26 useful Sicily travel tips and tricks | Italy travel advice | wayamaya

26 useful Sicily travel tips and tricks | Italy travel advice | wayamaya
26 useful Sicily travel tips and tricks | Italy travel advice

Why visit Sicily, Italy?

There are probably millions of reasons to visit Sicily island, but before you travel to Sicily for a day, for a week or for holidays, let us guide you and check out what to know before you go in our best travel tips article divided into topics like Sicilian food, Sicilian landscapes and nature, Sicilian architecture, Sicilian transport and driving.

If you haven't seen them already, check out wayamaya series of travel blog posts about useful Sicily, Italy travel tips, Sicily travel essentials, where to go in Sicily, things to do in Sicily, the best places to visit in Sicily and the top things to see in Sicily, Italy:




Sicily, part 2

26 useful Sicily travel tips and tricks | Italy travel advice


food truck, Aci Castello | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Food truck, Aci Castello | Sicily, Italy


1 - 9 Sicily travel tips and tricks | Sicilian food

1. Authentic Sicilian food is considered to be some of the tastiest in the world. Some even say that it's the best in Italy. Typical Sicilian food is also traditional and somewhat different than Italian food.
2. If you have breakfast included in your Sicily accommodation you might get Italian breakfast - sweet and carb-based.
3. Sicilians eat very late. If you want to experience Sicily like a local you should eat lunch after 1 PM and dinner at least after 7 PM. However, Sicilians usually won’t have a cappuccino after 11 AM.



Sicilian cannoli dessert | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Sicilian cannoli dessert | Sicily, Italy

4. In Sicily, like in all of Italy, you might be surprised when presented with your restaurant bill. In most cases, you will see an extra cover charge and service charge called coperto and servizio. The coperto is a small fee (from 1 to even 5 euros in more expensive places) you will pay per person for occupying your table (it doesn't matter how much or little you order and how long you spend at the table), but often you will get something like free breadsticks included. The servizio substitutes the tip (mancia 10-20%) and you can always request the charge to be taken off your bill. Italians rarely tip, but if you really want to you can just round up your bill to the nearest 0 or 5.

Sicilian fish market | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Sicilian fish market | Sicily, Italy

5. Sicily is famous for its seafood. Visiting Catania Fish Market is almost a must if you travel there and shopping on other Sicily’s fish markets is an experience by itself. As befits the islanders, everything is fresh and all types of seafood are available. Unfortunately, there is a fly in the ointment because of the cleanliness of the premises and hygiene rules when preparing them leave much to be desired.
6. Remember about siestas! They are really annoying and even some restaurants close between 1 PM and 4 – 5 PM.

Sicilian pasta | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Sicilian pasta | Sicily, Italy

7. Although Sicilian cuisine is like Italian cuisine, local Sicilian food also has Greek, Spanish, French and Arab influences. Best Sicily things to eat: you should definitely try arancino (stuffed rice balls which are coated with bread crumbs and then deep-fried), pani cunzatu (seasoned stuffed bread), cannoli (a pastry dessert with a sweet, creamy filling; Catania cannoli is probably the best) and granita (a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings). Also, you should search for Sicilian food trucks or other street food stands nearby if you don't know what to eat (the food prices are quite low there).
8. Sometimes there are no shops in the closest area where you can buy snacks and soda to keep you going. It's best to plan your shopping earlier or be prepared to eat and drink only in restaurants (this way coperto can ruin your budget).

Sicilian arancini | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Sicilian arancini | Sicily, Italy

9. Below is a short travel guide on how to get around Sicily's various eating establishments:
  • Ristorante – formal restaurant with waiters in uniforms,
  • Trattoria – less formal then restaurant, usually cheaper and sometimes run by a local family,
  • Osteria - unformal, cheaper and with shorter and simpler menus,
  • Bar - snacks like panini and coffee,
  • Enoteca (bottiglieria, fiaschetteria, mescita) – winery,
  • Pizzeria – pizza obviously,
  • Pizza à taglio or pizza rustica – window selling slices of pizza,
  • Tavola calda – self-service bar,
  • Paninoteca – bar with sandwiches,
  • Rosticceria – window or food truck serving simple street food like arancini,
  • Polleria – a small place serving takeaway roast chicken,
  • Pasticceria – candy store,
  • Gelateria – ice-cream parlor,
  • Forno – a bakery.

Scala dei Turchi beach, Agrigento | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Scala dei Turchi beach, Agrigento | Sicily, Italy


10 - 15 Sicily travel tips and tricks | Sicilian landscape and nature

10. To stay in Sicily is to experience one of the most beautiful and diverse places to visit in the world. Sicily nature is known for stunning coastline and breathtaking views. From visiting wonderful black or white Sicily beaches to hiking martian landscape of the highest active volcano in Europe - Mount Etna. It's quite easy to spend hours and hours on photographing everything around you.
11. There is so much to see and so many things to do in Sicily that you should definitely rent a car to travel between famous Sicily attractions. Sicilian highways might be quite boring so plan your Sicily road trip on normal coastline roads and enjoy amazing views.

