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What to see in Western Sicily: Seven Places not to be Missed

Discover western Sicily and its magical places: Let's explore seven unmissable places for a trip or holiday in the west of Sicily.

Written by Monica Meschis
Reading time: 10'

Exploring Western Sicily: must-visit sights

The western coast of Sicily is a land of fascinating contrasts, a melting pot of cultures, stories, and natural landscapes that create a colourful and lively mosaic. From the splendid beaches of San Vito Lo Capo, to the salt pans of Trapani and the ancient ruins of Selinunte and Segesta, every corner of this part of the island tells a different story. This region is a paradise for nature and sea lovers and history enthusiasts who can immerse themselves in ancient Greek and Roman splendour. But the west coast of Sicily is also a place where gastronomy plays a fundamental role, with its dishes full of Mediterranean flavours, world-famous wines, and long.standing culinary traditions. Every trip to this part of the island is a journey through centuries of history, extraordinary natural beauty, and an unforgettable gastronomic experience.

Here are seven places that shouldn’t be missed during your stay in western Sicily. 

1. Trapani and the Salt Pans: picture-postcard scenery

Trapani, located on the extreme tip of western Sicily, is a city that enchants visitors with its unique mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. The city itself, with its elegant historic centre and Baroque churches, tells a story of centuries of history, having been a crossroads of different civilisations. But the salt pans outside of Trapani truly capture the soul of this area. Here, the landscape transforms into a palette of bright colours where the white of the salt contrasts with the blue of the sky and the pink of the flamingos that often take refuge there.

The Trapani salt pans, active for over a thousand years, are an important economic resource for the region but also a unique ecosystem with rich biodiversity. Visiting them is an educational and fascinating experience, where you can learn about the traditional salt harvesting process and its history. The best time to visit is at sunset when the water basins reflect the setting sun’s evening light, creating an unforgettable natural spectacle.

2. Erice: between myths and legends

Erice, perched on top of a mountain that dominates the surrounding landscape, is a Medieval village that seems suspended in time. This ancient town, shrouded in a mysterious fog for much of the year, is surrounded by Cyclopean walls and retains a charm dating back to the times of the Phoenicians and Elimi. Strolling through its cobblestone streets, dotted with artisan shops and ancient palaces, is like taking a journey back in time, in an atmosphere charged with history and legend.

The panoramic views from Erice are simply breathtaking. From the top of the mountain you can admire the city of Trapani, the salt pans, the Aegadian Islands, and, on clearer days, the tip of the African coast. The view from the Castle of Venus - an ancient fortress dedicated to the goddess of love - is particularly evocative and is one of the most photographed areas in the entire village.

Erice is one of the stops on our exclusive guided tour in this area of the island, along with splendid Segesta and the evocative salt pans.

3. The Aegadian Islands: jewels of the Mediterranean

The Aegadian Islands, an archipelago off the western coast of Sicily, are a true paradise for nature and sea lovers. Including Favignana, Levanzo, and Marettimo, these islands offer a serene retreat away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, immersed in a natural environment of rare beauty.

Favignana, the largest and most lively of the three islands is famous for its crystal-clear waters and charming coves, such as Cala Rossa and Cala Azzurra. The island is an ideal place for snorkelling and diving, thanks to its seabed rich in marine life and underwater caves to explore. Favignana also offers beautiful sandy beaches for those seeking relaxation and sun.

Levanzo, the smallest of the islands, is a gem of tranquility. With its turquoise waters and limestone cliffs, the island is perfect for those who want to surround themselves in uncontaminated nature. Here, you can find small beaches and hidden bays, ideal for a day of relaxation in complete peace.

Marettimo, the most remote island in the archipelago, is a paradise for hikers and diving enthusiasts. With its trails through wild nature and its spectacular sea floor, the island offers unforgettable experiences. The marine caves of Marettimo, accessible only by sea, are a must-see attraction for those visiting the island.

If you want to visit them all in a day, do not miss our boat tour of the Egadi Islands!

4. Marsala and the winemaking tradition

Marsala, a city overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in western Sicily, is universally known for its eponymous wine, a product that has conquered palates worldwide. This historic city, with its roots including Phoenician, Roman, and Arab eras, is not only rich in history but is also a vital hub of Sicilian eno-gastronomic culture.

