Embark on a gastronomic journey across Sicily, from Palermo's vibrant streets to the historical wonders of Syracuse. Traverse this sun-kissed Italian island pausing to try iconic delicacies such as arancini and cannoli. Explore local vineyards, sipping on indigenous wines, and in Modica, sample the velvety chocolate, steeped in age-old Aztec techniques. This voyage is a celebration of Sicilian cuisine and culture.
Explore Tour Leader
1 nights comfortable agriturismo
6 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Palermo, Sicily's capital with a rich mix of Greek, Roman, Islamic and Byzantine culture all merging into a fascinating combination of architecture and customs.
Due to the number of arrival flights on the first day our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception on day two at 9am for the welcome meeting. There will be a chance to mee the Tour Leader at 6pm in the hotel reception for those who are here, and you may wish to go for dinner together after. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive at Palermo's Falcone-Borsellino International airport (airport code PMO), which is 35km, around 45 minutes from the airport.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to visit the Gothic Cathedral with its extensive mosaics and beautiful cloisters. To get away from the summer heat the Botanical gardens are also well worth a visit, the city centre is compact with a network of narrow streets and expansive piazzas with a great choice of places to eat. Palermo is well known for is colourful and bustling open-air markets with a wide range of food options such as panelle (a Sicilian sandwich stuffed with chickpeas) or a wholesome bowl of homemade fresh spaghetti with sundried tomatoes, olives, capers and topped with breadcrumbs.
To get the most from this gastronomic journey though Sicily, it's important to approach it with open-minded willingness to explore a wide range of gastronomic delights. This experience is not well-suited for individuals with specific dietary restrictions.
Hotel Tonic (or similar)
Today we follow our local guide on a culinary journey through the vibrant world of Sicilian Street food. We visit the historic Ballaro open-air market, reminiscent of Sicily's Arabic heritage with its Souk-inspired layout. Then on to the bustling Capo market where it's easy to get lost amidst the lively, aromatic stalls brimming with local delicacies and fresh produce. Following our local guide is our passport to uncovering the very best of Palermo's culinary treasures and understanding the essence of Palermitan culture. Listen to insider tips and stories that can't be found in guidebooks, and even acquire new recipes to recreate the magic of Sicilian cuisine at home. We will taste many treats on our tour, from deep-fried arancine, filled with cheese and rice, to the crisp and thin chickpea fritters known as 'panelle' and the fragrant sfincione (distinct from pizza!) - each bite tells a story of Sicilian flavours.
This afternoon is left free to explore more of Palermo at your own pace.
Driving into the hills just a short distance out of the capital, we will go with our Tour Leader to visit the majestic Norman Cathedral of Monreale. Founded in 1174 by William the Good, the cathedral is also famous for its extensive mosaics, as well as its beautiful cloisters showing both Romanesque and Islamic influences. We have free time here for lunch and enjoy its picturesque streets and squares, as well as lovely views of the surrounding countryside. The town has a charming, old-world atmosphere and is a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Palermo.
After lunch we make the short drive to our Masseria, a farmhouse with a large agricultural estate, where we spend the night. On arrival we set off on a guided walk through the estate to see the olive grove and vines growing. We will see their milk and cheese production and learn about the cheese making process.
Next we head to the kitchen for an oil tasting, then cookery lesson and demonstration where the Agritourismo's cook, the grandmother or 'Nonna' will share all her secrets through a hands-on cooking experience based on the farm's fresh products. You will get to know how to reproduce the best Sicilian flavours at home, testing your skills by taking it in turns to help create a local dish. The cooking class will then be followed by dinner - obviously including the delicious specialties you will have contributed to creating!
There is a swimming pool here but please be aware it opens from the end of May to the end of September, and this can sometimes change depending on weather conditions.
Agriturismo Ponte Calatrasi (or similar)
Waving goodbye to the Agritourismo we take a short drive to Corleone. The town has a long history dating back to ancient times and features historical sites, churches, and natural beauty in its surroundings. However, it is perhaps best known for its association with the Mafia, a criminal organisation that has had a significant presence in Sicily and other parts of Italy. We will make a visit to the Mafia information centre to gain a greater understanding and learn about the real meaning and history of Mafia -which may be surprisingly different from the common stereotype.
Following free time for lunch, we visit a historic pastry shop and get our hands on a cannolo, a crisp, fried pastry shell that is tube-shaped and filled with a sweet, creamy filling. The traditional filling for cannoli is made from ricotta cheese, which is blended with sugar, vanilla extract, and sometimes other flavourings like chocolate chips, candied fruit, or citrus zest.
In the afternoon, we drive to Teatro Andromeda, a place of incredible energy created by the shepherd and artist Lorenzo Reina. Set in a dramatic, incredibly beautiful location with an astonishing view of the Sicilian countryside, the theatre owes its name to the Andromeda constellation, which the stones are displayed to reproduce. We will get to know the story of the artist, how this theatre and the surrounding artistic park and sanctuary were created and soak up the energy before heading off to Morreale wine estate. Sicilian winemakers produce a broad spectrum of wine styles, rich and robust from the island's fertile soil. The Morreale family grow several varieties of grapes including Grillo which is believed to have originated from this estate in 1874. We will tour the estate, learn the family story, and sample a few wines before our final drive of the day, just 15 minutes to Agrigento where we spend the night. We have the evening free to relax after our busy but rewarding day.
