for lunch
For lunch, you can opt for the great, and varied, restaurants distributed throughout that region. As it is a central area, it is not difficult to find a place to have a great meal. My advice is to have lunch at Novanta Cinque Cento.
From there, you can return to Duomo Square and, on the way, observe the various churches scattered throughout the region. Catania is full of details and the best way to discover most of them is on foot. After a busy day, go back to your hotel, have a nice dinner and rest!
Map with the second day in Sicily
3) What to do in Sicily? THIRD DAY
Third and last day: Taormina. We’ll take a quick round trip from Catania to an amazing city: Taormina! From Catania central station to Taormina station, it takes about two hours, but Taormina is small, it is possible to have a beautiful panorama of the city in a short time. Learn more about Taormina by clicking here!
Arriving in Taormina by train, you’ll need to take a bus to get to the historic center, but it’s fast and buses leave frequently from the train station. In summer, it’s not difficult to find the buses crowded, so you might have to wait longer than usual. How about, in Taormina: Cruise along the coast with diving in Isola Bella? Click here to learn more!
We start the tour by the symbol of Taormina: the Greek Theater. The Greek Theater is the most famous monument in Taormina and the second largest theater on the island, after that of Syracuse. It was erected by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC, who did not choose the promontory for nothing: with a panoramic view, it housed dramatic and musical representations. In the 2nd century AD, the theater was modified and expanded by the Romans who featured gladiatorial battles.
Villa Comunale di Taormina
From there, head towards Villa Comunale di Taormina. With its beautiful public gardens, it was long ago a private park created at the will of Lady Florence Trevelyan Cacciola, the Scottish noblewoman who lived in Taormina in 1884. The place was built like a typical English garden and was filled with a wide variety of flowers and plants from all over the world. From here you also have a magnificent view of Mount Etna and the coast of Taormina.
We continue the tour to the Corvaja Palace. The core of the palace was its cubic tower, which was erected by the Arabs for military purposes between the years 902 and 1079. The left wing and the staircase, leading to the picturesque courtyard on the first floor, which dates from the 13th century, were added to the tower, as well as the early 15th century wing, which was dedicated to the assemblies of the Parliament of Sicily. The architectural mix is beautiful and unites the battlements of the Arab tower, the Catalan-Gothic style windows and the Norman entrance portal. Everything is beautiful!
Baroque Church of St Joseph
From there, head to IX Aprile Square. There you will find an impressive panoramic terrace, overlooking the sea, where the famous center of social life of Taormina is located. The city’s main street, Corso Umberto, starts there: in the summer, the city is crowded with tourists, and there are music shows and street artists scattered around. In the same square is also the Baroque Church of St Joseph, from the 17th century, which is the old Gothic church of Saint Augustine.
Clock Tower or Porta di Mezzo
There you will also find the imposing Clock Tower, or Porta di Mezzo, which overlooks the square and whose arch gives access to the old town. It was built in the 12th century, destroyed during the French invasion and rebuilt only in 1679, when it received the clock.
Cathedral of Taormina
From there to the Duomo is literally two steps! The Cathedral of Taormina is worth visiting! Built in the 1400s on the remains of a 13th-century church, the Cathedral dedicated to St. Nicholas underwent several renovations. The main portal from 1636 and the two side portals dating back to the 15th century, the one on the left, and the 16th century on the right, are beautiful!
The interior has a Latin cross plan with three naves and three apses, in addition to housing six monolithic columns, three on each side, made of pink marble topped by capitals decorated with a wooden ceiling. The external façade is simple and decorated with a small Renaissance-inspired rose window and two windows. In front of the Cathedral, there is a fountain in the 17th century Baroque style, built on circular steps surrounded by four lateral fountains.
Stop for lunch
For lunch: Al Duomo Restaurant. Charming, with a beautiful view and fantastic dishes. After lunch, a stop to observe the sea, and from there we return to the station to take the train back to Catania and then head to the airport.
Map with the third day in Sicily
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Even though we only have a few days in Sicily, it is possible to discover the best of the region without leaving anything behind. But be sure: you will want to return unhurried! And if you feel insecure or have no time, and need help to organize your trip , do not hesitate to look for me! I will love to help you make your dream trip to Italy. And how can I do that? Continue reading this post until the end and you will understand how can we make your life and journey easier.
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