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Car Hire Sicily

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9.5 / 10 Number of reviews: 1973

When to book a rental car in Sicily

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Sicily Guide

Car Hire

Sicily is one of the Mediterranean Sea’s gems. It offers visitors the chance of enjoying fabulous beaches, translucent seas and a range of water sports. Historic towns such as Taormina, ancient castles, Roman archaeological sites, unique cultural draws and great cuisine also await people who choose Sicily for their holidays. Car rental is the most comfortable means of getting around and experiencing the charms of the island.

Who to Book With
International vehicle hire firms including Hertz and Avis offer service on the island. Up-and-coming local supplier Sicily Rent Car, together with Italian national company Maggiore, are among the other companies with offices and depots in the main towns, ports and airports on the island. Booking a hire car online saves the hassle of contacting each individual supplier. Online reservations usually offer savings on rental rates to boot.

Best Time to Go
Sicily is at its best from May to October. Temperatures are typically above 20°C all through these months. July and August are much hotter, and this is especially true on the northeast coast which is not cooled by Mediterranean breezes. These two months coincide with the island’s peak season for holidaymakers and prices for hotels and vehicle rentals are always much higher. Winters are wet, with snow in mountainous regions, and the only reason to visit at this time is to go skiing at Mt Etna.

Need to Know Essentials
When getting a rental car here, the hire company will ask to see these items:

- Your UK driving licence, both the paper and plastic sections, or an International Driving Permit
- Your passport or another identification document
- The credit card that you made the reservation with
- The printed confirmation voucher

Additional information about hiring a car is available here.

Driving
It is better to avoid driving in Sicily’s ancient towns and cities if possible. Their streets and alleys are narrow and bendy, a fact often compounded by badly parked cars, vans and motorcycles. Parking spaces on the street are hard to come by. There are car parks in the bigger cities with hourly rates sometimes as high as £2.50. Bigger car parks are located on the outskirts, but in Taormina, for example, there is a complimentary shuttle service into town.

Outside the cities, roads are not busy and parking is rarely a problem. Motorways and toll roads link Siracusa, Catania, Messina, Palermo and Marsala on the triangular shaped island's north and east coasts. These motorways are convenient primary routes for reaching beach resorts and roads for interior tourism draws. Secondary routes are not well signposted so a good map or GPS system is an invaluable resource.

Drivers on these secondary roads are advised to keep within speed limits and to keep an eye out for potholes as well as pedestrians in rural areas and villages where there are no pavements. When it is raining, speed limits are reduced. Outside the cities, motorists are required to drive with their headlights on low beam.

See the tips in our guide to Italy for more information on driving here.

Transport

The main public transport options in Sicily are bus or train. Azienda Siciliana Transport operates 750 vehicles on 154 different routes and is the island’s principal bus operator in both rural and urban districts. The buses are well-maintained and clean, and depending on the specific route, reasonably frequent. Trenitalia runs the railway system which covers 800 miles (1,300kms) of track.

As is the case with most public transport in Italy, passengers have to buy their tickets prior to boarding. When travelling by train, passengers have to validate their tickets at the yellow machines in the stations. Fares are inexpensive. A bus journey of up to six miles (10kms) costs £0.85 for a single, £1.50 for a return and £8.70 for a carnet of 10 tickets. In the main towns, tickets are sold at stations, bars and tobacconists.

Trains
Trains in Italy link most major locations, but apart from services between Palermo, Messina and Catania, they are not quick and operate sporadically. People heading to mainland Italy after their Sicily sojourns might find the Messina to Naples train service useful. The trains are shunted onto a boat for the five-kilometre trip across the Messina Strait. A heritage narrow-gauge train still operates at Mt Etna.

Taxis
Taxis and private-hire cars are widely available in towns such as Taormina, Palermo and Catania, and wait for passengers at designated ranks. Most have meters. Locals say the meters have usually been tampered with and that it is better to agree on a fare to the required destination before setting off. Sicily Taxi Service is one of the more reputable companies.

