Where to Stay in Sicily: The 3 Cities you Must Visit & Their Boutique Hotels

Sicily is actually quite a large island with a lot of towns to visit. I did quite a bit of research before I went to work out where to stay in Sicily Italy and decided on Taormina, Syracuse and the Aeolian Islands and I think it worked out rather well.

So here is where to stay in Sicily and how to have the best possible experience on this stunning Italian island.

sicily what to do
stalls on the way to Mt Etna base camp

1. Where to Stay in Sicily: Taormina

Taormina is a ridiculously gorgeous town. The town itself is pedestrianized and filled with cute backstreets and lovely architecture. Taormina Sicily is full of great restaurants, cafes and fantastic shops.

This city in Sicily everything you want Italy to be and more. However, most of the accommodation in Taormina is outside of the pedestrianized town.

Hotel Villa Angela is no exception – it is located up the hill from Taormina. It is a gorgeous Taormina hotel with the most amazing views. Every room has a stunning view.

This hotel in Taormina Sicily makes the most of its location with a lovely terrace near reception where you can have a sundowner and a lovely pool. The staff at Hotel Villa Angela Taormina is lovely – very friendly and helpful. They even organized my day trip to Mt Etna.

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Mt Etna

Italy, in general, isn’t fabulous on the hotel front. They are usually quite expensive and the rooms tired – and often with kind of odd bathrooms that feature something halfway between a shower and a bath but not really either. Thank goodness Hotel Villa Angela is nothing like this.

The rooms at this hotel in Sicily aren’t massive but they are a good size and beautifully decorated. And each has a lovely balcony.

The hotel has a shuttle bus that goes down to the city gates once an hour and it also does a regular pickup. This was fantastically convenient. You do need to book the Hotel Villa Angela shuttle during peak times.

And a final fun fact – one of the owners of Hotel Villa Angela Sicily is the lead singer of the Simple Minds Jim Kerr. Apparently, he does visit on occasion so watch out for him when you stay!.

Stay at Hotel Villa Angela ⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

Another great way to feel like a local in Sicily is to check out Airbnb. There have loads of great places to stay available across Sicily.

Taormina: Go shopping

Taormina is definitely the place to go shopping in Sicily. It has a fantastic mix of classic Italian names you know like Furla and Coccinelle and super cute local stores filled with handmade shoes and handbags.

The Taormina main street is really the best place to go – I didn’t find as many good stores in the back streets. Handbags and purses are the things to buy here.

My favourite was Serapian where I got a stunning matching handbag and purse. The upside of visiting Taormina in the heat of August was that there were quite a few sales on.

Montepulciano is another lovely area in Italy – check out my post on 12 Great Wineries in Montepulciano and 7 delightful Tuscany Boutique hotels

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Taormina is ridiculously photogenic

There are also many places to stock up on tasty Sicilian food products such as olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

⇒ Interested in visiting some other off the beaten track places in Europe? Check out my posts on Latvia, Graz in Austria, Verbier in Switzerland in the summer, the Tarn et Garonne region in France, Hamburg in Germany and Iceland.

Taormina: Head to Mt Etna

Mt Etna is stunning. If you are staying at Hotel Villa Angela you will have a view of it from your room and be able to check the weather. I originally planned to climb Mt Etna – however, the August weather put me off.

Having said that I had of course forgotten that you start the climb quite a bit above sea level where it was much cooler and this would have been fine to climb Mt Etna in summer. Indeed I saw many people climbing from the cable car.

However, the mountain looked very steep and the scenery quite same same so not sure how interesting a trek it would have been. Anyway, I had the hotel organize a day trip to Mount Etna for me.

The tour bus took us up to the base of Mt Etna with a stop for Sicilian food products on the way. Once at the base of Mt Etna you take a cable car and then a small bus up to the summit. From here you can wander the summit of Mount Etna Sicily on your own.

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The top of Mt Etna

Mount Etna is quite stunning. The summit itself is an unusual and very photogenic landscape. There are also some fantastic views over Sicily. It is very light physically – just wear fairly sensible shoes.

After checking out the summit you then head back down the same way. I was back at the main bus station in Taormina by mid-afternoon.

Taormina: Have dinner at Al Saraceno

If you are after an amazing view Al Saraceno is the place. And if you are staying at Hotel Villa Angela it is only a 5 minute walk. I would recommend making a reservation – and asking for a table on the terrace at this Taormina restaurant so you can take advantage of the view.

