Best Things to Do in Trapani, Italy
Trapani is a fantastic place to visit in Sicily. This blog shows you all the best things to do in Trapani.
Trapani is a port city on the northwest of Sicily, Italy on the foothill of Monte Erice. It is the capital of the Province of Trapani. Trapani has a rich history as it was ruled by various civilizations.
Trapani was originally founded by the Elymians and was subsequently taken cover by Carthaginian, the Romans, Byzantine Empire and then the Arabs. Given its rich history, even modern day Trapani exhibits strong Arabic influences in its architecture.
Much of Trapani’s economy come from fishing and salt production (and of course wine) so you can imagine the focus of Trapani’s tourism also revolve around these. Being geographically close to the Egadi islands, many visitors also use Trapani as a base to explore the nearby islands, Erice and other famous towns nearby.
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Museo Civico Torre di Ligny (Civic Museum Ligny Tower)
Museo Civico Torre di Ligny is an archaeological music in a stone Spanish watchtower at the end of Trapani harbor with a splendid ocean view.
The tower was a military fort dating back to the 1600s for the defense of Trapani.
The museum houses various historical local artifacts, some dates back to the First Punic War in 200 BC. You can also go up to the terrace to enjoy the panorama view from Capo San Vito to Erice in the North to Marsala in the South.
Mercato del Pesce (Fish Market)
Located not too far from Museo Civico Torre di Ligny is Trapani’s fish market near the old port. A visit to the Trapani Fish Market is a must do for anyone who wants an authentic experience.
If you go early in the morning you can see fishing boats and experience the real seafood market atmosphere, which is colorful, noisy and magical. Inside the market you can see all the stalls selling different types of fish and you will get very fresh local fish, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.
You can also walk around outside to buy fish directly from the fishermen from their boat, which is a very unique experience and one of the best things to do in Trapani. However most of the fishermen don’t speak English, so be prepared to know some Italian phrases.
Castello della Colombaia
The Castello della Colombaia is a very underrated destination in Trapani. Located on a small abandoned island near the old port of Trapani, this castle was part of the ancient defense walls of Trapani. It was also used as a prison in the 1900s (but stopped in 1965 when a new prison was built in Trapani).
It has Phoenician origins dating back to 260 BC and it is now a symbol of Trapani. You can visit this castle by boat but it has to be during specific viewing opportunities. Even if you cannot do a tour to this abandoned island, you can still see it from a boat or from the port.
Piazza Mercato del Pesce
Piazza Mercato del Pesce is a famous Piazza that has historically been the fish market. Every week the fish sellers would meet to sell freshly caught fish.
At the center of the square is the statue of Venus Anadiomene representing the Greek Goddess Aphrodite. The Square features beautiful round arches and is a great place to stop by. On the right side of the square there are stairs to go down to the beach.
Nowadays this square is used as events space for cultural, sporting, theatrical and recreational events that take place from time to time.
Mura di Tramontana
Starting from Piazza Mercato del Pesce, Mura di Tramontana is a stretch of city wall for about 1km that was used as part of the city wall during the Spanish domination of Trapani. It has been restored recently and open for people to explore and walk.
Since it’s right next to the sea, you can take a leisurely stroll on this promenade next to the colorful houses of Trapani while enjoying the view. Watching the sunset here is probably one of the best things to do in Trapani.
Get Lost in the Historical Center
One of the charm of visiting Trapani is to wander the small streets of the historical center and find famous landmarks from the past.
As you wander through these narrow streets, you may inevitably come across several famous monuments, such as the Fountain of Saturn, Porta Oscura – Torre del”Orologio (historical gate), the Church of Chiesa del Collegio dei Gestuiti, Piazza Lucatelli and the church of Chiesa della Anime Sante del Purgatorio.
Interestingly enough, you will also find lots of modern clothing stores, spas, movie theater, bars, restaurants and gelato shops in the historical center.
The Museum of Illusions
If you are looking for something fun and family friendly, or if you are simply tired of looking at ancient architectures, then the Museum of Illusions is one of the best things to do in Trapani for you.
To visit the Museum you will need to book a guided tour online and the museum is meant for kids 4 and above. During the guided tour you will discover the history of optics and the guide will tell you to look at certain things from a specific angle to achieve the optical illusion.
The tour is held in both Italian and English and it is very informative. The group size is limited to 4 people. The guide will also help you to take photos.
Agostino Pepoli Regional Museum
Agostino Pepoli Regional Museum is a museum that houses paintings, sculptures, crafts and exhibits on local history in a 14th century convent. It is one of the most important museums in Sicily.
There are many very unique and interesting pieces at the museum, such as jewelry, coral works, cribs and rural scenes made by local craftsmen. You can even find a working guillotine at the museum.
Located next door to the museum is a church. If you are visiting the museum then you also should visit the church with the famous statue of Trapani Madonna (many people wait till the end of the service to walk in to see the statue). If you are interested in the history and interesting artifacts of Trapani then a visit to this regional museum is one of the best things you can do in Trapani.
Visit the Salt Museum (Museo del Sale)
The history of salt in the Trapani province has long began perhaps back in the Phoenician era thousands of years ago. Salt production was a huge part of the economy back in the day as the Phoenicians built more settlements along the coastal areas.
Many salt plains developed during the 1400s as the cities prospered so you will still see traces of this all along the coast of the Province of Trapani.
