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A Short Guide To Visiting Erice, Sicily – The Medieval Hill Town


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Flossie Baltazar



Welcome to Erice, Sicily’s enchanting medieval hill town. Perched on top of Mount Erice, overlooking the western coast of Sicily, Erice offers visitors a step back in time with its cobbled streets, ancient ruins, and breathtaking panoramic views. This picturesque destination combines history, culture, and natural beauty to create a truly unforgettable experience.


Erice is located just a short distance from Trapani, making it easily accessible for tourists. Whether you are interested in exploring its historical sites, indulging in delicious Sicilian cuisine, or simply taking in the stunning vistas, Erice has something to offer every visitor.


Considered one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in Italy, Erice is a labyrinth of narrow streets lined with ancient stone buildings, charming courtyards, and traditional shops. As you wander through its maze-like alleys, you’ll be transported back in time to a bygone era.


But it’s not just the captivating beauty that attracts visitors to Erice. The town has a rich history that dates back to ancient times. It was originally founded by the indigenous Elymians, before being conquered by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Normans, and other civilizations that left their mark on the town’s architecture and culture.


Today, Erice is a popular tourist destination that offers a range of attractions and activities. Whether you’re interested in exploring historical sites, visiting museums and art galleries, indulging in local cuisine, or simply enjoying the stunning views, Erice has it all.


This article will serve as your guide to visiting Erice, providing you with all the essential information you need to make the most of your trip. From getting there to exploring the town’s top attractions, from finding the best restaurants to participating in local festivals, this guide will help you create memories that will last a lifetime.


Getting to Erice

Getting to Erice is relatively easy, and there are several transportation options available.


By Air: The nearest airport to Erice is Trapani Birgi Airport, also known as Vincenzo Florio Airport. It is well-served by both domestic and international flights. Once you arrive at the airport, you can take a taxi or a shuttle bus to the center of Trapani, which is approximately 20 kilometers away from Erice. From there, you can take a cable car or a bus to reach Erice.


By Ferry: If you’re traveling from the neighboring island of Pantelleria or from mainland Italy, you can take a ferry to Trapani Port. There are regular ferry services that connect Trapani with various destinations. From the port, you can easily access the cable car or bus that will take you up to Erice.


By Car: If you prefer to drive, Erice is easily accessible by car. From Trapani, you can take the SP31 road, which leads directly to Erice. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes and offers scenic views along the way. It’s important to note that the streets of Erice are narrow and winding, so driving can be challenging for those who are not accustomed to such conditions.


By Public Transportation: Trapani has a well-connected public transportation system that includes buses and cable cars. From the center of Trapani, you can take a cable car up to Erice, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Alternatively, there are also regular buses that operate between Trapani and Erice. It’s advisable to check the schedules and plan your trip accordingly.


Once you arrive in Erice, the best way to explore the town is on foot. The town is relatively small and can be easily navigated. Its narrow streets and charming alleys are best experienced by strolling at a leisurely pace.


Whether you choose to arrive by air, ferry, car, or public transportation, your journey to Erice will be rewarded with the unique charm and beauty that this medieval hill town has to offer.


Exploring Erice

Exploring Erice is like stepping into a fairytale. The town’s intricate maze of cobbled streets, ancient buildings, and stunning viewpoints offers a truly enchanting experience.


Start your exploration by wandering through the town’s narrow alleys and hidden courtyards. As you stroll along, you’ll come across architectural gems such as the Castle of Venus, a Norman castle that dates back to the 12th century. Climb to the top of the castle’s tower for panoramic views of the town and the surrounding coastline.


Another must-visit site is the Duomo, Erice’s main church. This beautiful Gothic church features intricate sculptures and stunning stained glass windows. Step inside to admire its grandeur and tranquility.


For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Pepoli Castle is a must. This ancient fortress houses a museum that showcases artifacts and exhibits detailing the history of Erice. Explore its halls and learn about the town’s fascinating past.


As you continue to explore Erice, you’ll encounter charming medieval squares such as Piazza Umberto I, lined with cafes and restaurants. Take a break, sip a cup of rich Sicilian coffee, and indulge in some people-watching.


One of the highlights of exploring Erice is the breathtaking panoramic views it offers. Head to the Balio Gardens, located just outside the town’s walls, for a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside, sea, and neighboring islands.


Don’t forget to visit the famous Torretta Pepoli, a tower perched on a hilltop that provides panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see. Marvel at the beauty of the sunset as it bathes the landscape in golden hues.


