things to do in Catania, Italy

Sitting proudly along the Ionian Sea on the eastern coast of Sicily, Catania has a legacy that stretches back several thousand years, with attractions to match!

In fact, it actually started life as a Greek settlement!

Roughly 9,000 years ago, the city started out as a renowned hub of knowledge and scholarly types; and over the years, it continued to fill its streets with schools and artistic spots, even as it shifted over to Italian rule.

As you wander the streets of the island’s second-biggest city, you’ll feel the power of all of those centuries of industry and culture in every stone – especially in the multicultural monuments and buildings.

But trust us, there are plenty of newer things to enjoy as well!

From exciting outdoor activities and mouth-watering meals to the filming location for a certain iconic franchise (here’s a hint: they’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse…), there’s more than meets the eye in this delightful town.

So pack your hiking shoes and your sense of curiosity, and check out some of the amazing things to do in Catania!

Want to dive straight in? Browse our catalog now!

1 – Admire the timeless beauty of Catania Cathedral

Catania Cathedral

Its soaring domes and ornate decor will certainly catch your eye, but the Catania Cathedral has more to offer than just looks!

For one thing, it has some of the best tales in town, having existed in one form or another since 1094.

And it features incredible cultural artifacts to match, including the final resting place of Vincenzo Bellini, a renowned 19th century opera composer.

After your visit, cross the street to visit Badia Sant’Agata, a church and convent devoted to the city’s patron guardian, Saint Agatha.

2 – Ponder the mystery of The Elephant’s Fountain

The Elephant’s Fountain, Catania

You may not picture pachyderms when you think of Italy, but this city has at least one notable specimen, in the form of an ancient statue made of volcanic rock.

The fountain itself  has been one of Catania’s most beloved sites since it was built in the 1700s, and the legend surrounding the elephant figure dates back even further – and even more amazingly, no one knows the actual origin of the piece!

As the story goes, the figure was once magically brought to life and ridden through the streets of town; another version claims that its powers include warning the public of upcoming volcanic eruptions.

But despite all of these different narratives, many questions still remain – namely, how old the figure actually is, and how it ended up in town in the first place.

Regardless, it has been a beloved city symbol for more than a millennium, and it remains the centerpiece of bustling Piazza Del Duomo, the public square over which it keeps vigil.

Even the neighboring town hall contains references to the work; it’s named Palazzo degli Elefanti, meaning “Palace of the Elephants”!”

Practically next door, you can visit Fontana dell’Amenano, a charming marble fountain from 1867 which commemorates the now-buried River Amenano, where the very first version of the city was founded.

And don’t miss Puerta Uzeda, the magnificent gate that once served as a major defensive spot and conduit between the city and the nearby ocean.

3 – Spend some quality time at Piazza dell’Universita

Piazza dell’Universita, Catania

This is a city that actively prioritizes public life, and there’s no better example of that than its many busy, open squares.

Piazza dell’Universita is one such specimen; as the name suggests, it’s surrounded by academic buildings, as well as some magnificent statues attached to a series of lampposts.

The figures depicted here are all from local legends, and run the gamut of unsung heroes and unusual figures, including a brave knight and a pair of brothers that carried senior citizens away from a lava flow.

On the architectural side of things, there’s the stately Palazzo dell’Universita – the main administrative building for the acclaimed University of Catania – and the Palazzo San Giuliano, another office complex that has also seen stints as a hospital, hotel, and theater.

Walking tours are ideal for exploring this area, as you take in the scenery and the information all in one go!

4 – Wander through past cultures at Castello Ursino

Castello Ursino, Catania

It may look a little weathered now, but this structure was once the home of royalty!

In the mid-1200s, Emperor Frederick II, the ruler of Sicily, had the castle built as one of several structures meant to serve as both protective structures and architectural displays of dominance.

For centuries, it hosted a succession of rulers, and gained a reputation for strength and power, although it became slightly less prominent when the capital eventually moved.

But over the last 90 years, it’s gained a new life as the home of  The Civic Museum of Catania, a wonderful institution that’s packed with artifacts from all across the region’s history.

Step inside to see Roman mosaics, records of Jewish expulsion, weapons, religious paintings, and more; together, they tell an intriguing, complex tale of Sicily’s evolution – and the central role that this city so often played in that process.

5 – Get up close with your next meal at La Pescheria

La Pescheria, Catania

You may smell this place before you see it… but it’s certainly a welcoming aroma if you like seafood!

The city’s coastal location makes it an ideal spot to snag some fresh catches, and there are no better specimens in town than the ones you’ll find at Catania Fish Market.

