Our 10 days in Sicily without a car Sicily itinerary is finally out!
We have had our eyes set on the renowned Sicily island as a travel destination for quite some time now. With our love for Italian cuisine, the Mediterranean Sea, and warm weather, it was the ideal vacation spot for us. Unfortunately, our flights were cancelled several times due to COVID-19, making it our most ill-fated destination yet. However, there was something about this island that kept drawing us in, and finally, we were able to experience its beauty.
Sicily has a distinct culture that sets it apart from the typical Italian experience. The locals, atmosphere, and energy create a unique island vibe. Our visit left us pleasantly surprised and slightly taken aback by the new culture. The food in Sicily was exceptional, the local markets were bustling with an old-fashioned charm, and the baroque architecture stood out against the backdrop of the blue sea.
10 days in Sicily without a car | Sicily Itinerary
Day 1 – Catania – 10 days Sicily Itinerary
We arrived in Catania and took a bus straight from the airport to the central bus and train station. It was an easy 15-minute walk from there to the historical centre. Our first impression of the city was a bit of a shock as there were several food stands with huge speakers playing loud music around the bus station. Additionally, the area was quite dirty and reminded us of places in the Far East rather than Europe. However, upon arriving at the centre, we were greeted by a vibrant nightlife scene with many people out and about.
The main street, Via Etnea, was long and wide, filled with restaurants, street food stalls, shops, and Baroque churches and palaces. We spent some time admiring the architecture, plazas, and fountains while smelling the delicious smells of Sicilian food coming from the many restaurants around. Eventually, we couldn’t resist and sat down at a small, authentic pizza place with an old clay oven, where we had one of the best pizzas of our lives.
Catania Markets – 10 days Sicily Itinerary
The next morning, we visited the famous fish market, which was an unforgettable experience. The large open-air market was packed with people, and we could barely move. Vendors were shouting everywhere, selling fresh products like seafood, fruits and vegetables of various sizes and colours (including purple broccoli). There were also grilled artichokes and peppers, cheeses, olives, and much more.
Catania was one of the highlights of our Sicily vacation, and we recommend spending at least 2-3 days exploring this amazing city.
Where we stayed in Catania?
We stayed in a wonderful accommodation in the city centre. We had a private room and a shared bathroom. The accommodation is called I Vespri, CLICK HERE and make a reservation. We paid 40€ for a double room with breakfast included.
Day 2-3 Noto – 10 days Sicily Itinerary
We travelled from Catania to Noto via bus from the central station. The town of Noto can be best described as baroque, as it is filled with stunning churches and cathedrals from the same era. Although the town is rather small, the centre is the main attraction and is both picturesque and romantic. However, after spending just one day there, we felt we had seen enough. Additionally, the prices in the centre were a bit higher than the average for Sicily.
Since we didn’t have a car, we decided to stay in Noto as a base and explore the surrounding areas using public transportation. Unfortunately, on the second day, all the buses and trains were cancelled due to a holiday. Despite this setback, we spent the day wandering through the gorgeous alleys, enjoying local food and refreshing drinks.
Day 4 Scicli and Sampieri
We travelled by train from Noto to Sicli. A charming town that shares many of the baroque features of Noto but feels more authentic and less touristy. After a 15-minute walk from the train station to the historical centre, we stopped at a Sicilian bakery and sampled some of the delicious and affordable local savoury snacks. From the main plaza, we enjoyed breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and the San Matteo church atop one of them. We then climbed up to the church, walking on ancient brick-stone roads and admiring the beautiful homes of the locals along the way. The view from the top was impressive, allowing us to see most of Scicli in just a couple of hours.
After exploring Scicli’s highlights, we headed back to the train station with plans to visit Modica. However, a fellow traveller recommended Sampieri, a seaside fishing village. Upon arriving at the station, we discovered that the village was quite a distance away and there was no public transportation, so we had to walk along an unpaved road for about 20-25 minutes. Sampieri wasn’t exactly what we had imagined, as it was more modern with fancy cafes, beach umbrellas, and a well-maintained promenade, rather than an authentic fishing village. Nevertheless, the sandy and wide beach was perfect for a relaxing day by the sea. After having a couple of drinks, we returned to the train station and headed to our final destination, Noto, for our last night.
Day 5-7 Siracusa – 10 days Sicily Itinerary
We caught the earliest bus from Noto to Siracusa, a city with a stunning sea view that attracts tourists and visitors all year round. We arrived during the off-season, yet it was still bustling with people, and it’s no surprise why. After arriving at the central bus station, we took an easy hike to Isola di Ortigia, the main attraction of Siracusa, where we booked our rooms. Ortigia is a small island connected to the city by the Umbertino Bridge.
It’s filled with romantic alleys, fountains, restaurants, and ice cream shops. Many ancient Greek, Roman, and Baroque monuments make picturesque locations for capturing photos and videos. At the entrance to the island of Ortigia, we found an incredible market that offers many of Sicily’s delights, making it highly recommended to spend a few hours trying some of the local eateries.
On our second day in Siracusa, we visited the Greek Theatre of Syracuse and the Archaeological Park of Neapolis. The park is enormous, and we easily spent a couple of hours exploring the area. The theatre is, of course, the most famous monument, but we especially enjoyed the Ear of Dionysus, an artificial cave surrounded by stunning green gardens and Ficus trees.
Where we stayed in Siracusa?
We stayed in the Ortigia area. We were satisfied with the room, and we really liked the location. If you ask us, we definitely recommend this accommodation. CLICK HERE and book it. We paid 51€ per night for a double room with breakfast included.
