Interesting facts and ideas for your own excursion along the Strait of Messina
- Regular berth: Terminal Crociere Porto di Messina
- Port shuttle: not available / not necessary
- Taxis: usually available at the piers
- Buses: well developed bus line network
- Car rental*: Hertz, Via Garibaldi 128
- Car rental*: Avis, Via Garibaldi 231
- Car rental*: Europcar, Via Croce Rossa 37
- Car rental*: Maggiore, Via Vittorio Emanuele II 75
- Post Office: Via Garibaldi 120
- Tourist Info: Via I Settembre 110
- Banks and ATMs: mainly in the centre of Messina
- Berths of the Cruise Liners
The 32 kilometre long Strait of Messina (Strait of Messina), separates the third largest city in Sicily from the Italian mainland. Messina itself is located at the northeastern tip of the island and provides several berths for cruise ships in its sickle-shaped harbour. These are usually located one after the other on the quay running parallel to the Via Vittorio Emanuele II road. In the small Cruise Terminal building of the Terminal Crociere Porto di Messina, there is, beside a stand of the tourist information, normally also merchants with souvenirs and souvenirs. As the quays are located right at the city centre, the use of shuttle buses is not necessary.
- Local Public Transport
The transport company ATM Messina (Azienda Trasporti di Messina) operates numerous bus lines within the city and the surrounding area and a tram line running in a north-south direction. The tram line was opened in 2003 and has 18 stops over a distance of 7.7 kilometres, with services every 15 minutes during the day. A single ticket valid for one journey is available at official sales points and tobacconists and costs 1.20 euros. The driver is charged a 30 cent surcharge. A ticket valid for 90 minutes costs 1.25 euros in advance and a day ticket costs 2.60 euros. Tickets must be validated on the bus and/or train at the start of the journey. Intercity buses depart from Messina's main railway station in Piazza della Repubblica and are operated by Interbus Spa. From here there are also buses to the popular tourist resort of Taormina.
Usually there are numerous taxi drivers at the port exit ready to receive the arriving cruise guests. Apart from simple transfers, there are also round trips available, sometimes as far as Taormina and Etna. The prices are negotiable with some skill and should be clarified with the driver in advance. If taximeters are installed in the vehicles, they are often not used.
- Sightseeing Tours
From April to October, the famous red Hop On Hop Off buses of City Sightseeing operate in Messina on two different routes. With the starting point in Via Garibaldi street, one round of the Blue Line takes about 50 minutes and mainly goes through the city itself. In addition, the buses run at a frequency of 45-50 minutes. This is considerably longer with 120 minutes on the Red Line. A complete tour here takes about 90 minutes and leads along the coast to Torre Faro, the most north-eastern point of Sicily. From the age of 16, a ticket valid for 24 hours costs 10 euros each for the Blue Line and 12.50 euros each for the Red Line. To use both routes, combi-tickets are offered for 15 euros per person. Children aged 5-15 years pay half each. City Sightseeing also offers Transfers to Taormina*. These cost 25 euros per person for the return trip and you can also use the Blue Line in Messina with the tickets you have purchased.
- Tourist Train
As an alternative to the Hop On Hop Off buses, the colourful Tourist Trains that make their rounds through the city centre are also a good way to explore the city. The tours start at Piazza Duomo in front of Messina Cathedral, last about 50 minutes and cost 10 euros per person. Children aged 6 to 12 years pay half price each. A photo stop is made at the viewpoint in front of the Sacrario di Cristo Re. Information about the sights will be played over loudspeakers during the trip, including in German and English.
- Horse-Drawn Carriages
In addition to buses and small trains, there are also numerous horse-drawn carriages in the city, some of which follow a fixed route. If you deviate from this, you should negotiate the total price with the coachman in advance. Often, it is then charged by the hour. A 45-minute round trip should usually be charged at 15 euros per person. For children between 6 and 12 years of age 10 Euro are charged. The horse-drawn carriages make their rounds in the streets of Messina during the summer months from April to October.
