Current as of: December 4, 2023 - 06:52
3 out of 7 - Moderate
Sicily is not only the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, but also one of the most fascinating. An incredibly diverse heritage of civilisations, including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans and Spanish, have all left their mark. On this exciting cycling tour, we explore the southeastern part of the island, pedalling through the baroque gems of Ragusa, Modica and Noto and many locations that provided the setting for the long-running television series Inspector Montalbano. We end in Syracuse, the ancient heart of Magna Graecia (Greater Greece). Along the route, we enjoy landscapes of farmlands, deep gorges and dramatic coastal scenery. Sicily has hosted sections of the Giro d’Italia over the years, making it the perfect setting for keen cyclists. No trip to Sicily is complete without sampling some of the regional cuisine, considered among the best in Italy.
This trip is rated Activity Level 3 (Moderate) and classified as Road.
There are no transfers to or from hotels: all the rides are door-to-door. Most of the cycling is along flat to hilly paved roads (mainly traffic-free); days 2 and 6 include more demanding ascents and rolling routes, so a reasonable level of fitness is required. As we approach the main towns and cities, such as Syracuse, there are busier sections with traffic at peak hours.
A support vehicle, with limited spare seats and driven by a bicycle mechanic, is available throughout the trip, following at all times (pedestrian areas excluded). The driver will help you at junctions by giving route directions and allowing you to access any items you don’t wish to carry on the bike.
E-bikes are available on request for a fee payable prior departure.
If you have any queries about the difficulty of the trip, please do not hesitate to contact your sales representative.
There will be a cycling leader with the group, plus a bicycle mechanic driving the support van.
Adult min age: 16
Min group size: 6
Max group size: 16
Fly to Fontanarossa Airport in Catania, where we will be met for the transfer to Palazzolo Acreide (approximately 1 hour 15 minutes). Palazzolo Acreide is a charming maze of narrow streets and Baroque churches, built following an earthquake in 1693 on the site of an ancient Greek colony.
On arrival at the start hotel, the tour leader will give a welcome briefing and if time, we will do the bike fitting today. Depending on the flight arrival time, there may be a chance to explore Palazzolo Acreide today. If the group flight arrives late in the evening, we will visit the town the following morning.
Accommodation: Feudo Bauly
We start in Palazzolo Acreide, a maze of narrow streets and baroque churches that was built following an earthquake in 1693 on the site of an ancient Greek colony.
The tour leader will give a welcome briefing and, if there’s time, we will do the bike fitting. Depending on the arrival time of the group, we may have the chance to explore Palazzolo Acreide. If not, we look around the town tomorrow morning.
Accommodation: Feudo Bauly
We start our adventure with a ride through the beautiful lower valleys of the Hyblaean Mountains, passing olive plantations and dry-stone walls that characterise this area. We then climb into the highlands to Ragusa Ibla, a town built over three hills separated by a deep valley, and home to beautiful baroque churches and buildings.
We then cycle to Modica, a Sicilian baroque town at the bottom of a gorge. After the ride, we recommend trying Modica chocolate, still prepared using the Aztec recipe brought over by Spaniards in the 1500s. We stay overnight in Modica.
Accommodation: Ferro Hotel
We leave Modica and ride along a ravine that slopes downhill until we reach another outstanding example of Sicilian baroque architecture, Scicli, where the popular Inspector Montalbano TV series was filmed. We continue further south until we meet the Mediterranean coast, where we stop for lunch and a swim. Getting back on the bikes, we cycle along the shore to the area of San Lorenzo, where our agriturismo (converted farmhouse) is located.
Accommodation: Agriturismo Tenuta Arangio
A loop ride takes us through vineyards and past cherry tomato greenhouses (where the renowned Pomodoro di Pachino tomatoes are cultivated). If we are lucky, we may spot flamingos, herons and other migratory birds in marshes along the way. We then follow the coastline to Portopalo di Capo Passero, the southernmost village in Sicily (further south than Tunis). Here, we stop for coffee and a chance to swim where the Mediterranean and Ionian seas meet. We reach our lunch stop in Marzamemi, a picturesque fishing village of Arab origins, before returning to the agriturismo for a second night.
Accommodation: Agriturismo Tenuta Arangio
A short ride brings us to the beautiful Vendicari Nature Reserve. This narrow stretch of marshy coastline provides a rare and now completely protected habitat for migratory bird species and the local flora and fauna. A short walk will take us to beautiful sandy beaches, perfect for a swim in the Mediterranean Sea. As we leave the reserve behind, we head north to Noto, another Unesco World Heritage site. It’s a planned town in the Late Sicilian baroque style, all built in a beautiful honey-coloured stone. A must-try in Noto is the delicious cannoli alla ricotta and almond pastries. We stay overnight in Noto.
