Luxury Villas in Sicily

A captivating region of Italy that continues to dazzle, Sicily offers way more than just good food (although that comes in abundance!) The place to visit if you’re looking for a holiday that has a bit of everything – from historical wanderings to hikes, Sicily is somewhere you could visit time and time again… and always find something new to do! A charming melting pot of cultural architecture – ruins of Arabian castles, baroque buildings, and Byzantine mosaic-covered archways, along with a dramatic landscape of mountains, and some of the best UNESCO World Heritage sites Italy has to offer makes Sicily a veritable playground for holiday-goers.

Villas with private pools, beaches nearby and within walking distance to nice villages, our collection of villas in Sicily have been handpicked by our destination experts for their character and location.


Why visit?

  • Sicily is home to 19 small villages that were named some of the most beautiful in Italy by I Borghi più belli d’Italia, an association which promotes the great artistic, historic and cultural heritage of Italy.
  • You don’t have to be looking for an active adventure to enjoy Sicily – with a 1000km-long coastline, you’ll find plenty of gorgeous beaches to chill out on.

Read the Sicily Travel Guide

Why stay with us?

Style and character are everything at Oliver’s Travels, and our collection of handpicked villas in Sicily have this in spades.

We have destination experts who know the ins and outs of all our regions, picking villas that aren’t only unique, but also in the best locations. What's more, our villas are 100% family-friendly, and have the ‘wow’ factor.

Our helpful concierge team are on-hand to make your stay extra special. Whether you want a fully-stocked fridge, a local in-house chef to cook your meals, housekeeping or any other extra service – consider them your holiday genie, who will happily grant your wishes.

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Villas in Sicily: Our Top Picks

Why visit

Sicily is not only the largest island in the Mediterranean, it’s arguably the most breath-taking, too. Surrounded by crystal-clear waters and fringed with beaches, Sicily is a delightfully distinct part of Italy, where the local population often juggle two identities – though they’re very much Italian, they’re also fiercely Sicilian and proud of their unique island culture. 

For international visitors making the trip to one of our villas in Sicily, the island is serviced by four international airports. Falcone Borsellino is the closest to Palermo, while Fontanarossa, Vincenzo Florio, and Vincenzo Magliocco Airports are in Catania, Trapani Birgi, and Comiso respectively.

Visit Sicily

Sicilian cuisine

This pride in the island’s unique cultural and natural heritage is expressed in one of the world’s most respected cuisines and culinary masterpieces; in Sicily, food is so much more than a good meal - it’s an integral part of the community. Fresh seafood features prominently but citrus, pistachios, almonds, and ricotta are all local favourites, too.

Sicily landscape

Discovering the remarkably diverse Sicilian landscape is also a joy. From the magnificent smoking peak of Italy’s largest active volcano, Mt Etna, to the tiny coves and sweeping stretches of golden sand that ring the island, Sicily is a natural paradise that boasts something for everyone. Whether you enjoy snorkelling, hiking, swimming, cycling, or birdwatching, Sicily offers the ideal environment for a fun-filled family holiday.

History and culture 

Sicily also boasts several spectacular coastal cities and towns, most notably Palermo, Syracuse, Taormina, and Cefalù. Each is loaded with the weight of Sicily’s long and storied history. Relics, ancient ruins, and eye-catching architecture are always just around the corner. 

If you want more information, check the Sicily Travel Guide or get some ideas on things to do in Sicily in our blog.

What Oliver loves

Family holidays to Sicily aren’t complete without a trip to Palermo to explore its delicious street-food scene. Try traditional arancini (deep fried balls of rice with various fillings), panino can le panelle (fried chickpea fritters) or, if you’re brave, stigghiola (animal guts).

Best time to go

  • The Sicilian climate makes it a great destination to visit year-round.
  • The island will be both hotter and busier during the peak summer months of June, July, and August, but it’s never too much to handle.
  • The only exception to this is during the Ferragosto Italian holidays, which usually fall in the second half of August. The island packs out during this period, resulting in congested roads, beaches, and restaurants.
  • The fantastic weather in both spring and autumn means that Sicily benefits from a wonderfully long beach season. This makes April and September great times to rent holiday villas in Sicily. 

Top tips

  • Good to know: The Sicilian dialect differs considerably from mainland Italian, and even those with a good grasp of the language may struggle to understand the locals.

