Few places are as friendly to children as Sicily. Families are welcomed at restaurants, cafes and hotels, and staff are generally diligent in accommodating your needs. Family-friendly attractions abound (beaches, ice-cream shops, puppet theatres), and you’ll benefit from family discounts on transport along with free children’s admission at many sites.
Best Regions for Kids
Island-hopping by boat will appeal to the explorer in any kid – as will climbing Stromboli's steaming cone for a nightly dose of volcanic fireworks.
Flamingos along the Vendicari coast and Sicilian puppet shows with funny battle scenes will captivate kids of all ages, while open spaces like Syracuse's Piazza del Duomo help squirmy toddlers get the wiggles out.
Long sandy beaches at Cefalù make for happy family times, and the steeply perched Norman castle at Caccamo is perfect for medieval role-playing.
Enjoy stress-free beach days swimming and cycling on Favignana, discover ancient cave art on Levanzo, or ride the funicular up to Erice to sample sugary almond sweets.
Whether you're splashing on the beach below Taormina, climbing Europe's tallest volcano or getting grossed out by giant fish heads in Catania's market, the Ionian Coast creates lasting memories for everyone.
Sicily for Kids
Eating in Sicily should be a breeze. In restaurants, high chairs are usually available and it's perfectly acceptable to order a mezza porzione (half portion) off the normal menu for little ones. Even the fussiest of kids will enjoy the island's abundant fresh fruit, savoury snacks like arancine (fried, stuffed rice balls) or basics like pizza and pasta with a tomato sauce – while more adventurous eaters will be able to 'expand' their palate with varied seafood, fish, meat and veggie dishes. Gelati, granite (crushed ice with various flavours) and the many fantastic Sicilian dolci (desserts) will be fought over by the entire family.
Sicily and its smaller offshore islands offer plenty of ways to keep the family engaged, be it the mix of history and nature at the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, the many beaches and islands, vibrant street markets at Palermo and Catania, or a simple passeggiata (evening stroll) with the locals, ice cream in hand. Teenagers will be able to break up lazy days with swimming and organised boat trips, while activity-seeking families have three volcanoes to climb and lots of snorkelling and diving options. Norman castles and ancient ruins are scattered around the island and are ripe for exploration.
Away from the beaches, smaller kids can be kept entertained at the local main square – the piazzas are usually equipped with fun rides and, well, other kids! Traditional puppet shows are a great way to introduce your children to local culture – it helps if they're into battles!
While it's generally safe for kids to run around small town squares, keep an eye on the scooters that sometimes zip in and out – pedestrian areas are something of a relative concept in Sicily.
Family life is highly valued in Sicily. Babies will be cooed over, and children of all ages will generally be welcomed. Breastfeeding is common, and attitudes are relaxed.
Gelateria Ciccio Adelfio, Palermo Everyone loves gelato, especially for breakfast, when it's served in a sweet bun at classic shops like this one!
Da Alfredo, Salina, Aeolian Islands On a hot day, there's nothing yummier and more refreshing than a granita (flavoured crushed ice), topped with a dollop of whipped cream just for fun.
La Rinascente, Trapani Meet the cannoli-maker and watch him fill yours on the spot as you anticipate that first crunchy, creamy bite.
In & on the Water
Spiaggia di Cefalù For sheer family fun in the sun, this long sandy beach east of Palermo is hard to beat.
Ustica, Palermo Region Water-loving families and older kids and teenagers can snorkel and dive to their heart's desire on this island just off Palermo.
Scala dei Turchi Young kids can frolic in the shallow water near Agrigento.
Grotta del Bue Marino, Filicudi Visit this spectacular sea grotto by boat.
Stromboli Crater, Aeolian Islands A glimpse of Stromboli's glowing innards on a night climb is any kid's fairy-tale vision of a volcano come true.
Fossa di Vulcano, Aeolian Islands Follow the pongy path to this steaming, sulphur-spewing crater, known to the Romans as Vulcan's forge.
Castello di Caccamo Storm the ramparts of this and other Norman castles across the island.
Ruins of Selinunte This sprawling ruined city has temples, piles of ancient rubble and wide open spaces for kids to explore, plus a beach just below.
Azienda Agrituristica Bergi, Castelbuono Enjoy animals, swimming pools and lots of space while overnighting at this and other agriturismi (farm stays) around the island.
Arts & Sicilian Culture
Piccolo Teatro dei Pupi, Syracuse Watch brave knights defeat evil monsters in a traditional puppet play.
Farm Cultural Park, Favara Creative teens will appreciate the edgy installations at this unique artists' community.
Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina At this ancient Roman hunting villa, mosaics of lions, tigers and youthful gymnasts will capture many young imaginations.
Passeggiata Search out carousels, cafes and convivial company of every age during the evening stroll.
When to Go
Spring, early summer and autumn are generally best for families with small children. High summer temperatures can make life miserable for little ones – although good beaches and the occasional gelato should make this more bearable.
Generally, apartment rental is easy to find and works best for families who want to self-cater. Many hotels and pensioni (guesthouses) offer reduced rates for children or will add an extra bed or cot on request (usually for an extra 30% or so). Agriturismi (farmstays) are excellent for children because they're always in a natural setting, with big gardens and fields around them, and usually have an animal or two on site.
Before You Go
- Car seats for infants and children are available from most car-rental firms, but you should always book them in advance.
- Stock up on sun cream even in spring and autumn, when it can still be quite warm in Sicily.
- Insect repellent (especially for mosquitoes) is highly recommended.
- For more information see Lonely Planet's Travel with Children book.