Best Things To Do In Catania Sicily | Must-See Spots!


best things to do in catania sicily - spritzers

Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Rikki

After our beachside retreat in Vlore on the Albanian Riviera, we made our way back to Tirana before jetting off to the enchanting city of Catania, located on the beautiful island of Sicily, Italy.

As I strolled through the streets of Catania, I couldn’t help but be captivated by its historic charm. The city is adorned with stunning old buildings boasting intricate late-baroque designs. Each structure seemed to whisper countless stories of the city’s past, showcasing its rich history and the struggles it has endured over the years.

It’s no wonder that Catania is often referred to as “the black city,” as the darkened facades of its buildings bear witness to the soot and ashes deposited by the mighty Mount Etna a nearby volcano. Despite being damaged or even destroyed by eruptions, the city has always managed to rebuild itself, becoming even more interesting each time.

The Global Expats have produced an impressive YouTube video below, showcasing a variety of activities and sights in Catania, Sicily, with outstanding videography.

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It took time for me to appreciate Catania. Initially, the graffiti on dark walls seemed more unwelcoming than inviting. However, that changed one evening…. as restaurants and bars opened, their energy spilled into the alleyways, transforming the streets with a lively, bohemian vibe.

We were lured to Via Santa Filomena District by the twinkling lights and the smell of delicious pizza wafting through the air, which turned out to be exceptionally tasty… the best pizza I’ve had.

Catania Sicily Italy

A nearby square buzzed with people enjoying books, cocktails, and spritzers, adding to the city’s vibrant atmosphere. Despite Catania’s less traditionally romantic setting compared to other Italian coastal towns, its charm lies in its unique blend of history, food, and architecture and its friendly people.

The city’s resilience, shaped by volcanic eruptions and rebuilt from 17th-century ruins, offers a unique glimpse into Sicilian culture and heritage.

From street food to fine wines and UNESCO heritage sites, Catania’s understated allure captivates those willing to explore its depths. Give Catania a chance, and you might just fall in love with it.

Key Takeaways:

  • Walking around Catania offers a glimpse into its fascinating history and enduring struggles.
  • The city is renowned for its beautiful old buildings with ornate late-baroque designs.
  • Due to the volcanic activity of Mount Etna, Catania’s buildings have acquired a distinctive dark hue.
  • Exploring Catania’s historic charm is a must-do for visitors to Sicily.
  • The city’s architectural beauty holds tales of its rich past, waiting to be discovered.

Discover the Unique Charm of Catania’s Fish Market – Take a Day Trip Around Catania

Catania’s fish market is a vibrant and bustling place that offers a glimpse into the authentic Sicilian way of life. Located under the arches of Archi della Marina, the market has been in operation for over a century. Here, you can witness the daily routine of fishermen catching and selling their fresh catch from the sea.

Visit in the early morning to experience the market at its busiest and most vibrant. The colorful displays of fish, shellfish, and other seafood create a sensory feast for the eyes. The lively atmosphere is filled with the sounds of bargaining, the voices of the vendors, and the energy of the crowd.

There are numerous stalls offering a wide variety of fish species, ranging from tuna and swordfish to smaller catches like sardines and anchovies. The market also provides an opportunity to discover unique Mediterranean seafood delicacies and specialty products.

Scirocco restaurant catania

One of the highlights of visiting Catania’s fish market is the opportunity to indulge in the local street food. Just a stone’s throw away from the market is Scirocco, a popular eatery known for its freshly fried seafood. Grab a cone of calamari, shrimp, and other delectable fried treats, and savor the flavors as you explore the market.

For a more in-depth culinary experience, consider joining a Sicilian street food tour. These tours take you on a gastronomic journey through the streets of Catania, where you can sample a variety of local delicacies, including arancini, panelle, and cannoli. Learn about the unique ingredients and traditional cooking techniques that define Sicilian cuisine. It’s a delicious way to immerse yourself in the rich food culture of Catania.

The Unique Charm of Catania’s Fish Market:

  • Experience the vibrant and bustling atmosphere
  • Witness the daily routine of fishermen and their fresh catch
  • Explore a wide variety of fish species and seafood delicacies
  • Indulge in the local street food, including freshly fried seafood
  • Join a Sicilian street food tour or a Market Tour & Cooking Class with Chef Riccardo for a deeper culinary experience

Admire the Breathtaking Views from Chiesa della Badia

best things to do in catania sicily - Chiesa della Badia

When it comes to experiencing the best views of Catania, visiting Chiesa della Badia di Sant’Agata should be at the top of your list. This magnificent church, located behind the Cathedral of Saint Agatha, offers a terrace that provides stunning panoramic vistas of the city and the majestic Mount Etna in the distance.

To reach the viewpoint, you’ll need to climb a narrow stone stairway that leads to the church dome. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a 360-degree view of Catania’s captivating skyline. The sight of the city’s breathtaking landscapes and the impressive presence of Mount Etna will leave you awe-struck.

