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11 of the best things to do in Catania, Sicily – Handbags only


The Italian city of Catania is located right on the coast of Sicily. With a history dating back thousands of years, there are heaps of the best things to do in Catania – in and out of town. In many ways, including us, Catania is seen as a gateway to all the other best places in Sicily to visit. However, it is worth a visit in itself – even if it is part of a broader visit to Sicily. Now, even though Catania may seem a little ‘unruly’, it’s a city with a lot of charm and the kind of city you have to dive into. And honestly, the first few hours after you arrive in Catania are a blur of sensory overload – it’s a bustling city, but that’s all part of the charm and totally unique. So, to help you get the most out of your time in Catania, I’m sharing some of the places we loved so much about our visit. Take a look at some of the epic places to visit in Catania. I wish you a wonderful trip to travel around Sicily. 1.) Visit Palazzo Biscari The private Palazzo Biscari is a great place to see while visiting Catania. You see, in the 17th century, the Prince of Biscari was given the right to build a magnificent palace after a devastating earthquake. Nowadays, it still stands tall in the city and is well worth taking a guided tour to get a peek inside. It is not only one of the largest palaces in the city, but in my opinion one of the most magnificent. While on a guided tour, catch a glimpse of the gorgeous courtyard before heading out to see the Great Hall, hand-painted frescoes, and the most beautiful staircase. Honestly, this place is a gem to explore. Now, I won’t spoil the surprise by popping in a picture of the interiors (they are really, really cool), so be sure to head over once you’re in Sicily. Further Read: Best Things To Do In Sicily 2.) Take a trip to Castello Ursino built in the 13th century, out of lava rocks, a visit to Castello Ursino is one of the best things to do in Catania if you want to explore The city has a long history. Yes, it may not be a very popular Baroque building in Sicily, but Castello Ursino predates these designs and houses so much for you to see. It literally goes back to the Middle Ages. Now, I felt that Castillo Orsino was even more impressive on the outside (if I’m being honest). But don’t let that deter you from heading inside – it’s worth seeing the various artworks, paintings and sculptures that now call the castle home. 3.) Go to San Nicolò l’Arena Monastery San Nicolò l’Arena might not seem like an obvious choice of place to visit, but trust me here. If you want to know more about the history of Catania, you will want to come here. Now, guided tours happen most days and usually last about 75 minutes. Though, always check the times you’re working and be aware that if you want an English language tour, you’ll want to visit around 1pm. Finally, to book a tour, head over to their website where you’ll be able to email the team and secure your spot. 4.) Witness the Greco-Roman theater (theater) constructed from the rocks provided by nearby Mount Etna, the Roman Theater in Catania is an epic part of the city that can be seen while walking around. Yes, you will need to pay a small entry fee to get curious about the site but it is worth it. With thousands of years of history, it is the kind of place where you can learn more about the Roman Empire and its building techniques. Visits will only take about 25 minutes and it’s really easy to get into a ride. 5.) Take a trip to Mount Etna Yes, I know Mount Etna is not Catania – but hear me out! Remember I mentioned that Cantania is sometimes considered a gateway to wider Sicily? Well, this is one of the times when this is true. Visiting Mount Etna is easily one of the best things to do in Catania if you are looking for a day trip away from the bustling streets. Now, one of the best ways we’ve found to do this is to book a Mount Etna tour that departs from Catania itself. Not only will you be picked up from Catania, but you’ll be headed high up near the summit of Mount Etna in a 4×4 bus or minivan – all with a qualified guide. Best of all, this Mount Etna tour will provide a selection of local wines from the region as well. After all, the land is very good here. However, if you are a fan of hiking, beware that it is an elevation of 3300m which is quite strenuous. Also, don’t forget that Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in Europe – so always go with a guide. 6.) See the gates of Porta Garibaldi Porta Garibaldi dates back to the 18th century AD when it was built as a triumphal arch in the heart of Catania. To this day, you can walk through the gates and see one of Italy’s best festive gates. As you can see, Porta Garibaldi was built to celebrate the marriage of the Bourbon King and the Kings of Austria. I mean, that’s a wedding gift, right? Anyway, the sculptures and artistry on the gate itself is really easy to see, and well worth a closer look. I don’t understand Latin but someone said there is a quote about Catania going up. Apparently, it is related to the ongoing rebuilding of Kantania due to tectonic activity. Then, take some time to visit the markets and wander the daily stalls that line the streets past Fontana dell’Amenano and around Porta Uzeda. Further Read: Best Things To Do In Sicily 7.) Visit Catania Cathedral Ok, so Catania Cathedral is probably the most beautiful building in the city and one place you won’t want to miss. Best of all, it is located in the historic center of Catania, which makes it really easy to visit on most days of the week. Once you get here, be sure to look out for the Norman towers that date back nearly 1,000 years. Oh, and peek at the amazing nave, too. Completely free to enter, it is one of the best things to do in Catania while walking around the city. Just be aware, there are ongoing services throughout the year here. This means that you may go up and find the church closed to spectators. Read more: Best things to do in Sicily 8.) Go to Giardini Bellini The oldest park in Catania, Giardini Bellini is well worth going for a walk on a warm day. Not only are the grounds gorgeous, but the garden also features stone floors trimmed to the highest points. It’s so complicated and it’s always stuck in my memory. One thing to remember is that Catania can get very hot and the Sicilian sun is strong. Wear a hat and take sunscreen with you – the Italian sun is no joke! Next, take a walk to the Basilica della Collegiata and take in another one of Catania’s beautiful churches to see. 9.) Head to Castello di Aci Not too far from the center of Catania is Castello di Aci. It’s about a 15 minute drive and well worth a visit for its long history. Now, Castello di Aci sits on a beautiful, dramatic cliff overlooking the seas surrounding Sicily itself. The opinions are incredible. Yes, you will pay a small entrance fee to get to Castello di Aci but it is totally worth it. Once inside, you will be able to tour the small museum and check out the grounds themselves. We loved it. After that, hop back into the center of Catania and browse the Sicilian Scirocco Fish Factory. We had the best fried calamari and local fish. Served as street food, it has a few seats outside and they are all served in a paper cone. Everything was good. 10.) Discover the Elephant Fountain The symbol of the city, seeing the elephant fountain is one of the best things to do in Catania. In fact, it’s hard to miss when you’re in the historic centre. Built nearly 300 years ago, it was created by the famous Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. To this day, the Elephant Fountain is said to be one of the protectors of Catania – from the brute force of Mount Etna’s blisters. Further Read: Best Things To Do In Sicily 15 Best Places In Sicily To Visit The Best Of Great Britain! Head over to our YouTube channel to watch travel videos!

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