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The Treasures of Sicily

from £1579
Open a door to the ancient world of Sicily and step out onto a sun drenched island rich in history and awe-inspiring natural wonders.

Open a door to the ancient world and step out onto a sun drenched island rich in history and natural wonders. Sicily is a cornucopia of cultural riches set amidst beautiful surroundings. Experience this journey with Ramblers Walking Holidays. 

The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has been of strategic importance for centuries. Walk in the footsteps of the ancients; Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germans, French and Spanish have all left their mark. As Goethe said, “To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.” 

Your journey begins in a remote corner of coastal south west Sicily where we visit the most impressive classical site on the island, Selinunte. It’s a quiet, peaceful place, where spring flowers grow and sheep graze amidst the ruins. We soon gather pace to uncover many of the country’s highlights including the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento and the Greek and Roman sites of Syracuse, which once rivalled Athens in the Greek world. Our last stop is the exciting capital city of Palermo. There is so much to see, including a visit to Monreale Cathedral, one of the greatest examples of Norman architecture. 


Holiday Highlights

  • Explore the island’s vast ancient ruins and temple sites.
  • Admire in awe the ceiling mosaics of Norman Monreale Cathedral.
  • Discover the UNESCO World Heritage site of Villa Romana containing fine Roman mosaics.
  • Revel in the buzzing street life of Palermo.
  • Stroll through thousands of years of history at Agrigento’s temple complex.
  • Enjoy little known Syracuse, home of Archimedes and formally the most important city in the western world.
  • Take short pleasant walks throughout the island.
The holiday inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What's included in this holiday Items that are covered in the cost of holiday price.

      Return flights from London to Palermo or Catania (British Airways or Alitalia via Rome/Milan)
      Airport transfers
      Coach transfers between centres
      En suite accommodation with breakfasts taken at the hotels
      Dinners taken at the hotels and local restaurants
      All local transport costs.
Whats not included in this holiday Items that are not covered in the cost of holiday price.

  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Insurance
Please select Departure Date to view:

Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised programme, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

This departure: Grade 2

  1. Day 1

    We fly to the bustling city of Palermo and transfer by road to Selinunte.

  2. Day 2

    We walk about 3km to the Selinunte temples, one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe. Our local guide will introduce us to the myriad fascinations of the site. On the eastern site you can still ascend the worn steps into the remains of one of the Greek temples. Nearby are the ruins of the fourth largest Greek temple in the world where you can clamber happily amongst the ruins. Crossing the valley which used to be the harbour we explore the western temples, the streets and especially the citadel built to defend against invading Carthaginians. After some hours we leave the site pausing for an ice cream on the sea front, before walking back to the hotel via the Belice nature reserve (approximately 2hrs) along a sandy beach where the Loggerhead turtles return to lay eggs.

  3. Day 3

    On the way to Agrigento we visit Sciacca, a former spa resort for the Greeks of Selinunte and a testament to the eclectic cultures that have influenced the city over time. Here you'll find narrow streets, blind alleys and covered courtyards that date from Arab times, a cathedral with Norman apses and a Baroque façade and city gates that date from the Spanish period. We also stop at Eraclea Minoa, established by Spartan colonists and fought over by the larger Greek cities of Selinunte and Agrigento. It has a small Greek theatre and significant remains of two Greek houses. The small museum is well worth visiting and there are excellent views along the coast on a good day. As we approach Agrigento we catch a tantalising glimpse of the Temples on a ridge towering over the coastal plain below. They were intended to make a statement about the power and authority of Akragas – the Greek city. We arrive at our hotel in time for dinner.

  4. Day 4

    We walk from the hotel to the E gate of the UNESCO World Heritage Valley of the Temples. There we meet our local guide who has so much knowledge to impart about the six temples as we walk through this fascinating site. A highlight is The Temple of Concordia, one of the most complete Greek temples in the world with only the roof missing. We'll have a picnic lunch and make our way down to the Kolymbetra gardens (an ancient orchard and fishing lake of the ancient Greek city). We then make our way by a country lane to the Archaeological Museum. The museum has an outstanding collection of ancient vases and an almost complete Telamon from the Temple of Zeus Olympian which helps us to appreciate its huge scale. We can then walk or take the bus up the hill to our hotel to rest a short while before dinner. Our total walking distance today is around 6km.

