Unconventional private tours in Sicily. Unique day tours from Palermo, Agrigento, Taormina and Siracusa

Sicily is a big island with plenty of beautiful places to discover. In this post we have selected some of the unconventional private tours in Sicily, departing from Palermo, Taormina, Siracusa, or Agrigento, that will help you to discover Sicily off the beaten track. Explore the best private day tours you can take discovering corners…

Sicily is an island of contrasting landscapes, with each area offering a unique beauty and treasuring its own identity and traditions. While you are traveling or taking a holiday in Sicily, we think it’s important to get a taste of the richness of this land by venturing out and about.

In this post, you will find some of the best private tours in Sicily selected from the many options we offer to travelers that want to enjoy and experience Sicily off the beaten tracks.

We always recommend spending time in Taormina as your base, but there is also much to be said for the areas of Palermo and Agrigento on the West, and Syracuse on the East.

Regardless of which side of the island you base yourself; you can take some fabulous tours to experience the various cultural, historical, and gastronomical wonders of Sicily.

Here at Sicily Lifestyle we are a team of luxury travel planners with a passion for our island.  We specialize in designing the perfect travel itineraries for our clients. We will help you to identify the kind of experience you are looking for. 

Perhaps you want to travel from one city to another and stay in some of the best hotels around the island, or maybe you would prefer to base yourself in one area, such as the wonderful Taormina, and take some of our exclusive day tours and experiences

Regardless of your choice, every detail is planned from end to end, allowing you relax and enjoy your time in Sicily with no stress.

Lets explore some of the best tours that can be taken from the different locations in Sicily. If you like what you hear, get in touch with us and we will make it a reality!

Private day tours from Palermo

Palermo, the capital city of Sicily, is a fabulous place that in many ways encapsulates the spirit of Sicily. 

It’s a place not to be missed by those interested in learning about Sicily’s tumultuous past, admiring the wondrous architecture that displays the array of cultural influences (Arab, Norman, Byzantine, etc.) that Sicily has witnessed over the years.
The post about the best things to do in Palermo will definitely point to some of the unmissable places you should visit in the city. 

But outside of Palermo, in the surrounding areas there are yet more treasures to discover. These are some of the best day tours you can take from the great city of Palermo.

palermo sicily view of the cathedral

Against the stereotypes: through Piana Degli Albanesi, Ficuzza and Corleone

When people think ‘Sicily’, they often think ‘Mafia’, ‘Godfather’ or ‘Cannolo’. 

Some of the stereotypes have perhaps created an unfair representation of Sicily as a harsh and violent land. In present day, it’s far from the truth.

During this tour, we will have a chance to unpick some of these stereotypes.

When it comes to food and desserts, Sicily has a wonderful reputation reaching far and wide. For example, people across the world taste our culinary delights… including our most famous dessert, the Cannoli.

Many people think Cannoli comes from Palermo, but actually, it originates from a small town 30 minutes outside the capital.

During this tour, our experts will take you to the very spot where you will find the absolute finest of Cannoli… in a place called Piana degli Albanesi.

Here you will meet the finest of Cannoli chefs in Sicily who will share their secrets, then give you the chance to make your own Cannoli!

After a Cannoli overload, we will proceed to discover the unexpected yet beautiful landscape nearby Ficuzza Wood. We will arrive at the royal palace Ficuzza, a splendid building that king Ferdinando IV used as a hunting house.

Finally, we will proceed to the town of Corleone, which you may recognize the name from the Godfather films. 

In fact, the scenes were not filmed in this town, find out the main Godfather filming locations you can visit with a tour, despite the characters in the film taking ‘Corleone’ as their family name.

Nonetheless, Corleone has a strong Mafia history and it is the perfect place to unpick the Mafia reputation. 

Our expert here will tell you about the important figures who played a crucial role in helping Sicily to move forward from its troubling Mafia past.

Between two gulfs: Solunto & Bagheria

During this tour you will have the chance to witness the beautiful natural environment of Sicily’s northwestern coast.

We begin in the archaeological park of Solunto

This ancient town was founded in the 4th century BC by the Phoenicians, who kept their influence over the town for around a century. The town became an active port even competing with nearby Palermo.