The food is fabulous at this restaurant in Taormina – classically Italian. The key thing is it has a fantastic atmosphere and is a great way to really appreciate being in Taormina.

Check out my Post on 9 Unique Things to do in Sicily

Taormina: Take an early evening stroll through the old town

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The walled city of Taormina

Like most towns in Italy, the loveliest time of day is early evening in Taormina. The light is soft and warm and it is perfect for photos.

This is also the time for promenading – one of my favourite things to do in Sicily was watching the Italians stroll with attitude before heading out for dinner.

The best thing to do is to get a seat at a café/bar on the main street and a glass of wine and people watch. I am always so impressed by how well dressed every Italian is – from the smallest to the oldest.

Some other great Boutique Hotel Options in Taormina are:

Stay in a turn of the century villa carved into the cliffs at Villa Carlotta

Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

For a more lavish experience in Taormina check out or the grand villa at The Ashbee Hotel

Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

yellow and orange houses on a back street in taormina sicily
Golden houses of Taormina

2. Where to Stay in Sicily: Syracuse

I loved Syracuse – it was a highlight of Sicily where to stay. It is such a cute and atmospheric city. The old town of Ortygia is the place to stay, eat and wander. It is at its most magic as the sunsets.

Syracuse: Stay at Hotel Gutkowksi

Hotel Gutkowski is a fantastic find. Very reasonably priced at 110 pounds for a double it is beautifully minimalist. The location of this Syracuse hotel is fantastic – just on the edge of lovely Ortygia and across from the waterfront.

Hotel Gutkowski Sicily has a great restaurant where you can get dinner and a fab breakfast. Their breakfast was the highlight of the breakfasts on my Sicily trip. Super fresh local ingredients – tomatoes to die for, freshly boiled eggs, amazing juice and great coffee.

Another great area to visit in Southern Italy is Puglia. Check out my post on the 7 Best Places to Visit in Puglia.

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The waterfront in Syracuse

The rooms at this hotel in Syracuse lovely – minimalists and clean and as I was there in August I particularly appreciated the fantastic air conditioning. The hotel has a great terrace where they serve Granite in the afternoon.

I would highly recommend heading to some of the foodie/deli shops nearby and grabbing some local wine and cheese and meat and having pre-dinner drinks on the terrace – it is lovely.

The staff at Hotel Gutkowski Syracuse are very friendly and were very helpful in organizing transfers and trips.

Read more reviews on TripAdvisor Book Now

⇒ A wonderful island to visit in Europe is Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands – read about some of the best things to do in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria Excursions and Gran Canaria markets.

Things to do in Syracuse Sicily: Day trip to Noto

One of the best things to do in Syracuse Sicily is head to the gorgeous Noto. This beautiful little town 40km away from Syracuse is full of beautiful pale coloured buildings.

The best thing to do in Noto Sicily to wander its lovely streets. Use the main street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, as your kick off point and then wander the side streets.

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Noto

There are many restaurants and bars and don’t miss the main cathedral. And make sure you pop into Caffe Sicilia for either ice cream or a Granite – for which they are justifiably famous.

⇒ Another fantastic place to visit in Europe is Greece. Read all about Paxos Greece as well as the best Paxos restaurants and Paxos beaches. Or find out how to get from Santorini to Ios, the best things to do in Ios and a complete guide to Mylopotas Beach.

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The charming Noto
 
 
 
If you’d like to stay the night in Noto check out the lovely Gagliardi Boutique Hotel.

Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

Syracuse: Early evening wander around Ortygia

Ortygia is the perfect Italian old town. It is full of little streets that are perfect for wandering. The best time to go is early evening – kick off about 30 minutes before the sunset.

This Sicilian town is at its busiest at this point but this provides atmosphere rather than headaches. Don’t miss Ortygia’s famous fountain and the main square.

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The main square in Ortygia

Syracuse: Eat Ricotta and Cannoli

Oh, my gosh the ricotta in Sicily. I made it a goal to have ricotta at every main meal and I did pretty well in delivering.

Hotel Gutkowski will help you get started with fresh ricotta on the breakfast buffet. Try it with some of the fresh honey and mix it up with some eggs.

Then at lunch try ricotta on pizza with some Sicilian aubergine – fantastic combination. Dinner means ricotta cannoli – one of the best things that I have ever eaten.

