We spent three days in Catania and loved every minute of it. If you love mountains, breathtaking views & history, read on for our 3 day guide to Catania & Taormina!
Day one: Explore Mt Etna & Castle Ursino
Mt Etna is quite the marvel! The drive up is beautiful and you can just imagine where molten lava once flowed. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world; half have happened during the last 100 years! Another fun fact about the word “volcano” which comes from the name Vulcan who was the Roman God of metalworking and fire and the Romans believed his workshop was at the base of the mountain.
You can opt to climb around the small mountains surrounding Mt Etna or you can pay 25 Euros and get a chairlift to the top.
Tips: Make sure you wear good hiking shoes as it is steep and slippery. It can be cooler as well as you are higher up in the air but for us it was beautiful and sunny.
After climbing Mt Etna, you can visit the Castle Ursino. This castle use to be a lot closer to the sea but a Mt Etna eruption changed this with lava demolishing part of the castle and filling in the moat.
Tips: Get there early as the stop tours around 4pm
Eat Arancini at Dolcezza
Finish off your day with some delicious Arancini ad Dolcezza! The food here was amazing and we think we ate here every day we were in Catania.
Day 2: Visit Acitrezza and the city of Catania
These are the gorgeous rock formations at Acitrezza, Sicily has a pretty cool story behind the formation of these rocks. Legend has it the pointed mass of black lava rising up from the waters is actually the top of Mount Etna. The story goes that these stones by the sea are the huge rocks that the giant Cyclops Polyphemus threw at Ulysses who had blinded him by thrusting a flaming stake into his only eye. He was so angry that he ripped and threw the top of My Etna at Ulysses. Pretty crazy! They are quite the site to see and worth a visit.
Castello Svevo di Piazza
After visiting the rocks of Acitrezza you can wander down the road to Castello Svevo di Piazza which is an amazing castle on the water. Only 5 Euros to get in and boasts beautiful views from the top!
After you’re done wondering around the coast of Acitrezza you can spend the evening visiting the City of Catania. The main square boasts beautiful buildings and monuments. Below you can see the Cathedral Sant’Agata and town square.
You can stroll down and admire the Amenano’s Fountain. It’s name derives from the Amenano River that flows underground.
Porta Garibaldi (Garibaldi Gate)
After wandering around the city centre you can visit the Porta Garibaldi (Garibaldi Gate) which is a triumphal arch located at the western end of Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, between Piazza Palestro and Piazza Crocifisso. Through the gate in the distance you on Via Garibaldi, you can see the wonderful Cathedral of Sant’Agata.
Day 3: Spend a day in Taormina
Taormina was our highlight for Sicily and is a must visit in our eyes! Taormina’s early history began with the Greeks who founded and named the town in 358 B.C. We had one day here to explore and wish we had more. About an hour north of Catania you will find this gorgeous city. There is so much to see here in this gorgeous coastal town. The best way to get to Taormina is by car- it is about a one hour drive from Catania or a two hour train ride. Be wary that parking is very limited so if you do drive, plan to leave early to secure a parking spot. The drive is really beautiful so take it all in!
Get lost in the streets of Taormina and take it all in. There are heaps of restaurants, shops and beautiful coastal views to enjoy!
Ancient Theatre of Taormina
After you have wandered the streets you can visit the ruins of the Ancient Greek Theatre. What a gem! Built in the third century BC, this theatre is the second largest in Sicily and the worlds best known and most admired. This theatre is not only an amazing Greek ruin but the view from the theatre is simply breathtaking! On a clear day you can see Mt Etna from the site.
The Villa Comunale Gardens
Once you’ve marvelled at the ruins, you must visit the gorgeous gardens- The Villa Comunale. These gardens have monuments, fountains and a gorgeous view of the Sicilian coast. They are a real treat!
The Villa Comunale Gardens Sea View
The view from the gardens that we found. Breathtaking!
We hope our guide helps you enjoy the best of Catania & Taormina! We loved Sicily and were only able to see a fraction of it. We are already excited to plan to go back one day and make our way around Sicily. Have you been to Sicily?
Happy travels! <3