Western Sicily with Kids
Updated: Dec 17, 2019
Your two-week itinerary through Scopello, Segesta, Trapani, Erice, Egadi Islands, Marsala, Selinunte & Palermo with kids
A magnificent region rich in history, Western Sicily offers an Arabian attitude, atmosphere, and flavor. This family friendly itinerary of Western Sicily offers stunning natural landscapes; days spent relaxing on the beach mixed with ruins and medieval towns that give an alluring window into the past.
This Itinerary is to be used as a general guideline with options that can be combined or pick one for a slower pace. It could be shorted to a week, for example by eliminating the stays in Scopello and an Agriturismo. Be sure to check websites I give for the opening dates and times before visiting museums and other points of interest. Be sure to bookmark this page for future reference while planning your trip.
The Itinerary begins in Palermo where you can arrive via the international airport (PMO), train station (Punta Raisi railway station, located within Palermo Airport), or the port (Porto di Palermo) via a ferry.
Getting around Sicily
This itinerary is based on having a car. With babies, toddlers, and children renting a car is usually the most convenient form of travel, especially when traveling outside of major cities. With some adjustments to the itinerary, this could be managed by train or bus. Be sure to get a car with navigation.
From the Palermo Aiport/Punta Raisi railway station simply following the signs to the car rental area to pick up your pre-booked rental.
Near the port, there is a selection of car rental companies as well. Note that driving in and out of the airport will be easier as the Port is located near the center of Naples.
For more tips on what to pack by age and a travel planning checklist, download my free Travel Planner.
Arrive in Palermo & Drive to Scopello.
Pick up a rental car and head west on A29 to Scopello about a 45-minute drive. Scopello is a tiny, charming village between the resort town of Castellammare del Golfo and Zingaro Nature Reserve. This low-key village is an ideal place to unwind and rest after your travels. The heart of the village is built around a baglio (manor house) overlooking the old tonnara (tun-processing plant) on the beautiful beach below. Here there is a section of restaurants, souvenir shops and, gelato.
Where to stay
Choose from one of my handpicked family friendly hotel options with parking in the center of the village.
Continue re-cooping from your travels and enjoy a beach day in the crystal clear warm Mediterranean water!
Option A: Enjoy the scenic little cove of Baglio Di Scopello just down the hill from the village. It is a few Euro’s to enter, but that keeps large crowds away (unless it’s August). There are lounge chairs and a small restaurant for food. This is a rocky beach, not a sandy one, so water shoes are recommended. For those traveling with mobile toddlers who want an easy beach day check-out option C. Baglio Di Scopello does not have an easy water entrance and a lot of small cliffs to fall off from. Chasing a toddler here all day would not be relaxing.
Option B: For a little more adventure, visit the Riserva Naturale Dello Zingaro. A beautiful nature reserve with hiking trails and stunning hidden coves that make excellent swimming spots. It’s a short drive to the Southern entrance from Scopello, or a 2km walk if you have older children up for it. Pack a lunch and enjoy the views from the picnic area. Walk the trail along the coast until you find a lovely little cove to explore. View the trail map here. It’s a few Euro’s to enter, check the website for more information.
Option C: If you have little ones that just want to play in the sand (note the “sand” here is more like little pebbles) try Cala Mazzo di Sciacca a secluded cove with calm waters very close to the entrance of the Reserve. There a couple bars for drinks and snacks as well as chairs and umbrellas for rent.
Later, enjoy another slow evening walking the village square and taking in the views. Pack up and prepare for leaving the next day.
Segesta & Trapani
Today on your way to the next home base of Trapani stop to visit the fifth century Temple of Segesta (Tempio di Segesta) about a 35-minute drive from Scopello. Perched on a hilltop this archeological park is home to spectacular ancient ruins. The highlight is the Doric Temple built by the Elymians, the indigenous people of Sicily. The views of the surrounding countryside are stunning. A shuttle bus can take you to a nearby fourth-century-BC Greek amphitheater. You will find shops here for food & drinks. Allow yourself a couple of hours for the stop.
From Segesta, it’s about a 30-minute drive onto Trapani. Trapani’s location to the Egadi Islands and other points of interest make it a great spot to set up as home base as you discover Western Sicily.
Where to stay
Choose from one of my handpicked family friendly apartment options with parking and walking distance to the port in the historic old town.