Day 7-8 Giardini Naxos and Taormina
Giardini Naxos and Taormina were also stopped during our Sicily trip. We decided to save these two towns for last and we were not disappointed. They were the most stunning and romantic places we saw in Sicily. Took a train from Siracusa to the middle of both towns. Giardini Naxos on the left along the sea and Taormina on the right, situated on a high rocky hill and more geared towards tourists. We walked for about 30 minutes to reach our budget-friendly accommodation in Giardini Naxos, which was peaceful and perfect for us.
In the evening we enjoyed a lovely Sicilian dinner at a restaurant on the promenade, which included appetizers of cheese and salami, a pasta dish, fresh seafood and a glass of local red wine. The next day we took a bus to Taormina.
Romantic Taormina – 10 days Sicily Itinerary
The view from the top overlooking the sea, the volcanic Etna mountain, and the surrounding area is breathtaking. We strolled through Corso Umberto, the main street, passing by cathedrals and churches, enjoying the romantic vibe and listening to street performers singing Italian classics. At the highest point, there is the Madonna della Rocca church, which is highly recommended to hike to. It may seem like a long, hard, steep climb, but we made it in less than 20 minutes. The Quince Church is built inside the rock, and the view from there is even more impressive.
I recommend visiting the stunning public gardens in Taormina. The gardens are adorned with cacti, flowers, and palm trees, and are accompanied by a grand old Villa. It’s a peaceful and quiet spot to escape the crowds and take in the breathtaking views of the sea. Near the gardens is the famous Greek theatre, dating back to the 3rd century BC. Entrance to the monument costs approximately €10.
After exploring Taormina, we hiked down towards the beach. The walk can be tricky as there are no pavements, so we had to be very careful. The beach in Taormina is beautiful, with small rocky islands and a foot-accessible island in the water.
Where we stayed in Giardini Naxos and Taormina?
Since accommodations in Taormina were quite expensive, we decided to stay in the nearby town of Giardini Naxos. We recommend this accommodation as we really liked the location. Additionally, breakfast at a nearby café is included with the stay. CLICK HERE and book a room. We paid 48€ per night for a double room with breakfast included (croissant and coffee).
Day 9 Messina
Early in the morning, we took a train to Messina, the capital city of the area. Unlike Naxos and Taormina, it has a much more modern style, as u can expect from a big city. The walk to the centre from the station is quite easy, and along the main street, there are lines of beautiful palm trees and many shops, restaurants and cafes.
We went to one of Messina’s markets, it was quite small but still with the authentic vibe of the Sicilian market. To our surprise though it was starting to close quite early around 2 pm. After that it seemed that the city became a ghost town, the streets became empty and all the shops were closed. We don’t know if it’s because of their siesta or due to the weekend. But we found ourselves quite bored and pretty much without any idea what to do.
In conclusion, the city didn’t impress us that much, and we can only say from our perspective, it’s not that worth a visit, especially if you are a tourist.
Day 10 Catania – 10 days Sicily Itinerary
Our flight back home was from Catania. We loved Catania so much that we took an early train from Nexo/Taormina to have more of this amazing city before leaving. The plan was to go again to the fish market to buy some goods back home but unfortunately, it was Sunday and the market was closed. So after that, we went to the Mercato Campagna Amica, a small farmers market, about 15 minutes walk from the centre. This market wasn’t very exciting, especially after all the other markets we saw in Sicily. It was also a bit on the fancy kind of type with prices accordingly.
During the last hours of our stay, we went to the very lively area of the old town Piazza Alonzo, full of street food, local budget restaurants, shouting vendors and the unique atmosphere we loved so much in Catania. Everything over there looks and smells amazing and it is highly recommended to stop and eat there. We had our last meal in a very crowded place name Scirocco Sicilian Fish Lab, a true street food restaurant, where we had a wonderful savoury feast of fried fresh seafood, fish Sicilian snacks and cold beers.
Some extra tips for Sicily:
How is the Siesta in Sicily
The Sicilians usually take their mid-day break from around 1 pm to 6 pm. Depending on where you are, some places can be empty and closed. It’s better to plan your day accordingly, especially with food or if you planning on buying something.
Sicily has train and bus services. Both are very efficient, reliable and budget-friendly. Take into consideration that on some holidays it can be closed.
Is it worth renting a car?
YES! We didn’t rent a car and for some parts regret it. In the main cities, it’s really not needed, it’s also hard to find parking. But out of the main touristic points, there were a lot of places we had to skip due to inconvenient public transportation timetables.
Is the water drinkable in Sicily?
The water in Sicily is considered completely safe. We drank mostly tap water during our stay and felt good. The only time we bought sealed water bottles was in Siracusa where the tap water tasted a bit off.
Is Sicily expensive
Even though in some parts it felt a bit pricy (especially in Noto), in most parts we managed to stay at a low daily budget. Depending on what you order, food can be quite cheap. We saw many restaurants offering a margarita pizza for only 5 euros. Entries for the parks and monuments were about 10 euros. Local beers at the shop for 1 euro.
Overall, while Sicily can offer budget-friendly options, it is essential to plan and research your trip to fit your preferences and budget. As with any destination, you can make your experience more affordable by seeking out local establishments, trying street food, and opting for public transportation when possible.
Is Sicily worth visiting – 10 days Sicily Itinerary
Let’s start by saying, if you love Italian food the answer is definitely yes. In our opinion, the Sicilians are the masters of Italian cuisine. It was a wonderful culinary experience, and just for that it’s enough reason to visit the island. And of course, Sicily is not just about good food.
The weather was warm and sunny, the views were spectacular. Markets were alive and hectic and the ancient monuments took us back through time. Sicily left us with a taste (literally!) for more, and we for sure come back and explore more of this amazing island.