Things to do in Sicily with Kids on Your Family Holiday
Dreaming of a family holiday to Sicily with kids? Your Italian vacation won’t be complete without a visit to Italy’s largest island. There are plenty of kids activities in Sicily that the whole family can enjoy. From waterparks and beaches, to castles, hilltop towns. Of course your Sicily family holiday won’t be complete without a visit to Mount Etna, Sicily’s active volcano!
Sicily Family Holidays
If you are looking for things to do in Sicily with kids, you have most likely already visited Italy’s mainland and are ready for something different. While the bigger cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice, have a lot to offer for families, there is nothing like getting off the beaten track down to Southern Italy, and slowing down in beautiful Sicily.
My husband grew up in Calabria just a few hours from Sicily, and we lived there with our kids for a few years too, so we got to visit on many occasions, even when I was pregnant. I am often asked whether Sicily is worth visiting, and if Sicily is a good place for a family holiday.
The easy answer? Yes!
Like other parts of Southern Italy, I feel it is the “real Italy”. It still gets busy, but it isn’t over crowded with international tourists like some parts of Italy. It isn’t on your typical bucket list destinations for Italy or Europe, and that’s a good thing (for us), because it is still a well-kept secret for the most part. The Italians however know all about it.
Below you can find the following:
- When to travel to Sicily with Kids
- Getting around Sicily with Kids
- 10 Things to do in Sicily with Kids
- Places to Visit and Stay in Sicily with Kids
When to travel to Sicily with Kids
Spring time (March – May) or Autumn (September – November): If you are wanting to travel around and see a lot of Sicily, this is a great time for a family holiday to Sicily. During this period is when you can experience nice comfortable weather. It is also during these times that accommodation prices are lower.
May – September: This is best time to visit Sicily with kids if you are looking to spend most of your time at the beach. Because of the beautiful weather, it is a popular spot for Italian holidays during this time, especially in July and August, which are the hottest months in Italy. Because of the humidity in the bigger cities, many Italians and other tourists escape to the island during this time. If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing, try to avoid July and August.
December – February: This is Italy’s Winter, and the coldest months of the year. Towards the end of this period is the perfect time to visit Sicily with kids if you don’t mind the cold and want to see Mount Etna covered in snow! There are also lots of Christmas markets and decorated Christmas trees in the main piazzas of the little towns and larger cities in the lead up to the holidays.
Getting around Sicily with Kids
You can either fly into the main city of Catania or Palermo, or catch the ferry over to Catania from Calabria on the mainland of Italy. Because of the size of the island, it is best to hire a car to drive around Sicily with kids. It makes it much easier than trying to catch public transport as many great places are difficult to reach without a car.
You can either explore the East or West Coast, base yourselves in a couple of places and do day trips. From Catania to Palermo, the drive is under 3 hours.
Or if you have more time, you can drive around the island. Give yourself 1-2 weeks. The coastal drive around the island takes around 12 hours. Allow more time if you want to visit inland as well.
What to see and do in Sicily with kids
Living just a few hours from Sicily for over 3 years with my husband and kids in Calabria, we were lucky to visit the island on many occasions.
Here are our top recommendations of things to do in Sicily with kids on your Italian family holiday. You will find a lot of the kids activities included are close to Catania on the East Coast, where most people tend to visit. However, you can also find things to do in Sicily for kids all around the island.
1. Explore and even climb Mount Etna
This is the number one thing to do in Sicily with kids, or without. You can’t visit Sicily and not visit Europe’s most active volcano. Mt Etna is located about an hour from Catania, Sicily’s capital, and at 3350m (10,991 ft) tall, it is also one of the world’s largest.
You can visit all through the year and there are different tours to take you up the top. If you want to hike it, you probably want to visit during the shoulder seasons when it isn’t too hot.
We visited a couple of times, but my favourite was during the Winter when it was covered with snow. Our kids were too young to climb it at the time, so we drove up. There are also many guided day tours that will pick you up from your hotel.
2. Make a splash Etnaland
If you are visiting Sicily with kids in Summer time, or even during the shoulder periods, then Etnaland is a must. There is plenty to do at Etnaland for families and kids of all ages.
With a backdrop of Mount Etna in the background, you can can float on the lazy river, swim in the wave pool, or for the more adventurous check out the thrilling waterslides.
Just a 25minute drive from Catania, it makes a great day out from the city.
