The Easiest Way To Get To Sicily – Ferry, Plane, or Train

Discover Sicily - Best month to visit Sicily

Boasting unspoiled beaches, tons of attractions, and rich culture, Sicily is a top choice for a superb family vacation. Making the most of your trip to the largest island in the Mediterranean does require some planning though so let’s take a look at how to get to Sicily. Travelers have three main options, ferry, plane, or train. But what is the easiest way to get to Sicily?

Flying to Sicily is definitely the easiest choice for most, with direct flights to Sicily from more than 300 airports during peak summer months. It’s often the quickest option too and prevents you from having to travel overland. Plus, there are several international airports on the island, making it easy for you to get where you want to be.

But, depending on where you’re traveling from and how you’re getting about, you might find that a ferry, or even the train, is a better option. So, let’s take a look at the various options below. We’ll include handy route maps, travel times, and rough price guides to help you make the best choice for you and your family.

Getting to Sicily by Plane

Home to four international airports, getting to Sicily by plane is an easy and convenient method for many families. While Palermo Airport (PMO) is the largest, Catania Airport “Vincenzo Bellini” (CTA) is perhaps the most popular and therefore the busiest airport in Sicily. The other two airports in Sicily, Trapani and Comiso, are smaller and tend to be served by low-cost airlines.

Map of Sicily showing airport locations

Both Palermo and Catania airports are served by a number of major airlines and visitors can take flights from numerous major European cities to Sicily. As well as that, you’ll also find smaller airlines providing flights to Sicily from a wealth of smaller airports across Europe.

At the time of writing, there are no direct flights to Sicily from the USA, Australia, or Asia. Visitors from outside of Europe will normally need to take a connecting flight from Rome or Milan.

Throughout the summer season, you’ll find at least daily flights to Sicily from a wealth of European airports. Over winter, some services no longer run or operate on a reduced schedule. Below is information about the very basic flight schedules which operate all year round to guide you on where to look.

Flights to Palermo

Flights Within Italy

Departure cityFlight FrequencyAirline
Rome, MilanMinimum 3 flights dailyAlitalia, Ryanair
Naples, Venice, Pisa1 daily flightVarious
FlorenceMonday and SundayVueling

Flights from other European Destinations

Departure cityFlight FrequencyAirline
Dublin, IrelandThursday and SundayRyanair
Edinburgh, ScotlandThursday, Friday and SundayRyanair
London, EnglandEveryday except SaturdayVarious
Barcelona, SpainMonday, Tuesday, Thursday and SundayVarious
Cagliari, SardiniaMonday and FridayRyanair
Bastia, CorsicaSaturdayAir Corsica
MaltaWednesdayAir Malta
Munich, GermanyFriday, Saturday and SundayLufthansa
Zurich, SwitzerlandMonday, Thursday, Saturday and SundaySwiss Air

There are also flights from;

  • Memmingen, Germany
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Budapest, Hungry
  • Wroclaw, Poland

Flights to Catania

Flights Within Italy

Departure cityFlight FrequencyAirline
MilanMinimum 3 flights dailyEasyjet, Ryanair
RomeMinimum 3 flights dailyAir Europa, Etihad, KLM, Ryanair
Bologna, Naples, Venice, Pisa1 daily flightVarious
FlorenceWednesday – SaturdayIberia and Vueling
Cagliari, SardiniaMonday, Thursday and SaturdayRyanair

Flights to Catania from other European Destinations

Departure cityFlight FrequencyAirline
Athens, GreeceWednesdays and FridaysAegean Cronus Airlines
Amsterdam, NetherlandsTuesday, Thursday and SaturdayKLM
Berlin, GermanyThursday, Friday and SundayVarious
Bucharest, RomaniaMonday, Wednesday, Thursday and FridayWizz Air
Budapest, HungryMonday, Tuesday, Saturday and SundayRyanair, except Tuesday w/ Wizz Air
Frankfurt, GermanyWednesday, Saturday and SundayLufthansa, except Saturday w/ Ryanair
Geneva, SwitzerlandFriday and SundayEasyjet
MaltaEveryday except TuesdayAir Malta, Ryanair
Paris, FranceWednesday, Thursday, Friday and SundayEasyjet
Tel Aviv, IsraelMonday and ThursdayWizz Air
Vienna, AustriaWednesday – FridayRyanair

Flights to Catania from Outside Europe

Departure cityFlight FrequencyAirline
Tel Aviv, IsraelMonday and ThursdayWizz Air
Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday, Thursday, Friday and SundayWizz Air
Dubai, UAEWednesday, Friday and SundayFlyDubai
Istanbul, Turkey1 daily flightTurkish Airlines

Flight Times to Sicily

Below, you’ll find a table that gives you a rough idea about flight times to Sicily from a number of major cities. The travel times listed are averages and vary between carriers, so give or take 20 minutes or so.

