Sicily Grand Tour

15 days
from
£2,199
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Trip code: 
ADG
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
New - Culture
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–18

Comprehensive two week round island tour discovering Sicily's best towns and UNESCO sites

The variety and richness of Sicily's heritage is unparalleled - nowhere else have the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Spanish and Italians left such an indelible historical legacy. On this incredible journey we sample the island's best UNESCO heritage sites, impressive archaeological treasures, quaint villages and its diverse landscape. With so much to see and do, a two week itinerary is ideal for those who want to cover the whole of the island at a reasonable pace. With sufficient time on our hands, we can also venture inland into the heart of Sicily, for a visit to the world famous UNESCO mosaics of Piazza Armerina.

Highlights

  • Baroque towns and ancient Greek temples
  • Piazza Armerina's impressive mosaics 
  • Special guided tours led by local guides

Key information

  • 14 nights in 3 and 4-star hotels, all en suite
  • 15 days land only / flight inclusive
  • Sightseeing on foot and 2 daywalks
  • Group normally 6 to 18, plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by private air-conditioned minibus 

What's included

  • All accommodation
  • All breakfasts and 1 wine tasting
  • London flights (if booking incl. flights)
  • Airport transfers (if booking group flights or alternative flights arriving before or at the same time as the group)
  • Special guided tours in main UNESCO sites and cities

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visa or vaccinations
  • Local city taxes
Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Fly to Catania.

    This tour starts in the Catania region. Depending on availability the start hotel may be located in Catania centre or one of the seaside villages  north of the city (exact details of start hotel/point will be provided to you at least two months prior departure). Those arriving on the group flight will be transferred to the hotel where we spend the next two nights.

  • Day 2

    Excursion on Mt Etna, Europe's highest active volcano; afternoon wine tasting.

    After breakfast we enjoy a spectacular guided walk on Mt Etna, Europe's highest active volcano. We hike up past several old lava flows to be rewarded with a dramatic panoramic view of the volcanic landscape (1 to 2 hours walking, approx.5 km). You are strongly advised to take a waterproof/windproof jacket, a warm top and to wear long trousers. In the afternoon we enjoy a delicious wine & cheese tasting in one of the area’s famous wine cellars. Overnight in Catania or nearby.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Morning sightseeing tour of Catania; afternoon drive to Syracuse and free time in Oritiga.

    This morning we enjoy a guided tour of this eclectic city. We start from the historic heart of the city, Piazza Duomo, and wander through the main streets, most of which boast several buildings which are a triumph of Baroque style such as Palazzo dei Chierici, Palazzo degli Elefanti and the Duomo (cathedral). We continue via the central fish market, one of the biggest in Italy, and admire the array of bright colours and peculiar smells, accompanied by the unabashed shouts of the fishmongers selling their fresh produce. In the afternoon we drive for approx. 1 hour to the city of Syracuse, once the most powerful city-state in the Greek world and briefly capital of the Byzantine Empire. The rest of the day is free to explore the lovely island of Ortigia, Syracuse's historical heart. We recommend starting from the Piazza del Duomo, a delightful pedestrian square and home to the wonderful Cathedral. The island measures just 1km by 500 metres and can be all easily explored on foot. Restaurants, trattorias and bars abound and it is especially nice to sit out on the western side in the late afternoon, warmed by the sun and with a view over the sea.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Morning visit to Greek theatre led by a local guide and free afternoon.

    This morning we take a guided tour of Neapolis Archaelological Park accompanied by a local expert guide. The sight is situated in the northwest of Syracuse and is famous for its spectacular ruins, but in particular for the Greek theatre that dates back at least to the 5th century BC. The Roman amphitheatre, built in the 3rd century AD is also very impressive: 140m long - it is one of the largest to be found anywhere. The afternoon is free for further independent exploration. We recommend a visit to the great archaeological museum Paolo Orsi, boasting an extensive collection from the pre-Greek, to the Greek and Hellenistic eras and up to Roman times. Close to the museum you can find the Catacombs of San Giovanni, a maze of tunnels niched with early Christian tombs hidden beneath the flower-filled ruins of a Norman church.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Visit the UNESCO Baroque towns of Noto and Ragusa.

    In the morning we leave Syracuse and head to the town of Noto (approx. 45 mins), which since 2002 has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto'. The striking architecture is a result of the the major earthquake that struck Sicily in 1693. The old town of Noto was almost completely destroyed, and it was then reconstructed with a special design which was intended to be functional but also harmonious. We explore the small town on foot, wandering around the narrow streets, admiring the golden-coloured stone buildings and the fantastical facades and balconies. After lunch we drive to the town of Ragusa (approx. 1 hour), considered one of the most picturesque towns in Sicily and also one of the UNESCO-listed Baroque towns of south-eastern Sicily. Ragusa became particularly famous in recent years as one of the main filming locations for the Sicilian detective drama Inspector Montalbano. The town is split in two parts, and while the upper section offers some noteworthy architectural delights, it is the smaller Ragusa Ibla below that really draws visitors. The historic centre is compact, making it easy to explore on foot in a few hours.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Explore town of Modica, famous for its chocolate and Caltagirone, the colourful capital of ceramics; overnight in Piazza Armerina.