If you want to delve deeper into Erice’s history and culture, take some time to visit the town’s museums and art galleries. The Civic Museum hosts a collection of artifacts that showcase the Elymian and Roman periods, while the Cordici Museum exhibits medieval art and archaeology.


While exploring Erice, also take the opportunity to experience the town’s local cuisine. Indulge in traditional Sicilian dishes such as pasta alla Norma, arancini, and cannoli. The town is dotted with charming restaurants and trattorias where you can savor these culinary delights.


Exploring Erice is a journey through time, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Capture the essence of this medieval hill town as you wander through its streets, immerse yourself in its rich heritage, and take in the mesmerizing views that surround you.


Historical Sites

Erice is a treasure trove of historical sites, preserving the rich heritage of the various civilizations that have left their mark on the town throughout history. From ancient ruins to medieval castles, visitors can immerse themselves in the fascinating history of this charming hill town.


One of the most prominent historical sites in Erice is the Castle of Venus (Castello di Venere). This Norman castle, perched on a hilltop, offers not only panoramic views but also a glimpse into the town’s past. Take a walk along its ancient walls and explore its towers, dungeons, and courtyards. It’s a remarkable spot to admire the medieval architecture and absorb the captivating atmosphere.


The Pepoli Castle (Castello di Pepoli) is another historical gem in Erice. This ancient fortress, dating back to the 12th century, now houses the Erice Regional Museum. Inside, you can discover artifacts and exhibits that depict the town’s history, from its ancient origins to the Middle Ages. The museum provides a fascinating insight into Erice’s past and is a must-visit for history enthusiasts.


The Duomo, officially known as the Cathedral of Maria Santissima Assunta, is a significant religious and historical site in Erice. This stunning Gothic church dates back to the 14th century and showcases impressive architectural features, including beautiful stained glass windows and intricate sculptures. Step inside to admire the ornate altars and the peaceful atmosphere that surrounds you.


As you explore the streets of Erice, you’ll come across other historical gems that add to the town’s allure. The Church of San Martino, dating back to the 14th century, is a prime example. It’s known for its elegant facade and its art-filled interior, which includes works by renowned local artists.


Erice is also home to the Ettore Majorana Science Center, a modern architectural marvel that contrasts with the town’s ancient charm. The center is dedicated to the renowned physicist Ettore Majorana and offers interactive exhibits that explore various scientific disciplines.


Take a walk along the town walls, which were built by the Normans, to fully appreciate the historical significance of Erice. As you wander, you’ll encounter towers, gates, and bastions, providing a glimpse into the town’s medieval past. The walls offer magnificent views of the town itself and the surrounding landscape.


Exploring the historical sites of Erice is like embarking on a journey back in time. Each site tells a unique story and contributes to the town’s rich history. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the past as you uncover the fascinating heritage that Erice proudly preserves.


Museums and Art Galleries

Erice is not only rich in historical sites, but it also boasts a collection of museums and art galleries that showcase the town’s cultural heritage and artistic prowess. From archaeological artifacts to medieval art, visitors can delve into the fascinating world of Erice’s art and history.


The Civic Museum (Museo Civico) is a must-visit for history enthusiasts. Housed in a former Capuchin convent, the museum showcases artifacts from the Elymian and Roman periods, giving visitors a glimpse into the ancient civilizations that once thrived in the area. Among the highlights of the collection are pottery, jewelry, and sculptures.


The Cordici Museum (Museo Cordici), located in a medieval building near the Castle of Venus, specializes in medieval art and archaeology. Here, you can admire a collection of precious medieval manuscripts, intricate pottery, and religious artifacts. The museum offers a captivating insight into the artistic and cultural heritage of Erice during the Middle Ages.


For art enthusiasts, a visit to the Maria Adele Gallery is a treat for the senses. This contemporary art gallery showcases the works of local and international artists, celebrating various artistic forms such as painting, sculpture, and photography. Take your time to appreciate the diverse styles and creativity on display.


The Annunziata Art Gallery (Galleria d’Arte Annunziata) is another gem for art lovers. Housed in a former church, the gallery exhibits a range of artworks, including paintings, ceramics, and sculptures by both established and emerging artists. It’s a wonderful place to explore the vibrant art scene of Erice.


If you’re interested in science and technology, the Ettore Majorana Science Center is worth a visit. While not a traditional museum, it offers interactive exhibits that explore various scientific disciplines, including physics, chemistry, and astronomy. Engage with hands-on displays and learn about the wonders of the natural world.


