Are you looking to book a trip to Sicily and take advantage of the best things to do in Noto? This guide has you covered!
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this Baroque treasure in the province of Syracuse is home to one of Sicily’s most beautiful historic centers.
And, these days, Noto has propelled even more into the spotlight courtesy of the scenes from White Lotus that were shot there!
This guide covers the best Noto attractions – from its UNESCO-famous Baroque architecture and beyond.
Did we miss any notable landmarks in Noto? Let us know in the comments!
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Best Things to Do in Noto, Sicily
1. Go on a Wine Tasting in the Val di Noto
What better way to enjoy Sicily than with a wine and local food tasting?
Enjoy the scenery of the gorgeous vineyard-covered hills in the Val di Noto while you sample some local products.
You’ll be offered different tastings of the best DOC wines (Denominazione di Origine Controllata, Italy’s classification for high-quality wines) from the area, including the local Nero D’avola wine.
You’ll also be able to taste some local specialties that pair perfectly with the wine, giving you a more comprehensive picture of the simple-yet-delicious components that make up the amazing Sicilian cuisine.
This tour is 1.5 hours and is limited to ten people to give a more personalized, small-group experience.
2. Take a Historical Guided Walking Tour
This fantastic 90 minute walking tour will give you a taste of the city’s history as well as showing the highlights of the incredible Baroque-style buildings that make the whole city of Noto a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Your expert guide will take you through the historic city center, explaining the history of the town including the devastating earthquake of 1693, the rebuilding process, and the elegant Baroque-style architectural elements that adorn the many churches and buildings.
You’ll start from the Royal Gate and see several gorgeous churches including the Church of San Francesco, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, and the Church of Santa Chiara.
You will continue up Via Nicolaci to admire its Baroque balconies and finish at the Fountain of Hercules.
3. Relax at Beautiful Eloro Beach
Not too far from the tourist hotspot and beach of Noto is Eloro Beach, a hidden gem you don’t want to miss.
The beach can be reached at the northern entrance of Vedicari Reserve, where you’ll come face to face with ancient ruins of one of the many civilizations that thrived on the island.
The white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters are free from any infrastructure and are the ideal place for someone seeking a semi-wild experience on the coast.
The only thing to prepare for logistically is a fee of 3.50€ per person or 7€ for a family; there is parking right outside the entrance for 3.50€.
Because there are no bars, restaurants, cafes, garbage bins, or rentals, be prepared with your own equipment, shade, food, containers, or bags to procure essentials as well as for waste management.
4. See the Famous Noto Cathedral
Explore the stunning Sicilian Baroque style at the Noto Cathedral, with a large, ornate atrium, gorgeous stained glass, and beautiful ceiling frescos
Look at the limestone facade of the cathedral with its sleek Corinthian columns and portals as you climb up the stairway, and marvel at the grand structure as it towers over the excellent views of the city’s architectural wealth in the northern part of Piazza del Municipio; at night, it is even more stunning when the streets and buildings are illuminated.
Inside the cathedral, there is a golden altar with precious stones and statues of various figures from the biblical canon as well as historical saints of the city and region.
In this case, Saint Nicholas of Myra is the responsible party for the name, whereas Saint Conrad, or San Corrado, the patron saint of Noto, has his relics housed in the cathedral.
Address: Piazza del Municipio, 96017 Noto SR, Italy
5. Explore Palazzo Nicolaci
In the center of the town is the Palazzo Nicolaci, built in the 18th century for the Nicolaci family and is open for tours today.
The most intricate sights to behold at the palazzo are the ornately carved balconies of mythological creatures and motifs, of lions, griffons, and even mermaids.
When you enter the palace, there is a marvelous neoclassical staircase leading directly to the elaborate tea room, which is worth checking out in close detail before heading over to the next room, perhaps the grandest of them all– the Salon delle Feste.
The trompe l’oeil, or the realistic paintings on the ceiling creating optical illusions, also has wonderful views from the windows of the town and the nearby Noto Cathedral.
The courtyard of the palace is a great checkpoint to take a breather as you process all the vibrant and symmetrical patterns of the palace, and the ballroom is out of a fairytale!
Address: Via Corrado Nicolaci, 20, 96017 Noto SR, Italy
6. Cool Off with Gelato at Caffe Sicilia
Apparently, many people take that passport photo and book that ticket to Sicily just for the chance to eat at Caffe Sicilia; it is considered to be one of the best pasticceria in Italy.
Take a break from the beating Sicilian sun and enter their air-conditioned venue for a fresh gelato brioche sandwich. Ask the attentive staff about their brioche with fresh cottage cheese and their cannoli with ricotta.
For something to cool down with, their lemon granita and addition to their other cold beverages, including cold coffee beverages, are excellent compliments to your snack break.
The little terrace outside the establishment is also a charming area to sit and absorb the local ambiance.
Caffe Sicilia became well-known after its exposure on Chef’s Table, calling the cafe home to Italy’s best cannoli, gelato, and granita, using fresh and local Sicilian ingredients.
