Sicily in 18 days

Old Jan 17th, 2016, 11:19 AM
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Sicily in 18 days

Hi everyone,

We have decided to spend our summer holiday in Sicily. We were considering Crete (and to a lesser extent, Sardinia), but Sicily has everything we are looking for.

We are flying into Palermo and we have to decide how to spend our 18 days. How much time do we allocate to Palermo? Do we try and see much of the island or concentrate on one area (eastern or western)? We would also like to allocate a few days to the Aeolian islands, if you think they are worth it. There seems to be so much to see that we do not even know where to start.

We are a family of four (my husband and I and our two boys, ages 17 and 19) and we all enjoy culture, medieval towns, history and historic sites we and also want to have a few days of relaxation at a beautiful beach or two. We have travelled to many parts of Italy over the last few years and are very excited to now plan our trip to Sicily.

Any help and advice would be much appreciated.

Andrea
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Old Jan 17th, 2016, 11:25 AM
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I forgot to add that we will be travelling between late July and mid-August. We know it will be hot during the time we are there but that is not a big concern for us as we sightsee in a relaxed, deliberate way, as we do when we travel to other hot destinations.

Thanks again.

Andrea
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Old Jan 17th, 2016, 12:07 PM
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Whatever you think of the heat the Sicilians have their own opinions about what to do when it is hot, which includes closing most everything down in the middle of the day, so plan accordingly.

How much time you allocate to Palermo depends on what you want to experience in Palermo + when things will be open during the day.

EIghteen days is a nice amount of time to spend in Sicily, but even with that amount of time -- as you have already guessed -- you will need to be selective. You have a couple of choices about how to figure this out. You can

(a) take the opinions of 3 or 4 people who post on Fodor's and always answer Sicily threads and follow their strong opinions about what is an enjoyable trip to Sicily (I'm not sure any of them have traveled with kids the age of yours, or

(b) post your questions on the TripAdvisor forum for Sicily where a professional tour expert and native Sicilians helps everybody plan their trips, and she knows all of Sicily like the back of her hand or

(c) but the Michelin green guide for Sicily or another guide dedicated solely to Sicily and follow one of their suggested itineraries, or tweak it. Beware that information about opening hours, restaurants, etc might be out of date.

It's a big place and planning an 18-day trip to Sicily is a big undertaking.
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Old Jan 17th, 2016, 12:58 PM
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We drove from Palermo to the western end of Sicily and then to the eastern part, and then back to Palermo. It was a little rushed due to two days lost because of the Icelandic volcano eruption and we missed the Baroque churches in the area around Noto. It was also rushed and limited due to a broken ankle requiring a hospital visit and extra travel due to miscommunication on stabilizing the ankle. But you might still find some of it useful; click on my name to find it.
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Old Jan 17th, 2016, 02:38 PM
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Sicily is magnificent, and if you are prepared for the heat, you should be able to have a wonderful time! And 18 days is a nice amount for it, IMO, although you will still need to be selective. Given your interests, Sicily should be a great choice!

"How much time do we allocate to Palermo?"

Depends on your interests! I found it a dynamic, energetic, and very vibrant city with a lot to offer; some people are less enamored of it. I gave it about 3 days (during which I kept VERY busy) and seriously wish I'd given it more. And the only day trip I took from Palermo was to Monreale -- just 1/2 day to see the magnificent cathedral there. If you want to include day trips to other locations (e.g., Cefalu), or if you are likely to have jet lag when you arrive, then plan accordingly.

"Do we try and see much of the island or concentrate on one area (eastern or western)? '

Your call! With the time you have, you do not NEED to concentrate on one area. Because the highlights of Sicily (from my perspective) are scattered around the island, there is probably merit to trying to see more than one area.

"We would also like to allocate a few days to the Aeolian islands, if you think they are worth it."

I only spent a few hours on Lipari -- just my preference -- but they are easy enough to reach, so no reason not to include them and plenty of good reasons why you might want to do so.

"There seems to be so much to see that we do not even know where to start."

Of the half dozen or so guidebooks I used for Sicily, the Rough Guide was definitely the most useful. I didn't use the Michelin Green Guide, but suspect it would also be a good choice. You and your family might start with some time at a local library where you can consult the guide books that are particularly good for inspiration, like Eyewitness, Insight Guides, and the National Geographic Traveler -- ones with lots of very high quality photographs.


Hope that helps!
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Old Jan 18th, 2016, 05:21 AM
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Andrea

If you want to read myTR from 2013, just click on my name. I did have more time than you do, but perhaps the TR will give you some ideas to edit to suit your trip.
I did go to the Aeolian Islands which were my biggest priority, hence 5 nights there to fulfill a long time dream!

I also was very interested in the historical sites and visited the typical highlights.

In hindsight there was very little I would have changed about my own trip, just a tweak of a day less in Scicli and skipping Taormina. A day longer at La Foresteria near Menfi, and a couple more days in the Aeolians! I chose to skip Cefalu since I had my relaxing time at Lipari.

No matter how long you have, you still want more for this fascinating and beautiful place and the very friendly Scilians!

I rented a car for the parts that made sense and did use a private driver twice when it made sense.

Happy to answer any questions. Happy planning.
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