Catania in 7 days, Italy

What to see in Catania (Sicily)? Good itinerary!

Pop! Once you step off the plane, the Italian language instantly pulls you into the maelstrom of life and eternal summer. Vivid, fierce, emotional. Loudness, variety, richness of tones. In another country the main sound might be the singing of birds, the noise of trees or a metropolis, but here it is language. Away with the northern slowness and primness, we are in the south! Come on, have fun and wave your arms – whether you want it or not – you’re here, in Italy!

Nearby – an active volcano, in memory – the legends of the Sicilian Mafia, in the streets – almost Mumbai soup of people and cars. And contrary to common sense, and want to dive deeper into the cauldron: a smile on the cute salesman from the bakery, take pictures with macho policeman, indulge tongue fluffy luxurious sweets!

Let’s go deep! In the meantime, I’ll tell you in simple terms what to do and see in Catania, and there will certainly be sightseeing sites and places that few people know about

sicily

Introduction to Catania

It’s quite possible to stay in Catania for a few days (I spent a week here, but 2-3 days would be fine).

And in general, the ideal way to see more is to rent a car – you should see the huge lines at the rental offices at the airport! (if anything, I always compare car prices through this service ).

A handy tourist information center where you can get a free, explanatory map with directions is next to the main square at Via Vittorio Emanuele II 172 and Via Etnea 63. But if anything – I posted a photo of the main part of this map below in the article.

Read a separate article about the ascent of volcano Etna. And it is definitely worth a trip there!

As a rule almost all the institutions, including restaurants, are closed for a siesta from 13 to 15.00.

The public transport ticket costs 1 euro, there’s even a metro, but we walked everywhere and saw everything we needed.

Almost the entire city was destroyed after a terrible earthquake in the 17th century.

interesting things about skiing

There are good tours of Catania for Russian speakers:

Classic Sights.

Catania map

Main Square Duomo

And in the center – a black elephant! Not just any elephant, but with an Egyptian obelisk on his back Made of black basalt and designed to protect Catania from new volcanic eruptions.

It is not entirely clear where this particular elephant came from and if there were actually elephants in Sicily at all.

But now any traveler can sit at the foot of the statue and enjoy a beautiful evening in Catania.

By the way, on the square is a delicious and surprisingly inexpensive pastry shop Prestipino – two desserts, espresso and cappuccino cost us only 8 euros if you sit inside and 10 euros if you sit outside.

elephant in riding eating in sicily

St. Agatha’s Cathedral and Cathedral

Agatha is the patron saint of lovers. Both temples are good, but there is one difference – in the Cathedral of St. Agatha you can go up to the terrace and to one of the halls for 1 euro, but the view from there, frankly, is not very good at all.

sightseeing in sicily (skiing)

The observation deck in the Cathedral is much higher and has two levels – the terrace and the base of the dome itself. It costs 3 euros to go up there and it is worth doing.

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Fish Market

This is it! This is the main local attraction, something worth coming to Catania for!

Giant swordfish heads, some completely flat fish, huge octopuses, whole squids, salmon of incredible size… Everything is the freshest, juiciest and at absolutely ridiculous prices!

And what colorful sellers!

Being in Catania, you can’t stay in a hotel – only in apartments with a kitchen .

We bought 3 big squids for 4 euros, a big salmon for 3 euros, some strange but tasty fish for 4 euros, we cleaned it, fried it on a skillet, ate it for a couple of days and it was so good that we envied each other The market is open at 8 o’clock!

The market is open from 8 am to 1 pm, closed on Sundays.

Ursino Fortress.

During the terrible earthquake of the 17th century the fortress was not damaged (they were able to build it in the Middle Ages!), but one third of it was buried under volcanic rock.

Nevertheless, the castle still makes quite an impressive impression and beckons to go inside. Well, it is worth giving in to the idea, especially since there you can breathe a little in the cool.

Now inside the castle is the city museum, with archaeological finds, paintings and sculptures. The exhibition can be seen in about an hour and a half.

Ticket price: 10 euros Opening hours: 9-19.00 Address: Piazza Federico di Svevia 3

ursino fortress

Read more: What to see in 1 or 2 days and what to be afraid of? Bergamo: what to see in 1 day? What to see in Milan in 1 day?

ursino fortress

Teatro Massimo Bellini

An architecturally interesting building. Experts say that the theater hall has one of the best acoustics in the world.