As you explore Chiesa della Badia, don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the famous black lava sculpture known as ‘Liotru.’ This remarkable creation depicts a smiling elephant carrying an obelisk and symbolizes the city of Catania’s rich history and cultural significance.

Let me tell you, standing on the terrace of Chiesa della Badia and gazing at the picturesque views of Catania and Mount Etna is truly an unforgettable experience. The combination of natural beauty and architectural wonders will leave you feeling inspired and in awe of the city’s magnificence.

Chiesa della Badia Highlights Details
Panoramic Views Enjoy breathtaking vistas of Catania and Mount Etna
Church Dome Climb the narrow stairs to reach the dome and experience a 360-degree view
Liotru Statue Marvel at the iconic black lava sculpture symbolizing Catania

What to See in Catania | Embark on a Fascinating Journey to Mount Etna

Mount Etna Catania, Sicily

No trip to Catania is complete without a visit to the iconic Mount Etna. As Europe’s highest and most active volcano, Mount Etna offers a truly unique experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers. You can explore the volcano’s rugged landscape and witness its ongoing volcanic activity.

Whether you choose to visit independently or join a guided tour, a day trip to Mount Etna will leave you in awe of its power and beauty. Don’t forget to check the latest updates and safety guidelines before visiting the volcano.

Why Visit Mount Etna?

Visiting Mount Etna is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that allows you to connect with the raw power of nature. Here are a few reasons why you should include a trip to Mount Etna in your Catania itinerary:

  • Witness the magnificence of Europe’s highest and most active volcano.
  • Explore the stunning volcanic landscape and rugged terrain.
  • Observe ongoing volcanic activity, such as eruptions and lava flows.
  • Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views from the summit.
  • Learn about the geology and history of the volcano from knowledgeable guides.
  • Experience the thrill of hiking on the slopes of a volcano.

Tips for Visiting Mount Etna

To make the most of your visit to Mount Etna, consider the following tips:

  1. Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable shoes, and layered clothing, and bring a jacket, as the weather can be unpredictable.
  2. Stay hydrated: Carry a water bottle to stay hydrated during your exploration.
  3. Follow safety guidelines: Pay attention to any safety instructions provided by your guide or local authorities.
  4. Capture the memories: Don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the incredible landscapes and moments.
  5. Plan your visit: Check the latest updates on volcanic activity, tour availability, and accessibility before your trip.

Guided Tours and Independent Exploration

When visiting Mount Etna, you have the option to explore independently or join a guided tour. Both options offer unique experiences:

Guided Tour Independent Exploration
Knowledgeable guides provide in-depth information about the volcano’s history, geology, and ongoing activity. Freedom to explore at your own pace and customize your itinerary.
Convenient transportation to and from Mount Etna. Flexibility to choose your preferred mode of transportation.
Access to areas that may not be open to the general public. The ability to discover hidden gems and less crowded spots.
Enhanced safety measures and well-organized itineraries. The opportunity for a more adventurous and spontaneous experience.

Immerse Yourself in Catania’s Rich History and Architecture:  The Monastery and Other Attractions in Catania

Catania is a city that proudly showcases its fascinating history through its stunning architecture. As you explore this Sicilian gem, you will be captivated by the unique blend of ancient wonders and Baroque masterpieces that adorn its streets.

best things to do in catania sicily - ancient Roman theater

Discover the Teatro Romano di Catania

One of the city’s most remarkable historical sites is the Teatro Romano di Catania, a Roman amphitheater that dates back to the 2nd century AD. Step into this ancient venue and imagine the grand spectacles that once took place on its stage.

With its well-preserved architecture and seating capacity of up to 7000 spectators, this archaeological gem provides a glimpse into Catania’s rich past.

best things to do in catania sicily - architecture

Marvel at Sicilian Baroque Architecture

As you stroll through Catania’s historic center, you’ll be mesmerized by the ornate facades and intricate details of Sicilian Baroque architecture. The city’s buildings, constructed using blackened lava stone, create a dramatic contrast against the blue Sicilian sky. Admire the striking Church of Saint Francis Immaculate, with its lavish facade adorned with sculptures and decorative elements.

“Catania’s architecture is a testament to the fine craftsmanship and artistic talents of its past inhabitants. The intricate details and grandeur of the buildings make it a captivating destination for architecture enthusiasts.” – Rikki

Visit the Monastero dei Benedettini

No trip to Catania is complete without a visit to the Monastero dei Benedettini, one of the largest Benedictine monasteries in Europe. Step inside and marvel at the stunning Baroque interiors adorned with frescoes and intricate decorations. Take a moment to explore the serene cloisters and gardens, where you can admire the peaceful ambiance and escape the bustling city.

Immerse yourself in Catania’s rich history and let its architecture transport you back in time. The combination of ancient Roman ruins, Sicilian Baroque masterpieces, and breathtaking monasteries creates an unforgettable experience that showcases the city’s cultural heritage.

