Things to know and ideas for your own excursion at the foot of Etna
- Regular berth: Sporgente Central Kai
- Regular berth: Levante Pier
- Regular berth: in the commercial port
- Harbour shuttle: not available
- Taxis: usually available at the piers
- Buses: Well-developed bus route network with a metro line
- Car rental*: Sixt, at the airport
- Car rental*: Hertz, at the airport
- Car rental*: Avis, Via Cardinale Dusmet, at the harbour
- Car rental*: Europcar, at the airport
- Car rental*: Budget, Via Cardinale Dusmet, at the harbour
- Post office: Corso Sicilia, 25
- Tourist Info: at the Cruise Terminal and Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 172
- Banks and ATMs: Occasionally found in the city centre
- Cruise Ship Berths
The port city of Catania, located on the east coast of Sicily and at the foot of Mount Etna, offers several cruise ships a berth close to the city centre at the same time. In most cases, the Sporgente Central quay in the middle of the port is used. There is a clearly laid out cruise terminal with restaurants, free Wi-Fi, souvenir shops, ATMs and toilets. Bicycles can be hired in front of the terminal. On days with many ship arrivals, the moorings at the long Levante Pier and the commercial port are also used as an alternative. Shuttle buses are not available in Catania. The old town is only a few minutes' walk away.
Near the harbour and about 700 metres or a 10-minute walk from the berth, there is a bus station, where the buses of some long-distance bus lines and lines of the red-blue AMT city buses meet. This also includes the airport bus (Alibus). Tickets are available at authorised outlets with the Amt logo (often tobacconists), or at a slightly higher cost in the vehicle. A single ticket, valid for 90 minutes, costs 1 euro and must be validated on the bus at the start of the journey. A day ticket is available for 2.50 euros. In addition, a combined ticket (Biglietto Integrato Bus) for the use of the metro and all AMT lines, except Alibus and 524S, is offered at a price of €1.20 and valid for 120 minutes.
In 1999, the first metro line was opened in Catania and its routes are still being extended. The Metropolitana di Catania belongs to the Ferrovia Circumetnea (FCE) and connects through the Borge station the narrow-gauge railway of the same name, which roams the countryside with its short trains at the foot of Mount Etna. The modern metro trains run every 10 minutes from Monday to Saturday between 06:40-15:15. From then on, they run every 15 minutes until the end of service at around 21:30, and on Saturday until midnight. On Sundays and public holidays, the wheels stand still. A single ticket (Biglietto A Tempo) is available from the ticket machines in the stations. It costs 1 euro and is valid for 90 minutes. The day ticket is called Biglietto Giornaliero and is available for 2.50 euros per person. Children under 6 years of age travel free of charge when accompanied by their parents.
After the arrival of a cruise ship, there are usually lots of taxi drivers waiting for potential guests at the Catania Cruise Terminal. During the day, a basic charge of 5 euros is made per journey and 1 euro for each kilometre. Standing and waiting times cost 18 euros for a full hour. At night from 22:00-06:00 and on Sundays and public holidays, the basic charge increases to 8 euros. A surcharge of 6 euros is levied for journeys to and from the airport, and the fairly short journey to the city centre from the pier costs around 10 euros. In addition to the usual transfers, tours of Catania and the surrounding area are also offered. For example, 150 euros are charged for excursions to Taormina, Syracuse or Etna, each with a 2-hour stay. The prices apply for up to 4 people. Despite the built-in taximeter and estimated prices, the expected costs should be discussed and clarified before starting the trip.
- Centre of Catania
Cruise passengers usually enter the city centre of Catania through the city gate Porta Uzeda, which is about 900 metres away from the berths of the cruise ships. At the old entrance to the city, you also come across the Piazza del Duomo with the worth seeing elephant fountain Fontana dell' Elefante. Opposite it is the mighty Sant'Agata Cathedral. To the north of the square begins the main shopping street Via Etnea, where a wide variety of shops, boutiques, restaurants, bars and cafés are lined up.
