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Ciao amici! Are you planning a trip to the beautiful and historic island of Sicily? Then you may be wondering, is Sicily safe? From its stunning beaches to its rich cultural heritage, there’s so much to see and do in this incredible region. 

However, as with any travel destination, it’s important to be mindful of safety and security. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the crime rates, potential scams, areas to avoid, and the best places to stay in Sicily, and we will provide you with some emergency contacts to keep on hand. So, let’s get started!

This post contains affiliate links.

Is Sicily Safe? Photo of Cefalu
Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

What to know before Visiting Sicily

Visiting Sicily can be an amazing experience, but there are a few things you should know to make the most of your trip. Check out the below basic info about Sicily if you’ve never been.

  1. The official language of Sicily is Italian, but many people also speak Sicilian, a unique regional dialect. Knowing some basic Italian phrases can be helpful, but many locals will also speak English, especially in tourist areas.
  2. Travel: Sicily’s public transportation system, which includes buses and trains, is adequate, but a rental car can also be a practical choice for seeing the country. If you intend to drive a rental car, be ready for curvy, narrow roads, as well as some very aggressive driving.
  3. Food and drink: Sicily is renowned for its delectable cuisine, which combines traditional Italian dishes with the tastes and ingredients of the Mediterranean. Make sure to sample some of the regional specialties, such as cannoli, arancini, and pasta alla Norma (pasta with filled pastry tubes), all made with local ingredients.
  4. Sicily has a hot, Mediterranean climate with mild winters and summers. Pack for high temperatures in the summer and be ready for them. From June to August, there’s also very little rain.
  5. Sicily’s history is rich and fascinating, influenced by various cultures, including Greek, Roman, Norman, and Arab. Make sure to check out some of the historical locations, such as the Syracuse Ancient City, the Agrigento Valley of the Temples, and the Norman Palermo Cathedral. 
  6. Safety: As with any destination, it’s important to take common-sense precautions to stay safe. Be cautious in tourist areas, keep a close eye on your valuables, and avoid deserted areas at night.
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Photo by Who’s Denilo ? on Unsplash

Best Places to Stay in Sicily

In Sicily, there are many wonderful options to pick from when looking for a place to stay. Listed below are a few of the area’s top hotels:

  • Palermo: If you want to be near the action, think about staying in the city’s center. The Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa, which is situated in the heart of the city, is one of the many excellent hotels that can be found there.
  • Taormina is an attractive town on Sicily’s east coast that is well-known for its breathtaking views of the Mediterranean. Some of the best places to stay in Taormina include the Grand Hotel Timeo and the Villa Diodoro.
  • Another fantastic option for visitors is Syracuse, a historic city on Sicily’s east coast.

5 Star Hotels in Sicily

Palermo Luxury Hotels

  • Grand Hotel Villa Igiea – 5-star luxury hotel overlooking the bay. Centrally located near top attractions.
  • Hotel Porta Felice – 4-star boutique hotel in an elegant palazzo in the historic center. Rooftop bar with views.
  • Hotel Plaza Opera – 4-star hotel in a great location near the Teatro Massimo. Modern rooms and amenities.
  • Villa Igiea, a Rocco Forte Hotel This hotel has a rating of 4.5 with a total of 1334 ratings and is considered one of the best luxury hotels in Sicily
5 Star hotels in Sicily

Taormina Luxury Hotels

  • Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo – 5-star luxury hotel with stunning views of Mt Etna and the bay. Excellent service.
  • Hotel Villa Sant’Andrea – 5-star boutique hotel on a private beach below the town. Gorgeous infinity pool.
  • Hotel Metropole Taormina – 4-star hotel on Corso Umberto in the heart of town. Rooftop lounge with panoramic views.
  • Mazzarò Sea Palace – VRetreats –  is known for its stunning location, luxurious amenities, and dedicated service, making it an attractive option for travelers seeking a high-end experience in Sicily.

Photo – Villa Sant’Andrea, A Belmond Hotel, Taormina Mare

Syracuse Luxury Hotels

Ortea Palace Syracuse – Located in the heart of historic Syracuse, Italy
Offers first-class spa facilities and Sicilian cuisine.

