1 Week Sicily Itinerary : The Magic Of Western Sicily

Cefalù from the Rocca
Cefalù, Image by kuhnmi via Flickr

Sicily, located at the tip of Southern Italy, is famous for its rich culture, history, and stunning landscapes. If you are planning to visit this enchanting island, you need a comprehensive itinerary to explore it thoroughly. This article will guide you through a 7-day itinerary to make the most of your trip to Sicily. From exploring the ancient Greek ruins to indulging in delicious local delicacies, this itinerary covers all the must-visit places on the island’s West Coast.

Day 1 and 2 – Palermo

The streets of Palermo
Palermo, Image by Dan Masa via Flickr
1 Week Sicily Itinerary
Palermo, Image by Dan Masa via Flickr

Things to do in Palermo

Exploring the city and its massive history

The first day of your trip is all about exploring the city. You’ll start at the Cathedralle di Palermo, one of Sicily’s most important churches. This colossal building has been around since 1072 and is one of the greatest examples of the Arab-Norman architecture that once characterized the city. The adjoining Piazza, with magnificent palm trees forming little green islands in the middle of the cobblestone ground, is one of the most charming places in Palermo.

Once you’ve taken in this beautiful view, walk down a few streets to see the Norman Palace and San Giovanni degli Eremit (the building with the remarkable red domes). Afterward, head to one of Europe’s largest opera houses: Teatro Massimo. You may have the chance to go inside and catch a show if you have some time to spare.

Monreale Cathedral

Part of the same series of UNESCO protected buildings as the Cathedral of Palermo, the Duomo di Monreale should be on the list of any travelers interested in regional Italian architecture. One of the nice features about the cathedral is that it is possible to take a tour of its intact cloister. Don’t dismiss it as another old, boring building. It’s one of Italy’s most impressive masterpieces of medieval architecture!

Bask in the sun at the Spiaggia di Mondello (Mondello Beach)

It is hard not to want to take advantage of all the seaside time Sicily has to offer. While in Palermo, do as the locals do and head to the Spiaggia di Mondello. With crystal clear water, the white sands west of Palermo is easily accessible from the city. However, its beauty and proximity make it unsurprisingly crowded in the summer.

Statues in Palermo, Italy
Palermo, Image by Dan Masa via Flickr
The red domes of Palermo
Palermo, Image by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra via Flickr

What are the red domes in Palermo?

One of the most striking features when looking at postcards of Palermo are its unique red domes. Far from being a common element in the Italian city, the red domes of Palermo are only found on two churches: Chiesa di San Cataldo and San Giovanni degli Eremit. The remarkable bright red plaster, so distinctive of Palermo’s history, can be found nowhere else in the world.   

Where to stay in Palermo

When looking for places to stay in Palermo, you should stick with hotels near the famous Quattro Canti or the neighbourhood of Politeama-Libertà. You also want to stay clear of the area around the Ballarò market after the sun goes down.

Mid-RangePorta di Castro Boutique Hotel4.5 / 5From € 215 / night
LuxuryGrand Hotel et Des Palmes4.5 / 5From € 322 / night

Where to eat in Palermo

Sfrigola Palermo

Arancini are a staple of Sicilian cuisine and an absolute must when visiting the island’s biggest city. The best rice balls can be found at Sfrigola Palermo. Why are they considered the best? Because of their freshness! Whereas everyone else sells you pre-fried Arancini, Sfrigola cooks them right before you!

Mastunicola Pizza

Do like us and go with this exceptional local recommendation! Tucked away from the madness of the Via Roma, this exquisite restaurant serves the best pizza in Palermo. Fresh, creative and balanced are the only way to describe the dishes offered at Mastunicola.

The Cathedral of Palermo
Palermo, Image by Ben Cappellacci via Flickr
The Streets of Palermo
Palermo, Image by Dan Masa via Flickr

Day 3 – Day trip to Cefalù

Train from Palermo to Cefalù: Takes 1h et costs €7/person

Must-sees in Cefalù

Duomo di Cefalù and the Piazza del Duomo

After wandering through Cefalù’s picturesque alleyways, you unavoidably end up in the cosy Piazza del Duomo. This small town square at the doorstep of the Rocca is the perfect place to wet one’s whistle with a brisk Aperol Spritz. This landmark, overlooked by UNESCO recognized Cathedral of Cefalù, is where the Cefaludesi spend the afternoon (and gossip)!

