Wherever you are in Sicily, a natural beauty is not far away. Mountains, salt marshes, lakes, gorges, steaming craters, rivers, grottoes and caves are spread over the island(s). Our ten top spots are to be discovered on foot. Required: sunscreen with a high SPF, mineral water, hat, sturdy shoes or walking boots. Not required: a guide, except on the island of Stromboli. Please keep in mind that most of Sicily’s hiking and trekking trails are not or poorly signed. We suggest starting the hikes early in the morning before it gets too hot.
More descriptions of nature reserves, parks & public gardens you’ll find here
Fossa di Vulcano – Aeolian Islands
Apart of the thermal springs and black beaches, Vulcano’s attraction is its 391 m high steaming crater, which is encrusted with yellow and red crystals. After one hour you’ll reach the lowest point of the crater’s edge at about 290 m, to the summit it will take 1,5 hours. Follow the signs on the strada provinciale, then a gravel track on the left zigzags to the summit. From there you cold descend to the crater floor and/or climb around the rim, see the fumaroles and enjoy the phantastic view to the other Aeolian islands. Afterwards you can relax having a rejuvenating mud bath or dip in the deep blue sea.
People staying on the island of Lipari reach Vulcano by hydrofoil in ten minutes.
Cava d’Ispica – Modica
Most people come to Ragusa and Modica for the wonderful Baroque architecture. Few know that 12 km southeast of Modica there is a natural paradise. The 13 km long gorge of Cava d’Ispica is well worth a visit for nature lovers and archeologically interested people. The gorge was used for a long time as a Neolithic burial site, you can still see the caves that were transformed into cave dwellings in the Middle Ages. The path along the quiet gorge is mostly overgrown, but visible.
Silvestri Craters – Mount Etna
The Silvestri craters are in walking distance of the cable car ground station, at a height of 1.900 metres. This is a wonderful walk also for people who cannot go further up Mount Etna due to health problems. Discover the craters, colours and picturesque volcanic landscapes on foot, and then, while waiting for the rest of the family to descend, have a coffee or something to eat in one of the restaurants nearby.
Stromboli – Aeolian Islands
One walk takes you to the “Fire Slide”, the Sciara del Fuoco, where you will experience the world’s most active volcano, the Stromboli, with eruptions every 20 minutes. The wonderful panoramic view of the fuming craters and seeing the red glowing lava floating into the sea will be unforgettable.
For fit people we suggest a guided hike in the afternoon on the Stromboli which is about 924 m high. You will arrive after sunset, so you can enjoy the fiery spectacle to the fullest.
In accordance with the Italian law, hikes on the volcano Stromboli have to be escorted by a certified volcano guide. Groups are of maximum 20 people and will be guided in your language. Guides reserve the right to not climb the volcano according to safety measures, the weather and the physical condition of the walkers. If you are not fit enough to ascend you will be asked to go back.
You can book your guide in advance and on the spot, e.g. at Magmatrek
The Giant Holly Trees at Piano Pomo
This is one of our preferred walks in the fresh and cool mountain air, perfect on a hot Sicilian summer day, when even a bath in the sea is not really refreshing. You’ll see cork oaks, holm oaks and other mountain plants, some of them endemic. In this area of vegetational importance, the Holly tree population of Piano Pomo stands out. One of the five nuclei forms a very thick wood, within which only few light can filter through. Some of the holly trees are more than 14 m high, 4 m in circumference and more than 300 hundred years old. You’ll feel like being in the magic forest of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night Dream!
Piano Pomo can easily be reached from Pomieri or the mountain hut Sempria. Piano Pomo is located at 1,400m above sea level, along the border between Petralia Sottana and Castelbuono.
Piano Battaglia is known as one of Sicily’s ski resorts, but in summer it is a wonderful destination for walkers and hikers. It doesn’t have the typical Sicilian look, it actually has the Swiss feel to it. In winter: think chalets, alpine churches, ski runs, lifts, and snow, snow, snow…There are a number of places to rent your skiing equipment. Piano Battaglia features three drag lifts and one chairlift.
In summer you can hike from charming Castelbuono (always and also worth a visit) up to Piano Battaglia (1.600 m). Think beautiful landscapes, lush green, stunning views and rare plants. Those who can’t get enough of Sicily’s impressive mountain world hike further up to the highest peak of the Madonie Mountains, the Pizzo Carbonara (1.979 m). From and back to Piano Battaglia it is about 5 hours walk.
Piano Battaglia is less than one hour drive from Palermo.
Pantàlica – UNESCO World Heritage Site
Pantàlica is a nature reserve in the south-east of Sicily, set 450 m above sea level between two deep canyons carved by two rivers, boasting around 5000 prehistoric tombs and cave churches which are around 70.000 years old and formed out of limestone cliffs dotting the walls of the Anapo valley. Pantàlica can be explored only by foot, so venture out following the various natural paths, which are very well kept and allow you to marvel at this extraordinary deep gorge with rock-cut tombs. You can take the upper trail offering some good rock climbing and fantastic views. There are over 1000 catacombs to be discovered. If you fancy only a relaxed walk or are coming with children follow the lower trail which will take you around small natural swimming pools, where you can cool yourself down. This is definitely the place for those who love nature and archaeological sites. You can spend a couple of hours there or even a whole day. The air is so fresh, the water refreshing and there is an abundance of wildlife and vegetation.
From Taormina up to Castelmola
This lovely walk (one of our favs especially in Spring when hundreds of almond trees dot your way in light pink) leads to the enchanting village of Castelmola, perched on the top of a craggy rock like an eagle’s nest high above the stunning beauty of Taormina. Take from Via Circonvallazione the winding road “Salita Castello” to the top of Monte Tauro where one can enjoy the most stunning panoramic views. The sunsets are particularly breath taking and sort of magical. This panoramic walk is about one hour and you should be fit enough to manage the way up. Once arrived in Castelmola you should reward yourself with an almond wine tasting at the Bar Turrisi (attention: weird decoration, a visit is not required for children). Don’t forget to bring your camera!
*Image of Etna volcano craters in Sicily, Italy via Shutterstock
*Image of prehistoric tombs in the Unesco site of Pantalica via Shutterstock