Scala dei Turchi, Agrigento | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Scala dei Turchi beach, Agrigento | Sicily, Italy

12. Sicily is the land of sunshine and fresh air with many gorgeous beaches. Unfortunately, some of Sicily beaches are rocky (mainly south coast and east coast). Some Sicily beaches are also very neglected and simply dirty, especially in the south-east (Catania is a good example). We just fell in love with Scala dei Turchi beach (Stairs of the Turks near Agrigento), but it can be very crowded in the high season.
13. Famous Mount Etna volcano is certainly the main Sicily's highlight. The smoking hulk is visible even from the highways, but we highly recommend two best Sicily places to visit and to see Sicily volcano from the distance - ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina and busy Via Etnea street in Catania. If you plan to climb Etna, then you have to book a full day to do some hiking. Bring warm, anti-rain clothes with you - Etna’s summit can be much colder than Catania (average temperature is 10-15 degrees Celsius lower) and Sicily weather can change in dramatic ways. Trekking shoes are recommended.

Isola Bella beach, Taormina | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Isola Bella beach, Taormina | Sicily, Italy

14. Sicily landscape is predominantly agricultural. Beyond Etna volcano, there is also green mountainous landscape (especially inland) full of abandoned houses and fields of orange trees.
15. Lastly but not least there is one thing that we absolutely loved about Sicily nature - cactuses and palm trees. Of course, those plants can be found in many other regions, but they seemed so natural and so fitting there! In some places, there were so many cactuses that they looked like weeds. We would love to have such weeds in our country :)

Castello Normanno castle, Aci Castello | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Castello Normanno castle, Aci Castello | Sicily, Italy


16 - 21 Sicily travel tips and tricks | Sicilian architecture

16. Sicily has a rich, unique and ancient culture. The mix of influences (Greek, Spanish, French and Arab) is especially visible in architecture. Be prepared to behold amazing blending of styles: from Byzantine, through Roman to Baroque. Sicily has it all.
17. Throughout the Sicily island, you can find impressive remains of Arab and Norman castles. We recommend taking a tour to Castello Normanno castle in Aci Castello (one of the most popular Sicily resorts located very close to Catania).

Valle dei Templi, Agrigento | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Valle dei Templi, Agrigento | Sicily, Italy

18. Palermo or Catania, which one to choose? Palermo (Sicily capital) is arguably more beautiful, but baroque Catania has more inner depth. Probably the best option would be to pick the best flight to one of the main Sicily airports in those cities. Each part of Sicily is different but you can always change your base during your stay.
19. There is a vast array of archaeological sites and ruins in Sicily, but there is one must-see place: Greek ruins of Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples near Agrigento). It's a Sicily UNESCO World Heritage Site and at the same time, Valle dei Templi is the world's largest archaeological site.

Greek Theatre, Taormina | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Greek Theatre, Taormina | Sicily, Italy

20. If you love Sicilian architecture (there are monuments at every step) we recommend you to visit the most important Sicily destinations: Taormina (the Pearl of Sicily), Noto (the Baroque City), Syracuse (ancient Siracusa), Catania (in the shadow of Mount Etna) and Palermo (probably the most Arab city in Europe).
21. Unfortunately, there were some things that we found unpleasant like fenced churches and the lack of investment resulting in neglected or simply dirty buildings and monuments.

Etna | driving in Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Etna | driving in Sicily, Italy


22 - 26 Sicily travel tips and tricks | Sicilian transport and driving

22. Try as we might, we could not understand Sicily public transport. We base our opinion on Catania, but it is said that the whole island is not too friendly for tourists who want to travel Sicily without a car. There are a lot of bus stops, but none of them has timetables, understanding bus routes is very hard and buses stop only if you show their drivers that you want to enter. Also, remember again about siestas which apply to Sicily public transport!

Road tunnel, riving | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Road tunnel, riving | Sicily, Italy

23. As a pedestrian, you must beware of narrow streets. In many cities (again Catania is a good example) there are almost no pavements, so you will sometimes have to walk very close to cars. Moreover, you shouldn't expect anyone to yield the right of way on the pedestrian crossing. Also, watch out for scooters and their insane drivers - their behavior is the second main thing we didn't like about Sicily. The first place on the wall of shame belongs to dangerous Sicilian car drivers.

Landscape view, driving | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Landscape view, driving | Sicily, Italy

24. Sicily driving is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Sicilians really lack the fear of death when driving. At first, it might even be fun to see so kind and helpful Sicilian people behaving like your enemies, but then it becomes a big problem. There are a lot of speed limits (some of them unnecessary), but 90% of Sicily drivers don't respect any regulations. Also, it seems that Sicily's government is fully aware that traffic rules only exist in theory. We have seen police officers closing their eyes to things that in most countries will be called the road rage. In Sicily it's normal for locals to overtake on junctions and blind curves, entering from subordinated roads centimeters in front of you, driving on the red light etc. Moreover, buses almost always use horns before intersections to discourage Sicilians from crossing. Therefore, it's not surprising that most cars in Sicily have traces of small crashes and parking problems.

Landscape view, driving | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Landscape view, driving | Sicily, Italy

25. We advise trying Sicily car hire. It's risky, but traveling Sicily by car is well worth it and quite cheap. However, you should definitely rent a small car with full insurance. Also, remember that some of the highways are toll roads and be very careful when driving in places like Taormina that have extremely narrow and uphill streets.
26. As far as Sicily parking is concerned, it's somewhat risky to park on public streets in big cities like Catania. Also, sometimes you will have to pay the locals to 'watch' your car, just to prevent them from purposefully scratching it. Park only on blue lines: white lines are only for residents with a parking pass and yellow lines are only for loading and offloading. If there is no ticket machine go to the nearest tobacco shop (tabacchino) selling tickets (of course if it's not closed because of the siesta time :)).




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26 useful Sicily travel tips and tricks | Italy travel advice

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