  • Bear in mind: Businesses will often close between 1 pm and 5 pm during the hotter months.
  • Tipping in Sicily: While it’s a nice touch to leave a little extra something, there isn’t a huge tipping culture in Sicily. A few euros after a meal or small change following a good coffee is plenty.

Family friendly

Besides splashing around in the sea and hanging out on the beach, there’s plenty of things to see and do on a family holiday to Sicily. If you’re an active bunch who like to get out and see places under your own pedal-power, a guided bike tour is the perfect way to spend a day. Sicily Bike Routes offer both half-day and full-day tours, as well as straightforward bike rental for those who want to head off and do their own thing.

For those who like a wet and wild time, EtnaLand boasts both an impressive aqua park and an adrenaline-fuelled theme park.

For older kids with an interest in history or an imagination that favours the grisly and macabre, the Palermo catacombs are a fascinating visit. Featuring the remains of the capital’s historic nobility, it’s an intriguing and, at times, spooky attraction.

Visit Mt Etna volcano

A family trip up Mt Etna in the classic cable car is also a good option. Accessible from the Sapienza Ski Resort, the car takes you up to around 2,500 metres above sea level, from which the views of the island are magnificent and the crater area is easily reached. Getting up close and personal with an active volcano is an experience your young ones won’t forget in a hurry.

Of course, renting a Sicily villa with a pool also ensures that your kids are kept busy when you head back home.

 

Discover more information about things to do with family in Sicily in our blog.

Why it’s perfect for families

  • Good for babies: The BioParco di Sicillia is a fantastic way to introduce babies and toddlers to a wide range of creatures and to allow them to come face to face with a few of their favourite animals. Check out our baby friendly villas.
  • Good for kids: Sicily has a long history of extravagant puppet shows that are great entertainment for younger kids. There are several puppet show performers in Palermo but you'll also find them in most other major towns and cities. See our villas for families with kids.

Top tips

  • Many of Sicily’s aqua and theme parks are open seasonally, so it’s a good idea to check opening periods before planning a visit.

Best beaches in Sicily

Sicily is famed for its beaches and you can spend years exploring the island’s varied coastline. Whether you’re looking for the sandy, crescent bays, craggy coves, or fantastic snorkelling spots, you’ll find something to satisfy your tastes.

Villas near the beach

Our villas in Sicily are close to the beach, ensuring you can enjoy your local beach without ever having to venture too far. However, we would also certainly recommend renting a car and heading out to discover your own little slice of paradise.

As with most islands, the Sicilian people’s connection to the sea is intrinsic to local culture and the beaches are so much more than sun-traps. While you can kick back and relax on golden sands and top up your tan, the coastal reaches are also bursting with sea-faring culture.

Beachside restaurants serve some of the freshest seafood in Italy – often straight from the boat – and the many quaint fishing villages and towns spread along the coast offer an insight into the Sicily of old. 

Oliver’s Hidden Gem

Calamosche is situated in Vendicari Nature Reserve on the south side of the island and is within easy reach of our luxury villas near Modica. Along with stunning lagoons and hidden sandy beaches, you’ll be able to spot lizards, flamingos, exotic fish and lots of exotic birds.

Calamosche beach in Sicily

Mondello beach in Palermo, Sicily

Benefiting from a fantastic retro feel, Mondello is one of the most popular beaches amongst Palermo residents thanks to its Art Nouveau villas and uber-cool Antico Stabilimento Balneare bathhouse. 

Cefalù, Sicily

Cefalù boasts a long stretch of sandy beach that backs onto the idyllic old town with its steep, winding streets and fantastic restaurants. A great place to go if you can’t sit still on the beach all day.

Sampieri beach, Sicily

Located on the quieter south side of the island, Sampieri boasts an enormous stretch of perfect golden sand. Nowhere near as busy as other beaches during peak season, it’s also close to the picturesque towns of Noto, Ragusa, and Scicli.

Scala dei Turchi beach, Sicily

This beach is named after the bright, white rock that juts out of the sea. It features great swimming spots for young kids but your older ones will also get a kick out of jumping off the rocks.

Isola Bella in Sicily

A beautiful, pebbled cove that’s a fantastic place to try out your new snorkel. Cafes and bars line the informal promenade so you can always grab a bite to eat or a thirst-quenching drink after a refreshing dip.

