self drive holidays to sicily 10 day itinerary

Sicily by Car – 10-day Road Trip to Sicily

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Taking a 10-day road trip to Sicily was an incredible experience, as it was the first trip we took together. We wanted to visit Italy, and since we went in the summer, we decided on Sicily to avoid the heat and the tourists that overcrowd cities like Rome. Looking back, we fully enjoyed our journey exploring Sicily by car!

Although there are many things to do in Sicily, 10 days is plenty of time to tour the entire island and see the most important landmarks, especially if you rent a car.

Despite Sicilians’ reputation as bad drivers, we didn’t have any problems during our 10 days in Sicily. Of course, if you’re going to rent a car here, I recommend purchasing full coverage car insurance since our rental company tried to charge us for a scratch on the car that we weren’t responsible for. I also suggest checking our guide on how to find cheap rental cars.

But first, let me tell you how to optimize your time so you can take full advantage of your 10-day road trip in Sicily.

Best Sicily 10-day itinerary

While you can plan a driving route in Sicily in fewer (or more) days, 10 days is enough time to drive around Sicily and see the island’s main attractions. To help you out, this is the best 10-day Sicily itinerary:

  • Day 1: Palermo
  • Day 2: Monreale and Cefalù
  • Day 3: Stromboli
  • Day 4: Taormina
  • Day 5: Climb Mount Etna
  • Day 6: Syracuse
  • Day 7: Noto, Modica, and Ragusa
  • Day 8: Agriento and Scala dei Turchi
  • Day 9: Selinunte, Marsala, and Trapani
  • Day 10: Zingaro Nature Reserve

10-day road trip to sicily

Day 1: Palermo – The beginning of your road trip to Sicily

 20 miles (40 min by car)

My ideal 10-day Sicily itinerary begins in Palermo, the capital city. Parking in the center of Palermo is indeed pure chaos, but the airport is about 40 minutes away, so it’s easier to pick up your rental car as soon as you land. That way, you won’t have to waste time making the journey back to the airport the next day.

There are lots of cool things to do in Palermo, but you can see all the main points of interest in one day. If you don’t want to walk all day long, you can take this hop-on/hop-off bus, which follows two tourist routes that stop at all the important sites. You can also take this free tour to get to know some of the most iconic attractions in the city.

Palermo, Sicily 10-day itinerary

Day 1: Palermo – The beginning of your road trip to Sicily

If you’re going to explore on your own, I suggest spending the morning visiting the Teatro Massimo, the largest opera house in Italy; as well as the Vucciria market, where you can find all kinds of products from southern Italy. I also recommend visiting the Praetorian Fountain in Piazza Pretoria, the famous Quattro Canti square, and the Palermo Cathedral, a magnificent structure that outshines the Monreale Cathedral.

Around lunchtime, be sure to check out the food at Vucciria market or Pizza Ferrari. We ate at this pizzeria and it was one of the best pizzas we had in Sicily. That said, the arancini at La Vucciria is also spectacular.

During your driving tour through Sicily, you must stop at the Palace of the Normans, one of the most historical places in Palermo. I recommend taking this guided tour in the afternoon to learn more about the palace, as well as the Palatine Chapel and the Capuchin Catacombs.

Finally, if you’re into the nightlife scene, the best party spot is the area around La Vucciria.

Day 1 of your Sicily road trip – Recommended accommodations

For your first night in Sicily, I recommend staying in the city center so you can be close to all the main points of interest. Just be sure to plan where you’re going to park since some hotels don’t offer parking.

These are my recommended hotels for the first night of your Sicily trip:

Day 2: Monreale and Cefalù – Two cool places to visit in Sicily by rental car

 135 miles (3 hrs by car)

To make the most of day 2 of your 10-day Sicily itinerary, I recommend getting up early and heading to the Monreale Cathedral. It’s about 30 minutes from the center of Palermo by car, and it’s one of the island’s most famous cathedrals, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The next stop is Cefalù, which is about an hour’s drive away. This small coastal town is perfect for a Sicily day trip because you can see all the important places in one day. Some of the top things to do in Cefalù include climbing atop La Rocca for incredible views, visiting the Norman-style Cefalù Cathedral and the Mandralisca Museum, and seeing the Fiume Cefalino medieval wash-house.