After checking into your hotel or apartment rental take some time to get acquainted with the historic center of Trapani. It’s a narrow, compact city flanked by the sea on either side. Take an early evening stroll down the pedestrian Via Garibaldi and view 18th-century baroque style of the Spanish period.
Highlights of the city you may want to see on your evening walks include:
Ligny Tower at the tip of Trapani
The Basilica of St. Lawrence
Church of the souls in purgatory
The Twin Clock Tower
Villa Margherita Park
Shopping via Giovanni Battista Fardella
A mesmerizing medieval town overlooking Trapani. You can either take a 10-minute cable car ride to the top or go by car (about a 30-minute drive). There is a signposted walk to follow to that covers all the attractions, but I recommend going off track a little to explore the cobbled streets and enchanting walkways in peace. The castle at the top of the cliff is a must see with amazing views of the valley and sea. There are many restaurants, cafés, pastry, and souvenir shops. Most of the day could be spent here.
Once back in Trapani for the choose another location to stroll around for the evening and see some more sights.
Visit the islands of Favignana & Levanzo
Option A: Take a Ferry to the island of Favignana. Check the ferry schedule to leave from the port of Trapani and arrive in Favignana. The trip is about 40 minutes.
Near the port, you can rent bikes for adults & children at Noleggio Rita to get around the island. All the beaches are beautiful with crystal clear water. Spiaggia di Lido Burrone is a good spot to rent chairs & umbrellas as it is surrounded by a couple of bar and restaurant options. Cycling around the island will you will find many other fantastic beaches with fewer amenities that may be less crowded.
You could stay and enjoy this island all day or take the ferry ride from Favignana to the island of Levanzo to view the prehistoric cave paintings at the Grotto del Genovese. Visit the website to book a guided tour. From this island, you can take the ferry back to Trapani.
Option B: If you don’t want to hassle with figuring out the ferry schedule or renting bikes take the Favignana & Levanzo Boat Tour. Travel to Sicily’s Egadi Islands on this seamless, full-day cruise from Trapani. Meet at the port in the morning, hop aboard your vessel, and set sail on the turquoise seas. Your first stop is the island of Favignana. See its beaches and coves, swim and snorkel, and enjoy a traditional Sicilian lunch on board, washed down with local wine. After lunch, you'll discover the petite island of Levanzo, and will have the chance to stroll down its picturesque streets.
After this long day you will want to enjoy another relaxing evening strolling the streets of Trapani.
Riserva Naturale Saline di Trapani e Paceco & the Musem of Optical illusions
Option A: Hop in your car for the 15-minute drive to the Maria Stella mill, the headquarters of the WWF for an introduction to the Salt Pans. Next stop is the Museo delle Saline (Salt Museum) inside an old Mill in the Riserva Naturale Saline di Trapani e Paceco, (Nature Reserve). View the salt pans and the ancient method of harvesting sea salt. The museum offers a guided tour (about 20 minutes) then you can walk the along the salt yourself. Visit the quaint gift shop and the old windmill. If you are visiting at the right time, you may see a flock of flamingos as this is an important stop on their migration to and from Africa.
From the nearby pier, take a quick ferry ride to the tiny Island of San Pantaleo to view the ancient site of Mozia and the Whitaker Museum. It’s one of the best-preserved Phoenician sites in the world. About 1 meter below the water, you can still see the Phoenician road that used to connect the island to the mainland. Walk around the island to view the ruins and have lunch in the small café.
Option B: During the summer, you can see the salt pans by taking the Salt Pan Train from near the port in Trapani. This little electric train departs twice a day on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 10.30am and at 5.00pm. The round trip takes about 3.5 hours and includes stops at Salina Maria Stella (with an introduction to the salt pans by the WWF), and the Saline di Nubia (with a visit of the Salt Museum). For more information, please see the website. You can view the English brochure here.
Option C: If you prefer to be picked up from your hotel or apartment and driven, book this 2-hour tour to see the salt pans.
In the afternoon, back in Trapani, visit the Museum of Optical Illusions. All ages will be entertained by the mind-bending displays. Check the website for opening and closing times. On weekends and Holidays, they recommend calling before arriving to make sure tickets have not sold out. (Closed on Mondays).
Leave an unscheduled free day open in Trapani. You can decide if there is something you would like to go back to or something that you haven't been able to see yet.
Enjoy your last night in Trapani!
Marsala & an Agriturismo near Castelvetrano
Check out of your hotel or apartment and head south to the charming town of Marsala about 40 minutes away. Follow the signs towards the city center and look for the Posteggio ''Salato'' parking lot. From this parking lot by the sea walk up the Via Scipione l’Africano to the Porta Garibaldi, the entrance to the old town.
