The Reality about Visiting Sicily in Winter (Good And Dangerous)

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Visiting Sicily in winter appears like a win at a straightforward look. Why not head to one of many warmest locations in Europe, the place snow solely falls on the best of volcanoes, escape your chilly hometown, and luxuriate in all of the scrumptious meals and wine?

I’ve traveled to Sicily a number of occasions and lately took an prolonged journey to Palermo and western Sicily. And whereas I had a good time, the climate was far worse than I had anticipated.

Each information I’ve examine visiting Sicily in winter solely tells you all in regards to the good issues, whereas conveniently telling you not one of the dangerous issues.

I see that as malpractice — an abdication of duty.

In my 13+ years {of professional} journey writing, I’ve made it a mission to inform my readers the reality in regards to the locations they go to — each the nice and the dangerous.

So buckle up — right here is the reality, the complete reality, and the entire reality about visiting Sicily in winter.

Is Sicily in Winter Price It?

I’ve visited Sicily a number of occasions, at completely different occasions of 12 months. Sicily, the most important island in Italy, is dwelling to an interesting cultural combine, a lot beautiful pure magnificence, and at occasions it seems like a totally completely different nation to Italy.

Summer season is excessive season in Sicily, with busy crowds and excessive costs. However winter generally is a breath of contemporary air in a lot of methods.

Sicily is among the warmest locations in Europe within the winter, and folks come to Sicily in winter to get pleasure from a little bit of sunshine when the remainder of the continent is frozen. Winter additionally occurs to be off-season, with the bottom costs of the 12 months and the fewest crowds.

However simply because it’s hotter than your hometown at the moment of 12 months, that doesn’t imply that you just’ll really feel hotter at the moment of 12 months.

A vineyard in Sicily in winter, nothing on the vines, some small buildings in the distance.

Issues to Know About Visiting Sicily in Winter

The climate is likely to be beautiful — or horrible.

Sicily has delicate winters, proper? How delicate are we speaking, although? When you can have a look at the common temperatures and rainfall in Sicily, that are listed additional down on this piece, know that they don’t inform you the complete story.

More often than not, you possibly can get pleasure from a lot of sunshine within the winter and fairly heat temperatures in the course of the day.

However that’s for those who’re fortunate.

On my newest journey to Sicily in February, I had a day and a half of sunshine in Palermo earlier than temperatures dropped considerably and it was rainstorms. 5 days of rainstorms! Winter climate temperatures hovered round 43 F (6 C) and colder at evening.

Now, for those who’re in Sicily for a month, 5 days of chilly and rain gained’t do a lot to you. However for those who’re solely right here for per week, it may make a huge effect in your go to.

I ended up shopping for a winter coat in Palermo as a result of my midweight coats have been neither water resistant nor heat sufficient. Even when the daytime temperature hadn’t dropped, evening temperatures are tremendous chilly in Sicily.

And actually, as soon as I bought again dwelling to Prague, it was a lot colder, however I didn’t really feel almost as chilly as I had felt in Sicily!

How you can take care of this: Be optimistic in regards to the sunshine — however convey an umbrella and a very good winter jacket, scarf, and gloves, simply in case.

Sicilian buildings are poorly insulated.

This isn’t distinctive to Sicily, however one thing you see all through Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. Buildings in Sicily are constructed to remain cool all through the recent summers, not preserve the warmth in.

Consequently, you is likely to be shocked simply how chilly it will get inside.

Throughout our most up-to-date go to to Sicily within the winter, Charlie and I had deliberate on working from dwelling for a couple of days. We labored from the eating room desk sporting layers of shirts and sweaters and coated in blankets.

Whereas our house did have a radiator, we had it up all the way in which it could go — which was nonetheless a temperature that left us shivering. Even at evening, my face was chilly, my physique buried beneath a number of blankets.