For almost 200 years, this lively space has been the go-to for delicious aquatic offerings , while also offering a fascinating, sometimes graphic look into the whole process.

No prep work in some hidden kitchen here; you’ll see every part of the killing and cleaning procedures, right up until the moment the fish are placed out for display.

If your stomach and sense of curiosity are equally strong, it’s well worth a visit – and you can’t beat those flavors!

6 – Take in the awe-inspiring environment of Etna

Etna, Italy

While there are tons of excellent things to do in Catania itself, it’s also a great jumping-off point for other regional adventures!

And Mount Etna is one of the crown jewels of the area, drawing science nerds, outdoorsy types, and everyone in between.

As the tallest active volcano on the continent, the imposing mountain is known for its towering height, wild trails, and robust geologic activity, with gaping craters and stunning lava fields offering vivid insights into all of the elemental forces at play.

And there are tons of excellent hiking tours from Catania that will give you the full trekking experience, including thrilling ascents to the summit!

7 – Go off the beaten path with some jeep tours…

jeep tours in Catania

If you’re looking for another way to enjoy the wilder side of the terrain, jeep tours may be just the ticket!

These excursions are especially helpful if you want to explore Mount Etna, but don’t have the time or energy to do the hikes.

These hearty cars can conquer the steep slopes and rugged trails with ease, giving you unparalleled views of the volcano in all of its splendor.

For a particularly stunning experience, try the sunset tour, where ash deposits and lava fields take on a new, almost otherworldly form as they mingle with the colors of dusk.

8 – … Or get even wilder with a quad tour

quad tours in Catania

Looking to explore the wonders of the volcano and the surrounding area, but seeking a little more adrenaline?

Quad tours offer all of the fun of off-roading, with an added twist… you get to drive!

Once you’ve been briefed on the basics, you can follow your guide and navigate your own all-terrain vehicle (ATV) through the landscape, conquering steep ascents and bouncing through forests and thrilling, rocky trails.

Roll past stunning lava caves, then park your vehicle to take in some of the incredible views that such a lofty vantage point provides.

Then it’s back down the mountain… another adventure in and of itself!

9 – Look inward and outward in unison with some yoga & meditation

yoga and meditation in Catania

After all of this action, you might want to slow down and take a bit of a breather.

Luckily, the area has some excellent yoga & meditation programs to help you get in touch with your inner self… and you certainly couldn’t pick a better setting!

Nestled in the woods around Mount Etna, these marvelous retreats provide a dose of serenity, with top-notch classes and plenty of time to absorb the tranquility of your natural surroundings.

Enjoy some yoga sessions in the midst of the hushed woods, breathe deeply as you stroll along volcanic paths, and use tea ceremonies to center and enrich your life.

It’s a wonderful way to see a different, quieter side of this mighty mountain… and to find some new aspects to yourself as well!

Afterwards, keep focusing on yourself with a trip to the spas in Catania, filled with thermal springs, body-loosening massages, and all sorts of other rejuvenating delights.

10 – Walk in the footsteps of ancient thespians at The Roman Theater of Catania

The Roman Theater of Catania

Back in town, you can walk in the footsteps of thousands of others – from thousands of years ago!

Fashioned largely from volcanic stone, the theater is a classic example of Roman architecture, and it’s still in remarkable condition for its age.

Built sometime around the 2nd century, the complex served as a performance hub for locals, featuring a spacious amphitheater, a smaller auditorium, and even an orchestra pit.

For roughly 400 years, people packed the stands for the latest shows; and today, as you explore each weathered bench and gaze out at the vast expanse, you can almost hear those long-gone dramatists reciting into the open air.

11 – Hang out with the “Family” on the Godfather movie tours

Godfather movie tours in Catania

On the newer side of the performance  world, you can walk in the footsteps of none other than Don Corleone himself!

Believe it or not, the famous Godfather trilogy filmed many of its scenes in and around town, and there are plenty of tours that will lead you through the winding streets and beautiful vistas to see exactly where the famous fictional Mafia family played out their interpersonal dramas.

From the charming Bar Vitelli to St. Lucy Church, every step will bring you deeper into the world of this cinematic classic – minus the shootouts, thank goodness!

Along the way, you’ll also get to sample some authentic regional food, and learn the other stories of the area’s fascinating history… including tales of the real-life Mafia!

12 – Unwind in Villa Bellini

Villa Bellini in Catania

A little bit of green in the middle of town… it’s just what the doctor ordered!