3. Monti Rossi Adventure Park
Climb the nets, swing on the ropes, and zipline through the forest at the Monti Rossi Adventure Park. Just over a half an hour from Catania, near the town of Nicolosi, the whole family can enjoy an adventure day out.
There are 7 different paths to follow up in the trees with different routes for different ages and abilities. Easier ones for younger kids and more challenging ones for older kids and adults.
You can also find a nice picnic area to relax and a nature trail to take a walk too.
4. Check out the wildlife at Bioparco di Scicilia
Over in the West of Sicily, the Bioparco di Sicilia, (Wildlife park) makes a great day trip if you are staying near Palermo. Kids can get close to nature and see a variety of wildlife.
Check out the greenhouse where you can see a range of tropical plants, flowers and reptiles. Explore the mini zoo to see the monkeys, zebras and other animals. And don’t forget the fish in the aquarium. Make a day of it, take a picnic and have some lunch, the kids will love it.
5. Parco Avventura Madonie
Another fun thing to do in Sicily with kids in the West is the Parco Avventura Madonie which is around an hour and a half from Palermo, just inland from Cefalu.
There is plenty to do for families looking for a bit of adventure. From Orienteering to archery, mountain bike riding, and of course tree climbing! Lots of challenges for different ages and abilities, kids and adults. You can take a picnic and make a day of it otherwise there is also a restaurant.
6. Take the Cable Car to Taormina
Taormina is one of the most beautiful places you will visit in Sicily. A hill top town perched on the cliffside with stunning views of the coast and Mt Etna in the distance. Down below, the gorgeous island “Isola Bella”.
If you are staying in Catania you can make a day trip to Taormina, get the cable car up to the top, explore the old town and check out the ancient theatre built in the third century BC. Have some lunch, and then head back down to spend the afternoon on Isola Bella and the nearby beach Gardini Naxos.
7. Explore the Castles
Sicily is filled with castles all around the island that you can visit, and many of them are free.
Castello di Caccamo, about an hour from Palermo on the West side, is among the largest and best-preserved castles in Sicily. Other recommendations include Castello Orsino in Catania and Castello Maniace in Syracuse. For a full list, check out this map.
8. Relax on the Beautiful Beaches
Sicily has some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy. If you are looking to stay on the beach for a few days to relax, make sure to check out Siricusa, Trapani, and of course one of our favourites, Isola Bella in Taormina. Check out our post on the best beaches in Sicily.
9. Enjoy the food
Italy is well known for being a family friendly place to holiday especially when it comes to food. Restaurants and cafes are used to kids, and you rarely have to worry about your kids being noisy.
While you won’t be finding your typical kid’s meals like nuggets and chips, you will find a variety of Mediterranean food like pizza and pasta. The cooks are generally happy to take special requests for fussy eaters too, and most will turn a main meal into a smaller dish for kids.
While visiting Sicily, make sure to try the famous arancini, and of course for desert some gelato or cannolo!
10. Visit the Aeolian Islands – Stromboli, Lipari, Volcano
If you get the chance, the Aeolian Islands off the North of Sicily are definitely worth a visit. There are tours that can take you around for the day, or you can stay over for a few days and really get to explore. Lipari is the largest and most accessible, great if you want to swim. Stromboli is where you can see the volcano so it is quite exciting.
Best Places to Stay on your Sicily Family Holiday
The capital city of Sicily has an airport and is also easily accessible from the mainland of Italy by ferry. It is a bigger city and there is so much to do around Catania, that you could base yourselves there and explore other places on the East coast by doing day trips.
Find accommodation in Catania
A hilltop town also on the East coast. Beautiful spot to stay for a couple of days. Great views up top. This is where you get the cable cart down to the famous Isola Bella.
Find accommodation in Taormina
Another large city with an airport. You can base yourselves here to explore the West coast of Sicily. Lots to do in the surrounding areas.
Find accommodation in Palermo
Another great spot for your Sicily family holiday is Trapani if you want to base yourselves in the West. It has a smaller airport with flights from the mainland. There are lots of stunning beaches with resorts for families.
Find accommodation in Trapani
Sicily with Kids
Hopefully this Sicily Family Holiday guide has given you some ideas of things to do in Sicily with kids that the whole family can enjoy. Make sure to check out our full post on Things to do in Italy with Kids, and our specific city/region guides:
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