And that’s the case for eating places, too. Usually we’d be seated subsequent to a window, which had chilly air flowing within the joint between the window and the wall. Once more — poor insulation.

Past that, loads of bars, eating places, and pasticcerie stored the doorways open all day, protecting the within as chilly as the skin.

By the point we rented a automobile for our previous few days, I almost wept in reduction — as soon as we turned on the warmth, this was the warmest I had been in days.

How you can take care of this: Convey heavier garments than you suppose you want, particularly layering choices like base layers and sweaters. Plan on sporting your winter coat in eating places. See in case your lodging can present further blankets and/or an area heater.

A skier skiing down shallow white snow on Mount Etna, the Aeolian Islands in the background.
Snowboarding Mount Etna, through Shutterstock

Winter brings distinctive occasions in Sicily.

However there are a number of nice issues about winter in Sicily, too. Probably the most uncommon issues to do in Sicily within the winter? Ski Mount Etna! Sure, Sicily’s most well-known lively volcano has ski resorts within the winter!

Is it the best snowboarding you’ll ever do in Italy? No. This isn’t the Dolomites; this isn’t even the Apennines. Individuals are inclined to ski Etna simply to say they’ve performed it.

One other common winter occasion in Sicily is Christmas markets. Sicily’s Christmas markets typically run within the month of December. You could find Christmas markets within the cities of Palermo, Catania,

Residing Nativity scenes are discovered all through Sicily as properly, some crammed with as many as 200 folks. Essentially the most well-known Residing Nativity performances are in Giarratana in Ragusa province, Custonaci in Trapani province, and Gangi in Palermo province, although there are loads extra. (There’s even one in my household’s ancestral hometown, Castanea delle Furie in Messina province!)

And, in fact, there are many non secular festivals in Sicily within the winter. The Festa di Sant’Agata takes place February 3-5 and is Catania’s largest pageant (although you’ll see celebratory pastries as far west as Palermo!).

One other common pageant is the Almond Blossom Pageant in Agrigento, happening over the course of per week in early March.

And don’t overlook Martedi Grosso — Fats Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, or Carnival — celebrating one final spherical of hedonism earlier than Lent begins. Martedi Grosso normally takes place in February.

How you can take care of this: Take a fast look to see in case your keep will coincide with a pageant, as a result of that might make an enormous distinction by way of locations being open, lodging being costlier, or events on the street till late.

An empty street in a Sicilian village underneath a cloudy sky.
The place are all of the folks in Castellamare del Golfo?

Sicilian villages are empty in winter.

One of many pleasures of visiting Sicily is exploring a lot of little villages all through the island. Public transportation isn’t intensive in Sicily, so renting a automobile is one of the simplest ways to discover a lot of completely different cities.

Nonetheless, we quickly discovered that small cities are particularly quiet in the course of the winter months. It wasn’t uncommon to go to one of many bigger cities within the area — like Marsala, inhabitants 83,000 — and discover every thing closed within the metropolis heart besides the bar in entrance of the Duomo.

In contrast to many different nations, Sicilians don’t mark their companies as seasonally closed on Google Maps. So that you will be driving round, searching for a restaurant, looking for eating places which can be “open now” — and they’re going to truly be closed.

Let me offer you an instance: San Vito Lo Capo, a seaside village with spectacular cliffs about an hour’s drive from Palermo. We visited on a Saturday in February, the primary sunny day after 5 days of rain.

In response to Google, there have been greater than 40 eating places at present open within the metropolis heart that day. In actuality, there have been precisely zero eating places open, with solely two bars serving meals: an enormous bar on a piazza, which drew a crowd, and a tiny bar across the nook.

How you can repair this: Keep in a metropolis throughout your go to to maximise your eating and sightseeing choices. I like to recommend Palermo, Catania, or the Ortigia space of Siracusa, which every have sufficient occurring in winter to make it a worthwhile keep. We had an important week in Palermo and ate at so many cool eating places!

