Where to go in Sicily in winter

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Sicily in winter? Have you ever thought about it? Sicily is that wonderful Italian region where winter is never too winter and spring always tries to peep out beyond the clouds. It could then be a good time to visit the cities of art without the intense heat of summer and without the crowds of the Ferragostan exodus, or to go to the mountains and engage in winter sports. And, again, to participate in the festivals dedicated to gastronomy, the evocative Christmas celebrations or the Carnival. Let's see together then where to go in Sicily in winter.


  1. In the city between art and culture
  2. In the mountains: where to ski in Sicily
  3. Weekend in Sicily: events, festivals and anniversaries
  4. Plan your trip: useful info
  5. User questions and comments

In the city between art and culture

1 - Palermo and Monreale

Palermo is an expanding city with an intense cultural ferment and, an aspect not to be underestimated, a splendid climate that makes it very pleasant even in winter.

By programming a winter holiday in Palermo you must consider that there are many attractions to visit in this fascinating city of art. You can start from the Ballarò market or from the Vucciria market, to give your trip an intense gastronomic imprint, and then all the historical-artistic attractions: the Norman Palace, the Massimo Theater, the Cathedral, the Catacombs of the Capuchins , the botanical garden, Villa Giulia, the numerous historic buildings.

We recommend that you enter this tour at least half a day in Monreale, an ancient Norman village recognized by Unesco in 2015 as part of a unique experience of the entire area that was under Arab and Norman rule, which still retains numerous architectural pearls from this period.

  • Ideal for: families / couples
  • Recommended period: Christmas, with the suggestive atmosphere of the Christmas and gastronomic markets, and New Year's Eve, on the occasion of the concert in Piazza Politeama
  • starting from € 40,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 55,00 per room -
  • Palermo: 3-Hour Street Food and History Walking Tour Monreale & Cefalù: Half-Day Tour from Palermo palermo street food Walking Tour

2 - Ragusa and Modica

By choosing Ragusa and Modica for your winter trip, you will have the opportunity to experience a journey through two baroque cities, both made up of two parts: the upper and lower cities.

Ragusa is in fact divided into upper Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla, to reach which you could for example follow the path made of stairs that starts from Santa Maria delle Scale and continues up to Piazza della Repubblica. Following this itinerary will give you the opportunity to find incredible views of the entire city. Once you arrive in Ibla you can get lost in its baroque alleys. Do not forget, on your tour, to visit the Church of Santa Lucia, the Cathedral of San Giorgio and, a little outside the city, the Donnafugata castle.

About 16 km from Ragusa is Modica, known in particular for its chocolate production. Between October and November, the sweetest event there is is held here: the Chocomodica. What better time to visit the area? Even the village of Modica will charm you with its small streets with a flavor of other times and richly decorated baroque stones. Don't forget to try street food in both cities!

  • Ideal for: families / couples / children / groups
  • Recommended period: between October and November on the occasion of the Chocomodica in Modica and the Scale del gusto event in Ragusa
  • How to get there and how to get around: the ideal is to move by car. Alternatively, Ragusa can be reached from Palermo with the AST company buses (250 km, ticket € 13,50, duration about 3 and a half hours); from Catania Etna Trasporti company (about 100 km, duration 1 hour and a half). To move between Ragusa and Modica there are buses of the AST lines or the regional train which takes 1 hour at a cost of € 5,10 each way
  • Ragusa: Baroque, food and wine tour of Sicily From Catania: Baroque tour of Noto, Modica and Ragusa tour among the places of Inspector Montalbano
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 50,00 per room -

3 - Noto and Syracuse

Sicily has an infinite series of spectacular places to visit not only in summer, and Noto, the capital of the Baroque, is among them. Its village, also known as the stone garden, has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Noto was literally devastated by an earthquake in 1693 and its reconstruction engaged architects and craftsmen in a real competition that gave splendid results: the architecture of this city is breathtaking. There are many palaces to visit: Palazzo Nicolaci, Palazzo Modica, Palazzo Villadorata, the Theater, and then the loggia of the market, are just a few.

