Located at the very southern tip of Italy – at the toe of the famous boot if we want to get technical! – there’s no doubt that Sicily is one of the country’s warmest and sunniest regions.
Lying not far from the North African coastline – the capital of Tunisia is under 400km away would you believe – Sicily boasts some seriously dry, scorching heat during the summer, but amazingly does get much milder (dare I say even cold!) and wetter days during the winter months.
In this way, Sicily can be said to boast a classic southern European climate, but inherent in the fact that it’s an island (the largest in the Mediterranean to be precise), there’s no doubt that those classic coastal factors of wind and rain can often come into play.
So, when is the best time to visit Sicily and when should you visit based on the activities you want to enjoy here?
To bring you all the info you need to make this decision, here is my ultimate guide for when it’s best to visit this glorious part of Italy, based on the type of travel you enjoy, the length of time you have and that all-important factor, your budget!
Time to get stuck in…
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When to Visit Sicily?
So weirdly, I’m starting this article off with a kinda conclusion paragraph, because the first slice of info I’m bringing you now is the best time to visit Sicily in general.
This means no matter what you’re heading to Sicily to do (chill, hike, sail, cycle, eat, drink, sightsee.. and the list goes on!), I’m kicking things off here with the best overall months to book a trip to this gorgeous island.
And in my humble opinion, those top months are May, June plus September and October.
Part of the Spring and Autumn seasons respectively, the reason I’ve chosen these 4 months is because they offer the best overall experience – the very happy, yes please I will, super all round, middle ground.
Visiting in these shoulder periods – essentially these 4 months form the start and end of the high season – means you’ll avoid both the colder and wetter winter days Sicily experiences in winter and the extremely hot temperatures the island often gets in summer.
Offering milder climates with long days that boast good sunshine hours, May, June, September and October give visitors the chance to not only enjoy the national parks and historic treasures of this dramatic island, but also the chance to chill at the beach, swim in the sea, walk through the city markets, cycle the island and enjoy a local festival – depending on your preferences!
In addition, prices are not at their peak and you’re sure to find a bargain both in terms of a flight to the island and accommodation when you get there.
And neither are crowds too heavy, which means you won’t have to share the beaches and viewpoints with a great wave of other tourists either… although don’t expect the place to be empty, this is Sicily after all!
Yup, that’s because these 4 months are pretty much perfect in my opinion – a notion backed up by the fact that I specifically chose to visit Sicily in June myself!
No greater vote of confidence than that my friends!
Ok, so now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, it’s time to get into a bit more detail, because despite how much of a no-brainer I’ve made May and June, plus September and October sound when it comes to the best time to visit Sicily, there are a few variables…
And the major one of these variables is the festival calendar of the island. Yes, Sicily loves a festival (well, who doesn’t?!) and there’s a huge range to choose from, including within Taormina’s famous Greek theatre, which hosts various artistic and cultural events in a seriously stunning setting. As many of the island’s festivals tend to take place in the heavy tourism footfall months of July and August, if you visit during the shoulder season instead, you may miss them.
July and August are also the months with the warmest weather, so if you really like things hot (as well as crowded and pricey!), then hitting up the island at this time will assure you of some seriously good beach days… shade provision is advised FYI!
On the opposite side of the calendar – December through February here can be seriously fresh – with low temperatures at the coast (think 10 degrees centigrade) and even some snow up on those lofty mountain tops.
Being an island, wind and rain (and a lot of it) can be heavy features of the Sicilian winter and you’ll find that many tourist businesses including hotels and restaurants across the coastal resorts, and even in cities like Palermo, shut down during this winter period.
If you visit in the winter, you definitely have the place a lot more to yourself, but you’re unlikely to get a full sense of the island and the buzz it emanates during the warmer months.
In essence, the Sicilian climate follows a classic southern European picture with an island twist. And this is exactly why, when you travel here, it pays not to presume it’s sunny and warm all year round!
To put this southern European climate idea in context, Sicily has 4 main seasons…
March to May is known as Spring, with mild temperatures that hover around the high teens / low twenties (centigrade that is!). Rainfall begins to drop and the days are getting nice and long – think around 9 hours of daylight. The island is green and wildflowers bloom. Easter is a great time to visit with many gregarious celebrations taking place across this devoutly Catholic island.
June to August is summer in Sicily when temperatures can soar to the high thirties (even forties some days) and make cycling, hiking and sightseeing pretty uncomfortable to say the least! Rainfall is low, but prices are high. Many cultural festivals take place at this time, as Italians from elsewhere in the country flock here during their summer break.
September to November is essentially autumn, when temperatures in Sicily begin to cool down and days get shorter. That said, there’s still plenty of sun to enjoy and who can forget the famous Cous Cous Festival in San Vito lo Capo? It’s an island highlight!
December to February is winter in Sicily and, as I’ve outlined above, things get cold and wet at this time. There can even be snow on the mountain tops! The island is quiet and many tourism services shut down. Expect no crowds and low prices, but very little vibe!
