Updated: Oct 5, 2020
Hidden Gems in Sicily
It’s easy to feel spoiled in Sicily. In the largest island of the Mediterranean you’re warmly welcomed with extensive history, raw beauty, friendly locals, and don’t even get us started on the delicious cuisine! Could it get any more perfect? We think so–but you have to veer off the beaten path to find it!
While we love Sicily’s major cities, they just don’t compare to the island’s hidden gems. You’re bound to be blown away by the beauty you’ll encounter! The tricky part is, you’ll notice that there’s barely any information in English about these places online. Not to worry, we’ve ventured to the tiniest dots on Italy’s map and love to share our favorites with you.
Below we’ve rounded up 4 awesome hidden gems in Sicily just for you!
Our Favorite Hidden Gems in Sicily
Photo by Ludovica Ricca
Between the cities of Modica and Rosolini lies Cava d’Ispica, a long gorge filled with ancient caves and archeological sites. Arguably one of the most unique hidden gems in Sicily, this site receives very few visitors annually. It was originally used as a neolithic burial site and its caves were transformed into dwellings in the Middle Ages. Today it’s possible to visit and you can even walk along a path that crosses the valley. In this area, you’ll also find Museo Cavallo d’Ispica, a restored 18th-century watermill converted into a museum that gives you a peek at rural Sicilian life at the time.
If you’re looking for a day trip from Syracuse to explore a hidden gem, Plemmirio is located just a little over 5 miles away. A protected natural park, hidden behind its cliffs are plenty of caves, small beaches with emerald and turquoise waters, and an impressive amount of marine biodiversity. On your way there, stop to visit the local tonnara, an ancient tuna fishery. And don’t miss one of our favorite Sicilian beaches, Vendicari, it’s a breathtaking oasis!
Love archeological parks, but you don’t love tourists? An alternative, less touristy option to Agrigento’s famous Valley of the Temples, Selinunte sits high on a plain and overlooks the sea. Here you’ll find ancient Greek ruins like temples and an acropolis, all in the middle of two beautiful, golden beaches. One reason we love this off-the-beaten-path gem in Sicily is because the archeological park is huge! There are ancient town walls, ruins of both residential and commercial buildings, and even some paths and zones that have not yet been excavated. You can even still see the walls of some old Greek homes! Selinunte is definitely one of Sicily’s best hidden gems!
Mazara del Vallo
Photo by Ludovica Ricca
Founded by the Phoenicians in the 9th century and later ruled by the Arabs, the Normans, and even the Hapsburgs, this town offers one of the most interesting cultural mixes we’ve seen on the island. Located in southwestern Sicily (which is actually super close to Tunisia in northern Africa), you’ll also find Europe’s biggest Arabic community here.
Mazara del Vallo’s claim to fame came one night in March 1998, when a group of fishermen discovered a life size bronze figure in one of their nets. It turned out to be a dancing satyr! Little is known of the origins of this 7-foot tall Greek bronze statue, but it’s believed to date back all the way to the 4th and 1st centuries BC.
Mazara del Vallo makes a great day trip from Trapani if you want to add some off the beaten path adventure to your trip in Sicily. After visiting the satyr in its namesake museum, you can experience the bustling fishing harbor and then go marvel at the Piazza della Repubblica and its lovely cathedral. Don’t leave without trying the fish couscous!
Getting to Sicily’s hidden gems is not always easy. Little infrastructure, lack of information and minimal public transportation between cities are just some of the challenges you might encounter. If you decide to rent a car, you’ll quickly notice that the roads tend to be narrow and plagued with potholes while the drivers tend to be impatient and rarely follow basic rules like stop signs! You might also be met with a language barrier. Even if you speak Italian, most locals in the countryside will speak Sicilian dialect only.
But, don’t let that hold you back! When you join our small group tours in Italy, you can experience some of the most beautiful, far-flung places in Sicily without the headaches!
The best part? Our experiences focus on genuine connection with the locals, so you’ll get to truly experience the soul of each place we go–without worrying about the language barrier or the potholes!