We will discover Greco-Roman ruins, and other notable architecture such as the houses along the ‘Agora street’ (Via dell’Agora), and enjoy a remarkable view from the old site out across the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Then we will journey on to Bagheria, a historic town, with a reputation for impressive villas and palaces. 

Most of them were built in the 18th century for wealthy landowners. The area was also chosen as the holiday location for aristocrats from Palermo. We will visit the most famous of Bagheria villas, Villa Palagonia, which welcomes us in all its grandeur and typical baroque style.

Don’t be deterred by the snarling faces of the grotesque statues that surround the premises. These figures were built by Francesco Ferdinando II and are what gives the palace its alternative name ‘Villa of Monsters’.

This tour is full of archeological and architectural treasures that give a taste of Sicily off the beaten track.

Entrace of Villa Palagonia in Bagheria

Castelbuono & Cefalù

During this tour we will explore two of the most noteworthy towns close to Palermo.

Castelbuono is a medieval town elevated in the mountains; while Cefalu is a charming seaside town where you can enjoy the atmosphere of the sun soaked streets.

We will start with a walking tour of the medieval town of Cefalu. One of the main attractions in the town centre is the imposing Cathedral of Cefalù

This Arab-Norman architecture gem contains some impressive mosaics including the main mosaic of Christ Pantocrator. You will surely be charmed as we wander around the charming streets and take a break to enjoy a view of the fine sands and sparkling sea.

Next stop on this tour is away from the sea and towards the mountains. In this rural region, you will find native vegetation, traditional craftsmanship and authentic small towns retaining true Sicilian character.

Castelbuono is the most noteworthy town in the region. We will visit the Civic Museum of Castelbuono that contains an exhibition of mostly Italian contemporary art and photography.

View of Cefalú

Cheese and biscuits in the core of the Madonie Natural Park

The mountains of Madonie Natural Park offer some of Sicily’s most unexpected and scenic environments. Come and witness the less-explored side of Sicily, where the medieval villages are tucked away in lush valleys, and enjoy elevated views of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Aeolian islands.

Also in this region you will find some of the highest quality cheeses and local produce in all of Sicily. Let’s spend some time on an organic dairy farm and taste the traditional and flavorful Madonie cheeses.

Then we will head to Castelbuono to discover is cobbled streets and historical buildings. Finally we will visit a traditional bakery in the town, where we will learn how to make some traditional biscuits that have helped this area gain an excellent gastronomical reputation. We won’t leave before tasting some of the local olive oil, produced just metres away, along with delicious homemade bread.

This relaxed tour is full of simple yet delicious Sicilian delights!

Private day tours from Verdura Resort and Agrigento

The area of Agrigento provides an interesting base to explore the West coast of Sicily. The Verdura Resort in particular is an idyllic place to stay.

These are some of the best experiences you can take in the area so that you can explore the best of land and sea not forgetting historical and archaeological treasures.

Exclusive visit of Valley of the Temples

Not to be missed when you find yourself on the west coast of Sicily is the remarkable Valley of the Temples. The archaeological ruins you find here are some of the most important in all the Mediterranean.

The expansive ruins are set in a dry terrain surrounded by century-old olive and almond trees.

An alternative way of experiencing this remarkable sight is during an exclusive night tour, where you will see the ruins lit up, creating a stunning contrast with the night sky. This way you also avoid the crowds and get to appreciate this architectural beauty with stillness, and take in the impressiveness of this construction from an entirely different age.

night tour at the valley of temples in Agrigento

Private Boat Tour of Favignana

Favignana is a tranquil and unspoilt island within easy reach of the Verdura resort and Agrigento.

Favignana is the second largest of the Egadi Islands and is unique thanks to its ‘butterly’ shape. Our private bout tour of this beautiful island will give you a taste of la dolce vita.

We will explore the island’s beautiful bays such as Cala Rossa, Cala Azzurra, Bue Marino, and Cala Cavallo. We will choose a perfect place to settle down for an aperitivo while enjoying the view of endless blues while enjoying refreshments of local wine and produce.

During this tour we will also have the chance to explore the historical and cultural side of the island that is often overlooked.

Selinunte & Mazara del Vallo

This tour starts at the archaeological park of Selinunte

This is the largest archeological park in Europe. It’s a fortified area built by the Greeks and which the Carthaginians largely destroyed. We will discover Doric temples that remain, and enjoy the fabulous landscape of typical Mediterranean terrain framed by the sparkling turquoise sea.

