The island of Sicily is absolutely full of charming places to visit and stay at. From the bustling metropolis that is Palermo to quaint mountain villages, there is something for everyone. Let us help you with planning your itinerary with some of the best small towns in Sicily.
Of course, it’s really hard to select just 15 small towns out of all the wonderful villages in settlements on the island. This is why we went with our favorites.
We wanted to make a list that you can use as a good starting point when you are planning your Sicilian vacation. Many of the towns we highlight today can also make great bases for exploring Sicily.
Exploring the small towns of Sicily
If you want to experience Sicily to its fullest we highly recommend that you rent a car. While some of these smaller towns have great public transport connections to the main areas of Sicily, some have bad public transport options only.
A rental car will especially come in handy if you plan on staying in any of these places. As they are small towns you will need to plan day trips and a car will give you all the flexibility you need.
Whenever you are exploring the small towns in Sicily you’ll find that parking can be a problem. Usually, parking spaces are only available in paid parking areas so definitely try to keep some change on you to buy parking tickets.
The 15 best small towns in Sicily
Sicily is one of the most beautiful regions of Italy, and the island’s smaller towns are particularly charming. The island’s many small cities are full of character, and they have a reputation for being hidden gems. Let’s explore 15 of the best small towns in Sicily.
We’ll start our journey to our favorite small towns in Sicily with the beautiful and unique Erice. This hilltop settlement is not just unique on the island but it’s one of the few remaining true medieval towns in the world.
You will find Erice in the Trapani Province of Sicily. The town is essentially a hilltop settlement that looks remarkably close to what it would have looked like in the medieval ages. As you arrive by car you will see a big parking lot where you must leave your car. Only the locals can drive into the town.
Leaving the parking lot you’ll walk through the main gate of Erice and you will be instantly transported back in time. Cobblestone streets, ancient buildings, and an old-world atmosphere. The main streets are car-free and it’s very easy to get pulled into a time traveler feeling as you are exploring Erice.
When it comes to visiting Erice there are a few options. First, you can drive up the winding mountain road to the village and leave the car in the parking lot.
You can also take the cable car from Trapani or the scheduled bus from Trapani. Alternatively, you can go as part of a day trip from Palermo or other towns nearby.
Gangi is a charming small town in Sicily that you will find in the region of Palermo. Although it’s in the region of Palermo it’s actually around 80 kilometers (50 miles) away from Palermo so there is some driving if you want to visit.
The town is an impressive hill town in Sicily. As you are approaching from the road you will already see Gangi taking up the entire hillside which makes for some great photos.
Although, there are a lot of hillside and hilltop towns in Sicily we think that Gangi is one of the most picturesque among all of them. When visiting you can follow the official tourist route of the town which will take you through some of Gangi’s most beautiful streets. The route is great for exploring all the churches in town which are the main attractions.
You’ll also see some amazing lookout spots to take in the scenery. On the clearest of days, you can actually see the Etna behind Gangi. Unfortunately, with the latest volcanic activity of Etna, such days are hard to come by nowadays.
If you visit by car you’ll have to drive up the hill to the top where there is some free parking and if that’s full you’ll most likely find paid parking at the very top. You can also find paid parking along the main road passing through Gangi but it does take some walking from there if you want to explore the hearth of the city.
Another historical small town in Sicily is Castelbuono. Similar to Gangi it’s in the greater Palermo region, and it’s actually just a short drive away from Gangi. Whenever you are planning a road trip it’s recommended that you plan these two towns together.
Castelbuono is a historical village. Its name comes from the local castle which still stands proud over the town today. The castle and the old town area of Castelbuono is a great place for exploring. Inside the old town, the streets get small and more akin to a real medieval village from a time when cars were non-existent.
There is limited free and paid parking along the streets of the town. If there are free spaces then parking on Via Castello is the best. Otherwise, I would just leave the car in one of the residential areas where the locals park (just make sure there are no ‘locals only’ sign).
Sperlinga is a small village in the Enna region of Sicily. It’s well known for the castle of Sperlinga which we even featured in our list of the best castles in Sicily. The castle alone is worth the visit but this charming village is ever so inviting with the tiny streets and beautiful houses.
