Catania, on the island of Sicily, attracts nature lovers with its imposing mountains and marine reserves. This coastal area is popular in summer thanks to idyllic beaches, comfortable weather, and beach resorts with views of the Mediterranean Sea. 

    If you’re up for an adventure, a hike up to Europe’s highest volcano makes for a thrilling holiday experience. In the vicinity, the towns of Taormina and Aci Castello are teeming with historical structures dating back to medieval times. Read on for our guide on things to do in Catania.

    What are the best things to do in Catania?


    Cattedrale di Sant'Agata

    Visit the ruins of a Greco-Roman bath house below the cathedral

    • History
    • Budget

    Cattedrale di Sant'Agata is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Agatha, the patron saint of Catania. Located in Piazza Duomo, its tiered Baroque façade features granite Corinthian columns with marble sculptures of Saint Agatha, Saint Euplius, and Saint Birillus, while the entrance door is decorated with over 32 sculpted plaques detailing the life and death of the patron saint. Religious artefacts, altarpieces, and 14th century paintings are displayed at the Museo Diocesano, which connects to the ruins of Greco-Roman baths underneath Cattedrale di Sant'Agata.

    Location: Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 163, 95131 Catania, Italy

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 7 am to 12 pm and from 4 pm to 7 pm, Sunday from 7.30 am to 12.30 pm and from 4.30 pm to 7 pm

    Phone: +39 339 485 9942


    Mount Etna

    Join a hiking trip to the top of Europe’s highest active volcano

    • Unusual

    Mount Etna is an imposing peak and active volcano between the towns of Catania and Taormina. Measuring 3,300 metres in height, it attracts hiking enthusiasts looking to test their endurance during their visit to Catania. Buses to the base of the mountain depart every day at 8.15am from Catania Railway Station, with return fares priced at around €7 per person. After an hour-long ride, you arrive at the mountain’s southern entrance called Rifugio Sapienza. From there, you can then hike up 1,000 metres or pay €30 for a cable car ride to the crater zone. 

    Location: Etna, 95031 Adrano, Province of Catania, Italy


    Teatro Romano and Odeon

    Climb to the highest peak of Teatro Romano for views of Catania

    • History
    • Budget

    Teatro Romano and Odeon, located in Via Vittoria Emanuele, are 2 Roman amphitheatres dating back to the Imperial Age. The larger of the 2, Teatro Romano, spans 102 metres, with an open-air orchestra pit surrounded by curved corridors and a seating area that could accommodate over 7,000 people. Teatro Odeon is about half the size but is still used today for live music and dance performances. 

    Location: Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 266, 95124 Catania, Italy

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 9 am to 1.30 pm and from 2.30 pm to 6 pm

    Phone: +39 (0)039 715 0508


    Monastery of San Nicolò l'Arena

    Join a guided tour of this UNESCO-listed monastery

    • History

    Monastero dei Benedettini di San Nicolò l'Arena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Catania’s historical district. One of Europe's largest monasteries, the Baroque building is currently used by Catania University’s Department of Humanities. Hourly guided tours are available for about €7, where you can get to access its 16th-century kitchen and cellars, as well as the balcony of San Nicolò l’Arena Churh’s main altar.

    Location: Piazza Dante Alighieri, 32, 95124 Catania, Italy

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +39 (0)95 710 2767


    photo by Cosal (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Museo Cicico Belliniani

    Explore the former home of Sicily’s most famous composer

    • History
    • Budget

    Museo Civico Belliniano commemorates one of Sicily’s most iconic composers, Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835). Founded in 1930, the museum occupies his former home in Piazza San Francesco d'Assisi. You'll find many of his photographs and personal belongings such as his death mask, 2 pianos, autographed manuscripts, spinet, and harpsichord. Entrance to Museo Civico Belliniano is free and guided tours can be arranged for a few euros. 

    Location: Piazza San Francesco d'Assisi, 3, 95124 Catania, Italy

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm, Sunday from 8.30 am to 1.30 pm

    Phone: +39 (0)95 715 0535


    photo by Riccardo Speziari (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Aci Castello

    Visit the 11th-century Norman Castle

    • History

    Aci Castello is a coastal town located 9 km north of Catania. Its most famous landmark is the Norman Castle, which was built in 1076. Inside is a Civic Museum displaying archaeological remains dating back from prehistoric to medieval times. Climb to the top of the castle for panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea. Another must-visit in Aci Castello is the Church of St. Joseph, which features beautiful frescoes by Pietro Paolo Vasta. 

    Location: Aci Castello, 95021 Province of Catania, Italy


    Try pasta alla Norma

    Try this regional speciality at Trattoria del Forestiero

    • Food

    Pasta alla Norma is one of Catania's signature cuisines, and was supposedly named after composer Vincenzo Bellini’s opera. This vegetarian dish consists of fusilli or rigatoni pasta tossed in tomatoes, basil, sautéed aubergine, and topped with a generous sprinkling of ricotta salata, a salty ricotta cheese. Pasta alla Norma is served at just about any restaurant in Catania, but for a local experience, head to Trattoria del Forestiero on Via Pietro Antonio Coppola. 

    Location: Via Pietro Antonio Coppola, 24, 95131 Catania, Italy

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +39 (0)095 316283



    Relax on Isola Bella Island

    • Couples

    The hilltop town of Taormina is where you can explore ancient Greek structures with views of Mount Etna and the Mediterranean Sea. Buses depart from the Terminal Interbus - Etna Trasporti in central Catania, with tickets priced at around €8.50 for a return trip. Taormina is usually packed with beachgoers looking to enjoy the summer at Isola Bella, a UNESCO-protected island that’s connected to the mainland via a beach strip.

    Location: Taormina, 98039 Province of Messina, Italy

    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller

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