Buses
The two hubs of Sicily’s intercity bus routes are Palermo and Catania. Buses operate frequently during daylight hours. The more out-of-the-way rural towns and villages might have only one bus a day.

Metro
Both Palermo and Catania have small metro systems. Palermo’s system has two lines, one linking Punta Raisi Station at the city’s airport with the city centre, while the system in Catania consists of a single four-kilometre track between Borgo and Galatea.

Exploring

Sicily’s attractions are not limited to famous sites such as Palermo’s majestic cathedral, Ursino Castle in Catania and the combined World Heritage site of Syracuse and Pantalica Necropolis or the delights of pristine beaches including Mondello and San Vito Lo Capo. There are also abundant less-visited historic sites and centres for activities, with car hire the easiest means of travel.

Recommended Drives

Valley of the Temples - Located at Agrigento, this is a complex of Greek-style Doric temples and the Tomb of Theron, which is one of the island’s UNESCO designated archaeological sites. The Temple of Concordia is largely intact and a national landmark.

Mt Etna - This is an active volcano around 25 miles (40kms) from Catania and part of the national park it shares its name with. Trekking through unique landscapes with lava deserts and pristine forest is the main draw. The village of Piano Provenzana is the base point for treks and in winter, for skiing.

Monreale Cathedral - Located in a village high above a verdant valley to the south of Palermo and dates from the latter half of the 12th century. It is noted for the beauty of its cloisters and a splendid nave supported by granite pillars. The road up to Monreale Village offers pastoral views.

Practical information

  • Currency
    Euro
  • Driving direction
    Right
  • City speed limit
    50 km/h
  • Freeway speed limit
    110 km/h
  • Language
    Italian
  • Popular car category
    mini
  • Popular rental companies
    Sicily by Car

What most people want to know

The following questions and answers are a selection of the most popular questions. If you do not find the answer to your question, have a look at the Frequently Asked Questions page or contact us.
Is Carrentals.co.uk the cheapest? Yes, we offer a guarantee of the lowest price - because we compare various retailers, we can always offer you the best price in town. What do I need to do when picking up a car? To pick up your car, you will need your voucher, passport, driver's license and a credit card. It is very important that your driver's license and credit card are in the same name as the main driver. Keep in mind that the local rental company will reserve a certain amount on your credit card as a deposit. This requires the PIN code for your credit card. If your driver's license is foreign (for example, in Chinese), you must bring a translation with you. Only your original passport and driver's license will be accepted - a copy is not sufficient. Are there any additional costs? In general, our rates are all-inclusive. Should there be any additional costs, our booking department will get in touch with you before issuing the invoice. Should you object, you can always cancel your reservation with no obligations attached (at least 48 hours in advance). What kind of insurance is applicable to my car rental? In general, Liability Insurance, Fire Insurance, All-Risks Insurance and Theft Insurance are included in the cost of your rental car. What is a worry-free label? This label indicates that a rental car satisfies the following requirements: Unlimited kilometers, no excess liability (and no excess cover available), sustainable energy policy, and that the car rental company has a good reputation. Availability of cars satisfying these four requirements will speed up the selection of a suitable vehicle for you. How can I change or cancel my reservation? You can cancel your reservation through "My Account". We recommend contacting us by phone if your changes to your booking or cancellation takes place at short notice (48 hours or less). When will I get a confirmation of my booking? Most reservations will receive confirmation within minutes after payment takes place. We recommend contacting our Booking Department for last minute reservations (pick-up within 48 hours). Which car rental companies are compared by Carrentals.co.uk? at this location
  • Alamo
  • Leasys
  • Sixt
  • LocautoRent
  • Centauro
  • Sicily by Car
  • Enterprise
  • Keddy By Europcar
  • Europcar
  • Dollar Rent a Car
  • Hertz
  • Noleggiare
  • Avis
  • Thrifty
  • Maggiore
  • Budget
  • FireFly Car Rental
  • InterRent
  • Goldcar
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