Sitting in the middle of the Mediterranean and home to Mount Etna – the highest active volcano in Europe – Sicily is a marvellous destination to visit. It is a melting pot of different cultures forged over thousands of years. From scenic landscapes to fabulous hole-in-the-wall restaurants, from centuries-old churches to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and from wonderful beaches to stunning villas in Sicily, the island is one of the true gems of Europe.
When visiting for the first time, tourists may need to streamline their itinerary to ensure they get to enjoy the sites that best fit their interests. There are countless ways to explore this lovely island, but the following attractions are highly recommended for first-time visitors.
Day Tours in Palermo
The capital city of Palermo is the largest on the island and one of the most popular destinations for visitors who want to experience a little bit of everything. Palermo is known for its iconic ancient churches, such as the San Domenico Church and the Santa Caterina Church, as well as Teatro Massimo, the opera house. The city is renowned for its architectural heritage, evident in buildings such as the Palermo Cathedral and the San Cataldo church, which perfectly exemplify Norman architecture. Touring around this lovely city will allow visitors to immerse themselves in the vibe, familiarize themselves with its beauty and experience the true essence of the island. Those staying in rented villas in Sicily close to the city will find plenty to keep them occupied.
There are numerous impressive castles dotted around the island, all within easy access of many of the villas in Sicily. These ancient structures have survived over centuries, albeit having undergone countless challenges and facing ruination. But many of these architectural wonders are still intact, to varying degrees, and all are brimming with history.
The Caccamo Castle, one of the largest and most stunning castles on the island, presides on the edge of a cliff. Built in the 12th century, it is now home to a well-known restaurant called A Castellana, on the ground level, while its main halls are in the process of being converted into a modern conference centre.
The stunning Maniace Castle, in Syracuse, is located in the middle of the Ortygia Island. Built in the 13th century, most of the castle’s exterior features have been preserved today via constant restoration work over the years. Maniace Castle is well worth a visit and regularly features exhibits and cultural events.
Hiking in the Nebrodi Mountains
Another must-do activity when visiting the island for the first time is to experience nature in its purest form. While staying in rental villas in Sicily will provide visitors with a taste of the authentic culture, it is only by exploring the outdoors they can truly enjoy the natural beauty of the island. The Nebrodi Mountains are an ideal destination for either hiking or cycling, with miles of scenic routes and the promise of breathtaking scenery. Located in north east of the island, the Nebrodi Mountains offer various options for exploration depending on travellers’ preference. For instance, the Nebrodi National Park is a vast expanse with a diverse collection of both flora and fauna: tourists can tour the more than 85,000 acres of land area. The more adventurous types can hike up one of the peaks in the range. For example, Monte Soro, the highest, stands at 1,847 metres and offers a stunning view of Mount Etna on one side and the sprawling Aeolian Islands on the other.