Catania is one of the pearls of Sicily . The city, which rises halfway between the Etna volcano and the sea, enjoys a particular charm. The unique architecture full of historic buildings built in lava stone and the atmosphere that characterizes the narrow streets of the historic center, make Catania a jewel to be discovered. Today we want to talk to you about the things to see absolutely in this mythical city. Here is our guide full of tips!
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1 – Old Town
Photo of kavalenkava. Large, rich in lava stone monuments from the Etna volcano, ean unforgettable place for a journey to discover the Etna city .
Above all, the numerous churches dominate it, but the historic center also offers important museums and is also full of colorful markets , such as the Pescheria or the famous “Fera ‘o Luni” (the Monday Market in Piazza Carlo Alberto). And to start your stay in Catania as it should be , we advise you to immerse yourself immediately in the culinary tradition of the city, perhaps with a street food tour, thus combining a visit to the historic center with a tasty tasting of typical street food!
The center can be easily visited on foot, and can be reached by buses 432, 449, 536 and 902, which stop near and along the neighboring streets. The central station is about 1.5 km away (15 min on foot) – Get directions

Visit the Amenano river : centuries ago it flowed along the historic center of Catania, but was submerged by the earthquake of 1669. Today it resurfaces in some places, as a lava cave which hosts A Putia Dell’Ostello, a magical place to eat, sip and listen to live music.

2 – Palazzo Biscari
Photo of Rabe !. Palazzo Biscari is certainly one of the buildings that best describe Catania . Luxurious and elegant, it is the emblem of the richness and sumptuousness that Catania has seen in past centuries.

Its interior will make you dream: unmissable its frescoes that adorn the ceilings, the ubiquitous decorations on the walls and the ballroom that will take you back in time. Its rooms hosted illustrious personalities , including Goethe, and also served as a film set for the film “I Vicere”, based on the novel of the same name by Federico De Roberto.
Nowadays a large part of the building is open to tourist visits, with the exception of some rooms that house municipal offices.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Via Museo Biscari 10, easily reachable on foot from Piazza Duomo in 5 min. Buses 429, 522 and 556 stop near the building. Central Station is 1.1 km (14 min) – Get directions
  • Hours: generally 7: 00-13: 00 and 15: 00-19: 00. Guided tours to be booked on the official website
  • Ticket cost: guided tours to be booked on the official website

3 – Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini
Photo by planamultimedia. It is a majestic building, which today includes an orchestra of 105 elements and a choir of 84. Today, unfortunately , only a small part of the totality of the building can be seen , which includes a hall with four tiers of boxes and a richly decorated gallery. decorated.

The ceiling is frescoed with images that celebrate the most famous works of the master Bellini such as Norma, Sonnambula, I Puritani and Mirata. The curtain instead retorts the “Victory of the Catania over the Libyans”. The tours of the Theater include a guided tour inside the Stalls, the orders of the stage, the Royal Box and the Foyer.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in via Giuseppe Perrotta 12, in the historic center. Easily reachable on foot from Piazza Duomo in 6 min. Buses 429 and 449 stop near the Theater. The Central Station is 1 km away (14 min walk) – Get directions
  • Hours: Guided tours Tue-Sat at 9am, 10am, 11am and 12pm. For the calendar of shows consult the official website
  • Ticket price: full guided tour € 6.00, reduced € 4.00. For the ticket of the single shows consult the official website

4 – Cathedral of Sant’Agata
Photo by user16246005. The beautiful Church of Sant’Agata and the Cathedral of Catania; it was rebuilt several times during the centuries in which the city was the victim of earthquakes and eruptions, and was built on what remained of ancient Roman baths . There is talk of a period prior to 1070, of which only the apse remains today. In fact, the rest of the church has been completely rebuilt. Its facade, the work of Vaccarini, was made of Carrara marble while the columns come from the ancient Roman theater of Catania.
Inside, the visitor is enchanted by the Baroque style, and there is also the chapel dedicated to Sant’Agata, beloved by the people of Catania, where his relics are still kept today., you will also find the tomb of Vincenzo Bellini, the famous composer from Catania, who composed, among all his successes, also the famous “Norma”.

