Perfect Family-Friendly Villas and Adventures in Sicily

If you feasted on images of Sicily’s gorgeous scenery, pretty towns and sun drenched beaches during the White Lotus TV series, the chances are you’ll have been tempted by the idea of booking your own holiday on the island.

But although undeniably enticing for adults, if you’re organising a family holiday, you’ll inevitably have other criteria to consider. The good news, however, is that Sicily is also an excellent destination for kids. Fabulous food, a big warm welcome and family friendly beaches all add up to a wonderful family holiday and Sicily also has a good range of child friendly resorts, places to stay, and things to do.

Is Sicily good for kids?

Naturally, the age of your children will have a bearing on your holiday planning but you can be sure of fabulous hospitality and a friendly welcome wherever you stay or eat in Sicily. ‘Bambini’ are revered, which unsurprisingly makes for a very relaxing experience.

Kids on holidays in Sicily
Kids on holidays in Sicily

When it comes to toddlers, the beach is often all you’ll need to keep them amused but occasionally, older siblings may opt for a day at a water park. You’ll find smaller slides and splash pools for toddlers at most of the water parks, including Etnaland and the Aretusa Park in Syracuse. In addition, most towns have a playground for children: Ragusa Ibla has a large play area in its lovely Giardino Ibleo, and, in common with some of the other Val di Noto towns, a small ‘trenino’ which saves tired little legs and is guaranteed to keep the little ones happy.

Which part of Sicily is best for family holidays?

There’s so much to see in Sicily, but if it’s your first trip, our advice is to focus on one or two areas and not to try to cram too much in. Yes, in time, your kids may remember visits to ancient temples and castles but they’ll also think back to carefree unpunctuated days by the pool or on the beach.

Sicily’s south east coast is a great option if you’re keen to combine beach days with visiting some of the region’s extraordinary baroque UNESCO towns. A base in or around Scicli gives you easy access to the towns of Noto, Modica and Ragusa as well as some fabulous beaches.

The north coast is another family favourite, a chance to alternate days on the beaches around Cefalù with lively markets and traditional puppetry in Palermo, and the remarkable ancient temple at Segesta.

Cathedral of Acireale in Sicily
Cathedral of Acireale in Sicily

If you’re looking for a short transfer from the airport, staying in eastern Sicily is very convenient and the area around Acireale tends to be fairly tourist free. Staying here is also, of course, a chance for the kids to experience Europe’s tallest active volcano, Mount Etna, and to swing between the tree tops at the fabulous Etna Adventure Park.

Best things to do with kids in Sicily

How much or how little you do each day is going to partly depend on the age of your children. If you have active kids or are keen to explore some of Sicily’s extraordinary cultural heritage, it’s definitely worth finding out about what there is to see locally before you book.

Mount Etna

Mount Etna is a thrill whatever your age. Hop on a cable car to the volcano’s dizzy heights or set off on a 4×4 jeep safari adventure that takes you across its rugged terrain, past ancient lava flows and into hidden caves.

Mountain and quad biking

As well as being great fun, joining a mountain bike or quad biking excursion will immerse you in Sicily’s natural world. While mountain bike excursions require a certain level of fitness, quad biking excursions are suitable for all. On the east coast, adrenaline fuelled excursions take place on Mount Etna and on a river trail through the Alcantara Valley. If you’re staying on the north coast near to Cefalù, excursions run in the dramatic Madonie and Nebrodi mountains.

Etna seen from the Nebrodi park
Etna seen from the Nebrodi park

Water sports and boat trips

The clear waters around Sicily are an excellent place for fishing, diving, kayaking and other water sports. Sailing and chartered boat tours are great for all the family but for something a little pacier for older teenagers, jet ski rental near Syracuse or Taormina offers further thrills. In the rugged Alcantara gorge in northeast Sicily, try a water-based adventure activity such as body rafting, while in Catania and Taormina, kids of all ages (minimum 5 years) can join a kayak excursion. Less strenuous but just as enjoyable, boat trips to the Egadi Islands in western Sicily or to the volcanic Aeolian Islands off the north east coast of Sicily are both highly recommended.

Ancient temples, castles and historic sights

If you’re visiting in August, a trip to the Valley of the Temples may not go down as well with the kids as in May, but if it’s not too hot, then try to include at least one of Sicily’s extraordinary ancient sights in your schedule. It is possible to find something that will engage even the most reluctant of young sightseers: try the ear-shaped echoing Dionysus’ cave at the archaeological park in Syracuse, gargoyle-spotting in Noto, or the magnificent 142-step ceramic staircase in Caltagirone.

Aerial view of Noto
Aerial view of Noto

Is Sicily expensive for families?

Compared to other Italian islands, such as Capri or Sardinia, or the Amalfi Coast, Sicily offers excellent value for money for families. As you’d expect, the price of flights to the island rise during August, as do accommodation rates, the latter partly due to the island’s popularity with Italians who traditionally take their holidays then. If you can avoid peak season, you’ll make huge savings.

But once you’re there, you can live fairly cheaply, particularly if you choose a villa holiday and eat some meals in. Popping out for little treats, such as a cappuccino or a gelato is very inexpensive. In common with the rest of Italy, Sicily’s ‘lidos’ – equipped with sunbeds, parasols and sometimes a bar or restaurant – come at a price, but in most places, you should be able to find a free beach alternative.

Is Sicily too hot for kids?

If you have young children and are unfettered by school holidays, then May, June, September and October are some of the best months to holiday in Sicily. You can expect good solid bouts of sunshine, and temperatures hovering around 20-25°C. For anyone with school age children, Easter or Whitsun half-term week is an excellent time to snap up a bargain week in the Sicilian sun. In July and August when temperatures can reach high into the 30’s, you’ll want to spend much of your time by the pool or within easy reach of the beach.

Best beaches in Sicily for families

Families with younger children looking for a bucket and spade style holiday will love the soft sandy beaches and gently shelving water along the south east coast. Beaches such as Santa Maria del Focallo and Sampieri are great for families, with lido style facilities for those who need shade. Find out more about the best beaches in south east Sicily here.

Beautiful beach dunes at Santa Maria del Focallo
Beautiful beach dunes at Santa Maria del Focallo

Sicilian food and children

What child doesn’t like pasta and ice cream? While Sicily certainly has its own regional specialities, Sicilian food shares many similarities with food on the Italian mainland. You’ll find pizza and pasta everywhere as well as local treats such as arancini rice balls and sweet ricotta-filled cannoli.

Traditional cannoli
Traditional cannoli

Family villa, hotel or all-inclusive resort?

Choosing the best place to stay in Sicily is going to be a personal choice. If you prefer a complete break from cooking, you can take your pick from a good selection of hotels and all-inclusive resorts. The latter will have everything on tap, from meals to activities, which works well for families who like to stay in resort and take advantage of those facilities. A smaller hotel will offer a more personal experience and will usually also have a pool. However, if you’re looking for space, maximum flexibility and good value, then a villa with a private pool in Sicily is generally a better option for families.

Aqua Turchina near Cefalù
Aqua Turchina near Cefalù

View our full range of family friendly villas here.