The best things to do in Catania mainly showcase the city's ancient heritage and natural attractions. Set on the island of Sicily, it attracts nature lovers with its imposing mountains and marine reserves. This coastal area is especially popular in summer, when you get to enjoy idyllic beaches, comfortable weather, and beach resorts with views of the Mediterranean Sea. 

    If you’re up for an adventure, a hike up to Europe’s highest volcano makes for a thrilling holiday experience. In the vicinity, the towns of Taormina and Aci Castello are teeming with historical structures dating back to medieval times. Read on for our guide on Catania's most famous landmarks.

    What are the best things to do in Catania?


    Piazza del Duomo

    The lively heart of Catania, now a World Heritage Site

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Piazza del Duomo is a central square in Catania and home to the magnificent Cattedrale di Sant'Agata. The black lava stone elephant sculpture surmounted by an obelisk in the centre of the piazza, known as l'Elefante, is an iconic symbol of the city.

    The piazza is also home to other notable buildings, such as the Palazzo degli Elefanti, the seat of the local government, and the Palazzo Biscari, one of the most beautiful Baroque palaces in Sicily. The square's original buildings were rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1693 destroyed almost the entire city of Catania.

    Location: Piazza del Duomo, 95100 Catania CT, Italy


    Castello Ursino

    An imposing, well-preserved medieval castle

    • History
    • Photo

    Ursino Castle (Castello Ursino) was first built atop a sea-facing cliff in the 13th century on orders from Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. It was initially constructed as a royal castle of the Kingdom of Sicily but later served as a residence for royal families and as a prison. You can still see hundreds of graffiti – names, dates, and various symbols – scrawled on the prison walls.

    The castle survived the earthquake of 1693, but the surrounding area was reclaimed by Mt Etna lava, and the building is now landlocked. Today, the castle houses the Museo Civico. The museum displays archaeological artefacts from Roman times and artworks from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

    Location: Piazza Federico di Svevia, 95121 Catania CT, Italy

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5.50 pm

    Phone: +39 09 5345 830


    Cattedrale di Sant'Agata

    Visit the ruins of a Greco-Roman bath house below the cathedral

    • History
    • Budget

    Cattedrale di Sant'Agata is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Agatha, the patron saint of Catania. Located in Piazza Duomo, its tiered Baroque façade features granite Corinthian columns with marble sculptures of Saint Agatha, Saint Euplius, and Saint Birillus, while the entrance door is decorated with over 32 sculpted plaques detailing the life and death of the patron saint. Religious artefacts, altarpieces, and 14th century paintings are displayed at the Museo Diocesano, which connects to the ruins of Greco-Roman baths underneath Cattedrale di Sant'Agata.

    Location: Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 163, 95131 Catania, Italy

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 7 am to noon and from 4 pm to 7 pm, Sunday from 7.30 am to 12.30 pm and from 4.30 pm to 7 pm

    Phone: +39 095 320044


    Teatro Romano and Odeon

    Climb to the highest peak of Teatro Romano for views of Catania

    • History
    • Budget

    Teatro Romano and Odeon, located in Via Vittoria Emanuele, are 2 Roman amphitheatres dating back to the Imperial Age. The larger of the 2, Teatro Romano, spans 102 metres, with an open-air orchestra pit surrounded by curved corridors and a seating area that could accommodate over 7,000 people. Teatro Odeon is about half the size but is still used today for live music and dance performances. 

    Location: Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 266, 95124 Catania, Italy

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 9 am to 1.30 pm and from 2.30 pm to 6 pm

    Phone: +39 039 715 0508


    Via Etnea

    Catania's main shopping street

    • Shoppers
    • Photo
    • Food
    • Budget

    Via Etnea is Catania's main shopping street and a great place to pick up fashion items and souvenirs such as traditional Sicilian ceramics. In between shopping, you can grab a bite at one of the many eateries and gelaterias. The street starts at Piazza Duomo and runs for about 3 km to Tondo Gioeni square. Opposite the square is the hilltop Gioeni Park where you can soak up views of Mt Etna.

