The Fact about Visiting Sicily in Winter (Good And Unhealthy)

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Visiting Sicily in winter appears to be like 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 very 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 just 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 concerning the good issues, whereas conveniently telling you not one of the dangerous issues.

I see that as malpractice — an abdication of accountability.

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

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

Is Sicily in Winter Price It?

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

Summer season is excessive season in Sicily, with busy crowds and excessive costs. However winter is usually a breath of recent 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 right now of 12 months, that doesn’t imply that you simply’ll really feel hotter right now 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 pretty — or horrible.

Sicily has delicate winters, proper? How delicate are we speaking, although? Whilst 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 let you know the total story.

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

However that’s when you’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, when you’re in Sicily for a month, 5 days of chilly and rain gained’t do a lot to you. However when you’re solely right here for every week, it may well make a big impact in your go to.

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

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

Find out how to take care of this: Be optimistic concerning the sunshine — however convey an umbrella and a great 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 maintain the warmth in.

Consequently, you is likely to be stunned 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 residence for just a few days. We labored from the eating room desk sporting layers of shirts and sweaters and coated in blankets.

Whereas our condo did have a radiator, we had it up all the best way 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 might 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 saved the doorways open all day, holding the within as chilly as the surface.

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

Find out how to take care of this: Deliver heavier garments than you assume 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, by way of Shutterstock

Winter brings distinctive occasions in Sicily.

However there are a variety of nice issues about winter in Sicily, too. Some of the uncommon issues to do in Sicily within the winter? Ski Mount Etna! Sure, Sicily’s most well-known energetic 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 likely to ski Etna simply to say they’ve completed it.

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

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

And, after all, 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 every week in early March.

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

Find out how to 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 a giant 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 in depth in Sicily, so renting a automotive is one of the simplest ways to discover a lot of totally different cities.

Nonetheless, we quickly realized that small cities are particularly quiet through 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 little thing closed within the metropolis middle 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 may be driving round, searching for a restaurant, trying to find eating places which are “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 accordance with Google, there have been greater than 40 eating places at present open within the metropolis middle that day. In actuality, there have been precisely zero eating places open, with solely two bars serving meals: a giant bar on a piazza, which drew a crowd, and a tiny bar across the nook.

Find out how to 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 happening in winter to make it a worthwhile keep. We had a fantastic 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 as a consequence of 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 simply gained’t have the ability to go on a snorkeling tour in winter. That is smart.

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

Wish to take the cable automotive from Trapani to Erice? Sorry, it’s closed from early January by way of late March. You’ll be able to nonetheless go to; you’ll simply must do the switchbacky drive up the mountain your self. And when you’re in Erice, don’t plan on discovering wherever to eat.

Typically you possibly can attain out to the tour firm for a non-public tour when you’d like, however this may find yourself being greater than you need to spend.

Find out how to repair this: Analysis your actions prematurely, see what’s out there through 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 just a few 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 will probably be no crowds.

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

So which websites are price 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 Website.

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

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

Sicilian islands and seashores usually are not a sensible alternative in winter.

Sicily is residence to a number of the most stunning seashores in Italy (which is why it looks as if 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 will probably be a lot quieter and most Italians will contemplate it very a lot not seashore climate, however it may well nonetheless be a great time to swim within the Mediterranean Sea (and the ocean temperature is hotter in October than Could).

However within the winter, these cities are completely lifeless. The overwhelming majority of companies in seashore cities shutter solely through 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. If you happen to actually need to go to the Aeolian Islands in winter, a minimum of keep in Lipari, which has the most important metropolis middle 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, a fantastic spot for aperitivo.

Palermo is a variety of enjoyable in winter.

As I stated earlier than, cities are the perfect locations to go to in Sicily in winter as a result of folks reside there year-round. You will discover 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 through the winter months. Whereas we didn’t luck out with the climate and it was chilly each inside and out of doors, Palermo rapidly muscled its means into my listing of favourite Italian cities because of the folks, meals, and general 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 perfect place to really feel such as you’re splurging for a low value. And Palermo occurs to be a little bit bit sunnier and hotter than Catania and Jap 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 analogous 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 analogous 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, a beautiful place to go to in Sicily.

Greatest Time to Go to Sicily

So when is the perfect time to go to Sicily, for actual? If you happen to’re searching for a trade-off of good climate, sunshine, heat temperatures, and manageable ranges of crowds, purpose for Could, September, or October.

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

If you happen to’re not a fan of heat climate and would moderately go to within the shoulder season, contemplate late March, April, or November. Early spring and late fall convey cooler climate that makes the right circumstances for plenty of out of doors sightseeing.

And at last, visiting Sicily in winter may be completely fantastic when you’re fortunate with the climate. And when you keep for longer, chances are high you’ll have the ability to expertise a variety of sunny days.

By now, if you wish to plan a winter vacation to Sicily, that’s nice! I’ve completed 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?