Sicily, Malta & Aeolian Islands Tour

15 Captivating Days

  • Leisurely 2, 3 and 4 night stays
  • Small groups from just 10 to 28
  • Genuinely inclusive, no additional on tour costs
  • Character hotels in superb locations
  • Designed for Australians & New Zealanders
  • 'My Time' guaranteed

Tour Overview

Stay on 4 incredible Mediterranean islands - Lipari, in the gorgeous Aeolian islands, pretty Ortigia Island by Syracuse, Sicily and sensational Malta. Cruise to whitewashed Panarea, Vulcano island with its hot sulphur mud baths, and Stromboli to witness the volcano’s fiery eruptions against the night sky. Stroll through the baroque heart of delightful Noto, Ragusa Ibla and Scicli, and enjoy a special ‘Modica Experience’ evening. In Malta, stay four nights in beautiful Valletta, visit Gozo, the Blue Grotto and 5,000-year-old stone temples. Enjoy lazy lunches and dinners on seaside terraces, in classic restaurants and unusual locations in the Sicilian countryside. Utterly amazing!

Highlights

  • Stay 4 nights in the glorious Aeolian Islands, in pretty Lipari, right beside the Tyrrhenian Sea
  • Visit historic Cefalù, Lipari’s 500 year old citadel and old Norman Cloisters
  • Enjoy a beachside lunch in Acquacalda and dinners on your hotel terrace over the sea rocks
  • Take a day cruise to explore delightful Panarea with its whitewashed alleyways, swim in the azure sea and visit San Vincenzo on the volcano island of Stromboli
  • Cruise around the little Isola di Strombolicchio to witness Stromboli’s lava fireworks by night
  • Enjoy ‘My Time’ on the ‘hot mud bath’ island of Vulcano
  • Stay 2 nights in an amazing Liberty style hotel on beautiful Ortigia Island
  • Enjoy a sumptuous lunch in an Osteria in a hilltop village in ‘Godfather Country’
  • Explore the ancient Greek and Roman ruins of Syracuse with its massive amphitheatre and ‘Ear of Dionysus’ cavern
  • Be guided through Ortigia’s breathtaking architecture on the main square, Piazza del Duomo and visit the classic Mercato di Ortigia – food market
  • Stay 3 nights in ancient Modica  
  • Visit 4 baroque towns of the Val di Noto
  • Explore delightful Noto with its apricot stone churches and palaces, and enjoy a leisurely lunch on the terrace of an old Norman stone tower 
  • Be guided through Modica Alto and Modica Bassa, taste the Cioccolato di Modica, and enjoy the ‘Modica Experience’ a memorable dinner and night-time walk     
  • Visit Ragusa Ibla, ‘My Time’ in Modica and a dusk visit to delightful Scicli 
  • Stay 4 nights in a 5 star hotel in the awesome walled city of Valletta, Malta’s capital.  
  • Enjoy a guided city tour, visit the sumptuous St John’s Co-Cathedral, the Malta Experience and the fascinating ‘La Sacra Infermeria’.
  • Cruise around the Grand Harbour’s ‘Three Cities’, dine in a wonderful old Maltese restaurant, and relax with quality ‘My Time’
  • Take a day trip to Gozo island, visit Victoria’s impressive citadel, and enjoy lunchtime at leisure in the pretty harbour of Xlendi 
  • Explore the 5,000-year-old Megalithic temples of Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra, spend lunchtime in Marsaxlokk harbour filled with its multicoloured, painted boats
  • Spend the evening and enjoy a farewell dinner in the ancient ‘Silent City’ of Mdina
 
Message from the Mo

Wanderlust…

“To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all,” said German writer Goethe in 1787.
 
“I have a serious case of wanderlust… I crave the unexplored, the other lesser-known, beguiling sights, the rich, local cuisine – and by that I mean the real stuff!  And always at my own pace, new discoveries that dance in my anticipation“ said Albatross Tour Designer Euan, aka ‘The Mo’.
 