Monreale and Cefalù, 10 day in Sicily itinerary

Day 2: Monreale and Cefalù – Two cool places to visit in Sicily by rental car

Besides being so-called the Norman citadel, Cefalù is also famous for its lovely beaches, so I recommend taking this boat tour to explore the coast. For something to eat, I suggest dining at Al Faro, which offers stunning ocean views. And, for dessert, check out the corner pastry shop at Piazza del Duomo, which has awesome cannoli.

To end this second day of your Sicily road trip, drive to Milazzo, which is about an hour and a half away (95 miles). In the morning, you can take the ferry to the Aeolian Islands, a must-see during your tour around Sicily.

Day 2 of your 10-day Sicily itinerary – Recommended accommodations

For the second night of your 10-day Sicily itinerary, I recommend sleeping in Milazzo. These are the best options near the ferry terminal:

Day 3: Stromboli – The best place to see Sicily in 10 days

 2 hrs by ferry

From Milazzo, you can take a ferry to Stromboli, one of the most beautiful places we visited during our 10 days in Sicily. I recommend taking the first ferry from this company, which takes about 2 hours to reach the island.

Stromboli is one of the best Aeolian Islands, thanks to its active Stromboli volcano, a must-see during your Sicily road trip.

Stromboli, roadtrip Sicily 10 days

Day 3: Stromboli – The best place to see Sicily in 10 days

Moreover, Stromboli has a lovely village full of narrow, white streets. You won’t see cars here, just bicycles, motorcycles, and classic Piaggo Apes, which are Italian three-wheeled vehicles. Walking through the town is a pleasant experience, and while you’re there, I recommend visiting the Parish of San Vincenzo Ferreri and the beautiful black sand beaches, such as the Aeolus Grotto.

When it’s time to eat, head to La Terrazza di Eolo, which overlooks the Strombolicchio, a volcanic sea stack.

Thanks to its size, it’s easy to visit Stromboli in one day. That said, I suggest staying overnight so you can take this hiking excursion to the top of the Stromboli volcano to see the lava flows. Climbing the volcano without a certified guide is not only dangerous, but also illegal, so if you want to do this activity, be sure to book in advance.

Day 3 of your route through Sicily by car – Recommended accommodations

The best way to maximize your Sicily day trip is by staying overnight in Stromboli. The town is beautiful but quite small, so there aren’t many accommodations. I recommend booking one of these in advance so you can get a good night’s rest and continue traveling around Sicily in the morning:

Day 4: Taormina – An essential stop on your road trip through Sicily

 2 hrs by ferry + 55 miles (1 hr 30 min by car)

After visiting beautiful Stromboli, the next thing to do on your 10-day Sicily itinerary is to take the return ferry and head to Taormina. This lovely city is about an hour and a half drive from Milazzo.

However, before arriving in Taormina, I recommend making a stop in Savoca, especially if you’re a fan of The Godfather. Here, you can walk through some famous areas that were featured in scenes from the movie, and it’s one of the best things to see in Savoca.

Taormina, Sicily 10-day itinerary

Day 4: Taormina – An essential stop on your road trip through Sicily

As for Taormina, this city is known for its Greek theater, which dates back to the 3rd century B.C. In the 19th century, it became a luxury tourist destination for European nobles, and today, it’s one of the most impressive sites in Italy.

Moreover, Taormina sits on a cliffside, over 650 feet above sea level, making it one of the most magnificent stops on your Sicily road trip. Plus, there are many things to do in Taormina. Besides visiting the Greek theater, you can walk along Corso Umberto Street and stop by the Duomo di Taormina cathedral and Piazza IX Aprile.

I also recommend riding the funicular down to Isola Bella, a small island with a hidden residence that has housed several famous guests over the years.