Our expert will then lead us to Mazara del Vallo, a port with a significant history as the largest fishing fleet in Italy. 

Here you can enjoy the salty sea air while tasting the fish cous cous that is typical to this area, while appreciating the Arabian influence simultaneously with the baroque charms.

We won’t leave before visiting the Sant’Egidio church that houses an impressive Greek bronze statue of ‘the dancing Satyr’.

The Belice Valley: Gibellina, Poggioreale and Salemi

The Belice valley is situated between the provinces of Palermo, Trapani and Agrigento. This area has a rocky past, since an earthquake here largely destroyed it in 1968. 

The nearby towns were left in this state for a while, and when they were eventually rebuilt they followed the urban schemes found in England, so they combine elements that are far from the tradition Sicilian style.

A private luxury Mercedes car will be at your disposal for the day and you will drive around the scenic hills surrounded by olive trees and vineyards.

We will explore the hillside towns of Gibellina, Poggioreale and Salemi. These are an interesting set of towns differing largely from one another. 

You will begin with the Cretto di Burri, the largest work of Land Art in the world but also one of the most controversial. 

The Cretto is a shroud in which historical memory is cemented. A very powerful hard and painful place graced by the surrounding nature that continues to live embracing the great and glorious funeral monument.

20 minutes drive from Old Gibellina and the Cretto di Burri you will visit Gibellina Nuova,  the rebuilt city and where you walk and drive between works of art by international artists who came from all over the world to leave a mark animated by the desire to raise a city razed to the ground.

 Discover the ancient streets of Gibellina, contrasting with the new city of Gibellina.

We’ll continue through the countryside to Poggioreale, today a ghost town, where you can still see houses that were destroyed by the earthquake.

In Salemi, the town centre is home to a majestic castle founded by Frederik II the Swabian. You can also see what remains of an ancient church, with a missing roof and damaged columns. It’s as if it has been purposely left just for you to see it!

This tour provides a fascinating insight to how ancient towns were reconstructed after the natural disaster, combined with tranquil countryside views and green hills for which Sicily is not known.

Old Gibellina the Burri's Cretto

Private day tours from Taormina

In our view, its hard to beat Taormina as the best place to base yourself for a luxury holiday or travel experience in Sicily.

Our favorite town has the idyllic combination of luxury beach clubs, unbeatable hotels (such as Belmond Timeo and Four Seasons San Domenico, find out our selection of the best hotels in Taormina).

While you are here, be sure to make the most of it by experiencing these best bit. If you are interested in boat excursions make sure to read our selection of the most popular private boat tours from Taormina.

Exclusive visit of Ancient Theatre in Taormina

The most famous landmark in Taormina is undoubtedly the Ancient Greek Theatre. During this exclusive visit, you will have the entire theatre to yourself so you can appreciate it in all its grandeur, without the crowds.

This is the most spectacular Greek theatre in all of Sicily, made even more special with the view of the sea and of the mighty Mount Etna peering between the grand columns.

The theatre was built in the third century BC and stands in excellent condition. Spend an evening wandering around and being in awe of this impressive Greek construction. They surely knew how to put on a show!

Taormina view of the greek theater

Ape tour of Taormina & Castelmola with aperitivo

What better way to explore Taormina and the neighboring hillside medieval town of Castelmola, than in a fun Sicilian style ape car?

In this tour, your driver will pick you up from your hotel, where you will board the Ape Calessino.

Sit back and relax in the afternoon breeze as you tour the charming streets of Taormina and head uphill to Castelmola, regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.

Once you reach your destination, stop for a refreshing aperitivo in a famous bar that has been visited by a number of celebrities over the years. Finish the evening by saying ‘salute’ with a fabulous view of Mt. Etna.

A sweet symphony: music and pastry tradition in Randazzo

In this tour, you will explore a medieval village named Randazzo, situated between Mt Etna and the Nebrodi mountains.

Here, you will visit the unique workshop of a woodworker and musician, who combined his two passions to create this unique medieval music workshop.

Music and crafts lovers will enjoy observing the 60 antique musical instruments and listening as he tells you about the traditional craftsmanship.

Then, you will discover the area’s pastry tradition during a visit to a local laboratory where they are made.

