Heart & Soul of Sicily

Diverse history, stunning scenery and tempting food make Sicily one of the Mediterranean’s most satisfying destinations. Here the best journeys unravel the island’s storied past, spotlighting the Greek, Roman and Norman contributions to the architecture, landscapes and cuisine that greet visitors today. 

Delve into Sicily on a 9-night ‘shoulderseason’ tour when the island is wonderfully uncrowded and comfortably warm, with average March temperatures of 20°C. We think the best way to see Sicily properly is to change hotels, so we can get under the skin of more of the region, and we have some stunning stays included.

Departure dates available: 1 March and 1 April 2025

Handpicked Highlights

  • Visit stunning UNESCO-listed ancient sites such as Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples and the Villa Romana del Casale, all free from the summer crowds and queues 
  • Pair your sightseeing with generous helpings of gastronomy–eating at local trattorias and enjoying home-grown wines and produce throughout 
  • Stay in small hotels and ‘realtowns like Castellammare and Modica, where locals go about their lives year-round 
  • Enjoy authentic experiences that money can’t buy, including dining at a private ‘Baglio’ farm and learning the art of Sicilian chocolate-making at a chocolaterie 
  • Avoid tourist magnets like Taormina and Cefalu, and discover off-radar towns like Naro and Ragusa Ibla

Tour Itinerary

This 9-night tour of Sicily’s north and south focuses less on tourist hotspots than its below-radar treasures and traditional gastronomy. In-between visits to Agrigento’s UNESCO-listed Valley of the Temples, baroque Ortigia and gritty Palermo, we discover hidden towns like Naro and Scicli, unwind at intimate hotels, and eat at charming trattorias, sample home-grown wines and chocolate, and devour fresh seafood and pasta at boutique local restaurants and agritourism estates. 

Day 1 Arrive in Sicily

We fly to Palermo/Catania airport and meet our tour manager ready for our transfer to our hotel, the charming Al Madarig in the picturesque north-coast fishing town of Castellammare del Golfo. We enjoy a coffee stop en route and after arrival at the Madarig, relax over a welcome drink. Later, we make the short stroll to a local trattoria for a light evening mealour first opportunity to relish the island’s distinctive cuisine. 

Meals included: Dinner

port boats and surrounding landscape in sicily castellammare del golfo

Day 2 Erice & Segesta

Today is devoted to two of Sicily’s lesser-known gems: Erice and Segesta. First, we travel to Erice, a walled town crowned by the Castello di Venere (Castle of Venus). We uncover its ancient Greek origins as we trace the medieval lanes past noble palaces and churches, and admire majestic views towards Trapani and the Egadi Islands. After time for an independent lunch, we journey to Segesta to see its magnificent Greek templean unfinished Doric jewel perched on a hilltop and its Roman amphitheatre, dating from the 2nd century BC. There is time to mull over our fantastic discoveries during dinner at the stylish La Cambusa trattoria in Castellammare tonight, which specialises in mouth-watering pastas and seafood.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Greek temple in the ancient city of Segesta, Sicily

Day 3 Monreale & Palermo

A full day of sightseeing awaits, with guided tours of Monreale and Palermo. In Monreale, we focus on the splendid Norman Cathedral, an architectural wonder awash with 12th-century gold-leaf mosaics. In Palermo, a guided tour through the bustling streets takes us to a typically lively street market and the Palatine Chapel, famous for its marble paintings and glittering mosaics. We cap today with a winetasting, traditional meal, and fascinating talk on Sicily’s tuna fishing industry at the wonderful Baglio Fontana, a 19th century agritourism farm framed by lemon orchards. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4 Selinunte & Agrigento

We set off for Selinunte, one of the Mediterranean’s greatest archaeological parks, whose sun-baked remnants date from the 7th to the 4th century BCE, and include Greek temples, an agora and residential dwellings. After exploring here, we sit down to a long and leisurely lunch at the fabulous Da Vittorio ristorante, which is famous for its freshly caught seafood and featured on both Rick Stein’s Great Mediterranean Escapes and BBC2’s Sicily Unpacked TV series. Having earlier checked out of our Castellammare hotel, a scenic afternoon drive now takes us to the hilltop south-western town of Agrigento, our base for the next two nights.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Temple of Apollo

Day 5 Agrigento Valley of the Temples, Olive Farm & Naro

This morning brings a walking tour of Agrigento’s stunning Valley of the Temples, a globally important archaeological site awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. Marvel at the well-preserved Greek temples as a local guide charts their history. We then stop at the family-run Mandranova olive oil farm for a delicious olive oil tasting and home-grown lunch before continuing to Naro, a charming town with a medieval fortress and panoramic views.  

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6 Vila de Casale & Modica

After saying ‘arrivederci’ to Agrigento, we make our way to the Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO-listed Roman villa, which houses 40 stunning floor mosaics, each depicting scenes from imperial Roman life. From here, we travel to our hotel in Modica, one of Sicily’s eight Val di Noto towns towns rebuilt in Baroque style after a 1693 earthquake, and known for its chocolate-making. After an early-evening welcome drink at our hotel, we head for supper at Locanda del Colonello, a restaurant tucked into Modica’s alleyways and acclaimed for its simple, yet stunning, Sicilian fare.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

View of a narrow street in Modica, Sicily, Italy with cobbled street, authentic Italian street

