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Cefalu, Sicily
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The 9 best beaches in Sicily

Discover the calmest coves and smoothest sands along Sicily’s 500 miles of coastline – and across the surrounding isles

Written by
Olivia Barber

Sicily often features on must-visit travel lists, and for good reason. Brimming with sunshine, a rich mix of Arabic and Norman-influenced cuisine and culture, soaring mountains and stunning seas, the island’s offering is diverse and dazzling. 

With a mainland coastline stretching almost 500 miles – not to mention the surrounding Aeolian, Egadi and Pelagie archipelagos – Sicily certainly isn’t short of beaches. From smooth sands and lively lido bars to the calm wilderness of its caves and coves, there’s a haven here for every kind of beachgoer. You can expect pleasant sea temperatures from June to November, while May and December dips aren’t entirely off the cards. 

So, ready to dig your toes into Sicily’s sands? From a picturesque islet made famous by ‘White Lotus’ to the most scenic seaside town you’ve (probably) ever seen, here are nine perfect beaches on the Med’s biggest island.

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Sicily’s best beaches

1. San Vito Lo Capo, Trapani

Situated in Sicily’s north-western corner, San Vito is famed for its fine white sands and crystalline waters, set against the striking scenery of Monte Monaco. Beach clubs, bars and restaurants line the almost 3km-long seafront, and if you like rock climbing or hiking, the steep surrounding cliffs offer some spectacular rambling routes. In the peak months of July and August, it can be hard to land a sunbathing spot – either get there early or, if you prefer a quieter cove, you can head to the secluded, flora-filled beaches at the nearby Zingaro Nature Reserve.

2. Isola Bella, Taormina

Meaning ‘beautiful island’, this shingle beach looks out onto a picturesque islet populated with tropical plants and citrus trees. (You might recognise it from season two of HBO’s White Lotus). Royal property in the early 1800s, Isola Bella was sold to British gardener and botanist Florence Trevelyan in 1890 and has since been declared a protected nature reserve. At low tide, the islet is accessible via a small tongue of land in the sea. To scope out the snorkel spots, you can take a boat trip to Isola Bella marine park, where you’ll find coral-clad caves saturated with vibrant sea life.


3. Mondello, Palermo

Mondello is tucked into the rugged hills of Capo Gallo and Monte Pellegrino, only a few kilometres from Palermo’s city centre. Along the 1.5km stretch of sand, lidos play DJ sets and serve up aperitifs, and vendors bellow about their wares – coconuts, beers, doughnuts, you name it. There are bars, seafood restaurants and ice cream shops aplenty, and even roadside vans selling the classic Palermitan snack, panelle (chickpea fritter sandwiches). For an energetic afternoon, you can surf or windsurf the waves or take a hike up to Capo Gallo Nature Reserve and lighthouse, where Palermo’s hermit artist Isravele lives.

4. Cefalù

Just over an hour by train from Palermo is the scenic seaside town of Cefalù. A leisurely wander down the cobbled streets taking in the town’s medieval centre winds up at Cefalù beach. Locals line the harbour laden with fishing rods, whitewashed houses overlooking the sea shimmer in the sun, and rugged hills loom in the distance. The promenade above the beach has a row of restaurants and ice cream shops, providing the perfect opportunity to grab a gelato or granita and enjoy a leisurely stroll.


5. Aci Trezza and Aci Castello, Catania

Approximately half an hour by bus from Catania lies this charismatic fishing village duo, a much-loved haunt among locals. The ‘aci’ beaches host a range of snorkel-worthy sea life in their clear turquoise waters, and from the shores, you can even revel in views of Mount Etna. Aci Castello beach is set against the imposing scenery of a Norman fortress nestled on a rocky cliff. Aci Trezza is famous for the distinctive sea stacks jutting out of the sea; known as the ‘Islands of the Cyclops’, in Homer’s Odyssey these boulders were thrown at Odysseus’ fleeing ships. Note that the beaches here are more gravelly than sandy, but well worth a visit nonetheless.

6. Punta Secca, Ragusa

Anyone who’s seen ‘Inspector Montalbano’ – the TV series inspired by Sicilian author Andrea Camilleri’s detective books – will recognise Punta Secca’s pristine turquoise waters. Those looking for the full Montalbano experience can take a seat on the famous detective’s sun-kissed terrace, as the villa used in the series is now a thriving guesthouse. Punta Secca is one of Sicily’s prized locations – with its quaint village atmosphere and golden sands that go on for nearly four miles, you can see why.


7. Pool of Venus, Milazzo

The port city of Milazzo in northeast Sicily is the gateway to the seven Aeolian islands – but before you hop onto the hydrofoil, make a detour to the beguiling Pool of Venus. To access the pool, you’ll follow a meandering rocky path lined with prickly pear plants and olive trees that leads to a pretty promontory. There, you’ll find this charming natural pool, formed by a circle of lava rocks in the sea. Spend an afternoon plunging in the pristine waters of the pool and the Tyrrhenian sea. Make sure to pack water and snacks as there are no facilities at this wild beach.

8. Spiaggia dello Scario, Salina

The second largest of the Aeolian islands, Salina’s coast is famous for its appearance in Michael Radford’s hit film ‘Il Postino’. While most scenes in the film were shot at Pollara Beach, just along the coastline you’ll find a beautiful, hidden rocky inlet, Spiaggia dello Scario. A craggy climb down from the village of Malfa brings you to a set of steep stairs and jaw-dropping views of the bay below. There are minimal amenities at this secluded spot, but there is a beach shack where you can get drinks and snacks, and rent an air mattress and parasol. From the water, you can take in views of smoking Stromboli and paradisiacal Panarea.


9. Rabbit Beach, Lampedusa

Facing out onto an island of the same name, Rabbit Beach – also called Spiaggia dei Conigli – is on the Pelagie island of Lampedusa. Despite the name, it’s actually a nesting place for loggerhead turtles. With its silky sands, azure waters and surrounding shrubland, Rabbit Beach is an unspoiled, tranquil place. If you want to take the remoteness levels up a notch, you can swim to Rabbit Island and look out for sea turtles and herring gulls. In summer, the island only allows 730 visitors per day, so you’ll need to book your visit.

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