Sicily with kids: all you need to know to plan a trip to this stunning land of nature and art
All you need to know to plan a trip to Sicily with kids. Family friendly places in Sicily, best things to see, practical travel tips for families.
Sicily is a world, a wonderful world of stunning nature, breathtaking archaeological sites, art filled city and some of the best food and welcoming people you will ever meet.
It is a fabulous place to visit at all ages and a wonderful Italian destination to visit with kids.
Unless you have a lot of time (15+ days), the best way to visit Sicily is to pick part of it, get a car, and explore locally.
Slow travel is the best type of tourism you can do here and if you come at a time when you can go to the beach, you will need to factor in even more: once your kids bathe in the Sicilian sea, they will never want to leave!
These are our top travel tips to visit Sicily with kids.
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The best places to visit in Sicily with kids: East, West or both?
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and one of the richest in terms of natural and man-made attractions.
For ease, I have organized the best things to see in two parts, Eastern Sicily and Western Sicily.
Both are worth visiting and it is genuinely hard to objectively recommend one over the other, the choice very much coming down to individual attractions you find yourself drawn to.
If you cannot choose, it is also possible to combine the two however, this will take some time.
I would strongly recommend not to tackle a full drive around Sicily if you only have a handful of days and pick one of the two arras instead.
What I haven’t included in this guide are the Sicilian islands: this is not because they are not worth it but the opposite!
They are so beautiful and so varies, they deserve time on their own!
The best places to visit in Eastern Sicily with kids
Eastern Sicily is one of the most popular areas of the island for visitors, thanks to the presence of many attractions and of two convenient airports: Catania and, farther South, Comiso.
In this area you will find beautiful cities, wonderful archaeological sites, exciting Mount Etna and some wonderful beaches and fishing villages adults and kids will love.
Places we recommend to visit in Eastern Sicily are below.
Taormina is a wonderful small town perched on a hilltop overlooking the East Coast of Sicily.
A famous port cruise, Taormina has been a must-see place for visitors since the time of the Grand Tour and has a glamorous reputation to match. It is indeed very pretty!
The town has a pretty main street and lovely shops and restaurants but stands out for two things that unique and make a stop here unforgettable: the ancient theater, one of the most scenic archaeological sites in Italy and the world and stunning viewing terraces looking over Mount Etna and the Mediterranean.
Taormina is lovely with older kids: they will love the cable car connecting the beach to the higher part of town and the opportunity to climb Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe!
Families with young kids will like it too although mobility here is not the easiest (think steps!) so finding appropriate accommodation is paramount.
You can find out guide to Taormina here
Catania is a rather large city in east Sicily and the first one many visitors see, if arriving at its convenient international airport, Catania Fontanarossa.
Close to Taormina, Mount Etna and Siracusa, just to name a few of the most famous localities in the area, it can be a good weekend destination or a starting point for a longer stay.
Catania has several things that will attract children.
The small tourist train to see the city center without having to walk (great with toddlers!), the fountains of the elephant, the fish market and beautiful Villa Bellini (park) are likely to be a hit but most of all I believe they will remember the present of the volcano, that dominates the city, its architecture and atmosphere!
Good to know! Kids who love amusement parks and aqua parks will love to know that this area has EtnaLand, the biggest amusement park in the South of Italy!
Mount Etna is one of the most exciting places for kids in Sicily. An active volcano, you can climb up and experience the fumes, heath and views a mighty volcano comes with!
There are several ways to visit the volcano and some areas and hikes easier with kids than others and the options of guided tours abound.
Some to consider are (please check age suitability of each)
Mount Etna cable car, jeep and hiking excursion to top craters
Mount Etna Sunset jeep tour from Catania
I am going to be totally honest here and declare Siracusa one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen!
Sicily is all special but Siracusa is just off the scale amazing and the one place we loved the most out of all our time in Sicily with kids.
The town has a wonderful historical center, the island of Ortygia, with a breathtaking duomo, beautiful views of the sea and delightful ancient city center streets and a little farther out there is Siracusa’s archaeological park, dating back to Greek and Roman times.
We visited Siracusa with the kids when they were 6 and 8 and the place was a huge hit: the old town and the park, especially the incredible Latomie, the park quarry are a sight to behold and very easy to visit at all ages.
Siracusa also has a great museum for kids, the Leonardo Archimede Museum, full of the inventions and discoveries of these two incredible personalities.
You can find our guide to a day in Siracusa here.
The Noto Valley (Val di Noto)
Val di Noto is an area of the South East of Sicily with a cluster of baroque cities so beautiful and unique, they are now UNESCO world heritage site.
Ragusa Ibla, Noto, Modica, Scicli are only some of the most beautiful and will surround you with art and the atmosphere of the Commissario Montalbano books and TV Series – a must see before a trip to this area of Sicily!
