Monte Monaco is a glorious mountain located in San Vito lo Capo in the northwest of Sicily. From the summit of Monte Monaco, you’ll enjoy some of the best views of San Vito lo Capo and its magnificent beach called Spiaggia San Vito lo Capo. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about hiking Monte Monaco in Sicily.
We hope you find this guide helpful. If you want more information about other awesome mountains in Sicily, then read our guides about Mount Etna, Monte Cofano and Monte Pellegrino. Otherwise, read our big Sicily hiking guide.
Table of Contents
Overview of Monte Monaco in Sicily
Monte Monaco is one of the most easily recognisable mountains in Sicily. Set next to the gorgeous coastal town of San Vito lo Capo, Monte Monaco looms large, towering over Spiaggia San Vito lo Capo. The hike to the summit of Monte Monaco is a short but steep hike on a well-defined trail. It’s a moderately challenging trail that’s adventurous and fun. Indeed, it’s one of the most underrated hikes in Sicily.
In this guide, we’ll focus on the western trail, which summits Monte Monaco via the western face. This is the most straightforward trail to summit the mountain. Later in the guide, we’ll cover route alternatives for summiting this dolomite-rock mountain.
Monte Monaco Hike: Stats and Map
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 4.5km
- Time: 3–4 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 490m
- Trailhead: Track Monte Monaco
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Map: Wikiloc
The trail specs and map link above are for the western trail that we completed and recommend.
Monte Monaco Hike: Highlights and Photos
Let’s talk about the highlights of the excellent hike to Monte Monaco. To begin the hike, you’ll park here at the start of Track Monte Monaco next to a road called Strada Communale Mondello. From there, you’ll follow an unpaved road, passing properties and farmland. You’ll soon pass official trail signs leading you to a well-defined but overgrown and narrow trail. Let the ascent begin!
In no time, you’ll be huffing and puffing as you ascend the western face of the mountain. The higher you climb Monte Monaco, the better your views of San Vito lo Capo. You’ll eventually arrive at a huge flat meadow, where you’ll turn left onto an old quarry road to continue your ascent. Whilst following this road, make sure to turn around. You’ll enjoy superb views of Cozze Mondello and Pizzo di Sella, which are two nearby prominent mountainous landforms. Also, you’ll catch a glimpse of Monte Cofano in the distance.
Monte Monaco Summit
Near the summit, you’ll pass some old limestone quarries. These are very interesting to explore. Just mind your step as many of the rocks are unstable.
After passing the quarries, you’ll soon reach the summit of Monte Monaco, where you’ll enjoy mindblowing views of San Vito lo Capo. Certainly, we think the viewpoint from Monte Monaco offers some of the most epic views in the northwest of Sicily. Personally, we found the top of the mountain a great spot for lunch. Leftover pizza – you bet!
Once you’ve enjoyed the views, it’s as simple as retracing your steps to complete the hike.
Monte Monaco Route Alternatives
As mentioned, several routes and trail variations exist for exploring Monte Monaco and its surroundings. Below, you’ll find the most popular route alternatives.
- Eastern Trail (East Face): the most popular route alternative to the western trail is the eastern trail, which involves hiking along the east face. It’s a slightly longer and less signposted trail.
- Monte Monaco and Cozze Mondello: if you’d like to extend the walk, then you can add on an out and back to the nearby Cozze Mondello.
- San Vito lo Capo to Monte Monaco: this is a popular option for those staying in San Vito lo Capo. You’ll simply start the walk from town, picking up the western trail to summit the mountain.
Visit Spiaggia San Vito lo Capo For Epic Views of Monte Monaco
Other than hiking to the summit of Monte Monaco, it’s worth visiting the beach at the base of the mountain. Spiaggia San Vito lo Capo is beautiful long white sand beach. Indeed, it’s one of the best beaches in Sicily. Throw in the marvellous views of Monte Monaco and a trip to Spiaggia San Vito lo Capo is non-negotiable.
Personally, after hiking to the summit of Monte Monaco, Beck and I visited Spiaggia San Vito lo Capo. It was a great way to relax after the hike.
How to Get to Monte Monaco
The easiest and quickest way to get to San Vito lo Capo is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a variety of cars on Rental Cars, which are easy to book online.
Personally, we picked up our car hire from Catania International Airport. For an automatic car, we only paid around €7 ($7USD) per day! Of course, with all car hire companies in Sicily, and Italy, make sure you’re fully aware of the terms and conditions of the car hire. That way, you won’t get hit with any unexpected fees when returning the car.
It’s possible to get public transport to San Vito lo Capo. AST Buses usually run a bus service from Palermo and Trapani to San Vito lo Capo. Check the website for the latest details about departure frequency and pricing.
Otherwise, from Palermo’s Falcone-Borsellino Airport, you can catch a direct bus to San Vito lo Capo. Autoservizi Russo S.R.L. offers daily departures, starting at around 7am, which cost around €9. Click here for more information about departure times and pricing as well as to book tickets in advance.
In reality, even by using these bus services, you’d need to complete the longer San Vito lo Capo to Monte Monaco trail option, unless you catch a taxi to the trailhead. Overall, public transport options are fairly limited. With that in mind, we highly recommend driving there yourself as that’s much more straightforward.
Accommodation in San Vito lo Capo
San Vito lo Capo would be the perfect base for hiking Monte Monaco. Below, we’ve handpicked the best budget, mid-range and luxurious options in San Vito lo Capo.
- Budget – Baglio del Mulino a Vento: if you’re looking for the most highly-rated budget stay in San Vito lo Capo, then you’ll want to stay at Baglio del Mulino a Vento.
- Mid-range – Ninni e Fede: this is one of the best mid-range accommodation options in San Vito lo Capo. Ninni e Fede is a modernly decorated guesthouse, featuring a lovely garden, terrace and shared kitchen. If you’re looking for a more luxurious mid-range hotel option, consider Hotel Sikania.
- Luxury – B&B Le Biciclette: this B&B is an excellent option. Guests rave about the breakfast, whilst its location near the beach and modern decor are all great features to enjoy during a stay at B&B Le Biciclette.
Sicily has hot summers and mild winters. Sure, most visitors will venture to Sicily in summer for the warmest weather. But, this sometimes doesn’t make for the best hiking weather as you’ll sometimes be battling temperatures between 35–40°C. On the flip side, you’re more likely to encounter rainfall in winter.
Perhaps, the best time to visit Sicily for hiking is either side of the peak season in summer. Indeed, during April and May as well as September and October, there’s less chance of rainfall and the weather is warm but milder.
Guidebooks and Maps
Beck and I used both of the Sicily guidebooks listed below to help plan our hiking trip. In these books, you’ll find fantastic trail descriptions and maps.
These are our gear essentials for this hike.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: you’ll benefit from a sturdy pair of hiking boots.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a great value for money pair of convertible trousers. They’re great for avoiding scratches and sunburn when out hiking. Then, when the Sicily warmth is too much, you can unzip these bad boys and voila, you’re wearing shorts!
- Swimwear: for swimming at Spiaggia San Vito lo Capo afterwards!
- Monte Monaco climbing: are you more of a climber than a hiker? Some of the best San Vito climbing is found at Monte Monaco.
- Day trip from Palermo or Trapani: hiking Monte Monaco and exploring Spiaggia San Vito lo Capo makes for the perfect day trip from either of these cities.
- You won’t be able to rely on an organised tour: you’ll be hard-pressed to find any organised tours going to Monte Monaco in Sicily. So, you’ll be doing this adventure independently.
Any questions? Please ask away in the comments section below.