If you’re heading on your first trip to Sicily as I was recently, then the choice about where to stay here is a question you’re likely to face.
As the largest island in the Mediterranean (something else I didn’t know before I visited!), getting from one part of Sicily to another can take hours, which means you definitely want to be based somewhere that suits your needs and fits the type of holiday you want to enjoy.
Sounds simple right?
The thrust of Sicily’s charm is that this island offers so much – from beaches and historic ruins to buzzing cities and bubbling volcanoes – which means choosing where to stay here can be trickier than you might think.
Ergh travel nightmare!
But fear not, I’m going to break down all the top spots on this island for you, to help you choose the best place to stay in Sicily based on your ideal holiday needs.
I hope so!
Let’s get stuck in…
- Top 20 Things to do in Sicily
- Ultimate 1 Week Sicily Itinerary
- How Much Does it Cost to Travel Sicily?
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- Street food
- Good transport connections
Well well well Palermo, I honestly had no idea how utterly beguiling you were!
Full of life and vibrancy, the capital of Sicily offers amazing food options, as well as a whole host of fab bars and drinking spots, which brings the city to life in an exciting and thriving way.
But don’t get confused and think Palmero is just a party place – it most certainly is not.
An ancient city full of beautiful architecture, tons of history and quaint cobbled alleys that bring to the fore what people love most about travelling in Italy, this place is busting at the seams with glorious churches, fountains, statues, streets and gelato!
Throw into this mix the fantastic markets and the great public transport network that emanates from this city and there’s no question that if you’re planning on visiting Sicily and not renting a car, or if want to get a huge dollop of authentic culture and sightseeing, then Palermo is the spot for you!
Learn more in this post I wrote about the best things to do in Palermo, or else check out my top accommodation picks below…
Hotel: Palermo Inn Boutique
Apartment: Porta Carini
Guesthouse: Battisti 18 Vintage Rooms
Hostel: A casa di Amici Boutique Hostel
- Visiting Mount Etna
- Good transport connections
- Access to east Sicily
Sicily’s second city, Catania is located on the east side of the island and offers good transport connections to this half of Sicily, plus it’s home to an airport with many international arrivals too.
A good food and nightlife scene can be found here, but in my opinion, it’s no rival for Palermo, which oozes more authentic charm.
For those that want a more holiday feel however, Catania is a great option, especially given its proximity to towering Mount Etna, which looms in the city’s backdrop and offers some superb hiking and tours.
There’s lots of historic sights here too of course, making Catania a good all-rounder that offers a plethora of accommodation choices.
Hotel: Hotel Biscari
Apartment: B. Sicilian Charming Stay Luxury Loft
Hostel: Eco Hostel
#3 San Vito lo Capo
- Beach lovers
- Nature lovers
Over in the west of the island, a few hours from Palermo, San Vito lo Capo offers one of Sicily’s top beaches.
This makes it an ideal place to stay for those who really want a holiday based around the sun and the sea because, unlike most of the island’s coastal areas, San Vito actually boasts some beautiful golden sand (spoiler: most of Sicily’s beaches are stony or rocky).
With safe shallow swimming and plenty of eateries in this cute town, San Vito is a great option for families and beach go-ers alike.
If, from the sounds of this, you’re worried that San Vito might be a tacky resort kinda place however, don’t be!
This really is a lovely town that bubbles with life, but still feels authentic and Italian.
And that’s not all, because around San Vito lo Capo there are also some of Sicily’s most beautiful landscapes and best hiking opportunities, most notably the striking Zingaro Reserve – a protected area with safe easy trails and beautiful coastline just 20 minutes drive from the town.
This definitely makes San Vito one of the best places to stay in Sicily in my opinion.
Apartment: Makani Apartments
Guesthouse: B&B Jasmine
- History lovers
- Good restaurants
- Sea views
Next up on this list of where to stay in Sicily, we head back to the east side of the island and the charming city of Syracuse.
Famous as the birthplace of Archimedes, this sets the tone for what Syracuse is most renowned for – notably its incredible array of historical attractions.
A 2700 year old city, which is now UNESCO-listed, there’s an ancient archaeological area here that is filled with temples, monuments, a huge amphitheatre and a necropolis that are all just begging to be explored.
A must for history buffs, the hitlist actually doesn’t stop there, because Syracuse is also well-positioned to explore the charming Baroque towns of Ragusa and Noto, which are located nearby and offer some of the island’s most stunning architecture.
Syracuse also has an air of luxury about it, with great restaurants and some lovely boutique spots to bed down in.