A quiet, empty street in Italy with a motorbike parked.
Our tour to Monreale was initially booked however cancelled resulting from lack of sufficient bookings, so we simply went on our personal.

Many excursions and actions in Sicily are unavailable in winter.

I get it — you perceive that you just gained’t be capable of go on a snorkeling tour in winter. That is sensible.

However you is likely to be shocked that you just battle to discover a at present working meals tour, historic strolling tour, or day journey to close by ruins in the course of the winter months. Many firms don’t run their excursions within the winter months as a result of it doesn’t make monetary sense.

Need to take the cable automobile from Trapani to Erice? Sorry, it’s closed from early January via late March. You may nonetheless go to; you’ll simply need to do the switchbacky drive up the mountain your self. And when you’re in Erice, don’t plan on discovering anyplace to eat.

Typically you possibly can attain out to the tour firm for a personal tour for those who’d like, however this may find yourself being greater than you need to spend.

How you can repair this: Analysis your actions prematurely, see what’s accessible in the course of the time of your winter go to, and resolve what’s a dealbreaker for you.

The view from a stone amphitheater perched high on a hill, hills and the ocean in the distance.
What a view from the amphitheater in Segesta!

Archaeological websites are nice to go to in winter.

Are you a fan of classical historical past who can’t get sufficient of historical ruins? You’ll love visiting Sicily. This island is wealthy in ruins, most of them Greek ruins, with a couple of Roman-era treasures thrown in.

And it’s significantly better visiting ruins in Sicily within the winter. Ruins seldom have a lot shade and are sometimes crowded, however within the winter you’ll crave that sunshine and there can be no crowds.

Anybody who’s visited Agrigento in August has felt like they have been coming into the gates of hell! Agrigento in January? A fabulous place to go to, even with low temperatures.

So which websites are value visiting? Positively don’t miss the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento; Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica; and Villa Romana del Casale; every of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Web site.

Past UNESCO, The Segesta ruins near Palermo have been a spotlight for me, particularly the spectacular view from the amphitheater. Selinunte Archaeological Park in Trapani Province is one other web site value visiting.

A beach in winter with big frothy waves and a kitesurfer surfing across them. Pastel-colored square beach buildings in the background.
Mondello Seaside, Palermo, in winter — empty aside from kitesurfers and dog-walkers.

Sicilian islands and seashores will not be a sensible selection in winter.

Sicily is dwelling to a few of the most lovely seashores in Italy (which is why it looks like half of mainland Italy decamps to Sicily in August!). From the Aeolian Islands (my private favourite spot) to the Egadi Islands to cities like Cefalù, Avola, and San Vito Lo Capo, this islands are at their finest in summer time, which is excessive season in Sicily.

Late spring and early fall can be a lot quieter and most Italians will take into account it very a lot not seashore climate, however it may nonetheless be a very good time to swim within the Mediterranean Sea (and the ocean temperature is hotter in October than Might).

However within the winter, these cities are completely lifeless. The overwhelming majority of companies in seashore cities shutter solely in the course of the chilly winter months. Even common spots like Cefalù are ghost cities.

Moreover, public transport is proscribed to those locations in winter, particularly ferries to the smaller islands. In the event you actually need to go to the Aeolian Islands in winter, at the least keep in Lipari, which has the largest metropolis heart of the islands and some locations keep open within the winter.

Learn Extra: Full Information to the Aeolian Islands, Sicily

People sitting at street side restaurants, drinking spritzes and eating fried food.
Hanging out at La Vucciria, an important spot for aperitivo.

Palermo is a number of enjoyable in winter.

As I stated earlier than, cities are the most effective locations to go to in Sicily in winter as a result of folks reside there year-round. You could find loads of eating places to select from, and tons of enjoyable issues to do.

Palermo was an particularly enjoyable place to have as a base in the course of the winter months. Whereas we didn’t luck out with the climate and it was chilly each inside and outdoors, Palermo shortly muscled its method into my record of favourite Italian cities because of the folks, meals, and total vibe.

