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6 of the biggest travel frustrations when you come to Sicily

Before diving into the challenges one might experience in Sicily, I want to highlight the rich tapestry of culture woven into the fabric of this Italian island. Sicily has a unique blend of Greek, Arab and Norman influences and is a sensory feast in every way. I always say it is ‘crazy beautiful’ and that describes the reason I love Sicily so much!

Travel frustrations are pretty common worldwide really…..things like flight delays, baggage hassles, bad weather and so on. However, there are some travel frustrations that are local in every place too and here are some of the ones you could experience when you come to Sicily and what to do about them.

1. Transportation woes

Sicily’s public transport system can be a maze of confusion for visitors and might test the patience of any travellers. Whilst the island is well connected, delays and erratic schedules can be common. Renting a car might seem like a solution but be prepared for narrow winding roads and complex parking situations in many cities, so you need to be a confident driver and do your research about parking. Private transfers are expensive but if there is a group of travellers, it can be worthwhile.

2. Siesta culture

Embracing the local custom of a siesta in the middle of the day where most shops and businesses close can be frustrating, especially if you only have a few days in Sicily. Once you get out of the large tourist cities like Taormina, many of the shops and businesses close from 1pm to 4pm each for a siesta. However, the good news is restaurants and places to eat stay open! So, plan to have an afternoon rest somewhere and come back out in the evening – it is when places come alive! Shops and businesses stay open until about 8pm and places to eat and drink stay open until very late.

3. Language barriers

In the larger towns you will find hotels, restaurants, and shops where staff speak English. And whilst you may speak Italian or in preparation for your Sicily trip, you learned a few basic phrases (good on you because it will help), many Sicilians when you get out of the main cities, speak Sicilian dialect. So, a basic understanding of some Italian words, a few hand gestures and of course, Google Translate on your phone will definitely help. Did you know you can speak the words or just take photo of some words and Google Translate will sort it out for you! Best travel app ever in my view!

4. Cash is King

Sicily is a cash-centric culture and there is a cultural mistrust of banks and credit systems. While major tourist locations and larger establishments may accept cards, smaller shops, markets and family-owned businesses often prefer cash. Make sure you have enough euros on hand to avoid unexpected challenges.

5. Off the grid

There is sometimes limited internet connectivity in smaller remote towns and some traveller sim cards may not function that well. Some people rely on just connecting to the internet in places they eat or hotels and go without phone or internet when they are out and about but I don’t recommend that. A friend of mine recently got totally lost catching the bus from one town to another and I couldn’t find her for hours! I recommend buying an Italian sim at the airport, in my view Tim Sim has the best connectivity around the island, and you will have both phone and internet for your maps and translations in most places around the island. It might cost you 10 or 20 euro and well worth it.

6. Crowds in tourist season

If you hate crowds, don’t come to Sicily in July and August as it will require extra patience for service and even lining up sometimes to get entry to historical sites and events. So, plan your trip outside of peak season if crowds bother you. Sicily is such a popular travel destination now so be aware of this!

Anyway, what's the saying about being forewarned?? Can’t remember it! If you can handle these travel frustrations and plan for them, you will love your time in crazy, beautiful Sicily. You will soak up the unique culture, enjoy your journey and maybe we’ll see you down there!

We do 1 day, 2 day and week-long tours as well as bespoke private tours around Sicily. If we can help you on your Sicilian journey, reach out!

We are waiting for you!!!!



Our company is owner operated by Nino and Catherine Santoro who both have their own successful careers involving travel and people-centered work.  Nino and Catherine love to travel and love their countries of residence, Australia and Italy.  Their travel experience and adventures over the years led to many people saying ‘Take us with you next year please!’ they did! 


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