Tucked into the splendid Parco Maestranze, this little garden bursts forth with color and charm, with Technicolor flower beds and lovely trees perfectly pairing with some more human elements, such as a bandstand and fountain.

There’s even a charming clock made entirely out of different botanical elements!

With over 100 species of plants on display, you’re likely to learn a little botany as you stroll; but you can also just enjoy its aesthetic beauty in and of itself!

13 – Soak up the arts at Teatro Massimo Bellini

Teatro Massimo Bellini, Catania

Beethoven, choirs, violins, and opera singers… the possibilities are endless here!

When this magisterial space opened in 1890, it was primarily focused on operatic performance – unsurprising, given that it was named for local luminary Vincenzo Bellini!

But over the years, it has grown to encompass many of the city’s finest arts institutions, including concerts, ballet performances, and symphonic productions.

Of course, you can still see plenty of those original influences as well, from the packed program of shows to the stunning portraits on the ceiling that depict scenes from Bellini’s most acclaimed pieces.

Drop by for a tour of the stunning building – a work of art in itself -, then grab a seat to enjoy some of the finest talent this town has to offer!

14 – Treat yourself to some treats on the local food tours

food tours in Catania

It’s not a trip to Italy without something amazing to eat, right?

Food tours are certainly some of the coolest things to do in Catania, with every kind of regional treat imaginable.

And of course, you won’t just be noshing… you’ll be learning!

As you stroll from one street food stall to the next, you’ll be treated to a crash course in Sicilian culture, where each flavor comes with its own unique context.

From fresh fish to baked goods and everything in between, you can enjoy a cuisine that’s rich, varied, and lively… just like the city itself!

15 – Contemplate the unique history and lovely designs of Porta Garibaldi

Porta Garibaldi, Catania

This certainly isn’t your average city gate!

Constructed in 1768 as a monument to resident royals King Ferdinand IV and Maria Carolina, this magnificent arch is a wonderland of styles and visual splendor.

While it was originally designed to celebrate their regal origin, it also includes plenty of symbols of the city and surrounding area, adding an extra layer of history to its impressive facade.

From its distinctive striped columns to the crowning statues made of fine stone and marble, it’s a true visual spectacle, and a unique cultural treasure.

Take some time to stroll through the entryway and admire each piece of work, all of which comes together to tell the long story of politics and art in the region.

16 – Brush up on your surf skills

surf lessons in Catania

This may not be the place where you’d imagine hanging 10… but the lively waves and welcoming culture make it one of the region’s most beloved surf spots!

The Ionian Sea forms a perfect setting to enter into the sport, with its perfect temperature and a rich legacy of heroes and conquerors running through each exciting wave.

And while you certainly won’t be getting into any epic battles, you may feel pretty powerful yourself as you start to get your balance and become one with the rhythms of the sea.

Or try a totally different style of sport with a bit of windsurfing, where your sail will help you catch some major air!

17 – Float through nature and mythology on a few boat tours

boat tours in Catania

The waterways here are just as impressive as the mountains, and there are few better ways to enjoy them than with some sunny, scenic boat tours!

Of course, being right on the ocean means that you can quickly cruise out and enjoy the best that the sea has to offer, from sparkling blue waters to the distinctive views of islands and cities.

But this is Catania, after all, so there’s lots more to see!

Admire the sparkling black sand beaches and peek at caves and castles as you circle the Cyclops Islands, beautiful land masses said to be the home of the infamous one-eyed creature from The Odyssey.

Or don your snorkel gear and leap into the waters of Timpa Nature Reserve, where you can skim the currents for gorgeous fish… and maybe even an octopus or two!

You’ll soon see why the seafaring life is so beloved around here!

18 – Learn about every leaf at Orto Botanico di Catania

Orto Botanico di Catania

One minute, you’re looking up at the towering profile of palm trees; the next, you’re drinking in colors so vibrant that they almost seem manufactured; and seconds later, you’re weaving through a lush garden filled with every kind of vegetable imaginable.

This little slice of Eden is better known as Orto Botanico di Catania, and it’s been keeping the city filled with fine blooms and fascinating flora since 1858.

But even from the start, it had an educational component as well; its extensive plant collection started as a medical repository, eventually evolving into a hub of research and education.

With a particular focus on specimens from around Sicily, it’s a great way to delve into the biodiversity of the area – and a nice walk to boot!

19 – Check out the city in a new way on a segway tour

segway tours in Catania

They may look like something out of a science fiction movie, but they’re the next big thing in sightseeing!

The segway tours in Catania are excellent for taking in the city, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll learn to navigate these fascinating two-wheeled machines; simply shift your weigh and focus on balance, and you’ll be zipping around like a pro in no time!

