Sicily Walking Tour Write a review
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and has a fascinating history as well as spectacular, rugged scenery. Its origins go back to Neolithic times and it has been occupied by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Spanish, and finally Italy. Our walking tour brings you the best of the island’s east coast as we travel through remote villages, into hidden gorges, and along skyline paths with epic views onto the towering peak of Mount Etna, the most active volcano in Europe. Indeed, you will learn first-hand how Mount Etna has shaped both the physical and economic life of much of Sicily as you walk along its calderas in the company of our volcanologist guide. Other highlights include romantic Taormina, the Baroque gem of Noto, the Bronze Age site of Pantalica, and historical Siracusa, which was once more powerful than Athens in the time of Classical Greece. Of course, Sicily’s cuisine plays a starring role throughout the week. Try a refreshing lemon or pistachio granita after your walk, or indulge in some cream-filled cannoli with your morning coffee, and enjoy fresh seafood and tasty pasta dishes at dinner. We also have a special lunch with a family who produces traditional ricotta cheese at their rustic farm, and of course we have a wine tasting to sample some of the island’s best vintages. Join us for this wonderful introduction to one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful islands.
Sicily Walking Tour Includes:
Sicily Walking Tour itinerary Request full itinerary
Check into your pre-booked hotel, the Katane Palace Hotel or Hotel Il Principe (or similar) in the heart of old Catania. Our hotel is a five-minute walk from the central pedestrian area that is lined with beautiful Baroque buildings, cafes, restaurants and shops. Independent dinner in Catania. Overnight Catania. Hotel included. Dinner not included.
Meet at 9:00 this morning for 1-hour transfer to explore Mount Etna, Europe’s largest volcano. It is 3,400 meters (11,155 feet) high, with a perimeter of 250 km (155 mi.), making it the third largest crater in the world. Meet up with a professional volcanologist who will take you on a hike across lava flows, craters, vents, and lava tubes and learn about the many fascinating aspects of Etna. This afternoon we transfer to Linguaglossa and check into our hotel for the next two nights: the 4-star Shalai Resort (or similar), a lovingly restored noble villa with a spa. Linguaglossa is the gateway to the Etna DOC wine growing area, and the surrounding hillsides are steeply terraced with dry stone walls. Many vineyards are abandoned, but still, more have been restored after considerable investment and are now producing excellent wines using indigenous and imported grape varietals. In the evening we visit a nearby winery to learn about the special characteristics of the region’s volcanic wines, and then enjoy a lovely dinner where local dishes are paired with the wines. Overnight Linguaglossa. Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner and hotel included.
Today's walk follows a high ridge road before dropping gently back down into the valley. The views are spectacular, with the colossal presence of Mount Etna to the right and the shimmering Mediterranean Sea to the left, with the hilltop towns of Toarmina and Castelmola in the foreground. We are joined today by local celebrity Gaetano (EVERYONE knows him) who regales us with stories of how life used to be in the region. He leads us to a very rustic producer of ricotta cheese where we enjoy a uniquely delicious lunch with fresh, warm ricotta right out of the cauldron, accompanied by delicious local specialties and Gaetano’s excellent Nerello Mascalese wine. Our route winds through olive groves, orchards, vineyards and then follows a stream bed to return to Linguaglossa. In the afternoon we have a short transfer to the spectacular Alcantara Gorge, whose jet-black walls were frozen into surreal shapes when a fiery lava flow came into contact with the icy river water. Or, just relax at the hotel spa! We meet up again tonight for a drink followed by dinner at a local osteria. Overnight Linguaglossa. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and hotel included.
A short transfer this morning takes us to Taormina, one of the most famous cities in Sicily. Its position on a rocky spur made it a perfect spot for fortifications during Classical times, and the Romans eventually built a prominent theatre, which still stands. The city was later “rediscovered” by European travelers seeking out exotic lands, and hosted the likes of Oscar Wilde, Richard Wagner, D.H. Lawrence, and Truman Capote. After a visit of town and a taste of the local granita we have a rewarding hike along the breathtaking “Via dei Saraceni” up to the neighboring village of Castelmola. Stop for lunch at a local trattoria with sweeping views over the coastline below and then walk back down to Taormina, passing by a lovely small chapel built directly into the rocky promontory beneath the castle. We leave bustling Taormina and head for our next little haven, the Baroque town of Noto. We stay in a renovated noble house now transformed into the lovely Hotel Porta Reale (or similar). You have free time to explore Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage site for its spectacular Sicilian Baroque architecture. Meet up again tonight for a drink on the hotel's panoramic rooftop terrace before heading off on foot for dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Noto. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
This morning we transfer to Noto Antica, where the town of Noto once stood before it was destroyed by a powerful earthquake in 1693. We hike down into an impressive canyon which is dotted with the ruins of ancient watermills and tanneries built by the Arabs during their 250-year occupation of the area in the 8th–10th centuries. We continue to a beautiful family-run masseria that used to be an olive oil mill wherewe have a light but very refined lunch. Return to Noto and explore the streets as the setting sun bathes the honey-coloured tufa stone in a golden light. Tonight is a "free night" so you are free to choose where you wish to dine. Overnight Noto. Breakfast and hotel included. Dinner not included.
Today we head towards the sea and enter the Vendicari Natural Reserve for a coastal walk to the evocative ruins of a 17th century tonnara (seasonal tuna-fishing village) that was active until 1944. Enjoy another delicious lunch at a beautiful country hotel and then transfer to historic Siracusa. Our hotel is in the old part of town, situated on the tiny island of Ortigia, with captivating Baroque neighborhoods, squares, and seaside promenade. We have an afternoon guided visit which will span 3,000 years of Ortigia’s history. Overnight Siracusa. Breakfast, dinner and hotel included.