You can also come and take those post-card perfect photos of the salt production windmill. Or you can pay a small fee to go to the top of the windmill.
Relax on a beach at Spiaggia di San Giuliano
If you want a nice beach without having to leave Trapani then spending the day at Spiaggia di San Giuliano is one of the best things to do in Trapani for you.
Located north of the city center along the coast, you will find a long stretch of sandy beach, popular among locals.
The beach is clean with clear and shallow water. As with a traditional Italian beach in Sicily, you will find restaurants, bars, lidos, volleyball, beach chairs and umbrella for rental at this beach.
Spend the day in Erice
Trapani is a base if you want to explore western Sicily. Some of the best islands and day trip options all start with Trapani.
One of the best things to do in Trapani is to visit do a day trip to Erice, a beautiful medieval town on top of Mount Erice at around 750m (2460ft), overlooking the city of Trapani (and other surrounding areas).
You should also enjoy some sweets and patries that are local to Erice, such as the genovesi ericine (hot custard with icing sugar) and Mustaccioli (cookies) and definitely do not forget to sip on a glass of Marsala while overlooking the view of Trapani and the sea.
There are 3 ways to get to Erice from Trapani.
You can take a 10 minute cable car (funivia) ride from the outskirts of Trapani to the town wall of Erice, just outside of Porta Trapani, the gateway into the old town.
If you have a car, you can drive the windy and narrow mountain roads (park before entering the town at the parking lot next to Porta Trapani).
You can also take a public bus from Trapani to Erice, which takes about 45 minutes.
Explore the Egadi Islands
The Egadi Islands are a group of small mountainous islands in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sicily between Marsala and Trapani.
Most famous for 3 of its islands, the Egadi Islands include Favignana, Levanzo, and Marettimo A visit to these Egadi Islands is definitely one of the best things to do in Marsala.
Favignana is the largest of the Egadi Islands with a population of over 4000 people. Although popular wit tourists, Favignana is still a largely secluded and quiet island.
The island is famous for its caves of calcarenite rock and the ancient fishing technique of tonnara, with the trapping of bluefin Tuna. On Favignana you will see a lot of colorful wooden boats in the harbor and these are owned by fishermen in the tuna industry who are sustaining the tonnara tradition. You can easily rent a bike to bike around Favignana.
There are few beaches on the island in the inlets; however, Favignana is a popular place for snorkeling and scuba diving. Some of the best beaches on Favignana include Scogliera di Cala Rossa, Bue Marino Beach, Scogliera Cala Azzurra, and Spiaggia di Lido Burrone. But do not expect white sand beaches here on Favignana.
Other popular places to see on Favignana include the history museum, Scalo Cavallo, Grotta Perciata, and Santa Caterina Castle. If you want to fully explore Favignana you should spend one night on the island.
Levanzo is the smallest of the three Egadi Islands with a population of only about 200 people. Most of the people live near the port.
Most people come to visit Levanzo Island when they are also visiting the nearby Favignana from Trapani.
One of the most visited attraction on Levanzo is Grotta del Genovese, a cave with prehistoric painting. You will need to be on a guided tour in order to visit Grotta del Genovese (there are 2 tours in the summer).
Aside from the tour, you can enjoy some quiet time relaxing on the few beaches on Levanzo.
Marettimo is the most remote of the 3 Egadi islands.
There aren’t a lot to compare to the exciting Favignana, and most visitors come to Marettimo for diving and perhaps some hiking. There are a lot of diving centers on Marettimo so if you are a diver, then the best things to do in Marsala for you is to dive on Marettimo.
People who like to hike should also visit Marettimo. There are a few well marked trails. One of the popular hikes on Marettimo is to Case Romane, a historical landmark featuring the ruin of a Byzantine church and a Roman building. The hike up takes about 45 minutes and the site from above is beautiful.
Another popular hike is Castello di Punta Troia and it is quite a challenging hike. The last part of the hike is quite steep and not the best for those who are scared of heights. However you can pay 15 Euros to get a taxi boat to pick you up so you can hike up one way and take a boat back another way.
Explore the Ruins of Temple of Segesta
A day trip to the Temple of Segesta (and the surrounding architectural ruins) is one of the best things to do in Trapani.
Located about 30 minutes by car east of Trapani lies the majestic Greek Doric Temple of Segesta. What is special about the Temple of Segesta is its mysterious origin.
The Temple of Segesta is a classic Greek Doric Temple (Doric is oldest of the 3 Greek architecture styles), but the inhabitants in Sicily at the was not Greek, but Elymi. There are theories that the city of Segesta was claimed by colonists from Troy but there are also theories that Segesta owed its original to the band of Phocians.
Regardless of its origin, the Temple of Segesta is an amazing well preserved piece of Greek architecture even though it was apparently not finished.
Visit San Vito Lo Capo
If you are looking for an amazing beach vacation then a day trip (or 2 day trip) to the seaside down of San Vito Lo Capo is probably one of the best things to do in Trapani.
Located at the northwestern tip of Sicily between Trapani and Palermo, San Vito Lo Capo is known for its amazing beach, gourmet cuisine, climbing, caves, proximity to natural reserve and architectural ruins.
Other Italy Resources
If you are visiting other parts of Italy, be sure to check out the following Italy articles that I have.
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