Marsala wine, with its various styles - from dry to sweet - is an excellent example of how tradition and craftsmanship can create an internationally renowned product. Marsala wineries offer tastings of this precious wine and also tours that tell its story, including the harvest, the vilification, and the aging in oak barrels. 

The city is a charming mix of historic streets, fascinating architecture, and lively squares. The local cuisine is another aspect that makes Marsala a must-visit destination: dishes based on fresh fish, cous cous, and traditional sweets such as cannoli and cassata.

5. Mazara del Vallo: a crossroads of cultures

Mazara del Vallo is a city boasting a rich cultural and historical heritage, the result of the passage of numerous civilisations, including Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, and Normans. This crossroads of cultures has left an indelible mark on the urban structure, art, and traditions of the city, making it a unique place in Sicily.

One of the most fascinating symbols of Mazara del Vallo is the Dancing Satyr statue, an exceptional archaeological find, discovered in the waters off the city. The statue of a dancing satyr is a masterpiece of ancient Greek art and is currently exhibited in the Satyr Museum where visitors can get to know the history and culture of the Mediterranean.

In addition to its archaeological heritage, Mazara del Vallo charms visitors with its lively historic centre, with its narrow alleys and courtyards reflecting the Arab influence. La Casbah is the most characteristic place; a district reminiscent of the medinas of North Africa. The city is also known for its gastronomic tradition, especially for dishes based on fish, the result of its long history as an important fishing town.

A stroll along the promenade and a visit to the port, where you can still witness the return of fishing boats today, complete the experience of a city that is an authentic melting pot of cultures and traditions.

6. Selinunte and Segesta: witnesses of the past

Selinunte and Segesta, two of the most fascinating archaeological sites in western Sicily, are splendid reminders of the island’s Magna Graecia era. These ancient sites, immersed in picturesque landscapes, offer an incredible insight into the history and culture of ancient Greece and Sicily.

Selinunte, founded in the 7th century B.C., was one of the most important Greek cities on the island. Today, its ruins extend over a vast archaeological park, the largest in Europe, which includes majestic temples, the acropolis, and a necropolis. The Temple of Hera, with its imposing columns still standing the test of time, offers a glimpse into the grandeur of Greek architecture. The experience of strolling among these ruins, overlooking the sea, transports the visitor back in time, in an atmosphere full of history and mystery.

The Selinunte Archaeological Park was chosen by Google for its worldwide camp, where a gala dinner with a Sicilian menu and internationally renowned artists took place.

Segesta, the ancient city of the Elimi, the indigenous people of Sicily, is famous for its Doric temple, one of the best-preserved examples in Europe. Despite being incomplete, the temple exudes a unique charm thanks to its natural setting of extraordinary beauty. The ancient theatre of Segesta, carved into the rock of the hill, is another highlight of the site. Its view of the surrounding countryside and out to the sea is breath-taking.

7. San Vito Lo Capo: between Sea, nature, and gastronomy

San Vito Lo Capo, located on the north-western tip of Sicily, is a destination that enchants visitors with its perfect triad of crystal-clear sea, unspoilt nature, and a rich gastronomic offerings. This small town is famous for its white sandy beach, considered one of the most beautiful in Sicily and Italy, that stretches along a turquoise and transparent sea, creating a paradise for bathers and sun lovers.

In addition to its beautiful beach, San Vito Lo Capo is known for its International Cous Cous Festival, an event that celebrates peace and cultural integration through food. During the festival chefs from around the world come together to prepare variations of this dish, offering a veritable feast for the palate and an opportunity to discover different culinary cultures.

From a naturalistic point of view, San Vito Lo Capo is the ideal starting point to explore the Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve, a protected area that offers trekking trails through Mediterranean flora and fauna, hidden coves, and breathtaking views of the sea. For lovers of underwater activities, the crystal-clear waters offer ideal conditions for snorkelling and diving, with a rich marine life to explore.

If you want to explore this area of Sicily directly from the sea, do not miss our boat tour in western Sicily.

Western Sicily: a surprising journey

The western coast of Sicily reveals is a land of immeasurable beauty and deep cultural richness, an area that surprises and enchants every step of the way. Each town and village in this fascinating part of the island tells a different story, capturing the essence of a glorious past and unspoilt nature.

Visiting these wonders means exploring and experiencing the variety of the western coast of Sicily. If you are thinking of enjoying a stay in this area, we have selected for you the best rental villas in western Sicily!

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