Sicily vs Mainland Italy: Where Should Your Next Walking Holiday Be?

Beach in Italy

Italy is well-known for its incredible walking holidays in italy. Sicily and mainland Italy have some differences, though, that are worth exploring before diving into your next vacation. 

Deciding between the two can be tough, so let’s get straight into which one may appeal to you most.

Geography and Climate 

Sicily is an island in the Mediterranean. Although it’s a part of Italy, it often feels separate - both culturally and geographically. It’s off the south coast of Italy, so it has a warm climate with plenty of sunshine pretty much all year round - but it can get above 30c regularly in the summer. 

Mainland Italy has a much more varying set of climates and landscapes. You can find alpine regions in the north, hills in Tuscany, and a Mediterranean climate along the coast. 

Though, you may not experience all of these in mainland Italy in a single trip, so it may not factor that heavily into your decision. For walking holidays, Sicily may offer a better climate in the winter, but northern Italy may be more moderate in the summer.

However, it should be noted that the island’s positioning means that it benefits from a cooling sea breeze, especially with the coastal walks. So, even mid-summer, these breezes can make it bearable.

Natural Landscapes and Trails 

Sicily may be an island, but it boasts volcanic landscapes and many nature reserves. There are a lot of great coastal trails that venture out into other small islands, with notable ones including those around Mount Etna and the Zingaro Nature Reserve. 

The Aeolian Islands are accessible from Sicily, and these provide some great opportunities to trek nearby the crystal-clear waters and unique rock formations. The Zingaro, though, is a Nature Reserve known for its incredible biodiviserity, with many rare plants and wildlife.

Mainland Italy, on the other hand, somewhat has it all. Popular walking areas include the Cinque Terre coastal paths - which are those colorful cliff villages that are popular among photographers - and the Dolomites, which are a part of the southern Alps. Italy is both Mediterranean and Alpine, depending on where you go.

Cultural Experiences 

Sicily has a rich history influenced by Greek and Norman cultures, evident in its many ancient ruins. Walking through Sicily, you’ll soon feel this history as you go through its small villages. 

The island's two main towns (Palermo and Syracuse) are home to remarkable architectural sites, including both Greek temples and Roman amphitheaters. In fact, some of the best preserved Greek buildings outside of Greece are here in Sicily.

Mainland Italy perhaps has a broader range of cultural experiences, from Renaissance art and historic cities like Florence. Florence has incredible Renaissance history, with innumerable museums that host masterpieces from Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and many more. Walking tours are incredible in Rome’s city center, though they can be busy, and the same goes for Venice which always attracts crowds.

Culinary Differences 

Sicilian cuisine proudly bases its on fresh seafood and citrus fruits. There are many traditional sweets too, like cannoli, and you’ll easily find eateries no matter where your walking holiday takes you. Sicily is known for having fertile soil, so this combined with the year-round sun makes it home to many great grapes, olives and pistachios. 

Mainland Italy’s cuisine varies by region, from pasta and pizza to seafood. Both regions are very proud of their food, and you’ll be treated whichever you pick. In the north, rich risottos and creamy polenta are staples, while you can get great seafood on the Amalfi coast walks.

Accessibility and Infrastructure 

Mainland Italy has an extensive train network, making it easy to travel between walking destinations. High-speed trains like the Frecciarossa and Italo connect major cities in hours, so you can actually divide your vacation into two or three long walking trails in different parts of the country, leaving just half a day to get across half the mainland by train. It certainly has better connectivity and more developed tourist infrastructure. 

Sicily’s transport options are more limited and dated, relying on buses and cars which can make travel more challenging. But, for some this may be more adventurous, and it’s certainly authentic with unspoiled beauty all around. Sicily is therefore an ideal container to get off the eaten path and find secluded beaches.

For walking holidays, mainland Italy offers more convenience and ease of planning. But, finding solitude may be easier in Sicily.

Cost Considerations 

Mainland Italy generally has higher costs due to its popularity and extensive tourist facilities, particularly the further north you go. Sicily offers more affordable options, especially in less touristy areas, though some parts of rural Italy are equally as affordable.

Ultimately, both Sicily and mainland Italy offer world-class walking holidays. Choose based on your preferences for scenery, climate and culture - or whether you want to see varied routes in a single trip (mainland), or deep dive into just one culture (Sicily).

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Hi there! 

We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest. 

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