blue water at some of the most beautiful places to see on a 7 day s sicily itinerary

7-Day East Coast Sicily Itinerary Starting in Catania

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Last Updated on March 9, 2024

Start Your 7-Day East Coast Sicily Itinerary in Catania

lady sits in red doorway of a brick building with a figure of a sailboat on it

This 7-day east coast Sicily itinerary starting in Catania will let you explore the part of Sicily that was colonized by the ancient Greeks.

In addition to including the oldest cities in Sicily, this region has other records involving the natural sphere.

Eastern Sicily has the highest mountainous relief, think of Mount Etna, but there is no shortage of vast plains as well, such as the Plain of Catania. Along the Ionian Coast, you will also find some of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily, many of them completely off the beaten path, like Calamosche Beach.

With the help of this post, you will be able to plan your 7-day trip to Sicily as a local traveler would do. I’ve traveled to Sicily a few times, and the Eastern coast is the area I love best and I keep returning to. The main reason is that it is one of the less-traveled parts of the island.

It is from Catania that you start your journey to discover this ancient land, rich in history, culture, art, nature, and, of course, great food.

Choose a destination below to start your 7-day Sicily Itinerary

Guest Post: Lisa will help you plan your East Coast Sicily Itinerary. She is an Italian who is passionate about traveling, writing, and hiking. You can read more from her on her blogs Rome Travelogues and I’m Learning Italian.

  • Day 1-2 Catania and Mount Etna
  • Day 3  Syracuse
  • Day 4-5 Noto and day trips (Marzamemi, Vendicari Nature Reserve, Scicli)
  • Day 6-7 Ragusa and Modica

This one-week Eastern Sicily Vacation Place will take you to discover many hidden gems in Sicily as well as famous Sicilian cities and towns.


water in front of an old city with a snow covered mountain i the background
Catania with Mt Etna: Image Source

Catania is a rather big city located on the slopes of Europe’s largest active volcano, Mount Etna. If you love adventure and somewhat odd landscapes, one could say lunar, you can climb its slopes. First, you will take a cable car and then continue on foot until you reach the craters. In order to reach the craters, you need to be with an official guide. 

This guided hike to Mount Etna summit will take you up to the maximum permitted safety level, at 3000 mt, where you will walk next to lava flows. The tour includes insurance and hiking boots, so you’re covered even if you haven’t packed boots for your Sicily trip.

Check the availability of the tour here

I know that not everyone likes adventure, so rest assured, Catania offers plenty of attractions that are less risky than an active volcano!

large elaborate church in Sicily
Catania Duomo: Image Source

Why, for example, not let yourself be enchanted by the splendor of the Baroque Duomo on the piazza of the same name? In front of it, you cannot fail to notice the statue of a black basalt elephant, known as “‘U Liotru,” a symbol of the city since 1200. Legend has it that it was he who hunted the ferocious beasts during the building of Catania.

Piazza del Duomo overlooks the huge “‘A Piscaria” fish market, which is also a more general food market. It is the place to savor the island’s deli thanks to countless street food offerings, ranging from fried fish to traditional flavors of the Sicilian countryside.

The magnificent Villa Bellini is the green lung of the city. The origins of this park date back to the 18th century, when it belonged to Prince Ignazio Paternò Castello di Biscari.

Just outside Catania’s historic center, reach the seaside village of Ognina, where myths and traditions open their doors to travelers. The Odyssey relates that Ulysses chose the very harbor of this hamlet to disembark with his men, still today it is named after him.

All of Catania is present in the legend of Ulysses. The sea of Catania was precisely where Homer chose to set the story of Ulysses and the Cyclops.


Catania is the birthplace of Carmen Consoli, a singer-songwriter who has created some of the most beautiful Italian love songs.

Catania is a large city. According to ISTAT, it has more than 1M resident inhabitants.

If you want to base your exploration of the eastern part of Sicily on a smaller city, I recommend Taormina. Taormina is one of Italy’s most beautiful coastal cities and is about 55 km north of Catania; you can reach it in an hour.

In addition to views of the sea and Mount Etna, Catania offers historical landmarks, such as the ancient Greek theater and the medieval and baroque-style cathedral.