But this wanderlust is a disease I am happy to have, and feed. One of the most important parts of that paragraph above is “always at my own pace”. In 2019 my wife Julie-anne and I visited the Aeolian islands. We were pretty well exhausted from a far too busy, multi destination, product finding mission. So, practicing what we preach, we slowed down and savoured these mesmeric islands. Friend and business partner Adam joined us, with his vivacious wife, Sue. Four nights to play and explore. Delightful!  And the itinerary you see here is exactly what we did, and at the same pace. We ate at the same restaurants as you will, stayed at the same hotel with sunset cocktails on the hotel terrace overlooking a bay. We swam in the azure waters off gorgeous Panarea, and like you will, at dusk we moored off Stromboli as jets of lava stormed into the air like Roman candles… and then we slapped hot, therapeutic mud on each other in the natural thermal sulphur mud pools beside the sea on Vulcano island. It was wanderlust at its best. Investing ourselves in the moment, fantastic food, boat rides, playing in mud pools… filling that internal bucket of memories, feelings, and laughter. And this tour has that in spades. Like the beautiful towns in baroque, south east Sicily. When we stood at night on top of Modica Alto gazing far down into a valley of village lights that have twinkled there for 3,500 years my wanderlust was satiated. Malta was our last stop, and it blew my mind away. Valletta was utterly impressive by day, and so elegant on an evening promenade. And that is precisely why I insist we stay 4 nights right there, by the historic old city… not a ferry or traffic challenged, bus ride away, but an easy, casual stroll just across the road.  What an extraordinary city and island.  Just one, on an amazing tour of a gathering of several islands, both ancient and evocative…  ahh, here goes my wanderlust again!  
 
 

Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Palermo Welcome

Your tour commences this evening in Palermo. Join us tonight for a welcome drink before dinner. This is an ideal chance to meet, and get to know, your Tour Manager and fellow travellers.
Meals:
D
Hotel:
Hotel Plaza Opéra, Palermo

Day 2: Cefalù, Lipari, Aeolian Islands

A leisurely start to the day as we cross northern Sicily to arrive in Cefalù. Set on a headland, the winding narrow streets of the historic old town encircle the fine, Norman cathedral. You will have plenty of free time to explore and relax in one of the many private, beachfront, terraced restaurants. Moving on to Milazzo, we board an inter-island hydrofoil which will whisk us out to Lipari, in the superb Aeolian Islands, where we will stay the next four nights. Volcanic in origin, the Aeolian Islands lay well off the regular tourist route, and whilst we are here, we visit three other islands. You will love their unique style and laid back nature. Your hotel is perched right on the rocky seashore, and this evening you will enjoy a welcome dink and some tasty antipasti up on the Roof Garden. Your views will be directly over the azure blue sea. 
 
Meals:
B
D
Hotel:
Hotel Rocce Azzurre, Lipari

Day 3: Lipari and Acquacalda lunch

Joined by a local guide we enjoy a walking tour of the little old port, and up to the Castello di Lipari – the 15th century, cliff top castle complex, with its ancient buildings and churches. The views from the little Greek Amphitheatre down along the rugged coast are magnificent. We have included entrance to visit the Cathedral of St Bartholomew and the old Norman Cloisters. The rest of your morning is free to grab a coffee and shop. Later, we visit the little rocky beach town of Acquacalda, on the north of the island, to enjoy a leisurely lunch. The town is quite non-descript, but we are there for the food. Buon Apetito! Returning to Marina Corta, the rest of the day and evening is free. 
 
Meals:
B
L
Hotel:
Hotel Rocce Azzurre, Lipari

Day 4: Aeolian Islands cruise - Panarea & Stromboli

A lazy start. Mid-morning, we jump on a cruise boat to cross the Tyrrhenian Sea visiting the delightful islands of Panarea and Stromboli. On arrival at Panarea, we anchor in a quiet bay filled with wonderful yachts floating on the glorious azure waters. If you want, take the opportunity to enjoy a refreshing dip in the beautiful water. Later we cruise on to the nearby village of Panarea where you will have free time in the gorgeous town. The tiny harbour is surrounded by whitewashed villas, and pedestrian streets boasting little boutiques and al fresco dining. So peaceful, so relaxing. Magical! Next stop is the famous ‘volcano island’ of Stromboli. We enjoy a long stop in the town of San Vincenzo where you have time to explore and find your own charming restaurant for dinner. Follow the pedestrian street up hill and you arrive at the compact city square, with its magical views. Then, as dusk approaches, we again board our boat to chug out around the little Isola di Strombolicchio, to the far side of the island, where we pause at sunset (at a very safe distance!) to watch the Stromboli fireworks by night. A constant, regular evening feature, it is thrilling to first see the jets of lava flare atop the volcano like a Roman candle, and then moments later, hear the whoosh and jet engine roar. Thrilling! We return to Lipari mid evening after a full but oh so rewarding day. 