Take part in the Feast of Sant’Agata : every year, from 3 to 5 February, the feast of Sant’Agata, the patron saint of Catania, is celebrated inside the Cathedral and in the streets of the center. It is one of the most suggestive periods for a visit.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Piazza Duomo, easily reachable on foot from any point in the historic center. Buses 556, 830 and 927 stop near the church. The Central Station is 1.4 km away (17 min walk) – Get directions
  • Hours: Mon-Sat 7: 00-12: 00 and 16: 00-19: 00, Sun and holidays 7: 30-12: 00 and 16: 30-19: 00. Limited tourist visits during the celebration of Holy Mass and religious recurrences
  • Ticket cost: free

5 – Piazza Duomo
Photo of bepslab. Piazza Duomo is one of the most famous places in Catania . Here stands the famous statue of the elephant (U liotru in Catania), the undisputed symbol of the city . The fountain that you will see in Piazza Duomo takes its name from the wizard and necromancer Eliodoro, who according to legend was riding the elephant on his way to Constantinople.
The current shape of the square dates back to 1736, but has been modified several times over the course of time. The Elephant itself, for example, was restored in 1693. The Palazzo degli Elefanti overlooks the square, which now houses the Town Hall, the Palazzo dei Chierici and the Cathedral, a sight not to be missed.
It is located in the heart of the historic center, a 6-minute walk from the Ursino Castle and 9 minutes from the Roman Amphitheater. Buses 556, 830 and 927 stop nearby. The Central Station is 1.4 km away (17 min walk) – Get directions

Visit the Achillian Baths : just below this square are the splendid Terme Achilliane, an ancient Roman spa complex. Today they are part of an archaeological area open to the public. Hours: Mon-Fri 9: 00-14: 00, Tue and Thu also 15: 00-18: 00, Sat 9: 00-13: 00. Full € 5.00, reduced € 3.00

6 – La Pescheria
Photo by Erin Johnson. It is one of the traditional markets of Catania, perhaps the most evocative of all. La Pescheria is located practically a stone’s throw from Piazza Duomo and is the city’s fish market. There are no entrance tickets, such as fixed times: the market is there as long as there are people and there is fresh fish to sell.
It is the most typical, chaotic, colorful and authentic market in Catania , a real experience to be lived at 360 °. If you have never seen a Sicilian market, we really recommend that you drop by. The colors, the “screams” of the fishermen trying to win over the customers, and also the “smells”, will become part of an unforgettable experience.
The older people of Catania tell of how the magic of the market has enchanted even illustrious characters of the past, such as Giovanni Verga, Micio Tempio and Nino Martoglio, who used to frequent the stalls letting themselves be enchanted by the chant of the fishermen.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: around Via Cardinale Dusmet, easily reachable on foot from Piazza Duomo in one minute. Buses 556, 830 and 927 stop near the market. Central Station is 1.5km away (18 mins) – Get directions
  • Hours: opens early in the morning, closes before 2pm
  • Ticket cost: free

7 – Castello Ursino
Photo by romansigaev. Built by King Frederick II of Swabia in the thirteenth century, the Ursino Castle is one of the most important buildings in the city, as well as one of the symbols of Catania . Of Norman origin, during the Sicilian vespers it was the seat of Parliament and then became the residence of the Aragonese kings’ lineage.
Today it is the seat of the Civic Museum of Catania , and collects in its 3 floors finds of inestimable value, among which it seems there is also a nail used during the Crucifixion of Jesus . Furthermore, in the square where the castle stands, various cultural events take place throughout the year.
Castello Ursino is also a place shrouded in mystery; he witnessed apparitions and manifestations of spirits and ghosts; souls of those who frequented it when they were alive and could no longer break away from it!
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Piazza Federico di Svevia, in the historic center, easily reachable on foot from Piazza Duomo in 7 min. Buses 2-5, 431R, 504 and 556 stop near the castle. Central Station is 1.8km away (23 mins) – Get directions
  • Hours: every day 9: 00-19: 00
  • Ticket price: full € 6.00, reduced € 3.00