Many of the museums and art galleries in Erice regularly host temporary exhibitions and cultural events, so it’s worth checking the schedules to see if there are any special showcases during your visit.


Visiting the museums and art galleries of Erice allows you to immerse yourself in the town’s cultural wealth and artistic expression. From ancient artifacts to contemporary creations, these institutions offer a deeper appreciation of Erice’s heritage and connect you with the town’s vibrant artistic community.


Cuisine and Restaurants

Erice is not only a feast for the eyes but also a culinary delight. The town is known for its delectable Sicilian cuisine, offering a range of flavors and dishes that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.


When it comes to traditional Sicilian dishes, Erice does not disappoint. One must-try dish is the pasta alla Norma, a combination of pasta, flavorful tomato sauce, fried eggplant, and grated ricotta cheese. It’s a classic Sicilian dish that perfectly represents the region’s culinary heritage.


Another Sicilian specialty is the arancini, fried rice balls filled with a variety of ingredients such as meat, cheese, or vegetables. These savory treats make for a perfect snack or appetizer.


After exploring the historical sites, make sure to indulge in some local street food. Erice is dotted with small food stalls and bakeries where you can try traditional treats such as panelle (chickpea fritters), cazzilli (potato croquettes), and sfincione (Sicilian pizza topped with tomato sauce, onions, and breadcrumbs).


For a sweet ending to your meal, don’t miss out on trying the famous Sicilian cannoli. These crispy pastry shells filled with sweet ricotta cream and adorned with candied fruit are a true delight for dessert lovers.


Erice is home to numerous restaurants, trattorias, and osterias where you can savor authentic Sicilian dishes. Many of these establishments source their ingredients locally, ensuring that you experience the freshness and flavors of the region.


When choosing a restaurant, look for those that showcase regional specialties and feature seasonal ingredients. From seafood dishes like grilled swordfish to hearty meat dishes such as involtini di vitello (stuffed veal rolls), there is a wide range of options to suit every palate.


As you indulge in the local cuisine, pair your meals with a glass of Sicilian wine. The region is known for its excellent vineyards and produces a variety of quality wines, including Nero d’Avola and Etna Rosso.


Whether you opt for a casual street food experience or an elegant dinner at a traditional restaurant, the cuisine of Erice will surely leave a lasting impression and add a delicious dimension to your visit.


Accommodation Options

When it comes to accommodations, Erice offers a range of options to suit different preferences and budgets. Whether you are looking for a charming boutique hotel, a cozy bed and breakfast, or a comfortable vacation rental, you will find the perfect place to stay in this medieval hill town.


One of the popular choices for visitors is staying in a traditional trapanese-style house, many of which have been converted into charming bed and breakfasts or vacation rentals. These accommodations often feature rustic decor, offering a unique and authentic experience.


If you prefer the convenience of a hotel, Erice has options to cater to different tastes. From elegant boutique hotels nestled within historic buildings to modern establishments with panoramic views, there are accommodations that provide comfort and charm.


For those seeking a more secluded and peaceful stay, you might consider staying in a countryside agriturismo. These farm-stay accommodations offer a tranquil setting surrounded by lush landscapes, providing a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the town.


Since Erice is a popular destination, it’s advisable to book accommodations in advance, especially during the peak tourist season. This will ensure that you secure the best availability and rates.


When choosing your accommodation, consider factors such as location, amenities, and the overall ambiance that suits your preferences. Many accommodations in Erice offer stunning views of the town and its surroundings, providing a picturesque backdrop for your stay.


Regardless of where you choose to stay, you will find yourself immersed in the charm and tranquility of Erice. Settle into your accommodations and take in the unique atmosphere as you prepare to explore all that this enchanting hill town has to offer.


Festivals and Events

Erice comes alive with a vibrant calendar of festivals and events throughout the year, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the town’s rich cultural traditions and lively atmosphere. From religious processions to music festivals, there is always something exciting happening in this medieval hill town.


One of the most anticipated events in Erice is the Feast of Saint Julian (Festa di San Giuliano), held on the last weekend of August. This religious celebration pays tribute to the town’s patron saint with parades, fireworks, and traditional processions that fill the streets with color and music. It’s a spectacle that shouldn’t be missed.


The Erice Summer Music Festival is a highlight for music enthusiasts. Held in July and August, the festival features a series of concerts in various historic locations throughout the town. From classical music to traditional Sicilian melodies, the festival showcases a diverse range of performances.