Impossible not to dedicate part of your tour in the area to the city of Syracuse. This city is also an example of Baroque architecture and part not to be missed is the island of Ortigia, connected to the mainland by bridges; here the beauties are so many: the Apollo theater and piazza Archimede, the Cathedral and much more.

  • Ideal for: families / couples / groups
  • Recommended period: in February there is one of the oldest carnivals in Sicily in Palazzolo Acreide, about 40 km from Syracuse, with the sausage festival and parade of allegorical floats
  • How to get there and how to get around: getting around by car is the best way. By transport, Noto is about 90 km from Catania, it is possible to arrive by train that also passes from Syracuse. The journey takes about 3 hours and 20 and the ticket costs € 8,30. There are also buses of the AST line to move between one city and another
  • Syracuse: walking tour with a private guide Syracuse and Noto: full day tour Syracuse: private tour of Ortigia Island
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 50,00 per room -

4 - Catania

Even the beautiful Catania was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693 and today its historic center is a World Heritage Site. Catania offers splendid architectural works like the Cathedral of Sant'Agata but also wild beauties like Etna, always visible if you take the Via Etnea, a beautiful city walk of about 3 km. In Catania there is a lot to see and the advice is always to walk through its streets to discover every treasure. In the Town Hall square stands the Amenano fountain, if you look closely under it you can see the homonymous underground river flow. To appreciate the spirit of the city, you certainly need to immerse yourself in the colorful chaos of popular markets, such as that of the Pescheria. Another tour to do is that of the via dei Crociferi, which goes up to Villa Cerami, and then to visit the Benedictine monastery.

  • Ideal for: families / couples
  • Recommended period: on 5 February the feast of Sant'Agata is held in the city, one of the most beautiful and celebrated patronal festivals in Sicily, very folkloristic
  • starting from € 60,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 50,00 per room -
  • street food tour From Catania: flavors and nature of Etna half day tour Etna: sunset tour from Catania Etna: summit and crater trekking Catania: Etna sunset jeep tour

In the mountains: where to ski in Sicily

1 - Linguaglossa, North Etna

If you are a lover of winter sports, Sicily will not disappoint you. In fact, here on the northern side of the Etna volcano, you can practice the activities you like best.
Linguaglossa is a town in the province of Catania surrounded by greenery, and about 18 km from here, on the slopes of Piano Provenzana, you can ski in a practically alpine environment, with the summit of Etna completely covered with snow, 2700 meters high and ... with a sea view: unique in the world. Here there is the cable car to climb to the top and 4 ski lifts, you can practice skiing, cross-country skiing and snowboarding on a total of 7 slopes. In this area not only sports, but also tours to the Etna cellars and to the Alcantara Gorges, the river that flows in the area, naturally in case of good weather. The botanical and geological park is also worth visiting.

  • Ideal for: families / groups / children
  • Recommended period: for the Christmas period, from December to January, there is the EtnaNatale event in Linguaglossa, with markets, food and wine events and also the traditional historical parade
  • How to get there and how to get around: Linguaglossa is about 45 km from Catania and it is advisable to rent a car also to reach the ski resorts later. Otherwise there is the Circumetnea that connects all the Etna villages starting from Catania, but we recommend doing an internet search to check the races
  • Etna and Alcantara Gorges: tour from Taormina Etna: summit and crater trekking
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 55,00 per room -

2 - Nicolosi, South Etna

Etna in winter offers numerous choices for practicing winter sports and having fun in an incredible natural environment. On the other side of the volcano, the one to the south, we find Nicolosi, another important center for practicing winter sports.

The slopes are located about 18 km from the town, there are 5 in all, and here you will find a different landscape than that of Piano Provenzana, because nature is more wild and harsh: made of endless lava flows that in winter covered with snow. On the slopes of the area you can practice skiing, cross-country skiing and snowboarding. Furthermore, from Nicolosi we leave for excursions towards the summit craters of the volcano. To visit in the village the Volcanological Museum and the Museum of rural civilization.

