Sicily

Old Nov 11th, 2016, 09:38 AM
  #1  
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Sicily

Hi,
We will be travelling to Sicily for a week in July. We would like to stay on the western side and we hope to have a car. We will be arriving at the Palermo airport and we were considering staying in Palermo as a home base for 3 or 4 days and then move on to Trapani for 3 or 4 days. We would like to visit Palermo, Cefalu and Agrigento as well as Erice and Marsala. However, I heard it's a nightmare to have a car in Palermo so I'm not sure whether we need a car or should we use the bus? Any suggestions for home bases or a plan for us?
Thank you,
Kathy
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 09:57 AM
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I don't know if driving is a nightmare in Palermo, but I was there without a car and had no problem visiting the city. The city center is compact, great to explore on foot, and the bus system was quite enough.
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 10:08 AM
  #3  
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Did you take day trips from Palermo? I'm just wondering if it's better to have a car in Sicily.
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 10:42 AM
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Yes, I took a short day trip from Palermo, and I used the bus. A friend also took several day trips from Palermo with bus. I have been going to many small towns in Italy and the bus fits me well. Not train, because many small towns don't have train.

But I don't know about the whole Sicily, maybe you can google the bus for your specific destination towns.
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 11:05 AM
  #5  
kja
 
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Palermo is easy to manage without a car and is easily worth 3 or 4 days, IMO. Don't miss Monreale while there!

You don't need a car for Erice or Trapani, either. You can get a preliminary idea of your transportation options with rome2rio.com -- just be sure to look into the information it provides more thoroughly, as it that site doesn't have perfect info.

You can also get to Agrigento by public transportation -- use the same site.

BUT, I don't think you have time for all these places. With just a week, you can probably manage Palermo, Trapani, and Erice -- you'll have to think through your priorities to see what you want to see and experience.

Hope that helps!
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 12:18 PM
  #6  
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This is our first trip to Sicily and it is only part of our 3 week trip to Italy. We plan on spending a week in Sorrento and Amalfi coast, a week in Sicily and a week in Rome. We could do 10 days in Sicily and less in Rome. We have been to Rome once before. Does this sound too much time in one area and not enough in another? What are the priority places to visit in Sicily? We know we can't do all of it but have chosen the western side. We are interested in historical sites and experiencing the culture of the cities and towns.
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 12:51 PM
  #7  
kja
 
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I regret that I gave Sicily only 2 weeks -- and I travel HARD (meaning I keep on the go from breakfast until after sunset when there is literally nothing else I can do for the day, and then I eat and walk). If you spend less than 2.5 or 3 weeks in Sicily, you will need to choose what YOU want to see and experience. Limiting your time to the west -- perhaps just Palermo and Trapani and Erice could work, if that's what you want. If you expand to 10 days, you could, I think, include Agrigento. It depends on what, exactly, you want to see, your preferred pace of travel, etc.

One thing to consider: For most of us, getting to Rome, or even Naples, is much easier than getting to anywhere in Sicily. That could be an argument to make sure you have all the time you want in Sicily, since it will be easier to "pick up" time in Rome or Naples on a subsequent trip.

What is a priority for you in Sicily or elsewhere depends on YOUR interests. For many people, the highlights of western Sicily include Palermo, the cathedral of Monreale (just outside of Palermo), Agrigento, Segesta, and Selinunte.

If you haven't already done so, I strongly recommend that you consult some good guidebooks. For Sicily, I found the <i>Rough Guide</i> particularly useful.
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 01:09 PM
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If you have been to Rome before, I would definitely spend more time in Sicily. If it were me, I would be more likely to spend 4-5 days each in Rome and Sorrento with the remainder in Sicily.

I would think you could start in Palermo and then rent a car to travel east to Scopello, Trapani, Erice (take funicular from Trapani if hairpin turns are an issue for you),Marsala, Agrigento and back to cover the western side of Sicily. I recently did a similar trip in May but I enjoy exploring new places and having the ultimate freedom a car offers. Roads are very good and driving is no problem when out of a big city. Stayed in Agritourismo's along the way except in Trapani and Agrigento. It was my first trip to Sicily too.
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 02:00 PM
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Rent your car as you leave Palermo and drop it off on the day you return to Palermo. Picking the car up and dropping it off at the airport might be a good option. The airport is west of Palermo. You might want to take a look at my trip report; click on my name to find it.
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 02:37 PM
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Hi, kakathy, I just got back from a trip to Sicily, 18 days there and we could have used more. You can see my trip report by clicking on my name, but to answer your car question, I would say it isn't needed at all in Taormina, Siracusa or Palermo. We landed in Catania, went up to Taormina, took a bus to Siracusa and then picked up our car after visiting Ortigya/Siracusa. We did a clockwise circle more or less, and dropped off our car at the Palermo airport before visiting Palermo. 4 nights there were barely enough. It's an amazing city with tons to see and do.

Flying into Catania and out of Palermo made things much easier. We didn't find that there was much of a fee for a one way car rental, nor did the flight price shoot up with the open jaw of into Catania and out of Palermo. But it sure made our lives much easier, so I would consider that.
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 03:29 PM
  #11  
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Thank you for all your comments and suggestions. All are very helpful and will make our planning a little easier. Sounds like we should extend our time in Sicily for sure!
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 04:46 PM
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Definitely more time for Sicily! Click on my name for my TR. I am seriously considering a return next year.

I did Palermo to the Egadi Islands (skippable) to Erice to Trapani to Palermo by public transport. Very easy. If you wanted to do Scopello and Agrigento on that side of the island a car would be useful. You don't need one for Cefalu. Consider putting Palermo at the end. If you won't have jet lag you might as well pick up the car at the airport and start with Agrigento.
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 07:01 PM
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We were very glad to have a car everywhere except Palermo. We flew into Catania and then visited Taormina, Ortigia, the Villa Romana, Agrigento and finished in Palermo. We drove straight to the airport from Agrigento and dropped off the car then took the airport bus into the city center and stayed the last two days in Palermo.

Personally I would rent the car after your time in Palermo. It is easy to drive around Sicily and sometimes public transport can be time consuming. You have a lot more freedom with a car. I think it would have been difficult getting to the valley of the temples from Agrigento without a car. I looked into public transport and transfers from various places, and it was much more efficient timewise to have a car.

In Palermo we stayed at the Ambasciatori Hotel which was a 10 minute walk from the train station. We did not have time to do day trips (except for Monreale, which we did in 1/2 day from Palermo by bus) but I imagine it would have been easy to walk to the train station and go to Cefalu, especially from a hotel on Via Roma.

Unfortunately we had a strict time limit and could not stay longer than a week, but I would love to return and see more of the western coast. I would be happy to revisit many of the places we saw on our trip too!
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 08:58 PM
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Lreynold1 who did. You rent the car with which company? We are also going to pick up car after siracusa
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 09:44 PM
  #15  
kja
 
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I must admit that I don't understand why everyone is advising the OP to rent a car. It can be a convenience, but it isn't necessary for the places the OP has mentioned, and it can be an encumbrance. And while some of the major roads can be very easy to drive, driving in parts of Sicily can be a terrifying experience -- or at least, as I've reported before -- some of the driving I did was decidedly white-knuckle (in some cases because of terrain and road conditions, elsewhere because of crazy drivers).

Once the OP decides on a plan, we might be better positioned to advise her about whether a car would be a benefit.
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Old Nov 11th, 2016, 11:38 PM
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Hi kakathy I do know you can easily take the train from Palermo to Cefalu for a day trip. It takes about an hour.
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Old Nov 12th, 2016, 08:37 AM
  #17  
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On a 10 day trip does it make sense to stay in Palermo for 5 days and Trapani for 5 days and do day trips from there. We would use public transportation in and out of Palermo then pick up a car to go to Trapani. Is Trapani a good spot as a home base or any other suggestions?
Thank you for your help.
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Old Nov 12th, 2016, 10:15 AM
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I commented on cars because the OP said they "hope to have a car." I know opinions vary on this, but I didn't find driving in Sicily to be the horror that others had described, so I think it depends on what you are used to and how good your navigational advice is (in the form of a person or a GPS). But anyway, that's not a decision that has to be made till after the itinerary is nailed down, so I'll stick with that now. (except to say to rhondab -- we rented our car with AutoEurop, which is a broker and will put you with the company with the best price for your requirements. We paid for fully covered with no deductible and it was a good decision, first time in Europe we have ever done that so we hit the jackpot!)

Now, to kakathy's question about location for two bases, five days each. I always try not to offer advice that isn't asked for, but in this case, I will say that I think that Sicily is one of those places where having a base for multiple days is not optimal. We frequently rent places for a week or so and then do day trips, but my research here suggested that that would not be the greatest option for Sicily and I think it was right.

BUT... since you asked about two 5 day bases. I would move the second one a bit further south if you are going to want to visit AGrigento, Villa Casale and maybe even the Baroque towns. Trapani to these places would be a LONG day trip, as much as 3 hours each way to the more remote. But if you are planning to stay in that neighborhood, of course, with visits to Erice, Segesta, Scopello, then it makes sense. Just depends on where else you want to visit. The Villa Sogno where a few of us have stayed (near Selinunte) is a wonderful place, easy to get in and out of since it isn't in a city and a less horrendous day trip drive to some of those sites.

Kakathy, if you can give us an idea of the places you want to visit, I think we can give you better advice on where those bases should be. Hope you are having as much fun planning a trip to Sicily as I did, it is one place where good planning really pays off IMO.
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Old Nov 12th, 2016, 10:18 AM
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Sorry, I was careless. I just saw that your original post did include the places you wanted to visit. I think that AGrigento as a day trip from either Palermo or Trapani would be unpleasant. At least 2 1/2 hours drive each way. The rest would be do-able from bases in Trapani and/or Palermo.
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Old Nov 12th, 2016, 12:40 PM
  #20  
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Great thank you for all your suggestions. Did you fly in and out of Palermo? From Sicily we will be heading to Rome for a few days before our flight home. I figure if we are staying on the western side it's best to fly in and out of Palermo.
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