Show the Hotel Deals in Taormina here

If you are traveling with children and wondering where to stay in Taormina, I suggest you choose accommodation near the extensive public gardens, the “Villa Comunale.” Here, you will find original architecture and hundreds of trees and plants of different colors and scents.


blue sea with some rocks sticking out of the water in the distance
Seaview from Ortigia Island

The most incredible city you’ll add to your eastern Sicily itinerary is Siracusa. The Greeks founded Siracusa in the 8th century and gave it this name, although the settlement is much older, dating back to at least the 14th century BC.

The most satisfying thing to do in this city by the sea is to discover its history through its many landmarks, starting with those on the islet of Ortigia.

The Ortigia district, the oldest and most picturesque in Siracusa, is developed entirely by the sea. Losing yourself among its narrow streets you will discover the Baroque architecture of palaces and houses, churches from every era, and the Arethusa Fountain, a legendary fountain with a natural spring.

To learn about the history of Ortigia you must visit its cathedral, which still has magnificent columns from the Greek era.

Want to see Siracusa with a local?

By participating in a guided tour with a local guide you will be able to visit the historic center of Ortigia in just one day and also see the Neapolis Archaeological Park, which is located outside Ortigia.

Check here for tour availability.

In the park, there are 2 amphitheaters and a mysterious cave with special acoustic properties known as the Ear of Dionysus.

aqua blue water with boats in the distance and a beach in the background with a lot of umbrellas in the sand
Fontana Bianche Beach – East Coast Sicily: Image Source

Instead, the most beautiful beach on the East Coast of Sicily is Fontane Bianche Beach, located about halfway between Siracusa and Noto. Fontane Bianche is so named because of the many freshwater springs that flow near the beach, which fills a natural gulf. The very white sand and the gently sloping crystal-clear seabed make this beach also perfect for families with children. The beach is about one kilometer long.

There are no cities or large towns nearby, this is an ideal location for relaxing, swimming, and walking.

Another one of the beautiful east Sicily beaches near Siracusa is Arenella Beach, another beautiful beach on the east coast of Sicily. It is located 12 km south of Siracusa.

I recommend that you base yourself in Siracusa to explore eastern Sicily, as I did, especially if you are traveling in the summer.

Find a hotel deal in Siracusa.

Find a nice villa with a terrace facing the beach for the perfect place to enjoy the Sicilian sun, sea, and rest.

Take time out for a relaxing vacation and try a yoga retreat in Sicily. It is a great destination for a holistic and wellness retreat.


If you have extra time on your holiday to explore more than the east coast of Sicily, then venture to more places! Explore the capital of Sicily and spend at least a day in Palermo discovering all the rich history and delicious food!

Similarly, if you start in Palermo, most of the destinations on this East Coast Sicily itinerary are great day trips from Palermo!

Continue your east coast Sicily itinerary further southwest with the splendid Noto, not coincidentally also known as the capital of Sicilian Baroque.

The Porta Ferdinandea gate or “Royal Gate”, the city gate inaugurated in 1841 for the arrival of Ferdinand of Bourbon, will make your entrance to Noto truly regal. You will notice it has three symbols on it to which very interesting meanings have been attributed. The pelican, in the center, symbolizes religious self-denial, the tower to its left symbolizes the strength of the city and the greyhound to its right is Noto’s loyalty to the ancient Kingdom.

In the streets of the center, such as Corso Vittorio Emanuele or Via Cavour, you cannot help but notice a myriad of churches and religious structures, rich in detail, all rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake that devastated Sicily.

One of the most beautiful East Sicily attractions is undoubtedly the Cathedral of Noto; don’t miss it at sunset, when its clear facade turns golden thanks to the beautiful light of the Sun.

To tell the truth, much of the city’s buildings, at the last light of day take on a golden color. This happens because they are built of limestone, originally white, but which over time takes on the color of honey, thus making Noto “THE GOLDEN CITY”.

girl in red top sitting on a shore in front of water

A few kilometers from the city of Noto, you can enjoy a wonderful sea at the Vendicari Nature Reserve, which has one of the best beaches on the Ionian coast. From Calamosche Beach, wild and unspoiled, to Vendicari Beach, juxtaposed with the tuna fishery that makes the landscape even more evocative, you cannot help but fall in love with every corner of the natural wonder of the reserve.

