Tempted by holidays to Sicily? If so prepare to be overwhelmed by its contrasts, landscapes, beaches and amazingly diverse, ancient heritage. From its bubbling capital Palermo to age-old Roman and Greek ruins, sun-drenched sands and the ever-present, smouldering Mount Etna, this is one island overflowing with treasures.
Threaded amongst its scented citrus orchards, tranquil farmland and lunar-like mountains is a kaleidoscope of towns, sights and resorts. Its east coast is the main draw, thanks to its inviting beaches and stunning landmarks. For a luxurious holiday or adult escape, picturesque, popular Taormina has stepped boutique-filled streets, sandy coves and a spectacular Greco-Roman theatre. Or for a classic sunshine break, Giardini Naxos' scenic stretch of pebbles, café culture and watersports will delight beach-loving families and couples.
And holidays in Sicily are about enjoying the island's passion for food and drink too. Whatever you're doing, it'll feel even better paired with a glass of almond wine, homemade pizza or steaming espresso. Add the locals' irresistible zest and hospitality and you're sure of a memorable time here.
Sicily’s coastline is as varied as the rest of the island. There’s everything from sweeping sandy beaches to hidden coves, with lots of places for good, safe swimming and fun watersports. On the east coast, the beaches are busier and better equipped, with plentiful sun loungers, snack bars and watersports facilities. The most popular, and most photographed, is probably Mazzaro, which serves as the seaside playground for the historic town of Taormina. If you’re a strong swimmer, you can pay a visit to the rocky islet, Isola Bella, just off shore. Other particularly good beaches in the area are Letojanni, a very romantic setting particularly at sunset, and Giardini-Naxos, which has been attracting sunseekers since the Greeks first landed there in 750BC. Alternatively, head for the north coast and you’ll find some lovely, and generally less crowded, stretches of sand. Cefalu is the prime candidate for picture postcard immortalisation, a sweeping crescent of sand overlooked by a gorgeous-looking town and the soaring peak of the Rocca, a towering bluff which was once a refuge for locals from marauding pirates. A few miles further west is Mondello, the lido for Sicily’s capital, Palermo, and as you go even further west, you find yourself in an area largely undiscovered by visitors from outside Italy. If you don’t speak Italian you may have to rely on sign language, but you’ll be rewarded with some of the island’s most unspoilt beaches, beautiful coastal scenery, fascinating wildlife and a pace of life that’s decidedly tortoise-like.