The stunning scenery of a beach

Sicily’s waters remain clean and warm throughout the summer and autumn months, with swimming conditions at their best from June to early October. Beaches range from crowded bathing lidos where you can rent sun loungers and umbrellas to stretches of nearly deserted strand.

Best for families: Cefalù

Cefalù’s long crescent of soft, golden sand is a dreamy place to spend a day… or a week. Basking here in the sun, gazing across the blue-green waters at the palm-fringed medieval cathedral backed by craggy cliffs, you may just be seduced into staying longer than expected.

The calm, warm waters – perfect for families with kids – coupled withCefalù’s proximity to Palermo (an hour away by train) make this one of Sicily’s perennial favourites. The town also boasts an enchanting historic centre, making for atmospheric strolling and gelato-shopping when dinnertime rolls around.

Best for scenery: Scala dei Turchi

Named Scala dei Turchi for the Arab pirates (colloquially known as ‘Turks’) who according to legend hid out here in stormy weather, this blindingly white, staircase-like rock formation is Sicily’s most dazzling beach backdrop.

Driving in from Agrigento (15km to the east), the first beach you come to abuts a shallow swimming area that’s perfect for kids – but older and more adventurous spirits will find it hard to resist climbing high onto the milky-smooth rock shelf beyond. From here, you can leap into the limpid jade-to-indigo waters below, or follow the stratified bands of stone to a longer, sandier strand just around the bend.

Best for solitude: Torre Salsa

Most people travelling between the superstar Greek ruins of Agrigento and Selinunte don’t even notice the turnoff for Torre Salsa – and that’s a good thing! Despite being one of Sicily’s prettiest beaches, this long stretch of golden sand backed by white cliffs remains remarkably secluded. Yes, you do have to navigate a rugged unpaved road to get here, but once you arrive, you won’t have any trouble finding a tranquil place to lay your towel.

The surrounding nature reserve, administered by the World Wildlife Fund, offers some nice trails with sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and coast; walking tours with WWF naturalists are available if you book ahead.

Best for nostalgia buffs: Mondello

When summer rolls around, Palermo’s entire population packs a beach towel and a pair of D&G shades and heads 11km north to this popular 1.5km strip of white sand sandwiched between the handsome rocky promontories of Monte Pellegrino and Monte Gallo. In fact, Mondellohas been the darling of Palermo’s see-and-be-seen crowd since the early 20th century, when a local aristocrat drained the surrounding swamplands and launched the fad of building Liberty-style (Art Nouveau) villas by the waterfront.