 

Meals:
B
Hotel:
Hotel Rocce Azzurre, Lipari

Day 5: Vulcano mud baths and ‘My Time’

An easy day, with heaps of ‘My Time’. Catching a mid-morning hydrofoil, we will take you across to another nearby Aeolian island, Vulcano. Named after Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, this is a very different experience to yesterday. Whereas those islands were lush, this is quite barren. Your time on Vulcano is free to do as little or a much as you want. There is a cute little township by the beach, with a number of shops, cafes and restaurants. You can hire boats, paddle boards, quad bikes etc to explore the coast and inland. One amazing experience is wallowing in the thermal hot mud baths, beside the village. Knee deep, the mud bubbles around you. Wallow, or stand, cover yourself with mud and become one of the laughing mud creatures! Let the sulphur mud coat you and do its work, and after wading into the sea and washing it all off, your skin will be like that of a baby! Then it’s lunchtime, do what you want at your own pace.  What fun!  Afterwards we catch the boat back to Lipari for a relaxing afternoon. You may decide you would like to stay a little longer on Vulcano and take a later boat back.  No problem, just grab yourself a one way return ticket locally at the port when you are ready to head back.  Dinner this evening is ‘al fresco’ on your hotels’ seaside restaurant terrace.    
Meals:
B
D
Hotel:
Hotel Rocce Azzurre, Lipari

Day 6: Lunch in ‘The Godfather’ village and Ortigia

Catching the hydrofoil back to Milazzo, we board our coach and drive down Sicily’s eastern coastline. Peeling off the highway, we climb up the steep mountainside on a series of tight hairpin bends to reach the perched village of Forza d’Agro. This area was the setting for some scenes from the film ‘The Godfather’, and is the perfect location for a stunning, very leisurely, typically ‘Italian style’ lunch. Later we drive past Catania to the city of Syracuse, where we cross over to delightful Ortigia Island, one of the most beautiful destinations in Sicily, where we will stay the next two nights.   
 
 
Meals:
B
L
Hotel:
Grand Hotel, Ortigia

Day 7: Syracuse and Ortigia ‘My Time’

This morning we are joined by a local guide. First stop will be on the mainland at Syracuse, to explore the UNESCO Heritage listed temples and the massive amphitheatre in the 2500-year-old Greek and Roman city ruins. We will also visit the overgrown quarries and test the amazing acoustics in the famous ‘Ear of Dionysus’ cavern. Later we cross back onto Ortigia Island, to be guided through the delightful backstreets to the breathtaking architecture of the main square, Piazza del Duomo. Inhabited for over 3,000 years, a special highlight will be our visit to the Mercato di Ortigia - very traditional food markets, famous for the sing song calls of the vendors. The rest of the day and the evening is dedicated to ‘My Time’ in this delightful, ancient town. In the evening find a quiet café or trattoria, and make sure you visit the Piazza which is without doubt utterly stunning at night-time.  
Meals:
B
Hotel:
Grand Hotel, Ortigia

Day 8: Noto, lunch at Torre Marabino and Modica

Over the next three days we will visit 4 of the 8 cities that are grouped together with UNESCO World Heritage status. Your morning will be spent at leisure exploring the rebuilt city of Noto. Completely devastated by an earthquake in 1693, the whole city was lovingly rebuilt with a golden yellow limestone. Architects designed the churches and palaces with their own curvaceous take on baroque. Better still, the city planners aligned the streets to catch the sunlight, so Noto’s grand buildings are bathed in an apricot glow. Delightful! For lunch we are going somewhere very special, the gourmet farmhouse restaurant at Torre Marabino.  Surrounded by terraces shaded by olive and carob trees is an ancient Norman Stone tower, and La Morisca restaurant. Specializing in typical Sicilian cuisine, the food is sourced from their own, surrounding organic farm. Time to settle down and dine as guests of the owner, Francesco. Suitably relaxed, we continue the short distance to the amazing city of Modica where we stay the next three nights. On arrival we have included a welcome drink. This evening is at leisure. 
Meals:
B
L
Hotel:
Hotel Principe D’Aragona, Modica

