Last Updated on December 4, 2023 by Ingrid & Alex
When is the best time to visit Italy’s largest island and should you really plan a trip to see Sicily in winter? After having visited the island both during winter and summer, I’ve put together this comprehensive answer.
What’s my favorite season for traveling to Italy, and especially Southern Italy, and the why behind it? In the past 10 years, I’ve lived, studied, worked, and traveled to Italy extensively. I can easily say I know Italians who haven’t been to all the places I’ve been to in their country.
And because I’ve been there during all seasons, I can help you decide when would be the best time to see Italy (and if winter is that time for you).
I’ll try to answer all the questions you might have, but if I miss something, please go ahead and leave me a comment. I will be more than happy to answer!
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Sicily in winter – is that a good idea?
Should I Visit Sicily in Winter?
The short answer to that question is: absolutely!
I have been to Sicily in February and the weather was lovely, we only got a few hours of rain, and we could even stay on the beach and enjoy the sun.
Of course, you won’t be able to bathe in the sea, but if you want to go sightseeing, Sicilian can be a perfect vacation.
Just so you can make an impression, here are the average temperatures in Sicily throughout the year:
Please keep in mind that these are not the average high or low temperatures, you can get between 14 – 16 degrees C during winter (48 – 62 degrees F). Also, the island tends to have really hot summers.
How cold does Sicily get in winter?
As you can notice from the above table, Sicily has a Mediterranean climate and doesn’t get extremely cold during winter.
The lowest temperatures are felt between December and February and go between 9 (48) and 11 (53) degrees minimum during the night, with warmer days.
In my opinion, that’s not too low, and if you know what to pack for winter in Sicily, you will be just fine. Temperatures during the day, are perfect for exploring and sightseeing.
How long does winter last in Sicily?
Just like the rest of Italy and most parts of Europe, winter in Sicily lasts for 3 months: from December to February.
How to Get Around Sicily
Getting around Sicily is not difficult and can be easily done no matter how you choose to travel.
Of course, public transportation is not as well connected and frequent as in Northern Italy for example, and it will take more time to get from one place to the other, but it is not impossible.
Major towns are linked by trains or buses, but if you want to explore at your own pace, I strongly recommend renting a car and driving around Sicily.
Getting around Sicily by car
That’s how we chose to travel around Sicily and it was for the best. People might think it is dangerous to drive around the island, and Sicilians can be a bit crazy in traffic, parking can prove to be challenging, but it is not impossible. And if I can do it, so can you!
If you have decided that renting a car is the way forward at least for a part of your itinerary, my go-to destination for the best prices is DiscoverCars.
It is a great aggregator that will help you find and book the best option for renting a car during your trip, helping you save up to 70% on your car rental. They have a pretty good cancellation policy that would give you options in case your flight or travel plans change.
Getting around Sicily by train and/or bus
Make your life easier and check the timetables and prices of trains and buses online at Bookaway.com
You can easily book your tickets online, create your itinerary beforehand, and forget about having to search for the best options – you have it all there: public and private trains, buses, and every other means of transportation.
What is the best month to visit Sicily?
I have visited during February and judging by the average temperatures, I don’t think there is much of a difference no matter what month of winter you choose for your trip.
If you want to visit Sicily during winter, go there in December for the Christmas vibes and festivities, or head over in February to participate in the Carnival in Taormina.
When you are looking to spend some time at the beach as well, maybe it would be better to plan your vacation for April, May, October, or November. I am a big fan of the shoulder season.
Why visit Sicily in winter?
The same as visiting any other part of Italy during winter, here are a few of the good reasons why you should consider planning a Sicily holiday for the colder months:
- You can see Sicily with fewer crowds – unlike the summer months, the colder season is not as popular for many.
- Take advantage of the low season prices – both for hotels, and tourist activities. However, many tours and activities won’t be available, so keep that in mind and check before you go. If there is something you really want to do, investigate if the activity is available during winter.
- Get the true Italy vibe – see towns without the hoards of tourists, and experience them with the locals. While many local businesses geared towards tourists might not be open, you still get to experience the authentic places where locals go.
- Exploring and sightseeing become much easier and bearable at normal temperatures. Archeological and historical sites such as the Valley of the Temples are much easier to see during the mild winters Sicily has.
- You can take advantage of the winter sales and do some shopping.
- Explore the local markets, and take part in the winter festivities such as the Christmas Markets or Carnivals.
Why not visit Sicily in winter?
While Sicily is a captivating destination with a mild climate even in winter, there are some considerations to keep in mind if you are contemplating a visit during this season:
- Weather and Rainfall: While the winter climate in Sicily is generally mild compared to many other European destinations, it can still be cool and wet. If you prefer warm and dry weather for outdoor activities, you might find the winter months less appealing.
- Limited Beach Activities: Sicily’s beaches (such as San Vito lo Capo) are a major draw, but during winter, the weather may not be suitable for traditional beach activities. Swimming and sunbathing are less enjoyable during the cooler and potentially rainy months.
- Some Attractions May Be Closed: Some attractions, especially those dependent on good weather or seasonal tourism, may close or operate on reduced schedules during the winter months. This could impact your ability to experience certain activities or visit specific sites.