Spend time wandering the center full of shops, cafés, and little churches. Marsala is known for its sweet dessert wines. You will come across casual Marsala wine tasting rooms. First, stop to get gelato for the kids then stop in for a wine tasting for yourself. Italians love kids, and as long as they are not disturbing other customers, it will not be a problem bringing them into a tasting room for a short period.
Before leaving Marsala check out the Museo Archeologico Regionale Baglio Anselmi. The highlight is the partially reconstructed Carthaginian warship that was sunk off the Egadi Islands nearly 3000 years ago.
Next, make the approximately 45-minute drive to an agriturismo near the town of Castelvetrano. An agriturismo is typically a type of farm or orchard that is run similar to a bed and breakfast. The local food is often one of the best experiences of staying at an agriturismo with fresh produce, eggs, wine and or olive oil fresh from the farm.
Where to stay
Check out these family friendly suggestions with a range of price options:
Agriturismo Case di Latomie: “The Holiday Farm “Case di Latomie” immersed in centuries-old olive trees and citrus groves, bears the name of the ancient quarry which supplied the stone, to build the Greek colony of Selinunte. The 27 rooms, from double rooms for single use to quadruples, all have a bathroom, air conditioning, fridge bar, color television, and heating. All rooms have direct access to the outside, either to the terrace or the garden. The building is suitable for disabled visitors. Reception, swimming pool, bar, restaurant, banqueting and congress hall, reading room, children’s playground, mini zoo, hire of mountain bikes, parking, beauty -center (from 2010), fishing, cookery courses, and organized excursions. The restaurant, surrounded by our citrus trees offers a variety of traditional Sicilian dishes enhanced with our own home-produced organic olive oil.”
“Agriturismo Baglio Vecchio is a rural building from the 18th century and features an outdoor swimming pool & playground. It is surrounded by the green hills of the Castelvetrano countryside. WiFi is free throughout. In the morning, guests can enjoy a breakfast made of locally produced jams, fruits and cakes. The property’s restaurant serves traditional Sicilian cuisine.The property offers bedrooms and furnished apartments. All types of accommodations include air conditioning, a TV, and a private bathroom. Some also have a balcony or a patio.” They also offer walks on the farm, bicycles, excursions on the tractor and tastings of the farm products.
“Baglio Villa Sicilia is a fascinating period residence with pool situated in the countryside just outside Selinunte. The prestigious villa, which dates back to the second half of the 18th century, rests in the lands of the ancient Greek quarries, close to the acropolis of Selinunte, the Temple of Dionysus, and the private beach lapped by the crystal-clear sea of Selinunte.” This upscale agriturismo has a stunning sea view overlooking the Greek temples form their infinity salt water pool. Upon request, you can access their private beach about 3 km by car.
Relax at the Agriturismo
Enjoy a day relaxing at the agriturismo. Take advantage of the amenities and any local excursions or tasting you may be interested in.
Selinunte & Beach
About a 16-minute drive away from Castelvetrano lies the impressive ancient Greek ruins of Selinunte. It’s the furthest west Greek colony founded in 628 BC. Enjoy climbing over the stones of the fallen temple and looking at the sea views. To learn more about the park and suggested itineraries ranging from 40 minutes to 4 hours view the Visit Selinunte website.
Afterward, enjoy the rest of the day on the nearby beach of Spiaggia La Pineta. A beautiful beach in the nature reserve with a restaurant right near the shore. Umbrellas, chairs and pedal boats are available for rent.
Palermo’s old quarter
Today check out of the agriturismo and make the hour-long drive to Palermo. I recommend dropping off your car at the airport and take a taxi or bus to your hotel.
Where to stay
Look into one of these family friendly options near the city center
After getting settled in and having lunch near your hotel, it’s time to start exploring Palermo! The old quarter is best explored on foot. This walking itinerary covers the Eastern half of the city and the labyrinth-like streets of the La Kalsa neighborhood ending with a traditional Marionette Folk theater and dinner at a traditional market. This itinerary takes a minimum of 2 hours to get to the puppet theater so plan accordingly. The walk itself is only about 35 minutes, but you need to plan for how much time you will spend if any in the park, Palazzo, churches and Archaeology museum. (Be sure to check the dates & times of the puppet show. If there isn’t a show on this day you may want to switch today’s itinerary with another day.)