Roll through vast plazas and past theaters and statues, down side streets and around ports and cinematic locales.

It’s a convenient and unique way to enjoy the town!

20 – Sample the great views and little delights of Taormina

Taormina tours from Catania

Flourishing in the shadow of Mount Etna, Taormina showcases the best of the region in a quaint, charming package.

With gorgeous buildings and streets, pristine coastal views, and historic attractions ranging from Greek-style theaters to former castles.

Along the way, you’ll also be able to sample some of the local culinary delights, including full-bodied wines and sweet honeys.

If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable view of the area, check out some ultralight tours!

These remarkable aircraft provide the wonderful vantage points of the sky, while still showing off more intricate details than a standard plane would… the ideal gliding combo!

It’s the perfect way to spend the day in the country!

21 –  Explore the amazing story of Monastero dei Benedettini di San Nicolò

Monastero dei Benedettini di San Nicolò, Catania

Back in the 1500s, this gorgeous monastery was home to an order of Cassinese monks; but over the years, it continued to evolve into an informal symbol of architectural perseverance and evolution.

While it was fairly simplistic at first, the building underwent great structural changes – along with most buildings in town – after a devastating  volcanic eruption in 1669, and an equally horrible earthquake in 1693.

Over the years, it experienced many more updates and renovations in a variety of designs, eventually becoming the beautiful, compelling hybrid we see today.

You can also admire the charms of the neighboring San Nicoló l’Arena, a marvelous alabaster church with a crowning dome.

22 – Paddle the day away with some exciting canoeing

canoeing tours in Catania

If you want to get a taste of the voyages that countless sailors have taken through this region, grab a paddle and some friends for a bit of canoeing!

For an hour, an afternoon, or a day, you can bring yourself into contact with the sea like never before, slowly moving along through the perfectly clear waters.

On a solo or tandem vessel, you can go out and enjoy the wonders of the coast, from the sparkling treasures on land to the creatures passing through the water around you.

In a similar vein, the local kayaking tours give you a chance to see magnificent ancient buildings, jaw-dropping beaches, and everything in between!

23 – Take in more of the surrounding area with a Syracuse & Noto day trip

Syracuse and Noto day trip from Catania

If you like two-for-one deals, you’ll love this excursion!

Syracuse and Noto are towns with plenty to offer, especially if you’re a history fan; their streets are packed with remains from the heydays of empires past.

And of course, each of them has their own unique character as well!

Syracuse is best known for its extensive, UNESCO-protected ruins, as well as its theaters, churches, and even a limestone cave!

Then it’s off to Noto, famed for its elegant Baroque trappings and jaw-dropping buildings that amaze at every turn.

As if all of that weren’t wonderful enough, both of these excursions generally include trips to the Island of Ortigia, a multicultural spot that has influences from Christianity, Arabic , and Greek culture.

Get out and explore these pieces of the past!

See also; Fun & unusual things to do in Syracuse

24 – Discover the many treasures of the Island of Ortigia

Island of Ortigia, Italy

While this marvelous island is known for its mix of social influences (see #23), there’s even more to enjoy when you start exploring it at length!

While Syracuse is the main town there, you can also explore the various archaeological sites, including spots that have stood proudly for thousands of years!

Amble through the fascinating structures of the Temple of Apollo, a former Greek structure that later served stints as a mosque and a church.

Then admire the splendid Fountain of Arethusa, whose fresh, river-fed waters once helped keep local citizens alive.

And don’t miss the many other intriguing spots that pay tribute to the rich blend of influences here, from traditional Jewish purification baths to statues honoring gods that were once worshiped all throughout the land.

For such a small place, Ortigia certainly packs a punch!

25 – Try out the life aquatic while scuba diving

scuba diving in Catania

Beneath the surface of these legendary waters, a vivid, unique world is forever in motion; and with a session (or two) of scuba diving, you can be a part of it!

Join a marine biologist and some passionate instructors FIX and head out for an unforgettable journey through the underside of the Gulf, where schools of fish, sunken ships from World War II battles, eye-caching sponge colonies, and jaw-dropping lava rock formations come together to create a remarkable scene.

And no need to worry if you’ve never dived before; there are some excellent starter options that will run you through the basics of the equipment and the activity itself before the excursion starts.

And once you’ve seen the wonders underwater, you’ll be hooked!

26 – Pay a visit to Aci Trezza & Castle of Aci

Aci Trezza and Castle of Aci, Italy

Another small town with a big impact, Aci Trezza is home to mythical creatures, great views, and a hearty helping of small-town appeal.