Start the day with a stroll through Siracusa’s bustling farmer's market. It’s a cacophony of vendors hawking their wares, selling everything from fresh fish and sea food to every kind of fruit and vegetable you can imagine. Then meet the group for a transfer inland to the Anapo Valley for a hike around the site of Pantalica, a prehistoric and paleo-Christian settlement (13th-8th centuries BCE) with a remarkable ‘beehive’ necropolis made up of over 5,000 rock tombs scattered along the cliff face. Our final dinner together is at one of the nicest restaurants in town. Overnight Siracusa. Hotel, breakfast, light lunch, and dinner included.
We offer one group transfer to the Catania airport this morning to correspond with flights departing after 10:00 am. If you prefer to leave later (or have to leave earlier), there are frequent buses to the airport or you can take a taxi. There are also frequent buses to Palermo. Breakfast and one group transfer included.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Italy has more sites in the list than any other country!
Activity Level 3 = Moderate:
In general: This is a moderate tour for fit hikers, and will be a little challenging but do-able for less fit hikers.
Terrain: Rolling to hilly terrain with frequent climbs and descents, often over rocky terrain. May have some short, relatively steep climbs and descents.
Actual walking time: between 2 - 5 hours per day, mostly in the morning but also in the afternoon.
Distances: Usually between 8 - 12 km (5 - 7 mi). Max distance is 14 km (8 mi).
Surfaces: Trails consist mainly of compact earth and/or gravel and sometimes gravel roads, with occasional rocky and uneven trails
Footing: Good, but on occasion you have to pay attention to where and how you place your feet. Proper hiking shoes with thick soles with good treads are required. Sport sandals, running shoes and tennis shoes are not adequate.
Specifics: The walks in Sicily aren't that long (max is 11 kms/6.5 mi.) but there are some steep sections on rocky trail, plus one day of hiking on the volcanic terrain of Mount Etna (it's like walking on loose gravel). The shortest walk is around Taormina, but it requires a sustained climb of 45 minutes.
Hiking Poles: Recommended but not required, but if you habitually use hiking poles then you will find them helpful
Compared to the Cinque Terre: These tours are easier than the hikes in the Cinque Terre
Other: This tour is appropriate for fit, first-time “hikers” who enjoy walking and who have good balance
Moderate Tours: Tuscany Chianti, Dordogne Walk, Sicily Walk, Spain Andalusia, Lake Como Hike, and Corsica Hike
Getting There: Independent arrival in Catania.
Air: The closest airport to the beginning and end of the trip is Catania, which in high season is well connected to the major airline hubs in Italy and the rest of Europe. For the most current information, go to the airline’s website (in English), and click on “Flight information > Airlines” for a list of airlines that fly there. Also see also our "Transport Info" page (in the menu heading "Info") for specific airport information and a list of smaller airlines you can consult for flights.
Train: There are trains to Sicily from the Italian mainland, but it's not fast. The train from Rome, for example, will take you around 10 hours.
Getting away at the end of the trip: The trip ends on Saturday morning in Siracusa after breakfast. We offer ONE group van transfer to the Catania airport, usually timed for 10 a.m. flights. You may want to stay an extra day in Siracusa since our day-and-a-half there are quite busy and many people wish they had more time. If you can't take an extra day, at least try and get a flight mid-day so you have a few hours to explore on Saturday morning. It's easy to get a bus or taxi to the Catania airport.
If you should book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip. Please e-mail us with any specific travel questions.
This was our first group tour and what a fabulous experience ! Usually we enjoy independent travel so we were a little nervous about embarking on a group walking tour but we needn't have worried as it was incredible from start to finish!! Our guide Francesca was divine, so capable and really created such a happy positive vibe during the entire trip. It was wonderful to be able to leave all the organising to her knowing that every place we visited would be fabulous. We have also done a self guided Customwalks scooter tour of Tuscany which we would thoroughly recommend. Incredible scenery, food, wine and history !
My second trip with Customwalks and I’ll be back for more. Our guide Francesca aimed to please and the tour offered lots of variety in places we visited, from Mount Etna to countryside, to seaside and gorges. Walking was more limited than I would have preferred, but I think that was driven by some unusually heavy rains. Can’t beat the food and wine of Sicily, and Customwalks chose great restaurants for us to experience both.
This was our fourth trip with Customwalks and a great reminder of why we keep traveling with you. Such a rich experience-- from the hikes to the food, to the wine, to cheese being made over a wood stove, to ancient ruins and even a subterranean mikvah. You didn't just take us to Sicily--you immersed us in it---and we loved it all!
We enjoyed a fabulous week with a group of traveling friends The departure was customized to our needs and so it seemed was everything else. Off the beaten track experiences as well as seeing some of the first rate sights Sicily has to offer. With good hotels and excellent food, the scenic hikes tested our physical fitness.
A lovely holiday full of a lot of yummy food and a nice amount of picturesque walking. For me the cherry on top of the holiday would have to be when guide Claudia took us to her favourite restaurant where I had THE best chocolate orange fondant cake I have ever had in my life... and believe me I've had my fair share of chocolate fondants. Overall a great holiday where we met some lovely people.
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This was our first group tour and what a fabulous experience ! Usually we enjoy independent travel so we were a little nervous about embarking on a group walking tour but we needn't have worried as it was incredible from start to finish!!
Our guide Francesca was divine, so capable and really created such a happy positive vibe during the entire trip.
It was wonderful to be able to leave all the organising to her knowing that every place we visited would be fabulous.
We have also done a self guided Customwalks scooter tour of Tuscany which we would thoroughly recommend. Incredible scenery, food, wine and history !
by Christine and Blair
Just perfect. Francesca is an incredible guide as were all our local guides.