Italy: Sicily & the Aeolian Islands Self-Drive

  • Tours & Multi-centres in Italy

We’ve planned a two-week self-drive itinerary that will give you a taste for Sicily’s rich cultural history and incredible landscapes –  it even includes a stay on the Aeolian Island of Lipari, to explore the volcanic archipelago. Having your own car to get around, makes it easy to see so much more and all at your own pace. Road trip to ancient towns, along coastal roads, through vineyards, olive groves and volcanic scenery – making sure you take a break from sightseeing to try the local food and wine.

This holiday is also available starting from Palermo airport, please call to book.

Tour highlights

  • Discover Sicily's unique culture on this two-week self-drive journey
  • Start in Syracuse and explore the baroque towns of the south east
  • Immerse yourself in the history of Sicily exploring Greek and Roman ruins and amphitheatres
  • Visit the Valley of the Temples
  • Explore Palermo and its markets where you can try some of the island's best street food
  • Discover Mount Etna and spend time in Toarmina
  • Wine tastings in remarkable settings
  • Olive oil tasting at a farm with lunch included
  • You'll be given detailed driving maps with suggestions of where to visit and a number to call any time, should you need assistance

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Day 1: UK to Sicily

Arrive at Catania Airport and head to collect your hire car. Drive south to Syracuse for your first night’s stay.

Day 2: Syracuse

Dedicate your first full day to getting to know Syracuse. There’s loads to see in this coastal town. The Archaeological Park’s in the north west – you’ll see incredible remains of the Greco Roman civilisations here, including one of the largest known Greek Amphitheatres. Head across the bridge to the island of Ortyga, the old town, which is packed with over 2,500 years of history. There’s lots of nice bars on the water front – perfect for aperitivo. But don’t fill up too much because we’ve booked dinner for you at one of Ortyga's top restaurants, so you can experience the delicious authentic food here.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner in Syracuse 

Day 3: Syracuse to Caltagirone

Learn about South Eastern Sicily’s Baroque past. In 1963 the region was struck by an earthquake that destroyed much of its infrastructure. Many of the buildings were re-built in the Baroque style. Spend the day driving between Noto, Modica and Ragusa Ibla comparing their baroque architecture on your way to the Caltagirone area for your overnight stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 4: Caltagirone area

This morning drive on to Piazza Armerina. We’d recommend visiting Villa del Casale – it was owned and built by a powerful Roman family in the 4th Century AD. Today it’s known for having one of the richest collections of Roman mosaics in the world. Ceramic making traditions are deep rooted in Sicily’s culture and history, especially in Caltagirone. Just wandering through the town you’ll see the different styles and patterns of tiles and pottery – terracotta pots, glazed tiles of rich blues and yellows line the cobbled streets. Make sure you visit the beautiful Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte - the town's ceramic-inlaid staircase

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 5: Caltagirone to Agrigento

Get back on the road in the direction of Agrigento, to see the Valley of the Temples. The eight golden temples date back as far as 510 BC. They’re on a rocky ridge just outside Agrigento – so you can’t miss them. Spend the day learning about the ancient civilisations that built this city, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6: Agrigento to Trapani

Selinunte’s the largest archaeological sites in Europe. Come here to marvel at the ruins of the temples of one of the most eminent cities of Magna Graecia. The views from the hilltop are incredible too – you can see right out to sea. After spending the last few day’s soaking up so much of the islands history, we thought you might like a bit of a change, so we’ve planned some wine tasting at one of Sicily’s best vineyards. We’ve organised a home cooked lunch for you here too – you’ll need something to soak up the wine! Afterwards, make your way to Mozia – it’s on a mini archipelago off the west coast. There’s a beautiful nature reserve and and an Archeological site here. Finally take the salt road to Trapani. They produce salt here on vast planes, making for a pretty unique landscape to drive through,

Meals included: Breakfast, Wine tasting & Lunch

Day 7: Trapani Area

The striking Medieval town of Erice rises up out of the surrounding landscape. Spend your morning wandering through the historic lanes, giving yourself time to pop into the famous Pasticceria Maria Grammatico for a sweet treat (payable locally). Drive on towards Marsala stopping off at a salt plant and museum – now you’ll have a bit of time to learn about it’s production in this region. You’ll have noticed all the olive groves as you’ve driven across the island – so we thought it would be nice for you to give the local olive oil a try. So this evening we’ve planned a tasting and dinner at one of Sicily’s, multi-award winning, olive oil producers. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Oil tasting & Dinner

