• Palermo, Sicily, Italy


Sicily is a fertile, uncommon mix of geology and culture. Eruptions from its volcano, a glowing sun, generations of hard work, and wave after wave of civilizations storming through over the centuries — they all come together here, giving visitors a full-bodied travel experience that engages all the senses.

At a Glance

▲▲▲ Palermo Sicily's sprawling, gritty capital, with colorful markets and bustling shopping streets that signal a fun-loving city in regeneration. The worthwhile Monreale Cathedral, just a few miles to the west, makes an easy half-day excursion.

▲▲▲ Siracusa Former home to Sicily's greatest ancient Greek settlement, now a modern city centered on the lovely historic island of Ortigia, boasting shabby-chic lanes, a grand Baroque piazza, and a lazy seafront promenade.

▲▲ Cefalù Fishing-village turned beach-bum village, an hour from Palermo, with a charming old town center, a Norman cathedral, fine seafood options, and an inviting, sandy beach.

▲▲ Agrigento Town on the southern coast that's home to Sicily's premier ancient attraction: the Greek ruins at the Valley of the Temples, with a fine archaeological museum nearby.

▲▲ Villa Romana del Casale Remote palace deep in the middle of the island boasting the largest collection of Roman mosaics ever found in situ.

▲▲ Ragusa The finest of southeast Sicily's picturesque hill towns, with higgledy-piggledy stone homes blanketing two adjacent hilltops.

▲▲ Mount Etna The most active volcano in Europe (and the top tourist sight in Sicily), offering hikes in a lunar landscape, a steaming summit, and tours and tastings at up-and- coming wineries on its north slope.

The Southeast Trio of worthwhile stops near Ragusa: Modica (famous for chocolate), valley village of Scicli, and showcase Baroque city of Noto — all within easy reach of Sicily's scenic southeastern coastline.

▲ Trapani and the West Coast Laid-back port town famous for its nearby salt flats — and an easy home base for day trips to the west coast's best stops: the hilltop village of Erice, fishing island of Favignana, Carthaginian ruins at Mozia, and ancient ruins of Segesta and Selinunte.

▲ Catania Sicily's second city and de facto capital of the east that's most useful as a transportation hub — but offers a rejuvenated Baroque city center, splashy fish market, hidden Roman theater, and rare-in-Italy WWII museum.

▲ Taormina Cushy cliffside resort town with a Grand Tour vibe and picture-perfect views of Mount Etna (and the sea), a dramatic Greek-Roman Theater, and high-end tourists.