  5. Day 5

    We walk up the hill or take the bus to the modern centre of Agrigento. We'll see a statue of the black saint Calogero outside his church and then pass through the Porta Ponte to enter the old town. The church of San Lorenzo (Il Purgatorio) has statues and stucco work by Serpotta inside and out as well as fine paintings. The convent of Santo Spirito has more examples of Serpotta’s stucco work. Serpotta was the absolute master of Stucco – it looks just like marble sculptures. He was based in Palermo and one of his best known works is the Battle of Lepanto in the Rosario di Santa Citta not far from our Palermo Hotel. We climb many steep steps today to get to the Cathedral which shows several architectural influences and even has a Hapsburg two headed eagle on part of the ceiling. You can ascend the tower for a view over the town. A further flight of steep steps gives a close up view of the intricate craftsmanship of the Arab Norman ceiling. Nearby is the small church of St Maria dei Greci. You can still see the columns of the original Greek Temple within its walls. We then descend many steep steps and arrive at the Town Hall which houses the theatre named after the Nobel prize winning author Pirandello who lived in Agrigento. Our total walking distance today is around 3km.

  6. Day 6

    Today we transfer to Syracuse with a couple of stops en route. The coach takes us to Enna, the highest regional capital in Italy at 931m. Enna was a natural stronghold and the Castello di Lombardia is one of the largest and most important of Sicily’s medieval castles. After 20 years under siege, the Arabs resorted to climbing through the sewers to conquer it. We also visit Villa Romana del Casale, which has the best preserved and most extensive set of Roman mosaics in the world. They give an unforgettable insight into all aspects of Roman life.

  7. Day 7

    We spend the day exploring Syracuse old and modern. We'll visit the Neopolis archaeological site and the Catacombs of San Giovanni, second only in size to those near Rome. Its Greek theatre is one of the largest and finest in the world and is still used for productions today. You can ascend to the top level for some great views. After lunch we'll explore the island of Ortigia where possible visits include the cathedral (a converted Greek temple that has the columns incorporated into its walls) and the Church of St Lucia, housing a Caravaggio. There is also the Fonte Aretusa, a fresh water spring right next to the sea with papyrus growing in it and a hands on museum dedicated to the inventions of Archimedes and Leonardo Da Vinci.

  8. Day 8

    We visit the UNESCO listed Noto, one of the best examples of Baroque Architecture. The town was completely rebuilt on a new site after the earthquake of 1693 destroyed much of eastern Sicily. We take the train to Noto and walk 30 minutes steeply uphill to the main street. The Cathedral, Town Hall, Opera House, Palazzo Nicolaci Villadorata, and several churches are all well worth exploring. You will not see more decorative balconies anywhere else!

  9. Day 9

    This morning we transfer to Palermo by road. In the afternoon we walk (total 3km) to the opposite side of the Historic Centre via Quattro Canti and the “Square of Shame” to the World Heritage listed Cappella Palatina – Palermo’s most popular wedding venue. This private chapel of the Norman Kings is a glittering jewel with all surfaces decorated - Islamic mosaics at the lower level and golden Byzantine mosaics representing scenes from the bible above. The intricate coffered ceiling was made by Arab craftsmen. On the way back we can visit the Cathedral. It has an unusual astronomical time line set in the floor and has the ornate tombs of the Norman Kings decorated with mosaics.

  10. Day 10

    Today we visit Monreale with its UNESCO listed Cathedral situated on a hill which we climb partway from the bus stop. It is the climax of Arab Norman art and has the biggest expanse of gold mosaics showing scenes from the new and old testaments in Sicily, if not in the whole of Europe. The cloisters are outstanding and the decorative stonework in different colours outside the cathedral is a testament to its craftsmen. Climbing to the roof terrace we get close up views of the cathedral and views over the Concha d’Oro Valley. On returning to Palermo there is the possibility of visiting the Sicilian Art or Modern Art Galleries, the puppet museum or perhaps attending a puppet show. The shows recount the battles of the Crusaders against the Saracens with furious and violent fights between the puppets. There are also three chapels with outstanding examples of Stucco work by Serpotta quite close to the hotel and other churches ranging from ornate Baroque, Eastern Orthodox or to the very simple with red Arabic domes.