The food is amazing in Sicily – it is one of the best food places I have ever been. But don’t limit yourself. Make sure you have every possible flavour of cannoli – chocolate, vanilla, pistachio. It is a genuine tourist experience so don’t be shy.

If you’re looking for another beautiful place to visit in Italy you’ll enjoy my post on 14 things to do in Rimini and around Rimini

2 pieces of cannoli with chocolate sauce drizle and kiwi fruit and covering
Ah cannoli

Syracuse: Go shopping in Ortygia 

Ortygia has fantastic shopping. There are lots of Italian classics but a large number of unique and interesting boutiques. There are also some of the nicest souvenir shops I have ever seen. My hot tip is Ortigia.

This Italian company has grown beyond Sicily and has a couple of stores in London. Ortigia is a fragrance company and have lovely lovely products – from perfumes to hand cream to shower gel in stunning scents. They also appear to be considerably cheaper here than they are in London so stock up.

⇒ Turkey is a fascinating blend of east and west. Check out my Turkey Itinerary 7 days, Istanbul 3 day itinerary, Gallipoli tours from Istanbul and my Cappadocia Itinerary.

boxes and signs in italian at a market in syracuse sicily
The lovely markets of Syracuse

And don’t miss the food streets and market located close to Hotel Gutkowski. This area is fantastic for buying produce and also extremely photogenic.

Another tip is that Catania airport has some fantastic food stalls where you can buy everything from cannoli to olive oil to easily take home. Make sure you get to the airport early.

Syracuse: Go to Le Vin De L’assassin Bistro for dinner

All food is good in Sicily – you really want to have been dieting before you get here. However, Le Vin De L’ assassin Bistro was one of our best meals.

This highly recommended restaurant in Sicily is located in one of Syracuse’s back streets. We were in Syracuse in August and it was very hot so we took an outside table.

This Syracuse restaurant has a fantastic menu with great service and a great wine list. I went with their signature tuna dish and it was amazing! My recommendation would be not to have dessert here – wander back through the town and stop for some gelato or cannoli.

Whilst in Sicily you want to eat as much gelato and cannoli as you possibly can

Another great option on the waterfront in Syracuse is Approdo Delle Sirene. 

Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

a range of different cheeses in colour and shape market syracuse sicily
Some amazing cheeses at the markets of Syracuse

3. Where to Stay in Sicily: The Aeolian Islands

The Aeolian Islands are so beautiful. I had always wanted to visit. It was very difficult to decide where to stay in Sicily when it comes to these lovely islands.

Where to Stay in Sicily The Aeolian Islands: Salina

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The view from Hotel Santa Isabel

I settled on Salina as the Aeolian island to stay on. This was for a few reasons. I wanted somewhere a bit happening but didn’t want to be on the biggest island as that never feels like a good idea.

I have wonderful memories of watching the movie Il Postino and being entranced by the town and it was shot in Salina. Salina seemed to have a good mix of restaurants and hotels without compromising on size.

Malfa is definitely the place to stay within Salina. It is rather hilly and you do want to be somewhere where you are able to walk to the main street and to the beach.

The Aeolian Islands: Take a Boat trip to Stromboli

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Where to find a boat on Malfa

There are A LOT of boat trip options available on Salina. You could visit all the other Aeolian islands, you could hop on the main ferry, you could pretty much go anywhere – again spoilt for choice is the theme of these Italian islands.

I had recently done a full day boat trip in Corsica which was rather crowded so was in the mood for something that wasn’t a 9-5 commitment with 100 other people. We wanted to go mid-afternoon, to just go to Stromboli, and of course to be able to have some wine.

We headed down to the Malfa port and just asked boat owners. It wasn’t cheap but we were in a group of 4 so we could split things (was about 280 euros). We headed out mid-afternoon.

Going to Stromboli means you get to sail past some of the other Aeolian islands. We stopped on the coast of Stromboli and jumped off the boat into some of the loveliest clearest water I have ever swum in.

The boat took us to Stromboli about one hour before sunset. We saw its startling black beaches, the home of Dolce and Gabbana was pointed out to us (very important) and we got to have a wander around Stromboli which is lovely. And of course, we had a cocktail before returning to the boat.

⇒ If you like beautiful European towns check out my posts on Satin Antonin Noble Val and Tarn et Garonne in France.

