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kleroux Apr 20th, 2015 02:57 PM

Best way to tour Sicily?
We are planning our first trip to Sicily in mid October. We are not going to rent a car, but need information about ways of seeing Sicily.. bus, train, private guide/driver? Suggestions as to what to see, where to eat, and where to sleep will be appreciated. Our budget is comfortable, not high end. We are in our 70's, but well traveled. Interested in history, culture, the people. Not interested in sports or hiking. Thanks.

PalenQ Apr 20th, 2015 03:03 PM

I did 10 days in Sicily all by train though buses also run many routes too. Trains always more comfy for me.

Highlight for me were: Agrigento and its collection of Greek temples; Palermo and Monreale - an abbey or monastery - and Segesta - the immense Greek temple just west of Palermo - best by bus

Taormina of course - used it as a well-equipped base to hop to Syracuse - neat old city with some imposing Roman relics and Catania - loved that lively city and to take the CircumEtnea tiny train around the base of Mt Etna.

Cefalu, near Palermo was a lovely seaside city that would make a great base for Palermo, in many ways a dicey old crumbling place but I love those old-world type towns but in retrospect may have stayed in Cefalu - great train service there too.

For lots of about trains check; and There is or was a Sicily Pass valid on trains that you could buy locally - not sure of status of that today.

Loved Sicily - geraniums grow wild everywhere! Folks were very very friendly. Saw no mafioso TMK!

kja Apr 20th, 2015 04:22 PM

It is easy to visit Sicily on your own and you can do so with public transportation, although there are a few key sites that a bit more difficult to get to than others. There are several threads on this board about visiting it by public transportation; here's one, but check for others using the board's search feature:

Sicily easily merits 2 weeks or more, and especially if traveling solely by public transportation, you might want to think in terms of a trip of about 3 weeks. IMO, there is PLENTY to keep you busy for that length of time. :-)

LOTS to see and experience. I recommend that you get some good guidebooks (or spend some time with a few in your local library). FWIW, I found the Rough Guide BY FAR the most useful of the half-dozen books I used when planning my time in the area.

To me, the highlights include Monreale's cathedral, the Villa Romana del Casale, the Greek ruins (there are quite a few!), and Ortygia. YMMV.

Dayle Apr 20th, 2015 04:48 PM

Hi kleroux,

There are some detailed trip reports here several of which inspired my own trip two years ago. Use the search box above if you aren't familiar. If you would like to read mine just click on my name. Same goes for other Fodorites' trip reports who may post in response here.

You will need to provide a Euro amount definition of a "comfortable" budget if you want recommendations for lodging and food. Everyone's idea of comfortable varies.

I loved Sicily and the Sicilian people. The hardest part of planning for Sicily was making the choices of what to see and how much time to spend where! There is so much! I had 3.5 weeks and it still wasn't enough.

I rented a car and drove solo for 9 days on the part of the trip where it made sense and offered efficiency and flexibility. Many visit without a car and it can be done. I used plane, driver, trains, taxis, buses and hydrofoil. If you are able to drive, I would not hesitate. I found driving in the countryside and small cities quite easy, but it's not for everyone.

I think first you need to decide what you want to see and what you want out of the trip. It's a long way to go for many of us, for others not as far. It's your trip!

Happy planning. If you have more specific questions, we will be happy to answer.

Marija Apr 20th, 2015 04:59 PM

We went carless:

kleroux Apr 21st, 2015 05:58 AM

Thank you for your suggestions. As for what is our idea of comfortable, well we'd love a nice vacation rental instead of a hotel, for a few days to explore a particular area, could do that in several cities. No fancy hotels, but certainly nice ones or family owned. We probably can't rent a car because we're in our mid 70's, but in any case, when we drive, the driver sees less and enjoys it less. So we thought this time we'd try another way. I will read the trip reports. Just starting to plan this trip.

PalenQ Apr 21st, 2015 03:09 PM

Agrigento was the highlight of my trip - stay in the old upper town or the Nettuno seaside area of the usual seaside hotels and flats.

kja Apr 21st, 2015 03:55 PM

There are a few lodgings in Agrigento from which you can see the temples lit at night. The one at which I stayed has since closed, but you might want to look into them.

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