At first glance, you may think that Sicily is a small island with not much to see.
You may think that Sicily only has the ocean, Italian food, and a few historical buildings to offer.
Although that is certainly true, Sicily is far from anything ordinary and average.
In reality, Sicily is full of incredible cities and seaside towns that are completely different from one another; and will always somehow manage to leave you impressed.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of 9 best cities in Sicily, Italy.
Table of Content
- 1. Syracuse – famous for The Island of Ortygia
- 2. Catania – incredible variety of trendy bars and nightlife
- 3. Messina – a harbor city
- 4. Taormina – sits calmly on the side of a mountain
- 5. Palermo – capital of Sicily
- 6. Agrigento – best for history and archeology enthusiasts
- 7. Ragusa – amazing green areas
- 8. Cefalù – sits at the coast of a magnificent beach
- 9. Erice – one of the less visited cities of Sicily
In no order of preference!
1. Syracuse – Famous for The Island of Ortygia
Syracuse is one of Sicily’s most important cities. In fact, it has an island attached to it – the Ortygia island – with countless historical wonders waiting for you to discover. Check out other Syracuse Beaches that you’ll love for sure.
Known for its rich historical and cultural significance, the majority of the tourist attractions in Syracuse are archeological sites from ancient Greek and Roman times. For example, some of the most famous places regarding this time period to visit are:
The Temple of Apollo
The Roman amphitheater
The Fountain Arethusa.
Here’s a complete Syracuse Guide including where to stay, what to eat, where to eat, suggestions on almost everything.
Don’t forget to visit the famous Cathedral of Syracuse! It is one of the most beautiful pieces of baroque architecture you’ll find in Syracuse…you’ll lose yourself for hours! All of Syracuse’s iconic sites are sprinkled around its city center; making you feel an incredible sense of mystery and enchantment while you stroll around its magnificent streets.
Catania is the second largest city of Sicily. Not only that, but it qualifies as one of the top ten largest cities of the whole of Italy!
Located at the east of the island, Catania is also one of the busiest and most vibrant cities you can visit in Sicily. It has a naturally youthful and exciting atmosphere that automatically makes you take on an adventurous and curious attitude.
Don’t hesitate to lose yourself among their incredible variety of trendy bars and nightlife! Compared to the other cities, Catania is one of the best cities in Sicily you can visit.
Wondering what the main attractions in Catania are? Here are a few that you cannot miss:
La Pescheria: One of the biggest, most charming and most amazing fish markets in Sicily,
Piazza del Duomo; the main square of Catania. Full of history, energy, and unusual monuments to discover! Complesso Monumentale Monastero delle Benedittine; yes, a mouthful. But in a few words, one of the most important buildings in Catania and a definite must-see in Sicily.
Here’s a few Catania Sicily Beaches, you might wanna check out
The third largest city of Sicily, Messina is here to steal your heart. Messina is quite an underrated city in Sicily, but it should definitely be on your itinerary of cities to see in Sicily.
Need a couple of reasons to visit it?
Well, first off, it’s important to know that it is a harbor city. In fact, its historical harbor is one of the most important ones in the history if Sicily. It is not only a beautiful sightseeing place, but it is indeed one of the most highly protected attractions by the state. Here’s a few Messina Beaches to add to your list.
However, there are still many more top unique attractions to see in Messina such as the mystical Fontana di Nettuno, the picturesque drive to Torre di Faro, the amazing Bell Tower and the Cathedral; all at walking distance from each other.
Although Messina is quite large, you can visit the main must-sees in about a day. It’s the perfect day trip to make if you’re hesitant about what to do in Sicily!
If you’re traveling to Sicily during the summer, having Taormina on your itinerary is a must.
Not only does it have countless cultural and famous tourist sites to visit, but Taormina has a natural advantage over any other Sicilian city – it sits calmly on the side of a mountain; letting you witness a unique view like no other.
Taormina is the perfect place to enjoy the warm Sicilian sea; as it is also a coastal city where you can be sure that the beach is always at walking distance. Besides its great natural attractions such as the beach and mountains like the Monte Tauro, Taormina also has its cut of impressive archeological sites like the Teatro Greco and Lido Mazzaro.