To see the interior, you can buy tickets and get to the show (20-100 euros per ticket) or ask for a tour – after returning home on one website I read that such tours are held on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (price 5 euros), and on another – that for 5 euros from 10.00 to 13.00 you can just get inside from Tuesday to Saturday.

But on the official site I found no confirmation of either. If you know it, please write in comments.

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Address: Via Giuseppe Perrotta 12

Universities

At the slightest opportunity in a trip I try to go to the university – I anticipate the old buildings and the special atmosphere. Catania did not let me down!

The fact that some universities are located in buildings belonging to the Bernardine monastery, and this means a different aesthetic. For example, the University of Catania (University of Catania Department of Humanities on Piazza Dante Alighieri, 24 ) is also compared to Hogwarts because of the round windows, vaulted ceilings and atypical lecture rooms, which resemble cells.

Admission here is absolutely free, and it’s definitely worth checking out the inner courtyard. There is plenty of room for photos!

Another interesting building is the University of Catania – Department of Law in Via Gallo, 24 – where instead of chairs in the halls there are trunks, and students prepare for the lectures right on the terrace.

university in sicily

Villa Bellini

A cozy urban garden with terraces, fountain, flowerbeds, playground, gazebos and everything you need to take a little break in the shade of the trees. An oasis of calm in a cauldron of Sicilian passion. But be warned – you might not want to leave here at all

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Admission here is free, and the gates, if they do close, are only for the night.

Botanical Gardens

A modest but quite nice facility, especially if you like plants and taking pictures for instagram The small area has several greenhouses with cacti and outlandish plants, a greenhouse with exotic fauna, a few beds and a couple of paths.

The whole time we were in this garden, I had the feeling that I was inside some kind of scenery, but the static nature of it only adds to the zest.

A walk in the evening

Catania’s main shopping street, Via Etnea, is a realm of wide sidewalks, bright window displays, and bustling people. Most of the usual mass-market merchandise is sold here, but if you tune in first and foremost for a stroll along the broad avenue rather than shopping, you won’t be disappointed.

A place worth a visit after 8 p.m. is Piazza Vincenzo Bellini, from which you can walk along the pedestrianized streets towards Piazza Goliarda Sapienza.

Here, amongst the partially ruined buildings, the San Berillo District was created and frankly, it’s one of the best art districts I’ve seen in my life.

It’s not a deliberate ruin, a simple hand-me-down, or a tired loft style. Thanks to the lighting, music, and well-designed layout, it feels more like a variation on the Alice in Wonderland theme.

art district in Sicily

evening in Sicily

How to get from the airport to Catania

Nothing could be simpler! From the airport every 20 minutes there is a special bus called Alibus. The ticket price is 4€ and you can buy it from the driver. The ticket is valid for 90 minutes and you can ride it afterwards on any other city bus, if needed.

The sea in Sicily

If there are a lot of you or you’re traveling with small children, you can order a Kiwi-transfer. This is especially useful if you want to go directly to another city, such as Palermo or Syracuse. Such a trip will cost 40-50 euros, which is comparable to the price of the train for 3-4 people.

Where to live in Catania

Choosing now, I would try to settle as close as possible to the main Duomo Square, to be in the maximum beauty. But in any case, the center is not very big, and everything is close.

For a family I would choose an apartment with a Bucking rating of 9.0 Sicily Wonderful Piazza Universita’ (if by some miracle it happens to be available).

And overall, I’ve been to Hotel Manganelli Palace – it’s surprisingly inexpensive and oooh very colorful! I recommend it.

If you want to rent an accommodation through AirBnb – here’s a discount for the first booking from me.

Catania

For the mood

…On the last night we went to the square with the elephant again. This time there was something else on it. A short girl sat on a speaker, pulled out her guitar and microphone and… goosebumps ran down my skin. She sang with her soul. Her strong and passionate voice told stories, one after another, and I stood there, clinging to my seat and unable to tear myself away. There were no people, the noise was gone… It was as if Catania itself – the square and these walls – were singing to me.

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“I fed you, I fed you, I gave you sweets and wine, I gave you shelter, I showed you the sea and the volcano, I stroked the wind on your head. I make noise, I gesticulate, I don’t care what you think of my shabby buildings, and yes, I am what I am – sincere and open.”