Indulge in Sicilian Cuisine and Wine on Your Stay in Catania

If you’re a food enthusiast, Catania is a paradise for your taste buds. The city offers a wide range of culinary delights that will leave you craving for more. From street food to traditional dishes and exquisite wine, Catania’s vibrant food scene has something to satisfy every palate.

Best things to do in catania sicily - Arancini

One of the highlights of Catania’s culinary offerings is its renowned street food. Take a stroll through the bustling streets and indulge in the flavors of authentic Sicilian street food. Treat yourself to arancini, delicious fried rice balls filled with a variety of mouthwatering ingredients. Savor the crispy panelle, chickpea fritters that will delight your senses. And don’t forget to try the iconic cannoli, sweet pastry tubes filled with creamy ricotta.

“Catania’s vibrant food scene will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.” – Rikki

When it comes to traditional dishes, Pasta alla Norma is a must-try. This classic Sicilian pasta dish combines the flavors of eggplant, juicy tomatoes, and savory ricotta salata. Each bite is a burst of Mediterranean flavors that will transport you to the heart of Sicily.

To complement your meal, indulge in a glass of Etna wine. Produced from vineyards that thrive on the slopes of Mount Etna, this unique wine showcases the distinct volcanic terroir of the region. The volcanic soils and cool climate lend a special character to the grapes, resulting in wines that are rich, aromatic, and full of personality.

From crisp white wines to bold reds, Etna for and wine tours offer a diverse range of flavors that pair beautifully with the local cuisine. Whether you prefer a dry and citrusy Carricante or a robust and earthy Nerello Mascalese, the Etna wine region has something to satisfy every wine lover’s palate.

The Taste of Sicily

Sicilian Street Food Pasta alla Norma Etna Wine
  • Arancini
  • Panelle
  • Cannoli


Ricotta Salata

  • Carricante
  • Nerello Mascalese
  • Red Blends

Indulging in Sicilian cuisine and wine is an essential part of experiencing the true flavors of Catania. Immerse yourself in the vibrant food scene, try the local street food, savor the iconic Pasta alla Norma, and pair it all with a glass of exquisite Etna wine. Your taste buds will thank you for the culinary journey through the rich flavors of Sicily.

Conclusion: Must-See Places to Visit in Catania

Catania, Sicily is a destination that has all-natural beauty, fascinating history, and vibrant culture. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or a foodie, there are plenty of experiences that will leave you spellbound in Catania.

Catania Sicily watercolor

From beholding the majestic views of Mount Etna to getting lost in the lively fish market, this city offers must-see spots that will create unforgettable memories.

One cannot visit Catania without indulging in its exquisite Sicilian cuisine and wine. From savoring street food delights like arancini and cannoli to relishing the traditional Pasta alla Norma, or simply a delicious piece of fresh fruit at the many fruit stands and little shops… your taste buds will be in for a treat.

best things to do in catania sicily - fruit stand

Don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of Etna wine, crafted from vineyards nestled on the slopes of Mount Etna.

As you explore Catania, you’ll encounter its rich history and stunning architecture. Immerse yourself in the baroque streets and marvel at the blackened buildings made of lava stone, showcasing the city’s unique character. Explore historic sites like the Teatro Romano di Catania and the Monastero dei Benedettini, and be transported back in time.

Catania truly offers the best things to do in Sicily. Whether it’s the natural wonders of Mount Etna, the vibrant fish market, the historic sites, or the delicious cuisine, this city will leave you wanting more. So pack your bags, visit Catania, and create memories that will last a lifetime!

Discover the beauty beyond Catania with my recommended day tours from Palermo. Explore more of Sicily’s charm with just one click.


Q: What are the top spots to visit in Catania?

A: Some of the top spots to visit in Catania are Bellini, Castello Ursino, San Nicolò, and San Nicolò l’Arena.

Q: What is the significance of Bellini in Catania?

A: Bellini is a prominent place in Catania known for its historical importance and as a cultural hub.

best things to do in catania sicily - Bellini

Q: How can I plan a trip to Catania?

A: To plan a trip to Catania, you can explore places like Taormina, Duomo, Palazzo, and Via Etnea. These are some of the must-visit attractions in the city.

Q: What is the historical importance of Castello Ursino in Catania?

A: Castello Ursino is a medieval castle in Catania with rich historical significance and is a popular tourist attraction.

Q: Why is San Nicolò considered a symbol of Catania?

San Nicolò catania sicily

A: San Nicolò is considered a symbol of Catania due to its historical relevance, architectural beauty, and cultural significance.

Q: What are some of the things to see in Catania?

A: In Catania, you can explore places like the Fountain of Biscari, Giovanni Verga’s house, Piazza Duomo, and more, which are some of the main attractions.

Q: What are some of the best places to visit in the heart of Catania?

A: Some of the best places to visit in the heart of Catania include Castello Ursino, Teatro Massimo Bellini, and the Monastery of San Nicolò.

Hi, I’m Rikki

I’m a passionate author and blogger, sharing my thoughts and experiences on life and travel.

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