AirportTypical Travel Time
London–Gatwick3 hours 10 minutes
Rome–Fiumicino1 hour 15 minutes
Frankfurt/Munich3 hours 50 minutes
Paris–Charles de Gaulle2 hours 40 minutes
Zurich2 hours 20 minutes
Helsinki6 hours 30 minutes
Amsterdam2 hours 45 minutes
Tel Aviv6 hours 10 minutes
Dubai5 hours 20 minutes

Cost of Flights to Sicily

Flights to Sicily vary widely in price depending on where you’re traveling from, what time of year, and which airline you choose. Having said that, tickets can be as low as €20 or so during the off-season if you’re flying from Italy.

From elsewhere in Europe, prices will steadily climb up and can cost as much as €400 from destinations like Helsinki. On average, you can expect to pay around €100 within Europe, but budget for more outside of the continent.

Getting to Sicily by Ferry

Sicily ports map
Sicily and nearby island sea ports map

As the largest island in the Mediterranean, sailing is another superb way to travel to Sicily. Plus, with seven major ports across the island and regular daily sailings year-round, you’ll have plenty of options. Offering a scenic journey, ferries may be slower paced than flights, but if you’re on mainland Italy already, or you’re enjoying a road trip, it’s definitely a superb choice. Most of the ferries take cars as well as foot traffic.

Sicily’s main ports are both on the east and west close to popular tourist destinations. A couple of the most important are Palermo, and Messina.

Which Ferries Go to Sicily?

The shortest crossing to Sicily from mainland Italy is from Villa San Giovanni, a port town that is effectively the toe of the Italian Peninsula. From here, you’ll find numerous crossings every day to Messina on the northwest tip of Sicily. The crossing is operated by Caronte & Tourist NCI and typically takes about 40 minutes.

Numerous other ferry companies operate crossings to Sicily from mainland Italy. Liberty Lines is one of the biggest, with regular sailings each day of the year. The easiest way to book a ferry is by using Direct Ferries which lists all the routes from all the different operators.

From Italy’s mainland, you’ll have several options for longer crossings to Sicily, as listed below:

  • Civitavecchia (Rome): Weekly crossings to Palermo take about 14 hours and 30 minutes
  • Genoa: Regular crossings to Palermo take about 20 hours.
  • Livorno: Crossings to Palermo takes about 20 hours
  • Naples: Regular crossings to various Sicilian ports, including Catania, Palermo, and Milazzo. Crossings to Palermo take about 10 hours and 30 minutes.
  • Salerno: Regular crossings to numerous Sicilian ports, including Catania, Palermo, Augusta, and Syracuse. Crossings to Palermo take about 9 hours and 15 minutes.
  • Reggio Calabria: A fast hydrofoil passenger ferry that makes the crossing to Messina in around 25 minutes. Be advised, this is not a car ferry.
  • Villa San Giovanni: to Messina is the shortest ferry route taking 20 minutes.

Ferries to Sicily From Outside of Italy

You can also find ferries to Sicily from a number of ports outside of the Italian Peninsula.

  • Tunis, Tunisia: Operated by Grandi Navi Veloci and Grimaldi Lines, there are several crossings to Palermo each week. The crossing will typically take around 10 hours.
  • Valletta, Malta: With at least 15 sailings a week, you can find regular crossings to Siciliy’s port Pozzallo (on the southern tip of the island) from Malta. Operated by Virtu Lines, the crossing typically takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  • Cagliari, Sardinia: Ferries from the popular Italian island of Sardinia sail to Palermo once or twice a week or so. The crossing is operated by Grimaldi Lines and takes around 12 hours.

Ferry Routes Map

Sicily ferry routes from mainland Italy and other surrounding countries map
Sicily ferry routes from mainland Italy and other surrounding countries map

The Cost of the Ferry

Ferry tickets to Sicily can be as cheap as €2.50 for a single passenger without a car on the Villa San Giovanni—Messina crossing. Prices will be higher if you’re traveling with a vehicle.

At the other end of the spectrum, you can expect to pay €82 per passenger (without a vehicle) on the crossing from Genoa. For cars, the price can increase to more than €300.

Apart from the cost of the ferry, Sicily also has a congestion tax and tolls which you may need to factor in. However you can strategically avoid driving through them which is covered in the guide on driving in Sicily. Additionally there is a guide on crossing Sicily by car to give you an idea of Sicily’s scale and itineraries you can consider.

Getting to Sicily by Train

It may seem strange to take a train to an island, but it is possible! The train goes from mainland Italy to Sicily via a special ferry. Departing from numerous major Italian cities, including Milan, Venice, Rome, and Naples, the train makes its way to the port of either Villa San Giovanni or Reggio Calabria.

From here, the train rolls onto an enormous barge, which sails across the sea to the Sicilian port city of Messina. Here is what it looks like:

Upon arrival, it then joins the Sicilian train network and passengers can disembark at various major cities, including Palermo, Catania, Syracuse, or Messina itself. The sea crossing takes about an hour, but the total journey can take more than 15 hours from Milan or as little as 10 hours from Rome to Palermo.

The train is a fairly affordable option, costing from €20 for a seat in second class, or €30 for first class if you’re departing from Rome or Naples. Sleeper trains and those from Milan or Venice are more expensive.

Getting Around Sicily

After you plan how you can get to Sicily you need to figure out how to get around Sicily. There are various modes of public transport, as well as taxis and car rental available to you. Here is the best way to get around Sicily with all the pros and cons of each mode of transport.

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