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Christmas in Sicily

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(Tour code: PTX19)

An unforgettable Italian escape

Explore stunning Sicily in winter on a relaxing 8-day tour by rail. Discover Grecian ruins and Italian traditions, explore the charms of Erice and the 'living Nativity' of Custonaci on Christmas Day, and witness the majesty of Mount Etna as we circle the volcano's base on the Circumetnea Train, all during our unforgettable Italian escape.

  • Palermo & Monreale
  • Agrigento
  • Custonaci’s live nativity scene
  • Catania
  • Mount Etna
  • Circumetnea train
What’s Included
  • Standard Class Rail
    Journey on the Circumetnea Train
  • 4* Hotel Accommodation
    Breakfast Every Day
  • Selected Departures Guaranteed

Christmas in Sicily 2018Tour Details

Print Itinerary
Day 1 Flights


Meet your group and Tour Manager at your hotel in Palermo, the 4-Star Grand Hotel Federico II.

  • Dinner
Day 2 Palermo

Palermo & Monreale

After breakfast today, we begin our explorations with a guided tour of Palermo. During our introduction to Sicily's capital, we discover both the medieval quarter and the 'new' city, which dates back to the 17th century. With a long history of invasion, Palermo features a number of different architectural styles vying for attention, each revealing a little of the city's past by its age and design. After time to admire Palermo, we continue to nearby Monreale, for a guided tour of this charming hilltop town. Featuring winding lanes and alleys, with fine views out to sea, Monreale is best known for is incredible cathedral, which legend says was inspired by a vision of the Virgin Mary - a point of interest on our tour. We discover the intriguing fusion of Byzantine, Norman and Arabic architectural styles, as well as the lavish interiors, decorated with superb mosaics depicting scenes from Biblical scripture. After our tour, we return to Palermo in time for dinner.

  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 3 Agrigento

The Valley of the Temples on Christmas Eve

Today is Christmas Eve, and our tour takes us to Agrigento, one of Sicily's oldest towns. Agrigento is famed for its outstanding Valley of the Temples - an incredible complex of Greek Doric structures built in the 5th century BC. On arrival we enjoy a guided tour of the valley, which enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status, and its array of striking remains. Some of the temples are in remarkable condition, and during our tour we see the Temple of the Concord, which is the best preserved Doric temple in the Greek world. After time to enjoy Agrigento, we return to Palermo, where we enjoy a delicious Christmas Eve dinner - a traditional way to celebrate Christmas in Italy.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 Erice

Custonaci’s live Nativity scene on Christmas Day

Today is Christmas Day, and to celebrate, we take a tour of some of Sicily's most famous Christmas displays. Our first stop is Erice, a charming ancient town with medieval walls, perched atop Mount Eryx. Each year in December, the spirit of the season takes over the winding streets and quaint architecture of Erice, transforming the town into a delightful Christmas village, filled with delicate Nativity scenes and a bustling Christmas Market. During our time here, we take in some of the intricate Nativity scenes dotted around the town, before continuing our Christmas celebrations in Custonaci. Custonaci is famed for its 'living Nativity scene', a popular Italian custom where residents or actors take on the roles of traditional figures found in the Nativity story. Known as 'presepi viventi', these special pageants are often on display for several days over the Christmas period, sometimes featuring hints or allusions to local customs in the props or scenery. Custonaci's presepi viventi, housed in a large cavern, is considered one of the best in Sicily, with over 160 costumed participants creating an immersive Nativity - the perfect way to celebrate Christmas. After time to explore this fascinating scene, we return to our hotel for a delicious Christmas Day dinner.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Days 5-6 Taormina

To Taormina

We continue today, on Boxing Day, to Taormina, an ancient mountain-side city which enjoys incredible views of nearby Mount Etna. On arrival into Taormina, we check in to the 4-Star Hotel Villa Diodoro.

Enjoy a day at leisure in Taormina on Day 6.

  • Day 5 - Breakfast, Dinner
  • Day 6 - Breakfast
Day 7 Mount Etna
Mount Etna

Mount Etna and the Circumetnea Train

For our final excursion, we travel to glorious Mount Etna, a true Italian icon. Boasting the title of Europe's largest active volcano, Mount Etna is the highlight of any Sicilian adventure. We approach the awe-inspiring mountain by rail, travelling around the base of the mountain on the Circumetnea Train. The summit is not accessible at this time of year, though we take in the enormity of Etna's imposing form as we travel around the bottom of the volcano, enjoying superb views of the mountain from the train.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8 Homeward bound flights
Homeward bound flights

Return Home

Today we bid a fond farewell to Sicily as you board your flight back home.

  • Breakfast
Recommended airports

Recommended airports

For this tour, we recommend arriving to, and departing from, Catania-Fontanarossa Airport which is approximately 128 miles from your start and end point.

Visa Requirements

Visa Requirements

It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.

Departure Times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

What’s included

An escorted experience and all travel arrangements

  • The services of a professional UK Tour Manager from start to finish
  • All rail and coach travel as described

Comfortable accommodation in your destination 

  • 7 nights' hotel accommodation

Delicious meals included

  • 15 meals, including 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 5 dinners, including special Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners

Exciting excursions and free time to explore

  • Guided tour of Palermo
  • Guided tour of Monreale
  • Agrigento & Valley of the Temples
  • Excursion to festive Erice
  • Excursion to Custonaci, to see the 'living Nativity' scene, on Christmas Day
  • Visit to Taormina
  • Free time in Catania
  • Excursion to Mount Etna
  • Journey on the Circumetnea Train

Not Included

  • Flights and Airport transfers
Annika Blau
Yung-Mei Choi
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