The owner is the fourth generation of an unforgettable and sweet legacy.
Address: Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 125, 96017 Noto SR, Italy
7. Hike to Laghetti di Cavagrande
If you’re looking for a hiking experience with a rewarding ending, then the journey to Laghetti di Cavagrande might just be it; take about forty minutes to an hour and a half hike down the path leading to the hidden beauty.
Absolutely make sure that you are wearing proper shoes that won’t slip or stick so that you have a more manageable way of completing the process of visiting this enclosed lake.
The hike down is doable; however, the narrow pathways and the abundance of water may create slippery pathways.
Perhaps reconsider taking children with you, unless you are prepared to hike more cautiously and spend a longer duration on the hike to and from.
The scenery of the lake is absolutely gorgeous! The water is clear, and there is so much of it that jumping into it should be absolutely safe!
There are ponds of various sizes dispersed throughout and this is one of the best free things to do in Sicily.
8. Have Dinner at Manna Noto Restaurant
Experience a medley of Mediterranean and Sicilian aromas, flavors, and artistic expression at Manna Noto Restaurant.
The ingredients are sourced fresh and carefully, seasonally and locally, and hold standards of using whatever the earth provides us in the calling season.
What seems to have been simple dishes have been expanded beyond their potential, which the chef refines in presentation and execution.
The classy ambiance and stunning interior alongside the flavorful combinations in the cuisine have made Manna Noto a favorite for locals and tourists alike.
The marinated octopus is always a raved course to consider, however, they also provide the option of “catch of the day from the fish market” served with a seasonal vegetable; the deep-fried and marinated diced cod fish prepared with a sweet and sour seasoning is served over corn polenta, and is a signature dish of the establishment and is highly recommended.
Address: Lungomare Ionio, 1, 96017 Noto SR, Italy
9. Marvel at St. Charles Church
St. Charles Church was built in the early 18th century in the Baroque style and was part of the reconstruction of Noto after the earthquake in 1693.
Its main altar belonged to a Jesuit church also destroyed in the earthquake, and Saint Charles Church is also known as the collegiate church because it is adjacent to the monastery and seminary of the Jesuits.
Take the narrow spiral staircase up to the balcony for an amazing panoramic view of the city.
Inside the church, you will find gorgeous paintings and frescoes ornating the walls all throughout the structure.
There are statues of biblical figures and furniture of significant and spiritual animals and natural motifs, as well.
The facade of the church has three varieties of columns: Corinthian, Ionic, and Doric. The engravings on the facade are represented by floral motifs and portals.
Address: Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 121, 96017 Noto SR, Italy
10. Enjoy a Winery Visit at Zisola Azienda Vinicola
The well-known and wealthy Mazzei family established a wine-making project decades ago to augment the rich land and history of Noto; the Zisola gardens, which consist of over 50 hectares of area enclosing the entirety of an estate, provide enchanting views of Noto.
This surrounding land, the “gardens” of Zisola, not only produce grapes in vineyards for the wine, but citrus trees, almonds, and olives as well.
There are a variety of wine-tasting tours available at Zisola Azienda Vinicola to consider: the Classic Wine Tour of the estate and gardens, lasting about 45 minutes with a tasting of 3 wines and the Premium Wine Tour, about an hour in length with 5 wines and includes tours of the vineyards and cellar.
There is also the Private CRUs Wine Tour, which includes 6 wines and a complete tour of the complex; and the Zisola Experience, a Premium Wine Tour with 5 wines, in addition to a satisfying light lunch with an amazing view.
Address: Contrada Zisola, 96017 Noto SR, Italy
11. Take a Tour of Palazzo Castelluccio
Take a tour through the Palazzo Castelluccio, a notably well-preserved and conserved palace maintained to look as it had during the reign of the Castelluccio family.
The neoclassical and Sicilian Baroque style is realized all throughout the structure, with motifs, statues, and vibrant color schemes.
The QR Codes placed throughout the palace provide direct access to information explaining the significance of each room; the self-guided ticket for 12€ is well worth the beauty.
Jean-Louis Remilleux rehabilitated the palace in order to preserve the cultural heritage of Sicily during the 18th century, as well as an evocation of its breathtaking beauty.
The inner courtyards of the palazzo have palm trees and stunning gardens, and the interior of the palace’s engravings and paintings showcase a variety of artistic expressions; from paintings on the walls to engravings into the wall, to frescoes, decorated flooring and tiling, and breathtaking artifacts and treasures placed throughout.
Address: Via Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, 10, 96017 Noto SR, Italy
12. Peruse Corso Vittorio Emanuele III
The main street of Noto is Corso Vittorio Emanuele III is a lively one; the palaces and churches at every corner will have you craning your head left and right.
All the main attractions and historic sites are within this street, in addition to popular hotels, restaurants, bars, and cafes.
The grand monumental staircase is included in this road and rests in front of the cathedral, in which the towers provide magical views over the rest of the city.
There are numerous piazzas spread throughout, with fountains, statues, a signature triumphal arch, and ornamented building facades– one after the other.
