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Sicily. The name conjures up images of long lazy days, sunshine and summer holidays coupled with the style and glamour of an Italian holiday. With over 1000 kilometres of shoreline, one of the island’s main draws is its fabulous coastline. Surrounded by the blue, inviting waters of the Mediterranean, the island is famed for its golden sandy beaches, picturesque coves and lively coastal resorts. From the tourist beaches of the north to the more rugged parts of the south, Sicily is an island paradise in Italy waiting to be explored. We’ve picked 6 of the best beaches in Sicily, listed in no particular order, to showcase some of what this Mediterranean jewel has to offer.
The long sandy beach at Cefalu makes for an ideal family day out. This pretty town on the Tyrrhenian coast has all the facilities you would expect, the Norman cathedral is well worth a look, and you can easily lose yourself amidst the narrow streets. The beach here can get pretty busy and is popular with families and children who enjoy the safe and lively atmosphere on the golden sands. It’s an ideal place for swimming, or simply soaking up the sun!
- Best time to visit: Cefalu is a year-round destination, but can get very busy in the Italian school summer holiday period of mid-June to early September. Try the quieter months of April and May for a more relaxed experience.
- Location: On the northern coast, east of Palermo.
- How to get there: Access to Cefalu can be obtained by following the E90 coastal road, there are buses from Palermo too but it’s a long ride at 75km. The best option is to hire a car and follow the coastal road.
- What to take: Cefalu is a popular beach, you can hire deck chairs and purchase anything else you might need. Temperatures can soar in high summer so come prepared with water and plenty of sunscreen.
As far as Sicily beach resorts go, Mondello tops the list for convenience and popularity. Located approximately 20 minutes from the capital Palermo, this sweeping golden sandy beach includes private as well as public areas. The town itself has plenty of facilities, making it an ideal day out for the family, and for the same reason it attracts large crowds so finding a quiet time can be hard.
- Best time to visit: In the summer Mondello gets very busy, try the quieter spring and autumn months of April, May, September and October. During this time the weather is still good and there are less crowds.
- Location: On the northern coast of Sicily, close to the capital Palermo.
- How to get there: Take the regular train or bus from Palermo, which is around 12km away and will take about 20 minutes on average.
- What to take: The beach at Mondello is well equipped for visitors, it can get very busy; for privacy consider bringing along your own windbreak and stake out your claim on the sand.
Sicily beaches don’t come much better than Calamosche. Away from the crowds, this beautiful, unspoilt beach sits close to a nature reserve. Crystal clear waters shelve gently out to sea making this an ideal place to swim and snorkel. With golden sands and a beautiful unspoilt cove, this paradise is certainly one of the hidden treasures of Sicily.
- Best time to visit: The summer months of June, July and August are the best times to visit Calamosche, though the water remains inviting for much of the year.
- Location: Calamosche beach is located on Sicily’s south-eastern side, south of Syracuse.
- How to get there: The beach can only be accessed by car followed by a walk; it’s in a nature reserve so be sure to observe any traffic or parking restrictions in place.
- What to take: There’s a small restaurant here, but not a lot else. You’ll need to come prepared with your own deck chairs and other beach items. Sandals or flip flops are essential here to navigate the stony walk to and from the beach.
Less popular, but still utterly enchanting, is Sampieri beach which boasts miles of golden sands and relatively few crowds. Plan a gentle walk along the beach here and you’ll be treated to wide expanses of sand, gentle shallow water and plenty of space. Sampieri is an ideal destination for a family day out, especially if you want more space and fewer people.
- Best time to visit: This is a year-round destination. Sicily is blessed with a temperate climate and even during the winter, a walk along the beach here can be pleasant. Try visiting in late October or November, or the early spring months of March and April when the sun is warm.
- Location: A few miles south of the small towns of Ragusa and Modica, on the south coast of the island.
- How to get there: You’ll need a car to access the area; park in Sampieri itself and walk to your preferred spot.
- What to take: There’s not a lot here, but perhaps that’s the draw! You can hire deck chairs, or simply bring your towel and a good book to read while you soak up the sun.
You’re already on an island so why not visit some more?! The Aeolian Islands lie off Sicily’s northern coast and tend to be favoured by Italian visitors, but persevere with the logistics and your reward will be great. The water here is crystal clear and perfect for swimming. Hire a motor boat and explore the bays and coves of this stunning environment which is home to an abundance of wildlife and breathtaking scenery. There’s less sand here, but if you’re looking for a little more adventure then this is the place. Also, the islands are known for vibrant nightlife, if you are in the mood to groove.
- Best time to visit: The summer months are when the islands are most accessible, and the nightlife is in full swing. Visit in July or August, during the Italian summer holiday period, when the islands are at their most liveliest, or in the later autumnal months of October and November when the temperature is still balmy and the pace more relaxed.
- Location: The islands lie off the north-east coast of Sicily, north of the towns of Patti and Milazzo, a short boat ride out into the Mediterranean.
- How to get there: Take the hydrofoil or ferry from Milazzo in the north which will get you to the islands in around an hour, with most services travelling to Lipari—the main town on the middle island.
- What to take: You’ll need to go well equipped with a detailed map if you plan on exploring the remote parts of the islands, but the town of Lipari on the central island is well equipped for visitors. It’s better to travel light on the ferry and purchase what you need, upon arrival.
You may mistake pictures of this long sandy beach for that of the Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, the imposing and dramatic mountain above, resembling that of the Sugarloaf. But this is western Sicily, and the 1km long sandy beach at San Vito lo Capo has plenty to rival its South American doppelgänger. With an Arab vibe in the town, where couscous is more popular than pasta, the area has a distinctively African feel to it. It’s popular with Italian families, and lacks the bustle of places like Mondello, making it the perfect choice for a peaceful getaway. San Vito lo capo is a relatively undiscovered place to relax and unwind, making it one of the best beaches in Sicily.
- Best time to visit: San Vito lo Capo has year-round appeal. In the summer months of June to September, come to escape the crowds, or visit in the winter months of December to February for a getaway blessed by the Sicilian sun.
- Location: North of Trapani, and West of Palermo, at the western end of the island
- How to get there: The road SP16 is the main route in and out of San Vito lo Capo, you’ll need your own transport; but be prepared because once you’re there, you may not want to leave.
- What to take: The beach here is small and quiet yet not far from the town. Bring your own deck chair and other beach items that can come in handy. The area is also great for photography with its natural picturesque setting, so a camera is a must.
It was a hard task to choose the 6 best beaches in Sicily. Besides the ones listed above, there are many more to explore and discover on this largely unspoilt island. Visitors to Sicily are spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches and resorts. From the popular areas such as Mondello and Cefalu; to the quieter, less frequented destinations such as Sampieri and Calamosche. But wherever you choose, you’re bound to find the best of Sicily on its beautiful beaches and in its lively coastal resorts. While at Sicily, you might also want to explore more of its treasures here.