A little apart in the Italian tourist landscape, Sicily cultivates its differences. Rich in grandiose landscapes, cities with strong temperaments (such as Taormina, Agrigento or Palermo) and with an incredible preserved heritage, this destination in southern Italy will leave unforgettable memories for your children. Who can say, before setting off to attack Etna or Vulcano, that he climbed a volcano for real?
Yes of course. Sicilians love children. Your kids will be the kings of Sicily throughout your stay. Whatever their age, they will be charmed by the landscapes, the old stones or the delicious gelati that they will be served with a « big like that » smile. Given the sometimes very high temperatures that the region can experience, we advise you to travel from Easter to June before high summer and the arrival of tourists, then in September to take advantage of the last beautiful days of the year. In order not to miss any of the splendours of Sicily, you can, for example, opt for a one-week or 10-day tour.
To make your trip even more comfortable, stay with your small or large tribe in the 3 hotels of the Little Guest Collection selection. In Sicily the sea can be very cold and the waves quite strong. When traveling with children, it is therefore strongly recommended, even if you like the proximity to the water, to choose a hotel with a swimming pool that will allow the whole family to cool off in complete safety. And to get from one drop-off point to another, hire a car at Palermo Airport. Get on board, then stop thinking. If not for the pleasure of seeing your whole family fall, along with you, in love with this destination with a rich history and full of twists and turns.
First of the 3 hotels in our selection, the Grand Palladium Sicilia Resort & Spa ***** is a good starting point to begin your discovery of Sicily in a very cool state of mind. Ideally located on the north coast of the island, by the sea and 45 kilometers from Palermo airport, it will immerse your tribe in a relaxed atmosphere. We doubt you and the kids will resist the fatal attraction of the turquoise waves. The strength of this destination is its proximity to Cefalù, a city of incredible charm that can be visited with the family. This seaside resort, the prettiest on the Tyrrhenian Sea, combines the joys of the beach with the attractions of an ultra-photogenic medieval town.
In the morning, take the children to explore the squares, streets and churches of this picturesque town that it has inspired some directors. The movie Cinema Paradiso was indeed shot here. The cathedral adorned with mosaics is one of the must-see places. Your kids are hungry? Stop by the Galleria, a trendy and cool address. Both a chic bistro and an art gallery, this address cultivates the Sicilian gastronomic tradition. Order pasta with cherry tomatoes and fish, then tuna steak and lemon sorbet for dessert. In the afternoon, the children will love the fun of a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) experience at the beach. The Pirhana Surf School & Co, offers lessons and initiations for the whole family.
Leaving your first little paradise, take a point to the Aeolian island of Vulcano, on the northeastern tip of Sicily: a detour that will allow you to offer the children an unusual experience. When they arrive near the small port, they will shout: « It smells like rotten eggs ». Perfect: you’ve come to the right place. The smell of sulfur doesn’t fool you. Have them climb the volcano first (allow an hour’s walk to get to the top). In high season, it can be hot – very hot – but the completely surreal landscape that surrounds you makes up for this inconvenience.
After the effort, let’s hit the beach of black sand. Be sure the kids will not regret the trip. Immerse yourself in the crystal clear and very warm water of the sea. Watch out for the bubbles that can burn the sensitive skin of the little ones. At times, you have the impression of bathing in a giant jacuzzi. If the mud baths (which can be taken right next to the beach) are not recommended for the little ones, your teenagers will love them: an unusual moment that will make them laugh and that they will not fail to immortalize. As for you, it is likely that this bath will repair some of your pains and leave your skin very soft, as a bonus. However, bring a towel and a swimsuit that you do not care too much. And before you start, remove your jewelry which can blacken under the effect of the sulfur.
Your second Sicilian stop doesn’t really take you far from the coast, but still allows you to explore the city of Taormina. With its three swimming pools (including two specially designed for kids), UNAHOTELS Naxos Beach Sicilia **** combines very luxury comfort and relaxed family pleasures. However, we advise you to leave this dream base to explore the surroundings. Once in town, to enjoy a splendid view of the entire bay, take the cable car that takes you to the ancient theater of Taormina; a great opportunity to please the children, delighted observe the volcano from the sky.