There are historical trains throughout the city as well, primarily in the city center; the “church trail” is a great option to consider, and starts from Porta Reale, which is on the eastern end of the Corso Vittorio main street.
Additionally, there is an abundance of vendors, souvenirs, and shopping boutiques to check out!
13. Discover Riserva Vendicari
Explore the Vendicardi Reservation, which includes sandy beaches, rocky coastlines, lagoons, and sand dunes; the stunning beaches on the Ionian Coast have over 7 km to traverse– with rocky coves and crystal clear waters.
Its beaches include the following: Beach of Eloro, Beach of Marianelli, Beach of Calamosche, Beach of Vendicari, and Beach of San Lorenzo.
When going to the beaches, make sure to bring everything you need for the day, as the nature reserve does not have beach clubs, showers, bars, parasols, or sun loungers.
Grab comfortable shoes, some snacks, and sunscreen and go for a walk on the Blue, Orange, or Green Routes– itineraries including tours through archaeological sites, the Tonnara and Sveva Towers, and of course the beaches and coastlines.
One of the best entrances would be near the olive grove of the Calamosche Agriturismo, where the parking fee is only €3 and the entrance is only a short walk away.
14. Photograph Porta Reale di Noto
Porta Reale di Noto, or the ‘Royal Gate of Noto’ is the emblem of Noto; it was built in the honor of the arrival of King Ferdinand II of Bourbon, known as the king of the two Sicilies, and the designer of the triumphal arch also built the statue and war memorial of Ferdinand.
It was built and completed in 1838 and maintains its original appearance, and has been a popular location to take pictures.
The arch is the first impression one gets of the city, and its beauty isn’t something to miss!
Where to Stay in Noto
You’ll find an array of different places to stay in Sicily, especially in Noto. Select Sicily Villas offers cool villas to check out and you can also see some of our top recommendations below:
MichaEl Garden (B&B)
MichaEL Garden’s modern buildings with Sicilian accents have all the comfort and luxury you’re looking for; with free WiFi, free private parking, and beautiful garden views, all in an excellent location close to the center of the city.
The property is less than a mile away from the signature Cattedrale di Noto.
Start your morning with homemade Sicilian specialties for breakfast, both sweet and savory, in a cozy and ambient breakfast building, carefully designed internally with Sicilian traditional motifs.
The attentive and helpful staff and hosts will be nearby to ensure you are experiencing their facilities with just as much passion as they are; take the location of MichaEL Garden to your advantage, as it perhaps is the most convenient detail of the hotel.
Villa Ambra (B&B)
Just a thousand and a half feet away from Noto’s Corso Vittorio Emanuele is the Villa Ambra, with free private parking, a lounge, and a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the town.
The entire interior is air-conditioned and equipped with WiFi.
Have a continental breakfast with options including hot and cold beverages, seasonal fruit, and homemade cakes, on the terrace overlooking the gorgeous views of Noto’s churches and monuments.
Ostello della Gioventù – Il Castello (Hostel)
Every morning, continental breakfast is served; in the lobby, there is free WiFi and the helpful staff can provide you with information on travel, particularly shuttle services or taxis.
The San Nicolò cathedral seems to look an arm’s length away when gazing out of the windows of the private suites.
Gagliardi (Boutique Hotel)
If you’re looking to experience time travel not only while walking through the historic town but also in your housing accommodation, then Gagliardi Boutique Hotel may be the answer to your prayers.
Within 200 meters of the Cattedrale di Noto is the boutique hotel, offering a variety of amenities, including free WiFi all throughout its facilities and garden, with room service, luggage storage, family rooms, bars, and concierge services.
In the mornings there are buffet breakfasts, which you can enjoy on the rooftop terrace with an amazing view of the sea of Baroque architecture, or in the evening at the bar with quality drinks amidst the sea of lights in the distance.
The gorgeous interior, and vintage and antique furniture in contrast to the colorful cultural ornaments and carpets take this hotel to a whole nother level!
Landolina (Palace Hotel)
If you want to spend a night or two in a literal palace, then look no further than the Landolina Palace Hotel.
With walls, hallways, and ceilings painted elegantly with traditional frescoes and motifs, the palace is only a few hundred meters away from the stunning Baroque Cattedrale di Noto.
Inside the hotel, there is air conditioning, a bar, as well as family rooms. Take a historical tour throughout the palace with the helpful staff!
The hospitality is incredibly helpful in their explanations and advice regarding where to go in the city for the best experience, and about options for parking at the hotel as well.
Overall, the Landolina Palace Hotel is a chance to check off ‘sleeping in a palace’ from your checklist!
Did we miss any of the best things to do in Noto? Let us know what to do in Noto (if you’ve been!) in the comments!
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Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she now splits her time between Frankfurt, Germany and Arctic Finland after also living in Norway, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. She has a passion for winter travel, as well as the Nordic countries, but you can also find her eating her way through Italy, perusing perfume stores in Paris, or taking road trips through the USA. Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, the New York Times, and more. She co-authored Fodor’s Travel ‘Essential Norway’ and has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries.