sicily hiking cultural tour

Sicily’s ancient ruins are some of the best in the Mediterranean

Greek and Roman civilizations left their mark on Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean. Our hikes bring us to the Madonie Mountains, the idyllic Aeolian Islands, and Mt. Etna as we celebrate Sicily’s natural beauty and multi-layered culture.

Photo by Brian McGilloway

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Hiking in Sicily route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $4895  
Length: 10 days
Arrive: Palermo, Italy
Depart: Catania, Italy
Lodging: 9 nights small inns and hotels
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 3 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: A mix of moderate walks and hikes, some steep trails, 2-4 hours a day, altitudes up to 10,000 feet, van support, team of up to 3 Trip Leaders
3

Highlights

  • Spectacular coastal trails of Zingaro, mountain gorge of Pantalica, fiery Mt. Etna
  • Neolithic rock tombs, Roman villas, Norman cathedrals, Greek temples
  • Seaside Cefalú, picturesque Taormina, amazing mosaics of Villa Romana del Casale
  • Sicily’s unique cuisine, fresh from the farm and the sea


Terrific throughout. Our guides were the absolute best. Bravissimi!Edy and Michael D.—Portland, OR

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Sicily is a sun-drenched Mediterranean world all its own, with a fascinating 3,000-year-old history, diverse landscapes, and a rich culture. On this bountiful island, we hike coastal trails above the turquoise sea, across rolling vineyards, and into Sicily’s wild inland mountains, a pastoral world of tiny villages and farms. Highlights include our breathtaking hike on Mt. Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano, a home-cooked lunch at a family farm, and the rock tombs of the Pantalica Gorge. Along the way, we’ll feast on rustic cuisine infused with North African flavors and revered as cucina povera (peasant food), for its healthful, delicious combinations of fresh-caught fish and local produce.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Palermo / Segesta / Erice / Zingaro Nature Reserve

We visit Segesta’s stunning Greek temple and the walled medieval citadel of Erice overlooking the sea, then hike cove-to-cove at Zingaro above some of Sicily’s most isolated beaches.

Days 3-4
Monreale / Cefalú

After a hike through the vineyards of Trapani, one of Sicily’s fine wine districts, we head to Monreale’s mighty 12th century cathedral to see its dazzling Greek and Byzantine mosaics. At seaside Cefalú, we hike up above the atmospheric Old Town, then explore the Madonie Mountains, where Sicily’s deeply rustic culture and age-old traditions still thrive.

Days 5-7
Piazza Armerina / Pantalica Gorge / Siracusa

At the pretty town of Piazza Armerina, we view the extraordinary mosaics of the Villa Romana del Casale, a World Heritage Site and former Roman hunting lodge, then hike in the Pantalica Gorge, where thousands of rock-hewn Neolithic tombs adorn the canyon walls. In Siracusa, we walk the narrow lanes of Ortigia amid breathtaking Greek, Roman, and Christian ruins.

Days 8-10
Mt. Etna / Taormina / Catania

Our hike on Mt. Etna brings us across lava landscapes along the crater rim, and in entrancing Taormina, perched high above two sweeping bays, we explore the town’s palazzi-lined streets and watch the sun set over Mt. Etna from a 3rd century BC Greek amphitheater, still in use for concerts. Depart on Day 10 from Catania.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 3, or Moderate, according to our trip grading system, and is designed for those who have at least some hiking experience. It features day walks and hikes of 3-8 miles. While the mountains of this beautiful island are not high, the trails can be steep and a bit rugged in places. Please also note that the hiking can feel more demanding at times because the weather can occasionally be hot, even in the lovely spring and early fall periods when we make our journeys. We will carry just a daypack with water bottle, sunscreen, camera, and anything else you want with you while on the trail. Luggage is transported for us by van, so it is always possible to ride in the van if you wish to opt out of a day’s hiking.

After breakfast in our hotel, we generally set off by 9 am. Each day is a bit different. Some days encompass 3-5 hours of country walking; others involve a half day or more exploring, for example, one of the ancient towns on foot. On many days, we have a scenic drive of an hour or two to a starting point for our walk, and get picked up at the end of the walk and driven to our night’s lodging. Our van will meet us for lunch on several days, bringing a picnic of local cheeses, breads, cold meats, assorted salads, fresh vegetables, fruits of the season, and mineral water. Those not up to the afternoon’s walk can often continue with the van back to our hotel.

For maximum enjoyment of the trip (and the wonderful scenery, food, wine, art and history that are a part of it), we recommend you make a special effort to be in good physical condition. Daily brisk walking and/or regular hiking (or using a stair-climbing machine at your gym) are excellent preparatory exercises.

The meals included in the trip itinerary will be taken at the hotels where we are staying or at restaurants in the towns, with the occasional picnic lunch. For lunches and dinners “on your own,” the Trip Leader will be happy to advise you or accompany you to local restaurants and trattorias. Please note that in Europe, the dinner hour is considerably later than what it is in the US. We do our best to secure early reservations for our groups, but most often the evening meal will be at 7:30 pm.