  • Ideal for: families / groups / children
  • Recommended period: during the Christmas period, a series of markets, concerts, tastings are held here too, all in the evocative setting of the festively decorated village
  • How to get there and how to get around: Nicolosi is about 16 km from Catania and, both to reach Nicolosi and the ski lifts it is recommended to rent a car
  • Recommended activities: excursion to the summit craters, visit to the museums in the town, sport
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 50,00 per room -

3 - Piano Battaglia and Madonie Park

Piano Battaglia is a ski resort located in the heart of the Madonie Park. It is also usually chosen for summer holidays, because the mountain environment is truly relaxing and the green is lush.
There are 5 slopes for practicing winter sports and there are also numerous ski lifts: the cable car, the ski lift and the Marmotta treadmill. In the ski area you can also have the opportunity to rent the equipment you need, so as not to think about anything, and, finding yourself immersed in a truly incredible natural environment, winter is the perfect season for long snowshoeing in contact with the forest and vegetation. Furthermore, within the park, there are numerous activities: there is the Geopark, a geological park that offers museums, trails and paths to learn more about the natural history of this region.

  • Ideal for: families / groups / children
  • Recommended period: at the end of October in Petralia Sottana the Madonite Flavors Festival is held
  • How to get there and how to get around: Piano Battaglia is about 90 km from Palermo and to get around it is advisable to choose the rental of a car
  • Recommended activities: visit of the Geopark, itinerary of the Tiberius gorges, winter sports, visit of the village of Petralia Sottana
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 45,00 per room -

Weekend in Sicily: events, festivals and anniversaries

1 - EricèNatale, Erice (Province of Trapani)

Erice is a beautiful hilltop village that can be reached from Trapani via the cable car or even via the panoramic road. In the village there are many points that offer a beautiful glance: the village overlooks the port of Trapani and the surrounding valley from above.
Erice also hosts many attractions to visit absolutely: the Castle of Venus, the Torretta Pepoli, the Balio garden. However, it is at Christmas that Erice gives its best thanks to the EricèNatale event: the focus of the event is certainly the display of the cribs, made with a thousand different materials and exhibited along all the streets of the town, in the courtyards, in the shop windows, in the churches ... Then there are bagpipe concerts, Christmas markets, concerts with Christmas carols, jazz concerts, and finally famous New Year in the square to celebrate all together. It is a really nice way to spend the holidays!

  • Period: the event takes place in the period between 8 December and 7 January
  • How to get there and how to get around: Erice can be reached by cable car from Trapani, the station is located on the provincial road exiting the city. On weekends it operates from 09:30 to 20:30; however in case of bad weather or strong wind it does not make trips. By car you can reach Erice via the provincial road 31, the town is 13 km from Trapani
  • Erice: private half day tour Segesta, Erice and the salt flats: full day tour from Palermo
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 50,00 per room -

2 - Living Nativity of Custonaci (Province of Trapani)

In the territory of Custonaci there is a series of splendid caves, the caves of Scurati which constituted an ancient prehistoric settlement, and today serve as natural setting for the historic living nativity scene of the city. The crib is a real show made up of about 160 figures, artisans and shopkeepers from all over Sicily and is held every day during the Christmas period from 16:00 to 21:00.
It is necessary to go to the historic center of Custonaci to get the ticket, which costs € 10,00 for adults and € 5,00 for children aged 4 to 10 years, then there is a convenient shuttle service that takes visitors to the caves, in this way an excellent level of safety is also guaranteed, which ensures that the caves do not become unnecessarily crowded.

The event does not end here, however, because Concerts, markets and a children's playground are held in the streets of the historic center of Custonaci... in a truly engaging Christmas atmosphere. Furthermore, let's not forget that we are in the province of Trapani and the attractions to visit, in addition to the Custonaci crib, are so many.

  • Period: the event takes place in the period from Christmas to Epiphany
  • How to get there and how to get around: Custonaci is 18 km from Trapani, accessible by car via the provincial roads 18 and 20, or by bus of the AST line, which leaves from Trapani about every two hours to reach the town. Tickets cost € 2,70 each way
  • Recommended activities: visit to the living nativity scene, to the Christmas markets, visit to the Sanctuary of Maria Santissima in Custonaci
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 45,00 per room -

3 - Panettone Festival, Cefalù and Castelbuono (Province of Palermo)

During the Christmas period, the area between Cefalù and Castelbuono turns into a real competition to the sound of sugars, dedicated to the best dessert of Christmas and more!
In fact, the Panettone Festival is held in Cefalù, an event dedicated to the typical Milanese dessert that in Sicily met the typical products of the territory, transforming itself and becoming a gourmet specialty thanks to the local pastry chefs: hence the use of pistachio, almonds, up to even candied capers.