During Easter, Erice is filled with religious fervor as the town celebrates Holy Week. The processions and ceremonies that take place during this time are a reflection of the town’s deep-rooted religious traditions. Witness the solemn atmosphere and join the locals in paying homage to this important event.


In October, Erice hosts the Marzipan Festival (Festa del Marzapane), where the town’s streets are transformed into a sweet wonderland. Local pastry shops display and sell marzipan creations in various shapes and sizes, showcasing the artistry and delicacy of this traditional Sicilian treat.


If you happen to visit in September, you may have the chance to experience the Cous Cous Fest, a major culinary event that celebrates the diversity of couscous dishes from different cultures. Chefs from around the world gather in Erice to showcase their culinary skills and compete for the title of the best couscous dish.


Throughout the year, Erice also hosts art exhibitions, craft fairs, and other cultural events that showcase the region’s talent and creativity. Keep an eye on the town’s event calendar to make sure you don’t miss out on any exciting happenings during your visit.


Attending the festivals and events in Erice allows you to immerse yourself in the lively spirit of the town and witness the traditions that have been passed down through generations. It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with the local community and create lasting memories of your time in this enchanting hill town.


Shopping in Erice

Exploring the charming streets of Erice is not only a visual delight but also a shopper’s paradise. The town is known for its local craftsmanship, offering a range of unique products and souvenirs that make for perfect mementos of your visit.


One of the highlights of shopping in Erice is the ceramics. The town is renowned for its exquisite hand-painted ceramics, including plates, bowls, vases, and tiles. These beautiful pieces showcase the traditional artistry and craftsmanship of the region and make for fantastic keepsakes or gifts.


Leather goods are also popular in Erice. You’ll find shops selling high-quality leather bags, wallets, belts, and accessories. From classic designs to modern styles, these products are made with attention to detail and are perfect for those looking for a stylish and durable item.


Erice is also famous for its almond-based products. Look for shops selling almond pastries, nougats, and marzipan creations. These sweet treats make for delicious souvenirs to bring back home and share with loved ones.


If you’re a fan of fine wines, Erice is a great place to indulge in some wine shopping. Explore local wineries and wine shops where you can find a variety of Sicilian wines, including indigenous grape varietals that are unique to the region. Pick up a bottle or two to enjoy a taste of Sicily even after you’ve returned home.


In addition to ceramics, leather goods, almond treats, and wine, Erice is also known for its local handicrafts. Browse through shops selling hand-woven textiles, intricate lacework, and traditional Sicilian embroidery. These items showcase the artisanal skills and cultural heritage of the region.


While exploring the town, make sure to visit the local food shops that offer a variety of specialty products. From extra virgin olive oil and sun-dried tomatoes to gourmet chocolates and aromatic herbs, you’ll find a wide range of culinary delights that reflect the flavors of Sicily.


Shopping in Erice allows you to support local artisans and businesses while bringing home unique and meaningful souvenirs. Whether you’re seeking ceramics, leather goods, food products, or handicrafts, the town’s shops offer a diverse array of options that cater to different interests and tastes.


Outdoor Activities

Erice, with its picturesque setting atop a hill, offers a multitude of outdoor activities for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.


One of the best ways to explore the natural beauty of Erice is by taking a hike or leisurely walk along the town’s ancient walls. As you follow the paths, you’ll be treated to stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, the coast, and the neighboring islands. It’s a truly magical experience that allows you to connect with the breathtaking landscapes.


The Balio Gardens, located just outside the town walls, provide a peaceful oasis where you can relax and take in the beauty of nature. The well-manicured gardens offer shaded paths, fragrant flowers, and secluded spots for a quiet picnic or leisurely stroll.


If you’re looking for a more active adventure, you can go cycling or horseback riding in the surrounding countryside. Rent a bike or join a guided tour to explore the scenic routes that wind through vineyards, olive groves, and charming rural villages. For a unique experience, opt for a horseback riding excursion and enjoy the picturesque landscapes at a leisurely pace.


The western coast of Sicily, near Erice, offers beautiful beaches where you can unwind and soak up the sun. Choose from a variety of sandy coves and crystal-clear waters, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, or even trying water sports such as snorkeling or paddleboarding.


Erice is also a great starting point for excursions to nearby natural reserves and parks. The Zingaro Nature Reserve, located just a short distance away, is a pristine coastal reserve with hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of rugged cliffs, turquoise waters, and diverse flora and fauna. The Monte Cofano Nature Reserve is another nearby gem, with scenic trails that lead to secluded coves and breathtaking views of the coastline.