Rock of Cyclops is probably its most famous attraction; as the name suggests, it played a crucial role in the story of the legendary creature, a child of the sea god Poseidon, who menaced Odysseus and his men during their harrowing journey.

But there are also some great spots to grab a bite to eat and admire the sea, before heading over to neighboring Aci Castello, most famous for its magnificent Norman castle that dates all the way back to 1076.

27 – Enjoy the opulence of Palazzo Biscari

Palazzo Biscari, Catania

Every inch of this regal residence is dripping with glitz; and while it may not house nobles anymore, you’ll certainly feel like royalty as you explore it!

Built in the aftermath of the infamous earthquake, the palace was built over a period of 70 years by successive generations of Biscari princes – a true labor of love!

And when it was finally finished, it had a suitably decadent setup; from spacious halls and gorgeous Baroque designs to marvelous rooms made for entertaining and grand events.

It’s also a wonderful place to enjoy some culture, with rotating exhibitions that showcase artistic masterpieces and archaeological treasures.

As both a civic fixture and a jewel in its own right, it’s not to be missed!

28 – Take on the wilderness and get some exercise while stand-up paddleboarding

stand-up paddleboarding in Catania

From the sea to the river, you’ll feel like a real explorer when you’re stand-up paddleboarding… and you’ll get plenty of great opportunities to indulge your athletic side as well!

It’s pretty easy to master the basics, and then it’s time to focus on discovering new, beautiful areas – and working those arm muscles!

Glide through the waters of Oasi del Simeto, a gorgeous nature reserve whose fields are often populated by migratory birds.

Or head back to the Ionian Sea to get more of those famous seaside views!

And for an unforgettable experience, don’t miss the night light SUP tour, where you’ll venture out in the pitch blackness – with the cheerful neon lights around the bottom of your boards creating a one-of-a-kind paddling party!

29 – Step into the past as you visit the Greek – Roman theatre

Greek-Roman Theatre, Catania

Along with all of the amazing contemporary arts venues in town, you can take a peek at the entertainment of the past… way in the past!

As the name suggests, this theater dates back to the Roman era, and technically even further; the foundations come from an ancient Greek structure!

In its heyday, 7,000 spectators could settle in and enjoy stirring music from the orchestra pit… and the lively performances that were taking place on stage, of course.

And while it’s several centuries too late to catch a show, the area has been so well-preserved that you’ll almost feel as though you’re just in time for the next act!

30 – Take a walk on the charming side in Agrigento

Agrigento tours from Catania

Roughly two hours from town, Agrigento catches the eye right away, whether you’re drawn more to ancient temples or marvelous landscapes… and especially if you’re a fan of both!

Of course, the Valley of the Temples is the main draw here, and rightfully so; the complex features eight breathtaking monuments to explore, all paying tribute to various Greek and Roman deities.

But you can also take in some different wonders with a stroll through Torre Salsa Nature Reserve, famed for its wild beaches, windswept dunes, and active wildlife population – including turtles!

And all throughout the area, you can enjoy other local delights, from fascinating archaeological museums to the bustling town market.

It’s a great little spot to spend the day!

31 – Use wine tours to get to know the region

wine tours in Catania

When you go on a wine tour, you won’t just be getting some good flavors in your glass; you’ll also get to see a different side of this fantastic region!

Many of the gorgeous vineyards you’ll visit are actually in the shadow of Etna, and the verdant volcanic soil makes a perfect growing environment for some fabulous grapes.

And in between sipping sessions, you’ll also get to try some of the delicious local cuisine, including honey and olive oil.

No need to worry about driving; just sit back, relax, and let your guide introduce you to the wonderful world of vino!

32 – Compare masterpieces as you wander along Via dei Crociferi

other churches in Catania

As you amble down this busy avenue, you may start to notice a pattern in the buildings around you… perhaps one that features a great deal of crosses.

With so many religious sites lining the road, it’s little wonder that this road has been nicknamed “The Street of Churches”!

Created in the 1700s, the boulevard quickly became a central spot for worshippers – and lovers of architecture!

And while each of them is impressive in their own right, it’s the chance to see them all as a composite that really makes the experience memorable.

Gaze at artworks created by Jesuits in The Church of St. Francesco Borgia, or enjoy the fantastic paintings inside The Church of St. Francis Assisi.

Check out the striking statues and altars of the Church of San Giulian, or head to the elegant Baroque masterpiece of The Church of San Benedetto, which has been part of the cityscape in one form or another since the 1300s.

This is one road that’s certainly worth lingering on!