For one of the best sunsets in Italy, go up to Sanctuary Madonna della Rocca, where you’ll get stunning city views on one side while overlooking Mount Etna on the other.

Finally, if you’re looking for a good place to have lunch or dinner, I highly recommend Pizzeria Villa Zuccaro, which was awarded the honor of second-best pizza in the world.

Day 4 of your Sicily trip – Recommended accommodations

Taormina is one of the best places to stay in Sicily, especially if you want a luxury hotel. So, for your fourth day traveling through Sicily by car, I recommend these accommodations:

Day 5: Climb the Etna volcano – The best thing to do in Sicily in 10 days

 100 miles (2 hrs 15 min by car)

Mount Etna is one of the most essential stops on any Sicily road trip. Unfortunately, our tour got canceled because the volcano erupted right before we arrived in Sicily. However, if you have the chance to go, I recommend this hiking tour.

During this excursion, you’ll take a guided hike to explore the stunning scenery of Mount Etna, 11,000 feet above sea level. You’ll ride a cable car and Jeep up the volcano, then do a 1.5-hour trek to the final summit.

Etna volcano, Sicily by car rental

Day 5: Climb the Etna volcano – The best thing to do in Sicily in 10 days

This hike will take up your entire morning, but if you have the energy for it, you can take advantage of the natural beauty of Gole dell Alcantara, a basalt canyon formed millions of years ago after a volcanic eruption.

While you’re in the area, you can also visit Aci Trezza, a charming coastal village where you’ll find the popular Faraglioni, a group of small sea stacks formed by Etna’s volcanic activity.

We decided to spend the night here since we wanted some peace and quiet. However, if you prefer the nightlife, you can stay in Catania, an important city in Eastern Sicily. It’s just 20 minutes away and even has an international airport.

If your Sicily driving itinerary includes an overnight stay in Aci Trezza, I recommend having dinner at La Cambusa del Capitano.

Day 5 of your road trip through Sicily – Recommended accommodations

For day 5 of your Sicily road trip, these are the top hotels in Aci Trezza and Catania:

Day 6: Syracuse – An essential stop on your route through Sicily by car

 70 miles (1 hr 40 min by car)

If you spent the night in Aci Trezza, I suggest waking up early to enjoy the beautiful sunrise as it lights up the Faraglioni. Then, hop in the car, and drive about 1.5 hours to Syracuse, another can’t-miss stop on your 10-day Sicily itinerary.

Syracuse is special because it’s one of the most historical Greek cities in Italy. While there are lots of attractions you can visit in Syracuse in one day, I recommend booking this tour, which will make the most of your time while teaching you more about the history of the town.

Syracuse, 10 day in Sicily itinerary

Day 6: Syracuse – An essential stop on your route through Sicily by car

During the tour, you’ll visit the Archaeological Park of Neapolis, where you’ll see a Greek amphitheater, the altar of Hiero II, the Ear of Dionysius cave, and the Greek theater. The tour also includes a stop on the island of Ortygia in the historical center of Syracuse. There, you’ll visit the Cathedral of Syracuse, the Fountain of Arethusa, the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, and other tourist attractions.

If you have time in the afternoon, I suggest going to the protected marine area of Plemmirio, which is just 20 minutes outside the city and boasts hidden coves.

Finally, take a break at La Cambusa in Ortygia, where you can enjoy some delicious food.

Day 6 of your Sicily road trip – Recommended accommodations

On the sixth night of your 10-day Sicily road trip, I suggest staying overnight in Ortygia so you can see this beautiful city at night. Here are my top hotel recommendations:

Day 7: Noto, Modica, and Ragusa – Must-sees on your 10-day Sicily itinerary

 55 miles (1 hr 45 min by car)

On day 7 of your driving tour of Sicily, you’ll get to explore the southeastern part of the island. This area suffered a magnitude 7.4 earthquake in 1963, in which nearly all the buildings collapsed. Afterward, the city attempted to rebuild the area in a style that later became known as Sicilian Baroque.