- Fish Market
Located below and southwest of Piazza del Duomo, a lively fish market is held daily except Sundays on Piazza Alonzo di Benedetto. The hustle and bustle at the so-called La pescheria, or A' Piscaria Mercato del Pesce, begins around 7:00 am. The open stalls loudly advertise mainly fish and seafood. The small shops in the adjacent buildings also sell all kinds of vegetables, fruit, meat and cheese. Towards midday, between 1 and 2 p.m. at the latest, the spectacle draws to a close and the square with its narrow alleys increasingly empties.
In addition to the city hall (Palazzo degli Elefanti), the Cathedral of Sant'Agata (Cattedrale di Sant'Agata) is also located in the Piazza del Duomo. The building, which is well worth seeing, was erected between 1078 and 1093 on the ruins of a Roman thermal bath, as a fortified church in honour of Saint Agatha (patron saint of Catania). In the course of time, the church suffered repeated and sometimes enormous damage, mainly due to volcanic activity. The earthquake of 1693 caused the most damage, which was later repaired in the Baroque style, deviating from the original. Thus, the different architectural styles are still recognisable today.
- Roman Theatre
About 300 metres to the west of the Piazza del Duomo, you come across the ruins of the Roman Theatre, which is, however, surrounded by house fronts and thus not visible from the outside. The inconspicuous entrance is hidden in Via Emanuele, behind number 626. A small sign and a flag with the inscription "Teatro Antico" make it easy to find your way in. Between the 1st and 2nd century, the Romans built a theatre with a diameter of 100 metres on the walls of a Greek predecessor building, which could seat up to 7000 visitors spread over 23 rows. In addition, in the 3rd century and only a few metres away, a semicircular odeon with a capacity of 1300 people was built for additional performances. Later, the complex fell into disrepair and was built over with residential buildings. A rediscovery and first excavations took place at the end of the 18th century. After the demolition of many houses, extensive excavations and restorations took place between 1980 and 2015. This also made it possible for events to be held there again today. Outside of these, the Roman Theatre is open to visitors Monday to Friday from 09:00-13:30 and 15:00-19:00. Admission costs 6 euros each and 3 euros each for people under 25. A multilingual audio guide, which also speaks German, can be borrowed at the ticket office. There is a well-maintained toilet in the area.
- Roman Amphitheatre
The shopping street Via Etnea, which starts at the Piazza del Duomo, runs almost centrally through the Piazza Stesicoro after about 500 metres. There, parts of the foundation walls of the Roman amphitheatre (Anfiteatro romano di Catania) can be found. It was built in the middle of the 2nd century BC and was one of the largest in the country, with 16,000 seats. The oval structure occupied an area of 71x51 metres and reached a circumference of 309 metres. Over time, the theatre fell into disrepair, was used as a quarry and was largely demolished. The extracted materials were used, among other things, for the construction of the city wall. At the beginning of the 20th century, the first excavations began, revealing parts of the old structures. Today, the area is open to visitors free of charge during the day.
- Open Air Market
Leaving Piazza Stesicoro in a north-easterly direction, it is hard to miss the quite extensive Open-Air Market Fera 'o Luni, during the morning and until around 13:00. The first market stalls can often be found in Via S. Gaetano alla Grotta. This is the largest marketplace in Catania, centred on Piazza Carlo Alberto. From there it extends mainly to the adjacent streets and alleys to the south of the square. The range of goods on offer is very extensive and includes fruit, vegetables, spices, clothing, jewellery and other useful and useless items. The market is closed on Sundays.
- City Beach
The kilometre-long sandy Beach La Playa (Playa di Catania) begins directly at the southern end of the harbour facilities. It extends to Agnone, and is popular with holidaymakers and locals alike. During the summer season, it can get quite crowded in some places. Nevertheless, it should not be difficult to find a free place. Hotel complexes line the beach and offer their guests sun loungers and umbrellas, some of which can also be used by day visitors for a fee. The fine golden sand runs almost everywhere quite flat and slowly sloping into the sea. There are plenty of beach bars and restaurants. The beach is about 2.5 kilometres away from the cruise ship berths at the often-used Sporgente quay. This distance can be covered on foot in about 35 minutes each way. A taxi ride takes only a few minutes and costs around 15 euros each way. Alternatively, the wide stretch of beach can also be reached by bus on the D line, which also stops near the harbour at the central bus station.