- Shopping Facilities
As the berths of the cruise ships are located directly at the city, the centre of Messina and some sights are within walking distance. At the south of the pier one meets the main shopping street Viale San Martino. There and in the adjoining side streets, one finds various clothing shops, restaurants and cafés. This also applies to the large square Piazza Cairoli and its surrounding streets.
- Madonna della Lettera
At the entrance to the port, the mighty Campana Tower with the city's patron saint enthroned on it, the Madonna della Lettera, catches the eye. Inaugurated in 1934, the mighty column with the gold-coloured figure reaches a height of 60 metres. The sphere itself has a diameter of 2.60 metres and the inscription "Vos et ipsam civitatem benedicimus" at the foot of the column means "I bless you and your city". The building is located at the tip of the crescent-shaped peninsula, which today is largely used by the Italian Navy and unfortunately is only accessible on special occasions. The fortress of San Salvatore was already built here in 1546, of which, among other things, the strong rampart has been preserved.
- The Cathedral of Messina
Not far from the cruise terminal, you will come across an interesting historical building which has been damaged several times and sometimes very badly by earthquakes, fires and wars. The Cathedral of Messina (Duomo di Messina) was first consecrated in 1197 and in 1933 it received a separate, free-standing bell tower. It is 48 metres high and has a large mechanical clockwork. The south side of the Campanile displays the current date, the phases of the moon and the planetary positions in relation to the zodiacs. On the west side, an impressive carillon starts every day at 12:00 noon with a variety of scenes and a duration of around 12 minutes. The ringing of the bells on the hour is staged by the two three-meter tall ladies Dina and Clarenza.
The church tower itself has a small viewing platform that provides a good view of the harbour and the roofs of the city. The access to the 233 steps is granted by paying a fee of four euros per person. Up to the age of 18, one pays half each. On the way up, one can then admire parts of the clockwork at close range. In addition to the largest bell in Sicily, the church also has one of the largest organs in Italy, which was installed in several parts of the building in 1948. In the South Hall of the Cathedral there is an exhibition with about 400 exhibits from the 10th to 20th century. Admission fees of 4 or 2 euros per person are also charged for this. The cathedral is accessible daily from 07:00-12:30 and from 16:00-19:00 free of charge. During the summer months, the exhibition and the tower are open daily from 10:00-13:00, and on Tuesday until 15:30. In the winter months, however, access is often only possible on Sundays between 11:00 and 13:00.
- Orion Fountain
The Fontana di Orione is located in the Cathedral Square, very close to the Cathedral. The historically important and impressive Orion Fountain was completed in 1553 by the Tuscan sculptor Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli, a pupil of Michelangelo, and shows the image of Orion, who in turn is considered the mythical founder of Messina. Fed by the nearby Camaro stream, the fountain was originally the end of a previously constructed aqueduct and was used to supply water to the inhabitants of Messina. Over time, however, it lost more and more importance and in 1855 it was decided to build a fence to protect the structures.
- Sacrario di Cristo Re and Viewpoint
The Church Sacrario Cristo Re is enthroned above Messina and is therewith very well visible from the cruise ship. The domed building and so-called Temple of Christ the King was erected in 1937 on the remains of an old castle dating from 1191, and is dedicated to the victims of the First and Second World Wars. Their names were immortalized on stone slabs and the massive bell sounds daily at sunset to commemorate them. The interior can be visited free of charge from Monday to Friday between 09:00-13:00. Due to its location, the building and the viewing platform on the street offer great panoramic views of the city and the harbour. From the berth, the sacred building can be reached on foot in 20 to 25 minutes. Thereby, one covers a distance of approximately 1,4 kilometres.
A small marine aquarium is located on Corso Cavour 250, in the premises of Villa Mazzini. It was created in 1959 for research purposes and deals with marine animals found in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Ionian Sea and the Strait of Messina. Around 70 different species of fish, molluscs, crustaceans and reptiles are housed in 22 tanks with a capacity of 2,500 to 18,000 litres of water. Visits are only possible during the week on Wednesday and Thursday from 09:00-13:00. However, admission is free and the length of stay is manageable due to the size.
