The appeal of Sicily is hardly a well-kept secret. Aside from its astounding natural beauty, depth of history and unique blend of cultural influences, this Italian island’s hospitality is second to none. As anyone who’s experienced holidays to Sicily can attest, visitors are welcomed with open arms and the locals are only too happy to share what they’ve already known for centuries – this is one very special island in the sun.
If you’re planning on going on holidays to Sicily with a young family, there’s certainly no dearth of fun activities to keep even the littlest guests happy. Here are just a few I’ve discovered on my travels.
Il Parco Avventura Madonie
The first (and arguably the best) adventure park on the island, Il Parco Avventura Madonie is a truly magical place for children – not to mention extremely pleasant for parents as well! Not too far from Palermo, this giant adventure playground is spread throughout the gorgeous wooded area known as Gorgonero, which is part of the protected Madonie National Park.
If your children are of the outdoor persuasion they’ll be in heaven, with a host of activities to keep them engaged. As well as cable slides, rope ladders and tree climbing, the whole family can get involved in hiking, mountain biking and even horse riding.
This is definitely an all day excursion and, in fact, you can even stay the night in a tree tent – an experience I’ve often found turns out to be the highlight of family holidays to Sicily (according to the children at least!).
There’s a small fee to enter the park but children under 12 get in for free. Activities attract a fee (varying costs).
Situated on the east coast of the island, Etna Land is billed as the biggest theme park in Southern Italy and it certainly gives you a lot of value, in terms of both cost and attractions. The Sicilians obviously never got the memo saying you can’t please everyone, because they’ve created a theme park, water park and dinosaur park in one fantastic attraction – and it works!
As well as thrilling theme rides for the older children (Crocodile Rapids is a favourite), there are water slides (big and small), regular entertainment shows, laser shows, a stomach-churning suspended cableway, and the fantastic interactive augmented reality of the Prehistoric Park.
You’ll need at least an entire day (and perhaps two) to take in everything at Etna Land. Tickets are available separately or as a package for both parks. A combined ticket starts at €32 for adults and €19.90 for kids.
Adventure Park Eco Campus Casaboli
Another park I’ve found to be extremely good for younger children is the Eco Campus Casaboli. Just north of Palermo (about a 15 minute drive), embedded in the woods of Casaboli, the park is criss-crossed by a network of easy walking and mountain biking trails and has plenty of places for a picnic lunch.
In terms of supervised activities there’s plenty to choose from, with archery, cable slides, rope ladder walking and tree climbing. The great thing about this park is its attention to providing something for children of all ages and skill levels, which means not even the little ones will feel left out.
The park is open from 10am-5pm from Tuesday to Sunday in the high season and on weekends for the rest of the year.
While the activities available in Etnavventura are not unique, its location certainly is – and, really, that’s what makes it one of my favourite picks. Situated on the southern edges of the foreboding, volcanic Mount Etna, a day here is an excellent way to see one of the most famous sites in the world up close and very personal. (The park is actually not far from the cable car, at Rifugio Sapienza.)
Aside from its awe-inspiring location, the adventure activities for children include tree climbing, rope ladders, cable slides and all the usual suspects mentioned above – and all are safe, fully supervised and suitable for children of all ages. You’ll need to take your own picnic lunch, however, as there are no facilities.
Etnavventura is open from June through to September. Prices are based on ages and hours, starting at €5.
While, of course, spending time on the wonderful beaches will take up a lot of your time on family holidays to Sicily, these fantastic adventure parks offer a very different kind of entertainment for children.
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing luxury holidays to Sicily, Bermuda, Croatia and many other destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.
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