Catania is one of the largest cities in Sicily and is home to over a million inhabitants. Its large population means it is a hub of activity filled with wonderful museums, restaurants, shops and other cultural activities, serving as the perfect place for your next city break. With a 3000-year history dominated by several different countries across the centuries, there’s plenty to discover too.
The city is known for its baroque architecture, juxtaposed by many modern buildings which have been constructed in recent years. Catania is filled with world-class sites, such as the Elephant Fountain and Piazza Stesicoro. In addition to this, Catania is also the gateway to the epic Mount Etna – Europe's largest and most visited volcano which is stunning to see in the flesh.
If you like your food and wine then this is the place to be. Sicilians are big on hospitality and the food is both delicious and reasonably priced. The weather in Sicily is pleasant all year round. With long, hot summers and temperate winters, there's never a bad time to visit this stunning Italian island.
Mount Etna is the most popular attraction on the island and is ideally located close to Catania, making for the perfect day trip from the city. In winter the volcano gets snowy and is used for skiing. When visiting in the summer you can hike up this natural wonder and take in the panoramic views of the surrounding area. You can reach Mount Etna either by the public bus which runs from the city or by many private vehicles which are easily booked upon your arrival in Catania.
There are several ways which you can traverse the mountain: by cable car, by 4x4 or by foot – or a combination of the above. You can also rent an electric mountain bike which is a nice balance between doing it for yourself and having a little help along the way. There are many things to see in the surrounding volcanic landscape. One thing not to miss on your visit is the rivers or lava. There are plenty of little shops and restaurants where you can stop for a rest and refuel on your journey to the top!
Situated a little inland from Catania is Paterno. This quaint town, which is perched atop a hill, has been occupied for over 3000 years. You can easily walk to the town centre with the epic Mount Etna looming in the distance. The steps of the Mother Church of Santa Maria dell'Alto are well worth walking up and the Norman Castle, which is over 1000 years old, is also worth putting on your to-do list when you visit this pretty town.
Giardini Naxos and its surrounding beaches are situated just to the north of the city. As well as the main beach, which goes by the same name, there are also smaller, and much prettier, beaches in the adjacent town. Isola Bella is said to be one the best on the island, with its pristine sand and blue waters. Perfect for some guilt-free relaxation in the Italian sunshine. As well as beaches Giardini Naxos is also surrounded by several small villages which are best explored by vintage cars which can be rented easily in the local area.
Explore the surroundings
Piazza del Duomo is the central square in the city and a hub of activity. It's home to the famous Elephant Fountain and the entrance of Catania's main shopping street via Etnea. The Norman Cathedral is also found in the square and well worth a visit while you're exploring the city. The main street via Etnea is home to most of the premier buildings in the town and a walk down the ancient boulevard is the ideal way to see the best of the city. Of course, you should also explore the maze of cobbled back streets which are full of boutique shops and small restaurants and cafés run by local families. If you want to buy some local fish then Duomo square is the place to be. You might have to haggle a little to avoid overpaying but that's all part of the fun.
Catch a glimpse of grand architecture
Teatro Massimo, a former opera house in a piazza of the same name, is a hot spot for young people meeting for an evening on the town and is a lively part of town after the sun goes down. Other sites which should be making an appearance on your itinerary include the old Roman theatre (which has been very well preserved), Palazzo Biscari (the most beautiful palace in the city) and the former Benedictine monastery which is now part of the university.
Beaches in Catania
La Playa is the favourite beach of the locals. Not only will you be able to relax on the wonderful beaches but you'll also have some spectacular views of nearby Mount Etna. There are plenty of bars and restaurants which are open well into the evening so you can stay even after the sun goes down. Cyclops’ Riviera is a volcanic beach that is popular with scuba divers and sunbathers alike. Spiaggia Praiola is another volcanic offering with a twist. The beach is made of beautiful black pebbles which when contrasted with the blue sea is something extraordinary to behold.
Catania is a wonderful destination for families, couples and single travellers. It has the perfect mix of activity and relaxation, ideal no matter what your taste in holidays is. Enjoy the great weather all year round, see the sights, marvel at Mount Etna and indulge in delicious Italian cuisine. Booking with easyJet holidays couldn't be easier. You can book your flight and hotel together and you can even save money in the process. If you're looking for something a little different to what Catania has to offer, take a look at these other great Italy deals offered by easyJet holidays.