When you think about Sicily, most of you will think of places such as Palermo, Taormina or Mount Etna. But I imagine that very few of you have heard of Favignana. I have been reluctant to write about it for a while, as it is a little hidden gem that I’ve been going to since I was born that (so far) has rarely anyone visit other than Italians.
My family are from Palermo, and after moving to England when I was 7, I would head back to Sicily every summer to see my family and we’d all stay on island, just off the coast of Sicily called Favignana. It forms part of the Egadi islands, of which there are 3- Favignana, Levanzo and Marretimo – with Favignana being the largest and most popular island.
It can be reached by a 30 minute ferry for the port of Trapani. A few years ago, Ryanair would have regular flights to Trapani from most of the UK so the island saw a rise in popularity during that time, but they’ve since stopped that route, and the only way to get there (from the UK) is to fly to Palermo, take a 1 hour car journey ( or even longer bus ride) to Trapani and then take the ferry. The whole journey can take close to half a day, so whilst it’s not the easiest island to get to, it is most definitely worth the travel.
There are several ferry companies that can take you there, you can either book a ticket in advance from Liberty Lines or buy it on the day. Be wary that if you decide to visit during peak summer, you likely won’t be able to get onto the first ferry as they will be booked up for the majority of the day and you may have to wait a few hours.
The ferries drop you off at the harbour of Favignana that is right in the centre of town. It is a very quaint but bustling, unspoilt Sicilian town, with no more than 1,000 locals that live there year round – the island is only 19 square kilometres.
Over the almost 30 years that I’ve been going to this island every summer, here are my top recommendations for things to do whilst you’re there:
Getting Around Favignana
Whilst the island isn’t popular or well known outside of Italy, it is very popular amongst Italians and as such, during peak season (July & August) they can hike their prices up for rentals.
You can prebook bicycle, moped or car rentals in advance from sites like Rental Cars or you can just go to a few of the rental shops when you arrive (most are right next to the harbour) and pick something up.
Cars can be as much as 100 euros a day.
Mopeds can be as much as 50 euros a day.
Bicycles can be 20 euros a day.
Off peak, I can normally rent a bicycle for 3 euros a day.
As Favignana is an island, there are an abundance of beaches to visit, all can be accessed by car, bicycle or moped, I wouldn’t recommend walking to any beaches unless your hotel is close by as they are very spaced out. I tend to use my bicycle as its a great way to get some exercise and take in the incredible scenery too.
Some of the best beaches on the island of Favignana are:
Lido Burrone – aka ‘The main beach’ this is the easiest to access, and most touristy, they have a few restaurants, ice cream parlour, showers, toilets, and lifeguards were you can rent kayaks and pedalos by the hour. They also offer umbrellas and sun lounger rental per day for around 15 euros including free wifi.
Cala Azzurra – this beach changes every year depending on the weather, but it has the most beautiful, crystal blue waters – it’s like being in a giant swimming pool. However, over the years and with global warming, the beach part has eroded and there is very little sand left to sit and sunbathe on. It can be quite hard to reach (if you’re travelling with old or disabled people) as its a rocky downhill slope. There’s also a cafe at the entrance to the beach for lunch.
Bue Marino – this beach is incredibly hard to get to, most drive to it and then park their cars at the top of the mountain/hill and clamber down makeshift steps to reach the waters. There isn’t a beach per se, more rocks to lie on. There is no shallow entrance to the water so only visit if you can swim well as the water is very deep, but an incredible blue.
Faraglioni – if you prefer snorkelling, fishing or diving then the Faraglioni are the best beaches for this. They’re on the opposite side of the island from the town and other beaches (on the side where I live!) and the sea there is filled to the brim with fish, octopus, sea urchins and the like. They’ve recently opened an open air apertivi bar that is the perfect spot for watching the sunset over the horizon at the end of the day.