8 – House of Giovanni Verga
Giovanni Verga is known for his great skill as a writer and known for being the father of “I Malavoglia”, the emblematic Catania family described in great detail by the writer in his work.
Given the international importance of Verga, the Sicilian Region decided to guard the house where he lived in Catania and transform it into a museum so that everyone could see it. It is located inside the nineteenth-century building in Via Sant’Anna and inside it is divided into the Verga Foundation (on the first floor) and the real house (on the second floor); inside you can admire about 2,600 volumes,
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Via Sant’Anna 8, in the historic center, easily reachable on foot to Piazza Duomo in 8 min. Buses 2, 5, 530, 534, 902 and 927 stop nearby. Central Station is 1.7 km (22 min) – Get directions
  • Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9: 00-13: 00 and 14: 30-18: 00, Sun closed
  • Ticket price: full € 4.00, reduced € 2.00

9 – Roman Theater and Odeon
Photo by romansigaev. Almost hidden among the modern buildings are the Roman Theater and the Odeon: these are two historical testimonies built in the second century. AD which had a recreational purpose, in fact the first could enter as many as 7,000 spectators. Unfortunately, there is not much left today as the lava eruptions and earthquakes have buried some parts of it , however you can admire the orchestra, the cavea and some parts of the scene.
As for the Odeon, it certainly has a smaller capacity and is located a few steps from the Theater: in the past it hosted shows and concerts of various kinds., today we can observe eighteen walls that form various very narrow ones; the most beautiful thing is that even today you can enter as spectators when summer shows are organized inside !
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Via Vittorio Emanuele II, in the historic center, easily reachable on foot to Piazza Duomo in 8 min. Buses 2, 5, 530, 534, 902 and 927 stop nearby. Central Station is 1.6 km (25 min) – Get directions
  • Hours: every day 9: 00-19: 00
  • Ticket price: full € 6.00, reduced € 3.00

10 – Monastero dei Benedettini
Photo by Petergenner. The Benedictine Monastery of Catania, or Monastery of San Nicolo l’Arena, is one of the largest monastic complexes in Europe . 500 years old, today it houses the Department of Human Sciences of the University of Catania and all related activities.
The Monastery, however, in the past, in addition to a place of refuge for Benedictine monks, was also the site of a barracks and a school. This site, which has become part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, preserves several wonders , such as the hanging garden and even a Roman domus. The underground can also be visited, but only on the occasion of some specific anniversaries or projects.

Look for the Secret Gallery: there are several legends around the Monastery; the best known tells of the presence of an underground gallery that would join the convent with that of San Benedetto located in Via Crociferi.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Piazza Dante Alighieri 32, easily reachable on foot to Piazza Duomo in 11 min. Buses 431N, 503, 726, 830, 902 and 932 stop near Piazza Dante Alighieri. Central Station is 1.8 km (30 min) – Get directions
  • Hours: every day 9: 00-17: 00. Special visits and workshops have also been organized, consult the program on the official website
  • Ticket price: full guided tour € 8.00, reduced € 5.00

11 – Basilica della Collegiata
Photo by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo. Right after Piazza Universita, along Via Etnea, there is this splendid church, also called “Regia Cappella” by the people of Catania; it is a work not to be missed because it is one of the oldest and one of the most significant of the late Baroque period in Catania . Angelo Italia was the designer and took care of it at the beginning of the eighteenth century, it was completed posthumously by Stefano Ittar in 1758.
Inside there are frescoes by Giuseppe Sciuto, but its façade is most striking , extremely fascinating for its shape, so beautiful that many spouses choose to get married here because of this particular peculiarity!
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in via Etnea 23, in the historic center, easily reachable from Piazza Duomo in 3 min. Buses 2, 5, 530, 534, 902 and 927 stop near the church. Central Station is 1.3 km (15 min) – Get directions
  • Hours: every day 9: 00-12: 00 and 17: 00-19: 00
  • Ticket cost: free

12 – Via Etnea
Photo by kavalenkava. Via Etnea is the beating heart of Catania, the shopping street . 3 km long, it starts right from Piazza Duomo, passing through Piazza Universita (whose building since the 18th century has housed the Rectorate and a fabulous library) and reaches the former Tondo Gioeni. It is structured in such a way as to always have an excellent view of Etna .
Enormously loved by the people of Catania, who populate it at any time of day or evening, and full of baroque palaces built after the earthquake of 1693.
It is located in the historic center and connects Piazza Duomo to the former Tondo Gioeni. Buses 449, 536, 722 and 744 stop near the street. The Central Station is 2.1 km away (28 min walk) – Get directions

Visit it at Christmas : in December, splendid Christmas markets are set up along the perpendicular sleepers (Via Minoriti and Via Montesano); instead in Piazza Universita a huge tree is placed around which the artisans of the area exhibit their creations!