Visiting Sicily is certainly possible all year round, but as I said in the first section of this post, Spring and Autumn would be my picks when it comes to the time to visit this Italian region.
Best Time to Visit for Sightseeing in Sicily
So now we move on to some more of the specific activities travellers head to Sicily for, as we take a look at which months to visit the island are best suited to them.
Sightseeing can be enjoyed across Sicily (from Roman theatres and temples to beautiful, historic cities) and most visitors who want to max out on these elements that Sicily offers, tend to base themselves in either Palermo in the west or Catania or Syracuse in the east.
Direct flights arrive into both Palermo and Catania from many European destinations and budget carriers such as Ryanair, EasyJet and WizzAir ply these routes. As always, I recommend checking Skyscanner for the best Sicily flight deals.
When it comes to the best time to visit Sicily for sightseeing, I highly recommend the months of September and October.
With cooler temperatures that make wandering around ruins and through cities a lot more bearable, thinner crowds also mean shorter wait times at some of the main historic sites (the 3 big players are Segesta, Selinunte and Valley of the Temples near Agrigento) and you won’t be jostling people out the way for good photo shots either!
Plus the weather is still pleasant enough for you to be outside and enjoy the natural landscapes too – including catching a cable car up Mount Etna or taking a sightseeing cruise to see the active volcano spectacle of Stromboli.
Best Time to Visit for Hiking and Cycling
If you’re heading to Sicily for some active adventures, then a great time to visit would be the spring months of May and June.
With long days that allow you to cram a lot into a day – think hike or cycle in the morning (how about hiking Mount Etna?), followed by a chilled afternoon at the beach – the months of May and June boast delightfully warm weather that mean swimming in the sea and sampling a gelato, or 3, is totally possible every day!
There’s also good temperatures at this time of year (think in the twenties) and tons of sunshine to be enjoyed, with rain very unlikely to disrupt your plans.
But perhaps best of all when it comes to outdoor activities in Sicily, in May and June the island is still wonderfully lush and green after the winter rains and many wildflowers bloom in abundance at this time, which makes it even more beautiful… if that was possible!
Best Time for Hitting the Beach
Ok, so now we come to the good stuff, the things holidays are really made for, right?
Yup y’know I’m talking about the beach, the sea swimming and the sunbathing… ok just me then!
Seriously, I do love a good coastal chill when I’m on holiday and despite doing both a lot of sightseeing and hiking in Sicily, I made sure I got to swim in the sea and lie on the sand a lot too!
And that’s despite Sicily not having a ton of sandy beaches – most are stony FYI, so bring your aqua shoes!
However, if you’re here predominantly to catch the rays, then June through September summer will definitely be the best time for you to visit Sicily.
High high temperatures, low rainfall, long blue sky days – it’s got it all!
It’s also got the crowds and the price tag too at this time, but whose counting right?!
Cheapest Time to Visit Sicily
And talking of price tags, we now come to the best time to visit Sicily if you’re on a budget. After all, this blog is called Big World Small Pockets!
Sooooo avoiding the high summer months of July and August are a definite must if you want to see Sicily for less.
Winter (outside of Christmas) is the cheapest time, but as discussed, I don’t think it offers good value for money, because so much across the island is closed and you can’t swim in the sea!
Overall, therefore, I personally lean towards early Spring and late Autumn being the best times if you want to balance decent weather with a good deal! That’s the months of May and October, in case you want some specifics!
Just remember to avoid the European half-term school holidays that fall in this period too and you’ll be sure to find a bargain!
How Long to Spend There?
I’d suggest at least a week to visit Sicily.
With 7 days you’ll get a good amount of time to explore either the west (Palermo, Cefalu, Trapani and San Vito lo Capo) or the east (Catania, Etna, Noto, Syracuse and Taormina).
If you want to explore both the east and west, then allow 2 weeks; and, if you want to see beyond these coastlines and discover some of the centre and south of the island too, then I’d recommend a month!
Where to Stay in Sicily?
Check out this whole article I wrote about where to stay in Sicily.
It will give you a full rundown on the best towns and cities to stay in across this island, as well as recommended accommodation options when you’re there too!
How to Get Around Sicily?
Hiring a car is the best way to get around Sicily, so find yourself a great deal here.
Otherwise, if you don’t want to drive during your travels here, I recommend staying in one of the main cities and using the buses and trains that run frequently from there.
As always, I use Omio to find the best routes, times and prices for buses and trains across Italy, and Sicily is no exception.
For transfers from the airport to your accommodation, check out WelcomePickUps. These guys are a great option in Sicily, as Uber is not available here.
Travel Insurance for Sicily
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
SAVE THIS POST TO PINTEREST!
So there you have it, my complete guide to the best time to visit Sicily!
I hope it’s helped you decide when to visit this beautiful island.
Have any more advice to share or questions to ask?
Then please drop them into the comments section below…