- Art Museum Museo Regionale di Messina
The Regional Museum of Messina is located in the north of the city, on Viale della Libertà 465, about 2.9 kilometres from the Cruise Terminal. It is housed in a building from the late 19th century, which was previously used by a silk weaving mill. After extensive renovation work, the exhibition rooms were opened in 1922, displaying paintings, sculptures and valuable art objects from the 12th to 18th centuries. Most of the exhibits come from the Museo Civico that was run until then and from buildings that fell victim to the big earthquake of 1908. It is open Tuesday to Saturday from 09:00-19:00 and Sunday from 09:00-13:00. Admission closes half an hour before closing time and is completely closed on Mondays. The entrance fee is 8 euros per person. The terminus of the local tram line is in the immediate vicinity.
- Torre Faro and Beach
The north-eastern tip of Sicily is about 15 kilometres from the moorings and can be reached in about 30 minutes by rental car*, for example. There, the little village of Torre Faro spreads out, where a huge electricity pylon is located. The so-called Pilone di Torre Faro is 232 metres high and was connected to an identical mast on the Italian mainland via a high-voltage line until 1994. Today both masts are listed as historical monuments and are used as antenna masts. At the foot of the tower there is a wide sandy beach, mostly pebbled, which runs to the north coast. A variety of meals, snacks and drinks are available in the local beach restaurants. Sun loungers and parasols are also available there for a fee. The Hop On Hop Off buses of the Red Line of City Sightseeing have a stop in Torre Faro.
A touristically attractive destination that is popular with ship passengers can be found a few kilometres south of the moorings. The historic Taormina spreads out on the 200-metre-high Monte Tauro hill and looks back on a long past. Already around 1300 BC the first settlers settled here. After two great uprisings in the Middle Ages, the town was largely destroyed and later repopulated. At the end of the 19th century the town gained more and more importance for tourism. Today the centre of Taormina is largely car-free and is crossed by Corso Umberto street, which is full of shops, restaurants and cafés. Free parking spaces are in short supply. You can park your car for example in one of the two large car parks Porta Catania (to the west) or Lumbi (to the north-east). Those who arrive by train should ideally get off at the local railway station Taormina-Giardini, which is about two kilometres away from the old town. It is quite steep uphill and it takes about 35 to 40 minutes to get there on foot. It is easier and faster to get there with the local buses. To the east there is a cable car that takes you to Mazzarò and its beach. Taormina is a good 52 kilometres away from Messina. For this distance you need 45 to 50 minutes by taxi or rental car*. With the trains of Trenitalia you can plan a journey of 45 to 65 minutes for one direction and depending on the choice of train.
- Antique Theatre of Taormina
A Greco-Roman amphitheatre is located on the street Via del Teatro Greco 1, which was built on a slope by the Greeks in the 3rd century B.C. and extended or built over by the Romans in the 2nd century B.C. The Ancient theatre of Taormina (also called Teatro Antico di Taormina or Teatro Greco) underwent another extensive adaptation in the 2nd century AD. Thereby, specially the spectator terraces were extended and the whole complex was rebuilt into an arena in which from then on, gladiator and animal fights took place. Even today the theatre is still used for various events. Outside of these events, visits are possible for persons from the age of 26 for a fee of 10 Euros. For 18 to 25 year olds, half is charged and up to the age of 17, admission is free. As a rule, waiting times at the cash desk can be expected. The area of the theatre, from which, by the way, you have a great panoramic view of Mount Etna, is accessible daily from 09:00-16:00 and in summer also until 19:00.
- Etna and Railway
Already from Taormina, Europe's largest active volcano is clearly visible. The peak of the mighty Etna, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reaches a height of around 3300 metres. Surrounding it is the area of the Parco dell'Etna, created in 1987 to protect flora and fauna, covering an area of around 580 square kilometres. Despite the potential dangers, the volcanic cone is quite well developed for tourism and offers, among other things, two mountain stations for further exploration that are easily accessible by rental car*. Parking spaces are available on site. If you would like to visit the summit, you are well advised to find out about the current weather and the current activity of the volcano in advance. In addition, especially for the upper areas, you should take an experienced mountain guide or participate in guided excursions.
