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19 amazing things to see in Catania, Sicily

Catania is, after Palermo, the second largest city in Sicily. Chances are that you'll arrive here from the Italian mainland, because most boats pass here when they're making their way to Sicily.
Catania is very busy, and at first glance it doesn't seem that interesting. But once you set foot in the historic center you'll see that there are many beautiful things to see in Catania. I will list the most beautiful sights for you in this article!

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1. The Cathedral of Catania

The most beloved landmark of Catania is undoubtedly the Cattedrale di Sant’Agata located on Piazza del Duomo.
The facade is decorated with beautiful, proud standing statues and around the building you can find a small garden with some beautiful works of art.
Don’t forget to also explore the Piazza del Duomo. The column with the funny elephant, for example, is worth a photo as well.

cathedral catania things to see

The Cathedral of Catania. Beautiful inside and out! The little square on which this building is located is also very quaint.

2. Beautiful view over Catania: Chiesa della Badia di Sant’Agata

For €3 you can climb this beautiful chapel next to the Cathedral of Catania. The interior of the chapel itself is beautiful, but it mainly is the top floor that provides beautiful views.
Take the stairs and make your way to the highest level. Don’t stop on the first floor, because there you see almost nothing. Take the narrow, round staircase to the dome. From there you get the most beautiful view of the city… And you can also see the Etna a bit better from here!

view chiesa della badia di sant agata catania

From the roof you get a panoramic view of the whole city.

chiesa della badia di sant agata catania things to do

The interior of the Chiesa della Badia di Sant’Agata. Especially the gigantic chandelier is impressive!

3. La Pescheria

Are you up early? Stretch your legs and walk to to ‘La Pescheria’, the fish market of Catania. The streets behind the cathedral of Catania come to life early in the morning. The closer you get to the area, the stronger the fishy smell becomes. Dozens of fishermen showcase their merchandise carelessly and yell at you just to make sure that you have heard their favorable prices.
Have you gotten hungry by seeing all this fresh fish? The fish restaurants around this square are excellent! And they only work with fresh products!

la pescheria catania attractions

The smell may be a little less pleasant, but La Pescheria is one of those things you should see in Catania!

4. Fontana dell’Amenano

If you’ve already seen the Pescheria and the Cathedral of Catania, you can also take a look at this gorgeous photo location. Near the Piazza del Duomo you can find the Fontana dell’Amenano. A beautiful fountain carved out of Carrara marble, in honor of the Amenano river that flows under the city.

fontana dell amenano things to see in catania

The Fontana dell’Amenano. A beautiful fountain that has been carefully sculpted.

5. Teatro Romano

Rome isn’t the only city that has an amphitheater! Catania is quite a bit smaller than Rome, bit it still is the second biggest city in Sicily and the Sicilians also wanted some distraction!
Tucked between many (inhabited) houses you can find this archaeological monument.
Once you have bought tickets ( 6 or €3) you’ll be amazed by the size of this theater. The stair seats are almost all intact, and the underground crypts can also be partially visited.
If you like Roman art, there are also two exhibitions on display with many beautiful statues and other Roman remains. This is definitely one of the most beautiful things to see in Catania, so I don’t recommend skipping it.

teatro romano catania

The Teatro Romano is gigantic, but not so easy to find… There is only one entrance and it’s not so easy to find!

6. Piazza Universita

In the middle of the historic city center you’ll find the Piazza Universita. A cozy square where there is plenty to do during the day and in the evening.
In addition to a lot of shops and restaurants, you can also find the University of Catania here. A beautiful building decorated with lifelike sculptures and a lot of detailed decorations.

piazza universita tourist attractions catania

Near the Piazza Universita you’ll find quite a few shopping streets and nice cafes and restaurants.

7. Castello Ursino

The thirteenth century Castello Ursino is one of the castles that was built by the ancient kings of Sicily. This fort is very well preserved, and now houses a large archaeological collection.
Funny fact: when the castle was originally built it was standing on a cliff. Due to continual volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, the castle is now located a mile away from the sea! Also nothing remains of the excavated moat, because it got filled with lava.

castello ursino catania sicily

The impressive Castello Ursino. Exhibitions are held inside the castle and there is also a permanent museum.

8. The Monastero dei Benedettini

The Monastero dei Benedettini in Catania is one of the largest Benedictine monasteries in Europe. In fact, the gigantic structure is still not completed, and that after more than 500 years! As a result, you can see many different architectural styles in this monastery. The adjoining church is no longer used, but the courtyard and all other buildings now serve as the department of humanities of the University of Catania.

catania monastero dei benedettini church

The church that is part of the Monastero dei Benedettini is completely dilapidated, yet it remains beautiful!

monastero dei benedettini university catania

The adjacent building is surely more impressive. Markets and meetings are organized regularly on the courtyard.

9. Via Crociferi

In Catania you can find many old alleys and streets, but one of the oldest is the Via Crociferi. According to many, you can find some of the most beautiful eighteenth-century churches in the city. Be sure to look insode, or check out the beautiful facades of the St. Benedict’s Church, the San Francesco Borgia Church and the Church of San Giuliano. At the end of the street you’ll find the Villa Cerami. Once a beautiful palace, now converted into the Faculty of Law of the University of Catania.

via crociferi catania things to see

The via Crociferi. One of the most cozy streets in the city.

10. Via Etnea

The main street that runs through the historic center of Catania is the Via Etnea. Along this street you’ll find hundreds of shops and trendy restaurants, but the highlight is perhaps the beautiful view you get over Mount Etna. This boulevard was established in the seventeenth century, after the terrible earthquake of 11 January 1693. During improvement works, parts of the street were even made with lava rock from Mount Etna.

via etnea things to do in catania

The Via Etnea. Especially known as the shopping street of Catania. But you also get a nice view over the Etna volcano!

