Crossing Sicily by Car | Distance | Travel Time | + Itineraries
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean, measuring 225km wide by 150km in height. It is not massive by any means, and there are many other islands in the world that are larger. To put it into perspective:
It takes between 3 hours and a half to 4 hours to cross Sicily by car from the east to the west coast from Catania to Trapani. If you go through Agrigento it will take you 4 hours, as opposed to taking the alternative route through Palermo. The journey is 314km through Palermo and 332km through Agrigento.
Driving is far more efficient than using the trains to travel from Catania and Trapani, which will take 8 and a half hours! This is because there isn’t an extensive public transport network, most especially for trains. However once you are visiting Sicily, you will probably want to stop at other destinations along the way.
How Long it Takes to Drive Around Sicily
It takes 11 and a half hours to drive around the Sicilian coast without making any stops. However Sicily has a plethora of places of scenic beauty and enchanting towns that make each stop along the way truly worthwhile.
From the ancient Greek temples in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, to the Baroque capital of Palermo and the stunning coastal town of Taormina, there is a lot to appreciate. Additionally you get to indulge in delicious local cuisine.
To give you a better idea, here is a breakdown of the travel time by car if you had to do a loop around the coast of Sicily:
- Messina to Catania: 1h 9m
- Catania to Noto: 1h 5m
- Noto through Ragusa to Agrigento: 2h 30m
- Agrigento to Marsala: 2h
- Marsala through Trapani to Palermo: 2h 10m
- Palermo through Cefalù and Messina: 2h 36m
This in and of itself is not helpful however. It would be good for you to have a list of places you should consider visiting. Plus any other additional information to help you plan which I will go through below. Hopefully this will help you make the most of your potential or confirmed trip to Sicily.
If you are considering travelling in Sicily by car or are undecided you should check out the article on getting around Sicily. This guide goes through the pros and cons of public transport and hiring a car.
Additionally there are another 2 guides. One for hiring a car in Sicily which goes through the rules and documents car rental companies require. It also covers the costs with the best company to use being Discover Cars. This is because they let you compare prices from all the car rental companies in Sicily so you can find the best deal.
There is also a guide on driving in Sicily which covers road rules. It also includes details on strategies on how to avoid paying congestion tax and tolls.
To start off, you do not necessarily have to hire a car to cross Sicily to explore it. You could also opt to stay in, or close to Palermo or Catania and join guided tours. Most especially because most guided tours depart from those 2 towns. The page on holidaying in Sicily lists all the handy guides which include the highlights, activities, itineraries and other information which you may find useful. It also has some suggested itineraries which I will go through below.
Sicily requires at least 10 days to fully explore its historical sites. If you wish to include beach time or other activities, it’s advisable to allocate more time accordingly. However, for those seeking a shorter holiday of around 4 days, it may be more practical to focus on either the east or west coast.
There are also families with kids in tow looking for fun things to do. In this case you may want to check out the list of activities for kids in Sicily and come up with your own itinerary.
While personally, I would recommend focusing on one area, you might prefer a mix of both and consider returning to Sicily on another occasion to explore different places. To assist with your planning, our guide on 4 days in Sicily has 3 suggested itineraries, each highlighting different areas to suit your preferences.