If this sounds like a bit of you, then check out these top accommodation picks…
Hotel: Grand Hotel Villa Politi
Apartment: Autentica Ortigia
Guesthouse: B&B Casa D’Alleri
Hostel: LoLHostel Siracusa
- Island hopping
- Easy access
A brilliant all-rounder on this list of where to stay in Sicily, Trapani on the west coast of the island has great access options, with both a decent bus network and an international airport serving this small, safe city.
A charming and historic spot, the coastal area offers plenty of activities to enjoy, including day trips to the Aegadian Islands, one of which, Favignana, (learn more about it here), became my fav place in the whole of Sicily.
Boasting the best gelato I had on the island too – a title I don’t give out lightly! – Trapani provides something for everyone, making it ideal for families.
History lovers can visit the nearby hilltop town of Erice and the impressive Segesta ruins, while sightseeing folk can enjoy closely-located Masala and its salt pans.
Beach lovers will thrive on the Aegadian Islands, and there’s even good wine-tasting tours for the connoisseurs among you!
Sound like a winner to you too?
Hotel: Room Mate Andrea
Apartment: Gaura Apartments
Guesthouse: Guesthouse Garibaldi
If you’re looking for a traditional holiday spot in Sicily, then it has to be Taormina.
Perched on a hilltop, right above the sea, the famous amphitheatre draws the crowds here, but it’s the beaches that keep them – they are some of Sicily’s best.
Very popular with tourists, but for good reason, Taormina also boasts Medieval ruins, a cable car down to the beach, walking trails and a great selection of restaurants, cafes and bars.
Peaceful it is not, but for a good holiday base, it ticks many boxes and is easy to access from Catania (with its international airport) and Messina (with its connections to mainland Italy).
Hotel: La Malandrina
Apartment: Attico Sole Luna
Guesthouse: B&B Elegance
Hostel: Hostel Taormina “Homstel”
- Quiet & Safety
And last but not least on this list of where to stay in Sicily we come to the charming town of Cefalù.
Easily accessible from Palermo by train or car in just over an hour, I think Cefalù makes a great base for a couple of days, although I’m not sure I’d stay here for longer.
And that’s because, aside from Palmero, many of the other top places to visit in Sicily are quite a drive away.
Nevertheless, Cefalù has plenty to entertain for a few days with its lovely Old Town, bustling new town and a good stretch of beach.
There’s some delightful restaurants and shops here too – many with sea views – and the place is filled with Italian and international tourists alike.
Swimming is good and although the sand isn’t white, you won’t have to lie on stones here – which can be a real blessing after you’ve experienced a few other Sicily beaches!
Cefalù’s Cathedral is also lovely and local life throngs in the cobbled streets around.
All in all, Cefalù makes a good, quieter alternative to Palermo and definitely boasts a more holiday, relaxed feel and good levels of safety.
Hotel: Artemis Hotel
Apartment: La Rose dei Venti
Guesthouse: Retro Rooms
Travel Guide to Sicily
When to Visit Sicily?
The best time to Sicily is during the spring months of May and June, or the autumn months of September and October.
Check out the full article I wrote about when to visit Sicily here for more info.
How to Travel to Sicily?
Flying to either Palermo or Catania is the best way to get to Sicily from Europe.
Check out Skyscanner for the best deals as they include budget airlines in their searches.
Otherwise, you can also take a ferry or train across the Messina Strait to Sicily from mainland Italy.
Trains run direct from Rome and Naples and take between 9 and 11 hours. The train goes on a ferry, but this is included in your ticket fare, whcih you can easily book through Trainline.
Alternatively, you can cross to Sicily via ferry from various mainland ports to various island ports.
Check out all the options and book tickets via Direct Ferries here.
How Long to Spend There?
You’ll need a week to get to grips with Sicily and even then will likely have to choose either the west or east of the island to enjoy.
With 2 weeks you can explore both sides of the island and with longer, you can start digging into the more remote southern and central parts of the island.
How to Get Around Sicily?
Hiring a car is the best way to get around Sicily. Find a great deal here.
Otherwise, if you don’t want to drive, I recommend staying in one of the main cities and using the buses and trains that run frequently from there to other island spots.
I use Omio to find the best routes, times and prices for overland travel in Italy.
For transfers from the airport to your accommodation check out WelcomePickUps – a great option as Uber is not available in Sicily.
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.
Travel Money in Sicily
When it comes to paying for things in Sicily, you want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates when using your card abroad, which is why I always take my Wise Card away with me.
The easy way to spend when travelling Wise offers real exchange rates, no markups, no sneaky transaction fees and a free Euros account.
Plus, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card in Italy… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold! Get yours here.
SAVE THIS TO PINTEREST!
And there you have it – my list of the top places to stay in Sicily.
Have you been to this fab Italian island?
Where did you stay and what was it like?
Tell me all in the comments box below…