Discover Sicily by car

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Sicily is easiest to discover by car but be prepared because driving around the island can be challenging due to the assertive driving style, the narrow streets, rural roads, and sometimes heavy traffic.

Tip: if you drive to Sicily by car from mainland Italy, it’s best to book your spot for the ferry in front. The ferry will take you from the mainland of Italy, San Giovanni, to Messina in Sicily.

Read more about Sicily in our blog Discover Sicily: The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.

General driving information

With an EU driving license, you can rent a car and drive in Sicily. If you have a non-EU license, then you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP).

The minimum age for driving a car is 18 years, however many rental companies require a minimum age of 21 or 25 to rent a car. In Sicily, they drive like the rest of Italy, on the right-hand side of the road. The speed limits are the following:

  • Urban roads: 50 km/h
  • Non-urban roads: 90 km/h
  • Dual carriageways: 110 km/h
  • Highways (Autos trade): 130 km/h

Tip: watch out for the Limited Traffic Zones (ZTL) these are zones where you are not allowed to enter without a permit, like in many historic centers. Keep an eye on the signs and make sure to park outside these zones, or you can get a hefty fine.

The road and driving style

The big roads and highways are in good condition, but the more rural roads can be narrow and less well-maintained. In the big cities like Catania and Palermo the traffic can be quite heavy and there are some aggressive drivers. Make sure to be prepared for the busy streets and chaotic driving. The Sicilians are not afraid to use their horns, and to quick lane changes.

Parking around the island

There are designated parking zones in Sicily. When you notice blue lines, this indicates paid parking areas, white lines are free parking, and yellow lines are the special permit spaces. Another option is to find parking garages if you want to be sure to of your parking spot.

Tip: make sure you don’t drive and park in a Limited Traffic Zone (ZTL).

Safety and practical tips

Safety is the number one when you drive a car, so make sure all the passengers wear a seat belt. Children under 12 years old or if they are shorter than 1.5 meters must use a safety seat.

Tip: in emergency call 112 for the general emergencies and 113 for the police.

It’s better to drive a small car in Sicily, this makes it easier to find parking and to drive around. Ensure you have an insurance that covers everything in case something were to happen. It’s better to be prepared. There are also some tolls roads, so have your cash or credit card close by to pay for these roads.

Tip: if you like views, take the scenic route! It will take longer, but you will have incredible views. Sometimes you can avoid the toll roads by taking a scenic route. Download the map offline on your smartphone for navigation and finding your way.

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