Excursions from Catania: the best day trips around Catania

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Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Located on the east coast of Sicily, Catania is one of the oldest Sicilian port cities. Picturesque and elegant, it rises at the foot of the Etna volcano.
Around it there are villages, cities full of history and cultural traditions. But also natural wonders, from unique sceneries such as the Etna park that encloses the whole natural environment that surrounds the volcano, to the marvelous natural reserve of Vendicari, all within walking distance.
Here are the best day trips around Catania!


  1. Etna
  2. Castello Ursino
  3. Savoca and Castelmola
  4. Syracuse
  5. Gorges of Alcantara
  6. Vendicari reserve
  7. Taormina
  8. Caltagirone
  9. aci trezza and Aci Castello
  10. Acireale
  11. User questions and comments

1 - Etna

And the Europe's most active volcano, a World Heritage Site, characterized by a lunar landscape. Devoid of vegetation, it leaves room for imagination and adrenaline also given by its 3.350 meters high.
Impossible to go to Catania and not take part in an excursion on Etna: a walk to the top with breathtaking views. A truly unmissable and unrepeatable experience.

  • Range: 31,3 km
  • 31,3 km, 58 min by car from the city, or about two by bus. We recommend AST bus, daily departure at 8:15 (€ 10,00 / € 12,00 A / R) - Get directions
  • always open
  • tours start from € 54,00 - book online
  • From Catania: half day excursion to Etna Etna: trekking to the summit and to the crater

2 - Ursino Castle

Dating back to the th century, the castle was the seat of Parliament during the Sicilian Vespers, the residence of the Aragonese kings and for a certain period it was also used as a prison.
It was restored in 1934 and is now the seat of the Civic Museum of Catania, which houses art collections from the Benedictine Museum, Prince Biscari and Baron Zappalà-Asmundo.

  • Range: 1,2 km
  • it is only 1,2 km from the city center, 9 minutes by car and about fifteen by bus. The bus lines leading to the castle are: 2, 5, 431R, 504, 556 - Get directions
  • 9:00AM - 18:00PM
  • € 6,00
  • Sicily: private tour of Catania

3 - Savoca and Castelmola

Two neighboring villages that overlook the sea and are still today the characteristic face of the oldest Sicily.
In these two small villages it seems that time has stopped.
Savoca became famous because the very famous saga The Godfather was filmed right within its walls.

Castelmola, less famous than the first, is however characteristic for its colors and traditional flavors which focus mainly on wine and almonds.
Walking through the stone and sometimes deserted alleys of these two small villages will be truly suggestive.

  • Range: 65 km
  • Savoca is 65 km from Catania; Castelmola 57,5 km; both villages can be reached in about an hour by car - Get directions
  • always visitable
  • Savoca: half day tour with donkey and Godfather Taormina Savoca and Castelmola: transfer with guide

4 - Syracuse

It is one of the most beautiful pearls of Sicily with alleys, squares, churches and Baroque views.
Characterized by a historic center that is a real jewel of art, offers natural and monumental beauties.
The Neapolis archaeological park is marvelous, extending over 240.000 square meters and preserving evidence dating back to the protohistoric, late ancient and Byzantine age. Do not miss the Greek theater and the Ear of Dionysus: an ear-shaped cave carved into the limestone, with the curious characteristic of amplifying each sound up to 16 times.

Stroll through the streets of Giudecca, a true testimony of Jewish Syracuse, do not miss the wonderful Eurialo castle, dating back to the Greek era, the Archimedes technopark which reproduces the machines designed by the scientist and obviously the inevitable island of Ortigia, reachable by two bridges that connect it to the mainland. There it will be a duty to stop at the source of Arethusa: thethe only place in Europe where papyri still grow spontaneously.

  • Range: 63,2 km
  • it is 63,2 km away, which can be covered in about an hour by car or a little more by public transport. The train from Catania Centrale to Syracuse costs € 6,00, alternatively AST bus, from Catania Airport to Syracuse from € 5,00 - Get directions
  • the city and Ortigia can always be visited, Neapolis from 8: 30-17: 30, technopark € 6,00 (there are various reductions), Eurialo castle we recommend to see on the official website
  • neapolis: full € 10,00, reduced € 5,00 (children under 25), free up to 18 years and after 65 years, Eurialo castle: full € 4,00 reduced € 2,00, technopark from March to October 9: 30-18: 30, the other months, from Monday to Friday 9:30 -14: 00, Saturday and Sunday 9: 30-17: 00
  • Syracuse: Ortigia and Neapolis walking tour Syracuse, Ortigia and Noto day tour from Catania

5 - Alcantara Gorges

On the border between the provinces of Catania and Messina stands this truly wonderful and unmissable place. The gorges are up to 25 meters high and 2 to 5 meters wide, and the walls were formed by basaltic lava flows.
Visiting this spectacle offered by nature will be an overwhelming idea for a trip outside the gates of Catania, full of adrenaline and discovery.
Basaltic rock gorges, canyons, freezing water, cactus and citrus trails, and beautiful unspoiled views. On the spot it is possible to do body rafting or river trekking. The experience will be truly sublime and unforgettable.

  • Range: 46,9 km
  • they are 46,9 km from Catania, in less than an hour by car - Get directions
  • 8:00AM - 19:00PM
  • € 13,00
  • Tour of Etna and Alcantara Gorges: Panoramic Tour Alcantara Gorges: Private Tour with Food and Wine

6 - Vendicari Reserve

Considered one of the most beautiful oases in Europe, this nature reserve is made up of 15.000 hectares of land, where junipers, mastic and glasswort spontaneously arise, in a green and uncontaminated journey that leads directly to the sea.
A walk inside the reserve will be a real panacea, among flamingos, herons and cormorants that will cheer up the journey. On site it will also be possible to take part in bicycle excursions, reaching the tonnara, the Swabian Tower and what remains of the salt pans, practice bird watching or reach the famous and beautiful beach of Calamosche, for a dip in the crystal-colored sea.

