From the Ionian Coast’s summer beach resorts to Mount Etna’s winter ski slopes or the ancient buildings and museums Palermo offers during all four seasons, Sicily has something special for everyone at all times of the year. Despite the Sicilian capital’s rapidly sprawling size, it usually takes no more than a few hours to explore the Four Corners area where most Palermo attractions stand.
Palermo is home to the most impressive landmarks in Sicily including the Monreale Cathedral, the Palace of the Normans, and the Mirto Palace, but the city’s narrowest streets line its old La Kalsa Arab quarter. The elegantly tiered Pretoria fountain is the best place to sip a Sicilian coffee while watching the population of Sicily’s largest city stroll past in the square of the same name.
However, no Sicilian region welcomes more tourists than the island’s east coast along the Ionian Sea. Among the first sights many people see upon entering Sicily from mainland Italy are the stunning fountains, restored Norman cathedral, and sweeping boulevards of Messina, the island’s northernmost and third most populated city.
Messina is also a major gateway to Sicily’s Ionian Coast resorts, the most glamorous and iconic of which may be Taormina. Modern beach hotels surround Taormina’s ancient Greek theater, a horseshoe shaped structure the ancient Romans constructed on the foundations of an even older Greek building. The Greek theater is also the setting of numerous summer events hosted by the local arts society of this vibrant community at Mount Tauro’s base.
St Agata’s Cathedral is the dominant landmark in the central plaza of Catania. White marble buildings and black lava fascias line the streets of Sicily’s second biggest city, whose main backdrop is Mount Etna—the continent’s most active volcano. Catania, however, is best explored during cooler temperatures as it ranks among Italy’s hottest cities.
Buses full of tourists frequently stop at Cefalu, a northern fishing village filled with sandy beaches, medieval streets, and a surprisingly lively nightlife. Another charming town is the fortified medieval mountain community of Erice, whose turreted castle has towered over the west coast for centuries.