Palermo is vibrant, pleasant, and really inexpensive. The meals is unbelievable and the road meals scene is superb, even within the winter months. It’s the most effective place to really feel such as you’re splurging for a low value. And Palermo occurs to be a bit bit sunnier and hotter than Catania and Japanese Sicily.

I’d completely return to Palermo for an additional lengthy winter go to.

Learn Extra: 23 Enjoyable Issues to Do in Palermo, Sicily

A couple standing in a medieval tower in Erice, Sicily, looking over the mountainous landscape underneath a cloudy sky.
Erice on a cloudy, chilly winter day.

Sicily Climate in Winter

Sicily enjoys a Mediterranean local weather with sunny summers and chilly winters. Right here is data on temperature and rainfall, month by month, in Catania within the east and Palermo within the west:

Sicily in December

In December, the climate in Palermo, Sicily, is often delicate with a mean excessive temperature of 61°F (16°C) and a mean low temperature of fifty°F (10°C). The common rainfall for this month is round 3.7 inches (94 mm).

In Catania, Sicily, the climate in December can also be delicate, with a mean excessive temperature of 62°F (17°C) and a mean low temperature of 44°F (7°C). The common rainfall for this month is round 3.1 inches (79 mm).

Sicily in January

In January, the climate in Palermo is barely cooler with a mean excessive temperature of 58°F (14°C) and a mean low temperature of 46°F (8°C). The common rainfall for this month is round 3.2 inches (82 mm).

In Catania, the climate in January is comparable with a mean excessive temperature of 60°F (16°C) and a mean low temperature of 41°F (5°C). The common rainfall for this month is round 3.3 inches (85 mm).

Sicily in February

In February, the climate in Palermo begins to heat up once more with a mean excessive temperature of 60°F (16°C) and a mean low temperature of 46°F (8°C). The common rainfall for this month is round 2.6 inches (66 mm).

In Catania, the climate in February can also be milder with a mean excessive temperature of 60°F (16°C) and a mean low temperature of 41°F (5°C). The common rainfall for this month is round 2.8 inches (72 mm).

Sicily in March

In March, the climate in Palermo continues to heat up with a mean excessive temperature of 63°F (17°C) and a mean low temperature of 48°F (9°C). The common rainfall for this month is round 2.5 inches (63 mm).

In Catania, the climate in March is comparable with a mean excessive temperature of 62°F (17°C) and a mean low temperature of 44°F (7°C). The common rainfall for this month is round 2.5 inches (64 mm).

The medical city of Ragusa, Sicily, all sand-colored with lots of staircases and twisted paths.
The Baroque metropolis of Ragusa, an exquisite place to go to in Sicily.

Finest Time to Go to Sicily

So when is the most effective time to go to Sicily, for actual? In the event you’re searching for a trade-off of good climate, sunshine, heat temperatures, and manageable ranges of crowds, intention for Might, September, or October.

These months are completely beautiful (and September remains to be very a lot summer time), but it surely’s not “summer time” to Italians, who’re in autumn mode as quickly as September hits. Plus, youngsters are again at school, which implies the crowds are fewer crowds.

In the event you’re not a fan of heat climate and would slightly go to within the shoulder season, take into account late March, April, or November. Early spring and late fall convey cooler climate that makes the right situations for plenty of outside sightseeing.

And eventually, visiting Sicily in winter will be completely great for those who’re fortunate with the climate. And for those who keep for longer, likelihood is you’ll be capable of expertise a number of sunny days.

By now, if you wish to plan a winter vacation to Sicily, that’s nice! I’ve performed my job, which is telling you what to anticipate — for actual.

Extra on Sicily:

Cool Locations in Southern Italy:

Planning a Journey to Italy:

Have you ever been to Sicily in winter? What are your ideas?