UNAHOTELS Naxos Beach Sicilia is located on a huge estate overlooked by the majestic Etna volcano. Just at the mention of this name, the kids will ask you billion questions. “Is it really dangerous?” or “Are we going to see lava coming out of the volcano for real?” When you have answered all of them, they are bound to ask you to take a closer look at this volcano. The good news? There are several excursion options, including some by jeep, which allow you to explore the active volcano. Etna Unlimited offers, for example, a half-day 4×4 excursion (free for children under 5), ideal for a cool getaway without making this expedition too painful for the little ones.
In Italy, we do not joke with controlled appellations: cheese, wine, charcuterie, but also pistachio…. In Sicily, as elsewhere in the boot, the terroir is as precious as gold. During your stay, treat yourself to a little break in Bronte, the capital of pistachios. This fruit, which we call Sicilian green gold (just that!) is a very good excuse to dig a little deeper into the earth. Are the children reluctant to leave the beach or the hotel pool? Show them some random photos from @bar_contigallenti’s Instagram. At the mere sight of the cannoli con crema di pistacchio, the kids will run to the car to reach the city as quickly as possible. Considering the size of this incredible dessert (one of Sicily’s best-known specialties) topped with a local pistachio cream, we advise you to buy just one cannolo for two or three children. Unless, of course, you let them skip dinner.
Our last stop in the land of lemons and olive trees takes you to Sciacca, not far from Agrigento, in a corner of unspoiled nature. The private villas at Verdura Golf & Spa Resort of the Rocco Forte group all features 3 or 4 bedrooms each, located on a sublime 14-hectare estate with a view of the bay. You will enjoy a moment of relaxation with the family with a top-of-the-range hotel service. When making the shopping list for dinner, ask the children to concoct the evening menu themselves.
Did you know that the star ingredients of local gastronomy can be summed up in 3 colors; those of the Italian flag: the red of the ultra-sweet tomatoes from Sicily, but also peppers, two essentials of your salads or flavored sauces, the green of the delicious oil and basil that will perfume all your preparations and the white of the typical Sicilian cheese: ricotta (a pure delight) or caciocavallo, a hard cheese that replaces Parmesan. White is also the colour of almonds that can be found in many typical preparations. The list is over? Did the kids help you concoct a great and local menu? All you have to do is hand it over to the hotel’s exclusive grocery service. Looking for inspiration? The hotel also offers cooking classes accessible to the whole family.
The interior design of the villas at Verdura Golf & Resort is inspired by the colors and codes specific to Sicilian culture. The traditional houses of the island have indeed served as a starting point for the decoration of each villa. If, despite this enchanting setting and the offer of restaurants on the estate (8 in total: just enough not to miss any of the island’s many culinary specialties), you plan to explore the surroundings of the hotel, we advise you start with Sciacca. This small port town (the port of Sciacca is the second most important in Sicily), once under Arab domination, is particularly known for its colorful ceramics.
If you walk around the city, you will find many traces of this local craft on the historic buildings. In town, there are many shops devoted to the art and craft. Are the kids tired of shopping? Suggest that they take a trip to the fish market, inseparable from port life. Is it too hot to walk in the sun? Take a break at the museum. The Museo del Giocattolo is dedicated to old toys. As for the carnival museum, it reveals incredible masks presented in a very nice scenography. If the experience has appealed to you, note that the colorful Sciacca Carnival attracts many tourists, including families who like to travel outside of the too hot months.
If you are staying near Agrigento, a visit to the Valley of the Temples (a collection of 8 Greek ruins dating back to 430 BC and dominating the city) is a must-do. Are you traveling with children? We advise you to plan this trip at the end of the day. It will be cooler and, with a little luck, you will have the privilege of admiring this site bathed in the magical light of the setting sun. Speaking of sunset, don’t miss the one you can enjoy during a visit to the Turkish Steps.
The best time to discover this natural curiosity located 10 kilometers from Agrigento? Very early in the morning or… at sunset when the many tourists have already returned to their hotels. Children will love climbing these amazing stone steps that seem to drop steeply into the turquoise sea. Do not let all these wonders prevent you from visiting the city center of Agrigento. Halfway between tradition and modernity (pretty contemporary frescoes, to be discovered during your walk, color the historic heart), the old town is worth it. At the end of the walk, try the divine ice cream at Cuspidi. If the pistachio from this Via Cavour glacier is a must, other flavors are as delicious as this one. Not sure if the kids will be up for trying Pecorino, a ricotta ice cream that dates back to 1960, but who knows? You are in Sicily, after all.
Marie, lifestyle journalist, curious traveller, passionate swimmer and step-mother of Charlie (9 y.o)