The three most important cities here are Noto, Modica, and Ragusa. Noto, which is referred to as the Garden of Stone and an excellent example of Sicilian Baroque, is a must-see on your 10-day Sicily itinerary if you want to witness this distinct architectural style.

Noto, Modica, and Ragusa, 10 days in Sicily

Day 7: Noto, Modica, and Ragusa – Must-sees on your 10-day Sicily itinerary

Modica is known for manufacturing cocoa, and the chocolate they produce here is made through a cold brewing process, similar to what the Aztecs did. Here, you can find the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, the oldest chocolate factory in Sicily.

Finally, Ragusa is a lovely town perched on a hill, and from here, you can see the areas affected by the famous earthquake. I suggest looking through our guide on what to see in southeast Sicily to find more things to do around Noto, Modica, and Ragusa.

On the other hand, if you prefer nature over history and architecture, you can skip one of these cities and instead go to the Cavagrande del Cassibile Nature Reserve. Here, you’ll find lovely natural pools where you can swim and relax.

Day 7 of your Sicily road trip – Recommended accommodations

After this seventh day of driving around Sicily, I recommend stopping in Ragusa since it’s the closest to your next stop. These are my favorite hotels in the area:

Day 8: Agrigento and Scala dei Turchi – Essential stops on your Sicily road trip

 85 miles (2 hrs 20 min by car)

On your eighth day traveling around Sicily by car, you’ll visit Agrigento, which has the best-preserved Greek temples in the world. Here, you’ll find the Valley of the Temples, a highlight on any Sicily itinerary.

The Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an archaeological expanse containing several important ruins, such as the temples of Hera, Hephaestus, and Heracles. All of these temples are well-preserved, except for that of Hephaestus.

Agrigento and Scala dei Turchi, itinerary Sicily 10 days

Day 8: Agrigento and Scala dei Turchi – Essential stops on your Sicily road trip

Visiting all of the temples in one day just isn’t possible, but this e-scooter tour will help you see the most famous ones while learning some little-known details you might have otherwise missed.

During day 8 of your 10-day Sicily itinerary, you can also visit the Scala dei Turchi (Staircase of the Turks). This white stone cliff has taken on a peculiar shape thanks to years of wind and water erosion, and it’s quite a popular sight, so I highly recommend it!

Day 8 of your route through Sicily by rental car – Recommended accommodations

After an intense day exploring the Valley of the Temples and Scala dei Turchi, you’ll want to sleep in a comfortable bed. Here are the best hotels in Agrigento:

Day 9: Selinunte, Marsala, and Trapani – The best things to see on your Sicily road trip

 105 miles (3 hrs by car)

On your 9th day driving around Sicily, you’ll return to the western side of the island. It’s a lot of driving, so I recommend an early wake-up call so you can get on the road as early as possible.

As you make your way to Trapani, you might want to stop at Selinunte, an archaeological site with ancient temples. While many of the structures are in ruins and it’s not clear who they’re devoted to, they’re still quite interesting.

Selinunte, Marsala, and Trapani, road trip in Sicily

Day 9: Selinunte, Marsala, and Trapani – The best things to see on your Sicily road trip

Another pitstop I recommend is Marsala, which is known for its amazing wine. There is no better way to enjoy this town than by taking a winery tour with wine tasting.

Once in Trapani, be sure to visit the beautiful historic center, which is free of cars. Here, you can walk around and discover the most intriguing attractions, such as Via Garibaldi, which is full of Baroque palaces. Also, be sure to walk along Via Vittorio Emanuele and check out the churches. After all, Trapani is known as “the city of 100 churches.”

Finally, end this portion of your Sicily road trip with a visit to the Trapani Salt Pans, which take on an incredible glow at sunset.

Day 9 of your road trip through Sicily – Recommended accommodations

These are the best accommodations in Trapani so you can recharge for the final day of your driving tour through Sicily:

Day 10: Zingaro Nature Reserve – The last stop on your 10-day Sicily itinerary

 105 miles (3 hrs by car)

For the last day on your 10-day Sicily itinerary, I recommend passing through Erice, a gorgeous medieval town overlooking the water from nearly 2,500 feet above sea level. From here, you can get amazing views of the Trapani Salt Flats and the Aegadian Islands.

