Although Sicily looks like it's being kicked out of Italy by the tip of the boot, it's very much a part of this varied country. This island has its own distinct cultures and is worth a visit all on its own - not least because it's challenging enough to get here from the Italian mainland that you really don't want to short-change yourself by just taking a few days to see it. There are several big and interesting cities to visit, as well as some really cool Greek ruins and a very active volcano. Do yourself a favor and spend at least a week, maybe more. Just remember that the summers can get stiflingly hot, so try to avoid going then.
Where to Go and What to Do
Palermo is Sicily's capital city and is busy and "happening." You could easily spend several days in Palermo and not see everything. But you'll want to get beyond Palermo, too. Explore the Greek temples and other ruins in Agrigento and Syracuse (Siracusa) and a beautiful Greek theatre in Taormina, which is also a popular tourist resort on the sea. If you're into skiing or mountain hiking, check to see how active Mount Etna is and whether you can safely ski or climb it - it has a tendency to spit ash and lava into the air periodically, so it's always good to check safety in advance. And you can't visit an island without sampling the local seafood.
Read: The Dark Heart of a Beautiful City: Palermo.
Palermo has a big airport, so if you are planning a trip to Sicily on its own it's a great idea to fly in and out of Palermo. If you can't do that for a reasonable price, you can fly to Rome or Milan and then get a short flight to Palermo from the mainland. Start by hunting for deals on airfare to Italy
Where to Stay
There are lots of hotels and hostels scattered throughoug Sicily, though they'll vary in price and quality. In places like Taormina, which is a resort area, you're likely to find higher prices on accommodations - but you may find extraordinarily cheap accommodations further away from tourist centers, too. Start with a search of these Sicily hostels
and Sicily hotels
and book a room today.
For more information on Sicily and the rest of Italy, don't forget to check out our Italy Travel Guide