Cala Rossa – for me, the best beach on the entire island is Cala Rossa. Like Blu Marino (which is 5 minutes away) it is very hard to get to, you have to clamber down several steep rocks, and there is no sandy beach – just rocks to lie on. But the water here is incredible, the sea is still and the most brilliant blue – like a giant, natural swimming pool. On a good day (weather wise) ALL the boats and islanders descend to this beach. There are no cafes nearby so if you do plan to visit make sure you take your own food and drink for the day.
Castello di Santa Caterina
The island of Favignana is divided by a large mountain, with one side housing many of the villas owned by locals and the other containing restaurants, bars and the more touristy beaches. At the very top of the mountain, which can be reached either by walking or driving, is a castle that was built in the 15th century and has been left ruined and abandoned.
I would definitely recommend paying it a visit, either on a cloudy day or very early in the day or towards sunset. It’s free to visit and an interesting building to explore. It offers stunning views over the island and if you’re able to get there at sunset the views are unparalleled. It takes around 40-60 minutes to walk to the top, depending on how quickly you walk.
Favignana is famous for how the local fishermen catch tuna, mainly using large nets and spears. One of the most popular places to visit on the island is their Tuna Museum, which is an old fishery. Right next to it is a plant for the conservation of the fish, and is one of the largest in the Mediterranean. The museum was only completed in 2010, and is divided into two sections: one contains the archaeological finds from the sea and display the history of the former tuna fishery. The other is a multimedia area where archive videos of the old plant are projected. Entry fee is around 6 euros.
As the island is only small, you can cycle around the entire island in less than a day. A great way to explore it is to hire a bicycle and follow the roads around the island, there is only one main road that runs the entire length of the island with smaller side roads spinning off it. It’s a great way to get your barings, discover quieter beaches and enjoy the beautiful nature the island has to offer
Hire a boat
Even if you don’t have a skippers license, you ca hire a small speed boat for the day for around 200 euros per day in low season and 300 euros a day in peak season (July & August). It’s a great way to explore the island from the ocean side and have a dip in all the different beaches the island has to offer. It’s personally one of my favourite ways to spend a day in Favignana, just pack some food and drinks and enjoy the seas. Check the weather in advance before booking to make sure you don’t book for a windy day as the sea can get very rough. A great place to book a boat from is Egadi Boating.
If driving boats aren’t your thing, there are several boat companies that offer tours of both the island itself and the neighbouring islands of Marettimo and Levanzo. I’ve personally never taken a tour of the island, but there are many boat tour shops that you can book from a few days before you want to visit.
The boat trips to the neighbouring islands are usually a full day and involve stopping at each island for a couple of hours to explore. I’d definitely recommend fitting this into your schedule if you can, as its a great way to see the other islands that are very different to Favignana.
The Saturday morning markets in Favignana are a brilliant way to discover incredible food, handmade clothes and jewellery and be a part of the vibrant culture. If you decide to go, make sure you get there early to beat the crowds and the heat. They’re free to visit.
The main square in Favignana is notably small in comparison to other island destinations but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. Head down there before sunset to enjoy an apertivi at one of their many outdoor bars. If you’re not aware of what a traditional apertivi is, it involves buying an alcoholic drink (usually a glass of wine or beer) and then enjoying a complimentary set of nibbles – including Italian meats, cheeses, olives and nuts.
They often erect a stage at the end of the Piazza nearest to the church and play live music to all the restaurants that line the piazza. Like any tourist destination, the restaurants right in the centre are usually the most touristy and don’t always serve the best food.
One of my favourite restaurants is Bar Ristorante La Playa (which literally means ‘Restaurant on the beach’) which is located on Lido Burrone beach, they make the most delicious, fresh pizzas for around 6 euros!
If you’re looking to explore a part of Sicily that is relatively untouched for a sun soaked, relaxing holiday then be sure to check out Favignana!
To my ever lovely readers, have you ever visited Favignana? If not, would you consider visiting?
If you enjoyed reading this, check out my review of the Ritz Carlton hotel in Tenerife – it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before!