Visiting Sicily can be a wonderful Mediterranean experience. To make sure you truly enjoy it, though, there are just a few things you should consider before planning your trip.
- People often make the mistake of thinking that Sicily is a small island in the Med. Only half of that statement is true. Sicily is the largest island in the Med (with ca. 25,700 sq km) and one of the largest regions of Italy with more than 5 million inhabitants. The conditions of roads vary from decent to really bad, so touring the whole island takes time. You simply cannot visit the whole region in two-three days. So you either plan to spend more time in the region or focus on a specific area.
- The rail system has not been developed much making trains, unfortunately, the worst option for day excursions from one area to the other. Coach services connect major cities and airports to smaller towns and, usually, offer a cheap and reliable service.
- Keep in mind that outside the main cities, like in many other Italian regions, there are no taxi services available, so the best option to move around is either to rent a car or hire a driver service before you arrive.
- The best option to reach Sicily from other Italian cities is by plane. You can also choose the long drive down to Sicily or go to Rome Civitavecchia or Naples to get on a ferry but arm yourself with patience. Catching a train is also an option, but keep in mind that a trip from Naples to Catania takes eight hours. In case you are wondering about that jump over the sea, in Reggio Calabria the train is placed on a big ferry to cross the Sicily channel. If you like the idea of going through the whole country by train, then we suggest you book a sleeping car for better comfort.
- There are two main airports, Palermo and Catania, and two smaller ones, Trapani Birgi and Comiso. Choose one or the other according to the area you are planning to visit. If you want to visit the western part of the island, choose Palermo and Trapani, if you are planning to visit the Eastern area go to Catania, for the South-Eastern corner choose Comiso.
- Organised crime does not bother with individual tourists but, like in many other parts of the world, you should watch out for pickpocketing and thieves in big cities and crowded spaces.
- The climate is generally mild and pleasant. August is the hottest month with an average temperature of 35°C and the coldest and wettest months are January and February at 9°C.
- Although the weather is nice and warm for most of the year, Sicilians tend to go to the beach only from June to September, with July and August being the busiest months. This means that while on one end you will pretty much have the beach to yourself if you choose any other month of the year, it also means that it is highly probable that most beach services will be shut.