Algilà Ortigia Charme Hotel Syracuse – Located in a heritage building in the centre of the ancient town of Syracuse, Italy. Offers traditional Sicilian restaurants and family suites.

Taormina Affordable Hotels

Here are some of the affordable hotels in Taormina based on the search results:

  1. Hotel Eliseo
  1. Hotel Natalina
  1. Hotel Costa Azzurra.
  1. Hotel Villa Chiara
  1. Hotel Taodomus
  1. Hotel Villa Schuler
  1. Hotel La Pensione Svizzera
  1. Eurostars Monte Tauro

These hotels offer affordable rates and comfortable accommodations to make your stay in Taormina enjoyable. It’s recommended to check the availability and prices of each hotel before making a reservation.

Also, check out The Best Hotels in Sorrento

Safety and Crime in Sicily

According to recent statistics, Sicily has a relatively low crime rate compared to other regions of Italy. However, it’s still a good idea to be cautious, especially in crowded tourist areas. To kick off this topic, look at this list of top scams you might encounter in Sicily.

Scams to Avoid in Sicily

  • Pickpocketing: This is a common problem in tourist areas, so be sure to keep a close eye on your valuables and be especially cautious in crowded places like markets and public transportation.
  • Fake police officers: Be wary of anyone claiming to be a police officer and asking to see your passport or money. If you’re ever in doubt, ask to see their official ID, and check with a local authority if necessary.
  • Overpriced tours: Be cautious of tour operators who charge excessive prices for tours or excursions. Do some research ahead of time and compare prices to ensure you’re not overpaying.
  • Fake merchandise: Be cautious when buying souvenirs and be aware that some street vendors may sell fake or low-quality goods.
  • Restaurant scams: Be cautious of restaurants that charge exorbitant prices for mediocre food, especially in tourist areas. Do some research ahead of time and check online reviews to ensure you’re not overpaying.

By being aware of these common scams, you can help ensure that your trip to Sicily is both enjoyable and safe. If you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a local authority or tour guide.

Places to Avoid in Sicily

While Sicily is generally a safe place to visit, there are a few areas that you might want to avoid for safety reasons. Here are a few neighborhoods to watch out for and avoid:

  • Ballarò: This neighborhood in Palermo is known for its street markets, but it can also be dangerous, especially at night.
  • Brancaccio: This neighborhood in Palermo is considered to be one of the most dangerous areas in the city, so it’s best to avoid it altogether.
  • Catania: While the city of Catania is home to many attractions and is generally considered safe, there are a few areas, such as the Stesicoro neighborhood, that you may want to avoid.

Tips for Walking in Sicily at Night

Even though Sicily is generally a safe place to explore, it’s always a good idea to take a few extra safety measures when out at night. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • When walking at night, try to keep to well-lit streets and busy areas. This will not only give you more confidence, but it will also make it simpler for people to see you.
  • It’s best to avoid walking through dark alleys or deserted areas at night in this city, as in any other. These areas may not only be more dangerous, but they may also make you a more appealing target for criminal activity.
  • Always be mindful of your surroundings and keep an eye out for any potential threats. Take a different route or look for a well-lit area where you can call for help if you feel uneasy or notice anyone following you.
  • When out at night, it’s best to keep your valuables hidden to lower your risk of theft. For example, you might consider carrying a small, cross-body purse instead of a large tote bag, and keep your phone and other valuable items in your pocket or inside your jacket.

Yes, it’s possible to walk safely after dark in Sicily. There’s so much to see and do in this incredible region, so I want to ensure you have a fabulous experience. 

Visiting other areas in Italy? Then Grab this awesome 10 Day Italy Itinerary Guide by Wanderlust Crew

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Is Palermo Safe? reports that Palermo, the capital of Sicily, has a moderate crime rate. Corrupt practices and bribery are associated with the highest recorded crime rate.

Corruption is a significant and unresolved problem in Sicily because of the mafia’s frequent involvement in political parties and institutions, however, as a tourist, this will not impact you as these are crimes that happen behind closed doors.