33 – Make some new fishy friends whilst snorkeling

snorkeling in Catania

Even if you’re not up for scuba diving, there’s still one excellent, accessible way to enjoy the marine world: snorkeling tours!

As you grab your gear and head for the water, you’ll be able to enjoy a vast rainbow of plants and animals, all moving through a unique ecosystem shaped as much by volcanoes as the briny blue.

Better yet, you’ll be accompanied by experts that can provide even more context for what you’re seeing, and help you appreciate the wonders of this unique ecosystem.

Hop in and cast your eyes downward – there’s a whole other universe beneath you!

34 – Give yourself the star treatment at Lido Azzurro

Lido Azzurro, Catania

While all of these active things to do in Catania are great, the city also offers plenty of spots where you can kick back and enjoy a lovely, lazy day.

And there are few better places to do that than at Lido Azzurro, a beach club that takes relaxation to the extreme.

While the sun, sand, and sea are all still readily available, you can also kick back with a cold one at the beach bars, or enjoy a scrumptious meal at the onsite restaurant.

And there are some great options for younger travelers in your group as well, with a kiddie pool and playground to keep them entertained while you unwind.

Stop by and enjoy a beach day in style!

35 – Give your brain a workout at an escape room

escape rooms in Catania

Time to put your mind to the test… and your bond with your friends and family!

After all, the beauty of escape rooms is the combination of creativity and collaboration; you’ll have plenty of clues and mysteries to explore in each carefully constructed environment, and you can only do so successfully as part of a group.

And there are plenty of options to try out while you’re in town!

Timescape Catania plunges you straight into some hair-raising adventures, as you navigate through cursed temples and outrun murderers.

Or swing by Adventure Rooms to escape maximum-security prisons, search for the lost city of Atlantis, or even take a wacky trip through the space-time continuum!

36 – Enjoy a variety of landscapes whilst horse riding

horse riding in Catania

Sure, you’ve probably thought of getting human guides for some of these activities… but what about equine ones?

Horseback riding tours are perfect for enjoying the rural areas at length, providing a peaceful trek with some truly phenomenal scenery.

Even if you’re not very familiar with horses, you’ll quickly fall in love with the sport, as you saddle up and head out on your gentle steed to see the sights.

From the lava-shaped routes along Mount Etna to the lush forests and distinctive circular lakes of the Alcantara Gorges, the varied landscapes of rural Sicily all await you; and there’s no better way to see it all than from a four-legged viewpoint!

37 – Check out the old architecture and new programs of Palazzo Platamone

Palazzo Platamone, Catania

Rumor has it that this 600 year old palace was built on the former site of a temple devoted to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and revelry; and the completed building certainly lived up to that reputation!

For years, it was home to the powerful Platamone family, one of the city’s great dynasties, and it had a suitably elegant style, including many architectural techniques utilized in traditional Islamic design.

Today, it remains a valuable part of the landscape, particularly as a cultural fixture; a never-ending parade of art shows, concerts, and exhibitions all keep the space as lively as it was in centuries past.

Whether you’re admiring the decorations, checking out the next big show, or both, it’s a must-see destination in town!

38 – Train for your next big action movie with a bit of canyoning

canyoning near Catania

It’s an adventure like no other… or rather, several adventures in one!

There’s some excellent canyoning near Catania if you’re of an outdoorsy mindset; and between the great landscapes and the variety of activities packed into one trip, you’ll quickly get addicted!

As the name suggests, the sport mostly takes place in and around canyons; but during your journey, you’ll also come in contact with rock formations, riverbeds, and everything in between.

And the things you’ll be doing will surely fulfill your wildest childhood fantasies!

Climb up and down cliffs, dive into clear pools, or take a thrilling, plunging slide down a waterfall!

With your heart pumping and your body and mind fully engaged, you can experience nature in an utterly thrilling fashion!

39 – Let loose on the rides at Etnaland

Etnaland, Catania

Sure, outdoor sports are great… but how would you like to get to know the region while zooming around on a water slide or roller coaster?

Etnaland Aquapark and Theme Park plunges you straight into adventure of a different sort – or rather, several different adventures, all woven into rides and attractions that will delight even the most timid of travelers.

Cruise around Love Lagoon, join your youngsters on some of the delightful creature-themed mini-coasters, or try out any number of spinning and dropping delights.

Then it’s time for the waterpark section, where you can take a bouncy raft ride through Crocodile Rapids, make a thrilling and splashy descent on Dragon River, or let yourself be wowed with a laser show.

There’s even a Prehistoric Park section where you can commingle with robotic dinosaurs!