Day 8: Trapani to Palermo

Head towards Monreale. Drive through the groves of oranges and almond trees to reach the hilltop town of Monreale - it looks out over Palermo and the glittering Mediterranean beyond. Take a peek inside the UNESCO protected Norman cathedral – the ornate Byzantine mosaics are incredible. Take your time exploring and taking in the views over La Conca d'oro (The Golden Valley), before making your way on to the Palermo area.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9: Palermo

Spend the day in Sicily’s buzzing capital City, Palermo. Start off at one of the street markets – Ballarò’s a famous outdoor market here. Wander through, soaking up the kaleidoscope of colours and smells. Listen to the vendors enticing you in to by some fresh local produce – you’ll notice they often speak in the local Sicilian dialect. You’ll get a true feel for authentic Sicilian life here. As you explore, stop to notice the Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman and later on mainland Italian influences that are reflected in the architecture. This evening, eat out in the historic centre – we’ve booked a table at a top restaurant for you.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner in Palermo

Day 10: Palermo to Lipari

Today you’ll leave the car behind and hop across to the Aeolian Islands. Drive to the port of Milazzo and park your hire car at a garage near the harbour, before jumping on a ferry that will take you to the beautiful Aeolian Island of Lipari where you will spend the night.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 11: Lipari Island

Wake up to explore the largest island in the Archipelago, Lipari. Take a walking tour of the city or join an excursion to see the other islands, with their Volcanic black sandy beaches and dramatic rock formations. Head into Lipari for dinner out this evening.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner in Lipari 

Day 12: Lipari to Taormina

Embark from Lipari to Malazzo port to collect your hire car and drive to your hotel in the Taormina Area.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 13: Taormina Area

If you fancy a break from sight-seeing, spend the day relaxing by the hotel's lovely swimming pool. Alternatively, you can continue exploring. Start in Catania, the ancient port city – you’ll find contemporary art galleries and ancient Palazzos to visit. Meander your way back up to Taormina, perched above the undulating coast. Visit the ancient theatre while you’re here - In the summer months you may be lucky enough to catch a live performance in the Teatro Greco (payable locally). Corso Umberto is the bustling main street, which is lined with small shops, cafes and restaurants. Have your evening meal in a restaurant in the heart of the old town of Taormina tonight.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner in Taormina 

Day 14: Taormina / Mount Etna

Mount Etna dominates Sicily’s east coast – you’re bound to have spotted the towering volcano as you’ve driven around the island. Today, see it up close. As you reach higher altitudes the scenery transforms into a lunar-like landscape of rich black lava. You can get close to the summit by taking the cable car or if you’re feeling energetic you can walk to the dormant craters. Once you’re at the top, on a clear day you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views. On your way back down towards the foot hills of the volcano stop at the farm of one of the vineyards on the flanks of the Etna, where you’ll have the chance to sample more of Sicily’s fantastic wine.

Meals included: Breakfast, Wine tasting on Etna

Day 15: Sicily to UK

Make your way back Catania Airport to return your hire car and catch your flight home.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Your holiday includes

  • Car Hire with unlimited mileage
  • 14 nights 4* accommodation on bed and breakfast board
  • Detailed driving instructions, maps and suggested itineraries
  • Dinner at top restaurants in Syracuse, Palermo, Lipari & Taormina
  • Wine tasting and lunch in Selinunte area
  • Oil tasting and dinner in Trapani area 
  • Wine tasting on Etna
  • Foot passenger return boat tickets: Milazzo Port – Lipari Island

Your holiday excludes:

  • Any extras, lunches, drinks and personal expenses
  • Parking costs (where applicable) 
  • Entrance to museums and archaeological sites

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★★★★ Villa Politi, Syracuse area (2 nights)

★★★★ Vecchia Masseria, Caltagirone area (2 nights)

★★★★ Alba Palace, Agrigento area (1 night)

★★★★ Baglio Fontanasalsa, Trapani area (2 nights)

★★★★ Porta Felice or Palazzo Sitano, Palermo area (2 nights)

★★★★ Bougainville, Lipari (2 nights)

★★★★ Villa Sonia, Taormina area (3 nights)

Please note that these hotels are subject to availability at the time of booking. If these are not available, they will be changed to hotels of a similar standard and location.

Departure dates

  • Flexible daily departures

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This accommodation is not available to be booked online, please call our Reservations Team on 01483 791111 to book or for further information

Due to the constantly changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis, we may need to change or withdraw at short notice some advertised accommodation facilities and resort services to help keep everyone safe.

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