Thank you, Catania, for a wonderful vacation and your contrasts! I’m going home!

I'm in Italy

And for you, for a starter, my chatty live stream where I’m answering questions from my instagram followers (mine is ochkarik_travel – come on in!) on a hot streak.

Dabbling with the following questions: 1. How was climbing volcano Etna? 2. English and Sicilians 3. Sicilians and gesticulation 4. The sea in Catania 5. Romantic places 6. So is there a mafia

Tour of Sicily in a week: itinerary

Ragusa

Sicily is a sunny island in southern Italy. Several million tourists come here every year. It takes more than a few months to see all the beauties of Sicily, but we offer you a 7-day itinerary. It includes the main sights of the island. Also on our website you can find an itinerary of an independent trip around Sicily by car.

Day 1 – Catania

Catania Airport is the largest airport in Sicily, and this is where most tourists arrive. If necessary, you can rent a car here at any time of the day or night. The airport has several local car rental services: Avis, Europcar, Firefly, Hertz, Thrifty and others. It is possible to rent a car on the spot, but it is better to reserve a car in advance through a special service and you can do it by following this link. In the hot season a car on the spot will cost 2 or even 3 times more expensive.

If you decide to travel without a car you can get to the city by bus 457 (we describe the whole way here). It departs 3 times an hour and the ticket will cost 1 euro. The travel time is only about half an hour. You can also take a cab, which you can book here. Our tips for renting a car in Sicily can be found here.

To see as many sights as possible, we recommend staying in the heart of the city, near Piazza Duomo. You will not need to use public transportation and you will be able to explore the city on foot. The UNA Hotel Palace, San Demetrio Hotel, Hotel Villa Romeo and the Etna Suite Group are ideal. If you are traveling by car, then book a hotel with a parking lot, otherwise you will have to look for parking by yourself for about 10 euros per day. Leave the car on the street risky – they can scratch easily.

What to see in Catania

Piazza Del Duomo. Here you’ll see many Baroque buildings: the Elephant Palace, the Seminary Palace and the city’s main cathedral, the Duomo, built in the 11th century. The gems of the square are the fountains – around the main fountain, the Black Elephant, are still a mystical legend.

Castello Ursino (fortress Ursino). From Piazza Duomo, follow the ancient streets via Auteri and via Vittorio Emmanuelle to the ancient fortress built by Frederick II in the 13th century.

Visit the Teatro Massimo Bellini. Continue along via Vittorio Emmanuelle and you will find a majestic opera house, named after the great Italian composer.

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Next, stroll along Catania’s main street, via Etnea, and eat some delicious Sicilian ice cream and do some shopping.

Day 2 – Etna

A visit to the famous Etna volcano is a must while traveling in Sicily. The excursion can be arranged in several ways:

  • Book a tour, where an experienced guide will tell you about the volcano and lead you along safe trails to its craters, you can do it here. This is the easiest and most reliable option.
  • Get to the volcano by bus. From piazza Papa Giovanni there is a bus directly to the tourist base Rifugio Sapienza. There you can buy a ticket for the cable car, which will cost about 30 euros. Buying a guide will also cost about 30 euros.
  • See Etna from the Circumetnea train. It passes through small villages around Etna. You can take the train at the station in Via Caronda, 352. For more details on how to do this, read our article.

Day 2 – Taormina

If you are not interested in volcanoes, you can go to Taormina on day 2. Trains leave from Catania Central Station every hour. The distance is 54 km. Travel time is 1 hour. The ticket costs about 8 euros.

If you are planning to stay overnight in Taormina, we recommend staying in the historical center of the city (the best hotel offers can be found here). Excellent are hotels Eurostars Monte Tauro, Hotel Continental, Hotel Bel Soggiorno.

What to see in Taormina

The Arena of Taormina, built by the ancient Greeks and remodeled by the ancient Romans, is well preserved. This historical monument can now be visited for 10 euros. Sometimes concerts are held here and the arena offers a great view of Taormina Bay.

St. Nicholas Cathedral (Dom San Nicolò). A 15th-century cathedral built in the Gothic style.

Piazza IX Aprile. Located near the cathedral, lined with brightly colored tiles. There are many medieval buildings and a beautiful view of the mountains.

