Things to do in Catania

Itineraries for Your Trip to Catania

Catania locals share their perfect days.
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3 Days in Catania for First Timers

Curated by Jessica Colley ClarkeJessica Colley Clarke is a freelance writer and curious traveler based in New York City. Her stories have appeared in AFAR magazine, BBC Travel, The Daily Beast, and the New York Times, among other publications.

The port city of Catania is the second largest municipality on Sicily and an excellent place to explore the island’s history and culture. Enjoy the local architecture and bustling food markets, then enjoy a helicopter trip over Mount Etna and a cruise along the coast. Here are a few ways to spend 3 days in Catania. 

Day 1

Begin your trip by diving into local culture with a food-focused tour. A street food-focused tour will include stops at markets, bakeries, and street food stalls. If you want a more hands-on experience, opt for a tour and cooking class combo that takes you to a fish market to shop for local ingredients, then teaches you how to make traditional Sicilian dishes. Once the cooking is done, feast on the dishes you’ve prepared in a multi-course meal that includes local wines. 

In the afternoon, take a guided trip of the city to get your bearings. Learn about local architecture and history as you cruise through Catania quickly on a Segway tour. Stops include top landmarks such as the 13th-century Ursino Castle, the Piazza Duomo, and the gardens of Villa Bellini.

Day 2

Discover Sicily’s natural beauty with a visit to nearby Mount Etna. Several types of tours are available: Choose a wine-focused tour to visit vineyards at the base of the volcano, learn about Sicilian winemaking methods, and taste several varieties. Alternatively, you can head out on a sightseeing tour that includes a stop at the nearby town Taormina, which boasts a stunning ancient Greek theater. You can also get a bird’s eye view of Mount Etna with a helicopter ride. Adventurous travelers may want to opt for tours that include exploring the volcano’s ancient lava tunnels or a canyoneering trip to the Alcantara Gorges. Complete your visit to Mount Etna with a relaxing wine tasting or an early evening hike along lava fields to watch the sunset.

Day 3

On your last day, head out on a day trip to see more of Sicily. As a port, Catania is the base for a variety of boat tours. Take a sailing tour, and learn basic sailing skills, then go swimming and snorkeling while you cruise along the coastline. Or spend a day on a sightseeing cruise. Some boat tours have an adventure focus and offer scuba diving and fishing. 

Alternatively, spend the day visiting Sicily’s charming small towns, such as the historic towns of Syracuse, Ortigia, and Noto. Move buffs can choose a tour that goes to locations where the Godfather movies were filmed. Most trips (regardless of the focus) include free time to allow you to explore the towns’ charming squares and back streets. In the evening, return to Catania for a lesson in the art of the Italian aperitivo and a last night enjoying the city’s nightlife.

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