Colleverde Park Hotel (or similar)
We wake in Agrigento, which was once one of the most prosperous cities in Sicily. The ancient acropolis, now the modern city, overlooks a southern ridge, misleadingly named the Valley of the Temples. Visiting these temples with a local guide, we will walk around the ruins of the largest Doric temple ever constructed - the Temple of Zeus. Standing next to this monumental structure you are only as tall as the first few entry steps and so you tend to feel very small starring up at the gigantic pillars above you. We will also explore the perfectly proportioned Doric columns of the Temple of Concord, as well as the oldest temple in the complex, honouring Hercules.
After visiting the temples, we have free time for lunch then meet again to continue our journey heading east. Our next stop is Modica known for its stunning Baroque architecture, rich history, and unique culinary traditions, particularly its renowned chocolate. We visit a chocolatier see their laboratory and a demonstration of the process used dating back to the Aztecs. It is a type of 'cold-processed' chocolate, which means it is not subjected to high temperatures during production. The cacao beans are ground at low temperatures, preserving more of the natural flavours and giving the chocolate a grainy, granular texture. After a tasting session here, we drive to Scicli our home for the night. Scicli has gained fame as a location for several film and television productions, including the popular Italian detective series Inspector Montalbano. The town's picturesque streets and historic buildings have provided a captivating backdrop for these productions but surprisingly is still not really on the tourist map and as such offers a peaceful and laid-back atmosphere, making it an ideal destination for us today.
Albergo Diffuso (or similar)
Today we continue our culinary adventure in search of the secrets behind an excellent tomato sauce. Sicily is very well known for its tomatoes, its Mediterranean climate, with abundant sunshine and fertile soil, creates ideal conditions for tomato cultivation. Sicilian tomatoes are used in a wide range of dishes in Italian cuisine, such as tomato sauces, salads, bruschetta, and fresh pasta dishes. They are known for their rich, sweet flavour, making them a popular choice for both local and international chefs. This morning we visit a tomato producer and learn about the process and enjoy some of the end products with our tomato-based lunch.
After lunch we drive to the baroque town of Noto. Noto is surrounded by almond orchards; the blossom is stunning during spring. After a short orientation walk with the Tour Leader we will stop for a granita, a refreshing and delightful Italian frozen dessert. It has a texture that falls somewhere between shaved ice and sorbet, and it's known for its icy, crystalline consistency. Granita is typically made from just a few simple ingredients: water, sugar, and flavourings, particularly popular in this part of Sicily. Once we are finished in Noto we drive 40 kilometres to Syracusa where we spend the last two nights of this holiday. Our accommodation is in a fantastic location just inside Ortygia island. This means you can enjoy this delightful Island once the day trippers have left. The accommodation we use is a small, family run hotel and all rooms have en-suite facilities, it is though perhaps the simplest hotel we use on the trip.
Hotel Posta (or similar)
This morning we discover Ortygia Island on foot with our Tour Leader. This small island is the historical centre of the city and home to many landmarks such as the Fonte of Aretusa, Temple of Apollo ruins, Maniace Castle, and the narrow streets of the Jewish Quarter with its old baths found under the Residenza Alla Giudecca Hotel. Ortygia Island is also a great place to go to a local cafe and sit and watch the world go by. Sicilian coffee bars are known for their distinctive and often ornate decor. Many have a classic, old-world ambiance with marble counters, brass fixtures, and intricate tile work. We will visit one with our Tour Leader who will explain the coffee traditions of the island while we all enjoy a cup.
The rest of the afternoon is free for exploration. We meet for our last dinner tonight and sample Syracusa's seafood cuisine. It is a reflection of the region's strong connection to the sea, and you'll find that the dishes are prepared with a focus on freshness and simplicity, allowing the natural flavours of the seafood to shine through. Whether you prefer classic Sicilian preparations or innovative twists on seafood dishes, there will be something on the menu to suit everyone.
Departing Syracuse after breakfast, we drive 1 hour to Catania Fontanarossa Airport (CTA) where we will arrive at about 9.30am and this is where our trip ends. The earliest your flight can depart is 11.30am.
April/May and October/November are pleasantly warm. June to September are the hottest months. Showers are common in Autumn.
2 Pin Round
Throughout most of the year it's best to dress for hot conditions, although light rainwear and a warm fleece/jacket for nights when temperatures can drop is recommended. If you're travelling in March, October or November then the weather can be cooler and rain more frequent, so it's best to pack layers and rainwear just in case. Women should avoid bare arms and shoulders in churches, so it's best to carry a scarf or shawl.
It's best to pack comfortable walking shoes for exploring and sandals for relaxing.
One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.
Sicily is located off the southern coast of Italy and the weather is often sunny, so a sunhat and sunscreen are essential. You should also bring a two litre water bottle, torch in case of emergencies, and insect repellent. You may also wish to bring a swimming costume and towel.
We have purposely not included all the meals on this trip to allow you the opportunity to experience a variety of different restaurants of your choice. On many evenings the trip leader will facilitate a group dining experience for those wishing to join in. There are also some Michelin recommended dining experiences available on this trip. Those with stars would need to be booked well in advance of the trip. Palermo- 1 Michelin Star - Mec Restaurant- \ul \ulnone \kerning36 Palermo- 1 Michelin Star - I Pupi- \ul \ulnone Agrigento - Bib Gourmand - Osteria Expanificio - \ul \ulnone Siracusa - Al Mazarì - \ul \ulnone
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Italy: Visas are not required by UK, E.U Nationals, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant embassy prior to departure.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing required. Tetanus recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.