Italy is one of the most popular destinations in the world but also one of the most expensive places, hence this guide to Sicily on a budget!
The country boasts a combination of luxurious, quaint, and historic sites that have visitors dreaming up their next visit. The islands of Italy, Sicily in particular, can be completely what you make of it, Sicily is an interesting destination with a lot to offer all travelers. It is generally less expensive to visit than a vacation in Rome, Venice, or Florence, but it is by no means a cheap European destination to visit.
Here are some of the many ways you can lower costs and save money for your trip to Sicily:
How to Save Money in Sicily
Save on Accommodation in Sicily
Where you stay can very easily end up being your highest cost. Many of the Sicily holiday rentals available on sites like Wishsicily can fit more people comfortably and are a great option instead of having to book multiple hotel rooms. Moreover, cooking some meals at home with local products helps save money but not miss out on the local food experience.
Prices naturally skyrocket during the high season (especially during July-August). If you can visit during the low season you can save money on just about everything (accommodation, flights, rentals, activities, etc..). The weather is still good during the low season, so you can enjoy the sites without all crowds and high prices.
This is a must! Instead of constantly purchasing water bottles or paying for water while you eat out, just fill your water bottle up! If you are out and do not have a water bottle, swing by a grocery store to purchase a 1L bottle. (That 1L bottle is generally less expensive than one of the tiny ones that you can buy at bars and smaller shops.)
Eating out in Sicily
There are so many local dishes to try in Sicily but it can be expensive. The markets have wonderful food that you can pick up for snacks or a full meal to enjoy with a view of your choosing. You can always swing by a bakery (panificio) for slices of pizza, too! Eating out should be under 25 euros per person (wine included), but with gelato and snacks between, a full meal and table service just isn’t always necessary.
Eating in Tourist Areas
As with many European holiday destinations, avoid eating in tourist areas. When planning your meals, look for local restaurants that aren’t near the biggest tourist attractions.
Whilst in Palermo, check out unique neighborhoods such as Il Capo and New City but avoid eating here. Instead, head to the markets and restaurants in the Old Town of Vecchio Centro or enjoy one of the many restaurants and cafes in Albergheria.
Catania has some awesome neighborhoods to choose from, with many food options too. Via Etnea offers plenty of incredible cafes alongside boutique shops whilst Teatro Massimo Bellini is a good place to base yourself if you are looking for some fun nightlife on your trip.
Nightlife in Sicily
If you run in for a quick coffee or drink, consider standing up instead of sitting down. It costs money to sit!
Best places for nightlife in Sicily
- Catania – For a lively, fun city with lots of clubs, head to Catania. Afrobar is a beachfront bar with a dance floor whilst Zò is home to music events throughout the year. Nievski is an artsy crowd, Etnea is a gorgeous rooftop bar and Le Capannie is a beach club during the day and a party club by night.
- Taormina – Taormina is another top destination for those young travelers looking for good nightlife. Morgana Lounge Bar is a unique, upscale bar whilst the Time Out Pub is a local bar. Listen to jazz musicians at Re Di Bastoni then dances the night away at Tropicana Disco Naxos.
- Cefalù – This is a beautiful area of Sicily with some bars and beach parties during the evening. For a gorgeous wine bar, head to Enoteca Rossorubino, for affordable food and drink, head to the St. George Pub or Claddagh Irish Pub. Relax by the beach at Jureka Wine Bar or try some craft beer at Kalapinta Craft Beer.
- Marina di Ragusa – This coastal town is perfect for your young people looking to relax and unwind on the beach and then at a party in the clubs. Affordable drinks can be in the SODO Sempre Nuovo square or enjoy desserts in the Caffe Delle Rose. Unwind in La Ola Beach, a gorgeous lounge bar on the beach, or soak in the fun atmosphere and great views from Bar Stella Marina.
Free things to do in Sicily
Sicily is home to many free attractions, so you can take advantage of sightseeing on the cheap.
- The beaches – Of course, there are plenty of beaches to choose from in Sicily and these are all free.
