The Ultimate Wheelchair Accessibility guide of Sicily

July, 2020

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Surrounded by the Tyrrhenian and Mediterranean sea and based at the toe of the Italien shoe. Sicily is situated ideally for warm summers and pleasant winters,and this location creates an utopia for tourists. Even though Sicily comes with some challenges regarding its accessibility, there is plenty to do for people with lesser mobility. In this Accessibility guide of Sicily, we prepare you for the ultimate wheelchair accessible holiday on this beautiful Italian island.

Few places are as diverse as Sicily. The Italian island combines a rich history with natural beauty and fantastic beaches. It is an autonomous region belonging to Italy and has been one of Italy’s most popular destinations for years. Because Sicily is such a critical strategic place in the Mediterranean, the island has a long and eventful history.

History of Sicily

The history of Sicily consists mostly of overtaking from different kinds of people and cultures. Romans, Phoenicians, Greeks, Arabs, Spaniards, Germans, and the Italians themselves all took part in Sicily’s creation as we know it. And all of them left their own mark on the culture of the island.

Because of these foreign groups that ruled throughout centuries, you see many characteristics from different cultures combined in the Sicilian way of life. For example, you see influences from the Greeks and the Arabs, who brought civilization to the island around 500 BC.

Climate

Soaking up the culture, strolling through the villages, or enjoying a terrace on a sunny day: when relishing your ultimate holiday, you prefer good weather. Sicily is an island that you can visit throughout the year. In the height of summer, the temperatures may rise to 30°C (86°F), with a peak sometimes to a sweltering 40°C (104°F).

In the winter period, the average temperature is a tad too cool to name it a winter sun destination. Even though the temperature does not reach beyond 20°C (68°F), the island is still a very popular destination in winter. During these times, it rains the most on the island, leaving too little sun hours for the real sun worshiper. Moreover, there is snow on top of Mount Etna, which allows people to go skiing.

Currency

Like in all of Europe, in Sicily, you pay with the Euro. The best way to take advantage of low exchange rates is to change your money before you arrive. When you do this at the airport or cruise terminal, you might be startled by the high prices. Another way to avoid high rates is to pay with your (credit) card wherever you need to pay something. When adding money to the bill for tips, it is desirable to add some cash. To know more about tipping in Italy and the rest of Europe, click here.

Visit Sicily

To get the full Sicilian experience, you need at least a couple of days on the island, preferably in different towns. We would recommend making a round trip where you get the most out of your journey. Sicily has something for everyone. Do you love the sun? Head over to one of the several beaches. Are you more the active type? Explore Mount Etna. We will share a little bit about the different places on the island and what you can do there.

Join us for a wheelchair accessible tour in Sicily

Would you like to enjoy a barrier-free Sicily after reading this accessibility guide? Visit Mount Etna, stroll through the lovely streets of Cefalú, see the ancient valley full of mystical temples in Agrigento, and much more. Join us now to enjoy this gorgeous island to the fullest. Click on the button to check out our tours and get inspired.

Taormina

First up, in this Accessibility guide of Sicily is Taormina, a small gem on the island, located on a hill. From this place, you can marvel at both the sea and Mount Etna. Despite being a small town, it offers several places to admire. There is a Greek-Roman theater that is still used to perform shows in which old times are revived. This place also was an inspiration for many famous writers, artists, and musicians. Furthermore, in the center, you can discover the bell tower, the stone fountain of the Piazza Duomo, and the royal palaces that are still excellently maintained.

Wheelchair accessibility Taormina

Taormina has steps, hills, and cobblestoned streets. Even though this place is a challenge for wheelchair users, it is still worth a visit. With adapted transportation, you can get to the essential highlights of this stunning town. There are stairs to enter Taormina’s Teatro Greco and steps within the theater. Therefore, the theater is only accessible if you can take a few steps.