A little-known fact is that you can also find houses built inside the rock walls of the nearby mountainous area. It’s a nice little hidden gem to discover.
As Sperlinga is pretty small you can explore this beautiful village quickly on foot. Parking is available along the main road and it’s free. The main road that passes through the town can get a little tight at places so just mind the oncoming traffic.
5. Castiglione di Sicilia
Castiglione di Sicilia is another charming village in Sicily. It’s located in the greater Catania region but once again don’t let this fool you. You’ll have to drive more than an hour if you want to visit from Catania as the town is actually on the other side of Mount Etna.
Including Castiglione di Sicilia in your itinerary is totally worth it. It’s one of those amazing villages that rest on a hilltop and every little inch of that hilltop is occupied by the village.
You can easily be amazed by the small cobblestone alleyways, streets, and the elevation changes inside the town. If you think the old town area is not enough for you then you’ll be happy to learn that there is also an amazing castle to check out.
There is free parking along the main street of the town. If you don’t visit during the busiest season then there are definitely enough spaces for everyone.
Scicli is a small town that you can find in the Ragusa region of the island. One of the main attractions of Scicli are the beautiful churches that make up the old town.
Speaking of the old town, Scicli has a pretty big old town area where you can explore on foot and take in the amazing atmosphere that this small town has to offer.
Scicli is also perfect if you are looking for a ‘hidden gem’ as it’s often overlooked due to the neighboring towns such as Ragusa. Worry not, however, Scicli is just as beautiful as the other towns around but much less visited making it a nice off-the-beaten-path location.
Paid parking is available near the old town area or alternatively, you can find a lot of free on-street parking in the residential areas. It’s not a long walk so maybe keep this option in mind.
Cefalù is one of the most famous small towns in Sicily. This wonderful seaside town is famous for the big rock dominating the scenery and the old Byzantine mosaics found in town.
Cefalù also doubles as one of the best beach towns in Sicily since it has a very nice beach where you can swim with the city as your background. Tons of fun.
Walking the streets you can explore churches, old Italian architecture, and you can climb the rock to find ancient ruins and the castle of Cefalù.
Honestly, Cefalù is one of our favorite Sicilian small towns. It has everything such as great restaurants, beautiful beaches, superb architecture, and history. It’s an all-around fascinating place.
Parking can be difficult. There is free parking in the marina but it fills up quickly during summer, plus there is a sign that says: park only inside the painted lines.
A lot of paid parking is available on the west side of town so that is probably your best bet. Just make sure that you don’t enter the ‘Z.L.T.’ area or ‘Zona Limitada’ where only people with a pass can enter. The whole old town area is limited to locals so if you are coming from the east you have to go around and not through the town.
8. Ortigia (Syracuse)
Ortigia is actually the old town area of Syracuse in Sicily. The name derives from the island the area is located on, which is named Ortigia.
Ortigia is one of the must-see small towns in Sicily. It’s filled with impressive buildings, narrow streets, and beautiful churches. The main square of Ortigia will surely blow you away and the castle is also a great visit.
Should you want to dip your feet in the water you can also bring your swimming apparel as there are some limited options to bathe next to the city.
If you come early enough there is also a huge market open on weekdays. The perfect place to embrace the Italian market experience if you haven’t had the chance yet. Also, the street food vendors in the market are usually pretty awesome.
There is a ton of paid parking near Ortigia so that shouldn’t be a problem. If you are looking for free parking we recommend Via del Porto Grande where you can find some great parking spots depending on the tourist season.
9. Ragusa (Ragusa Ibla)
We contemplated whether to include Ragusa as a small town in Sicily or not but in reality, most of the places are small towns in Sicily. Only Palermo and Catania are the really big and bustling places.
Regardless, do note that Ragusa is bigger than most small towns around the area and it has extensive residential neighborhoods.
What you are interested in is Ragusa Ibla the historical part of Ragusa. It’s a wonderful medieval town with amazing churches, castles, and great restaurant options. The small streets of Ragusa Ibla are very typical of Sicilian towns and they are great at charming tourists with the oozing atmosphere of small-town Italy.
