The Italian island of Sicily is relatively undiscovered by UK holidaymakers. However, it packs a punch in terms of holiday fun...
Sicily is situated off the south coast of Italy in the Southern Mediterranean and the alledged home of the mafia. Although famed for its excellent beaches, Sicily is much more than an island paradise.
While Sicily is brimming with cultural attractions and historical sites of interest, younger visitors are likely to be enticed by the promise of sandy beaches, volcanic eruptions and the world-famous ice cream!
The coast is studded with beach resorts from the sophisticated seaside town of Giardini Naxos to the historic beachside town Cefalu. Wide sandy beaches can also be discovered at Mondello and Mortelle.
No trip to Sicily would be complete without a visit to Europe's largest active volcano, Mount Etna. Further volcanic action can be witnessed at the Lipari Islands where travellers can explore the volcanic sands of Black Sands Beach. While the island of Stromboli is home to an active volcano which emits a continuous shower of molten lava.
Sicily is perhaps best known for its historic attractions. Its cultural heritage spans ancient Rome and Greece with Arab, Norman and baroque influences leaving an imprint on the architecture and cuisine.
The major towns of Catania, Palermo and Trapani boast a wealth of cultural treasures. Palermo is famed for palaces, castles and churches which depict a range of architectural styles. While carved into the hillside at Taormina is a Greek amphitheatre which offers breathtaking views of the sea and Mount Etna.
Other highlights include the mountain-top medieval village of Erice and the village or Marina di Ragusa with its beautiful beaches and lively nightlife.
Accommodation in Sicily comprises mainly Bed and breakfasts and half board hotels and there is a wide range to suit all budgets.
Flights to Sicily from the UK take around 3 hours, arriving into Catania-Vincenzo Bellini, Trapani or Palermo Airports.
You can visit Sicily year round, although the holiday industry is mainly a summer operation. However, weather is great all year...
Sicily enjoys a mild climate with high temperatures beginning in May and lasting until October. Summers can be hot and dry, while spring and winter are cooler and often bring much needed rain. The best times to visit are April to early June and late September to October when temperatures are lower. In summer the coastal areas tend to get very busy and some establishments in the towns and cities are closed during August.
Enjoy some of these events that we recommend for holidaymakers wanting to make more of a break in Sicily...
Carnival Acireale, Sicily: This celebration takes place forty days before Easter. There is much feasting, dancing and drinking as colourful floats and masked revellers parade the streets.
L'Infiorate, (flower art festival): During May the streets of Noto are filled with flower petals which are used to create lavish floral creations which are displayed around the Baroque town.
Ottobrata: This popular month-long festival takes place at the base of Mount Etna. The village is transformed into an open air market where visitors can sample regional produce and purchase locally-made handicrafts.
If you want a break from the beaches, then get out and about to see more of the island...
Active: Book an excursion to hike up the blackened slopes of Mount Etna. Some may wish to stop half way after refreshments, while intrepid travellers may decide to go all the way to the summit via cable car.
Free & cheap: Spend a day meandering around the city of Catania. Wander through its squares, admire the ruins of its Roman amphitheatre and take in the sights and smells of its bustling fish market.
Relaxing: Take a trip to the pretty seaside town of Sciacca. Enjoy great views from its promenade, watch the world go by from its pavement cafes and soak up the atmosphere around the port.
Grown-up families: Visit the ancient Valley of the Temples just outside Agrigento. The archaeological park contains the remains of a number of temples, and families can step back in time as they explore one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe.
Romantic: Step into an exotic paradise with your other half by visiting Orto Botanico, a botanical garden. Walk hand in hand among a treasure trove of beautiful flowers and enjoy the peace and quiet.