Spiaggia du Cefalù (Cefalù Beach)

If the whimsical side of Cefalù wasn’t enough to draw you there, then the beach running along the town will assuredly win you over. Sometimes aquamarine green, sometimes the colour of the Atlantic Ocean, the Spiaggia du Cefalù’s character changes with the weather. The waterfront’s vastness makes the crowd feel less oppressive in the summertime.

On top of being ideal for sunbathers and families with small children, the Spiaggia boasts plenty of bars and restaurants just across the street!

The Beach in Cefalu
Cefalù, Image by Allan Harris via Flickr
1 Week Sicily Itinerary
Cefalù, Image by Allan Harris via Flickr

La Rocca

The sizeable rocky hill doesn’t have to be the background of your day trip to Cefalù; It can, in fact, be the opportunity for a beautiful coastal hike! According to Wikipedia, the Rocca rises some 270 meters above sea level. The steep and sometimes uneven path takes about 45 min. to hike. It is nonetheless well worth the pain. Climbing the path’s steps, you’ll be surrounded by the perfume of blooming flowers, pine trees and cacti.

At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a bird’s eye view of the city (as seen in the picture at the top) and the ruins of a castle as old as the hills. It is possible to explore the fortress slowly being taken over by the vegetation.

I recommend wearing suitable shoes for the hike and don’t forget to bring 4 EUR for the entrance fee.

Rocca di Cefalù
Rocca di Cefalù, Image by Alain Muller via Flickr
1 week Sicily itinerary -  Western Sicily
 Rocca di Cefalù, Image by Radek Kucharski via Flickr

Day 4 – Segesta and Erice

Car ride from Palermo to Segesta: Takes 45 min.

Things to do in Segesta

Doric Temple of Segesta and Greek Theatre

Heading into the Western Sicilian countryside is like stepping into a time portal.

The ruins of Segesta encompass two standout attractions: a perfectly preserved Doric temple and an ancient Greek theatre. The latter might not have the same ocean backdrop as the one in Taormina, but the surrounding green hills are, in my opinion, just as impressive. Exploring the two archaeological sites can be done in as few as 30 minutes, but those more well-versed in classical history may want to spend more time here.

Getting close to the temple and the theatre requires a bit of a climb up large stairs.

Segesta Ionic Temple
Segesta, Image by Andrea Castelli via Flickr
1 week Sicily itinerary -  Western Sicily
Segesta, Image by A S via Flickr

Driving from Segesta to Erice: Takes 30 min.

Things to do in Erice

The Castello di Venere

Sometimes considered the most magical town in Sicily because of its medieval charm, Erice is a small hilltop town just a few steps away from Segesta. 

Besides having a striking Norman fortress (the Castello di Venere), a visit to Erice will let you appreciate the dramatic view that goes from nearby Trapani to the salt pans in Marsala. You can even see the dreamlike Egadi islands in the bay’s waters below.

Wandering through the cobblestone streets of Erice

At this point, you can either visit the Duomo di Erice or ride the cable car down the hill.

Castello di Venere
Erice, Image by A S via Flickr
1 week Sicily itinerary -  Western Sicily
Erice, Image by A S via Flickr

Where to stay in Erice

Mid-RangeVenere di Erice Resort Hotel4 / 5From € 85 / night

Day 5 – Trapani and Marsala

Trip from Erice to Trapani: Takes 15 min.

It’s impossible to separate a visit to Trapani from Marsala. While the former has elegant architecture and more of a city vibe, the latter has rustic charisma and better wine.

Things to do in Trapani

Corso Vittorio Emanuele

One of the prettiest streets in Trapani displays a richness of baroque architecture. Those looking for more than just a cappuccino in a quiet café can check out the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo and Chiesa del Purgatorio, two of the city’s most interesting churches.

Riserva Naturale Saline Di Trapani E Paceco

The salt pans on the coast between Trapani and Marsala are Western Sicily’s best-kept secret. The sight of the mills on the waters is completely enchanting and even more so in the light of the setting sun. Be sure to take a tour of one of the local salinas. Riserva Naturale Orientata Saline di Trapani is a good place to experience nature around these old-time factories. The mills of Marsala, for their part, offer a totally different experience!

Things to do in Trapani
Trapani, Image by A S via Flickr
Salt pans marsala
The Salt Pans in Marsala, Image by Alex Berger via Flickr

Driving from Trapani to Marsala: Takes 30 min.

Things to do in Marsala

SEI – Saline Ettore E Infersa

Saline Ettore E Infersa offers several activities for a more hands-on experience with the saltpans. A seasonal open-air spa (using the pan as a salt bath) and dinner on a nearby terrace are only some of the possibilities. It’s possible to step inside the basins and be a salt worker for a day!

