Sicily is an island of true delights.
When you book a holiday in Sicily you are booking an experience and not just a well-deserved break. However it pays dividends to do a spot of research before you go, since this will help you understand the lie of the land and how to get around. This section should help you get ahead in this respect, so you can better plan the best Sicilian break you have ever had. Sicily has so many treats to share with those who are willing to discover them. Understanding how various forms of travel work in Sicily will help you get the most from your holiday.
Getting to Sicily
The first thing on your mind will undoubtedly be how you will get to Sicily. There are four main international airports on the island, located in Catania, Palermo, Trapani and Comiso. Catania is the busiest of these, handling well over 6 million passengers on an annual basis. Palermo Airport comes in second with over 4 million passengers. The other two are much quieter, so it is likely you will arrive in Sicily at one of the first two airports mentioned.
Getting around Sicily
You have a number of options here:
If you book with Massimo Villas we would be delighted to arrange a transfer from the airport to your chosen villa. We can also arrange car hire for the duration of your trip if you wish. Simply let us know what you require and we can take things from there. It means you have one less thing to worry about. Some people like to travel around Sicily by train, which is an experience in itself and an ideal way to travel between the main cities and towns. Trenitalia operates a train network across Italy as well as in Sicily, so if you are travelling across to the island via the mainland you can simply look for the most appropriate Trenitalia service to use depending on your location. Buses are also quite convenient to use. Indeed if you are looking for a cost-effective way to get from the airport in either Palermo or Catania to your accommodation, the airport bus is your best choice. Buses leave both airports for a variety of popular destinations in Sicily.
An interesting and useful point to note concerns the two differently-coloured buses you will see on the island. There are both blue and orange buses in use. The blue ones will travel between cities and larger towns, while the orange ones stick to more local routes. This is a good point to keep in mind depending on where you wish to travel to. In some cases however it can be easier and faster to go by train, so explore all the options before deciding on your ideal mode of travel. Buses are also usually a lot cheaper than travelling by train, so for those who are eager to sample such a journey it can provide quite the experience! Remember though, Massimo Villas can recommend and book car hire on your behalf if you would like complete freedom to explore Sicily while you are there. This is also the best choice if you intend to go off the beaten track to explore the smaller villages in Sicily. Many of these may either not be served by buses at all, or will be very unreliably served, which makes planning your journey a little more challenging. Incidentally all hire cars should have a reflective vest with them, since it is required by law to wear this if you should break down or need to stop because of an accident.
Travelling to the islands
There are a number of islands dotted around the main part of Sicily. Some of these are referred to as the Aeolian Islands while others are simply called the Sicilian Islands. Many of them lie off the northern coastline of Sicily, including Ustica, Pantelleria and the Aeolian Islands themselves. They provide an excellent opportunity to make a day trip or two while you are staying in Sicily, and thankfully travelling to them is not that difficult either. Ustica Lines is a ferry company operating a variety of services to and from main ports in Sicily, including Trapani, Palermo and Milazzo. You can head over to islands including Stromboli, Salina, Alicudi and Favignana depending on your desires. Journey times will depend on your destination and the frequency of services varies according to each specific island and the time of year.
How to organise your own travel plans
Choosing the most appropriate method of travel largely depends on the type of holiday you wish to have in Sicily. For instance, let us suppose you are intending to spend most of your time at your villa, along with the odd walk into the local town or down to the beach. In this situation your priority will be to find a service that will take you from the airport you touch down at to your chosen villa. You may not need to worry about any other form of travel during the time you are in Sicily, other than perhaps hiring a bicycle to explore a little further afield. We’ll go into this in a little more detail later on in this article.
However if you intend to make the most of exploring Sicily and the many cities, towns and secretive villages it has to share with you, you’ll need to decide how you will travel. Many people like the convenience of hiring a car since you are not bound by any schedule. You also won’t have the uncertainty of how reliable rural bus services will be.
Car hire allows for a lot more freedom as well, since you can leave your villa when ready, drive to your destination and still be ready to stop off along the way if you see somewhere else you’d like to stop at. Pack a lunch to take with you, find a quiet beach or other quiet spot to sit and enjoy it and appreciate some of that fresh Sicilian air with some crusty bread and fresh ham and cheese. There’s nothing quite like going with the flow in Sicily, and car hire does allow you to do just that. You may also choose to hire a car for a day or two, or to have one for the entire time you are in Sicily. It all depends what you have in mind. Weekly hire generally works out cheaper but only if you intend to use it all the time.
One word of warning though – when you get petrol anywhere in Sicily, make sure the pump is set to zero before you begin filling your tank. A known scam involves someone filling their own tank and leaving the next motorist to foot the bill for it. You can ensure this doesn’t happen by checking the pump is indeed at zero before you begin.
Travelling by bicycle
This is arguably one of the best ways to get around if you don’t have too long a journey in mind and not too much to carry. You can rent by the day or by the week if you wish. It’s a good idea to look online before you go to Sicily to find out where the nearest bike rental outlet will be according to where you are going to stay.
You can also often get good recommendations of local routes to ride when you go to hire a bike. There are routes of all lengths and types for all kinds of cyclists, so whether you are a newcomer or a regular cyclist you are bound to be close to one or more routes that would suit you. Don’t forget to hire a bike helmet and to make sure your bike (and helmet) fits you properly before you set off. All good bike hire places should help you with this. There are plenty of on-road and off-road routes you can take, so a little prior planning should ensure you create some good itineraries for the time you are in Sicily.
Planning your travel arrangements while in Sicily
Some tourists travel a lot more than others while staying in Sicily. Some are happy to enjoy the many perks and delights of their villa while they are there, and rarely venture anywhere other than the local town. However others will be eager to see as much of the island as possible, including its outlying islands too.
The secret to getting the most from your travel plans – and experiencing as few issues as possible – is to know in advance the type of holiday you are planning to have. Will it be a lazy villa-based holiday or one that sees you cycling from place to place each day? The more you know in advance the easier it will be to ensure you have as many of your travel plans in place as possible before you even step foot in Sicily.