- Castello Ursino and City Museum
Only about 500 metres from the Piazza del Duomo in a south-westerly direction, Ursino Castle stands on a small hill. The fortress was built from 1239 to 1250 on the foundations of a Norman predecessor to defend against enemy attacks. Originally, the castle stood in the immediate vicinity of the coast, but the lava flows from the volcanic eruption of 1669 greatly altered the landscape. Although the castle was spared destruction due to its elevated position, it moved inland and lost its military significance. It was converted into a prison. In 1932, the building passed into municipal hands, was restored and opened as a museum of the city's history in 1934. The Museo Civico exhibits collections of archaeological finds and a number of Sicilian paintings. It is open daily from 09:00-19:00. The last admission is at 18:00. Admission is 6 euros per person, reduced 3 euros.
- Military Museum
Less than 500 metres from the main railway station, a rather interesting military museum spreads out in a former factory building. The Museo Storico dello Sbarco in Sicilia 1943 is located on the street Viale Africa and focuses on the landing of the Allied forces in Sicily (Operation Husky). The exhibition, which extends over 3000 square metres, displays weapons, uniforms, original photographs, wax figures and various items of equipment, among other things. It was opened in 2002 and is spread over a total of three floors. After a short introduction, visitors are admitted in small groups every 10 to 15 minutes. Here you can experience the simulation of a bombing raid from the perspective of the inhabitants. Afterwards, you can explore the exhibition rooms on your own. Most of the explanations and signs are in English. Access to the building is possible during the week from Tuesday to Sunday, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs 4 euros per person, reduced rate 2 euros. Mondays are closed. The average length of stay is about 2 hours.
A popular tourist destination can be found a few kilometres north of the moorings. The historic Taormina spreads out on the 200-metre-high Monte Tauro hill and looks back on a long past. The first settlers came here as early as 1300 BC. After two major uprisings in the Middle Ages, the town was largely destroyed and later repopulated. At the end of the 19th century, the town became more and more important for tourism. Today, the centre of Taormina is largely car-free and is crossed by the street Corso Umberto, where numerous shops, restaurants and cafés can be found. Free parking spaces are scarce.You can park your car in one of the two large car parks, Porta Catania (in the west) or Lumbi (in the north-east). Those arriving by train should ideally get off at the local Taormina-Giardini station, which is about two kilometres from the old town. It's quite steep uphill, so it takes about 35 to 40 minutes to get there on foot. It is easier and faster to take the local buses. To the east, there is a cable car that takes you to Mazzarò and its beach. Taormina is a good 54 kilometres from Catania. This distance takes about 50 to 55 minutes by taxi or rental car*. With the Trenitalia trains, you can plan a one-way journey of 35 to 65 minutes, depending on the train you choose.
- Ancient Theatre of Taormina
A Greco-Roman amphitheatre is located on Via del Teatro Greco 1. It was built into a hillside by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC and extended, or rather built over, by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. The Ancient Theatre of Taormina (also called Teatro Antico di Taormina or Teatro Greco) underwent further extensive adaptation in the 2nd century AD. In particular, the audience tiers were extended and the entire complex was converted into an arena, where gladiatorial and animal fights were held from then on. Today, the theatre is still used for a wide variety of events. Outside of these events, visits are possible for people over the age of 26 on payment of 10 euros. Half price is charged for 18 to 25-year-olds, and admission is free up to the age of 17. Waiting times at the box office can usually be expected. The theatre grounds, from which you have a great panoramic view of Mount Etna, are open daily from 09:00-16:00 and in summer until 19:00.
- Mount Etna and the Railway
Europe's largest active volcano immediately catches the eye, starting from Catania. A UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, the peak of the mighty Etna reaches a height of around 3300 metres. The Parco dell'Etna (Etna Park), established in 1987 to protect the flora and fauna, covers an area of 580 square kilometres. Despite the possible dangers, the volcanic cone is quite well accessible to tourists and offers, among other things, two mountain stations, easily accessible by rental car*, for further explorations. Parking spaces are available on site. If you want to visit the summit, you are well advised to inform yourself in advance about the current weather and the current activity of the volcano. In addition, you should take an experienced mountain guide, especially for the upper regions, or take part in guided excursions. If an "ascent" is not possible, a short round trip might be a good idea. A narrow-gauge railway line about 110 kilometres long, runs for the most part along the lower part of the impressive land elevation. The Ferrovia Circumetnea (FCE) connects Catania in the south (Catania Borge station) with Riposto in the east of Etna by a long and not exactly direct route. The journey takes about 3 hours, but the regular connections end in Randazzo. There, the route splits into two separately served sections, making it necessary to change trains for a complete tour. Waiting times must be taken into calculation. Special tours in historic railcars, on the other hand, sometimes cover the entire track network.
