Best time to visit Sicily
As the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily has long attracted settlers and tourists. Separated from mainland Italy by the narrow Strait of Messina, the island is dotted with beautiful beaches and dotted with historic stone townships and ancient ruins.
Humans colonized this triangle of land as early as 12,000 BC, and the island saw the rise of the great ancient Phoenician and Greek civilizations. Later, the island was ruled by Byzantines, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Normans, and Arab conquerors, all of whom contributed to the island’s rich and unique culture. The Sicilian dialect still includes words from the languages of the peoples who conquered the island, including Arabic, Greek and Spanish.
Sicily enjoys a classic Mediterranean climate, with hot, sunny summers and mild winters with moderate rains. During the picture-perfect spring and summer, tourists flock to Sicily for swimming, surfing and sightseeing, but fall and winter are great seasons to enjoy food, architecture. and the culture of the island. Despite the delightfully mild weather, the summit of Etna, Sicily’s iconic volcano, is usually snow-capped from October to May.
Here are our picks for the best times to visit an island’s Italian crown jewel.
Low season: November-April
Ideal for museum visits and visits to historic palaces
The low season in Sicily, from November to April, results in reduced hotel rates and smaller crowds, but swimming in the sea is not an option. Daytime temperatures rarely drop below 10 ° C (50 ° F) in coastal towns and villages, but temperatures inland can drop below freezing, especially at night. The interior mountains of Sicily, including Mount Etna, enjoy heavy snowfall in winter, creating good conditions for skiing.
Cooler weather with gray days interrupted by a few days of sunshine make the low season a great time to enjoy Sicily’s museums and other interior attractions. Visit the capital of Sicily, Palermo, and visit countless palaces and churches, like the golden Cappella Palatina, and museums such as the Villa Zito Pinacoteca, which houses a collection of mostly Sicilian art from the 17th to the 20th century.
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Intermediate seasons: May-June and September-October
The best time to explore the architectural and cultural gems of Sicily
In late spring and early fall in Sicily, temperatures hover between 20 ° C (68 ° F) and 25 ° C (77 ° F) – perfect for exploring Sicily’s natural, architectural and cultural gems. . Enjoy the mild temperatures and the sun and visit the incredible Valley of the Temples, the Ruins of Segesta or the Parco Archeologico di Selinunte, the most important archaeological sites in Sicily.
It is also a good weather for walking. Take a walk along the coast or climb to the top of the island’s most active volcano, Stromboli, and watch its fireworks display. For an easier volcanic adventure, ride the cable car to the top of Mount Etna. You can swim comfortably in the Mediterranean until mid-September and the beaches are much less crowded. The number of visitors decreases from May to June and from September to October, so you can also count on more affordable accommodation.
High season: July-August
Best time to go to the beach
Summer in Sicily is all about the Mediterranean Sea. Visitors come in droves to hit the spiaggia (beach), soak up the sun and dive into the deep blue sea. Sicily is affected by African currents, and summers can be stifling: the Sirocco, a strong wind coming straight from the Sahara, periodically brings an additional blast of heat and dust from the south. Late summer is the high point of the tourist season, so expect higher hotel prices as well as warmer temperatures.
The hottest month is August, when daytime temperatures range between 30 ° C (75 ° F) and 35 ° C (87 ° F). Many stay close to the sea for refreshing swims, but you’ll find slightly cooler temperatures inland, especially at night. Refresh yourself with granite, a summer crushed ice treat to sip, often served with a warm brioche bun on the side.
January in Sicily can be quick and rainy. Head to the inland mountains, where skiing is cheaper than in other Italian ski areas. You can even ski the slopes of Mount Etna as the steam rises from the top!
Key events: Epifania (Epiphany), Carnevale
Average temperatures in February start to climb across the island and the rain begins to abate. Later in the month, spring begins to show in Agrigento as the iconic almond trees bloom. Expect a few more tourists in February, one of the best months to mingle with the locals.