We spend our nights in small, picturesque inns, full of Italian charm and ambiance. All hotels are chosen for their local history and central location. Since they are often in historic buildings the rooms may not conform to uniform international standards. Our leaders try to assign rooms in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip as a whole. Single rooms can be requested, but are not always available, due to the limited space in some of our hotels. If you require a single room, please make the request as early as possible. European single rooms are often smaller than US singles.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2014
May 10-19, 2014

Sep 12-21, 2014
Oct 5-14, 2014
2015
Apr 10-19, 2015
May 8-17, 2015
Sep 11-20, 2015
Sep 27-Oct 6, 2015

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$4895 (13-15 members)
$5195 (10-12 members)
$5395 (6-9 members)
Single supplement: $840
Forced single supplement: $600
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations in hotels and small comfortable inns
  • All meals included except 1 lunch and 3 dinners
  • Ground transportation throughout the trip

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, independent hotel/airport transfers, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expense of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance or passports; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Minimum fee: None per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Hotel Elimo

Hotel Elimo

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights), Erice, Italy

Located in the historic center of the picturesque mountain town of Erice, the small family-run Hotel Elimo is a perfectly restored, quiet hotel with ...
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Hotel in Cefalú

Days 3 to 4 (2 nights), Cefalú, Italy

In Cefalú we stay at one of the following properties:

Hotel in the Piazza Armerina area

Day 5 (1 night), Piazza Armerina area, Italy

On Day 5, we stay at one of the following properties:

Hotel in Siracusa

Days 6 to 7 (2 nights), Siracusa, Italy

In Siracusa we stay at one of the following properties:

Hotel in Taormina

Days 8 to 9 (2 nights), Taormina, Italy

In Taormina we stay at one of the following properties:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Annie Hawkins

Departure Dates: September 12-21, 2014

Annie Hawkins, born and raised in a small village in Burgundy, is a passionate world traveler and one of our most enchanting Trip Leaders. After studying art history in Provence, Annie moved to California, where she led adventure tours in the American Southwest and realized that leading adventure ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Sebastiano Leone

Departure Dates: May 10-19, 2014, October 5-14, 2014

Sebastiano Leone is a native of the charming town of Palazzolo Acreide, Sicily, and a graduate of the University of Catania, with a degree in geology and a specialty in environmental restoration. He has done volunteer work on environmental projects in Italy’s national parks and is also an ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Sergio Mastroberardino

Departure Dates: May 10-19, 2014

Sergio Mastroberardino was born in the town of Avellino in southern Italy. He is a Certified Alpine Ski Instructor and during the winter season works full time with various ski schools and as a professional ski guide. Sergio has lived and taught skiing in Aspen, Colorado, Val D'Isere, France, and ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Francesco Selvaggio

Departure Dates: May 10-19, 2014, September 12-21, 2014, October 5-14, 2014

Francesco Selvaggio, born and raised in Palermo, has a degree in architecture with a concentration on historic restoration and a thesis dedicated to the Sicilian landscape. Francesco loves the life of a Trip Leader because it allows him to pursue passions such as hiking in the Sicilian countryside ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Client Comments

Terrific throughout. Our guides were the absolute best. Bravissimi! Edy and Michael D., Portland, OR I must say this was the best vacation that I have ever experienced. Tray B., Chadds Ford PA A wonderful trip with interesting, capable, and kind leaders. We had a great time! Susan W., Portland, OR Best trip ever! I loved the small group size with two trip leaders—it allowed for great flexibility. Gail B., Larchmont, NY We enjoyed every minute! Heidi M., Brevard, NC We had a wonderful time. I felt I had been able to see and experience the ‘real’ Sicily. Diane C., Manchester, MO It was magical—the beauty of Sicily and hiking through the countryside. Barbara Q., Oakdale, NY Well designed and well run. I especially loved the hikes, and the enthusiasm of the guides was very contagious. John R., Baltimore, MD This was a fantastic trip for both of us. We loved the blend of experiences that could only be possible on a WT trip, such as sit-down meals, picnics, a walk followed by a superb lunch at a winery, tour and dinner with a baron in Siracuse, wading in the sea, touring ancient sites. Each trip we have been on with Wilderness Travel has exceeded our expectations. This trip stands out even more so. Bob and Shirley B., Ennis, MT
This was a wonderful trip. The places visited were terrific, and the leaders, in particular, made everything worthwhile by their knowledge of the place, their flexibility, and their great sense of humor. Bettina R., Santa Clara, CA I had high hopes for Sicily, though unsure how it would compare to previous Italian trips. It exceeded all expectations by far. One of my most favorite trips. Larry E., Chicago, IL Fantastic trip. Good itinerary, wonderful guides, generous with extras such as espressos at every stop. Joselyn B., Caspar, CA I loved the trip, and the balance of city/cultural activities with outdoor/hiking activities was exactly what I expected. Eleanor S., Kingstone, ON We really felt we saw Sicily and learned a lot about its very rich history. The local guides were excellent, the restaurants were wonderful, and Sebastiano and Francesco obviously cared deeply that we had a fun and memorable trip. Edie L., Dallas, TX Sicily is quite an amazing destination, and we were very happy to experience it through this fine itinerary with these excellent guides. Pam W., Minneapolis, MN Everything was well orchestrated, controlled, and managed, the hotels were very good to excellent, and the meals were extremely good. David C., New York, NY