  11. Day 11

    Today is a free day for personal exploration. The sea side resort of Cefalu is easily accessible by train either as a relaxing break or a chance to see another Norman cathedral, an ancient Arab washing area and an ancient hill fort. La Zisa and La Cuba (both small palaces of the Norman Kings), the Casina Cinese and Monte Pelligrino all can be reached by bus. In town there are several Palazzi with interiors preserved from the 19th century as well as guided tours of the Teatro Massimo, the biggest opera house in Italy and third largest in Europe. The Botanical Gardens is of international importance. Its well labelled collection of 12,000 species is a peaceful oasis in the midst of a bustling city in which to see some unusual plants. An unusual visit (but not for the fainthearted) is to the Capuchin Catacombs with its clothed mummified monks and important citizens. As you can see, there is no shortage of things to choose from for your last day on Sicily.

  12. Day 12

    We transfer to Palermo Airport for the return flight to the UK.

Travel Details

  • Return flights from Heathrow to Palermo (British Airways). Or Gatwick (Easyjet).
  • Airport transfers by road c.2hrs
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights this may be Premium Economy, Business or First Class. Most low-cost carriers also have extra legroom seats.
  • If direct regional flights are not available, we can often offer add-on flights to a London airport at a competitive rate. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.

Trip Map

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Our Accommodation on this holiday

Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday. If you are on a multi-centre holiday, these are highlights of the places where we stay. Please refer to your Holiday Information sheet (which can be found under View Departures & Book), for your departure date and for all your accommodation details.

Grande Hotel Selinunte

Selinunte is a quiet and peaceful town located on a high plain overlooking the sea. It is the site of the Greek city of Selinus. It has all of the facilities you will require including shops, banks, restaurants, bars, cafés, a post office and medical centre.  

We stay in The Grande Hotel Selinunte, situated in a suburb of Selinunte and a 30-minute walk from the archaeological sites and city centre. The hotel is fairly isolated but makes up for this with its wonderful views! It’s located close to the seat and surrounded by beautiful olive groves. This modern hotel has a restaurant, swimming pool (open during high season), tennis courts, laundry facilities and room service. 

We stay in twin and single bedded rooms with private ensuite facilities. Room facilities include a balcony, free Wifi, tv, hair dryer, air conditioning, direct dial telephone, minibar and safety deposit box.


Hotel Della Valle

Agrigento is a modern built up town with some old historic characteristics such as its narrow alleyways, historic churches and archaeological sites. It is a perfect location for our walks itinerary and has a variety of services in walking distance such as restaurants, cafes, bar, supermarkets and shops.  

The four star Hotel Della Valle is situated in the main town of Agrigento, near to the Temple sites. The hotel has a restaurant, bar, spa and an outdoor swimming pool surrounded by a lush Mediterranean garden (open during high season). 

Room facilities include air conditioning, minibar, satellite tv, safe, hairdryer, Wifi and direct dial telephone.

Grand Albergo Alfeo

Syracuse is a large city originally founded by a Greek colony. It is perfect base for our walks itinerary and has shops, banks, restaurants, supermarkets, post office and medical facilities. 

We stay in the elegant four-star Grand Albergo Alfeo in the heart of Syracuse. The hotel has recently been renovated and is now modern and luxurious. It has a stylish restaurant, a bar, a reading room and an interior courtyard. 

En suite rooms include a hairdyer, satellite TV, mini bar, air conditioning, heating, desk, safe, telephone and free WIFI. 

Hotel Palazzo Sitano

Palermo is a lively and busy city decorated with modern and historic buildings. There are markets, shops, banks, restaurants, bars, supermarkets, a post office and medical facilities. 

We stay in the four star modern Hotel Palazzo Sitano, built in the 18th century but inside has a contemporary feel. It is centrally located in downtown Palermo, close to the station and within walking distance of all the major city sights. The hotel has a lounge, terrace area and wellness centre. The spa offers health and beauty treatments, plus a sauna and a Turkish bath. The restaurant is one of the most pleasant surprises for guests. The spa offers health and beauty treatments, plus a sauna and a Turkish bath. There's also an upscale cocktail bar. It is characterised by the loggia with lofty ceilings. Glass-topped arcades define interior corridors while the windows of the Franciscan Library can be seen from below. 

Room facilities include air conditioning, safety deposit box, hairdryer, direct dial telephone, radio and TV. Wi-Fi is available throughout and is free for one hour and chargeable thereafter.