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The stunning Aeolian Islands

Once back on the boat dinner was served – very impressive to serve pasta on such a small boat. Oh, and of course we had some wine.

We then settled in to watch the volcano on Stromboli bubbling away. It was a bit difficult to see but we did see something.

As we were there in August and it was very hot I had decided against climbing to the top of the volcano (there are many day trips that offer this from Salina). I was then quite jealous of the head torches I could see as we were in our boat.

If the weather was cooler I think this would be a great thing to do. We were back in port and a quick stroll to the hotel by about 10 pm – a lovely lovely experience.

Book Your Aeolian Islands Boat Trip

Sicily Where to Stay The Aeolian Islands: Hotel Signum

So I didn’t actually stay at Hotel Signum. I wanted to stay here but there were a few of us and we were looking to keep costs down. Anyway as you will see in my next highlight I did eat at Hotel Signum Malfa and it was amazing.

I also had to check the whole place out and it was stunning – I so wish I had stayed here. This hotel in Sicily had the most wonderful atmosphere – it was almost colonial. There was also a great looking spa. This is definitely the place to stay on Malfa.

⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisor Book Now

⇒ Heading to the Cinque Terre? Here is a One Day Cinque Terre Guide

The Aeolian Islands: Eat at Hotel Signum

I ended up eating at Hotel Signum’s restaurant twice. First was a bit of a lunch recce visit to check it out – and it looked amazing and did a mean simple lunch.

So we all headed back for a big 3-course dinner extravaganza at this Malfa restaurant and it was fantastic. The restaurant atmosphere is wonderful – we sat outside and it is quite magical.

The service was fantastic – we ended up facebook friends with the manager! The food was amazing – simply wonderful clean flavours.

However, the highlight was the Malvasia wine. I had been dying to try this famous dessert wine since arriving on Salina. Hotel Signum was the place to do it.

There was almost a ceremony in the pouring of the Malvasia wine and it was absolutely delicious. Do not leave the Aeolian Islands without trying this wonderful Italian dessert wine.

a cone in a plate with lemon sauce and ice cream and glass of wine in the background hotel signum sicily
Dessert at Hotel Signum

The Aeolian Islands: Have a Granite in Lingua 

Lingua is a tiny town on the island of Salina. There is a bus that goes around the island and leaves once an hour so we hopped on this for the scenic 30 minute trip to Lingua.

I have to say there isn’t a lot in Lingua Salina – a cute little waterfront that is worth a stroll. But we had heard all about the famous Granite so we, of course, had to go.

And it was fantastic. There were SO many flavours. Again the first world problem of too many fantastic options in the Aeolian Islands reared its head.

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The famous granite of Lingua

The Aeolian Islands: Have a sunset drink at the Hotel Santa Isabel terrace bar

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Stunning sunset on Salina

This is THE bar to go to for a sunset drink on Salina The view is absolutely stunning. It is a lovely outdoor bar with cocktails and a nice wine list. And best of all they put on some very tasty snacks.

The bar at Hotel Santa Isabel is usually quite busy but you should still score a seat – definitely the place to go and watch the sun come down in the Aeolian Islands.

Click here for the latest prices and availability for Hotel Santa Isabel

And don’t miss my complete post on 8 Charming Sicily Boutique Hotels.

And if you are visiting Sicily why not make sure you see more of amazing Italy? One of my favourite places in Italy is Milan. Check out how to make the most of 24 hours in Milan.

Getting There and Getting Around

To access all of the above cities the most convenient airport is CataniaPalermo is on the other side of the island but if you want to hire a car it is also an option.

Check out cheap flights to both here:

Flights to Catania

Flights to Palermo

Organise an airport pick up

I highly recommend hiring a car whilst in Sicily to get around. And if you’re already in Italy did you know you can also get a train to Sicily?

best things to do in sicily
The fantastic terrace bar at Hotel Santa Isabel

Sicily Tourism & Tours

If you’re looking for some serious adrenaline check out these Activities to do in Sicily from Adrenaline Hunter.

If you’re travelling solo check out these organised tour options:

Just You Holidays Sicily

Exodus Holidays Sicily

Explore Holidays Sicily

G Adventures Sicily

Who Paid for What in this Where to Stay in Sicily Post

I covered all of the costs associated with this post. This where to stay in Sicily post does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on some of the links and make a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.

READ NEXT: 7 DAY SICILY ITINERARY

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