Cantine Florio

Visit the most famous winery in Marsala! Walking around the cellars before tasting some of the local wines. We learned all about the family’s rich history and how the wines are produced. It is undoubtedly the best place to take a wine tour (after Mount Etna!)

Where to stay in Trapani

Mid-RangeDimora Botteghelle5 / 5From € 154 / night

Day 6 – Selinunte

Car ride from Marsala to Selinunte: Takes 1h

Must sees in Selinunte
Selinunte, Image by A S via Flickr
1 week Sicily itinerary - Western Sicily
Selinunte, Image by A S via Flickr

Must-sees in Selinunte

Wonder at the ancient ruins in the Parco Archeologico Selinunte

It’s impossible not to be awestruck by the spectacular archeological park of Selinunte. Although the only standing temple was rebuilt in the 1950s, you should still visit this stunning piece of history.

It is, in fact, the only Greek temple in Sicily (the others being in Segesta and Agrigento) where you can actually walk inside the temple.

The 3 main sites are so vast that you won’t notice how busy this beautiful seaside location is. After some time here, you’ll most likely want to take a break. That’s what the small café in the middle of the park is for, offering visitors great gelato and amazing views of the ancient Greek city.

“Long” vs “short” access to the Selinunte Archaeological Park

Arriving at the park, you’ll have to make some decisions. Should you go with the long access ticket, or is the short access enough? Should you take tickets with or without access to the shuttles (the golf carts)?

The usual consensus is that the best parts of Selinunte are covered by the short access tickets, and only history buffs should consider the long access ticket at Selinunte.

However, if you take the long access ticket, know that the far-away sites require more than a 5 km walk or the use of the shuttles.

Where to stay in Selinunte

LuxuryMomentum Wellness Bio-Resort4,5 / 5From € 300 / night
BudgetVilla Sogno5 / 5From € 100 / night
Valley of the Temples
Ruben Holthuijsen via Flickr
1 week Sicily itinerary -  Western Sicily
Ruben Holthuijsen via Flickr

Day 7 – Agrigento and the valley of the temples

Driving from Selinunte to Agrigento: Takes 1,5h

Things to do in Agrigento

Valle dei Templi, Temple of Concordia, Tempio of Juno and the Archaeological Museum

The Valley of the Temples is the largest site of Roman ruins after Athens.

These Greek temples in the middle of Western Sicily are among the best around. Plus, you’ll have a much calmer experience here than you would when visiting the crowded Acropolis in Greece! I strongly recommend going there with a guide as it is the best way fully understand this beautiful archeological park.

Don’t go to the Valley of the Temples thinking you can see it all in a mere 30 minutes. In fact, the Agrigento temples are on a huge site spread over a few kilometers!

When buying tickets for the Valle dei Templi, you can choose to add a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Agrigento or the Kolymbethra Garden.

Pro tip

While using a golf cart is an option, remember to bring a hat, sunscreen, and good walking shoes. Many chose to visit the archeological park in the afternoon. But here’s a tip: the park is also a great place to explore in the evening. After the sun sets, the lights begin to glow and impart a singular elegance to the ancient sanctuaries.

Scala dei Turchi (Stair of the Turks)

Just a short ride from Agrigento, travelers can find the impressive white cliffs called the Scala dei Turchi. 

Carved into a flight of steps by the wind and sea, this remote location is worth the detour to see the striking contrast between the crystalline blue waters against the milky limestone. 

Be careful; the cliffs can get slippery after afternoon showers. In such cases, shoes with some traction are definitely recommended. There is no well-beaten path to the stair; be prepared to do a little climbing.

Scala dei Turchi (Stair of the Turks) - Things to do in Agrigento
Scala dei Turchi, Image by Catherine Poh Huay Tan via Flickr
1 week Sicily itinerary - Western Sicily
Scala dei Turchi, Image by Catherine Poh Huay Tan via Flickr

Where to stay in Agrigento

B&BVilla La Lumia B&B Suites & Apartments4,5 / 5From € 184 / night
Mid-RangeDoric Boutique Hotel5 / 5From € 199 / night

Driving from Agrigento to Palermo Airport: Takes 2 hours

Can you travel sicily without a car

It is possible to travel to Sicily without a car, but it may require more planning and effort. The island has a good-enough public transportation network that includes buses and trains and connects major cities. Private shuttle services, taxis, and scooters are also available. However, you may have to reduce the number of places you want to cover during your trip.

What could be a 2 hours trip can become a full-day transit without access to a car.