Palermo

Palermo is a port city in northwestern Sicily and lies at the foot of Monte Pellegrino. It is a busy university city, with about 700,000 inhabitants who made this city their place to work and live. With its big historical center, there is a lot to do for everyone. The gorgeous buildings, cozy ambiance, and friendly people make people fall in love instantly. In addition to the sights, taste the typical Sicilian atmosphere and try local delicacies at one of the many picturesque wine bars.

Wheelchair Accessibility Palermo

In contrary to Taormina, Palermo is better doable in terms of accessibility. The streets are mostly flat, and there is enough space to maneuver around. You might encounter difficulties crossing streets though, as the sidewalks do not always have a curb-cut. Wander through the streets of Palermo and fall in love with its vibe! We offer wheelchair accessible tours for you to enjoy a barrier-free experience.

Mount Etna

Continuing this Accessibility guide of Sicily is Mount Etna. When you think of Sicily, you automatically also think of the imposing Etna volcano. One of those sights you just cannot skip on your Sicilian holiday. This active volcano is 3.300 meters high, and although the volcano erupts regularly, significant outbursts happened several hundred years ago. The surface of this fire-spitting mountain looks like a different planet. Everywhere you look, you see bizarre landscapes with strange plants that immediately catch the eye.

Wheelchair Accessibility Mount Etna

As you can imagine, a mountain provides challenges to wheelchair users. Luckily there are ways for people with lesser mobility to enjoy and explore this gorgeous mountain. With an adapted vehicle, you can get up to approximately 6,000ft (1830 m.) while driving through stunning vineyards and picturesque villages. At this point, you can discover the craters and flora and fauna up close.

Sicily visitors

Visitors review

“Amazing day here in Messina Italy. Mount Etna was simply breathtaking. And made to be so easy with All accessible transport and transfers for stops and photo opportunities was seamless by our guide and amazing driver today. Thank you, Mirjam for working your magic again. Can not recommend this lady and her business ethics seriously enough. You have opened up the world to us.
So looking forward to Athens and Olympia in the coming days.”

Karen R., Italy & Greece
Accessible transport and tours, September 2019

Alcantara Gorge

The Alcantara Gorge (Gole dell Alcantara) is one of the most beautiful natural sights in Sicily. When Mount Etna erupted, a stream of lava came in contact with water and solidified quickly. Then, an earthquake split the big piece of thick lava, resulting in the beautiful gap you can visit today. On both sides of the little canyon, you find gorgeous basalt columns. A real must-see for nature lovers.

Wheelchair accessibility Alcantara Gorge

The perfect place to cool off while enjoying this stunning natural phenomenon. A small part of the Alcantara Gorge is accessible to people with mobility issues. There is an elevator down to the water, so visitors who are physically challenged can also enjoy it.

Book your barrier-free tours in Sicily

Come and check out how amazing this island is for yourself. We take barriers and worries away by offering wheelchair-accessible tours to all the corners of Sicily. From the Salt pans near Marsala or the stunning natural wonder: Alcantara Gorge, to Savoca, the town where the Godfather movies are filmed. Gotten curious? Click on the button to see all the tours we offer.

Cefalú

We could not miss out on Cefalú in this Accessibility guide of Sicily. You find this place a small hour drive from Palermo. While strolling through the cozy winding allies of this ancient little town, you get drawn back in time. In its medieval center, you find the old wash-tubs that the ladies in the middle ages used to wash their clothes. Moreover, the Cathedral, with its big staircase, is an eye-catcher and a must-visit. Inside, you find beautiful mosaics depicting the Christ Pantocrator. This church is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Wheelchair accessibility Cefalú

The streets in Cefalú are narrow and are shared with traffic, so you have to be careful. Some areas are cobbled and somewhat difficult to move around. Even if it does not seem that way, the Duomo, which is the main highlight, is accessible. You avoid the steps by taking a large ramp, situated on the left side of the Cathedral. It can be quite a hassle to get up there, but it is totally worth it once you are inside.

