Everything was sweeter in sicily… The fruit, the food, the wine, the sun, the experiences, the ocean. They were all elevated to a level so rarely reached, but often sought out. We were in Sicily for 10 days, but could have stayed so much longer!
We explored the eastern coastline of Sicily, flying into Catania, and heading straight for Taormina. We took several day trips from Taormina, experiencing a beautiful Mt. Etna winery one day, and taking a day long boat trip from Messina to the Aeolian islands the next, where we visited Panarea and experienced the recently erupted Stromboli Volcano. After several days in Taormina, we headed south to Noto, where we rented a house for the next week, making it feel like we lived there. This is a little bit about where we went, where we stayed, what we ate, and what we did. Plus, a few tips on what we packed for our trip.
If visiting Sicily as a couple or on your own, hotels are a great option. They are usually centrally located, and offer amenities like in house concierge, who can give advice on where to go and what to see. Le Soste di Ulisse has a well curated list of boutique hotels and restaurants in Sicily; it is a great resource when planning your trip. Hotels can be quite expensive, though. If you love to cook, or you are travelling with a group of 3 people or more, consider renting a villa or apartment! There are so many incredible options in Sicily, and The Thinking Traveler has many beautiful accommodations on their site.
DAY 1 | Catania Airport -> Taormina
NOON: Meet your driver at the airport* or rent a car to get to Taormina.
NIGHT: Spend the evening exploring the bustling streets of Taormina and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
*Note that parking is very limited in Taormina, so do keep that in mind when considering renting a car, or hiring a driver.
DAY 2 | Taormina
MORNING: Take advantage of the breakfast spread your hotel is likely to have. Fuel up for a day of adventuring ahead. Spend the morning in Taormina, exploring the Teatro and the gardens at the Villa Comunale.
NOON: After lunch, head down to the water and spend the afternoon soaking up the sun on the warm pebbled beach. At sunset, enjoy an aperitivo while taking in the views of the coastline from the sea. There are many private boat tours that give you some of the best views of the Island that you can’t see from shore.
NIGHT: Head back to the town of Taormina and enjoy a nice dinner at a restaurant nearby your hotel.
DAY 3 | Taormina -> Mt. Etna Wine Tasting -> Taormina
MORNING: Take a taxi or walk up to the small town of Castelmola, a ninth century town, with sweeping views of the surrounding area. Spend the morning exploring the town and grab a coffee at one of its small cafes before walking back to Taormina.
NOON: Spend the afternoon at a winery near Mt. Etna. While there are many options to choose from, we suggest you visit a winery that does a food and wine pairing, so you do not miss out on the delicious, local, food pairings.
NIGHT: Spend the evening at a concert in the ancient Teatro.
DAY 4 | Taormina -> Aeolian Island Boat Trip -> Taormina
MORNING: Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before heading out on a full day excursion to the Aeolian Islands. There are many different ways to explore the islands, whether on a luxury private tour, by ferry, or by way of a local guide.
NOON: Opt to have lunch on one of the islands that you visit. We had a lovely lunch on Panarea at a small seaside restaurant called Cusiritati.
NIGHT: Finish off the day by boating back to port at sunset, enjoying a bottle of wine and a few salty snacks on the way.
DAY 5 | Taormina -> Ortigia -> Noto
MORNING: Depart from Taormina after breakfast and head towards Ortigia, a tiny, must see island near Siracusa. We rented a car at this point, and recommend that you do too, so that your future day trips are easy to depart on. Stop at I Rizzari on your way to Ortigia, and enjoy a feast of seafood before exploring the island for the afternoon. The raw, red shrimp are a must while in Sicily, and this is the perfect place to enjoy them!
NOON: After lunch, head into Ortigia for an afternoon of exploration through its tiny, history filled streets. This place is special, do not miss out!
NIGHT: Head on to Noto and check into your next hotel or rental home
DAY 6 | Noto -> Vendicari Nature Reserve -> Noto
MORNING: Get your day started early, and head out to the Vendicari Nature Reserve to secure your spot on the beach and ensure you get a parking space.
NOON: Cap off your visit to Vendicari with a roadside lunch at Il Baglietto before heading back into town.
NIGHT: Finish the day by enjoying dinner in town.
DAY 7 | Noto -> Marzamemi -> Noto
MORNING: Explore the charming city of Noto, picking up a pastry from Caffe Sicilia to fuel your exploration.
NOON: Head out to Marzamemi, a small town just south of Noto, for an afternoon at sea. We spent the afternoon on a rubber “dinghy” with Antonio, of Sikelia Sail, who showed us more of the Sicilian shore, brought us to wonderful swimming holes, and topped off the day with homegrown tomatoes and homemade candied orange peels. It was simple and divine.
NIGHT: Finish the evening with a drink and bite to eat at one of Marzamemi’s restaurants.
DAY 8 | Noto -> Ragusa -> Noto
MORNING: Eat a light breakfast before leaving for Ragusa. Get on the road early so that you have the whole day to explore. Explore Ragusa before having lunch at a restaurant in town.
NOON: We ate lunch at the incredible Ciccio Sultano Duomo. This was the only ultra fancy restaurant that we ate at while in Sicily, and much like everywhere else on the island, it had a very friendly, laid back attitude. Enjoy every last bit of your meal here, it is special and definitely worth a visit!
NIGHT: Relax at home or have a light dinner out.
DAY 9 | Noto
MORNING, NOON & NIGHT: We had an incredible pool at the property we stayed at, so we spent the last day at the house, cooking, relaxing and savoring every last second we had on the beautiful island of Sicily.
DAY 10 | Noto -> Catania Airport
MORNING: Leave early enough to give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, drop off your rental car and check in for your flight.
Situated on the eastern coastline of Sicily, Taormina is a quick one hour drive from the Catania airport. Perched above the clear blue Mediterranean sea, this city has been a popular tourist spot for years. It is bustling with tons of shopping, sightseeing and restaurants to explore, all in addition to a pebbly beach to sunbathe on.
We stayed at the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, which was a quiet respite in the middle of the bustling city, and also gave us access to their private beach club, at the Belmond Villa Saint’Andrea. Grand Timeo gave us the best of both worlds; we were easily able to explore the town by foot, but could hop in a car down to the beach for a relaxing afternoon, in a matter of minutes.
We got to experience Andrea Bocelli performing live at the Teatro Antico di Taormina, an extraordinary ancient, outdoor theater, built in the third century BC- a night that none of us will ever forget. From Taormina, we also explored other nearby sights, like Mt. Etna and the Aeolian Islands, which are just a day trip away!
The beach club at the Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea