Sicily driving trip - reasonable?

Feb 18th, 2011, 10:16 AM
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Sicily driving trip - reasonable?

Hello all -

Planning a trip to Sicily and need some feedback on whether the drive times between our destinations are reasonable. To focus the question: How much time should we allow for on the road between each of these towns, assuming we are driving comfortably - not "making time"? We'll have a real powerhouse - a Fiat Panda - and will be hugging the coast.

Thanks in advance!

Palermo to Agrigento.

Agrigento to Siracusa

Siracusa to Taormina

Taormina to Palermo (we'll decide coastal route or straight-ish across based on your answers).

Thanks again!
Worktowander is offline  
Feb 18th, 2011, 10:37 AM
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Google map will give you distances and approximate times. Put the cursor on the blue line to redefine the itinerary if you do not like the one chosen by Google map.
Michael is offline  
Feb 18th, 2011, 10:42 AM
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Thanks Michael. The distances are easy to find, you're right; I'd love to know the experiences of some who've driven the routes. How did you like Sicily?
Worktowander is offline  
Feb 18th, 2011, 11:35 AM
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Assuming you map out your own route with either google maps or, I'll respond to the general question of driving in Sicily. We found it VERY easy - the highways are brand new (EU money) and empty (compared to other driving in Italy). Palermo was a mess to get out of so leave yourself some time even if you think you have good directions. We drove Palermo to Marsala, then Marsala to Acireale which is half-way between Taormina and Catania. We used Acireale as a base to visit both Taormina and Siracusa and found the drives very easy.

We loved Sicily - Palermo was a great city, the greek ruins are incredible and the people are so nice. You'll have a good trip.
AtlTravelr is offline  
Feb 18th, 2011, 11:56 AM
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You might want to read my trip report. Click on my name to find it. Between Erice and Segesta we came across a few dead-end roads and bad signage. After circling one town, we simply took the autostrada. But generally driving is no different from the rest of Europe.
Michael is offline  
Feb 18th, 2011, 03:08 PM
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Hi AtlTravelr,
Was so nice to read your post about how easy it was to drive in Sicily. We will be spending 2 weeks driving around Sicily in the Fall. Many other posts discourage getting a car and seem to encourage using public transportation. Did you actually take the car into Palermo and did you stay there. We plan to spend 2 or 3 days in Palermo and the advice we got was not to pick up our car until we left Palermo. Did you stay in Marsala? Where? Did you like it? Trying to decide if we should include Marsala in our trip. Our itinerary is quite full.
RealtorRose is offline  
Feb 18th, 2011, 04:31 PM
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Thanks for all the replies. Would those of you who've been there say the drive-time estimates by Google maps for Sicily are fairly accurate?

Don't mean to be repetitive, but for my home region they're way off. I'm trying to avoid a cranky driver when an easy three-hour drive turns out to be some sort of 7-hour driven march.
Worktowander is offline  
Feb 18th, 2011, 04:58 PM
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Worktowander, I have a semi-similar itinerary and very similar questions, so thanks for asking them. I know with drive times I always need to add about 30 minutes because any roundabout, fork in the road, etc., confuses me.
Leely2 is offline  
Feb 18th, 2011, 05:32 PM
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Rose - we did NOT drive in Palermo and glad we didn't. We flew into Palermo from Milan and stayed for a few days, REALLY enjoyed the city, Monreale, etc. We picked up our rental inside the city however and it was quite hectic for the little bit that we drove in Palermo as we tried to get out of the city limits. We actually stayed in a little Baglio in Trapani (Baglio Spano) just outside Marsala, but drove into Marsala for dinner both nights. We used that as our base for Segestra, Erice & Selinunte. And again, we did find the driving very easy. With regards to things taking longer - the majority of the time we've been held up for major road work or major accidents - not always something you can prepare for. We also tend to stop at a site on the way, stop for lunch, etc. so I know for us that a "4 hour drive" can be most of the day. But in general the highways were superb and as I said, pretty uncrowded compared to our driving into Rome.
AtlTravelr is offline  
Feb 18th, 2011, 05:39 PM
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Welcome Worktowander! We travelled in Sicily, beginning in Taormina and ending in Palermo, for two weeks this past June. Our car had a built-in GPS which was very helpful. Here are our approximate travel times for some of the legs of our trip:

Taormina-Siracusa: a little less than two hours
Modica-Agrigento: three hours
Agrigento-Selinunte: an hour and a half
Selinunte-Palermo airport: an hour

Link to the trip report:

Unless you have a compelling reason to return to Palermo, consider departing from Catania.
bon_voyage is online now  
Feb 18th, 2011, 06:14 PM
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I concur with the other posts -- My husband and I spent three great days in Palermo, then got the car and had a pretty harrowing exit from the city because we couldn't manage what turned out to be pretty simple navigation. We went to Taormina from Palermo and opted for the "coastal route" so we could see Cefalu. Big mistake! I guess Cefalu is nice for a longer visit, but it was a bad idea to stop there for a few hours -- and then we could not recover.

Not sure exactly which roads we were on but we essentially took a circuitous route to the top of a mountain and then had to make our way down the other side in what turned out to be darkness and dense fog. I was pretty certain we were going to go right over the edge of a cliff, but we made it alive, driving at about 5 miles an hour most of the way. If I had it to do over I'd just take the highway straight across Sicily from Palermo to Taormina. But if you had lots of time and followed the coast the entire way it would probably be nice.

All other driving was great. Easy getting to Siracusa (and we parked easily near our B&B in Ortigia) and then to Agrigento and back up to the northwest en route back to Palermo. Our friends took trains and thought they worked well, but I always like the flexibility of a car.
abbydog is offline  
Feb 19th, 2011, 07:32 AM
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Thanks everyone, your answers will help a lot. Booked the tickets last night
Worktowander is offline  
Feb 19th, 2011, 09:02 AM
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The problem with travel times is that nobody - neither Google Maps nor any of us - knows your style of driving. For me, the times given on Google Maps are realistic (other than those on viamichelin or mappy, who are both driving faster than possible in reality IME). However, and independently from your own driving habits, I know and have already driven a Fiat Panda... have you ever used that car so far? If yes, you know what it means. If not, add 30 percent to any otherwise realistic indication of travel time!
franco is offline  
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