13 – Via Crociferi
Photo of bepslab. Via dei Crociferi was built after the earthquake of 1693 and is considered by the people of Catania “the baroque living room” of Catania, a very particular street, almost legendary !
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and known for having 4 magnificent churches in just 200 m: the Church of San Benedetto with its characteristic staircase of the Angel, the Church of San Francesco Borgia, the Jesuit College, finally the Church of San Giuliano.
The street is located in the historic center, easily reachable on foot to Piazza Duomo in 7 min. Buses 429, 504M, 642 and 902 stop near the street. Central Station is 1.5km away (20 min walk) – Get directions

Challenge the legend: it is said that the ghost of a headless horse haunts Via dei Crociferi at night. In 1700 a young man tried to cross the cursed place for a bet. Arrived under the arch of the Benedictines I drive a nail to demonstrate the feat, but he did not realize that he had also attached a flap of his cloak to the wall. When I try to walk away he died of a broken heart, thinking he was being held back by the terrible ghost.

14 – Roman amphitheater
Photo of bepslab. The Roman amphitheater of Catania was one of the most grandiose of antiquity , second only to the Colosseum of Rome. Built practically only with the lava stone of Etnacovered with marble, it was able to hold about 15,000 spectators, but all that remains today is a small section in Piazza Stesicoro.
Some traditions, even if not verified, confirm that the naumachia probably also took place inside, that is, real naval battles complete with fighters and ships, obviously filling it with water using that of the ancient aqueduct. Furthermore, an ancient legend tells that in 252 AD an eruption of Etna hit the city without fortunately destroying the Amphitheater.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Piazza Stesicoro, in the historic center, reachable on foot from Villa Bernini in 6 min. Buses 2, 5, 429, 433, 442, 448, 534 stop near the amphitheater. Central Station is 1.5km away (18 mins) – Get directions
  • Hours: Tue-Sun 9: 00-13: 00 and 14: 30-18: 00, closed Mon
  • Ticket cost: free

15 – Villa Bellini
Photo by User: Matthias SuBen. Right in the middle of Via Etnea there is the splendid Villa Bellini: it is the place where the people of Catania practice sports and dedicate themselves to relaxation . This real green lung boasts about 71,000 square meters of extension, including lush gardens, trees of all kinds, paths for sportsmen, fields, majestic fountains, hedges and even games for children.
Strolling through the Bellini Garden, called in the local Catania dialect “a villa”, on the west side there is the Avenue of Illustrious Men, where it is possible to meet many illustrious characters by bumping into their busts: there are for example Giovanni Verga, Mario Rapisardi, Nino Martoglio, Luigi Capuana, Stesicoro, Federico De Roberto and then obviously also that of Vincenzo Bellini!
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Viale Regina Margherita, easily reachable from Piazza Duomo in 17 min along via Etnea. Buses 2, 5, 429, 433, 442, 448 and 534 stop near the villa. Central Station is 1.6 km (20 min) – Get directions
  • Hours: every day, summer 6: 00-23: 00, spring and autumn 6: 00-22: 00, winter 06: 00-21: 00
  • Ticket cost: free

16 – Orto Botanico
Photo by Esculapio. The Botanical Garden of Catania was born on a project of the Benedictine monk Francesco Tornabene Roccaforte in 1858 and still hosts thousands of plant species today. It extends for 16,000 square meters and is divided into two sections: Orto Siculo and Orto Generale.
It offers an incredible natural heritage, but above all the particularity of its spectacular views to make it unique . Furthermore, inside there is a fantastic neoclassical building.
This place is so important for Catania that it has become the venue for events, courses and even wedding locations!
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in via Via Etnea 397, reachable on foot from Villa Bernini in 8 min. Buses 429, 442 and 448 stop near the Orto. The Central Station is 2.3 km away (30 min) – Get directions
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 9: 30-18: 30, Sat 9: 30-12: 30, closed Sun
  • Ticket cost: free

