Travelling with kids

Things to do in Sicily with Kids

You may already know Sicily has more appeal per square mile than you can see on a map. This is particularly good to know if you are planning a family holiday in Sicily. After all you’ll want to know there are plenty of attractions for the kids to enjoy, no matter what age they are.It’s easy enough to find and book a good-sized villa for the whole family to enjoy.

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If you look for one with a swimming pool and plenty of room for them to run around and play too, so much the better. But of course, before you do that you should really check out some of the attractions and options that are available for the family. When you have an idea where the most preferable attractions are, you can more easily look for a villa that puts you right in the centre of the action.

 

Hit the water parks

While it’s good to have access to a swimming pool and you’ll want to make sure you’re not too far from a beach either, there is a third option available. Sicily is home to several good water parks, enabling you to take a day out that will have the kids (and their parents!) sleeping soundly when you all return to your villa.

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One of the more popular ones is Etnaland, which as the name suggests isn’t too far from the mighty volcano. This is a short distance inland from Catania, so it’s great if you’re staying anywhere on the eastern side of the island. The best thing about this park is that it actually offers a three-in-one experience. It provides you with an aqua park, a theme park and also a prehistoric park to explore. The water slides and rides are great for everyone to enjoy. The theme park has rides that will appeal to younger kids, while the prehistoric park offers many recreations of animals from that period.

Prefer to be on dry land? Try an adventure park instead

While swimming is likely to figure highly in any trip you make to Sicily with kids in tow, there’s plenty to do on dry land too. the Parco Avventura Madonie is situated right inside the Madonie National Park, itself worth a visit anyway. This is located in northern Sicily, just south of Cefalu on the coast.

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There is also an easy road that will take you there from many eastern parts of the island, not to mention providing a direct route from Palermo on the north-western coastline. The adventure park is essentially a massive adventure playground that the whole family can enjoy – and very often they do! Think rope ladders, climbing trees and having a go at walking from one platform to the next between trees among other things.

A day at the beach

We’ve already mentioned how beaches can be great for kids. They can swim in the sea, play on the beach and get rid of all that excess energy kids always seem to have.

Some beaches are better than others though. Take for example Mondello, a bay near Palermo that is always a good draw for families. The sheltered bay means the waters are never too rough here, while there are facilities around that make life easier for those who are there for the day too.IMG_2803

Another good spot is San Vito lo Capo, which offers another bay location near Palermo for your consideration. Gentle waters and a shallow entry from the beach make it a clear favourite among families, while the backdrop provides a little drama the adults might appreciate.

Finally perhaps Giardini-Naxos would suit your needs. Again, it is popular among families for many of the reasons given above. The promenade along the waterfront means you’ll never be far from food, drink or anything else you might need during the day.

 

Experience gelato!

This is an absolute must. If your kids love ice cream they will be in heaven when they taste gelato for the first time. The traditional way to eat it in Sicily is not in a cone or something similar – instead it is to eat a huge wodge of gelato plopped inside a warm brioche bun. It might take just a little convincing to get your kids to try this but be warned – when they do they will never ask for anything else.

 

Sicilians are known to eat this for breakfast on many an occasion, but you might want to keep that particular fact to yourself! Gelato comes in probably more flavours than ice cream does, so be prepared to be adventurous and to try a different flavour or two. You might be surprised how many your kids will actually like.

Head for a Greek temple

Sicily may not be the first location in the world to come to mind when you think of Greek temples, but it has its fair share. It might seem like a history lesson but even if your kids normally hate history they’ve probably never seen an ancient temple up close and personal before.

Make sure you’re prepared for the trip out and take hats, sun screen, plenty of water and snacks to eat too. Greek temples aren’t known for being conveniently placed. The last thing you want is to get a chorus of “are we there yet?” and “I’m thirsty” or worse, “I’m bored!” Make sure you brush up on a few facts about your chosen temple before you go so you can impress them.You can see your choice of Sicilian temples by heading for Segesta, Selinunte or Agrigento. The latter is probably the most famous of them all; it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are a series of Doric temples here.

Visit Mount Etna

You cannot fail to do this when you are in Sicily, regardless of whether you have kids with you or not. The chances are they won’t have seen a volcano before – a real live one that is still capable of erupting and indeed has done so in the not so distant past. What child cannot fail to be impressed with that?

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The best way to enjoy the mighty Etna is to book onto a day-long tour of the area. This also ensures you can only go so far as it is safe to do so. Merely learning about the history of the volcano and its past eruptions is guaranteed to make your child’s eyes go so wide they’ll be in danger of popping right out. Go for the cable car experience and you can look down over the lava flows too.

And for the older kids…

Not all activities are ideal for younger kids. Take the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo for example. They are filled with real bodies in various states of decay, which is why they are not recommended for younger children. However you will know your kids best – some younger kids would probably be fascinated by the experience so use your judgement. I think the teenagers will probably be most likely to love every moment of them, but again it depends on the individual!

A day out at the Alcantara Gorge

Whatever ages your kids are, if they have a love of the water and you want to try an alternative to the beach or villa pool, head for the Alcantara Gorge. Make sure you get a decent start because once the kids see what is in store they probably won’t want to leave.

You’re probably familiar with your kids scrambling over rocks and in and out of the water on the beach if you find one that offers these activities. The Alcantara Gorge is like one big version of this all in the one place. While there are more than 100 steps to reach the gorge itself, you can opt for a lift to get you back to the surface once you’re ready to leave.

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Some sections of the gorge will require waders whereas others are much shallower. There are some sections that are far narrower than others too, where the sheer scale of the gorge becomes more apparent. Whichever sections you venture into, the kids are sure to be fascinated with the surroundings, which are quite unlike anything else they will be likely to have seen.

Where will you go?

We’ve barely scratched the surface of the incredible number of great attractions and things to do that are kid-friendly in Sicily. Obviously a lot depends on how old your kids are and what they like to do. What works for one family may well not for another depending on age and experience. However once you know the kinds of things Sicily has in store for you as a family, you will find it much easier to choose a villa that will be ideally placed for you to begin your explorations.

From beaches to ancient temples and historical gorges to the promise of gelato wodges neatly served in Brioche buns, Sicily really knows how to appeal to its younger visitors!