In Sicily, the largest Italian island and the largest in the Mediterranean sea, the climate is generally…Mediterranean(!), with mild and moderately rainy winters, and hot and sunny summers. In the inland, at hilly levels, the climate becomes slightly more continental, with moderately cold winters and still warm summers while in the mountains it becomes colder.
Sicily is sensitive to the sirocco, the hot wind coming from Africa, which can bring temperatures even higher than 20 degrees in winter, and at 40 ° C in summer. Another frequent wind is the mistral, a cooler wind that blows from the north-west and mainly affects the western part of the island.
The sea in Sicily is warm enough to swim from May (for the bravest ones!) until September-October. In May the sea is still a bit ‘cool, while in October, after the summer, its average temperature is still decent (around 23° C): on sunny days, sometimes with the sirocco wind, Sicilians still go to the sea!
The amount of sunshine in Sicily is excellent in the summer; the skies are often serene or very little cloudy; in winter, sunny periods alternate with periods with rain, wind and thunderstorms.
The rainfall trend in Sicily is Mediterranean, with a maximum in autumn and winter, a drop in spring and a minimum in summer. Above 1,000 meters of altitude, rain is more abundant than on the coast, so forests grow there. On the coast instead rainy days are less frequent and rainfall range between 400 and 600 millimeters per year.
In Sicily winter’s cold waves last only a few days and are not much intense along the coasts, where the temperature rarely reaches 0 degrees even on the coldest days. Snowfalls on the coasts are also very rare. In more hilly areas in the inland, on the other hand, snowfalls are more frequent, although limited, while in mountainous areas it can sometimes be abundant, such as on Mount Etna (3350 m), where snow is present at least 6 months a year.
The best period to visit Sicily is from April to October. Spring is the ideal period for excursions and sightseeing, while in July and August it can sometimes be very hot to move around in the open air. In October the temperatures are still mild but the weather can be rainy and windy. For a beach holiday instead the best period goes from the end of May to September, even if in mid-September, the first rains begin.
Average Temperatures and weather in Sicily
Below you will find weather data about 3 main sicilian cities (Palermo, Catania and Agrigento), to be considered as a reference for weather conditions along the three coasts where these cities are located.
Palermo, the capital of Sicily, overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea, like the rest of the Sicilian coasts has very mild winters and a hot summers. During the summer, when sunny and warm days prevail, the sea breeze tempers the heat. Rainfall amounts to around 615 millimeters per year, with a maximum in autumn and winter, and a minimum in summer, when it almost never rains.
On the east coast of Sicily is Catania. Here the thermal excursion is slightly wider, you’ll have nights a bit ‘colder in winter, while in summer this area is one of the hottest of Italy. In Catania, which is located on the east coast of Sicily, the maximum averages of July and August are 32°C while at just 15 km from the coast, it reaches 33-34° C. In Catania fall around 550 mm of rain per year, with a maximum in autumn and, as usual, a minimum in the summer.
On the southern Sicilian coast is Agrigento, located on a small hill overlooking the Sea. In this area the climate is similar to that of Catania, although the rains are less abundant, given that they are about 400/450 mm per year. Please note that the temperature below are those of Agrigento and, being the city located on a small hill, are a little lower than the average temperatures of the coasts and the beaches around.