How to Spend 3 Days in Sicily
Sicily has a unique culture formed by millennia of invaders, resulting in a distinct architecture, cuisine, and language. The island is too vast to cover in three days, but you can see some of the most remarkable sights if you concentrate on the eastern coast. Here are the best options for a quick trip.
Day 1: Taormina and Mt. Etna
High above the Ionian Coast, and home to a dazzling 2nd-century Greek theater set against the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea, the hilltop town of Taormina is considered one of Sicily’s most beautiful. Get a feel for the town on a walking or Segway tour, stopping by the theater and other highlights like the 13th-century cathedral, the shop-lined Corso Umberto I, and the Piazza IX Aprile scenic overlook. (Or, discover the local cuisine on a food and wine tour.) Afterward, head uphill to panoramic Castelmola, or downhill to Isola Bella, a picturesque coastal outcrop. Finish your day on Europe’s largest active volcano, Mt. Etna, which towers above Sicily’s eastern coastline and occasionally makes the news with some impressive sputtering. On the way back down, taste some wine at a cellar on the slopes.
Day 2: Syracuse
Venture south to Syracuse, a golden-hued city with almost three millennia of history. Start in Ortigia, where the city was founded by the Corinthians—today this tiny island off the coast is Syracuse’s most atmospheric neighborhood. Check out the Duomo, with its 17th-century baroque facade; the Fountain of Arethusa, fed by an ancient natural spring; and the Temple of Apollo, Sicily’s oldest Doric temple. Then, dedicate the afternoon to the Neapolis Archaeological Park—go with a guide to learn about the history and architecture of sites like the Teatro Romano and the Ara di Gerone II altar.
Day 3: Ragusa, Noto, and Modica
Cap off your stay at the most important baroque treasure troves in southern Sicily, beginning with Noto. Walking through the clutch of ornate churches and palaces centered around the main Corso Vittorio Emanuele, marvel at highlights like the Cathedral of San Nicolò and Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata. Continue your baroque treasure hunt in Modica, with a tour of the town’s lavish churches and palazzi scattered around the historic center—take a break to sample the town’s traditional chocolate. Finally, in Ragusa, admire magnificent facades sitting shoulder to shoulder with crumbling palaces.