Monreale

The most famous sight in Monreale is its Cathedral. The Duomo of Santa Maria Nuova, together with the monastery, are two buildings from the Arab-Norman era of Sicily. The buildings are added to the list of protected monuments of the UNESCO World Heritage. The interior of the church is even more beautiful than the outside. Most impressive are the glass mosaics that almost completely flood the interior of the church with bright colors on a golden background. A unique and very spectacular sight.

Wheelchair Accessibility Monreale

The reason to go to Monreale is the impressive cathedral, which is accessible for wheelchair users except for the towers. Upon arrival, staff will place a ramp on top of the steps for wheelchair users to have a barrier-free entrance. Furthermore, there is a priority queue for visitors with reduced mobility, and they offer an online booking service. For people who want to enjoy Monreale itself, the streets are flat, however the curbs are somewhat narrow.

Wine tasting in Sicily

Visitors review

“We worked with DAT for an accessible excursion in Sicily (Catania Cruise Port) and loved what they pulled together for us for a 6-hour itinerary! We were able to go to the 6000′ level of Mt Etna and then to the winery for a wine tasting and heavy noshing… a real highlight of our whole cruise!

I can’t say enough about Mirjam and her ability to create an itinerary that worked for our abilities and timetable! She was responsive and informative! The local support from the guide was knowledgeable and understood great ways to navigate the island with accessible travel in mind!”

Sicily – private accessible tour, May 2019

Savoca

One of the most beautiful villages in Sicily is Savoca. Besides the stunning views and cute streets, this town was also the film location for the Godfather movies. The town looks like it stands still in time. Only the cars give away the present. The bar where Michael Corleone asks for the hand of the boss’s daughter still looks exactly like it did in the movie. Also, the church where the wedding took place, is still situated in the center.

Wheelchair Accessibility Savoca

Savoca is challenging for wheelchair users as the streets are steep, and there are many steps. Bar Vitelli’s terrace is wheelchair accessible, but you cannot get into the place, nor is there an adapted bathroom. Not the perfect conditions for people with mobility issues. To avoid accessibility surprises, we recommend making use of wheelchair accessible transport. By doing so, you learn a lot about the film locations of the Godfather movies, the town, and you do not have to worry about anything.

Agrigento

Agrigento is a zone full of magnificent architectural masterpieces. In the Temple valley, you find the remains of the ancient Greek city of Akragas and the surrounding area that leads to the sea, also called the Valle dei Templi. While not much remains of some temples, others are almost completely preserved. The best example is the Concordia Temple, which was built between 440 BC., and 430 BC. Several columns of the temples of Juno and Heracles have also been preserved or reconstructed.

Wheelchair Accessibility Agrigento

As with many sights in Sicily, wheelchair accessibility in the Temple Valley of Agrigento also comes with a few challenges. The roads from the car park are rollable but can be quite steep. It is better doable with an electric scooter or wheelchair, however a manual wheelchair might need some assistance pushing. At the and of the path, there is a coffee shop that has an adapted bathroom. There is a path that goes along the temples, and some are accessible through ramps.

Salt pans near Marsala

We end this Accessibility guide of Sicily with the Salt flats. Discover the white gold of Sicily when visiting the salt pans near Marsala. As far as your eyes can reach, you will see shallow basins filled with water. In these basins, water is turned into small heaps of salt. Once upon a time, salt was very precious in Italy. So much, that the government imposed a high tax on it, similar to tobacco. Therefore, you can still find ‘Tabacchi e Sale’ shops. Once you visit the salt pans, you will learn why it is rightfully called Sicily’s white gold.

Wheelchair Accessibility Salt pans near Marsala

The area around the salt pans near Marsala in Sicily are wheelchair accessible. As a wheelchair user, you can stroll around through Trapani, Marsala, and the Salt pans. You can also take a wheelchair accessible boat that leads you along the Salt flats to the island of Mothia at the extreme western tip of Sicily.  The boat can only accommodate manual wheelchairs, and to assure accessibility dimensions will need to be verified prior. Another way to enjoy the Salt pans is from an adapted vehicle. You can drive through the Salt pans, smell the salty air, and see how the Sicilian add their personal touch when turning seawater into heaps of salt.

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