More on that in the next section. In tourist areas, exercise the usual precautions, especially being out at night, and I highly suggest you avoid specifically the areas of Brancaccio and Ballarò and consider them unsafe.

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Photo by Flo P on Unsplash

Important Emergency Contacts

In case of an emergency, it’s always a good idea to know who to call. In Sicily, you should keep the following numbers handy:

  • To contact emergency services in Sicily, dial 112. 
  • Police: To report a crime, you can call 113.

Hospitals in Sicily

The main hospitals in Sicily include Ospedale Cannizzaro and Garibaldi Nesima Hospital in Catania, as well as other healthcare institutions such as Gambro Healthcare Italia S.P.A. in Nissoria, Casa di cura igea srl in Partinico, and Presidio Ospedaliero Maria Immacolata Longo in Mussomeli.

 Additionally, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Italy is also a notable hospital in Sicily1. It’s important to note that under the Italian national healthcare system, emergency care is free, but non-residents of the European Economic Area are required to pay for in-patient and follow-up care.

If you need emergency care, you can dial tel. 113 for the police or tel. 112 for the Carabinieri, who can call an ambulance or assist in other ways

Driving in Sicily: Safety Precautions

If you’re planning to rent a car and explore Sicily by road, there are a few important safety precautions to keep in mind:

  • Road conditions: Due to Sicily’s winding roads, expect some difficult driving conditions. It’s also a good idea to keep in mind that some roads might be congested and dimly lit, so if at all possible, try to avoid driving at night.
  • It is important to be aware of Italy’s strict traffic regulations before you get behind the wheel. For example, it’s illegal to use your phone while driving, and you must wear a seatbelt at all times.
  • Driving defensively: Just as in any new driving environment, it’s critical to pay attention to your surroundings and put defensive driving techniques into practice. Always give yourself enough space and time to react and be ready for other drivers to make sudden stops or turns.
Read My the 411 of Driving in Italy Guide

Sicily’s Transportation Options

Sicily offers a variety of modes of transportation to choose from, however, most travelers recommend renting a car when visiting Sicily.

  • Renting a car: As mentioned earlier, renting a car is a great option if you’re looking for flexibility and the ability to explore at your own pace. Just be sure to keep the safety precautions in mind!
  • Buses and trains: If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, you might consider taking the bus or train. Sicily’s public transportation is not the best unless you are staying in the bigger cities, so double-check route schedules.
  • Taxis: Cabs are another option, although they can be more expensive than other forms of transportation. Just be sure to use a licensed taxi and negotiate the fare ahead of time to avoid any confusion.

The Mafia Presence in Sicily

You may have heard about the Mafia in Sicily on different sites online or in social media. Let’s examine them and how much danger it actually puts you in as a tourist. 

Sicily is home to the Cosa Nostra, also referred to as the Mafia. The Cosa Nostra is one of the most infamous criminal groups in the world, and it has a long history of extortion, violence, and corruption in Sicily.

Comparing the history, organization, and methods of the Mafia in Sicily to the Camorra in Naples, they are different. The use of violence to uphold order and control by the Cosa Nostra is well known for its strict hierarchical structure.

The Camorra, on the other hand, is less centralized and runs through a web of smaller criminal organizations.

The Cosa Nostra is still active and poses a serious threat to the region’s safety and security, despite efforts by law enforcement to eradicate organized crime in Sicily. To stay safe and steer clear of any Mafia involvement, tourists to Sicily should exercise common-sense caution.

The vast majority of Sicilians are law-abiding citizens who disapprove of the Mafia and its criminal activities, it’s important to note. However, it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to stay safe. The vast majority of tourists to Sicily won’t experience any issues involving organized crime.

Overall, I can’t wait to explore Sicily more. When I have future travel dates to Sicily, I’ll update this blog post without a doubt, so bookmark it now.

Also, check out Best Catania Beaches for Families

5 Days in Sicily and Airports in Sicily Guide

Is Sicily Safe? a blog post.
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