Marsala, Sicily—9 Top Things to See & Do in Two Days

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Planning to visit Marsala, Sicily, and looking for the best things to do? Look no further than this post!

You may have heard of Marsala, Sicily, for one of its largest exports—Marsala wine. One of my favorite Italian dishes is chicken Marsala!

I’m not generally a lover of sweet wines, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the wine in Marsala. Several large producers offer a wide range in the area, and wine tasting is one of the top things to do in this area.

What I didn’t expect was to be thoroughly charmed by this adorable small city on the coast. We spent several days just wandering around the gorgeous city center, taking in the incredible historic churches, the archaeological museum, and wine.

If you’re planning a western Sicily road trip, don’t miss Marsala. We loved it so much that we stayed here instead of Trapani.

Here’s a list of what to do in the area that fits neatly into a two-day itinerary.

side street in marsala, marsala sicily, is marsala worth visiting

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1. Wander Around the Historic Old Town

You could easily spend a full day just wandering around this gorgeous Baroque city center. It’s so charming and filled with such incredible architecture. Even though I spent a few days in Marsala, I still enjoyed getting lost and wandering the streets.

Between the city gates, the incredible churches and squares, and the quaint, narrow pedestrian walkways, there’s a lot to enjoy here.

There are many places to visit when you’re there, and here are some of my favorites.

part of historic old town in marsala, things to do in marsala, marsala italy

2. Admire Porta Garibaldi

This is the most famous historic gate in the city. It was once known as the “sea gate” as it overlooked the sea. Now, it’s named Porta Garibaldi as Giuseppe Garibaldi and the Thousand passed through on May 11, 1860.

The King of Spain built it in 1685 to defend the city. The original gate was destroyed, and the city needed protection.

Giuseppe Garibaldi led the group that conquered Sicily, which was ruled by Spain at the time. He’s known for helping to unify Italy and bring Sicily into the country.

It’s gorgeous, with exquisite carvings, columns, and Latin inscriptions on both sides. The street around the gate is lined with restaurants. Consider dining in one of them to enjoy the views of this gate.

Portal Garibaldi is located here on a map.

3. Stroll Around Piazza della Repubblica

This is the heart of the Marsala city center. At one end, the Parrochia San Tomasso di Canterbury Chiesa Madre is dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury. The outside is Baroque, and it was built during the Norman era.

The square also includes the Church of Purgatory (Chiesa del Purgatorio), a two-tiered Baroque facade. In front of this church is a gorgeous fountain made of the same stone.

The last incredible place to enjoy in the piazza is the Palazzo VII Aprile. It was built in the 15th century and later named after a revolt that set the stage for the unification of Italy.

Take advantage of the benches in the square to just drool over this gorgeous spot.

Piazza della Repubblica is located here on a map.

4. See Porta Nuova

This is the other historic city gate remaining in Marsala. Though it’s not as large or famous as Porta Garibaldi, it’s still worth seeing.

The old center of Marsala is charming and small. If you take a couple of hours to wander around, you will surely see this.

Porta Nuova is located here on a map.

archway and gate in porta nuova, marsala sicily, marsala italy

5. Learn in the Marsala Archaeological Museum (Museo Archaeologico Baglio Anselmi)

This museum, located in Lilybaeum Archaeological Park, is the perfect spot to learn about the history of Marsala.

This museum is one of the most important in Sicily. It has many incredible exhibits, but probably the most amazing (and important) is the shipwreck of a Phonecian warship from the First Punic War. You can see the remains of the ship and artifacts found on it.

You’ll see many sculptures, including the Venus of Lilybaeum. There are also statues, artifacts, and art from Marsala’s history, including the Carthaginian, Greek, and Roman periods.

This museum is located on the original site of Lilybaeum. It shows some images of the original city’s positioning, which is worth seeing.

The Marsala Archaeological Museum is located at Lungomare Boeo, 34, 91025 Marsala TP, Italy. It costs 4 Euros to visit (around $4.25 USD) and is open from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. every day except Monday, when it’s closed.

6. Be Wowed by the Marsala Salt Pans

A visit to this area would not be complete without seeing the Marsala Salt Pans. You can easily go from Marsala or Trapani.

If you decide to take a tour, and I highly recommend you do that, to learn about the salt farming process and the area’s incredible history, there are more options from Trapani. You will often go on a short boat ride to see the island of Mozia.

Salt pans, also known as salt flats, are areas covered with salt and other minerals, formed by the evaporation of water.

You May Also Like Visiting the Marsala Salt Pans

Around 2700 years ago, the Phoenicians established the production of salt and salt pans. This “white gold” was important to people before ice and refrigeration were available to preserve food.

The area saw an economic boom between the 13th and 17th centuries under Spanish rule. Salt production has continued since, though it’s more of a niche market.

Don’t miss a visit to the salt pans if you’re in the area. It’s one of the top attractions in the area, especially to see the sunset over them. What an incredible view!

sunset going down over the marsala salt pants, orange and yellow sky, windmill next to the horizon

7. Taste Local Wines

How do you know about Marsala? Perhaps it’s one of your favorite Italian dishes, chicken Marsala! I know it’s one of my favorites, so I was excited to visit this city.

Though I love this dish, I don’t favor sweet wines. So, I wasn’t too sure about going to wine tastings.

Local tip: many of the local wineries and vineyards offer tastings during limited times or by reservation only.

Don’t get caught like we did, and plan too late to visit! The wines of this region were surprisingly good, and not all of them were sweet.

We went to a few wine spots in the city, and while they offered wines by bottle and glass, they didn’t offer tastings where you get several small pours to try the wines. We did find someone willing to do it for us, though!

8. Eat an Arancina

Sicily is known for arancine, rice balls that are breaded and fried and often filled with tasty treats. When in Marsala, there’s no better place to try them than Panificio di Ragona.

They offer a wide variety to try. We *might* have gone multiple times to try different flavors and never had one we didn’t enjoy. Some great ones to try are piccantella mozzarella anduja (with nduja), salame picante, mattanza (with tuna), melanze (eggplant), and mentuccia.

An Arancina is quite large and fits cozily in the palm of your hand. Try one to see if you like it and two if you’re very hungry!

If you want a real treat, grab a bench in the main square to enjoy the view as you enjoy your arancina. Yum!

Panificio di Ragona is located here on a map.

me holding an arancina in front of one of the old buildings in the historic part of the city

9. Walk Along the Coast and See the Monument to the Thousand (Monumento ai Mille)

Marsala enjoys a long, rocky coast. if you want to get out of the city for a little bit to enjoy the ocean, this is a great spot.

Not far from the museum, you’ll see the Monument to the Thousand (Monumento ai Mille). This modern structure has the names of those who landed at Marsala with Garibaldi (and the Thousand). Garibaldi, who led the group, is also written on it.

The Monument to the Thousand is located at Via Colonnello Maltese, 4, 91025 Marsala TP, Italy. It’s open from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. from Tuesday through Sunday. It’s closed on Monday and costs nothing to visit.

monument to the thousand, flag flying on top of the monument, things to do in marsala

Brief History of Marsala, Sicily

Marsala is a small Italian town located on the western coast of Sicily in the Province of Trapani. Its modern name was derived from the Arabic phrase “Marsa Allah,” meaning “God’s Harbor.”

As you might imagine, with a name like that, this city featured a prominent and strategic location. The modern city was built on the ruins of the ancient city of Lilybaeum, established by Carthage.

The location kept Marsala safe for years. However, it was given to Rome in 241 BC to end the First Punic War. It rose to prominence as a center for trade until Carthage destroyed it.

The Arabs later established it again as a trade center, with the new name of Marsala. It changed hands several times after conquests by the Normans and others. In the late 1700s, Englishman John Woodhouse discovered the local wines and began mass production in Europe.

Additionally, salt production started by the Phoenicians thousands of years ago in the Mozia area garnered attention.

Then in 1860, Garibaldi landed in Marsala. He began the process of unifying Italy in this historic city and was welcomed.

courtyard in marsala, potted plants and shrubs lining the courtyard

How to Get to Marsala

There are a few different ways to get to Marsala. There is an airport in nearby Birgi called Vincenzo Florio. The airport is small so it only offers flights from other cities in Italy and a few places around Europe.

There’s also the option of flying into Palermo airport. You can then rent a car and get to Marsala in about an hour. If you’re not too keen on driving, you can take a bus from the airport. It’ll take you about an hour and a half to reach Marsala.

You can also take a train or bus to Marsala. Bus is the most common option if you are already in Italy and coming from another major city like Rome, Milan, or Florence.

Autoservizi Salemi is the most common bus company that goes to Marsala.

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How to Get Around Marsala

The best way to get around Marsala is by foot. The center of the city is very small and easily walkable.

If you bring a car to get here, plan to leave it parked. You’ll notice parking spots have blue, yellow, and white lines around them. the blue is paid spots, the yellow is handicapped, and the white is ok for all to park. Just keep an eye on the street sweeping signs and move your car if necessary.

marsala italy, marsala sicily weather

When to Visit Marsala

Marsala has warm and beautiful weather all year round. The winter is very mild, so you can visit during the holidays. The summers are very hot, though.

June, July, and August tend to be the hottest months. July and August are both very hot, so it might be best to avoid coming at this time if possible.

Best Places to Stay in Marsala

Since we were planning to stay in Marsala for a few days to use it as a base to travel in the area, we stayed at an apartment. Sadly, I don’t see it listed right now on, but this site is a great source for apartments I use often when I travel!

If you’d prefer a hotel, here are some great options.

Budget—Relais Lo Stagnone Marsala: If you want a hotel right on the beach with incredible city views, this is the perfect place to book a room. The hotel is pet-friendly. It offers free Wi-Fi and a free breakfast. It also has fun amenities like a swimming pool, dart boards, and table tennis.

Mid-range Grand Hotel Palace: Set right on the beach, this hotel has everything you need to enjoy your stay in Marsala. The breakfast menu has many options, including an American buffet and an Italian a la carte menu. They also have bike rentals and air conditioning.

Luxury—Baglio Oneto: This hotel is set in a stunning vineyard in a remodeled 18th-century fortress. Every room has a balcony with views of the countryside below. Some rooms also have sea views. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi and free parking as well as complimentary breakfast.

Best Restaurants in Marsala

Marsala has a lot of really good restaurants for such a small city! It’s known for its wine and fresh local seafood.

  • Antica Caffetteria Dell’Angolo—This is a great central spot for a coffee. I learned my lesson here: Cappuccino is enjoyed in the morning, and espresso is enjoyed at other times of the day! (Way to mark yourself as a tourist!) Finish it off with an amazing pistachio croissant.
  • Viamolininove Alagna Restaurant and Lounge Bar—This is an ideal spot to admire Porto Garibaldi! Try a local favorite, Caponata Siciliana di pesce antipasti with eggplant, pepper, onion, celery, capers, tomato, and swordfish.
  • Trattoria Garibaldi—If you’re searching for an amazing seafood restaurant, this is the place to come! They have many unique dishes including fresh lobster fettuccine and rice with cuttlefish.
  • Pino—If you’re looking for a great place to eat seafood or have a huge plate of pasta, make sure to stop into Pino. It’s a small restaurant, so finding a table might be hard during typical mealtimes. Since they’re open until 10:30 p.m., consider coming here for a late dinner to avoid the crowds!
  • Panificio di Ragona—Don’t miss grabbing an arancina or two when you visit Marsala! This little bakery has all the desserts and small bites you could ever dream of.