As usual, paid parking is readily available near the entrance of the old town. It is your best bet as you can’t drive your car inside the old town anyway. You may try the residential neighborhoods for free street parking but they are pretty far from the historical areas.
Modica is one more entry of beautiful and historical towns in the Ragusa area. These towns, close together, make the perfect road trip opportunity for a full-day itinerary.
The town is known for its superb Baroque architecture and the main cathedral. Tourists love walking around the ancient streets and love exploring the hidden features on the facades of buildings. Those who are looking for a bit more than history can also visit a chocolate museum in town. Yummy!
Free street parking is available near the old town part of Modica. There are a lot of spaces so, in theory, you can find some parking even at the height of tourist season.
11. Monterosso Almo
Are you looking for a smaller authentic experience in the Ragusa region of Sicily? The small town of Monterosso Almo might be the one you are looking for.
Monterosso Almo is another amazing hilltop town with winding streets and a lot of narrow paths. You’ll be going up and down the narrow cobblestone paths as you explore the Baroque and Sicilian-style buildings and churches.
There is a lot to Monterosso Almo, especially if you are looking for a laid-back Sicilian hilltop village. It’s usually missing from the itinerary of many tourists so a visit here can be a break from all the other touristy places.
Free parking is available along the main road making it easy to access.
One more very famous small town in Sicily is Taormina. You can reach it easily from Catania by driving around one hour. It’s a hilltop town on the coast of the Mediterranean sea. This fact alone guarantees great views but there are also many restaurants with terraces overlooking the coastline. Absolutely spectacular scenery.
In recent years Taormina has developed into a somewhat upscale vacation spot. Restaurants fight to have the best views, the best foods, and the most lavish presentations. As the same goes for hotels we can say that Taormina is definitely among the more expensive places in Sicily.
Regardless, walking the main street is a great experience. The atmosphere of Taormina is almost unmatched and there are plenty of beautiful buildings to explore. The center stage of tourist sights is taken by the local amphitheater that you can check out during your visit.
Parking in Taormina is only available as paid parking. We recommend the Porta Catania Parking building. You can leave the car there and explore the town on foot.
13. Palazzolo Acreide
Palazzolo Acreide is one of the most beautiful small towns in Sicily in the Syracuse region. It’s known for the impressive religious architecture that’s visible in the churches of the town.
Another attractive sight in Palazzolo Acreide is the Museo Archeologico Gabriele Judica which showcases multiple artifacts that were uncovered in the region.
Overall Palazzolo Acreide is an off-the-beaten-path location that you can visit if you want to see fewer tourists and more authenticity.
Paid parking very close to the historical center and free parking a bit further away.
14. Montalbano Elicona
One of the most beautiful small towns in Sicily is Montalbano Elicona. You will find it in the hilly Messina region of the island. And when we say it’s one of the most beautiful in Sicily we don’t lie. It was actually nominated for the ‘Most Beautiful Village 2015’ award. And that is the most beautiful village on Earth not just in Italy.
The small streets will remind you of a medieval town with the buildings and facades to make the illusion complete. Towering over the town you will see the old castle which was preserved in a very nice condition.
Although the town is pretty small you’ll have a lot to see so we recommend that you plan at least a couple of hours for your visit. Maybe even try one of the nice local restaurants to eat something authentic.
Free street parking is available around town so try to find one of those spots.
Last, but as the saying goes not least on our list is the charming village of Savoca. It’s one of the smallest towns in Sicily that we’ve selected for this list. It’s truly just a few streets that you can walk and explore.
The small hilltop town is a perfect stop whenever you are exploring the eastern coast of Sicily as it’s located just a stone’s throw away from the main highway that passes on the coast.
The small town consists almost entirely of original and original-like buildings. It gives out a very medieval vibe which is only enhanced by the mostly cobblestone streets. Another beautiful hilltop town that you should add to your itinerary when visiting the island.
Parking is along the side of the street and it’s mostly paid parking for tourists as the best spots are reserved for the locals.