The Grand Cycling Tour of Sicily is a permanent itinerary of 1200 kilometers that goes around Sicily by bike in 21 stages. The tracks have a mixed asphalt/dirt surface, which is why it is advisable to travel this tour of Sicily by gravel bike, mountain bike or hybrid (trekking bike).
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The Grand Cycling Tour of Sicily by bike is the cycling itinerary that goes around Sicily by bike in 21 stages. The route takes place on secondary roads with little traffic, rural, local and urban roads and cycle paths reserved for bicycles. In Palermo, Trapani and Catania, the Cycling Tour of Sicily by gravel bike crosses Sicily Divide Gravel Adventure, the most famous gravel itinerary in Sicily.
It is not a cycle path in Sicily but a cycling itinerary that uses all types of roads: cycle paths, rural roads, urban roads, provincial roads, state roads. All the roads included in the Periplus of Sicily have been chosen because they have little or no traffic.
The Grand Cycling Tour of Sicily by gravel bike is not demanding from a technical point of view because it does not include particularly challenging dirt roads or technical segments that require great skill in riding a bicycle. The commitment, however, exists because it is still a cycle touring itinerary that goes around Sicily by bicycle for a total of over 1200 km.
For this reason, the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel has been divided into 3 sections called semi-circles of about 400 km each which correspond, more or less, to a week-long bike trip.
The Via dei Tramonti, the itinerary from Palermo to Agrigento by bike on the coast is about 400 kilometers long with 3500 meters of total ascent, therefore, rather easy to cover. the stages are those included from 1 to 7. The name derives from the fact that every evening we witness a spectacular sunset from a dream location.
The Via della Liberazione, the cycling itinerary from Agrigento to Catania, is about 418 kilometers long with a total ascent of 2800 metres. The name derives from the fact that it crosses the places where the soldiers of Operation Husky landed during the Second World War.
Finally, the Northern Way is the one that goes from Catania to Palermo and skirts woods and castles that overlook cliffs overlooking the sea. A sort of small Normandy in Sicily. The itinerary is about 416 kilometers long with 2300 meters of total ascent.
To get to Sicily with a bicycle, it is possible to use the transport service of the bicycle accompanied by the airlines, that of Trenitalia and that of the ferries. It all sounds very simple but in reality, these solutions can endanger the bicycle and the contents of the luggage.
Transporting a bicycle by plane, in addition to the normal risk of loss of luggage (which does not spare bicycles), exposes the bicycle to the obvious risk of mechanical damage. In fact, airport baggage handlers are quite used to handling baggage quickly and cannot always use the greatest possible caution. For a suitcase this is not a problem, for a bicycle it is. On several occasions, cycle tourists have been seen arriving at airports all over the world (Sicily included) with irreversible damage to the frames and mechanical parts of the bicycle which interrupt the journey by bicycle even before it begins. The transport of the bicycle by train is permitted only if the bicycle is disassembled and placed in a special suitcase and provides for luggage dimensions which are only possible with a folding bicycle. The solution offered by intercity trains is more convenient for transport in racks made especially for bikes, but there are few trains and you need to book well in advance to find available places for bikes. Transporting the bicycle by ship, on the other hand, is much simpler but requires very long journeys and above all to reach the port of departure of the ferry which can also be very far from where you live.
Renting a bicycle directly in Sicily can be an interesting solution given that by now there is a vast offer of high quality bicycles. There are many agencies that deal with the rental but you have to be careful and always contact professionals in the sector to avoid incurring scams and nasty surprises. The rental agency that we recommend is bikerentalsicily.com managed by the tour operator Inspiring Tours of Palermo which specializes in bike trips and medium and high-end bicycle rental.
The Grand Cycling Tour of Sicily is an itinerary that includes a tour of all of Sicily by bicycle, therefore it is very long, over 1200 kilometres. For this reason we have decided to divide it into 21 stages.
What are the stages of the Circumnavigation of Sicily by bicycle?
From Palermo to Terrasini is the first stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. You go along one of the most beautiful coasts of western Sicily. From the capital city of Sicily we continue towards some very famous and renowned centers both for their architectural beauties and for the recent history of Italy made up of more or less beautiful adventures to remember but nonetheless all absolutely unmissable. You cross places like Carini, Capaci, Isola delle Femmine and Terrasini by bicycle.
From Terrasini to Castellammare del Gorlfo is the second stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. The itinerary, mainly on asphalt, allows you to explore some of the most beautiful villages on the northern coast with stops at uncrowded beaches with golden sand.
From Castellammare to Trapani is the third stage of the Circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel as well as one of the most beautiful stages of the tour of Sicily by bike. After leaving the seaside village of Castellammare, you immediately jump into a riot of gravel on a cliff overlooking a crystal clear sea. The white marble quarries and the suggestive Mangiapane cave are just the appetizer before the wonderful Cornino cycle path which is among the most beautiful in all of Sicily.
From Trapani to Mazara del Vallo is the fourth stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. This is the section with lots of sand, lots of sea and romantic walks like the one on the walls of Tramontana in Trapani or among the alleys of the Kasbah of Mazara.