Best Day Trips from Marsala

Marsala is located on the southwest coast of Sicily, and it’s a great spot to stay and take a couple of day trips to explore. When you visit, don’t miss the following.


Trapani is a bit larger than Marsala, but it makes for a great day trip. Wander around the historic center and admire the incredible architecture.

Don’t miss the Torre de Ligny Tower and Museum and the nearby fish market to see the fishermen pull in and sell their daily catch. If you’re hungry, stop at Nettuno Bar and Cafe, which has been open since 1882. They make great connetto (chocolate croissants).

The Piazetta del Tromonto is a perfect viewpoint. There are many palazzos here to check out! The Palazzo dei Baroni Riccio di San Gioachino has a gorgeous courtyard, and you can walk along the coast to see the Mercato del Pesce.

Via Garibaldi is the main pedestrian street for shopping and restaurants. Grab a spritz and watch the world go by! I enjoyed the jugo spritzes (with elderflower instead of Aperol). Many gorgeous churches exist, like Chiesa di Santa Maria dell’Itria, the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, and Chiesa San Giuseppe.

And don’t miss a salt pan tour while you’re here!

view of trapani from Ligny Tower


Don’t miss visiting this beautiful city in the clouds. The day we went, the clouds dipped down below the city, moving fast with tendrils swirling around it. Getting to Erice leads you up winding, narrow roads up a steep hill, but it’s spectacular and worth the heart-stopping views.

You can take a cable car from Trapani or, if you have a car, drive. When you arrive at the city gate, a small parking lot is at the top of the hill. Get there early to get a spot and beat the tour buses.

Walk through the city gate to Chiesa Madre Church Tower. For 6 Euros, you can purchase a ticket that will take you to many attractions. Climb the 105 steps to the bell tower, where you can take the cable car to the cable car and enjoy a view of the nearby islands and the city of Trapani.

The Duomo is subdued elegance in an off-white palette. Don’t miss the Museo di Erica La Montagne del Signore in the Duomo or San Isodoro right behind it.

There are many historical structures to see, and the ticket includes a list of the most popular. Some that I enjoyed include the Monastery of San Salvador, San Sebastiano, San Salvatore, and San Martino.

For incredible views, get a ticket (5 Euros) to Toretto Pepoli (little castle). The castle also offers great views on the balconies ,and it’s worth a tour, if it’s open.

We visited with no plan and simply wandered around the city. It’s small but exquisite and worth walking through the entire old center.

Try a lemon granita (ice) if it’s a hot day. They also have great arancine here, and the shape indicates the flavor inside. What a creative way to distinguish them!

You’ll find many tour options for Erice. For a food tour, check this one out! Here is a tour to Erice from Trapani, and here is a tour from Palermo with Segesta and the salt pans. If you’re short on time, it’s a great option to see some of the most popular sites in the area!

erice, things to do in erice


Visiting this island off the coast of Sicily is a top-day trip from Trapani and Marsala. If you’d prefer a tour, this one from Trapani looks like a great option!

Favignana is the perfect day trip for sunshine, turquoise water, and breathtaking beach views. You can get to Favignana by boat from either Marsala or Trapani. Once you get to the island, most people rent a bike to get around if they’re not already part of a tour.

There are many great places to eat, but La Costa Sunset Bar and Bar Restaurant Lido Burrone are crowd favorites.

Lounging on the beach is the most popular activity for Italians and foreigners visiting Favignana. The most beautiful beaches are Bue Marino and Cala Rossa. The former is more secluded, while the latter is just about a 5-minute bike ride from town.

    Is Marsala Worth Visiting?

    Marsala is a great spot to visit for incredible architecture, great restaurants, and history. It’s close to some of the top places on the western part of the island, like Erice and Trapani, but it’s small and approachable.

    Whether you enjoy Marsala-style wines or not, it’s a gorgeous place to visit. And it’s generally less costly to stay than Trapani, making it worth a couple of nights.

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