What to Pack for Your Summer Vacation in Sicily

To help our Experience Sicily clients prepare for their trips, we supply a comprehensive packing list in their itinerary packets. Personally, I hate packing, so I love to follow a list of what to bring so I don’t have to think.

! Please, just tell me what to do!

My itinerary packing list, however, doesn’t include specifics about clothing because it really depends on the time of the year you are traveling and your personal style. However, as a service for all of you preparing for travel to Sicily in late June, July, August, and early September, here is a clothing list for men and  women of what to pack for your Sicily vacation when traveling during the summer months.

NB temperatures can be in the high 70s to the 90s during the day and high 60s to high 70s at night. And then there is Etna and boat excursions–which means cool (or cold!) breezes.

Sicily Packing List for Summer 

1. Bathing suit

2. For women, a bathing suit cover-up (I recommend something silk that dries quickly in the sun); For men, a Tee-shirt for boat excursions and going and coming to the sea

3. Flip flops (for beaches and boats only–not for restaurants ever and I discourage this for archaeological sites because of uneven surfaces)

4. Water shoes for rocky beaches and cliffs (There are many in Sicily.)

5. If going to Mount Etna, a pair of sneakers and socks will suffice as your footwear. For Etna you should dress in layers. As you go up the elevation of the volcano, it will help to put on more clothes. So, long yoga paints (men, long pants), a long-sleeved tee-shirt, a fleece or sweatshirt, and a wind breaker (It is very windy and as a result gets cold up at the higher elevations and on the craters.). Ideally, I recommend an ultralight down jacket or sweater that you can fold up into a bag (great for your day pack and your suitcase too). Obviously, if you are doing a hard-core hike, then bring hiking shoes and thick socks.

6. Sun glasses.

7. A sun hat or cap.

8. For women, a large scarf or wrap that covers your shoulders. Carry this with you at all times, because inevitably, you’ll go into a church (and you’ll have a sun dress on or a tank-top and you must cover your shoulders to be respectful). The scarf/wrap also comes in handy for breezy evenings on the water and chilly days in mountain-top towns like Erice and Enna.

9. Sun dresses made of silk or hand-washable materials that will dry in the sun quickly. I usually bring 3 casual ones (for day time) and 1 or 2 more dressy ones for dinners out.

10. 2 cotton cardigans for chilly evenings and air conditioned airplanes and coach buses

11. For women, tank tops that match…

12. Shorts or skirts of light materials (again, easy to wash in the sink and that dry quickly). Men, shorts are fine for daytime excursions and sightseeing. Pants made from light fabrics (linen, cotton) work well too.

13. Sturdy sandals for walking on cobblestones of medieval towns and for walking on dusty pathways at archaeological parks. Choose your shoes wisely according to where you’ll be visiting that day. I usually bring two pairs of sandals with me: sturdy ones where my toes are somewhat protected and open flat sandals with soles that have some traction. There are many slippery surfaces in towns (marble and limestone pavement).

14. I stay away from tee-shirts that have logos or phrases written in English or other languages on them. For men, tee-shirts are fine for day time. Collared shirts are better.

15. For men, bring one pair of nice slacks to wear to dinner and a button down cotton or linen shirt. Do not wear shorts to dinner or lunches in a nice restaurant ever. This looks terrible and disrespectful to Italians. For finer restaurants, closed-toed shoes, slacks, and a well-made, long-sleeved linen shirt will look fantastic. No jackets necessary. No flip flops in restaurants.

16. Men, avoid sleeveless shirts.

The bottom line is this: Sicilians, both men and women, are fashion conscious and take much pride in how they present themselves. They dress very well. As a result, they find it disrespectful when someone is not dressed appropriately. For optimal service in restaurants and finer hotels, I recommend to my clients that you “do as Sicilians do.”

I’m pictured here (last one on the right) with our Stirring Sicily group from last September. This should give you an idea of how you might dress. I welcome questions and comments.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. John Keahey says:

    I’m not a shorts person, for men or women. I prefer to blend in, and at my age that means I need to look like I’m one of those pensioners on the bench. I often get mistaken for a local when tourists come up to me and ask directions. A key thought: Always be respectful, in churches, restaurants, and that means, as you pointed out, Allison, dress appropriately. And for the guys: If you’re wearing a ball cap, please, please take it off when you enter a church.

    I once watched, at St. Peter’s in Rome, a couple arguing with a guy at the door who wouldn’t grant admission. The gal was in a halter top and short-shorts; the guy was in shorts, a loud T-shirt with an inappropriate message on the front, and flip-flops. It was an ugly scene and lasted until three security guys showed up and forcibly escorted the couple away from the entrance.

    Your list of suggestions is excellent, Allison, and I really doubt that any of the people traveling with you would do what that couple did. Look, see, understand. Learning about culture of the place you are visiting is important.

    1. This is fantastic information John! Thank you so much for weighing in!

  2. Aleksandra Valenza says:

    Great post, thank you! It helps a lot! We’re leaving for two week trip as a family of 7. Cant wait to experience the culture and FOOD 🙂 and wine. I do have a question about teenage (12,13) boys attire. Is it OK for them to wear sneakers when we’re sight seeing, can they wear nice dressy shorts and polo’s to dinner. Thanks again for the post!


    1. Allison Scola says:

      Yes, absolutely sneakers and hiking sandles are comfortable and practical. The surfaces we walk on throughout Sicily can be difficult on your feet. I recommend avoiding flip flops for sightseeing. Great for the sea, however! Dressy shorts and polo’s to dinner are perfect.

    2. Allison Scola says:

      Aleksandra, I apologize that I, didn’t respond sooner to your question. I was traveling when it posted. The answer is yes, sneakers are great for sight seeing, and your idea for dinner is excellent: nice shorts and polo shirts for dinner.

      I’d love to hear how your trip went!

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