Other attractions to visit
In addition to the beauties already mentioned, you cannot miss Piazza Universita, Piazza Carlo Alberto Savoia, the San Berillo district (realm of street art), perfect places to stroll.
Other interesting attractions are the Church of the Badia di Sant’Agata, the work of Giovanni Battista Vaccarini (free), the Historical Museum of the Landing in Sicily 1943 (€ 4.00), which tells of the history of the Sicilian people in the year of the landing of Anglo-American army, and the Church of San Nicolo l’Arena in Piazza Dante Alighieri (free).

If you love art , you can stop at the Sicilian Contemporary Art Museum (MACS, € 5.00) or at the Modern Art Gallery (GAM, admission based on current exhibitions), housed in the
Finally, you must definitely visit its beautiful surroundings ! A half-day excursion to Mount Etna in the seaside resorts of Aci Trezza and Aci Castello is therefore not to be missed. Going a little further you can also visit the wonderful and famous places of Taormina with Isola Bella and Syracuse!

11 things to do in Catania

  1. Going for an excursion on Etna : an essential stop, one of the absolute symbols of the city in the world. Numerous half-day or full-day tours depart every day, including excursions on foot or by jeep. Info and costs here
  2. Photographing Catania from above : from the Abbey of Sant’Agata or from the terrace of the Diocesan Museum you can capture the perfect image with the Etna volcano in the background
  3. Admire the sunset from San Giovanni Li Cuti : go here to enjoy a spectacular landscape, the black beach below, the small fishing village, a lighthouse on the horizon and the sun that crosses the sea
  4. Cool off with lemon seltz and salt : This is the drink par excellence of Catania, to be enjoyed during the hot summer days served in many kiosks scattered throughout the city.
  5. Discover underground Catania : the lava cave of the Amenano river and the Achilliane Baths are just two of the underground wonders of the city. It is possible to discover beauties thanks to routes and tours. For info visit the official website
  6. Take a ride on the Circumetnea Railway : this is the railway that connects Catania with all the villages on the slopes of Etna. From the train window you will be able to admire spectacular landscapes. All the info and timetables on the official website
  7. Taste the best arancini in Catania : you can find them at Savia or Spinella (in front of Villa Bellini), or at l’Etoile d’or at the Arrivals of Catania “Fontanarossa” Airport
  8. Relax on the southern coast : starting from Catania and moving south, the wonderful Plaia coast develops, with 18 km of wonderful beaches, ideal for spending an afternoon or a day during the hot summer days
  9. Take a photo in San Berillo : we recommend that you go to the San Berillo neighborhood during the day to take lots of photos of the various street art works on all the walls. An absolutely suggestive place that will unleash your creativity
  10. Photographing the Port Silos : in the port area there are eight gigantic silos, which have been completely painted on the occasion of a street art project that has attracted artists from all over the world. Really unmissable
  11. Taste the Horse Meat : to be tried grilled on street corners, or in more elaborate dishes in the best trattorias such as Da Achille, Na Za Rosa, Dal Tenerissimo, Il borgo di Federico, Camelot, Il Tubo.

Plan your stay in Catania: flights and hotels
Catania and the black pearl of the Ionian Sea , a name that earned it for the dark color that distinguishes its buildings. Reaching it is really easy thanks to its Fontanarossa International Airport (compare flights).

The best areas to stay overnight are those in the historic center , adjacent to Via Etnea or Via Crociferi, alternatively Corso Italia and Corso Umberto are strategic and well connected to the center (compare the accommodations on booking). The best option is in fact to move on foot , as public transport in Catania is not always punctual, especially due to city traffic at peak times. Among the places of nightlifethere is the particular Piazza Teatro: there are numerous pubs and clubs of all kinds and it is a safe and controlled area at all hours of the day.

If you are traveling with your family , do not miss Villa Bellini, the seafront of Ognina or the excursion to Etna! Finally, if you travel low cost, we advise you to avoid the months of July and August , the most expensive and also hot. Prefer June and September, still great for beach life too. In addition, many attractions are free to enter and the costs are not excessive.

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