40 – Make amazing dishes (and friends along the way) during some cooking classes

cooking classes in Catania

Delicious, nutritious, and fun… all of the ingredients for an awesome cooking class!

After trying all of the great foods around here, you may feel tempted to replicate them yourself – and thanks to your amazing instructors, you’ll be able to go through the whole delicious process step by step!

Not only will you get to tour the local markets to hunt down the freshest ingredients, but you’ll also have the rare opportunity to make these meals alongside actual community members!

There’s nothing quite like the bonding experience of creating a feast together, and this delicious cultural experience will resonate long after you’ve cleared your plate!

41 – Explore another aspect of the past at Museo dello Sbarco in Sicilia 1943

Museo dello Sbarco in Sicilia 1943, Catania

Amidst all of these fun-filled activities, it can be easy to forget the hardships of Italy’s relatively recent past, which makes a visit to this museum one of the most important things to do in Catania.

It focuses on the tumultuous events of July to September of 1943,  when Allied forces landed in Sicily and liberated it from the Nazis.

As one of the pivotal moments of World War II, this moment started shifting the tide towards victory, and the institution offers a vivid glimpse into what daily life was like on the island during those strange times.

Take your time lingering over the different exhibits and recreations; these are the stories that are too often left untold.

42 – Grab your helmet and go on some bike tours

bike tours in Catania

Off-road, onroad, and everywhere in between… the fun never stops on a bike tour!

Whether you’re a leisure pedaler or a hardcore two-wheeler, you can enjoy the scenic charms of the region with a lengthy ride packed with fun facts.

Cruise around town and along the coast, admiring castles, monuments, and cute little towns scattered along the way.

Or gear up for a thrilling ride along the ridges of Mount Etna, where your legs and eyes will get equal workouts!

It’s a great way to get in touch with your surroundings… and let’s face it: a good bike ride is even more fun with some great scenery!

43 – Take some time or play a bit of golf

golf in Catania

There’s nothing like a nice round of golf to brighten your day, and it’s all the better when you have some amazing backdrops to admire between rounds!

And luckily, Il Picciolo Etna Golf Resort & Spa provides both of those in spades, plus a few other delights on the side.

The course itself is certainly impressive, utilizing the gentle and picturesque terrain to make a series of exciting and properly challenging holes.

And as the first golf course in Sicily, it’s got a nice legacy to go with it!

When you’re done putting, you can kick back and enjoy all of the wellness treatments, or enjoy the luxuries of the hotel itself.

44 – See the world spread out before you on a helicopter tour

helicopter tours in Catania

For a totally different view of the area, look to the skies – or rather, look around, because you’ll be up there!

The region’s helicopter tours provide simply unbeatable views, with a lofty vantage point and leisurely pace offering plenty of time to take it all in.

And they’re especially helpful for viewing the volcano, as you enjoy panoramic views of craters, lava fields, and other treasures.

If you crave a different (but equally thrilling) high-altitude adventure, there are also some amazing airplane flights to try!

It’s a view that would make even the birds jealous!

45 – Take your day at the shore to the next level at the local beach clubs

best beach clubs in Catania

You can always spend a happy holiday loafing on the sand… but why not treat yourself a little?

The region’s best beach clubs are here to offer up all manner of amenities, and perfect proximity to the water as an added bonus.

Recline under an umbrella at Le Capannine, where you can chow down and watch the waves by day, then dance at night.

Or get a little more decadent at Lido Marguerita, which offers great food and canopied areas where you can while away a mellow afternoon.

If you’ve got kiddos with you, Lido Azzurro Beach Resort is a must-visit; their play areas for youngsters mirror the grownup amenities, with an overall festive atmosphere.

Or head to the balcony of Lido La Risacca, and indulge in gelato and pizza with splendid views.

And at Lido Excelsior, you’ll have a nice stretch of sand, affordable lounge areas, and a chill energy that will make your time at the sea even sweeter.

46 – Set your sights on a strike as you go bowling

bowling in Catania

A night out with friends and family, a lively game, a bit of flash and fun… it’s all par for the course at the local bowling alleys!

Bowling La Plaja is famed for its “All You Can Bowl” option on Mondays, where you can play game after game with gusto.

And at Bowling Frenz, row after row of colorful lanes offer up a bit of pizzazz for your competition.

Let’s not forget about Bowling Misterbianco, a 10-lane extravaganza that also offers a playground and 7D cinema to keep the fun going.

And because all of these spots provide food and beverage options as well, you can really make an evening of it!