11. Villa Bellini or Giardino Bellini

The oldest (and in my opinion also the most beautiful) park in Catania is also on the via Etnea.
If you want to organize a nice picnic or just sit in a natural environment, you should definitely come here.
After climbing a few stairs you get a beautiful view over the park.
At the top you’ll find some romantic, wrought iron benches and a beautiful pergola. Perfect to make some beautiful photos!

villa Bellini catania giardini Bellini

On the Via Etnea you’ll also find these beautiful gardens. Come and take a rest from the crowds here.

12. Orto Botanico

With great temperatures throughout the year it’s of course not very difficult to establish a botanical garden. Outside you’ll find a pleasant garden where you can escape from the busy city center, and in the large conservatory you can find more than 160 tropical plant species. And trust me: there are some rather special looking plants here!

orto botanico catania botanical gardens

The ‘Orto Botanico’, the botanical gardens of Catania.

13. Museo Dello Sbarco

If you’re looking for things to see in Catania that give you great insights in the island’s history, then you should visit a couple of museums in Catania. On the domain of ‘Le Ciminiere’ you can find many different museums, but I think the most interesting is the Museo Dello Sbarco. In this museum you can find a lot of information about what happened in Sicily during world war two, with particular emphasis on ‘Operation Husky’.
As you might know, the Italians fought together with the Germans (under Mussolini).
When the Allies quietly started to get the upper hand in this world war, the Anglo-American troops in Sicily began to conquer Italy. Sicily, after all, had the most strategic location to use as a counterattack against the Nazis.
For four euros you can visit the museum, but beware: you can only enter with a guide! From 09:00 to 12:30 you can take a tour every half hour. Later tours are at 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:00 pm and 3:30 pm.

museo dello sbarco things to see in catania

The ‘Museo dello Sbarco’. Very interesting for anyone who wants to know more about world war two in Sicily.

14. Visit some beautiful beaches

Sicily is known for its beautiful beaches, and of course you can also find some of these sandy points of interest near Catania. For the most beautiful beaches in Sicily I recommend to drive a bit further.
‘La Playa’ is the favorite of many locals. This sandy beach is no less than 18 kilometers (11 miles) long, and along it you’ll find many restaurants and club properties. Moreover, from here you get a beautiful view of Mount Etna as well!
Riviera dei Ciclopi is not a sandy beach, but you get beautiful views of volcanic rock formations that have solidified in the ocean.

riviera dei ciclopi catania beach sicilie

The Riviera dei Ciclopi. No idyllic sandy beach, but a beautiful environment nonetheless!

15. The Aci Castello

Aci Castello was built by the Normans on a free-standing lava cliff in the eleventh century. During a great eruption of Mount Etna in 1169, solidified lava connected the small island with the rest of Sicily. During its turbulent history, the castle was used as the residence of rich and powerful royals and also as a military prison.
In the castle itself you now find a museum with a lot of information about archeology, minerals and paleontological properties of this region. Nature lovers can also visit the botanical gardens. This quaint castle is located about nine kilometers (5,5 miles) from Catania.

aci castello points of interest catania

To see the Aci Castello you have to drive. It’s located a few miles from the city center of Catania.

16. The Porta Garibaldi

Do you want to get a majestic entrance gate as a wedding gift? Then you have to be called King Ferdinand III or Maria Carolina of Austria in Catania!
This largest baroque triumphal arch adorns the outskirts of Catania and is certainly worth a photo.
Of course, part of this stone arch was also built out of the typical black lava rock.

porta garibaldi catania

You also have a ‘Porta Garibaldi’ in Milan, but personally I think this one looks a lot nicer.

17. Eat the tastiest arancini

One Sicilian delicacy that you have to try out here is the rancini. These fried rice balls are often filled with different regional products such as ragù, mozzarella or peas. The Arancini of Catania are often rolled into a pear shape to distinguish themselves from the rest of Italy.

arancini catania food

Arancini is a Sicilian specialty, but Catania has adapted the recipe a little bit.

18. Visit Mount Etna

The reason why many tourists visit Catania is the proximity of Mount Etna.
This gigantic volcano is still active, and during an ascent it’s possible to see steam rising from this mastodon.
From Catania it’s a short two hours drive to reach the top of Mount Etna. Well… the beginning of it, because you have to climb a large part of the volcano yourself or you have to use a cable tram or special jeeps to get there.
The view from the volcano is dazzlingly beautiful. It looks like you’re walking around on a lunar landscape!
The black, brown and green colors are enchanting. And from up high you get excellent panoramas of Sicily and the crater landscapes created by the volcano.
Do you want to visit Mount Etna? Read more tips and information in this article.

things to see in catania mount etna

The landscape around Mount Etna must be the most beautiful that Sicily has to offer. Be sure to plan half a day for this trip!

19. Day trip to Taormina

The nearby Taormina is a popular day trip from Catania. Often this trip is combined with a trek to the top of Mount Etna.
Although the town itself is very cozy to walk around, it mainly is the Greco-Roman theater that attracts most tourists. According to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (a German scientist and philosopher), this was the most beautiful open-air theater in the world.
The view you get on the Etna and the sea from Taormina is worth the visit even more.

taormina things to do surrounding catania

There are plenty of things to see in the surroundings of Catania as well! The beautiful Taormina for example.

Tours and excursions in Catania

Would you like to plan an excursion in Catania, or perhaps a trip to Mount Etna? Order tickets online in advance so that you can fully enjoy your holiday.

 

» All tours and excursions in Sicily

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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.
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