Key events: Feast of Almond trees (Agrigento), Feast of Saint Agatha (Catania)
Temperatures rise and the sun begins to shine again as March sees the arrival of spring in Sicily. With increasingly mild temperatures, less rain in the weather forecast, and blooming wildflowers, March is a great time to hike or cycle on Sicily’s many hiking and cycling trails.
Key events: Festa della Donna, Festa di San Giuseppe (Feast of Saint Joseph)
Abundant sunshine and warmer temperatures make April a perfect month to explore Sicily’s many ancient temples and archaeological sites without the maddening crowds. Average daytime temperatures in April reach comfortable levels for alfresco dining. The predominantly Roman Catholic island celebrates Holy Week, which typically falls in April, with religious reenactments and processions featuring religious symbols and local saints.
Key events: Holy Week celebrations
May is one of the best times to visit Sicily – it’s hot and sunny, with daytime temperatures soaring to 25 ° F (77 ° C) as the month progresses. Summer crowds still haven’t reached the beaches, but the sea temperatures can put off all but the bravest of bathers. The two-month-long Greek Theater Festival kicks off in May in Syracuse and features ancient Greek theater in the city’s beautiful Teatro Greco.
Key events: Giro d’Italia, Infiorata (Noto), Festa del Muzzuni (Messina), Greek Theater Festival (Syracuse)
June marks the start of the summer season in Sicily with perfect beach weather. With an average daily high of 23˚C (74˚F), the summer heat has not yet fully arrived, but the sun is shining brightly. Don’t miss the Taormina Film Festival, which will kick off the second week of June with screenings in perhaps the most famous place in the world to watch a movie, the Greco-Roman Amphitheater in Taormina.
Key events: Taormina Film Fest, Taormina Art Fest
July is Sicily’s most popular month for visitors thanks to the warm, sunny weather and ideal sea temperatures. Although the average maximum temperature is 30 ° C (86 ° F) across the whole of island, the delicious breezes off the Mediterranean make coastal towns a treat this time of year. Many businesses close for an afternoon nap from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the hottest part of the day, in July and August.
Key events: Luglio Musicale (Trapani), The Feast of Santa Rosalia (Palermo)
Can you handle the heat of August in Sicily? Temperatures can reach a sweltering 44˚C (111˚F). August is all about the seaside scene in Sicily, and you can expect swarming crowds all over the coast. On August 14, the eve of Ferragosto (the day of the Assumption), the inhabitants light bonfires on the beaches and dance until the early hours of the morning.
Key events: Ferragosto (Assumption Day)
In September, summer weather continues in Sicily, but temperatures drop to more manageable levels and crowds begin to subside, making it one of the best months to visit. The harvest season demands sagre – festivals dedicated to local and seasonal ingredients. One of the most popular is the Pistachio Festival, which takes place in the Sicilian pistachio capital, Bronte, just west of Taormina.
Key events: Pistachio Festival (Bronte), Couscous Festival (San Vito Lo Capo)
The bounty of the harvest can be found at festivals and on restaurant tables across Sicily throughout September, and the weather is still warm enough during the day to enjoy outdoor adventures. Mushrooms abound on menus and Castelbuono’s Mushroom festival is a must see festival for mushroom lovers. Chocolate addicts will love Modica’s Chocomodica, a festival dedicated to the city’s rich and rich chocolate tradition.
Key events: Ottobrata Zafferanese, Funghi Fest (Castelbuono), Chocomodica (Modica)
Despite the rainy weather, November is a great month to explore the island’s many museums. November also marks the start of the wine season in Sicily, after the autumn harvest, making it an ideal month to enjoy the rich culinary traditions of the island.
Key events: Tutti i Santi (All Saints), Festa di San Martino (Saint-Martin)
Expect cloudy weather with occasional sunny days in December. Temperatures across the island drop sharply, so pack warmer layers and an umbrella. Sicily’s many Christmas markets kick off the holiday season, but keep in mind that many museums operate on a reduced holiday schedule.
Key events: Christmas Fair (Syracuse), Festa della Santa Lucia, Festa di Santo Stefano