How to Get to Sicily: A Cheat Sheet

by Bianca @ Italian Fix

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How to get to Sicily from Rome

I want to show you how to get to Sicily. Quickly and cheaply.

Sicily is a ridiculous place.

I have no idea why more people don’t go there.

It seems to have all the pieces we crave in a holiday — amazing beaches, clean ocean and genuinely friendly people. Oh, and the food. The food you, like, think about two years after eating it.

Seriously.

The only reason more people don’t go there is because it feels out-of-the-way. Sardinia, another Italian Island, has the same problemo — it feels removed.

But it’s actually not.

Sicily is a large island off the southern tip of Italy. As you know, Italy is shaped like a boot. There’s a little bit broken off the “toe” of the boot — that’s where Sicily is.

In a plane, Sicily is a snap to arrive. Here’s the lowdown:

From Rome: 1.25 hours
From Pisa: 1.75 hours
From Naples: 1 hour
From London: 3.25 hours
From Paris: 2.75 hours

How much to get to Sicily?

I usually fly to Sicily from Pisa airport — which is the closest to my summer house (my hubby’s family home is in La Spezia, near the Cinque Terre). The last time I flew I paid $90 for a flight in high summer. I got that rate booking 6 weeks before my travel date.

You can get it for way less if you book ahead. I just looked at prices for May. A one-way flight from Pisa to Catania airport is 28.59 euro (approx. $30 USD), with Ryanair.

So that means piggybacking a Sicily stay into your mainland trip to Italy is not only “time feasible,” but price feasible too.

how to get to Sicily

A trick:

I’m the self-proclaimed queen of logistics when it comes to itinerary finagling.

It started years ago when I was backpacking, with no money, on various trips through Mexico, the U.S., S.E. Asia, Australia and Europe. My friends and I would do the craziest things to save a night’s accommodation (let’s sleep on a Mexican bus, cause we’ll be sure to save $12. Ouch. My neck aches just thinking about it).

Now, at this point in my life, I have no time (hello mother/wife/business owner), so I don’t try to save 12 bucks, I try to save time. Now I look for “this won’t kill me” routes and flights.

My advice for visiting Sicily on a European trip is this: Put Sicily on the beginning or the end of your trip, so you don’t need to backtrack. Combine it with an open jaw flight (more on that below).

Here’s an example of how I book my flights:

Outbound “main” flight: Use a big international carrier, like Lufthansa or Delta.

  • Example: Vancouver (or insert your home airport here) to Pisa.
    You’ll be on mainland Italy for your travels. An example itinerary would be Pisa, Cinque Terre, Florence, Venice.

The “hopper” flight: On a smaller, or discount, or European airline to take advantage of crazy low fares within Europe.

  • Example: Venice to Sicily (I see January flights for $20 on Volotea airline. Not a typo!) A Sicily sampler itinerary would be Palermo, Aeolian Islands, Taormina, Modica, Catania. (I’m hosting a tour to Sicily this May, and that’s our route.)

Inbound “main” flight: Your return flight on your original ticket.

  • Example: Catania (a Sicilian airport) to Vancouver (or insert your airport here).

How you can get to Sicily too:

Step 1) Book an open jaw “main” flight. An open jaw means you fly into one city, and depart from another. That will get you to Europe, and back.

  • Example: Outbound: LA to Rome. Inbound: Catania to LA

Step 2) Book a European “hopper” flight. These mini flights will let you travel within Europe, for el cheapo, and shorten travel times.

  • Example: Rome to Palermo

#BiancaTravelTip: Luggage on hopper flights.

The European el cheapo airlines can be brutal with luggage limits. If you’re traveling with carry-on luggage only, Ryanair could be a good fit for you. If you have more luggage, don’t book with Ryanair; look at companies like Alitalia instead.

#BiancaTravelTip: Skyscanner (like Kayak), is a great flight search tool for European flights.

#BiancaTravelTip: The Stopover Loophole.

Did you know that many airlines offer free stopovers? Holy Canutuccini!

That means, on your way home from Europe (or on your way there), you can visit another city — for free!

I think one of the coolest (literally) stopovers on your way to Europe (from North America) is to Iceland. Fly with IcelandAir for that deal. I’m going to do it someday.

how to fly to Sicily

How to get to Sicily: more tips

Airports in Sicily:

Wondering which airport to arrive into Sicily? Remember, Sicily is tiny (you can drive north to south in 3-5 hours). Even so, there are quite a few airports. Catania airport and Palermo airport have the most flights. Trapani and Comiso have less.

sicily airports

How to get to Sicily on the ferry:

You can also take a ferry to Sicily. This is in the “adventure” category — not the quick category.

But it’s fun! I just took the ferry from the port of Naples to Sicily. See my Instagram photos. The ferry was about 9 hours. We booked with Direct Ferries, and they do a good job of making easy bookings. We paid about 200 euro for 3 people, including a private cabin, and dinner for three.

How to get to Sicily by car and train:

Of course you can drive to Sicily by loading your car into the ferry. We decided this isn’t really worth it — because we could just dump our rental car in Naples, and take the ferry as passengers and save a bunch of money. Plus, we knew that we didn’t need a rental car for a few days for our next stop in Palermo and the Aeolian islands; it’s better to just rent scooters on the islands and not deal with parking in Palermo. 

There’s actually a train that connects Sicily to the mainland. The train goes on the ferry, cool right? You can check out the train schedule here. But remember, if you book ahead it might be cheaper to fly, so check those options first.

In closing:

I encourage you to weave a Sicily trip into your larger European trip. It’s not a big drama or expense, and you’ll come back raving about Sicily. Everyone does.

Sicily Tour

Want to ditch all the planning and just come with me? See our Sicily tours.