Lo Zingaro beach in Sicily

If you like to be able to explore smaller beaches, caves, crags and lagoons, the empty coves of Lo Zingaro are perfect for you. The coast is rugged and the beaches require a little walk to get to, but they’re certainly worth it.

Things to do

With a perfect climate and incredible natural diversity, Sicily makes for the perfect destination for family holidays. Whether you’re exploring the countryside by bicycle or horseback, snorkelling for underwater treasures, or beach-hopping, there’s plenty to keep the family happy.

For the foodies out there, Sicily is one of the most exciting holiday destinations in Europe. Even if you’ve experienced mainland Italy’s delicious dishes, you can’t be prepared for just how unique the island’s food is. From iconic pasta alla norma to the Mt Etna wine boom, Sicily is a joy for the taste buds.

Sicily has always been an important crossroads in the Mediterranean and it wears its influences proudly. Those who love a little history on their holiday can be wowed by the majesty of the Greek archaeological sites at Segesta, discover Archimedes’ Syracuse, or marvel at the mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale.

 Segesta Temple Sicily

Segesta's Temple

Best activities in Sicily

  • Visit the staggeringly well-preserved Valley of the Temples – the world’s largest archaeological site. Here, you’ll find the remains of eight 5th and 6th century BC Greek temples, including the Temple of Concordia.
  • Hike the Zingaro Nature Reserve coastal trail and explore over 7km of coves, beaches, and excellent swimming spots. Perfect if you need to cool off during your walk.
  • Discover Palermo and all its rich history and fantastic culinary tradition. Walk through the busy streets, visit Palermo Cathedral, The Norman Palace, and the Massimo Theatre, then top it all off with some lip-smackingly good street food.
  • Tour the Mt Etna vineyards and discover one of Europe’s most exciting wine-producing vineyards. With its nutrient-rich volcanic soil providing perfect conditions, the region has become a focal point for a new generation of Italian vintners.
  • Enjoy the winding alleys and volcanic landscape of Taormina, Sicily’s most picturesque town. Its ancient Greek amphitheatre offers breath-taking views of slopes and hillsides on which this pretty town is built.
  • Stop for a coffee at the Piazza Municipio in Noto and admire the town’s UNESCO-protected Baroque architecture. If you’re there on the third weekend of May, you’ll also have a chance to catch the town’s colourful flower festival.
  • Catch a boat over to the Aeolian Islands, a collection of eight volcanic islands off the coast of northeast Sicily. Boasting some of the region’s most beautiful beaches, as well as numerous fishing villages and several active volcanoes, the islands make for an ideal one-day trip.

Oliver's Hidden Gem 

Take a 4x4 tour of Mt Etna with the Gruppo Guide Alpine Etna Sud. This experienced tour company can get you as close as is safely possible to the crater of the most active volcano in Europe. At approximately 3,000 metres high, it’s an unforgettable experience.

Towns and villages

Sicily’s size and position in the Mediterranean mean that its town and cities are remarkably diverse, ensuring there’s plenty to see and do for those who want to get to grips with urban life on the island. 

While all Sicilian cities boast an impressive history and often contain several ancient monuments, Syracuse is where the island’s ancient Greek heritage is most apparent. The capital, Palermo, is a foodie’s paradise that you could easily spend days exploring. On the north coast, hilly Cefalù has captured the hearts of visitors for centuries and allows you to go from people watching in curb-side cafes to relaxing on a white, sandy beach within minutes.

Many of our villas in Sicily are close to towns and cities. In the south, we have several properties within touching distance of Syracuse and Noto. On the east coast, our luxury villas are ideally situated to allow for easy exploration of an idyllic stretch of coast, as well as Sicily’s second city, Catania. In the north, we rent a number of villas a short distance from the ever-popular Cefalù. Many of these are located in an elevated location, so you’ll be rewarded with incredible views over one of the island’s most breath-taking cities.

Oliver’s Hidden Gem

The smaller city of Castiglione di Sicilia is the perfect place to explore if you want to get a feel for authentic, traditional Sicily. It’s also a great base for exploring the Mt Etna vineyards, where you’ll find some of the finest white wines in all of Italy.

Sunrise at Mediterranian sea Sicily Palermo

The Island’s capital and a hive of activity, striking architecture, and mouth-watering street food. For those who enjoy historical attractions, there’s the Norman Palace, botanical gardens, and catacombs. For those who enjoy kicking back with some local wine and excellent food while watching the world go by, you’re also in for an absolute treat!

