Day trip from Palermo to Ustica: what to do

A day to remember on the Tyrrhenian Sea!

Located 52 km from Palermo, Ustica is a tiny island in the Tyrrhenian Sea and the peak of a submerged volcano. In less than 9 m2, you’ll find lots of history, art, adventure, culture, and nature in Ustica. The island is, in fact, an ideal destination if you’re in search of a pure and uncontaminated natural environment

So, if you are on holiday in Palermo, take a day trip to the peaceful Ustica! See how to catch a ferry from Sicily’s capital city to Ustica and discover what to do there in 1 day on Ferryhopper.

View to the port and town of Ustica from a ferry, Italy

Ferry departing from the island of Ustica

1 day in Ustica: what to do

Ferries to Ustica from the port of Palermo depart daily from morning to evening. The Palermo - Ustica ferry route lasts 1.5 hours and standard tickets range from about €26 to €38.

If you want to spend a full day in Ustica and make the most of your day trip, we recommend that you catch the morning ferry.

Swim in crystal-clear waters

Ustica's beaches are among Sicily's most breathtaking and wild beaches. The island has just a few sandy shores with black volcanic sand and many coves with rocks and platforms. 

One of the most popular ones is the lighthouse beach. The lighthouse of Punta Cavazzi overlooks a wild stretch of coast with crystal clear waters. With relatively shallow waters and accommodation facilities, this beach is ideal for families with children

Another option is to visit Cala Sidoti. Situated on the northwestern side of the island, within the Marine Protected Area, Cala Sidoti consists of pebbles and black sand, further enhancing the transparency of the sea.

Boats at a cove with turquoise waters in Ustica, Italy

Boats docked at a cove with crystal clear waters in Ustica, Italy

Go diving or snorkeling

Due to its transparent waters and wonderful seabed, Ustica is the ideal place for diving and snorkeling. In fact, it was designated as a marine reserve in 1987, making it Italy’s first Marine Protected Area. 

Secca della Colombara is probably one of the best dives in the Mediterranean. It starts at a depth of only 3 m and features a steep, breathtaking vertical wall covered in corals and sponges. It also features a wreck of a 74 m ship that sank in 2005. 

Another go-to place for diving in Ustica is Punta Galera, a reef by the Grotta dei Gamberi. At a depth of around 37 m, this cave is known for its colony of small crustaceans with antennae. Other caves you can explore during your diving or snorkeling excursion in Ustica include Grotta Azzurra and Grotta Verde with its emerald reflections, as well as Grotta Pastizza, with its ancient stalactites.

Barracuda in Ustica, Italy

A swirl of barracuda in Ustica, Tyrrhenian Sea

Tour the tower of Santa Maria

This tower, built just above the port of Cala Santa Maria, is one of 4 Bourbon fortresses built on the island in the 1760s in defense of the Sicilian coast. 

Currently, the tower is home to the Archaeological Museum. Housed in the museum are prehistoric artifacts from the excavation at Faraglioni and from shipwreck sites off of the southern coast.

Hike the Sentiero del Mezzogiorno

Except for diving, Ustica is also the ideal destination for trekking and nature lovers. There are numerous routes that cross it and will let you explore every corner of the island. 

The Sentiero del Mezzogiorno (Southern Path), which spans the entirety of the island's southern coast between Torre Santa Maria and the Punta Cavazzi lighthouse, is the most famous route.

The 4-km-long hike, which is also suitable for beginners, offers unique views of some of the region's most fascinating sights, from the cliffs that overlook the ocean to the numerous caves that reveal its geological history.

Panorama from the Mezzogiorno trail in Ustica, Italy

Part of the beautiful Mezzogiorno trail, in Ustica

Attend a festival

What better way to get involved in the island's life and participate in local traditions than by attending a festival? On the last Sunday of May, the Festa della Madonna dei Pescatori takes place. And on the 24th of August, the feast day of San Bartolomeo, the island's patron saint, takes place!

Try Ustica’s local dishes

You can’t leave Ustica without trying the island’s famous lentils, pizza and seafood. Ustica’s lentils are tiny and delicious. They play a significant role in the local cuisine, particularly in 2 popular dishes: lentil soup with vegetables and wild fennel or basil, and pasta with lentils and broken spaghetti.

Another delicious dish is the pizza Usticese, made with tomato sauce, anchovies, garlic, and a few breadcrumbs. Finally, the island also produces excellent wine.

Lentil soup served in a bowl with bread in Ustica, Italy

A delicious bowl of lentil soup in Ustica

What are you waiting for? Jump from Palermo to Ustica in only 1.5 hours and book ferry tickets on Ferryhopper with ease. And keep in mind: tickets have no hidden fees!

Tip: to better visualize your trip between the Italian islands, consult our interactive Map of ferries.