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Things to do in Messina

Things to do in  Messina

Welcome to Messina

Messina’s port churns with ferries and cruise ships linking northeastern Sicily with the Italian mainland and ports across the Mediterranean, but this city offers more than just a strategic transport hub. Travelers linger to admire its Norman cathedral and Caravaggio masterpieces plus experience some of Sicily’s best cuisine (think fresh seafood and sweet granita) before striking out to explore highlights strung like pearls along the eastern coastline: Taormina and Castelmola; Mount Etna and its famed volcanic wineries; and Syracuse’s ancient heart are all within striking distance.

Top 4 attractions in Messina

Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Nettuno)

Lording over busy Via Giuseppe Garibaldi where it runs into Piazza dell’Unità, the monumental Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno) is one of Messina’s most eye-catching public fountains. Built in 1557 by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli—a collaborator of Michelangelo—the fountain symbolizes the city’s power over the hostile sea.   More

Bell Tower and Astronomical Clock (Orologio Astronomico)

Each day at noon, a crowd gathers beneath the bell tower of Messina’s Cathedral to watch as the gilded statues on the astronomical clock seem to come to life. As the bells chime, the lion roars, the rooster crows, statues strike the hour, and mechanical figures replay biblical and allegorical scenes. It's a spectacle no tourist should miss.More

Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani (Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani)

One of Messina’s most important examples of Norman architecture, the 12th-century Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani was one of the few buildings left standing after a devastating earthquake leveled much of the city in 1908. Architecture enthusiasts will especially appreciate its magnificent Arabic-Byzantine facade.More
Messina Cruise Port (Terminal Crociere di Messina)

Messina Cruise Port (Terminal Crociere di Messina)

The Messina Cruise Port (Terminal Crociere di Messina), set in the busy port city on the narrow Strait of Messina, is many cruisers’ first taste of Sicily. The closest Sicilian city to mainland Italy and a popular port of call for Mediterranean and European cruises, Messina offers striking architecture, flavorful street food, and easy access to Taormina, Mount Etna, and other Sicilian sights.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 2 Days in Sorrento

How to Spend 2 Days in Sorrento

Top activities in Messina

2-Hour Messina Walking Tour

2-Hour Messina Walking Tour

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

A local’s pocket guide to Messina

Rebecca Winke

A lover of all things Sicilian, writer Rebecca has taken many trips to the island and through Messina. She has come to see the city as a destination to savor rather than a port to pass through.

The first thing you should do in Messina is...

put as much distance between you and the chaotic port as possible and head into the center to Irrera 1910 for a reviving granita, considered the city's best.

A perfect Saturday in Messina...

begins and ends with the city’s pastries, from cannoli to cassata. Walk them off with plenty of sightseeing in between, taking a break at noon beneath the city’s astronomical clock to watch Messina’s lion roar.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the city’s Duomo is a showstopper, even once you learn that it's a post-WWII replica of the original 12th-century cathedral, destroyed in a 1943 bombing raid.

To discover the "real" Messina...

join the locals for their evening passeggiata (stroll) along the seafront promenade, called the lungomare. The Messinesi stretch their legs here in the cooler evening hours and take in views across the strait.

For the best view of the town...

follow scenic Viale Italia as it winds its way above the city, changing into Viale Regina Margherita along the way. At the top, the Sacrario di Cristo Re panoramic terrace overlooks the city and sea.

One thing people get wrong...

is never venturing past the port. The belle epoque city center has an authentic, untouristy feel that's missing from many of Sicily’s more famous destinations.

People Also Ask

What is Messina known for?

Messina is a Sicilian city known as a gateway between the island and mainland Italy. It has a port filled with ferries and cruise ships that travel from northeastern Sicily across the Mediterranean to Italy. Messina is also known as an entry point for Sicily’s food, charming seaside villages, and Mount Etna.

Does Messina have a beach?

No, the port city of Messina does not have a sandy beach, though it does have a lovely waterfront promenade. However, the province of Messina offers many beautiful beaches. Popular beaches in northeastern Sicily include Marinello Beach, Lido del Tirreno, and the beaches of Capo D’Orlando.

How far is Messina from port?

Messina is a port city in northeastern Sicily. Many travelers to Sicily from mainland Italy arrive via Messina before continuing on to seaside villages like Taormina. Messina itself is more than just a port, though; it also has a historic center with an impressive cathedral and views of the sea.

What food is Messina known for?

Messina is known for fresh seafood, a refreshing icy treat called granita, and several kinds of pastries and cookies. You can find classic Sicilian street food, including arancini, plus traditional cheeses. Be sure to try pasta dishes that include seafood.

Where in Sicily is Messina?

Messina is located in northeastern Sicily, across the Mediterranean from the edge of mainland Italy. This port city is a gateway to the rest of Sicily, with many ferries and cruise ships arriving daily. From this entry point, it is easy to explore popular places such as Mount Etna and Taormina.

Is Messina worth visiting?

Yes, Messina is worth visiting. Some travelers pass through quickly on their way to other parts of Sicily, but Messina has a historic center with a striking cathedral, a scenic waterfront promenade, and excellent food such as seafood and an icy treat called granita.


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