Finally, you will then learn all about and taste the typical Sicilian granite; a much-loved Siclian refreshment made of the simplest of ingredients: fresh fruit, sugar, and water. The owner will put on a demonstration before allowing you to try all the typical flavours!

Mount Etna private helicopter tour

Feel free as a bird and get prepared to be stunned as you take an exclusive helicopter tour over the epic Mount Etna! This is the largest and most active volcano in Europe as well as a UNESCO heritage site since 2013. What better way to experience it than gliding above it in both style and comfort?

Be greeted by your friendly pilot who will tell you a bit about the aircraft, then climb on board and settle in for a ride to remember!

As you climb the slopes, you will witness the changing landscape of the volcano as you get further from the ground.

Keep your eyes peeled and see for yourself how this volcano meres from citrus trees and vineyards at one level, and cosmic swirls and lava trails at another.

For more details read the post helicopter tour to mount Etna and the post about the best tours to Mount Etna

Etna Erupting seen from helicopter

Alcantara and Etna wine region vintage fiat 500 self-drive tour

Sicily has gained itself an excellent reputation for its wine production, and some of its most famous wines come from the Etna and Alcantara regions.

During this tour you will discover the Alcantara Gorge. This is a unique canyon with its rock formations creating walls for the river to run through. It’s the perfect spot for cooling down on a summer’s day, as the waters are always ultra-cold!

Hop back into your vintage fiat 500 and make your way to the small medieval town of Castiglione di Sicilia. Then drive up to Linguaglossa, taking in the views of this unique landscape along the way.

Arriving at Etna, you will have the chance to meet some of the men and women who have played an important role in putting Sicily on the map for their quality wine production. 

Listen as they tell you all about the unique production methods, what makes the land so fertile, and of course, have the chance to try the wines at the very location they were made.

For a list of our favourite wineries in Sicily read the post Best wineries to visit  in Sicily (a guide for wine and design lovers)

Private day tours from Siracusa

The ancient city of Siracusa was founded by the Greeks around 700BC. It was at one time the most important cities, even rivaling Athens for a while. The entire city is now a UNESCO heritage site.

It is a coastal city surrounded by the splendid Ionian sea, and today is blends the ancient with the modern to create a bustling atmosphere that’s a splendid place to lay your hat for a few days.

While in Siracusa, make the most of the surrounding areas with one of these tours we can customise and make unique for you.

Neapolis and Ortigia private visit

In this tour you will discover the magical Neapolis Archaeological park and have the chance to explore the most complete Greek theatre that exists. Discover the roman colosseum, unique caves and ultimately the impressive ‘Ear of Dionysius’ to experience its fantastic acoustics.

Your private guide will be able to tell you all about the rich and mystical history of the site.

Then discover the gorgeous island of Ortigia, which is the historical centre of Syracuse. We will stop to appreciate the architecture at Piazza Duomo including the beautiful cathedral built in the 7th century. Notice the light stone buildings that seem unique from many other parts of Sicily.

Private tour of the Neapolis in Siracusa

Discovering the Jewish Siracusa

During this tour, discover the best of what Siracusa has to offer while also learning about its rich Jewish history.

Your expert tour guide will lead you through the city’s Jewish quarter including the Giudecca neighborhood, and teach all about the history of the Sicilian Jews who largely made up the population and character of the city for over 1,000 years and made a lasting impact.

During a stroll through Ortigia, we will discover the Mikveh and the ancient city synagogue with its roofless aisles.

Ispica & Cave d’Ispica

This tour comprises a blend of natural, baroque and archaeological highlights.

One of our stops will be the old town of Ispica and the city centre which is now a UNESCO heritage site. This town was rebuilt in a unique baroque style after the earthquake that hugely affected Sicily in 1963. The town offers a tranquil escape as it is a lesser-explored towns, but still has cultural significance which your private tour guide will provide insight to.

Then you will explore the Cave d’Ispica, which are of great archeological interest containing important prehistoric necropolis, caves and catacombs. In the summer it can be a particularly welcome respite from the warm climate, as it can be 10 degrees cooler down there!

Whether you choose to base yourself on the West or the East side of Sicily, as you can see, there is plenty to discover on this island of endless beauty, history and curiosity.

While you may not be able to tick off all these tours in a single trip, our team can help you to create the perfect Sicily travel itinerary for you.

So get in touch with us and get one step closer to discovering Sicily!