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Best way to see Sicily without hiring a car

Best way to see Sicily without hiring a car

Feb 17th, 2019, 01:19 AM
  #1  
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Best way to see Sicily without hiring a car

Looking to go to Sicily in Oct but have read that driving can be overwhelming. Is public transport a viable option? Is there a way to hire a driver to get from one end of Sicily to other and then bus or train to see sights?
Any suggestion would be appreciated
bringonitaly is offline  
Feb 17th, 2019, 01:36 AM
  #2  
 
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All depends on what you will visit. You don't need a car for the following places:
Palermo, Monreale, Cefalu, Trapani, Erice, Favignana, Marsala, Agrigento, Pozzallo, Ragusa, Modica, Noto, Pacchino, Siracusa, Catania, Taormina, Messina, Milazzo, Vulcano, Lipari, Panarea, Stromboli........
neckervd is offline  
Feb 17th, 2019, 03:49 AM
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Agree with Necker, there is a lot of Sicily you can see without a car. Rail is not as plentiful or reliable as it is on mainland, so you have to provide a bit more flexibility in your schedules. We have traveled Sicily with and without a car. Will be back in October, and, since we will focus on only a few places in the south, we may rely on public transport. Yes, there are aggressive drivers in Sicily, as in other parts of Italy. Yes, you do want to avoid driving in larger cities like Palermo and Catania and some medieval villages. But our experience driving in the countryside is that driving can be pleasant and easy. We do recommend downloading offline (to save data charges) Google or similar maps for your travels since signage and roads can be confusing. And, these maps can be helpful even when walking in cities and towns.. We did hire a private driver to take us to a hill town where my grandfather lived and another time to take us from Taormina to Catania airport, so they are readily available, but they can be pricey and unnecessary.

Last edited by whitehall; Feb 17th, 2019 at 03:51 AM.
whitehall is online now  
Feb 17th, 2019, 05:31 AM
  #4  
 
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The coaches are pretty good (goggle Pullman Sicilia) you can book tickets on line. Trains are poorer but ok.

Sicilian driving is not that bad compared to many Italian areas, but cities are often tight and difficult to park in, while GPS has to be set to avoid narrow streets especially if you hire a big car.
bilboburgler is offline  
Feb 17th, 2019, 07:27 AM
  #5  
 
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We drove all over the island, except in Palermo. We love to drive, we always rent a car. It enables you to get to places that you can't get to without a car. E.g. in Sicily the Parco delle Madonie which we found of exceptional beauty.
MyriamC is offline  
Feb 17th, 2019, 09:36 AM
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Outside the larger towns, driving in Sicily is not bad, but the roads can be narrow and winding. Certain sites and towns, such as the Villa Casale and Caltagirone may be more difficult to reach and more time consuming,

Last edited by Michael; Feb 17th, 2019 at 09:41 AM.
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Feb 17th, 2019, 09:42 AM
  #7  
kja
 
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It is perfectly feasible to visit most of Sicily without a car. Here are two old trip reports on such visits:
Bruce and Marija: Carless in Sicily in November
Circling Sicily by Public Transportation

When I went, I used a car for only 3 days, and then only because I wanted to move between cities on a schedule that would not have been possible by public transportation. FWIW, I found traffic near Palermo to be utterly chaotic, but I didn't find driving elsewhere to be better or worse than in other parts of Europe.

You can get a good sense of your transportation options on rome2rio.com -- just be sure to click through to the underlying web sites, as the main pages are not sensitive to seasonal variation in schedules.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Feb 17th, 2019, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by kja View Post
When I went, I used a car for only 3 days, and then only because I wanted to move between cities on a schedule that would not have been possible by public transportation.
That is the basic issue if time is limited.
Michael is offline  
Feb 18th, 2019, 12:04 AM
  #9  
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Thanks everyone for your help and website suggestions.
bringonitaly is offline  
Feb 18th, 2019, 05:41 AM
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Before our trip, I heard driving in Sicily could be challenging too. But after our trip I agree with all the people above that say driving in Sicily (outside of the larger cities) is not hard - that it is not much different than driving in other parts of Europe. We picked up our car at the train station in Palermo, drove to Trapani, Agrigento, in/out of Taormina and dropped it off in Syracusa before taking a taxi to our hotel in Ortygia. If people don't want to drive in Sicily then I'm sure public transportation will work just fine. But for those who enjoy the freedom of having your own car and don't mind driving in new places, driving in Sicily is not hard.
john183 is online now  
Feb 19th, 2019, 09:29 AM
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Public transportation is good in Sicily and it is definitely possible to go everywhere you want to go without a car. Except for some isolated hill towns - where you can take a taxi from the train station, or take a bus - most places are reachable by public transportation. In big cities, a car will be more of a nuisance than a help.