Syracuse, Sicily

Situated within a short drive of a number of our luxury villas in Sicily, Syracuse is famed for both its food and history. Once the city of both Cicero and Archimedes, its pedestrianised, cobbled streets, grand monuments, and verdant balconies are now home to some of the island’s top delis and cafes. It’s the perfect place to pick up some local ricotta or try a traditional sweet pastry.

People at beach Cefalu old town Sicily

Cefalù is the Sicilian town you’ll most regularly see on postcards and in tourists’ holiday snaps. And rightly so – its historic architecture and imposing cathedral are simply beautiful, while the way its narrow, winding streets lead down towards one of the island’s most iconic beaches ensures the city has remained a firm favourite amongst tourists and locals alike.

Catania Sicily, Italy

Though the island’s second city has often struggled to escape the shadow of its bigger brother Palermo, it’s one of the island’s most attractive towns to visit. Catch a performance at the impressive Teatro Massimo Bellini, explore its lively fresh fish market, and marvel at the awe-inspiring Mt Etna backdrop. It doesn’t get much more spectacular than this.

Noto, Sicily

Destroyed in 1693 in a devastating volcanic eruption, Noto was completely rebuilt in the Sicilian Baroque style. The result was an idiosyncratic and extravagant architectural delight that have made many consider it the island’s most striking city. It’s particularly beautiful at sunset, when the dying light washes over the buildings’ limestone rock and changes the colour of the entire city. 

Views of Taormina

Built into a steep and rocky hillside, Taormina is difficult to navigate by car, so it may be worth opting for the bus on this one. However, the trip is certainly worth it and visitors are rewarded with commanding views of the quiet town and surrounding landscape. The town’s ancient amphitheatre is also a popular attraction for those interested in the island’s history.

Getting there and around

Flights 

International visitors will arrive at one of three airports. Falcone Borsellino serves Palermo, while Fontanarossa is ideally suited to those staying near Catania. Vincenzo Florio Airport is closest to the area surrounding Trapani Birgi and Vincenzo Magliocco is a great choice if you’re heading to Syracuse. Crossing from the northwest of the island to the southeast, or vice versa, takes approximately 2 hours and a half by car, so it’s often worth paying a little extra to ensure you fly into the closest airport to your villa in Sicily. 


Boat

Some visitors choose to fly to the Italian mainland and then catch a ferry across to the island. This typically involves the short crossing across the Strait of Messina or a longer crossing from Naples or Genoa to Palermo. In both instances, it’s worth making a booking well in advance of your holiday dates.


Car rental

Though Sicily’s major urban areas do benefit from fairly extensive public transportation systems, they don’t always extend into more rural areas. If you want to experience the island’s hidden gems or simply want to be able to hop from beach to beach, we’d highly recommend renting a car for the duration of your stay. It’s possible to rent a car at all three of Sicily’s major airports.


Trains

Along the main coastal routes, trains are a relatively inexpensive and reliable means of moving around Sicily. However, services are much less frequent in the island’s interior. This makes them a great way to move from beach to beach, though buses are a safer bet if you want to head into the island’s heartlands.


Buses

Buses are often the quickest means of public transport in the rural areas away from Sicily’s coast. However, schedules can often be linked to school hours or market days, so it’s always worth checking the timetable to ensure you’ll be able to catch a return service.


Taxis

Taxis are often expensive in Sicily. The official white cabs should always be metered and can usually be found in urban centres, bus stations, and train stations.


Bicycles

Bike hire isn’t as widespread as on other Mediterranean islands but many coastal resorts and agriturismi hotels will offer bike rental by the day. Several businesses also offer guided tours of lesser-known parts of Sicily. 

Top tips

  • If you call a taxi service and arrange to be picked up, you’ll usually be expected to pay the cost of the driver’s journey to your location, as well as your ride to your eventual destination.

  • Sicily is not always the easiest of places to drive. While road conditions are good, traffic can occasionally be chaotic, particularly in towns and cities. However, a rental car is often recommended if you’re to get the most from your holiday. 

  • Some towns have major parking restrictions in place, making it difficult or impossible to park in the centre. This means that it’s always worth checking the availability of parking at your destination before arrival.

From the blog...