From Mazara del Vallo to Selinunte is the fifth stage of the Periplus of Sicily in gravel e, leaving behind the most Arab part of Sicily. we immerse ourselves in the most Greek Sicily there is. Let’s start with the mysterious Cave of Cusa and conclude with the surprising ruins of Selinunte, a powerful Greek city.
From Selinunte to Sciacca is the sixth stage of the Circumnavigation of Sicily by bicycle. A moderately demanding route in which we will pedal immersed in the Sicilian countryside among vineyards, olive groves and old railways transformed into super wild cycle paths. We end the day with a good aperitif in the Sciacca viewpoint overlooking a breathtaking bay.
From Sciacca to Agrigento is the seventh stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. This is a stage for those who want to pedal hard, a continuous ups and downs on secondary and abandoned roads, all to avoid the very busy SS115. Let’s take advantage of these continuous detours to enjoy the crazy highlights such as the Bay of Torre Salsa, the ancient village of Siculiana and the famous Scala dei Turchi.
From Agrigento to Licata is the eighth stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. Provincial roads with unforgettable views, ancient castles overlooking the sea, beaches where the epic battles between fascists and allied forces were fought, Art Nouveau villas immersed in nature and finally a breath-taking climb towards the sanctuary of Monserrato. A really good challenge for any gravel climber.
From Licata to Gela is the ninth stage of the Circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. This is a demanding stage, a roller coaster between forgotten provincial roads, rock formations with curious and mysterious shapes, abandoned mills and quarries, the reborn Montelungo and the surprising city of Gela, an ancient and powerful Greek city that struggles, with resilience, against the ugliness of the old petrochemical plant.
From Gela to Marina di Ragusa is the tenth stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. From here you enter the realm of the Baroque and of Inspector Montalbano, of detective stories and rebirth after the 1693 earthquake. Marina di Ragusa is one of the most bike-friendly towns on the southern coast.
From Marina di Ragusa to Pozzallo is the eleventh stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. Don’t be deceived by the completely relaxing route with an average slope of 1%, we won’t be able to hurry. It will be difficult not to stop and take pictures among fossil dunes, pristine beaches, ancient towers and small seaside villages. But we are gravel cyclists and we like this.
From Pozzallo to Marzamemi is the twelfth stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. The itinerary of this stage is a continuous turning towards the sea where the sand and the dunes plunge into the waves. We will ride in the exact point where the Ionian and Mediterranean meet and mix, in the southernmost point of Italy.
From Marzamemi to Syracuse is the thirteenth stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. We leave behind the romantic village reborn after the RAF bombings of the Second World War and head towards Syracuse, one of the most beautiful cities in eastern Sicily, an incredible mix of Baroque, classical Greek and Renaissance style kissing a beautiful sea and fertile plains rich in famous products. A true paradise for gravel climbers like us.
From Syracuse to Catania is the fourteenth stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. The itinerary up to the Magnisi Peninsula is a splendor but then, due to the immense petrochemical plant, it loses all its charm and becomes uninteresting. In fact, we recommend taking the train from Priolo-Melilli and going directly to Catania, the city of Etna to enjoy the gravel roads with black sand.
From Catania to Taormina is the fifteenth stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. After having traveled the Riviera dei Ciclopi on a panoramic cycle path, we begin to touch the dry lava stone walls until we reach Acireale and its beautiful Timpa on a dirt road.
From Taormina to Messina is the sixteenth stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. This stage is really not very demanding with an average slope of less than 1% and takes place almost exclusively on the national road which is the only available route. Messina amazes us with its nightlife and its elegant liberty avenues in which to stroll.
From Messina to Milazzo is the seventeenth stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. After having covered the entire Messina coast on a beautiful cycle path up to the Ganzirri lakes, we stop at the beach of Capo Peloro with its immense “piluni” to then make our way towards Milazzo and its beautiful cliffs.
From Milazzo to Capo d’Orlando is the eighteenth stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. Along the way of this stage we will encounter a lot of asphalt but also a lot of sea. A riot of sea in which to dive in the warmer months to cool off a bit. The real gem of the day are the Marinello lakes and the ascent by bike to the Sanctuary of Tindari.
From Capo d’Orlando to Castel di Tusa is the nineteenth stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. After having covered the beautiful cycle path on the sea of Torrenova, we enter and exit a thousand times from the SS113, with little traffic and very panoramic, to visit the thousand fishing villages that doze silently along the coast. Castel di Tusa, then, welcomes us with its beautiful medieval castle that stands out on the gulf.
From Castel di Tusa to Cefalù is the twentieth stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. A very short stage to regain some strength. We don’t mind arriving early at our destination as we will be able to enjoy Cefalù, one of the most beautiful and famous seaside villages in Sicily.
From Cefalù to Palermo and the twenty-first stage of the circumnavigation of Sicily in gravel. The adventure is over but the satisfaction of having concluded an epic journey by bicycle along the 1200 km tour of Sicily by bike remains.
This information was provided by the authors of the itinerary or was taken from the official website or from their social pages, therefore, does not come from official statistical bodies. Before planning a trip on this itinerary, it is essential to contact the authors or those responsible for it to get updated information. In any case.