Sicily is served by three airports: Palermo Falcone-Borsellino Airport (tel. 091-7020111; www.gesap.it) at Punta Raisi 31km (19 miles) west of the city, Trapani Vincenzo Florio Airport (tel. 0923-842502; www.airgest.it) at Birgi 15kms (9 miles) from Trapani, and Catania Vincenzo Bellini Airport (tel. 095-7239111; www.aeroporto.catania.it), the third largest airport in Italy, at Fontanarossa 7km (4 1/2 miles) from the city center. A fourth airport has been built in Ragusa at Comiso, which will serve the southeast, but at the time of writing it had taken more than a year for anyone to sign the go-ahead. It remains to be seen if this will open or not.
Direct flights from the U.S. to Sicily are rare, although Eurofly (www.meridiana.com) operates flights from JFK to Palermo twice a week from June to September. Tickets go like hot cakes, so book early. Italy's major carrier to and from the U.S. is Alitalia (tel. 1-800-2235730, (from Italy, tel. 06-2222); www.alitaliausa.com). Alitalia flies to Italy in code sharing with Delta Airlines (tel. 1-800-2211212, from IU.S. tel. 02-38591087 (in Italy); www.delta.com). These two airlines fly directly to either Rome Fiumicino or Milan Malpensa airports.
When flying from Italy's mainland, you can catch a connecting flight to Sicily, with Alitalia or Air One (from Italy tel. 199-207080; www.alitalia.com/ap_it/), Italy's second domestic carrier and Alitalia partner, Ryanair, easyJet, and Wind Jet. Other domestic airlines with service to Sicily (including Lampedusa and Pantelleria) are Blu Express (tel. 199-419777; www.blu-express.com) and Air Italy (tel. 89-55895589; www.airitaly.it).
There's no shortage of direct flights from the U.K. and Ireland to Sicily. British Airways (tel. 0844-4930787 from UK; from Italy tel. 199-712266; www.ba.com) operates a daily service from London Gatwick to Catania. Ryanair (tel. 0871-2460000 from UK; from Ireland tel. 0818-303030; from Italy tel. 899-018880; www.ryanair.com) has flights to Trapani from Dublin, London Luton, London Stansted, and Liverpool). easyJet (tel. 0871-2442366 from UK; from Italy tel. 848-887766; www.easyjet.com) offers flights to Palermo from June to October. An Italian carrier, Windjet (tel. 892020; www.3.volawindjet.it), has seasonal flights from London Gatwick to Palermo and Catania.
To compare airfare for all flights to Sicily and search for the best prices, visit www.itasoftware.com or www.travelsupermarket.com.
If you're feeling particularly adventurous and have time it's also possible to drive from London to Palermo (allow at least 3 days for the journey), a distance of 1,822km (1,132 miles). Once across the channel, factor at least 24 hours of driving to the Italian border.
Rather than driving all through Italy, from here you could pick up a ferry from Genoa (Grandi Navi Veloci; www.gnv.it) which sails to Palermo in 20 hours.
For many visitors, especially backpackers, this is the most convenient way to reach Sicily from the Italian mainland. Depending on where you start your journey, and which category of train, the trip can take anywhere from 12 to 15 hours (Milan or Venice) or 9 to 12 hours (Rome or Naples). All trains from the mainland arrive at the port of Villa San Giovanni or Reggio Calabria, the toe of the Italian peninsula, and from there trains roll onto enormous barges for the 1-hour crossing to Messina. Trains either stop at Messina Centrale or continue on to Palermo, Catania, or Syracuse.
For fares and information within Italy, call tel. 892021 or visit www.trenitalia.it, also available in English.
Rail Passes for North American & Australian Travelers -- Many travelers to Europe take advantage of the Eurailpass, which permits unlimited first- and second-class rail passage in most countries in western Europe (although not in the U.K.). Passes are available for purchase online (www.eurail.com) and at various offices/agents around the world. In North America, railway and travel agents in major cities sell passes, but the biggest supplier is Rail Europe (tel. 877/272-RAIL ; www.raileurope.com). In Australia you can buy them at CIT Holidays (www.web.cit.com.au).
Rail Passes for British & Other European Travelers -- For European travelers, three passes are designed for unlimited travel within a designated region during a predetermined number of days.
Many different rail passes are available in the United Kingdom for travel to Sicily. Stop in at the International Rail Centre, Victoria Station, London SWIV 1JY (tel. 0870/5848-848 in the U.K.; www.raileurope.co.uk). Some of the most popular passes, including InterRail and Euro Youth, are offered only to travelers 25 and under; these allow unlimited second-class travel through most European countries. The InterRail Pass (www.interrail.net) is available to passengers of any nationality, with some restrictions -- passengers must be able to prove at least 6 months of residency in a European or North African country (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) before buying the pass. It allows unlimited travel throughout Europe (except Albania and the republics of the former Soviet Union). See website for more details.
Passengers 25 and older can buy an InterRail Global Pass. The cost varies according to the pass purchased, which can be valid from 10 days to 1 month. Passengers must meet the same residency requirements that apply to the InterRail Pass.
For information on buying individual rail tickets or any of the aforementioned passes, contact National Rail Enquiries, Victoria Station, London (tel. 020/7278-5240 or 08457/484950; www.nationalrail.co.uk). Tickets and passes are also available at any of the larger railway stations as well as select travel agencies throughout Britain and the rest of Europe.
By Boat & Ferry
As an island, Sicily is well linked via sea to mainland Italy. The major connection is from Villa San Giovanni in Calabria, the last mainland city approached before the ferry trip over to Messina, in eastern Sicily. Ferries (traghetti) depart frequently from Villa San Giovanni, making the trip of 12km (7 1/2 miles) across the straits. If you don't have a car, you can also make the crossing by hydrofoil (aliscafo) from Reggio Calabria, which is faster but does not allow passengers to stand outside during the trip. If you have time to spare, take the ferry, and watch the crossing from the deck.
If you're already in Italy there are many options to choose from. Traghetti Lines (tel. 0565-912191; www.traghettilines.it) shows all the possible boat and ferry connections from mainland Italy, Sardinia, and Malta to Palermo, Catania, Messina, Trapani, and Pozzallo. Service to Palermo from Naples and Civitavecchia (Rome) is offered by SNAV (tel. 081-4285555; www.snav.it) while Ustica Lines (www.usticalines.it) handles service from Naples to the outer-lying islands (Ustica and the Egadi Islands). TTT lines (tel. 800-915365; www.tttlines.it) runs a service from Naples to Catania, while Grimaldi Lines (tel. 081-496444; www.grimaldi-lines.com) handles service from Civitavecchia. From further north, Grandi Navi Veloci (tel. 010-2094591; www.gnv.it) sails from Genoa (year-round) and Livorno (seasonal) to Palermo. Departure times are always subjected to weather and sea conditions, so always call to ask for confirmation.
Europe's major bus carrier, Eurolines (tel. 0870/514-3219 in London; www.eurolines.com), has its main office at Grosvenor Gardens, Victoria, London SW1. It runs buses to Rome in 33 hours, with stops along the way. After that, you can take an Italian bus to Sicily. Buses leave England on Wednesday and Friday, heading for Milan and Rome.
If you're in Rome and want to travel overland by bus into Sicily, you can book tickets at Segesta, Piazza della Repubblica (tel. 0935-565111; www.interbus.it). It has two departures daily from Rome's Piazza Tiburtina to Palermo; the trip takes 12 hours. The line also goes to Syracuse in southern Sicily in 11 hours.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.