After this quick stop, you can visit the Zingaro Nature Reserve, which boasts some of Sicily’s most incredible natural landscapes. While there are several trails, I recommend the one that runs along the coast and passes by a few coves and wild beaches. It’s a great way to see the native flora and fauna, too.

Zingaro Nature Reserve, road trip to Sicily

Day 10: Zingaro Nature Reserve – The last stop on your 10-day Sicily itinerary

After a pleasant day in nature, continue your driving route through Sicily by heading back to Palermo.

On the way to the capital city, you can visit the Temple of Segesta, which is in the city of the same name. While its construction was never completed, the temple has become one of the most impressive in Sicily, so it’s a must-see.

Day 10 of your road trip through Sicily – Recommended accommodations

For your last night in Sicily, I suggest booking a room at one of the hotels I recommended in Palermo. If you have some time before your flight, you might want to spend some time exploring the capital city, visiting some places you couldn’t see your first time here.

If you’re short on time and have to catch an early flight, I recommend staying at a hotel near the airport:

There you have it, a full itinerary to explore Sicily by car in 10 days. All that’s left to do is start packing your bags!

Of course, you can modify this Sicily driving tour by skipping some attractions or adding a few more. If you don’t have that much time, I suggest skipping the Aeolian Islands and Stromboli. On the other hand, if you can afford an extra day or two, the Aegadian Islands are worth visiting, and this excursion from Trapani makes it very easy.

Finally, if you have any questions about the attractions and places in this guide, check out our article on the best things to do in Sicily. You can also leave me a comment below and I’ll try to help you as much as I can.

I hope you enjoy your road trip through Sicily as much as we enjoyed ours! Happy travels!

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COFOUNDER & TRAVEL JUNKIE

Hi, I'm Ascen, a globetrotter based in Philadelphia, USA. I enjoy exploring new landscapes and creating in-depth travel guides for Capture the Atlas.

I have felt a special connection with nature and all the inhabitants of the planet since I was a kid. I am passionate about discovering new countries and especially their wildlife, but no matter how many places I visit, I will always belong to the remote beaches of Almería, in Southern Spain.

You can know a little more about me here.

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10 thoughts on “Sicily by Car – 10-day Road Trip to Sicily

  1. Rasha Law says:

    Wonderful summary! Thank you for this. Can you please clarify more on the car parking, driving and usefulness? We essentially want to do the same trip in a couple of weeks but unsure how a car can be accommodated (do we have to pay parking fees everywhere? Are roads easy to navigate?)

    Another question: your trip was in July, which I assume is pretty hot weather – did you not need to be near the water/pools to cool off?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Thanks Rasha,

      Driving in Sicily can be chaotic in big cities like Palermo or Catania, but it’s generally fine across the island. In some small popular towns and villages there are parking fees, like in Taormina, but we parked for free in most of the locations.

      As regards the Sicilian heat, there are incredible beaches and delicious Sicilian ice creams to cool off 😉

      Have fun in your trip!
      Dan

  2. Leanne Murray says:

    Hi Ascen,
    We are completing a 8 night road trip around Sicily in May 2020. Your blog is excellent and my husband is addicted to a good pizza so not doubt we will try your recommendation in Taormina.
    Thanks for sharing your adventures with us.
    Leanne

  3. Marietta says:

    This is a wonderfully comprehensive 10 day itinerary to visit the north! I’ve been checking out many blogs since I plan to go in May 2020. Yours is one of the best if not the BEST! Please continue!! Could you do a 10 day itinerary for the South? How about one for seniors and one for families? Thank you and safe travels for the future.

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi Marietta,

      Thanks for your nice words!

      We’ll try to add more itinerary options for the South in the future. Enjoy your trip to Sicily this year!

      Dan

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