In Castelbuono, on the other hand, also in December, the DolceMente Castelbuono event is held which, in addition to the panettone of local pastry chefs, offers numerous other delicacies: cannoli, Martorana fruit, cassata, the famous dolce Testa di Turco (a specialty made with sheets of fried dough, blancmange and cinnamon, an explosion of sweetness!). In short, the temple of sweets but not only, because during the events there are also Christmas concerts, craft markets and much more. In short, the right time to visit these splendid villages in the province of Palermo that offer many architectural and natural beauties.

  • Period: the event takes place in December
  • How to get there and how to get around: Cefalù is 68 km from Palermo, accessible by car but also with a regional train, there are frequent ones, at least one every hour, they take about 1 hour and the ticket costs € 5,60 each way. From Cefalù, Castelbuono is about 23 km away, if you are not traveling by car you can opt for a bus of the AST lines, the ticket costs € 4,80 round trip
  • Recommended activities: Church and Rocca of Cefalù, the wash house on the Cefalino river; Castelbuono castle, Madonie park
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 50,00 per room -

4 - Carnival of Sciacca (Province of Agrigento)

The Sciacca Carnival is one of the most important events related to the carnival period in Sicily.
The program includes a parade of grandly decorated allegorical floats and a series of performances by masked groups, which both end with the show on stage. The work on the wagons involves many citizens of Sciacca for months, and this is a great convivial moment for everyone. In each edition there are also parallel initiatives, such as the Instawalk, which gathers the igers (the most assiduous Instagram users) of the province of Agrigento, but also masked parties and dance evenings. Sciacca is also a beautiful village to visit which, moreover, is located on the sea: the Enchanted Castle is a place wrapped in an aura of mystery that will show you, if the Carnival masks have not satisfied you, incredible heads carved in the stone by the sculptor Bentivegna.

  • Period: the event takes place during the Carnival period between February and March, usually starting from Shrove Thursday until Shrove Tuesday
  • How to get there and how to get around: Sciacca is 63 km from Agrigento, which can be traveled by car via the state road 115 in about an hour, or by public transport, the Autolinee Lumia company makes trips to Sciacca 3 times a day at a cost of € 12,00 each way, using 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • Recommended activities: visit of the Enchanted Castle, the Toy Museum, Palazzo Steripinto
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 50,00 per room -

5 - Carnival of Acireale (Province of Catania)

The Carnival of Acireale is also a very ancient and well-known event, with a great tradition. Here, in particular, there is a real handicraft of paper mache, this is why a parallel initiative has been created for some years, the Miniature Carts, to promote the development of new artisans among the youngest, who are preparing to work on Carnival floats.
In Acireale, therefore, the Carnival takes place on several fronts: there is the parade of classic floats and flowered machines, real floats with mechanical structures made to support the flowery creations, that is, decorated with flowers; then there is the installation, around the country, of the so-called isolated Masks, always to stimulate the creation of young and very young talents, the future of the floats. The floral element has taken hold so much that a second Carnival, that of Flowers, was created between April and May. The daily ticket for the event is € 5,00, while the season ticket, € 20,00, entitles you to 6 entrances.

  • Period: the event takes place on Carnival weekends and from Shrove Thursday to Shrove Tuesday
  • How to get there and how to get around: Acireale is located about 17 km from Catania, accessible by car via the state road 14, or by a regional train, there are frequent ones, more or less every 40 minutes, the journey takes about 16 minutes and the ticket costs € 2,50 each way
  • Recommended activities: to visit the Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral, the Opera dei Pupi Museum
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 50,00 per room -

Plan your trip: useful info

  • ferry: Ferries to Sicily from € 47,20
  • Catania flights: Cheap flights starting from € 33,06
  • Palermo flights: Cheap flights starting from € 37,46

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