The Church of Our Lady in the Rock (Madonna della Rocca). An extraordinary temple that attracts pilgrims from all over the world, built in a niche on Mount Tauro.

Day 3-4 – Syracuse

If you spent day 2 on Etna, to get to Syracuse, you must take the train that leaves every hour from Catania Central Station. The first flight is at 05:14, the last one at 15:09. The distance is 67 km. Travel time is one hour and 50 minutes. The ticket price is 6.90 euros.

From Taormina trains also depart every hour. The first flight at 05:52, the last one at 17:58. The distance is 119 km. Travel time is about 2 hours.

Syracuse is an ancient city inhabited by Greeks in the pre-Christian period. However, travelers come here not only to see the historical monuments, but also to bask on the snow-white beaches.

The best place to stay is in the historic part of town, on the tiny island of Ortigia. The historic center is ideal because all the attractions of Syracuse are within walking distance. If you prefer the historic spirit of Ortigia, stay at the small, family-run L’Approdo delle Sirene, and for those who like designer hotels, the Scandinavian-style Gutkowski is a must. See more hotels in Syracuse here.

What to see in Syracuse

The first day in Syracuse is a tour of the historic buildings, many of which are listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

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Archaeological Park Neapolis. Archaeological Park is located at Via Paradiso, 14. The ticket costs 20 euros. The main exhibit is the ancient amphitheater (Teatro Greco) built in the 5th century BC. Also here you can see the Roman amphitheater (Anfiteatro Romano) built in the 1st century AD. Not far from the amphitheater in a secluded place is the grotto of the Ear of Dionysus (Orecchio di Dionisio). Its entrance is shaped like a human ear. In Neapolis there are many temples and altars built in honor of pagan gods as well as Christian saints.

On the second day in the city we recommend you to enjoy a beach holiday. The best beaches in Syracuse are: Spiaggia Fontane Bianche, Lido Arenella, Spiaggia Pineta del Gelsomineto. They are all equipped with umbrellas, sun loungers, bars and cafes.

If you want to learn more about Syracuse, admire the monuments of antiquity, admire the beauties of modern times and get to know the most interesting historical stages of the ancient city, you can book a tour of Syracuse by following this link.

Day 5 – Noto

The train from Syracuse to Noto leaves every 2 hours. The first flight is at 05:15, the last at 20:10. The distance is 37 km. Travel time is 30 minutes. The ticket price is 3.80 euros.

We recommend to settle near the city center, book a suitable hotel here. The highest ratings can boast La Dependance Hotel, Grand Hotel Sofia, Casa Malacla.

Noto is a small town, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as a historical monument of the Baroque, where only 20 thousand people live.

What to see in Noto

The Church of San Francesco (Basilica di San Francesco). The building was built by architect Vincenzo Sinatra and inside you can see a 17th century statue of the Virgin Mary.

San Nicolo Cathedral (Duomo di San Nicolo). A huge cathedral built at the end of the 18th century. Destroyed several times by an earthquake and then rebuilt.

Lido di Noto (Noto Beach). A quiet and sparsely populated beach with clean sand and clear water.

Day 6 – Ragusa

From Noto to Ragusa the train runs three times a day – at 11.08, 14.30 and 18.15. Distance – 57 km. Travel time – 1 hour. The ticket costs 6.20 euros.

It is better to stay in one of the hotels of Old Ragusa (Ragusa Ibla), such as La Dimora di Piazza Carmine, B&B L’Orto Sul Tetto, Locanda Don Serafino Hotel, see all offers in Ragusa here.

Ragusa, like Noto, is considered a monument of Baroque architecture and is listed as a Heritage Site by UNESCO.

What to see in Ragusa

The Old Gate (Portale di San Giorgio). This is the gate of a medieval church from the 14th century, preserved after the terrible earthquake of 1693.

Public Gardens (Giardini Iblei). Decorated in Italian and English styles. There are several medieval churches in the park.

Archaeological Park Kamarina. Excavations of an ancient Greek city. Next to the park is a museum with an exhibition of archaeological finds.

Day 7 – Return to Catania

The train from Ragusa to Catania runs from 05.50 to 16.03. The distance – 120 km. Travel time is 4 hours and 50 minutes. It is necessary to make one transfer.

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