Rick Steves' Best of Sicily in 11 Days Tour, Day by Day
Our most popular off-season tour treats you to the unique history, sights, and culture of Sicily — where the influences of Italy and North Africa have mixed and simmered over the centuries, ready for us to serve up as an unforgettable travel experience. Join us for a colorful day-by-day slideshow preview of our Best of Sicily tour…let's go!
Day 1: Welcome to Sicily
We'll gather at our hotel in Palermo for a welcome meeting. Then we'll begin our Sicilian adventure by joining a contessa for a personal tour of her family's home, the Palazzo Federico. We'll end our evening getting to know one another at a "Welcome to Sicily" dinner together.
Day 2: Palermo and Monreale
We'll meet our local guide and take a walking tour of Palermo and its colorful, bustling Ballaró street market — all spiced with an evocative whiff of Africa. Then we'll greet our driver and hop aboard our coach bound for the hill-topping town of Monreale — renowned for its Arab-flavored cathedral that blends Byzantine, Arab, Jewish, Gothic, and Norman traditions, heritage, and art. We'll tour the cathedral's interior of glittering, golden mosaics as well as the story-telling columns of the cloister. After lunch, we'll return to Palermo, where you'll be free to explore more of this exciting, energetic city and discover a tucked-away trattoria for dinner on your own.
Day 3: Ancient Segesta and Mountaintop Erice
This morning we'll head toward the island's western coast, stopping at the ancient Greek site of Segesta to meander through its magnificent Doric temple and hilltop theater. Then we'll continue to the enchanting medieval mountaintop town of Erice. Believed by Romans to be the home of Venus, Erice eventually evolved into a center for Christian convents and home to heavenly pastries (which we'll learn about and taste). This afternoon we'll enjoy a tasty lunch that includes the region's specialties — sun-dried tomatoes, Castelvetrano olives, and Marsala wine — before making our way to today's final destination: seaside Trapani, where we'll take an orientation walk and set you free for the evening.
Day 4: Salt Harvesting and Seaside Trapani
Today we'll drive down to the Trapani salt pans — a coastal wetland and nature reserve where sea salt has been harvested for nearly 3,000 years. We'll tour the Phoenician island of Mozia and learn about this bygone civilization. Then our guide will teach us the history and process of salt harvesting as we tour the area by boat. You'll be free to spend the rest of your day exploring the seaside town of Trapani. Find that perfect terrace, savor your favorite aperitivo, and watch the sun slowly dip into the sea.
Day 5: Ancient Agrigento and Country Living
This morning we'll take a magical history tour through the ruins of Agrigento, one of the richest of the Greek colonies and a thriving democracy 2,500 years ago. We'll focus on Agrigento's Valley of the Temples — the largest, best-preserved collection of ancient Greek buildings outside of Greece itself — and tour its archeological museum. This afternoon we'll head to our tranquil countryside hotel. You'll have time to soak in the view before tonight's dinner together.
Day 6: Roman Mosaics and Syracuse
Sicily was also colonized by the Romans, which we'll learn about at today's first destination, the Villa Romana del Casale. Here we'll spend much of our morning surrounded by the world's richest and most colorful collection of Roman mosaics — including the time-bending "bikini girls" mosaic. On the road again, we'll stop to visit a working farm and meet its owner, followed by a midday feast. Then it's on to Syracuse. This evening we'll take a walk through the city's historic old town on the island of Ortygia.
Day 7: Syracuse, Past and Present
This morning we'll learn more about Ortygia and take a closer look at this small fishing island. We'll explore the local market, stroll through centuries in the Cathedral of Syracuse, and marvel at the masterpiece of the Piazza del Duomo. This afternoon we'll enjoy a lively performance of Sicily's traditional puppet theater, where the language is no barrier to entertainment. Then the rest of the day is yours to wander through Syracuse's delightful jumble of Greek, Roman, medieval, and Baroque layers — or settle on a quiet park bench with a harbor view.
Day 8: Mount Etna, Wine, and Taormina
We'll begin our day with a short drive up the coast to Catania, where we'll take in breathtaking views of Mount Etna while learning more about the volcano with a spirited presentation by one of the University of Catania's volcanologists. Next, we'll visit a winery on the slopes of the mountain, where we'll enjoy a tour through the vineyards and taste some of Sicily's deservedly famous wine before heading to Taormina. After we check into our hotel, we'll take a neighborhood orientation walk. This evening, join in the local passeggiata to feel the pulse of Sicilian culture, then find the ideal people-watching spot to enjoy your gelato and dinner on your own.
Day 9: Seductive Taormina
This morning we'll tour Taormina's remarkably situated ancient Greek theater, which is still used today for open-air performances. This afternoon you're free to luxuriate in this cliffhanging, Old World resort town. Wander through its elegant gardens, posh cafés, and shops; ride a cable car down to the beach; or explore the nearby mountain top village of Castelmola. Any way you slice it, you'll have a ringside seat to savor il dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing), Sicilian style. This evening we'll meet up for a Sicilian pizza dinner together.
Day 10: Colorful Catania
This morning we're off to Catania, nestled at the foot of Mount Etna, where we'll tour the Museum of the WWII 1943 Landings in Sicily (Museo dello Sbarco). We'll learn how nearly a year before D-Day, Allied troops found themselves fighting against — and at the same time liberating — their Italian adversaries. After a brief neighborhood orientation, you're free to wander through Catania's famous fish market, admire the Baroque architecture of the grand Piazza del Duomo, or enjoy people-watching in one of the city's many cafés. We'll gather together tonight to say arrivederci, share travel memories, enjoy the freshest Sicilian food, and toast to new friends. Salute!
Day 11: Tour Over After Breakfast
Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. It's a breeze to reach Catania's airport by taxi or shuttle bus. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Grazie e ciao!
Feeling adventurous? Join us on a 2023 Best of Sicily in 11 Days tour.