- Less Festive Atmosphere: Sicily is known for its lively festivals, outdoor events, and vibrant street life. While the island still maintains its charm in winter, the atmosphere may be less festive compared to the peak tourist seasons.
- Limited Availability of Tours and Activities: Some guided tours, excursions, or outdoor activities may have limited availability during the winter months. If you have specific activities or tours in mind, it’s advisable to check in advance for their availability.
- Challenging Driving Conditions: While Sicily doesn’t experience extreme winter conditions, there might be rainy and windy days. If you plan on renting a car to explore the island, be aware that driving conditions can be less favorable during the winter.
- Fewer Open-Air Markets: Sicily is known for its vibrant open-air markets, but some of these markets may be less lively or have fewer vendors during the winter months.
- You cannot visit the islands – places like the Aeolian Islands are not easily reached during winter, and ferries are limited.
Which is the warmest place in Sicily in winter?
While Sicily is not such a big island that you can expect extreme temperature differences from one part to the island, here are a few of the places you will want to check out during your winter trip:
Palermo is set in the Northern part of Sicily, also the island’s capital, packed with things to do and places to see. Not far from it, I recommend not missing the stunning small town of Cefalu’.
Catania is set on the Eastern part of the island and is the place I visited during my trip to Sicily during winter. Temperatures were okay, and besides a few showers and some wind, we could easily explore the city and the region.
Agrigento, the Valley of the Temples, and the Stairs of the Turks.
What to do in Sicily during winter?
As I’ve previously said, there are no limits to the things you can see and do in Sicily during winter.
Follow my comprehensive one week in Sicily guide and you will find it easy to plan your unforgettable vacation. No matter if you have one week or less, the guide includes a map and highlights all the most important tourist attractions on the whole island.
Beautiful cities, Mount Etna, archaeological sites, magnificent ruins, Isola Bella, Taormina, and much more.
Here are a few things worth doing and seeing:
Go skiing on Mt. Etna or other beautiful mountains on the island
Explore the natural beauty of Sicily by going skiing at one of the 3 major ski resorts: Etna Nord – Linguaglossa, Etna South – Nicolosi, or Piano Battaglia outside of Palermo.
Enjoy the Hot Springs and Geothermal Waters
Relax in the thermal baths and hot springs of Ali Terme, Acireale, Sciacca, or Termini Imerese. The warm waters provide a soothing escape from the cooler temperatures.
Visit Historical Sites
Explore Sicily’s rich history by visiting historical sites and landmarks such as the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, the ancient ruins of the theater in Taormina, and the UNESCO World Heritage site in Syracuse.
Winter Holidays and Festivals
Experience the local culture by participating in winter festivals.
Many towns and cities host events and celebrations, such as the Feast of Saint Agatha in Catania, which takes place in early February, the Sciacca Carnival in February, or the Christmas Nativity play in Termini Imerese.
Also, you should visit the Botanical garden of the Kolymbetra – the citrus garden that will enchant you during the winter season.
Spending Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve in Sicily is the perfect time to eat like and with the locals.
The Almond Blossom Festival takes part in the first 10 days of February in Agrigento. The festival dates from 1934 and celebrates the early coming of spring.
What to pack for a vacation during winter in Sicily?
As mentioned previously, when you know what to pack and how to dress, your winter holiday will be just perfect.
I always like to pack light, and especially when traveling during the colder months, I always like to wear layers. Temperature differences can be pretty high between night and day, and when you want to see it all, you will spend lots of time outside and want to be prepared.
Here are a few essential tips you must have in mind:
Bring some comfortable shoes you can walk in but that can also protect you from the rain. I like my leather Converse shoes and I think they are perfect for that.
Have a cashmere scarf that can easily wrap around your neck, or wear it on top of your jacket.
During the evening, temperatures will drop, so you must have a leather or suede jacket.
Bring clothes that can be easily worn in layers.
Have a small colorful umbrella that doesn’t take up much of your luggage space, and that can also be used as a prop for your pictures.
Make sure your shoes don’t have a smooth sole, otherwise, you will risk slipping on the stone pavements.
Other tips for visiting Sicily
Internet and WIFI
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If this is your first time visiting Italy, you should be aware of the fact that you cannot eat at any time of the day.
Restaurant timetables in Italy can vary, but here are some general guidelines:
- Lunch Hours: Lunch is typically served from around 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM. Some restaurants may start serving lunch as early as 12:00 PM, especially in tourist areas, while others might continue serving until 3:00 PM.
- Dinner Hours: Dinner service usually starts around 7:30 PM or 8:00 PM and can extend until 10:30 PM or later. Italians often eat dinner later compared to some other Western countries.
- Closed Days: Many restaurants in Italy close one day a week, often on Sundays or Mondays. However, this can vary, and some establishments may choose a different day to close.
- Siesta Periods: In smaller towns and more traditional areas, you may find that some restaurants close for a few hours in the afternoon (usually between 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM). This is less common in larger cities and tourist areas, however, it might happen (it happened to us in Naples or Verona
Other useful travel resources for when you go to Italy
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