Sicily cycling – from Palermo to Mount Etna

  • Destination:
  • Duration: 12 days

On this extraordinary traverse of Sicily by bike and bus, we explore the diversity of the largest Mediterranean island. Starting in Trapani we cycle along a ruggedly beautiful coastline, discovering traditional fishing ports, fascinating ancient ruins and inviting beaches. Further east, we strike inland and ride between beautiful Baroque towns, culminating our journey with a ride around the flanks of Mount Etna. As well as the wealth of historical and cultural sights, Sicily impresses with picturesque landscapes and some of Italy’s finest food and wine.

Day 1
Arrive Palermo

Start of the tour, drive to Trapani for overnight.   

Day 2
Exploring Favignana island, 17km cycling

We take the ferry to Favignana, the largest of the Aegedian islands, featuring some lovely rolling hills, beautiful beaches and turquoise waters – ideal for a relaxed first cycling day and time to relax. Back to Trapani in the afternoon. A visit by cable car up to the ancient town Erice on top of a 750m high rock is very recommended.

Day 3
Coastal cycle to Mazara del Vallo, 68km cycling

Today we cycle south and make our way around the western tip of Sicily. Close to Marsala we cycle through the salines or salts flats – a patchwork of shallow coastal lakes and salt pans lined with ancient windmills. Once reaching Marsala town itself there will be a chance for an tasting the typical and famous fortified, local wine. Our route continues after lunch, cycling along the coast to Mazara del Vallo, nowadays harbouring Italy’s largest fishing fleet. We spend the night here, taking in the atmosphere of a small town still very influenced by Arabic culture.

Day 4
Coastal ride to Selinunte, drive to Sciacca, 45km cycling

After breakfast we leave Mazara and start cycling, along or close to the coast, to the vast archeological site of Selinunte, once the the most westerly of the Greek colonies. After a visit we drive to the laid-back port town of Sciacca for overnight stay.

Day 5
Cycle to Eraclea Minoa and on to Agrigento, 52km cycling

We leave town by bus this morning and our first visit is to Castello Incantato, a quirky sculpture garden, before we start cycling not far from here. After stopping for lunch at a wonderful beach near Eraclea Minoa we continue riding to our hotel in the small town of Porto Empedocle overlooking the Strait of Sicily and being ideal base to explore nearby Agrigento.

Day 6
Free day. Optional visit of Valley of the Temples

Today has been left free to relax and explore the fascinating Greek ruins of Agrigento are just a short taxi ride away and can be visited today. In the afternoon you may go of for a walk along the beach to explore the nearby, impressive Scala dei Turchi white cliffs that have been eroded into curious layered forms. Its name means ‘Stair of the Turks’ and most likely derives from the frequent coastal raids carried out by the Saracens. No cycling today.  

Day 7
From Palazzolo Acreide to Ragusa, 35km cycling

A longer transfer takes us into the Iblean high plateau in the interior. The small town Palazzolo Acreide, stunningly rebuilt in Sicilian Baroque style after the devastating earthquake of 1693, is the starting point of today’s ride through remote and beautiful countryside. Eventually we reach Ragusa – another gem stone of Baroque town. The oldest part, Ragusa Ibla, was rebuilt by the old aristocracy in the 18th century and upon arrival we will explore the narrow alleyways, baroque palaces and charming piazzas on foot before heading to our hotel for tonight.

Day 8
Baroque towns of Modica, Scicli and Noto, 51km cycling

After breakfast we cycle from our hotel on scenic roads to another Sicilian Baroque gem in Modica, nestling at the foot of a deep gorge. Also famous for its Aztec-inspired chocolate introduced during the Spanish rule of the island, we can visit a traditional chocolatier. Our ride continues as we descend along a ravine to our next stop in Scicli, known for the Italian TV series featuring police inspector Montalbano. Later we reach the beaches of the Med at Pozzalo and drive to our night stop in Noto. 

Day 9
Free day. Exploring Syracusa

Today has been left free to relax and explore. There is plenty in Noto to keep you entertained for a day but for those interested we recommend a visit to Syracusa which once rivalled Athens as the most important and beautiful city in the Greek world. For the keen cyclists there is an option as well to explore the surrounding hills of Noto on an optional 47km ride. 

Day 10
Cycling around the northern flanks of Mount Etna, 57km

Leaving Noto after breakfast we drive north around the western side of Mount Etna. In Maletto we start our last cycle ride at approx. 1.000m altitude, following the circular road around the volcano on its northern flanks. There is a downhill bias today and after a stop at the famous Alcantara gorge we finally reach our hotel in Fondachello, right by the sea.

Day 11
Free day. Optional ascent of Mount Etna or stroll through nearby Taormina.

For those interested – there are several options to explore Mount Etna today. A cable car and 4WD can take you up to almost 3.000m altitude, starting from the southern access. Alternatively there are several walking options at lower altitudes or you may want to take it easier by spending a day in nearby Taormina, since the 19th century Sicily’s most famous resort. The Greek Theatre offers possibly the most known view across, often snow-capped Etna.

Day 12
Trip ends today. Arrivederci Sicilia!

Tour ends, transfer to airport. 

Tour facts

Grading: moderate
Recommended airports: In: Palermo, Out: Catania
Highlights: Trapani and Favignana island, salines of Marsala, Selinunte Greek ruins, Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples, Baroque towns Palazzolo, Ragusa, Modica and Noto, visiting Syracusa, Mount Etna, Taormina.

Season: March to May, September to November


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