Day 7 Modica

We join a local guide for a walking tour of Modica; admiring its Baroque buildings as we roam its tiny lanes and staircases. After free time for a snack lunch, we visit the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, the town’s oldest chocolaterie, where we sample some of its classic, rich chocolate. We then continue to Scicli, another Val di Noto jewel and filming location for the popular Inspector Montalbano TV series. Discover its Baroque streets before returning to Modica for dinner at a local osteria.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8 Ibla di Ragusa & Modica

The UNESCO-protected Baroque gem of Ibla di Ragusa boasts elegant palaces and churches, and is dominated by the magnificent Cathedral of San Giorgio. After experiencing the town, we return to Modica, where the afternoon is left free for you to sample its sights and shops as you wish or just to relax at your hotel. Dinner tonight is at the prestigious Relais Torre Marabino, an agritourism estate based in a Norman fortress, which produces its own organic fare and wines.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Architecture of Ragusa in Val di Noto, southern Sicily, Italy

Day 9 Modica & Ortigia

We depart Modica for Ortigia, the island-based old quarter of Syracuse, which is connected to the main city by three bridges. A guided walk reveals its quaint alleys and Baroque piazzas, before a delicious lunch at the Taberna Sveva restaurant which showcases its old-school local cuisine. After lunch, we check in to our Ortigia hotel, leaving the afternoon and evening free for you to enjoy this wonderful town and its eateries. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

View of an embankment in Ortigia.

Day 10 Departure

We transfer to the airport to return to the UK.

Meals included: Breakfast

Hotel Al Madarig, outside, piazza petrolo, sicily, castellammare del golfo

Al Madarig

We stay three nights at the 3-star Al Madarig Hotel, which occupies a prime position in traditional Castellammare del Golfo. Flanking the Piazza Petrolo–a palm-dotted square above a crescent-shaped beach accessed by steps–the hotel is a long-standing part of the town, with friendly and helpful staff, a low-key atmosphere, and a commitment to local sustainability. The location is hard to equal: overlooking Castellammare’s turquoise bay, with the Norman-Arab castle, harbour, and numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops within strolling distance. 

The air-conditioned rooms are decorated in sunny pastel colours and have a balcony or terrace overlooking the internal courtyard or piazza, private bathroom with shower or bath, TV with satellite channels, minibar, hairdryer, and free Wi-Fi. Elsewhere, there is plenty to ensure guests can relax in comfort, from generous buffet breakfasts and an inviting lobby lounge and bar to a free shuttle to local beaches. 

Nights 1-3

Colleverde Park Hotel garden, outside, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy

Colleverde Park

Standing in gardens two kilometres from Agrigento centre, the modern 4-star Colleverde Park is a 15-minute walk from the Valley of the Temples and boasts panoramic views over its ruins and the sea from its grounds. Run by the Sinatra family, the hotel has a charmingly old-school air, with 19th-century Sicilian furniture and ceramics dominating the lobby lounge and lending an elegant feel that matches the polite and friendly service. 

Guest can stroll in the tropical-style gardens amid the glorious views, and linger over the bountiful buffet breakfasts, made up of everything from fresh local eggs and cold cuts to freshly baked Sicilian pastries and cakes. The simple and spotless rooms are equipped with all the essentials, including an ensuite bathroom, TV with satellite channels, air-conditioning, hairdryer, and minibar. A small fitness room and free Wi-Fi round off the facilities. 

Nights 4-5

Modica with Principe d'Aragona the white building bottom left

Principe d’Aragona

Our base in Modica is the Principe d’Aragona, a highly rated, privately owned hotel, which benefits from a convenient location and has its own outdoor swimming pool. This 4-star hotel stands on the pleasant Corso Umberto I, an easy 5-minute walk from Modica’s old centre, so it is ideally placed for when you have free time to explore the shops and sights of the town. 

Set to one side of the hotel, the swimming pool is flanked by palms and sunloungers, creating a lovely spot to relax on warmer days. Inside, the modern and crisp interiors include a comfortable reception, lounge, bar and a light and airy dining room. Finishing touches include the classically Sicilian buffet breakfasts, welcoming and accommodating staff, and the contemporary guest rooms, each decorated in neutral tones and modern art, and featuring a private shower/bath, air-conditioning, TV, safe, Wi-Fi and minibar.

Nights 6-8

Grand Hotel

This plush 5-star hotel is a fabulous place to relax after a day’s sightseeing in the old city of Ortigia. Occupying an impressive 19th-century building overlooking the harbour, it’s as far from a shiny chain hotel as one can find– with plenty of period charm, flowery Liberty-style architecture and charming service from its attentive staff. 

A grand lobby, lounge and bar lined with Corinthian columns, arched windows, and rich furnishings set the tone, while the rooftop terrace offers outstanding views over the Gulf of Syracuse – a perfect backdrop for the buffet breakfasts of fresh pastries, cakes, eggs and cold meats, all of which are locally sourced. The classically styled rooms are all very comfortably furnished, and come with a private bathroom, LCD TV, Wi-Fi, safe and minibar. The hotel also has a luxurious spa offering a choice of wellbeing treatments, together with a shuttle boat to the hotel’s private beach. 

Night 9

What's included

  • Flights

    Return flights London Heathrow to Palermo & transfer in Sicily

  • Accommodation

    9 nights in four handpicked hotels

  • Meals

    9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 7 dinners

  • Handpicked Highlights

    Itinerary and handpicked highlights as stated above 

  • Tour Manager

    Services of a local, experienced English speaking Tour Manager

  • Coach Transport

    All coach transportation as stated in itinerary above 

Extras

  • Travel insurance 
  • Local tourist and city taxes  
  • Gratuities for tour manager and coach driver 

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