Day 9: Modica chocolate and dinner in Modica Ibla

Over the millennia, Modica has grown to cover two sides of a valley. Below is Modica Bassa, and above it Modica Alto (upper Modica) - the older town. The hillside is linked by characterful old streets and steep staircases.  A beautiful town with fine Sicilian baroque architecture, it has a great atmosphere, and friendly locals. Joined by a local guide, we start our walking tour from our hotel.  First stop will be a visit to the grand, baroque Cathedral of San Giorgio with its numerous works of art. From its terrace you savour the amazing view right over the valley. Continuing on, we wind our way down the staircases to Modica Bassa to the Church of San Pietro and the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto – a display centre regarded as an institution in town, where we enjoy a talk and tasting of Cioccolato di Modica – Modica’s famous chocolate inspired by an ancient Aztec recipe for Xocolatl. Your afternoon is ‘My Time’ - free time to explore further or relax by the pool. In the evening we make our way up to Modica Ibla – the Old town on top of the hill. Tonight, you will be guests of Giorgio Failla, as we dine in the superb Locanda del Colonello. As we step out of the restaurant the view is mesmerizing. The whole valley and old town are lit with thousands of little lights and you will understand why the locals often describe the town as a pomegranate, cut in half and turned inside out. After dinner, for those that are interested your Tour Manager will take a leisurely stroll back down to your hotel, following old alleys and streets, down the beautifully lit grand staircases, past the floodlit Cathedral…  all the while taking in the stunning city views by night. 
Meals:
B
D
Hotel:
Hotel Principe D’Aragona, Modica

Day 10: Ragusa, ‘My Time’ and Scicli

Our morning excursion is to Ragusa’s old town – Ragusa Ibla. As we draw close, we see the city perched high on a hill between two deep ravines. The main attraction in the old town centre is the grand Duomo di San Giorgio, which stands at the ahead of the large pedestrian square. At the far end is a park with churches and fountains and striking valley views. Time for a gelato!  Your afternoon will be ‘My Time’ relaxing back at Modica, and early evening we have another treat in store for you as we take you to the pretty town of Scicli. As dusk approaches, take a relaxing stroll and discover a restaurant to enjoy dinner at leisure. 
 
Meals:
B
Hotel:
Hotel Principe D’Aragona, Modica

Day 11: Valletta, Malta

Your morning is completely free to explore Modica, relax by the pool, or catch up on things. Later we drive to Pozzallo on Sicily’s south coast to catch the hydrofoil ferry to Valletta, Malta. On arrival, we transfer to our resort hotel located right on the edge of Valletta’s superb old town. Where you stay is so important, especially as we have four evocative nights here, and Valletta old town, is fascinating with so much to see and do. The city itself is so grand, with massive ramparts and fortifications, and at night it is an absolute pleasure to stroll along its beautifully lit, broad, elegant, pedestrian boulevards. And that is why we choose to stay right here, where it matters, where you always have such easy access to the whole city by foot. 
 
 
Meals:
B
Hotel:
Grand Hotel Excelsior, Valetta

Day 12: Valletta city tour and ‘My Time’

This morning we are joined by a local guide who will walk us through this amazing city, with its elegant buildings and palaces and thousands of years of history. 500 years ago, Charles V of Spain gave Malta to the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem. They made Valletta their capital and built one of the mightiest fortress cities in the world, every bit as grand and impressive as any in Europe.  Now UNESCO listed, the ramparts are enormous, the harbour is one of Europe’s grandest, and the city with its elegant baroque architecture presents beautifully. In the centre, we visit the St John’s Co-Cathedral with its sumptuous interior, and the Malta Experience. First, we enjoy a film depicting 7,000 years of Malta’s history, and then we are guided through the ‘La Sacra Infermeria’ - the original, giant vaulted Holy Infirmary of the Knights of the order of St John. Fascinating! Your afternoon is free to explore the old city, the shopping is excellent. The views from the Bastion of the picturesque Upper Barrakka Gardens are spectacular, and twice a day there is a ceremonial gun salute.  During our stay in Valletta, we have also included a Harbour cruise taking in the ‘Three Cities’ - the harbour towns of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua. This evening we will stroll into the heart of the old town to dine in a local restaurant and enjoy excellent Maltese cuisine. 
Meals:
B
D
Hotel:
Grand Hotel Excelsior, Valetta

Day 13: Gozo, Victoria citadel and Xlendi

Joined by a local Maltese guide, we drive to the north where we catch a ferry across to Mgarr, on the island of Gozo, also known as Homer’s legendary Island of Calypso. In the centre of the island, we visit its capital Victoria, and the Citadel above town. From the bastions of the massive, golden stone fortifications, featured in the Games of Thrones, there are 360 degree views across a countryside dotted with villages, farms, church spires and in the distance, is the sea. Gozo is also famous for its crystal clear swimming beaches and harbours. Lunchtime is spent relaxing in the pretty little harbour village of Xlendi. Time for a swim perhaps? Afterwards we catch the ferry back to Malta and the remainder of your afternoon and evening is free in Valletta.  
 