The cities are all stunning but there are a few things in particular kids may enjoy: the the small tourist trains that allow to visit baroque treasures from a comfortable seat (Ragusa Ibla and Modica), the famous and delicious chocolate of Modica, made here and work famous and the playgrounds in Noto itself.
Good to know: this area has some gorgeous beaches and smaller villages worth seeing like Instagram-friendly Marzamemi.
Western Sicily with kids
Western Sicily offers very different atmospheres from its Eastern Counterpart but has as much to offer to families.
Not to be missed in this area are:
Palermo is the capital city of Sicily and one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.
Its architecture is incredible and mixed influences from all the civilizations that called this city home, making it not just beautiful but also a wonderful learning ground for older kids (and adults!) who love history.
Palermo has a lot to offer to adults and kids: not to be missed are all the main historical attraction such as the Palermo cathedral and the markets, an explosion of colors and flavors that is just too fun (and delicious)!
For some quieter time and younger kids, it is worth going to Parco della Salute (playground with sea view) and in case of rain you may want to check out the Puppet Museum or Teatro dell’Opera dei Pupi, devoted to the special Sicilian art of Pupi Theater.
Cefalu’ is a small seaside town about 70km from Palermo and a wonderful place to visit with kids for a day trip or longer.
The town has a historical center, a lovely sea promenade, a picture perfect harbor (the photo at the top of this article is Cefalu’) and a stunning cathedral and rock offering beautiful views.
Kids are likely to love the small tourist train and of course the local family friendly sandy beach!
Scopello, Castellammare del Golfo, Riserva dello Zingaro
In between Palermo and Trapani lies an area of outstanding natural beauty called ‘Riserva dello Zingaro’ (Zingaro Reserve), blessed with stunning beaches and wonderful, crystal clear waters.
The area is a delight with kids and perfect if you want a sea and sun vacation in Sicily with the option of interesting excursions.
For families, the town of Castellammare del Golfo is the most suitable, thanks to lovely sandy beaches and plenty of accommodation opportunities, but we have a soft spot for the small town of Scopello nearby, which is tiny and super charming.
In the area, not to be misses in the stunning temple of Segesta, a marvel of Greek architecture in a stunning natural setting.
Trapani’s saline (salt pans)
A fantastic place to visit in Western Sicily with kids are the saline (salt pans), the area where salt gets produced.
The place is interesting but also visually incredible.
The salt is produced in a vast lagoon dotted with windmills and the way the water and salt reflect the light give this unusual landscape a properly otherworldly aspect!
Kids are guaranteed to drop their jaws as they see the little mountains of salt – if they are ok staying out a little late, come at sunset for the most breathtaking pink skies.
Erice is unique and wonderful Medieval town perched on top of a hill in the province of Trapani, in Western Sicily.
It is very different from other areas of Sicily as its geographical position means that it is often misty and moody, something not many associate with this otherwise sun drenched island!
Erice is good fun with kids: the most scenic way to reach it is by cable car (you can also drive here) and the small alleys of the town are a super fun maze for small kids to enjoy.
If visiting with very young kids, a carrier is a better idea than a stroller as the roads here and ancient and very bumpy (part of the charm!).
Not to be missed with kids is the castle, that has a small playground just in front.
Good to know: Erice has cooler temperatures than the surrounding area and it is a great place to be if you want to be in Sicily but don’t love the heat!
Erice, the saline (salt plains) and Segesta can be visited as a day tour from Palermo, should you not want to drive in this area.
La valle dei Templi, Agrigento (Valley of temples)
If you love history or you have kids who are fascinated by ancient civilizations, then the place to be is the area of Selinunte and Agrigento, dotted with outstanding Greek temples and vestiges.
The Valley is one of the most famous sites in Sicily and indeed, it is wonderful and big, with several temples are areas worth seeing.
How much kids will enjoy it will largely depend on the temperature on the day of your visit.
The park is outdoors and in normal weather conditions small kids will love the ability to run around however, in summer it gets super sunny and super hot so that will affect how long and how pleasant your visit will be!
The park has several shaded area and a shuttle should the walking get too much however, the best way to tackle it is to get there early (or late) and then mix a day here with time on the beach.
San Leone area nearby offers several options.
Practical tips for visiting Sicily with kids
You can get to Sicily by plane (Palermo, Catania, Trapani and Comiso are all handy), car (with ferry crossing from Calabria) or train.
If you catch the train, the ferry crossing is included as the train boars the ferry itself! Super fun to experience with kids.
The best way to explore Sicily is by car.
The weather is summer can get overly hot and proximity to water will be important.
In winter, it can get surprisingly chilly so dressing appropriately is a must: this is not a sea and sun destination all year round!
With small kids, I recommend bringing both a stroller and a baby carrier: you can read my tips for using strollers in Italy and tips for visiting Italy with a baby or toddler here.
I hope you enjoyed this non-exhaustive guide to Sicily with kids and it gave you ideas on where to go next. Safe travels!