Sicily family holidays are all about balance. Charging up the slopes of Etna might appeal to energetic tweens, but the turquoise shores will call to tired parents wanting a day in the sun. Happily, you can have it all – with a little planning. With plenty of sights to keep all ages entertained, Sicily’s family resorts provide ideal bases for all adventures. While theme parks, water parks add some thrills and spills to this historic and scenic island. We’ve hand-picked a few family-friendly favourites to add to your Sicilian holiday itinerary.
Things to do
Experience Sicily’s beautiful coastline
Sicily family holidays tend to revolve around time spent on its stunning shores. But not every stretch of sand is suited to tiny toes or parents looking for facility-packed places to spend the day. Thankfully, many of the best beaches in Sicily will appeal to children of all ages. Cefalu might be the beach you’ll hear most about, but Mondello and Capo d’Orlando’s long sweeps of golden sand on the north coast are far better for families looking for space to sprawl, play and build sand sculptures. To the east, Fontane Bianche’s calm waters are family-friendly – and temptingly warm for a swim.
On the south west coast, the wildlife spotting at Torre Salsa Natural Reserve will tempt all but the tiniest toddlers to take the walk from the car park necessary to look for porcupines, turtles and falcons.
Climb Mount Etna
Scampering about on the side of an active volcano for a day will likely elevate the cool factor of your holiday by 10. Children of all ages (except perhaps 2 and under) will love the otherworldly craters and lava fields. And, for those who question whether scaling the entire volcano is possible, there is a crater within easy walking distance. Head for the first of the three Silvestri craters for a sneaky STEM session that mixes volcanic sand, volcanic views and lava rock. You’ll find handy car parking spaces – and restaurants – along SP92. There’s also the Funivia Etna cable car if you fancy an easier journey to the top.
Orbzii tip: No matter how warm the day, it’s usually around 10 degrees colder than the coast. So it’s warm layers and sturdy shoes all round.
Check out Palermo’s puppet history
Wander Palermo’s busy streets long enough and you’ll start to notice puppets and marionettes just about everywhere. As well as providing a very different kind of entertainment on Sicily family holidays, it’s an accessible route for children to discover more about the island’s medieval history. Nip in to Palermo’s International Puppet Museum to see the impressive puppet collection – and potentially catch a live show. Do expect to potentially come home with a few puppets yourself. On sale across most of Palermo’s gift shops, the colourful creations make for a very different holiday souvenir.
Hit the theme parks
You can work your way through a very long list of things to do in Sicily without ever dropping in to a theme park. But, when little ones are in tow, these one-stop-shops of fun are the ideal way to let off some steam. Water parks, theme parks and adventure parks will keep everyone from toddlers to tweens and older occupied. Etnaland’s mix of coasters, water slides and dinosaur park provides the biggest thrills and spills that the whole family can enjoy. Parents, if your older kids can explore a water park happily by themselves, consider Acqua Verde. There’s an in-house spa for you to unwind in. And, for a day’s adventure in the trees, Madonie Adventure Park is the place to climb, zip line and swing through the canopy.
Orbzii tip: Check your dates before you plan a theme park trip. Siciiy’s water parks are seasonal, with Acqua Verde only open between June and September.
Visit the Valley of the Temples
Depending on how many hours your children have spent playing Uncharted: Drakes Fortune – or Tomb Raider if we’re talking old school gaming, they’ll love – or loathe, the Valley of the Temples. Agrigento’s archeological wonder is a feast for the eyes – and the imaginations, on the right day. History loving little ones will feel dwarfed by the huge columns – and expect some structural engineering questions from inquisitive minds. There’s little in the way of interactivity, but being able to run – unrestricted through ancient temples and tombs has its appeal. The valley’s access to all policy also means 85% of the park is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs – and the cafe caters for food allergies.
Where to stay
VOI Arenella Resort
The sweeping, 4 star, 65 hectare, VOI Arenella Resort is all about convenience. Stay on site for the day and you have access to kid’s clubs for all ages, all the 4 star trappings you could wish for – and a golden sandy beach a short walk (or shuttle) away. Games, activities and swimming pools keep guests of all ages busy and the wellness spa, gym and sauna add that tempting respite all parents dream of. On the dining front, the large restaurant caters to your yearning for Med flavours – with Sicilian specialities and a hint of the zero food-mile cuisine the island’s known for. Vegan, gluten-free and organic food options take the stress out of catering for allergy and dietary requirements too.
Orbzii tip: To really max-out on a child-friendly stay, all the theme parks we’ve mentioned above have accommodation options. Sleep in the trees in the adventure park, or book a stay in the theme park hotels for easy access to the park facilities.
This refined hotel near Celafu won’t immediately ping the child-friendly radar. But the onsite playground – and baby sitting services, will. You wouldn’t perhaps feel comfortable disturbing the blissful ambience with a troupe of toddlers here. But older children will love the hotels four tucked-away beaches, grown-up atmosphere and the small, but sophisticated swimming pool. Tennis courts, yoga classes and a gym will keep all the family active. But, Sicily family holidays are usually spent sightseeing and exploring, making La Calette a charming place to rest and unwind before the next adventure.