Sicily Walking Tour Write a review
Fascinating, complex, exotic, and beautiful, Sicily both delights and stimulates the senses. You will be immersed into the heart of the historic island to enjoy its rich history, culture, rugged landscapes, and baroque splendours. Our hikes take you through remote villages, into hidden gorges, and along skyline paths with epic views onto the snow-capped peak of Mount Etna. 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 UNESCO world heritage town of Noto,the bronze age site of Pantalica and lovely Baroque Siracusa. Of course, Sicily’s cuisine plays a starring role throughout the week as we dine in wonderful local trattorias and have lunch with a family who produces traditional ricotta cheese at their rustic farm. Join us for this wonderful introduction to the Mediterranean’s most beautiful island. (Luggage is transferred by van. 1 night Catania, 2 nights Linguaglossa, 2 nights Noto, 2 nights Siracusa, all in 4-star hotels.)
Sicily Walking Tour itinerary
Check into your pre-booked hotel, the Katane Palace Hotel or Hotel Il Principe 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 and full of cafes, restaurants and shops. Independent dinner in Catania. Hotel included. Dinner not included.
Meet at 9:00 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. We meet up with vulcanologist Giuseppe, who is passionate about volcanoes and Etna is his deity. We hike on 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, 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 Gorges where you can ejoy a refreshing swim. In the afternoon we can take you on an optional walk following the now abandoned rail line through rugged countryside. Or, relax at the hotel spa before dinner at a lovely local restaurant. Overnight Linguaglossa. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and hotel included.
A short transfer takes us to Taormina this morning, which we reach via a short ride on a cable car. We have a rewarding hike along the breathtaking “Via dei Saraceni,” which since prehistoric times has connected Taormina to the neighboring village of Castelmola. The view takes in the mainland of Italy to the East, and Toarmina and Mount Etna to the West. Stop for a coffee break in Castelmola and then walk down to Taormina via its castle. We will lead you to our favorite gelateria to enjoy one of Sicily’s greatest pleasures, a pistachio or almond “granita.” You’ll have free time to have lunch and explore Taormina’s main shopping streets, evocative alleyways, and Greek theater. 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. You have free time to explore Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage site for its spectacular Sicilian Baroque architecture. Dinner tonight is at one of our favourite restaurants in Sicily, the Crocifisso, whose signature dish is a sesame and pistachio encrusted tuna steak. Yum! 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 water mills 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" where we 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 coastal walk to the evocative ruins of a 17th century “tonnara” (seasonal tuna-fishing village) that was active until 1944. We end our walk with a lunch at a lovely "agriturismo," then we 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. We stay in a beautifully-restored noble house made into a cozy hotel in the heart of the old Jewish Quarter, Residence Alla Giudecca. Overnight Siracusa. Breakfast, dinner and hotel included.
Start the day by experiencing Siracusa’s bustling farmer's market. Then we transfer to the Anapo Valley to explore the fascinating 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, lunch and dinner included.
We offer ONE morning transfer to the Catania airport 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 a little challenging but do-able for not-so-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 and 12 kms/5 and 7 miles. Max distance is 14 kms/8 miles.
Surfaces: Trails consisting of mostly compact earth, gravelly earth, and sometimes dirt-gravel roads and on occasion 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 and who are coordinated.
Moderate Tours: Tuscany Chianti, Dordogne Walk, Sicily Walk, Lake Como Walk, and Corsica.
Trip Cost includes: All accommodations (7 nights in 4-star hotels); 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 5 dinners; all luggage transfers from pick up on Sunday to trip end at Catania airport; bilingual Customwalks guide(s) to accompany the tour and lead you on the walks; Vulcanologist guide on Etna, guided walking visit of Ortigia with licensed city guide, all park entrances, and transfers as noted in the itinerary.
Booking: e-mail us at email@example.com to receive a booking contract (or use the 'Contact Us' link at the top of this page), or click on the 'Book Now' button to the right.
Insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of Trip Insurance. We recommend “Travel Guard” to our North American clients, just click on the logo below. Australian, New Zealander, and British travelers, please consult your insurance brokers.
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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.
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.
This was my first trip with Custom Walks and it was fantastic - exceeding all my expectations. Brett and Claudia were excellent guides. They not only ensured that you had an intimate experience of the beauty of Sicily - but the unique adventures and discoveries made the experience unforgettable. I loved discovering unexplored gem of Siracusa. Grazie molto
There was a really nice mix of walks on this tour- our exploration of Mount Etna, a ridge walk, the steps up from Taormina to Castelmola, the canyon walk at Old Noto, a coastal walk, a guided tour of Ortigia and still free time to explore by ourselves. Brett and Claudia were brilliant guides and offered optional extra walks for anyone who wanted more activity. The places we stayed and ate at were all up to the usual Customwalks high standard. Very good tour.
Loved visiting Sicily and Francesca was a great guide. Would have liked a little more hiking each day but thwarted to a certain extent by weather. Hotels, food, sights all perfect.
by Anne from Berkeley. USA