Fishing enthusiasts can embark on a fishing trip from the nearby port of Trapani. Charter a boat and try your hand at deep-sea fishing in the Mediterranean, known for its rich marine life. Enjoy the thrill of reeling in your catch and savor the satisfaction of a fresh seafood dinner.


Outdoor activities in Erice allow you to embrace the natural wonders and landscapes of this beautiful region. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll, an adventurous hike, a day at the beach, or an exploration of nearby reserves, the opportunities for outdoor adventures are abundant in and around the town.


Tips for Visiting Erice

Visiting Erice is a truly enchanting experience, but to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip, it’s worth keeping these tips in mind:


1. Wear comfortable shoes: Erice’s streets are cobbled and can be steep in some areas, so be sure to wear comfortable footwear that allows you to navigate the town’s hilly terrain with ease.


2. Dress in layers: The weather in Erice can be unpredictable, especially at higher altitudes. It is advisable to dress in layers, so you can easily adjust to changing temperatures throughout the day.


3. Plan your visit: Erice can get crowded during peak tourist season. To make the most of your visit, plan your itinerary ahead of time and consider visiting the popular attractions in the early morning or later in the afternoon when it’s less crowded.


4. Explore beyond the main streets: While the main streets of Erice offer plenty of charm, don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path. Explore the quieter alleys and hidden corners to discover lesser-known gems and authentic local experiences.


5. Try Sicilian delicacies: Erice is an excellent place to sample traditional Sicilian cuisine. Take the opportunity to try local specialties such as pasta alla Norma, arancini, and cannoli. Be adventurous and indulge in the flavors that Sicily is known for.


6. Learn a few Italian phrases: While many locals in Erice speak English, knowing a few basic Italian phrases can go a long way in enhancing your interactions and experiences. Simple greetings and pleasantries can help establish a friendly connection with the locals.


7. Respect local customs: Erice has deep-rooted traditions and customs, particularly in its religious celebrations. Respect the local customs and traditions by observing dress codes and behaving respectfully during religious events and processions.


8. Take your time to enjoy the views: Erice is known for its breathtaking panoramic views. Don’t rush through your visit. Take the time to pause, take in the stunning vistas, and create lasting memories of the beautiful landscapes.


9. Cash is handy: While most places accept credit cards, it’s a good idea to carry some cash with you, especially for small shops, food stalls, and local markets that may not always have card payment options.


10. Embrace the relaxed pace: Erice is a town that embraces a slower pace of life. Take this opportunity to slow down, appreciate the beauty around you, and immerse yourself in the laid-back atmosphere of this magical hill town.


By keeping these tips in mind, you can make the most of your visit to Erice and create unforgettable memories while embracing the rich history, culture, and natural beauty of this enchanting destination.



Erice, the medieval hill town perched on top of Mount Erice in Sicily, is a destination that captivates visitors with its timeless beauty, rich history, and breathtaking views. From exploring its historical sites to indulging in its local cuisine, Erice offers a unique and memorable experience that combines culture, nature, and gastronomy.


As you journey through the cobbled streets and alleyways of Erice, you’ll be transported back in time, surrounded by ancient ruins, majestic castles, and charming squares. The town’s museums and art galleries offer a deeper understanding of its history and artistic expression, showcasing Elymian artifacts, medieval art, and contemporary works.


The culinary scene in Erice is a treat for the taste buds. From traditional Sicilian dishes like pasta alla Norma and arancini to decadent pastries like cannoli and marzipan creations, the town’s cuisine reflects the flavors and traditions of the region. Explore the local food shops and restaurants to savor the authentic flavors of Sicily.


Erice also offers a range of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts, with hiking, cycling, horseback riding, and beach visits all within reach. Explore the scenic routes, bask in the beauty of the Balio Gardens, or embark on a fishing trip from the nearby port of Trapani.


While in Erice, immerse yourself in the town’s vibrant culture and traditions by attending its festivals and events. From religious processions to music festivals, these celebrations provide a unique insight into the local heritage and a chance to connect with the community.


As your journey in Erice comes to an end, take with you the memories of the stunning vistas, the flavors of the Sicilian cuisine, and the warmth of the local hospitality. Erice offers a truly immersive experience that allows you to step back in time, embrace the natural beauty, and relish in the rich culture of this magical hill town.