A) Piazza Pretoria where you can see the Fontana Pretoria a large fountain with nymphs, tritons and river gods leaping out of the water. Then head east along Via Alloro. Make a left turn on Via Aprile.
B) Walk until you get to the tranquil Giardino Garibaldi where you can relax a little, and the kids can run around. Head west on Via Lungarini taking a right onto Via Merlo.
C) This will bring you to Palazzo Mirto, one of the few palazzi open to the public. Pay the entrance fee to step inside and see how the wealthy nobility once lived in Palermo. The building dates back to the 17th century, and it served as the Palermo residence of the Filangeri family for four centuries. Continue West on Via Merlo taking a right on Via Immacolatella.
D) On your right, you will see two churches you can pop into. View sculptures of the Gagini family in the Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi and the amazing stuccowork in the Oratorio di San Lorenzo. Continue walking North on Via Immacolatella, left on Via del Parlamento, right on Via Alessandro Paternostro, left of Corso Virrorio Emanuele then finally a right on Via Roma. Continue to walk north on Via Roma.
E) On the right you will come to Piazza San Domenico with a large 18th century column in front of the Chiesa di San Domenico that contains tomb of many important Sicilian politicians, painters and poets. For an areal view head into the Riascente Department Store, go to the bar on the top floor for a view of the piazza. Continue north on Via Roma and take a left on Via Monteleone.
F) On your right you will come across the Regional Archaeological Museum that houses Siciliy’s largest collection of Roman and Greek artifacts and one of the most important of its kind in Europe. One of the most impressive items of the collection is the huge fragmented Gorgon’s head from temple C at Selinunte. After seeing the Selinunte in person, these artifacts should hold more meaning.
G) If you still have time before the puppet show head West on Via Bara All’Olivella to view the Teatro Massimo. You will pass your next stop the Teatro dell’Opera on your way.
Marionettes (puppets) are an important part of Sicilian folk culture. Enjoy a unique evening of entertainment at the traditional Sicilian puppet theater, Teatro dell’Opera dei Pupi. It’s a small intimate venue so book in advance. The show dates and times can be found on their Facebook page. You can contact them through there as well. Even though the performance will be in Italian it is easy to follow along with the action. Kids sit in front and burst into laughter over the marionette’s crazy antics.
Afterwards, take the seven minute walk over to the night market, La Vucciria, to view the spirit of the Sicilian markets and a taste of traditional Sicilian street food. A walking map from the theater to the market can be found here.
Palermo’s new town
North of the Piazza Giuseppe Verdi where the Teatro Massimo is you will find wider streets, longer buildings, and more elegant shops, restaurants and cafés. Take the Route B Palermo City Hop-on Hop-off Tour to explore this part of the city. Tickets give you 24 hours to hop on and off the tour bus at any of the stops. Stops are made at the following;
Teatro Politeama: The theatre was constructed in 1891 and reflects the artistic culture in Palermo. It is circular and has a double portico with a series of slender Ionic Corinthian columns.
Giardino Inglese: The venue for the Solmusic festival, which is dedicated to emerging local bands, Palermo’s English Garden is a treat to visit. The garden has some exotic trees and fountains along with bathtubs and a small artificial lake.
Villa Malfitano: It is one of Palermo’s grand villa palaces. Built in the liberty style, it has a spectacular garden with many rare species. The summer room of this villa is a sight to behold with trompe l’oeil frescoes covering the walls and ceilings.
Castello Della Zisa: The Norman Castle gets its name from the Arab word ei-aziz, meaning splendid. Its richly decorated interior covered in marble and mosaic feature typical Arab motifs.
Mercato Del Capo:It is a famous food and fish market.
Teatro Massimo: It is one of the largest opera theatres in Europe and is an important building in Palermo. The interior has a classical style, while the exterior follows the liberty style.
Porto: The Porto Palermo bay houses the Ali Pasha Fortress which derived its name from Ali Pasha who tried to capture the Christian ships during an attack on Palermo by the Muslims.
Leave an unscheduled free day open in Palermo. You can decide if there is something you would like to go back to or something that you haven't been able to see yet. You could spend another day in the city or visit Spiaggia di Mondello for one last day at the beach.
Enjoy your last night in Palermo!
Say goodbye to Sicily!
If you have more questions about this itinerary head on over to my Facebook Group Travel Page and ask me a question!
You may also be interested in Children's Books inspired by Sicily.
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