    We start our day with a visit to Modica, another of the area's UNESCO-listed Baroque towns boasting some fine architecture, picturesque views and historic lanes. The chocolate made in this town is one of the most famous products of Sicily and was discovered by the Aztecs in Mexico and brought to Sicily by the Spanish during the 15th and 16th centuries. Luckily, we will have the chance to sample it during a visit to the town's main chocolate shop. In the afternoon we drive north (approx. 2 hours) to Piazza Armerina, a historic town nestled in the heart of Sicily. En route we make a pleasant stop at the elegant and colourful town of Caltagirone, known as the city of ceramics. Most buildings in the old town are decorated with ceramic tiles and the shopping opportunities for some delightfully crafted pottery are endless. We reach Piazza Armerina late afternoon, in time for a pleasant stroll in the charming historic centre.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Morning guided visit in Piazza Armerina; see the UNESCO mosaics collection of Villa Romana del Casale.

    Today starts with a guided tour of Piazza Armerina and continues with a visit to the famous UNESCO listed Villa Romana del Casale, considered the best heritage site in Sicily by many visitors. This is one of the best-preserved villas built during the Roman Empire, boasting extensive and almost intact examples of mosaics spread over 3500 square meters. These extraordinarily vivid mosaics, probably produced by North African artisans, portray scenes of daily life, including the famous tableau of girls exercising in their bikinis. Overnight in Piazza Armerina.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Visit the Valley of Temples in Agrigento and archaeological sight of Selinunte.

    Today is one of the longest travel days as we make our way south, first stopping in Agrigento (approx. 2 hours transfer) and then continuing to Selinunte (approx. 1hr 20 mins drive) where we stay the night. In Agrigento we will visit the iconic sight of the Valley of the Temples. A guided tour will allow us to discover and learn the history of this splendid archaeological park, which consists of eight temples (and various other remains) built between approx. 510 BC and 430 BC. In the afternoon we explore Selinunte, one of Sicily's great Greek archaeological sites. Situated in the south-western corner of the island, the park incorporates Greek temples, ancient town walls, the ruins of residential and commercial buildings, countryside paths and zones yet to be excavated. Overnight in Selinunte.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Explore the island of Mozia by ferry and drive to the hilltop town of Erice.

    An hour’s drive north and a short boat ride bring us to the island of Mozia, an interesting archaeological site in western Sicily, located between the towns of Trapani and Marsala. The site was once an important colony of Carthage, the Phoenician-founded city in North Africa, with a small museum and extensive ruins to visit. In the afternoon we continue (approx. 1 hour drive) to the picturesque mediaeval hilltop town of Erice, set in a stunning location approximately 800m above sea level. It is not surprising that thanks to its strategic position Erice was occupied by many civilizations; from the Greeks and Carthaginians to the Romans and the Arabs and finally the Normans. We enjoy some free time to explore the town's narrow lanes on foot, and perhaps enjoy some down time and a drink in one of the panoramic terraces at sunset. Overnight in Erice or nearby.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Half day walk in the nature reserve of Zingaro; visit ruins of Segesta and drive to Palermo.

    This morning we take a break from the cultural highlights of the island and head to the coast to explore one of the best examples of idyllic Mediterranean landscape on foot. Stretching along the coast for 7km between the lovely village of Scopello in the east to San Vito Lo Capo in the west, the Zingaro Nature Reserve boasts some stunning walking trails with views out to the cliffs and the azure sea, coves and pristine beaches. We take a leisurely walk for up to 3 hours (including stops) along beautiful coastal trails with the opportunity of a quick swim before returning to the bus. In the afternoon we make our way to Palermo, but not before stopping in the ancient city of Segesta (40 mins drive), founded around 1200 BC by the mysterious Elymians. Here we visit the Greek theatre and the well-preserved 5th-century BC Doric temple, set on top of a hill and surrounded by mountains. Overnight in Palermo.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Morning tour of Monreale and its Duomo; afternoon guided visit to Palermo.

    We start our day with a half day excursion to Monreale (30 mins drive each way) to visit its extraordinary cathedral, considered the greatest example of Norman architecture in the world. An extensive area of the interior is covered in gleaming gold mosaics and features an interesting combination of Norman, Byzantine and Islamic art created during Sicily's most glorious era. Later in the afternoon, a local expert guide will take us on a walking tour around Palermo's historic centre revealing some of the most iconic monuments of this city, including Quattro Canti, Pretoria Square and Marina Square. Overnight in Palermo.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Free morning in Palermo for further individual sightseeing; afternoon drive to the picturesque fishing village of Cefalu.

