Traveling by Train in Sicily

Train travel in Sicily is not for those in a hurry. It is best suited to those individuals who need to atone for their sins by doing penance, and rumor has it that a one-way ticket on Sicilian rail can be redeemed for a week out of purgatory. At least you won’t be fighting traffic and clinically insane drivers, or spend your day looking for a parking space.

Most trains in Sicily are Regionale, which, no matter how you translate it, means slow. They usually offer only 2nd class tickets and no services other than bringing your bicycle on board, presumably so that when you get fed up with the painstakingly slow train, you can quickly pedal away. On the bright side, regionale train tickets are cheap and routes are often scenic.

One rail route in Sicily that holds promise as a sightseeing journey and a step back in time is the Ragusa-Syracuse route, which takes approximately 2 hours one way. (You can also board the train at Modica, one stop east of Ragusa, which has slightly more frequent service and trims about 30 minutes off the journey.) The train is usually a rickety 1-2 car contraption, redolent of sweat and dust, but with a friendly conductor, who occasionally stops for coffee along the way. This old Sicilian train wends its way through groves of gnarled olive trees, peeks into the vegetable gardens of ramshackle houses, stops for no reason under the shady canopy of a magnificent carob tree, dips down towards the shimmering turquoise sea, and as it nears the town of Noto, is engulfed by lemon trees. In spring the scent of lemon blossoms fills the train with a scent so intoxicatingly sweet you’ll feel like you’ve skipped purgatory and gone straight to heaven. When the train finally squeals into the station at Syracuse, you can stretch your legs by walking the 20 minutes into the old quarter of Ortygia, and stroll by the seaside eating gelato. Make sure you check the return train times if you don’t want to be stranded overnight in Syracuse.

Details: You can view train schedules for all trains in Italy at and there is a clickable option to view an English language version.

16 thoughts on “Traveling by Train in Sicily

  1. What’s so bad about being stranded in Siracusa overnight? You can visit the puppets in Ortygia, watch the sea reflect the stars, eat a wonderful dinner, followed my more gelato.

  2. Hello,
    Is there a website where you can search for itineraries, hours and prices for travelling by train in Sicily?
    Thank you

    1. Hello Romy- There is the national train system website of trenitalia, where you can search for schedules and prices by listing departure and arrival cities. Be forewarned that it is difficult to travel all over Sicily by train, and that buses are often a faster alternative. If you do a search for “servizio pullman” or “autobus”and the name of a town, you can find bus company schedules. Buon viaggio! Ciao, Anita

  3. I found the trenitalia site almost useless in trying to plan an itinerary in Italy. Routes of the network would be helpful.I couldn’t find any information on the circumetna line from Catania despite an evening’s search.However,I did enjoy 20 minutes of a video on this route found on another site.

    1. Marion- If you look at the trenitalia website with train schedules, their is a bicycle icon if they take bikes. Train service is slow and infrequent in Sicily – it may be faster just to ride your bike! Have a wonderful trip and stay off the main roads. Get a Touring Club Italiano map, 1:200 000 scale, and you should be fine.

  4. I am going to a little town called San Giuseppe Jato sicely, is there a public bus that goes to palermo,sicely? And how do I find a schedule of times .

  5. Ciao Anita.
    Thanks for train travel info.
    Can you recommend any nice day trips from Palermo in January (train or bus).
    Grazie mille.

  6. Hi Anita,
    We are arriving in Palermo on the 13th August and plan to fly out of Catania on the 22nd. Is it possible in the time frame to use public transport to see Trapani, Taormina, Syracuse And fly out of Catania to Rome.

  7. Hi Anita – husband and I will be spending the month on January in Sicily….moving around….hopefully by train or bus….can you offer information on a logical routing? We want to be in Palermo from the 23rd of January to the 29th to meet up with family members. I know the weather will not be great…but better in Sicily than Chicago!

  8. I need to be in Palermo on an Oct. date when there are no flyer milage award seats from the USA, but I can get them flying into Catania, arriving 2:30 pm. Would you recommend I stay overnite in Catania and go by rail next a.m. or try to get to Palermo same day I arrive in Catania? P.S. We will see Catania for 3 days at end of tour.

    1. I would take a bus the same day from Catania to Palermo or check the train schedules, as bus can be more frequent and faster.

  9. I was in Palermo, Sicily and I took a train to San Nicola. How far can you go on this same train to see other towns, like Tribia? and further in a day?

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