With love + almond granita,
Bianca

P.S. Leave me a comment. I read them all.

If you liked this article, check out our other posts on smart Italy travel:

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Meritha Noerdiana

Hi Bianca! I was actually just planning to visit Venice and CT but then you made me want to go to Sicily too oh good God! So I will be flying from Jakarta, Indonesia, which city should I visit first: Venice, CT, or Sicily? Reallt appreciate the advice 🙂

xoxo,
Meritha

Reply

Kiiri @ Italian Fix

Hi Meritha,
Which place you visit first depends on which city you fly into. I usually check kayak.com to see what my various options cost, and then go from there.
Happy travels to you!
Kiiri

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Claire

We(two adults) are interested in visiting Sicily and Malta – travelling from Australia. We had envisaged flying to Rome, then maybe taking a train down the coast, then a ferry. We are used to travelling on Greek ferries, which you only have to book a day or two in advance, if at all. However we have read that ferries to Sicily have to be booked weeks in advance. This would kill the spontaneity of the trip for us, as we are backpackers and like to be very flexible. On Greek ferries we sleep on the deck, never a cabin by the way. I just can’t find accurate information about the ferries at all. I thought we would get on a ferry to Sicily, stay as long as we wanted, then take one to Malta, but it looks like we would have to plan every step of the way and frankly, this is not our style.

Reply

Bianca @ Italian Fix

There are a few ferries to Sicily and you can find them via the ferry aggregate “Direct Ferries.” We booked our ferry from Naples to Palermo (Sicily) just a few days before we traveled and had no issue. It was high season too. The train goes on the ferry if you want to take the route through the Straight of Messina – so all you would need to do is secure a train ticket and you can do that via Trenitalia.com.

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Tish

That’s what I am trying to do. We are flying into Naples and want to check out Sicily and Malta.

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DEANNE Landsberg

Hi I want to from Paris to sicily but I want to go to Panera too I’m goi g to go may 12 til 19 then back too Paris what r ur thoughts and where do I fly into to get to Panera is it Sicily or Taormina thank u Deanne

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Bianca @ Italian Fix

Hi Deanne,

You get to Panarea via ferries that depart from the post of Milazzo (Sicily). To get to Milazzo, you need to fly into Catania airport and catch an airporter or hire a private driver. Milazzo is the port you use to get to all the Eolian islands (of which Panarea is one of those islands). There’s also a helicopter service to Panarea and that would obviously be the fastest choice. Good luck! Panarea is gorgeous – I love all the islands off that part of Sicily and spend my own vacations there.

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Diane Marion

Hi! A friend sent me your link. I will be traveling for the first time to Europe in Oct. from Boston. my destination is sicily. I have made 0 plans at this point. Love your tips. Best to stop in London first?

Reply

Bianca @ Italian Fix

Ciao Diane!
We’re glad you found us 🙂 London is a main international hub with a lot of airport options, but you don’t need to limit yourself (especially if you are not interested in spending any time there).
Think about what major cities you’d like to visit and narrow it down from there when searching for your flights, with great tools like Skyscanner or Google flights.
Buon viaggio!
xo

Reply

Angelica Reid

Hey! Are you mentioning Vancouver, BC, Canada?? I’d like to pick your brain in some travels plans for next year. Rome & Sicily 🙂 please email me 3bambina3@gmail.com

Reply

Monique @ Italian Fix

Hi Angelica, thanks for being here!

We are actually a Canadian company based in Vancouver! We’d love to hear from you, you can reach out to us at ciao {@} italianfix.com

For the Rome portion of your trip, check out our every-single-thing you need to know city guide for Rome. You’ll be feeling like a local in no time: eating real local dishes at the right must-dine places, staying in a gorgeous room or apartment in the right neighborhood, and beating all the crowds.
We also still have some availability for our small group tours to Sicily next year, if the dates align with the trip you have in mind. We’d love to meet you and show you the best of it!

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Katie

Hi Blanca! Glad to have come across your blog about traveling to Sicily. I”m so confused because my husband and I love to drive and discover unknown places, we’re planning a trip from Rome, down to Sicily, and back up to Rome (going down one coast to visit Bari, and up the alternate coast to visit Naples). So we aren’t really keen on flying down, nor taking a ferry from Naples because we’d miss so many tiny places along the way (our favorite type of traveling). Would this be something you would suggest against??

Also, I’m bringing along my 80-year old mother, who can walk, but not very fast nor far (another reason why we are thinking to have a car with us the entire time). How crazy of an idea is it to bring a hired car to Sicily with us and not enter Sicily as a passenger w/o a car, like you suggested, and rely on public transportation to get around?

Thanks in advance to any tips you can send my way.
Un saluto,
Katie

Reply

Monique @ Italian Fix

Ciao Katie,

Actually sounds like a great idea! We DO suggest renting a car to explore Sicily, or hiring a private driver, it’s quite necessary as transport is not as well connected as mainland Italy, and you’ll have much more freedom. Be sure to check out our post about what not to miss while you’re down there, as well as these picturesque villages (I know these are the ones you are imagining!)

Have a wonderful trip with your mother, and husband! Buon viaggio xo

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norm mckenna

Related to Katie’s question: I’ll be touring from Bari to Catania, trying to find info whether it’s better to rent one car in Sicily and ferry it over and back, or drop one at Reggio di Calabria and rent anew on Sicily. The most difficult part seems to be finding ferry info from Calabria; most sites have ferries from farther north, as you referenced. It appears there are plenty from Villa San Giovanni, but not from Reggio. Any knowledge of ferries here or rental car tips? Thanks!

Reply

Grey

What about coming from the US? What’s the most advisable rout to take

Reply

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