Accommodation: Grand Hotel Sofia
We start our day with a challenging but rewarding 4mi (6km) climb to San Corrado di Fuori, where we stop for a well-deserved coffee. Continuing the cycle, we reach the archaeological site of Noto Antica, the original settlement of Noto, which was destroyed by the 1693 earthquake. Another ascent takes us to the viewpoint of Cavagrande del Cassibile (1,657ft/505m), one of the deepest canyons in Europe, where we enjoy a lunch stop with sweeping views of the gorge and the Cassibile river far below.
In the afternoon, we enjoy a magnificent descent with hairpin bends towards the coast, before returning to Noto for a second night in this wonderful city.
Accommodation: Grand Hotel Sofia
Today’s gentle ride will lead us first to Avola for an espresso or cappuccino, then along the coast to Syracuse, passing beautiful beaches where we will stop for a refreshing sea dip. Once we arrive in Syracuse, described by Cicero as “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”, our tour leader will provide a short orientation tour of Ortigia, the island where the city was founded. In the afternoon, there is free time to explore at your own pace, do some shopping or visit the archaeological park with its spectacular hillside Greek theatre. We stay overnight in Syracuse.
Accommodation: Gran Bretagna Boutique Hotel Ortigia (or similar)
Transfer to Catania; fly to London.
The trip ends in Syracuse after breakfast. If you’d like a bit more time to explore, speak to your sales representative about extending your stay.
On this cycling adventure in Sicily, we stay in comfortable hotels and an agriturismo, which were selected for their friendly atmosphere and character. Most are conveniently located near the Unesco-listed historic centres we visit.
Below are the properties normally used:
Palazzolo Acreide: Feudo Bauly (night 1)
Our adventure begins in this historic hotel run by the Corsino family. The stone-walled restaurant serves traditional Sicilian cuisine made from local, seasonal produce – you might even see black truffles sourced from nearby Bauly Forest on the menu. There’s also a swimming pool when you’d like some downtime.
Modica: Ferro Hotel (night 2)
Within a renovated building once used for railway workers, the Ferro Hotel takes us to modern Sicily. The contemporary décor pays tribute to the locomotive history of the building and there’s a varied spread for breakfast. The hotel itself is within walking distance of the main town.
Marzamemi: Agriturismo Tenuta Arangio (nights 3-4)
Enjoy a rural idyll with a stay at this agriturismo (farm stay). It’s a traditional Sicilian estate, owned by the Arangio family since 1980, and they still grow produce here. There’s also a large swimming pool area in the courtyard, where you can relax under the shade of olive trees.
Noto: Grand Hotel Sofia (night 5-6)
Back to more conventional hotel comforts, the Grand Hotel Sofia has an outdoor swimming pool with a bar (and happy hour). There’s also a restaurant, Limoneto, which serves Sicilian and Mediterranean dishes made from local produce, plus a small bar area.
Syracuse: Hotel Gran Bretagna Boutique Ortigia or Hotel Posta (night 7)
Our final night is spent at either of these two hotels, depending on availability. Both have a traditional style and are within walking distance of the Tempio di Apollo, the ruins of a sixth-century Greek temple.
Single supplement from £ 375
All breakfasts and one dinner are included.
Sicilian cuisine is a mix of the different cultures that have called this island home over the millennia: from the Greek and Arabs to the Normans and Spaniards. Soil here is incredibly fertile, with a perfect climate for the cultivation of fresh produce, such as olives, oranges, lemons, aubergines (eggplant), tomatoes, pistachios, almonds, grapes and more. Additionally, mussels, clams, tuna, swordfish and anchovies are fished right off the coast. This wide range of high-quality ingredients serves as a base for myriad dishes, resulting in a cuisine that’s fresh, varied and delicious.
Sicilian wines are also superb: grillo and inzolia are excellent white wines, Cerasuolo di Vittoria and Nero d’Avola are both fabulous reds, and marsala, moscato and zibibbo are wonderful dessert wines. As nearly 90 percent of Italian lemons grow in Sicily, sampling the local limoncello is a must.
On this trip there is the chance to join an optional picnic lunch, prepared by the support driver and your leader.
Dinners are taken at the hotels or local restaurants recommended by your guide, according to your budget and preferences.
Transfers to/from the airport are by private vehicle. Your luggage is transported from hotel to hotel for you. The vehicle will be available with assistance on the later stages of rides. The tour leader cycles with the group.
