The Best Time to Visit Sicily

Cefalu Main Beach

Tripsavvy / Michela Sieman

Sicily has something for every type of traveler, whether they're interested in exploring its rich history, its fascinating multicultural fabric, or its fabulous beaches. There's no bad time to visit Sicily, and when you go may be dictated largely on where your interests lie. To avoid the thickest crowds or the least appealing weather, the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are probably the best times to visit. For a combination of beachgoing and discovering Sicily's cities and interior, September is a top month for touring the island. If you want to beat the crowds and don't mind cold, wet weather, winters can also be a rewarding time to visit. Summer is best for those who like it hot—and crowded on the island's many beaches.

Weather & Crowds

Summer is peak season in Sicily, and July and August, in particular, are crowded with vacationers from Italy, Europe, and beyond flocking to Sicilian beaches and beach towns. July and August are also the hottest months of the year, which may be fine for the beach but sweltering in the interior. If you visit in the summer, you will encounter denser crowds on beaches and in cities and higher rates for flights, ferries, hotels, and rental cars. Summer season peaks around Aug. 15, after which things start to slow down—dramatically so after the start of the school year in September.

In the shoulder seasons, crowds are more manageable even if the seas aren't as inviting for swimming. Prices and crowds are at their lowest in the winter, when you might have archaeological sites and museums all to yourself—just remember to pack a jacket and an umbrella.

Taormina theater

TripSavvy / Linda Strauta

Summer in Sicily

In Sicily, summer is the hottest season, when temperatures average in the high 70s and 80s F but can go much higher, especially at midday. Seawater is warm for swimming, and everyone has the same idea—to head to the beach. This is the most crowded time to be here and the most lively, in terms of festivals, beach parties and other events. For sightseeing, pack loose-fitting clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, a refillable water bottle, and sunscreen.

Events to check out:

  • From May through July, the Ancient Greek theatre at Syracuse is the stage for ancient Greek plays presented in their original language. Even if you don't understand the language, seeing these ancient works performed in this romantic setting is simply spellbinding.
  • Swordfish has cultural and economic value in Sicily, and both are celebrated over two weekends in June and July at the Sagra del Pesce Spada, at Aci Trezza, just north of Catania.
  • Taormina's Greco-Roman amphitheater is the setting for Taormina Film Fest, a June-July film festival that attracts filmmakers and fans worldwide. There's also a full summer concert schedule at the theatre.
  • Saint Paul is celebrated for three days beginning June 29, with processions, fireworks and concerts. Saint Peter (San Pietro) is also celebrated around the island this same weekend.
  • Usually, in late June, the Inycon a Menfi Wine Festival sees cantinas in southwestern Sicily throw open their doors for tours, tastings, concerts, and classes. The Scirocco Wine Fest also celebrates western Sicilian wine.
  • Festa FedEricina is a medieval fair held in a most authentic setting: the old city of Erice, near Trapani.
  • On July 14 in Palermo, patron saint Santa Rosalia is celebrated with a citywide block party.
  • Stragusto is a three-day street food festival in Trapani and a real highlight for street food fans.
  • In early August in Cefalu, the Festival of San Salvatore celebrates the town's patron saint with processions, fireworks, and street food.
  • Medieval games, many on horseback, are the theme of the Palio dei Normanni (the Norman Palio), a three-day knightly tournament held in mid-August in Piazza Armerina.

Spring in Sicily

Spring is a shoulder in Sicily, a fine time to visit if you want to concentrate more on museums, winery tours, and archaeological sites and less on beaches. Weather can be iffy, especially in March, so pack layers that allow for chilly, wet conditions or pleasantly warm and sunny ones.

Events to check out:

  • Across deeply religious Sicily, Easter is second in importance only to Christmas. You'll find masses, observances, and processions all over the island, with especially important ones in Trapani, Ragusa, Marsala, and Noto.
  • The Infiorata Festival in Noto takes place the third week of May and features elaborate street designs made entirely of flower petals and other organic materials.

Fall in Sicily

You can still swim in the seas of Sicily in September, but to play it safe, plan to take a dip in the first part of the month. Temperatures may start to go down after that, especially in the evenings. Still, if swimming isn't tops on your agenda, autumn is one of the best times to visit Sicily, after the summer crowds have left, cities return to their usual hum, and touristic sites start to empty out. Harvest and food festivals make this a fine time to visit as well, but be sure to pack an umbrella and a jacket, especially in October and November.

Events to check out:

  • San Vito Lo Capo near Trapani is the site of the September Couscous Festival, which celebrates Sicily's rich cultural tapestry.
  • Held near Aci Castello just north of Catania, the four-day Sagra dell'Arancino celebrates Sicily's favorite handheld snack—arancini, or fried rice balls.
  • On the northern slopes of Mount Etna, the Festa Della Vendammia in September marks the annual grape harvest with music, local foods, and, of course, plenty of wine.
  • At Linguaglossa north of Etna, Etna in Festa is a weeklong celebration of the food, wine, and culture of Italy's largest volcano.
  • Bronte pistachios are a delicacy grown around the town of Bronte, northwest of Etna. They're celebrated at the Sagra del Pistacchio, held from September through the beginning of October.
  • Until you've had chocolate from Modica, you haven't really tasted chocolate! Try it at ChocoModica, a delicious mid-October festival with tastings, workshops, music, and, of course, plenty of chocolate for sale.

Winter in Sicily

Winter in Sicily is called the season for connoisseurs. December and January are the coldest, rainiest months, with about 4 inches of rainfall per month and temperatures hovering in the 50s. It's not beach weather, but for exploring archaeological sites, museums, and city centers, it's an excellent time to visit as long as you pack an umbrella. There'll be a lively ambiance at Christmas and New Year's when cities and towns glow with festive lights and presepe (nativity) scenes.

Events to check out:

  • Christmas Eve is celebrated with the vigilia, the vigil of awaiting the birth of Christ. Some restaurants will be open and serving exclusively fish menus. Churches will hold midnight mass.
  • Capodanno (New Year's Eve) is a fun, frenetic time to be in any of Sicily's major cities, which will mark the night with official and unofficial street parties, plus concerts and midnight fireworks.
  • All over Italy, Jan. 6 is the Epiphany, or La Befana. Some stores and restaurants may be closed for the day.
  • Pre-lenten Carnevale festivities begin in February and culminate on Fat Tuesday (Martedi Grasso), which will fall either in February or March, depending on the date of Easter. Acireale, Sciacca and Termini Imerese are known for the most elaborate Carnevale parades in Sicily.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • When is the best time to visit Sicily?

    If you want to avoid heavy crowds or bad weather, the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are the best times to visit Sicily.

  • Is there a rainy season in Sicily?

    During spring and winter months, travelers may encounter torrential rain in Sicily. Pack an umbrella!

  • How many days do you need in Sicily?

    While the island's highlights can be explored in as little as three days, visitors won't regret spending a week discovering all that Sicily has to offer.