There’s something on Sicily for everyone, from couples to families and solo travellers, and there’s a lot more to the island than just its two main cities Palermo and Catania. Pack your sunnies… here’s our guide to the ten best beaches in Sicily for every kind of holiday.
Accessed via a cable car from chic Taormina, Isola Bella Beach is a pint-sized shore with a heavenly sea. The pebble beach gets busy, with trendy locals popping down for a lunchtime swim and an early aperitivo, but it’s worth squeezing your way in to find a space. You can rent a sunbed or head straight to the narrow, stony causeway that connects the beach to Isola Bella – a wooded, rocky islet. While you can’t wander around the private island, swimming and snorkelling in the crystal-clear shallows is a must.
Capo d’Orlando is a charming seaside town on the north coast, home to some of the best beaches in Sicily. One side of the town is entirely lined with lidos, but on the other side, near the pretty marina, is locals’ favourite Spiaggia di San Gregorio. The bay is dotted with impressive volcanic rocks that create sheltered pools, and the shore is a pebble-sand mix. This is an easy-going, no-fuss beach that doesn’t get too overcrowded, with glorious swimming, a sun-trap seating area and friendly restaurants behind.
Scala dei Turchi is arguably the most famous beach on Sicily. The sparkling-white limestone formation looks a little like stairs, or perhaps a neat stack of paper being pushed over. Either way, it’s a stunning backdrop for a photo, especially if you’re brave enough to climb up a little way. All of the parking spots and facilities, apart from a kiosk and a few sunbeds, are at the top of the hill. You walk down the actual stairs to the sandy beach and then head towards the dramatic cliffs seeking the dream snapshot.
Calamosche nestles in the Vendicari Nature Reserve, near Syracuse. There’s a nominal fee to park and enter the reserve, then you stroll for around twenty minutes along the paths across the shrub-covered headland until you reach the sandy shore. There are no facilities, although savvy Sicilians pack coolers, loungers, umbrellas and the kitchen sink for their visit. If you’re looking for the essence of a wild beach – unspoilt and clean, with exceptionally clear, shallow water and a spacious shore – but without a struggle to get there, this is your spot.
Every beach along the Zingaro Nature Reserve coastline is unique, but they all share the same colour scheme: verdant cliffs, striking black or honey-hued rocks, and cerulean sea. Cala della Disa feels like escaping to a lost world – pop your towel on a pebbly patch below the golden-and-green cliffs and slip into the magical water. You may not even spot Cala Berretta at first, since it’s so tucked into the rocks that reach out to form pools. The highlight here is submerging yourself in the sheltered sea and meeting the local fauna.
Several popular hiking routes converge at the glorious beach of San Vito Lo Capo, with the imposing Monte Monaco looming above. Given how well loved this coastline is, and how postcard-perfect the beach is – with its wide golden sand, swaying palms and deep blue waters – it’s pretty miraculous that it’s not overcrowded. Rainbow umbrellas line the shore and vendors wander between sunbeds selling ice-creams and brightly coloured inflatables, but there’s a free public stretch too. Kids will adore the soft, sandcastle-ready sand and warm shallows, while adults appreciate the incredibly clear water.
The Lake of Marinello Nature Reserve is a must-visit spot on Sicily’s Tyrrhenian coast. It’s a maze with swathes of sand and reed beds, brackish pools and rivers, leading to the beach where a long tongue of sand licks into the sea. You can reach these wild-feeling beaches by boat from the Oliveri Tindari bus stop in the village of Oliveri, or you can walk there. Some parts seem so far-flung that you could be hiking on the moon, while other spots offer loungers, watersports and boat rental.
History literally lines the shore at Cefalù, making for a truly unique vista. The honey-coloured medieval buildings stretch right down to the sandy crescent, backed by the Lungomare (or promenade). At the back of town, you’ll find the UNESCO-listed Norman cathedral towering over the terracotta roofs. It’s quintessentially Italian here in that the beach is quite narrow and bustling – for the most iconic scenery, head to the Spiaggia del Porto Vecchio end – but the further away from the centre you walk, the quieter and more spacious it gets.
The colourful fishing town of Sciacca (reminiscent of a Cinque Terre postcard) is flanked by some of the best beaches in Sicily. Sovareto is a laid-back, sandy cove with lidos and watersports, but it’s not over-developed. It has a Caribbean feel with its palms and impossibly blue sea. In the opposite direction, the nature reserve of Capo San Marco is a gold and emerald coastline punctuated by glorious coves, the most easily visitable of which is Spiaggia San Marco. Some days the sea is pond-like and shallow, while on others, white-topped swells roll in.
A short boat ride from Tripani will take you to the Aegadian island of Favignana, one of Sicily’s less-discussed gems. This isle has a coastline dotted with incredible beaches like Cala San Nicola, Spiaggia di Lido Burrone and more. For a unique experience, though, head to Bue Marino. It’s no soft, sandy shore, but it is the most magical place to pop for a dip – better still if you have your snorkel. The wind-weathered orange cliffs make for a dramatic backdrop as visitors either jump or slide gracefully from the low rock platform into the cerulean depths.