    Most buildings along Via Etnea were destroyed in the 1693 earthquake and replaced with grand Baroque-style buildings. These include the Palazzo Gioeni, Palazzo San Demetrio, and Villa Bellini, with its beautifully landscaped gardens.

    Location: Catania, Metropolitan city of Catania, Italy


    Monastery of San Nicolò l'Arena

    Join a guided tour of this UNESCO-listed monastery

    • History

    Monastero dei Benedettini di San Nicolò l'Arena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Catania’s historical district. One of Europe's largest monasteries, the Baroque building is currently used by Catania University’s Department of Humanities. Hourly guided tours are available for about €7, where you can get to access its 16th-century kitchen and cellars, as well as the balcony of San Nicolò l’Arena Churh’s main altar.

    Location: Piazza Dante Alighieri, 32, 95124 Catania, Italy

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +39 095 710 2767


    photo by Cosal (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Museo Cicico Belliniani

    Explore the former home of Sicily’s most famous composer

    • History
    • Budget

    Museo Civico Belliniano commemorates one of Sicily’s most iconic composers, Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835). Founded in 1930, the museum occupies his former home in Piazza San Francesco d'Assisi. You'll find many of his photographs and personal belongings such as his death mask, 2 pianos, autographed manuscripts, spinet, and harpsichord. Entrance to Museo Civico Belliniano is free and guided tours can be arranged for a few euros. 

    Location: Piazza San Francesco d'Assisi, 3, 95124 Catania, Italy

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm, Sunday from 8.30 am to 1.30 pm

    Phone: +39 095 715 0535


    photo by Riccardo Speziari (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Aci Castello

    Visit the 11th-century Norman Castle

    • History

    Aci Castello is a coastal town located 9 km north of Catania. Its most famous landmark is the Norman Castle, which was built in 1076. Inside is a Civic Museum displaying archaeological remains dating back from prehistoric to medieval times. Climb to the top of the castle for panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea. Another must-visit in Aci Castello is the Church of St. Joseph, which features beautiful frescoes by Pietro Paolo Vasta. 

    Location: Aci Castello, 95021 Province of Catania, Italy


    Mount Etna

    Join a hiking trip to the top of Europe’s highest active volcano

    • Unusual

    Mount Etna is an imposing peak and active volcano between the towns of Catania and Taormina. Measuring 3,300 metres in height, it attracts hiking enthusiasts looking to test their endurance during their visit to Catania. Buses to the base of the mountain depart every day at 8.15am from Catania Railway Station, with return fares priced at around €7 per person. After an hour-long ride, you arrive at the mountain’s southern entrance called Rifugio Sapienza. From there, you can then hike up 1,000 metres or pay €30 for a cable car ride to the crater zone. 

    Location: Etna, 95031 Adrano, Province of Catania, Italy



    Relax on Isola Bella Island

    • Couples

    The hilltop town of Taormina is where you can explore ancient Greek structures with views of Mount Etna and the Mediterranean Sea. Buses depart from the Terminal Interbus - Etna Trasporti in central Catania, with tickets priced at around €8.50 for a return trip. Taormina is usually packed with beachgoers looking to enjoy the summer at Isola Bella, a UNESCO-protected island that’s connected to the mainland via a beach strip.

    Location: Taormina, 98039 Province of Messina, Italy


    Teatro Massimo Bellini

    Catania's grand opera house

    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo
    • Nightlife
    • Group

    Massimo Bellini Theater (Teatro Massimo Bellini) is a beautiful opera house and theatre located in the historic centre of Catania. It was built in 1890 and named after the local composer Vincenzo Bellini, born in Catania in 1801. If you cannot catch a performance, take a guided tour of the theatre. The tour covers the magnificent auditorium with its red and gold decor, marble statues, and frescoes.

    You’ll also get to see the ornate marble foyer and 19th-century boxes. Guided tours in English and Italian are available from Tuesday to Saturday at 9 am, 10 am, 11 am and midday.

    Location: Via Giuseppe Perrotta, 12, 95131 Catania CT, Italy

    Phone: +39 09 5730 6111

    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller

    Start planning your trip

    Back to top