    The morning is free for further individual exploration of Palermo's historic centre. A great way to spend the morning is by heading to one or two of the main street markets (Ballarò, Capo or Vucciria) where the legacy of Palermo’s past as a commercial port continues to manifest itself. Palermo’s Muslim history has made an imprint on the bazaars of the town: bustling, crowded, and full of all kinds of treasures. A morning at the markets is without doubt the best way to connect with the real lifestyle of the locals. After lunch we transfer to the lovely fishing village of Cefalu (approx. 1 hr 15 mins), where we visit the impressive cathedral, home to elaborate Byzantine mosaics, and the historic centre with its winding mediaeval streets. Overnight in Cefalu.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Morning at leisure in Cefalu and optional time at the beach; drive to Taormina and visit the famous Greek anphitheatre.

    The morning is at leisure, with the opportunity to explore more of Cefalu's picturesque centre, sip a coffee in the main square or relax on one one of the town's sun-kissed beaches. We drive to the elegant and fashionable town of Taormina in the afternoon (approx. 2hrs 40 mins drive) and visit its Greek theatre which dates back to the 3rd century BC. Thanks to its natural setting, the site offers splendid views towards the Calabrian coast, the Ionian coast of Sicily and the spectacular cone of Etna. Overnight in Taormina.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Full free day in Taormina.

    Free day with plenty of optional activities; start the day with a stroll through Taormina's picture-perfect alleys which also offer some great shopping opportunities. If you are looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of Taormina head to the lovely public gardens. You can also consider a walk (one hour each way) or a bus ride to the neighbouring hamlet of Castelmola. Those looking to relax in the sunshine may decide to visit Isola Bella, a tiny island located in a small bay on the coast just below Taormina. Activities such as cooking classes may be available on request. Overnight in Taormina.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Combine this trip with

Essential Info

Visas

Italy

No visa required for British passport holders.
Please note in Italy it is compulsory to carry ID with you at all times.

Vaccinations

Italy

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and a wine tasting on Mt Etna included.

Sicilian cuisine is a melting pot of all the different cultures that existed on the island, from the Arabs to the Normans. The island itself is incredibly fertile, enjoying a perfect climate which is ideal for the cultivation of fresh produce such as olives, oranges, lemons, eggplants, tomatoes, pistachios, almonds, grapes, and more- not to mention all of the seafood, tuna and swordfish fished off the coast. The result? A cuisine that is fresh, varied, and absolutely delicious! Sicilian wines are also superb and known to be strong and syrupy, like Marsala and Moscato. During the trip the leader will always be on hand to recommend the best restaurants and cafes for meals. In the evening she/he will often be organising optional group dinners but participation is entirely optional.

Weather

Is this trip for you?

This is a comprehensive itinerary, with a few relatively long days due to the distance we cover. This itinerary has been designed to give more time to visit the key sights compared to our 9 days' Treasures of Sicily tour. There is a lot to see in Sicily and some of the days will feel busy, however the overall pace will be relaxed and on most days there will be free time to explore. All transfers are by private air-conditioned minibus allowing us to enjoy comfortable, flexible and stress-free journeys. You will walk mostly in cities and towns and although not strenuous, the amount of walking on some days can be considerable. The excursion on Mt Etna is on foot and we walk for up to 2 hours on hilly-to-steep terrain of dried lava, rocky ash and sand. A second walk will take place in the Zingaro Nature Reserve, where we will walk for up to 3 hours (including stops) along idyllic Mediterranean coastline. Both of these walks are optional: there are cafes not far from the trails, where you can sit and wait for the rest of the group, should you prefer not to take part. The overall Activity Level for this trip is 2 (Leisurely/Moderate) meaning that it is suitable for all people who are in good health.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

3 and 4-star Hotels

On this trip we use different comfortable 3 and 4-star hotels. Some hotels have been selected for their warm hospitality and typical Sicilian character and others for their convenient location close to the historic centres we. All rooms have en suite facilities and Wi-fi and some hotels have a pool. Below is a list of the hotels normally used for this tour although please be aware that occasionally these may change to others of similar standards. If you wish to obtain an up-to-date list we recommend contacting our Customer Operations team three to two months prior departure.

Catania or nearby: Hotel will vary depending on departure dates. Exact details will be provided to you at least two months prior departure.
Syracuse: Hotel Gargallo 
Ragusa: Hotel Dell'Orologio 
Piazza Armerina: Suite d’Autore 
Selinunte: Admeto Hotel 
Erice: Agriturismo Baglio Fontana or Pineta Park Hotel
Palermo: Hotel Mediterraneo 
Cefalù: Hotel Baia del Capitano
Taormina: Hotel Baia delle Sirene or Andromaco

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Be the first to post your review! If you have recently returned from an Exodus adventure and want to help other travellers with your feedback then simply use the link below to post your holiday review.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 0208 772 3936