5. Palermo – I Love This Beautiful City
Ah….the capital. With good reason, Palermo is the place where most Sicilian visitors start their travels. Not only is Palermo the capital of Sicily, but it is also the largest center of culture, art, and history you can find in the whole of Sicily.
It is without a doubt one of – if not the – very best city in Sicily. All the best and most popular attractions are here, just waiting for you to go visit them. Other than that, Palermo has a naturally vivid and exciting atmosphere… you’ll instantly a heavy historical and powerful presence as soon as you step foot in it!
Want a little more insight about what you’ll be able to find there? Well, if you visit the Norman Palace, you’ll be able to see for yourself what it was like to live as Sicilian royalty as early as the 9th century.
Its impressive collection of cathedrals such as the Monreale Cathedral and the Palermo Cathedral and many more are all very different from each other; so you can be sure that you’ll never have the feeling of seeing the same thing twice.
Do not wander in Palermo after reading this
If you are a history and archeology enthusiast, there is nothing better to visit than the old city of Agrigento.
Here, you’ll be overwhelmed with excitement when you witness the incredible amount of Greek temple ruins aging from 5 BC! These kinds of ruins are quite rare nowadays; so being able to witness these establishments today is truly a gift.
No wonder Agrigento is one of the best cities in Sicily!
Agrigento is found in the southeast of Sicily and is also known for its amazing sandy beaches.
Cefalu is my all time favorite city in Sicily.
7. Ragusa – Another not so well-known but one of the best cities in sicily
Have you seen those movies with a small, charming city at a hilltop?
Those that almost look fake?
Well, one of the best cities in Sicily, Ragusa, is here to prove to you that indeed, these enchanting cities do in fact exist in real life.
The main reason whi Ragusa is one of the best cities in Sicily is its stunning Duomo di San Giorgio. This is the oldest baroque building of Ragusa, and definitely the most beautiful. It has incredible colorful stained-glass windows that will definitely you impress you.
Another unique characteristic of Ragusa that sets it apart from the other nine best cities in Sicily is its amazing green areas. Due to the Mediterranean weather, large cities in Sicily tend to lack in gardens and vegetation; but Ragusa has some of the best.
Want to know more?
The Giardino Ibleo is the perfect place to visit if you want to go on a calm stroll or go for picnic filled with exquisite Sicilian delicacies. Otherwise, for more adventurous visitors. the natural reserve Irminio is te perfect way to spend a day in Ragusa. You can do all sorts of activities like hiking and kayaking; perfect for the family!
Looking for the perfect combination of cultural and archeological attractions, beautiful natural landscapes, and magic, then you should definitely visit the wonderful city of Cefalù.
Cefalù sits at the coast of a magnificent beach, with an imposing mountainous backdrop that is so unique, that it becomes one of the famous tourist destinations in the summer.
The city center is mainly reserved for pedestrians, which helps immensely to maintain the image of a picturesque fisherman town. During the day, you might find it a good idea to walk along the beach Spiaggia di Cefalù, visit some of the top attractions like the famous Museo Mandralisca, the Bastionie Capi Marchifava, or for a medieval treat the Castello.
9. Erice– Not so known but one of the best cities in Sicily
Located quite close to the city of Trapani, Erice is the ancient medieval Sicilian city you’ve been waiting to see. (Check some Trapani Beaches here)
Its enchanting streets intertwine between themselves to almost form a labyrinth, something that is in fact quite peculiar and distinct about this city in comparison to the rest of the best cities in Sicily.
Interested in historical buildings? You’ll be happy to hear that Erice is covered in an outstanding number of churches; from small and discrete, to large and architecturally complicated. The Real Duomo, the Chiesa di San Giuliano and the Chiesa Madre are great examples of the incredible churches
Want to know a fun fact about this small city? Although it is definitely not the largest city in Sicily, it is one of the most loved by the Sicilian locals – a love that is big enough to name it as one of the best cities in Sicily.
It is also the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a romantic day-trip, or wanting to see something a little less on the touristic side. Since it is one of the less visited cities of Sicily, coming here will let you see an almost intact and authentic side of Sicilian culture.
They are all incredibly different, yet charming in their own…making them all worth visit.
Now, you’ll feel a lot more informed about what cities there are to see, what they have to offer and which fit best the experiences you are looking to find on your trip to Sicily!