With winter approaching, days getting shorter, and winds blowing colder by the minute, we understand why taking a Transatlantic trip to Europe, where the gray season can feel rather gloomy, might not seem the most attractive thought.
A majority of Americans will be heading instead to the Caribbean, South America, or if feeling particularly adventurous, Southeast Asia, but little do they know that not all of the Old Continent will face low temperatures and snow flurries in the upcoming weeks.
In fact, one of the trendiest European destinations remains relatively warm throughout winter, and it's actually best experienced in the off-season:
Why Sicily Is One Of The Most Underrated Winter Hotspots In Europe
Recently, Lonely Planet went as far as naming Sicily one of the best destinations in Europe for winter sun.
As the largest island not only in Italy but the entire Mediterranean Sea, it has been one of the most popular European getaways this year, particularly over summer.
Home to beautiful beaches, millennia-old cities, a rugged nature, and a vibrant culture that's distinct within the wider Italy, it has drawn in millions of vacationers who were either hoping to live out their White Lotus fantasy, relax and enjoy the subtropical vibes, or immerse themselves in History.
As any of you who have paid Sicily a visit earlier this year will now already, however, is that it can be impossibly hot, and unbearably crowded in the high season – which, believe it or not, can begin as early as May, and end as late as November.
Much like Andalusia in Spain, Sicily is one of the naturally hottest regions of Europe due to being located closer to the tropic lines and near the African continent, and this brings us to point one.
Unlike most of the continent, especially tourist hotspots like Paris, London, and Amsterdam, winters in Sicily can be rather mild.
Sicily Is Not Your Usual European Winter Destination
Don't get us wrong: it does get cold, but it's usually in the evenings.
Locals still enjoy plenty of long hours of sunshine every day and an average temperature 59°F in January, the peak of winter, though this can vary depending on elevation and location on the island (generally, the coast is warmer).
The risk of precipitation is quite low in Sicily year-round.
It may increase in winter, but even in January, the worst month for weather-based activities, tourists can still expect an average of 50-60mm (2~2.5 in) of rainfall spread over 9 to 10 rainy days.
That's not much at all, and then it only gets progressively better from February onward.
A Crowd-Free Taormina Is Possible
Then we have point two: as Sicily is mostly treated as a summer getaway, as opposed to a year-round destination, crowds tend to dissipate over winter.
This means you will essentially have the beautiful streets of Taormina, a hillside town featuring an iconic Greek theater overlooking the Mediterranean, the charming alleyways of Syracuse, and the quaint harbor of Cefalù (mostly) all to yourself.
You may expect locals to continue flocking into those places, but the concentration of foreign tourists this time of year in Europe is normally elsewhere, in Spain's autonomous Canary Islands or Portugal's up-and-coming Madeira.
In bigger cities, like the metropolitan Sicilian capital Palermo or its second-largest conurbation Catania, you may notice points of interest remain busy, but these are major urban centers with a fast-paced life anyway.
And trust us when we say, Sicily is every bit as fascinating a destination in winter as it is in summer or the fall.
Sicily In Winter Is Not For Swimming, But It's Perfect For Sightseeing
Whether it's exploring the ancient Greco-Roman temples in the Valley of the Kings, sightseeing in Palermo, easily one of Italy's most exciting city breaks, home to a plethora of architectural gems, or visiting quaint villages with a snow-capped Etna for backdrop, you will find sunny Sicily makes for a great winter escape.
The only downside really is the temperature of the water this time of year.
The Mediterranean cools off around Sicily in the shoulder months, which means it is certainly not as warm or attractive for swimming in winter, but the breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline are the same, and the coastal drives into blood orange-tinged sunsets are just as mesmerizing.
If you're going to Sicily in winter, bear in mind it is first and foremost a cultural destination, and while you won't be required to pack heavy winter jackets, and you may even feel comfortable wearing shorts in the daytime, it is not a year-round beach destination.
If it's a Mediterranean beach getaway you're after, it's best you put off visiting until early May at the earliest.
However, if it's the historic temples that attract you the most, you're appreciative of the delectable Sicilian cuisine, which includes Italian classics like arancini and caponata, and you're looking instead for a slow-paced, relaxing vacation that does not necessarily involve the sea, you will not be disappointed.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.