- A festival – There are various local festivals that run throughout the year and have spectacular celebrations in Palermo and Catani, which are free. Head to the flower-carpeted street in May or visit during August for the onion festival.
- Churches and Cathedrals – Many of these are free to enter (or just a few euros). There are some stunning baroque churches on the island so make sure to include at least one on your trip.
- Take in the views – Whether it’s from a bar, beach, or viewpoint around the island, you can get some gorgeous views around the island. For arguably the best view, head up the staircase to the Santuario Della Madonna for stunning views of the Aeolian Islands and Tyrrhenian coast.
- Window Shopping – Taormina has some excellent stores and shopping districts that are perfect for window shopping. Alternatively, head to Palermo and Catania for cheap markets.
Cheap Travel to Sicily
Most people arrive in Sicily via flight, but getting a decently priced flight can be a challenge. Compare travel dates using Momondo, as you will be surprised how some days are much cheaper than others. But then check the individual airline websites and compare prices on Skyscanner once you have chosen your date. You can sign up to travel alerts on Tripadvisor or Google Flights.
Easyjet offers affordable flights into Palermo from the UK whilst TUI offers flights to Catania.
Yes, that may sound a bit strange but there are some stunning locations outside of Sicily that can be reached within a day. Take a day trip from Sicily and enjoy!
Best day trips from Sicily
- Mount Etna Day trip
- Agrigento Valley of the Temples
- Aeolian Islands
- Lipari and Vulcano
Things to know before you go to Sicily
Best time to visit
As with many destinations in Europe, the best time to visit Sicily is from May to June and September to October. These months offer warm and pleasant weather; perfect for visits to the beach and hiking the picturesque landscapes.
Autumn and Winter see quite a bit of rain, so avoid these times if possible.
Flying to Sicily is the best way to travel into the Italian region. Check out budget airlines like RyanAir and EasyJet to save money on your flight.
If you are looking to drive to Sicily, you can catch a ferry, taking your car on board. This makes getting around the island easier once you arrive in Sicily.
The easiest way to get around Sicily is by car, so bring your own car or rent one on arrival. Traveling around Sicily via public transport is possible but slow; there are some bus options if you are happy to stick to the major cities and tourist sights.
Hostel prices start at €25 whilst mid-range hotels start at €60. 5-star luxury hotels can be pricey and start at €150. Airbnbs are great options in Sicily too, with prices ranging depending on the length of your stay. The average Airbnb costs around €90 a night.
Break and lunch can be found for under €10 whilst sit-down meals start at around €15. Pasta is a popular option in Sicily, with most pasta dishes costing between €7 to €10.
Car rentals cost around €60 a day with some deals on smaller cars found from ¢40, especially during the quieter seasons.
Best things to do in Sicily
There are plenty of interesting and gorgeous places to visit in Sicily. Head to the historic buildings and monuments in Palermo before visiting the picturesque fishing town of Cefalu. Visit Mt Etna after exploring Catania.
Sicily on a budget F.A.Q.
Is Sicily budget-friendly?
Sicily can be budget-friendly if you stick to staying in hostels and eating at local restaurants. You can save money by visiting the free attractions and following the tips in this post.
How much money do I need per day in Sicily?
You can expect to spend between €70 – €90 a day, depending on where you are staying. You can expect to pay less than €10 for transport if you stick to public transportation and around €30 – €50 per day on food.
What is the cheapest way to travel in Sicily?
Using the buses is the cheapest way to travel in Sicily and the best option after the trains. Trains are the quickest option whilst hiring a car is possible but expensive.
Is Sicily cheaper than Amalfi?
Sicily is cheaper than the Amalfi Coast in most situations, with hotels and meals generally costing less in Sicily. Sicily also offers hostels and budget hotel options, whilst the Amalfi Coast has many great high-end hotels but these come with a price tag.
Do I need a car in Sicily?
You can rent a car in Sicily, this makes getting around the island easy and flexible.
- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this microphone for all our Youtube voiceovers.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favorite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.