Meals:
B
Hotel:
Grand Hotel Excelsior, Valetta

Day 14: Ancient Ħaġar Qim, Marsaxlokk and Mdina

Our first stop today will be to explore the incredibly old stone temples of Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra. Our local guide will walk us through the visitor centre and then explain the rich background story of these ancient temples. Dating back to between 3,200 and 3,600 BC they are 1,000 years older than the pyramids of Egypt and some of the oldest structures in the world. Later we continue to the coast where we jump on a motorboat to cruise around the rugged cliffs and into the Blue Grotto.  Lunchtime will be spent in the pretty port of Marsaxlokk. Dozens of colourful fishing boats moor up to the harbourside where the tables and sun umbrellas of al fresco seafood restaurants beckon. So relaxing.  Mid afternoon we return to Valletta for some free time before our dusk visit to the ‘Silent City’ of Mdina. We enjoy an early evening walk through the delightful, pedestrian old town to take in the sweeping views from the shady terrace on the far ramparts.  As a finale we enjoy a farewell dinner in a historic restaurant built into the old Norman tower walls.  
Meals:
B
D
Hotel:
Grand Hotel Excelsior, Valetta

Day 15: Valletta, Malta

Your tour ends this morning after breakfast. 
 
Meals:
B

Incredible Value Inclusions

  • ALL excursions, scenic drives, sightseeing and entrances as described
  • Fully escorted by our experienced Tour Manager
  • Travel in first-class air-conditioned coaches for touring, transfers and sightseeing
  • 14 nights specially selected hotel accommodation
  • Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
  • 23 Meals – including breakfast daily (B), 3 lunches (L) and 6 dinners (D)
  • Tea, coffee and a complimentary beverage with all included dinners
  • Welcome drink Palermo
  • Hand Selected Albatross Experiences - Aeolian Islands cruise to Panarea and Stromboli, visit to Vulcano island, Malta Two Harbour boat cruise, visits St John’s Co-Cathedral and the Malta Experience, day trip to Gozo, the Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra stone temples, Blue Grotto boat ride.
  • Local guides as described in the itinerary
  • ALL tips to your Tour Manager, Driver and Local Guides
  • Personal audio system whilst on tour
  • Free WiFi on most coaches and at hotels

With no additional 'on tour' costs!

Your Hotels

Hotel Plaza Opéra, Palermo

Hotel Plaza Opéra, Palermo - 1 Night

This 4-star, boutique style hotel, is located right in the heart of Palermo, by Via Libertà, in an elegant residential area of Palermo. It has a great location with easy access by foot to the cafes, restaurants and shops in the wonderful Liberty neighbourhood.

Hotel Rocce Azzurre, Lipari

Hotel Rocce Azzurre, Lipari - 4 Nights

Location. Location. Location. This family run 3 star hotel, with its whitewashed walls and blue window shutters, sits in its own small rocky cove. Your breakfast and dinner will be ‘al fresco’ style on the restaurant terrace which wraps around the rocky shore, just above the private swimming jetty. The quaint little port of Lipari, ‘Marina Corta’ with its cafes, shops and al fresco dining, is just 300 metres away, accessed by narrow whitewashed alleys. Great for ‘My Time’. Fantastico!
 
Grand Hotel, Ortigia

Grand Hotel, Ortigia - 2 Nights

This is a really beautiful 5 star hotel, with a marvellous location beside the sea on the little island town of Ortigia, that retains its elegant Liberty style of 130 years ago. All the sights and highlights of Ortigia are easily accessed by foot. From its rooftop Terrazza Sul Mare (Terrace on the Sea) you can enjoy your breakfast or sunset drinks and appetizers, with a wonderful view over the Gulf of Syracuse.
 
Hotel Principe D’Aragona, Modica

Hotel Principe D’Aragona, Modica - 3 Nights

This hotel boasts a brilliant location in Modica Bassa - the lower town, and just a few steps from all the restaurants, cafes, shops and sights in the very centre. Family owned, simple in style, with wonderful staff, a large relaxing pool and bar to cool off from the Sicilian heat… perfect for our needs. 
 
Grand Hotel Excelsior, Valetta

Grand Hotel Excelsior, Valetta - 4 Nights

This grand, 5-star, resort style hotel is located right beside Valletta old town and set beside the bay, with enormous views across the harbour. With an excellent seaside pool, café and bar complex and private beach, the Grand Hotel Excelsior make a perfect place to stay for four nights.
 
 

Dates and Prices

Start Date End Date Price Per Person Availability
17 Jun 2022 1 Jul 2022 NZD $7,394
NZD $7,044
Space Available
1 Sep 2022 15 Sep 2022 NZD $7,394
NZD $7,044
Space Available