Bring your hat, water, and something to snack on. The reserve’s trails will take you to discover its wild beaches and bays, the aromatic plants that abound here, such as thyme, and many species of water birds.

In fact, if you were hoping to go birdwatching in Sicily, here you will find one of the best places to make that wish come true.

red flowers in the foreground and a stone building in the background in Sicily

Venturing a few kilometers further south of Noto you will come to one of the most unique villages in Sicily: Marzamemi.

Made up of low, white little houses surrounding two natural harbors, called La Fossa and La Balata, this village will really give you back the essence of Sicily and the relaxed pace that only seaside villages have.

Marzamemi was born in the late 1700s thanks to fishermen who began to build cottages around the tuna fishery, which still stands out today, even though it is no longer active.

The village today is vibrant and full of tiny restaurants and shops that know how to impress hungry visitors with local specialties. Get ready to taste smoked swordfish, bottarga, fish arancini, and dishes with Pachino tomatoes, a world-renowned delicacy from the town of the same name, Pachino, located just a few kilometers from Marzamemi.

This small village has been loved and appreciated by multiple artists over the years. One among many is the Italian director Gabriele Salvatores, who decided to shoot several scenes of the Italian film “Sud” there.

Take a trip to Marzamemi to get a taste of Sicily off the beaten path that will forever remain in your heart.


grassy field with a small town and blue water in the distance
Sampieri:, a small beach town located on the southeastern coast of Sicily Image Source

We go further into the Val di Noto and arrive in one of the key villages, Scicli, but more precisely in one of its small towns which has not even 700 inhabitants and a truly postcard-perfect sea: Sampieri. Dedicate at least a day to this strip of nature, to enjoy the crystal-clear water and the fantastic seabed, full of fish of the most varied and colorful species.

In fact, fishing is the main economic backbone of this small Sicilian town where time seems to stand still.

Treat yourself to a regenerating walk along the seashore until you reach Fornace Penna, a monument of industrial archeology that endures despite the fire that devastated it in the early 1900s.

Certainly one of the wildest and most popular spots for relaxation lovers is Costa di Carro Beach, which you can also walk to from the center of the village via the small port. It is beyond a steep cliff that overlooks the sea. It is a beautiful beach, a hidden gem in Sicily where nature dominates.


bowls of chocolate on a table
Modica Chocolate in Sicily: Image Source

Moving up the southern hinterland, also on the eastern side of Sicily, you come across the birthplace of Italian poet Salvatore Quasimodo, beautiful Modica.

The town is divided into two parts, upper and lower Modica. Both parts of the town offer unique views, as well as hold several UNESCO World Heritage sites. Begin, with one of these, the beautiful Cathedral of San Giorgio, one of the most impressive Baroque places of worship in all of Sicily with 250 steps leading up to its entrance.

Following the other fascinating stairways that flank the cathedral, you can arrive at Pizzo Belvedere, a splendid panoramic terrace overlooking the rooftops of high and low Modica.

After a strenuous climb what better way to recover than with a load of sugar?

You’re in luck because Modica is home to one of the most unique chocolate museums in the world. Modica chocolate is cold-processed so that the sugar pieces don’t melt, which is why when you taste it you will feel it crumble in your mouth-a real treat!

Disposing of a chocolate binge is a good excuse to get to the city’s most beautiful lookout. About a kilometer from the center is the Modica Belvedere.  Words do not do it justice. The best time of day is undoubtedly sunset, where the sunlight colors the whole view, but night has its magic too, with the bright lights of the town illuminating this unforgettable panorama.

view of a city from a distance
Ragusa: Image Source

The last leg of this 7-day East Coast of Sicily itinerary is one of the symbolic cities of this area: Ragusa. Ragusa’s very ancient history dates back to the 20th century B.C. Its name seems to be connected to the Sicilian king Hyblon, who founded an early settlement by driving out the ancient Sicans.

Remember the 1693 earthquake that destroyed Sicily? It is precisely in Ragusa that we have a survivor of this devastating calamity, the Church of the Santissime Anime del Purgatorio, a marvelous Baroque-style structure that houses Francesco Manno’s painting of the Souls dating from 1800. Instead, going up to the upper part of the city you can visit the Hyblaean Archaeological Museum, custodian of more than 500,000 archaeological finds dating back to Camarina, an ancient Greek city.

Surely the real masterpieces of the city are the culinary specialties that you can try either as street food, for example by organizing a picnic in the Hyblaean Garden located in the old city, or at one of the typical restaurants. The real typical dishes of the city are certainly the scacce, flatbreads with any kind of filling prepared with a very thin layer of rectangular dough.

A must-have souvenir if you visit Ragusa is caciocavallo dop, yes you got it right, the typical cheese that you can take away vacuum-packed to feel like you are in Sicily whenever you want!


The Katane Palace Hotel recalls the city’s ancient Greek name. Of this elegant hotel, guests loved the location, service, buffet breakfast, sober rooms with balconies, and airport shuttle.

Enjoy sea views from the Algilà Ortigia Charme Hotel, just steps from all the landmarks on the islet of Ortigia.

The name gives credit to the hotel’s appearance. Outwardly an ancient palace, inwardly renovated and tastefully furnished with refined materials and “Sicilian” style.

One of the best hotels in Noto is the Netum, from which the historic center is within easy walking distance.

Guests appreciated the spaciousness of the rooms, the comfort of the beds, the breakfast, and the helpfulness of the staff.

Stay in Ragusa for at least one night to enjoy its fascinating views.

The Orto sul Tetto B&B is located in the city’s most picturesque neighborhood. The property’s highlights, besides the plant-filled terrace where you can have breakfast, are the quirky and sought-after furnishings.

Eastern Sicily is well served by trains, which connect the following cities:

  • Catania
  • Siracusa
  • Noto
  • Marzamemi
  • Ragusa
  • Modica

If you decide to travel along the east coast of Sicily by train, you can check the schedule and book your ticket on the official Trenitalia website.

Getting around eastern Sicily by car is quite simple. The only thing that will give you a bit of thought is parking outside the historic centers, which are usually limited-traffic zones.

You will be able to find both free and paid parking lots adjacent to the historic centers, from which you will then have to move on foot or by public transportation.

Ask your host for advice on where to park. Be careful not to run into any fines because you have entered restricted traffic zones.


If you like beaches washed by crystal clear sea, nature walks, and history, then you should treat yourself to a trip to Sicily.

One of the least discovered parts of Sicily is the Eastern part, particularly the coastal area from Catania to Noto.

Start your trip from Catania, which is served by an international airport, and then continue your journey by train or, even better by renting a car. Catania is one of the largest cities in Sicily, and here you will find all the most delicious typical dishes of the island.

Don’t overlook Syracuse, where the Greeks in the 8th century B.C. founded what became the most powerful polis of Magna Graecia.

The best times to visit this part of the world are June and September when the weather is warm but bearable, and you can take long swims in the Ionian Sea.

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So glad I stumbled upon this article. My husband and I just decided to start planning a trip to Italy and I would love to include Sicily. Good tip to know it’s easy to navigate by train! I’ve bookmarked this for my trip research.

I’ve heard so many great things about Sicily but haven’t had the chance to visit the island yet. Hopefully, someday. I would include cannoli in my itinerary, though 🙂 My favorite Italian dessert (and probably the only Sicilian I know)! Simply delicious!

Sicily has been in my bucket list since long. Your detailed guide serves as the perfect roadmap to plan the journey. Very well written along with the insights and tips.

I was supposed to attend a conference in Sicily in 2020 but we all know what happened there. Trying to replan and adding things like Ragusa that I didn’t know about to my itinerary!

Wow, the architecture in Noto looks incredible! We visited Sicily on a cruise but didn’t have time to explore. We’ll definitely need to go back!

We recently enjoyed a visit to this area. We enjoyed staying around Taormina as opposed to Catania. Even though it was crowded at times, it still had a smaller town feel, which we enjoyed.

We love Sicily and this is a great guide !!

Absolutely charming – I would love to visit Sicily and the wonderful east coast one day!

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