Hiking hotspots on Sicily’s north coast

Hiking hotspots on Sicily’s north coast

The astonishing natural vistas of Sicily are just one of the highlights of this beautiful island. From the heavenly blues of the surrounding sea, viewed from a coastline characterised by rugged rocks, creamy beaches and pebble coves, to the verdant greenery of the protected nature reserves, dotted with traditional villages and set against a magnificent backdrop of mountain silhouettes - Sicily offers the opportunity to get up close and personal with Mother Nature in all her most splendid guises.

The best way to immerse yourself in these beautiful surroundings is to discover the hiking and trekking routes that abound along Sicily’s northern coast. The north is particularly popular amongst outdoors enthusiasts, thanks to the diverse landscapes and abundance of fascinating flora and fauna that can be found in this part of Sicily. Additionally, virtually all the walks can be attempted without a guide though do bear in mind that many of the trails may not be well signposted.

Our favourite hiking hotspots…

Monte Pellegrino

This captivating mountain is situated just to the north of the capital, Palermo, and is a popular weekend destination amongst local residents seeking respite from the hubbub of the city streets. Monte Pellegrino boasts towering limestone cliffs and was described by Goethe as ‘the most beautiful promontory in the world’. Fascinating archaeological finds that trace back to the Stone Age have been discovered in the impressive, natural caves and the surrounding protected nature reserve makes for an idyllic picnic location. However, the more ambitious visitor will enjoy climbing the mountain path that leads up from the Fiera del Mediterraneo grounds. Arriving at the summit reveals an awe-inspiring Baroque facade that opens into the Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia – a chapel atmospherically set in a cavern.

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Madonie Regional Natural Park

Experience the fresh mountain air with a trip into the Madonie Regional Natural Park and explore the traditional villages, breath-taking countryside and, of course, the awesome mountain range. There are a variety of trails and walks to enjoy such as the trek to Piano Pomo, a magical Midsummer Night’s Dream grove of holly trees, some which are rumoured to be over 300 years old and stand over 14 metres high. Another great hike is to Piano Battaglia, a Sicilian ski resort during the winter months and an enchanting blanket of vivid greenery and rare plants during the summer months. Alternatively, those who fancy a challenge might prefer to take on the Pizzo Carbonara, the highest peak in the Madonies at 1,979 metres.

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The Nebrodi National Park

For hikers that prefer to take the road less travelled, the Nebrodi National Park might just deliver the goods. Although it is the largest national park in Sicily and home to the magnificent Nebrodi mountain range, it is less frequently visited than Madonie Regional Natural Park with less in the way of marked trails and visitor amenities. However, it does boast a vast and varied landscape rich in natural splendour. Mighty beechwood forests, covered in snow in the winter and ablaze with colour in the autumn, make for wonderful trekking opportunities – look out for the porcupines, foxes and wild pigs native to the park. Additionally, Nebrodi boasts stunning lakes to discover – Lago Ancipa and Lago Biviere offer scenic walking and mountain biking opportunities. The highest peak here is Monte Soro at 1,847 metres - climb to the top to take in panormaic views of smoking Mount Etna and the picturesque Aeolian Islands, rising from the Tyrrhenian Sea.

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The Aeolian Islands

When discussing hiking and Sicily, it would be impossible to exclude the dazzling Aeolian Island chain. The port of Milazzo, situated on Sicily’s northern coast, is the preferred gateway to these remarkably beautiful islands. Frequent crossings run from here with both ferry and hydrofoil options - just buy your ticket on the day. Each of these volcanic islands offers a different experience with highlights including: the gentle yet gloriously photogenic walk along Lipari’s coastal footpath where the kaolin quarry has been stained vivid colours by the volcanic fumes; scaling Salina’s Monte Fossa elle Felci, the highest peak in the archipelago; trekking the ashy track of Vulcano to the crater, stopping off at the sulphurous mud baths en route; and the big one, the guided walk to the crater of Stromboli where you can marvel at the fiery expulsions of the volcano as dusk turns into night.

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Hiking is a great activity for couples. If you're thinking of visiting Sicily on honeymoon we've got lots more ideas for you right here!