- Etna Mountain Stations
In addition to roads, gravel tracks and hiking trails, you can also use the Funivia dell'Etna to the south, a cable car that leads from the mountain station Rifugio Sapienza (1900 metres) to the station La Montagnola at about 2500 metres. From there, you can continue on foot or by off-road vehicle, or bus, up to the Torre del Filosofo at around 3000 metres. A ride on the cable car takes about 15 minutes and costs 30 euros each way. It moves daily from 09:00 in the morning. The last return trip is scheduled for 16:15 in the months from April to November. From December to April, however, the descent starts half an hour earlier. A combined trip by cable car and all-terrain bus currently costs 65 euros per person. If Etna is calm, and there is enough snow, the T-bar lift at La Montagnola is put into operation to take skiers and snowboarders to the popular slopes in the neighbouring ski area. At the Rifugio Sapienza mountain station, there are plenty of parking facilities, restaurants and souvenir shops. On the northern slope of the mighty volcano, on the other hand, is the Piano Provenzana mountain station. It lies at an altitude of around 1800 metres and also has a popular ski area, parking areas, restaurants and souvenir shops. From here, for example, the Volcanological Observatory, which is located at an altitude of around 2800 metres, can be reached by all-terrain buses, from where you can then continue to explore the surroundings on foot.
- Excursion Portals and Excursion Providers
Through the tour and excursion providers GetYourGuide*, Meine Landausflüge* and Viator*, you can book various excursions, activities, tours, tickets and entrance fees in Catania, which are often offered at much lower prices than comparable excursions by the shipping companies. Thus, if you book in time, you can realise a variety of excursions on your own.
We have put together a small selection of independent excursion offers for, in and around Catania for you here.
- Cruises and Special Offers
If you haven't booked a Mediterranean cruise yet, but would like to get to know Catania personally and go on excursions on your own, you will find great offers with the major cruise operators in the German-speaking countries. Aida*, Costa* und Tui Cruises - Mein Schiff* offer charming itineraries with their modern cruise ships, along with other interesting destinations. Book your next dream holiday directly with your favourite cruise line at fair conditions.
All ocean and river cruises can also be booked conveniently and inexpensively online with the cruise specialist Kreuzfahrten-Zentrale Astoria*. You can choose from a wide range of daily offers from various shipping companies. These include AIDA Cruises, Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and TUI Cruises. The popular special offers are also attractive, with which you can travel particularly cheaply and possibly also get a great bargain.
- Opening hours of the post office: Monday to Friday from 08:30-13:30 and 16:00-19:00, Saturday from 08:30-12:30
- Opening hours of the banks: Monday - Friday 08:30-13:30
- Opening hours of the tourist information at the harbour: a few hours after the arrival of a cruise ship
- Opening hours of the Tourist Info in the city: Monday to Saturday from 08:00-19:00 and Sundays from 08:30-13:30
- Opening hours of the shops: Monday to Sunday from 10:00-20:00
- Country code: +39
- Taxi Catania: Tel. +39 095 8833 (Radio Taxi Catania)
- Taxi Catania: Tel. +39 095 3309 66 (Radio Taxi Catania)
- General emergency call: Tel. 112
- Police: Tel. 113
- Emergency doctor: Tel. 118
- Fire brigade: Tel. 115
- Vaccination recommendation: Tropical Institute Italy
- Safety instructions: Federal Foreign Office Italy
- Buses: AMT Catania
- Bus timetables: AMT Catania
- Train timetables: Bahnverbindungen Trenitalia
- City map: Catania Map
- Climate table: Catania Climate
- Port occupancy: Catania, Registered Moorings
- Official language: Italian
- Local currency: Euro, 1 EUR = 100 Cent
More port information on popular cruise destinations in the Mediterranean