If an "ascent" is not possible, a small round trip might be a good idea. A narrow-gauge railway line with a length of about 110 kilometres runs mostly in the lower part of the impressive land elevation. The Ferrovia Circumetnea (FCE) connects Catania in the south with Riposto in the east of Etna on a long and not very direct way. The pure journey time is about 3 hours, but the regular connections end in Randazzo. There the route splits into two separately served sections and a change for a complete tour is necessary. Waiting times must be taken into account. Special trips in historical railcars sometimes run over the entire track network.
- Mountain Stations
In addition to roads, gravel paths and hiking trails, another "ascent" can be made by the Funivia dell'Etna to the south, a cable car that takes you from the Rifugio Sapienza mountain station (1900 metres) to the La Montagnola station at about 2500 metres. From there it is possible to reach the Torre del Filosofo on foot or with an all-terrain vehicle or bus up to an altitude of about 3000 metres. A trip with the cable car takes approximately 15 minutes and costs 30 euros per person for each way there and back. It moves daily from 09:00 in the morning. The last return trip is scheduled from April to November at 16:15. Half an hour earlier, on the other hand, it goes down again from December to April. A combined trip with cable car and cross-country bus currently costs 65 euros per person. If Etna is quiet and there is enough snow, the drag lift near La Montagnola will be put into operation to bring skiers and snowboarders to the popular slopes in the adjacent ski area. At the mountain station Rifugio Sapienza there are plenty of parking facilities, restaurants and souvenir shops. On the northern slope of the mighty volcano, on the other hand, is the mountain station Piano Provenzana. It is located at an altitude of around 1800 metres and also has a popular ski area, parking facilities, 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 busses, from where you can continue exploring the area 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 admission tickets in Messina, which are often offered at much lower prices than comparable excursions offered by the shipping companies. Thus, if you book in time, you can realize a variety of excursions on your own.
A small preselection of independent tour offers for, in and around Messina,
we have compiled for you here.
- Cruises and Special Offers
If you have not yet booked a Mediterranean cruise, but would like to get to know Messina personally and make excursions on your own, you will find great offers from the major cruise operators in the German-speaking world. Aida*, Costa* and Tui Cruises - Mein Schiff* offer attractive routes with their modern cruise ships, together with other interesting destinations. Book your next dream holiday directly with your favourite shipping company at fair conditions.
All ocean and river cruises can also be booked conveniently and inexpensively online with the sea travel specialist Kreuzfahrten-Zentrale Astoria*. This means that you can choose from a wide range of up-to-date 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. Also attractive are the popular special offers, with which one can travel at a particularly low price and possibly also get a great bargain.
- Opening hours of the post office: Monday to Friday from 08:00-12:30
- Opening hours of the banks: Monday to Friday from 08:30-13:30
- Opening hours of the tourist information office: Monday to Friday from 09:00-13:00 and from 15:00-18:00
- Opening hours of the shops: Monday to Sunday from 09:30-20:00
- Country code: +39
- Taxi Messina: Tel. +39 335 586 1290 (Taxi Messina)
- General emergency call: Tel. 112
- Police: Tel. 113
- Emergency doctor: Tel. 118
- Fire department: Tel. 115
- Vaccination recommendation: Tropical Institute Italy
- German Embassy: Via San Sebastiano 13
- Safety Instructions: Federal Foreign Office Italy
- Buses: ATM Messina
- Intercity buses: Interbus
- Tram: ATM Messina
- Train timetables: Bahnverbindung Messina-Taormina
- Train timetables: Train connections Trenitalia
- Climate table: Messina Climate
- Port occupancy: Cruise ships in Messina
- Official language: Italian
- National currency: Euro, 1 EUR = 100 Cent
More port information on popular cruise destinations in the Mediterranean