To facilitate the visit of this vast area, the reserve offers 3 different itineraries: the blue that leads to the discovery of the beaches, the orange that will allow you to visit the Tonnara, the Sveva Tower, the Vendicari beach and the Calamosche beach and the green itinerary that will make you discover the Citadel, the Trigona, the Byzantine necropolis and the Tonnara di Vendicari. For more information and maps of the proposed routes, we recommend visiting the official website.

  • Range: 103 km
  • it is 103 km away in just over an hour by car. There are no scheduled buses to reach the reserve - Get directions
  • 8:00AM - 19:00PM
  • free

7 - Taormina

Among the most beautiful cities of eastern Sicily, this is characterized by alleys, small shops and pottery, fountains and Arab gardens. It is famous for its ancient Greco-Roman theater still in operation, for its turquoise sea and for its Isola Bella: a tiny reserve connected to the city by a thin strip of sand.

One of the most important buildings in Taormina is the Palazzo Corvaja, dating back to the Middle Ages. If you want to do some shopping and enjoy a bit of nightlife, take a walk along Corso Umberto.
A city that is all a riot of colors and art!

  • Range: 47,8 km
  • it is 47,8 km from Catania, which can be reached in about an hour by car or by public transport. The train from Catania Centrale costs € 3,00. Alternatively, Interbus, from via Archimede costs € 5,00 - Get directions
  • the city can always be visited, the theater: 9: 00-17: 30 (1-15 October), 9: 00-17: 00 (16-31 October), 9: 00-16: 00 (November and December), the Corvaja Palace: every day 9: 00-13: 00/16: 00-20: 00
  • free the city, theater € 10,00 full, € 5,00 reduced, Corvaja palace full € 2,60 reduced € 1,30
  • Panoramic tour of Castelmola and Taormina

8 - Caltagirone

Its ceramics and staircase are famous all over the world of Santa Maria del Monte, colorful, composed of 142 steps and built in 1606, one of the most beautiful attractions.
Full of shops that make it characteristic, it has a beautiful cathedral which was elevated to the rank of a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XV in 1920, and a beautiful regional museum displaying pottery dating back to 2500 BC

During the Christmas period, the museum of cribs is not to be missed, which exhibits cribs from all over the world, made with any material and in all sizes, recounting a traditional and millenary art.

  • Range: 69,4 km
  • it is 69,4 km from Catania, which can be reached in just over an hour by car or by public transport. The AST Bus leaves Catania Airport (€ 5,00); alternatively the train from Catania Centrale (€ 6,00) - Get directions
  • cathedral: 7: 30-19: 00; regional museum: 9: 00-18: 30; nativity scene museum: 9: 00-20: 00
  • cathedral: free; regional museum: € 4,00; nativity scene museum: € 7,00
  • Caltagirone and Piazza Armerina: full-day tour from Catania

9 - Aci Trezza and Aci Castello

Overlooking the sea, these two towns are two small Sicilian treasures, not far from each other. Do not miss the marine area of Cyclops Islands, which belongs to both and offers the visitor a wonderful spectacle of nature, formed by an eruption of Etna, today home to colorful flora and fauna.

Very interesting is the Norman Castle of Aci Castello, now home to the civic museum of the city; and obviously the Casa del Nespolo Museum in Aci Trezza, which tells the ancient history of the town.
The view on the stacks of Aci Trezza is very impressive: an archipelago of islands born from volcanic eruptions. The most important is thelachea island. The entire archipelago is part of the Lachea Island and Faraglioni dei Ciclopi integral reserve.

  • Range: 10,7 km
  • they are just over 10,7 km from Catania. They can be reached in about twenty minutes by car or less than an hour by public transport. The bus line leading to both towns is 534 - Get Directions
  • castello normanno: 09:00-13:00/15:00-17:00 (mesi invernali); 09:00-13:00/15:00-19:00 (mesi primaverili); 09:00-13:00/16:30-20:30 (mesi estivi); Museo Casa del Nespolo: 09:30-13:00/17:00-21:00
  • Norman castle: € 3,00 (full); € 1,50 (over 65); € 1,00 (children from 7 to 10 years); free: from 0 to 6 years old, disabled and members of the Police; Casa del Nespolo museum: € 1,50
  • Catania: boat excursion to Aci Trezza with lunch

10 - Acireale

It's a Baroque city overlooking the coast of the Ionian Sea. It became famous for its cheerful and very popular carnival which takes place there every year, on the occasion of which allegorical floral floats are set up, is rich in history and wonders to visit.

The cathedral of the city, dedicated to Santa Maria Annunziata and dating back to the fifteenth century, is beautiful, inside which there are several relics of Santa Venera, patron saint of the city.
The panoramic route Le Chiazzette is very suggestive: a stretch built in lava stone in 1700, which connects the center of Acireale to the hamlet of Santa Maria la Scala.

  • Range: 15,3 km
  • it is 15,3 km from Catania, which can be covered in about forty minutes by car or public transport. The train from Catania Centrale to Acireale costs € 1,00, alternatively the AST bus from € 2,00 - Get directions
  • duomo: 8:00-12:00/16:00-20:00
  • the cathedral is free
  • Etna, Acireale and Acitrezza: trekking from Catania

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