Sicily has a good year-round climate, with plenty of sunshine and warm-to-hot temperatures. The summer departures ought to have daily hot sunshine and temperatures can reach 30C-35C (86F-95F). The earlier and later departures will be cooler with a slightly higher chance of rain – make sure you pack some warm clothing if you travel in low season. In late summer, there is the possibility of heavy thunderstorms, but these are usually short-lived.
Start hotel: Feudo Bauly, C/da Bauly, 96010 Noto SR, Italy
Phone: +39 0931 882088
Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Catania Airport (CTA)
Your options for this journey are:
Take an Exodus transfer
Exodus provides one group arrival transfer from the airport, which is timed to coincide with the arrival of a chosen flight from London, UK. You may join this transfer at no extra cost, provided you can be at the airport before the transfer leaves. Speak to your sales representative for the group arrival transfer times or to arrange a private transfer.
Make your own way
It’s possible to reach the start hotel by public transport, but the journey is complicated. We therefore recommend joining the group transfer where possible. If not, speak to your sales representative to organise a private transfer. On arrival at the hotel, please make the reception staff aware that you are part of an Exodus group and they will have more details on meeting with your leader and group
If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.
There’s a group departure transfer to the airport for customers who Exodus booked onto a chosen flight to London, UK. Please speak to your sales representative if you wish to join. If the group departure transfer does not suit your flight time, speak to your sales representative to arrange an alternative transfer.
Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.
Location start: Palazzolo Acreide
Location end: Syracuse
A free-to-use bike pannier can be provided locally (subject to availability). Please speak to your tour leader on arrival.
Included standard bike
The standard bike for this trip is a Fuji Model Absolute 1.7 or Drössiger Trekking Sport.
We will take your height at the time of booking to reserve equipment. If you have a preferred bike size, please request when booking.
Electric bikes are available on this trip; prices from £70/US$98/119 Canadian dollars. Speak to your sales representative for more information.
Bringing your own bike
If you’d prefer to bring your own bike, please advise us at the time of booking and you will receive a discount on the price of the trip. However, you will be responsible for any extra baggage charges; assembling and disassembling your bike; and bringing along spare parts and any tools specific to it. You should also ensure you have adequate insurance to cover loss, damage or theft.
Bringing equipment from home
You’re welcome to bring your own equipment, such as SPD pedals or clipless pedals, your own saddle (excluding the seat post), or gel saddle cover for the hire bikes. Your leader will help you fit these when bikes are distributed.
Helmets are mandatory for everyone on a guided Exodus cycling trip. You must bring your own as, following best safety practice, they are not available for hire.
For all cycling trips we recommend:
Remember to check the expiration date of your passport if travelling internationally. Many countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months after the date of your scheduled return.
Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Italy. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.
Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.
• Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/europe/italy
• Canada: www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/italy
• United Kingdom: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy/entry-requirements
• USA: www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Italy.html
Please note: it is compulsory to carry ID with you at all times in Italy.
There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for tetanus, rabies and tick-borne encephalitis. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.
If you’re a UK citizen, please note that your UK-issued European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) are still valid and offer the same cover as the Global Health Insurance Cards (GHIC) in the EU. This gives you medical care at a reduced cost, and in some cases for free, in many European countries, but should not be considered a substitute for adequate insurance. Once your EHIC has expired, replace it with a GHIC.
Italy's time zone: Europe/Rome (UTC +01:00)
Italy's electricity: Plug types C (two round pins, European standard), F (two round pins), and L (three round pins in a row) – 230V, 50Hz
Italy's currency: Euros (EUR)
ATMs are available in all major towns. Major credit cards are accepted everywhere, but cash is usually easier for small amounts, tipping and optional sharing between group members.
For lunches and dinners not included, allow €300 per person for the week, depending on the standard of restaurant chosen.
The Vendicari Nature Reserve has introduced an entrance fee of €3.50 per person (subject to the local authority’s annual review).
Local taxes: Many Italian cities have a tourist tax for non-residents. The local administration oversees the tax, which will be collected by the accommodation provider at check-in or check-out. This fee varies depending on the hotel category, the season and number of days of stay. It is usually between €1 and €4 per person per night. For this trip, please allow approximately €10-€15 for the week.
Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work with Exodus. However, most of our clients wish to tip their guides in appreciation of their help. This, of course, is not compulsory and depends on the service received. If you would like to leave a tip, as a guide we would suggest approximately €20 for the leader and €10 for the support van driver, in two different envelopes.
We work hard to create trips that have a positive impact on the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Learn more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.
Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:
How this trip helps improve life for local communities.
How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.
How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.
Tips for sustainable travel on this trip
This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.
Your safe participation
When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.
Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.
By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.
When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.
You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.
Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.
Trip Note validity
These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.
The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.
Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.