I've made 5 trips to Sicily and 4.5 of them were without a car. I went everywhere by train. For my most recent trip I used a car for only 10 days b/c I wanted to explore the countryside, then I used public transportation. I found the driving on the Autostrada, secondary roads and even country roads to be very pleasant. I even ventured into a number of small towns, altho' I avoided big cities and hilltowns in remote locations.

Check out my trip report, "Driving in Sicily", for more information.
panecott is offline  
Feb 19th, 2019, 10:20 AM
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Before I started posting here, DH and I visited Sicily entirely by bus. We went from Palermo to Siracusa. At that time, there were 3 bus lines in Palermo and 3 different methods to buy tickets so DO check ahead. With one line, we could buy tickets directly from the bus driver; at another, we bought from a nearby ticket office; and with a 3rd, we had to go to the main station and buy a ticket. We visited Mondello, Agrigento and Siracusa. We could have visited Piazza Amerina but couldn't make the bus schedule fit our time frame. We took a taxi to Monreale (don't miss it!). From Siracusa, we took the train to Sorrento.

Please share your experiences with the bus system when you get a chance!
TDudette is offline  
Feb 19th, 2019, 10:34 AM
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I too spend a few weeks in Sicily sans car and took trains and buses everywhere - but don't be afraid of driving either- roads seemed less congested and cities not as crowded on roads as many - but if want train and bus fine - transports are so cheap and of nice enough comfort - train info - www.trenitlia.com; www.seat61.com; BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com.

Highlights for me were Palermo - Segesta temple complex - Cefalu - cute seaside town - Taormina - Catania - Syracuse - Agrigento my favorite of all - the temples and seaside location.
PalenQ is online now  
Feb 19th, 2019, 12:11 PM
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Driving wasn’t hard in Sicily. However, you could never assume anything such as whether other drivers would stop at stop signs or red lights. They were suggestions. You had to be extra alert. Parking was mostly parallel. Although one time we saw a car angle parked where it was supposed to be parallel. They couldn’t fit in the space so parked head in.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Feb 19th, 2019, 12:51 PM
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And then in Trapani, I gave the guy at the gas station a 50 euro bill after filling up. He took it to a guy in a car close to the road, not the station office, presumably to get me some change. I am convinced they switched it. He came back to return it to me shouting "Faka!" He wouldn't take a credit card, and I was able to come up with my last 45 euro including change. I deposited the "faka" 50 euro bill in my local bank account when we returned to the states. That's where it (or at least the one I gave the guy) originally came from.
whitehall is online now  
Feb 19th, 2019, 06:15 PM
  #16  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by TDudette View Post
We took a taxi to Monreale (don't miss it!).!
I agree that Monreale's cathedral is a must-see and would add that it is a very short bus trip from Palermo; the buses on that line run very frequently.
kja is offline  
Feb 20th, 2019, 09:06 AM
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Thanks kja. We ended up adopting a cabbie (long story) and he took us all around Palermo and to Monreale. He was instrumental in sorting out our bus tickets! I hope it is a more streamlined now.

Also, our time ran out for Taormino....
TDudette is offline  
Feb 20th, 2019, 10:41 AM
  #18  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by TDudette View Post
Also, our time ran out for Taormino....
Don't worry: It's beautiful, but so very, very crowded with daytrippers during the day as to be thoroughly unpleasant, IME.
kja is offline  
Feb 20th, 2019, 12:10 PM
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Montreale also has some kind of church with a zillions skulls and bones on display!
PalenQ is online now  
Feb 20th, 2019, 12:29 PM
  #20  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by PalenQ View Post
Montreale also has some kind of church with a zillions skulls and bones on display!
I wonder if PalenQ means the Catacombe dei Cappuccini, in Palermo (not Monreale).
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