47 – Savor the offerings at the best restaurants

best restaurants in Catania

You don’t want to do all of that drinking on an empty stomach… but lucky for you, there are just as many great eateries here as there are drinking spots!

Try local tastes with a premium twist at Concezione Restaurant, or head to Calarittu to try squid, sardines, and all kinds of other nautical treats.

Relish the fine meals with regional ingredients at Sagre Ristorante, or head to Deliziosa for a great dose of pizza, pasta, and more.

Or sit down at Collage Boutique Bar for a variety of grub, including everything from burgers and snacks to Mediterranean goodies.

Wherever you go, you’ll likely be asking for seconds!

48 – Toast the town at the best bars

best bars in Catania

When it’s time to wind down – or turn up! – for the evening, this burg offers plenty of excellent bars for you to sink a few.

Enjoy the bohemian vibes and excellent music at BarnAut, or the artsy atmosphere and cool concoctions at First Lounge Bar.

Sink into the relaxing atmosphere of Mamma Africa, and don’t miss the fabulous drinks at Olivia.co Cocktail Society, which provides some of the coolest and most creative mixed drinks in town!

How to get to Catania?

You can easily fly into the region via Catania Airport, and make things even more convenient with some of the airport transfers in Catania!

Book these services in advance, then go straight from the flight to a comfortable car with a friendly, helpful driver on-hand.

Hop in, kick back, and get ready to enjoy your trip, hassle-free!”

And if you’re arriving the old-fashioned way – by boat -, you can book shore excursions in Catania to sample some of the coolest spots while your ship is docked!

Where to stay in Catania?

All throughout the city, you’ll find spectacular spots to call home for the holiday – but there’s so much more to do at them than just catch up on sleep!

Romano Palace Luxury Hotel lives up to its name, with beautiful green spaces, a luxurious pool, and an excellent restaurant serving the finest regional dishes – plus close proximity to the beach!

And Catania International Airport Hotel offers ease at every step, with easy access to your flights, and a bus service to help you get to town.

Palace Catania provides top-of-the-line amenities (think Turkish baths and rooftop bars) with a splendid building filled with early 20th-century charms.

And Hotel Manganelli Palace provides another glamorous getaway, perfectly nestled into a historic neighborhood surrounded by acclaimed theaters and churches.

You can also wind down for the day at Habitat, where classy interior designs and a lovely garden will make you feel like you’re in a world all your own – right in the middle of town!

Visiting Catania on budget?

In between all of the bigger jaunts, get your fill of history, culture, and architecture with the plethora of free walking tours in Catania!

These roaming excursions cover every part of the city in loving detail, from its foods and magnificent buildings to its side streets and unique tales developed over eons of civilizations.

And best of all, they are all  led by enthusiastic locals who love showing off their home… the very best kind of teachers!

Remember to bring some good walking shoes and cash to tip your guide for a job well done!

Where to go next?

There are some excellent multi-day trips from Catania, from hiking and horseback riding to scuba diving and cultural excursions.

Want to go a little further? Check out the other fun things to do in Sicily.

Nestled on a picturesque hillside overlooking the Ionian Sea, you will find many things to do in Taormina, just 30 min drive North of Catania. Enjoy its stunning panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea and the majestic Mount Etna, explore its ancient Greek theater, and explore its cobblestone streets.

Check out the thriving food, antiquity-filled history scenes, and other stupendous things to do in Palermo, or explore even more of the verdant lands of Sicily, with beaches, churches, cultural hotspots, and rolling hills as far as the eye can see.

You’ll also find tons of great things to do in Syracuse, such as sailing excursions and trips through local buildings that showcase thousands of years of human history within their bones.

And if you have even more time, put on your adventurer’s hat and delve into some of the best places to visit in Italy!

From ancient ruins to fashion meccas, peaceful countryside to dynamic cities that seem to be their own living entities, this nation truly has something for every mood… and it will have you coming back for more!

Final thoughts

Drenched in myths and legends, pulsing with arts and culture, and overlaid by some of the most beautiful landscapes in history, this is truly a city like no other!

Patient and intrepid travelers are well-rewarded as they explore – the more you look, the more you’ll like!

So pick and choose between the amazing things to do in Catania… then prepare to find a thousand more wonderful surprises along the way!

SHARE
Kiernyn Orne-Adams is a reader, writer, and roamer who currently resides in Seattle, Washington. She has spent the last several years traveling around the U.S. and the world, and is always on the hunt for unique museums and beautiful outdoor spots. Her work has been featured in Roadtrippers, SouthSoundTalk, Beloit College Magazine, and Fodor’s.