Best for: Groups, couples, natural beauty, unique active volcanoes, wonderful food, lovely cultural experience, thermal mud baths Look out for: Not the best for families, a rather set itinerary, generally light winds
Sicily presents a wonderful tapestry of culture, not least of all through its wonderful people, food and architecture. The sailing area around Sicily is truly unique, fantastic sailing conditions combine with a breath-taking backdrop of erupting volcanoes, traditional island villages, black sand beaches and a historic cross-road of cultures best experienced through the wonderful and varied cuisine.
Sailing Sicily at a Glance
Sicily offers a stunning launching pad for sailing the Aeolian Islands, a Unesco World Heritage site due to their outstanding natural beauty
Consisting of seven volcanic islands, the Aeolians exhibit a rugged beauty. Stromboli is a permanently active volcano, with lava being tossed into the air at regular intervals
The islands are exteremly diverse, with arid volcanic islands, quiet picturesque villages and exclusive upmarket ports all within hours of each other
Sicily Sailing Itineraries
The Aeolian Islands are formed of seven islands - Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Alicudi and Filicudi. On the northern coast of Sicily, other than our bases, there is also the lovely town of Cefalu, which is well worth a visit, particularly to break up the trip to and from Palermo.
Sail from Palermo or Sant Agata for two glorious weeks of exploring the lovely Aeolian and Egadi islands of Sicily.
'European Holy Grail for island lovers'
Sicily is historically cosmopolitan, having been been ruled by a range of civilisations including Greek tyrants, Arab emirs, Norman knights, Byzantine bishops and Roman Emperors. Notwithstanding this, Sicily actually plays second fiddle to the primary sailing ground, the Aeolian Islands. Located 25 miles off the north east of Sicily, the Aeolians are part of a 200km long chain of volcanic islands (that include Mt Etna and Mt Vesuvius), which offer a dramatic backdrop to a sailing holiday.
Lonely Planet describes the Aeolian Islands as the 'European Holy Grail for island lovers', with diverse attractions that include active volcanoes (you can see flowing lava), rugged coastlines, small traditional villages and exclusive top-end bars and restaurants. The collective beauty of the Aeolian Islands was recognised in 2000, when they were awarded a place on Unesco’s World Heritage list.
Lipari is the largest of the islands and has a lively main street with shops, restaurants, bars and is overlooked by a 16th century castle. Panarea is the smallest and most exclusive of the island group, attracting wealthy Italians and Europeans who enjoy filling their days with 'dolce far niente' (sweet nothing).
Vulcano is barren and dry, with thermal hot springs, mud baths, fumaroles and black sand beaches. Escape the unexciting city centre with a walk up to the Fossa di Vulcano, the volcanic peak. Stromboli is permanently active, with gases continuing to send up an almost constant spray of liquid magma. Salina is green and lush, offering stark relief from the other arid volcanic islands. It has steep ragged cliffs surrounding it, which plummet to lovely sandy beaches.
Our Sicily Bases
We have three bases on the island of Sicily - Palermo, Sant Agata and Portorosa. All three of these bases are located on the northern coast of the island and offer various benefits.
Palermo is the largest and the capital city of Sicily. It has its own airport so the logistics of reaching the marina are very straight forward. Do be aware, however, that it is quite a long hike to the Aeolian Islands. This can be broken up by visiting the pretty 'mainland' town of Cefalu.
Sant Agata is an hour's drive east of Palermo and can be reached by train from the main Palermo station. A smaller village and marina, we believe the transfer east is well worth the effort as it does cut down on many, many hours of sailing time to get to and from the Aeolian Islands.
Portorosa is located on the north eastern coast of Sicily, directly south of the Aeolian Islands. It is the closest base to the islands, though also the furtherest from any airports. A picturesque little marina, Portorosa has all the amenities that you'll need to start an enjoyable sailing holiday.
The climate is typically Mediterranean, being dry and hot. Sicily is also quite far south in the Med, so enjoys a longer summer season as well, from April to October. Expect temperatures in the early 30s during peak season and temperatures in the early to mid 20s during May and October.
Winds are generally north-westerly averaging 8 to 12 knots. Do expect longer sailing legs when sailing in Sicily too.