Mount Etna: Best Things to Do in the Highest Active Volcano in Europe

You cannot leave Sicily without enjoying it from a different perspective, for example from the highest active volcano in Europe: Mount Etna with a height of 3,340 meters above sea level. Now, it is UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you are in Catania it is very easy to get to Etna (Sicilians calls it ‘a Muntagna, which means “The Mountain”, but it is a femenine noun). I also included Etna in my travel itinerary to discover the beauty of Catania.

I’ll give you some useful and funny tips to fully enjoy your stay at Mount Etna, which has an incredible variety of landscapes and vegetation. Whenever you decide to travel Etna always waits for you, snow-covered in winter, wild or lush throughout the whole year.
Mount Etna erupting
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I went to Mount Etna just one week ago and it was full of snow. The landscape was magical!
Mount Etna and snow
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Here are the best things to do in Mount Etna:

1. Visit the Silvestri craters. They are two side-by side inactive craters, to a height of 1,986 meters, which date back to the eruption of 1892. Their name derives from the discoverer and volcanologist Orazio Silvestri. They are located near the Rifugio Sapienza and the Etna cable car. The road from Nicolosi to Rifugio Sapienza passes between the two craters. The smaller crater, in its reddish colors, is really amazing! You can visit it entirely and you can also get into it (there is no danger, do not worry). The larger crater can be reached on foot through a steep climb, which lasts about 15 minutes. The view from there is stunning! You can see the smaller crater and the Gulf of Catania on the horizon. There are also other smaller crater in the valley of the Silvestri craters. They make the landscape even more evocative and wilder. You cannot visit the main Etna crater but, if you are lucky enough not to find fog, you can see the peak that stands out in the blue sky. Trust me, it is incredible! 🙂

2. Enjoy restaurant and bars at Rifugio Sapienza and take the cable car. When you arrive at Rifugio Sapienza you’ll see many restaurants and bars. Sit here to relax, taste a hot chocolate, then continue your exploration tour. I don’t agree with the cable car price. It is €30 only to get to the square from where the buses leave. From here you have to pay another ticket which costs €30 to get almost to the top, walking through a trail.

TIP: Do not take the bus, but enjoy the scenery with a walk until you can. The walk usually takes about 1 hour and a half. Therefore it is not suitable for children, but hiking fans shouldn’t give up. There is only one path to follow, you cannot go wrong with that.

Mount Etna Rifugio Sapienza
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You can also buy a sledding to slide on the snow. The cost is €18.
Etna chalet souvenirs
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3. Make an Etna jeep tour. If you prefer to enjoy an organized Etna excursion by jeep you can contact Etna Moving by Marco and Fabrizio. There are several tours that often include a visit to the Cassone cave (you’ll wear huts and you’ll use torches) and also off the beaten tracks in the woods. You can choose among half days, full days and trekking tours. Etna by jeep is ideal for adventure lovers and for all people who love to explore the woods.

NOTE: There are many tracked paths on Etna. I always love trekking in autonomy. There is no danger if you follow the map.

Etna jeep Etna Moving
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4. Enjoy Parco Avventura dell’Etna (Etna Adventure Park). One of the funniest and best things to do in Mount Etna is living the adventure in a themed park. The Etna Adventure Park is a must if you are searching this kind of fun. There are 11 trails, 5 for children and 6 adults + 2 climbing walls, with and without harness. Focus on Full or Full + climbing which cost €18 and €20 respectively.
Etna Parco Avventura
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5. Take the cable and Ski on Mount Etna. The cable car is located at 1,900 metres. You can reach the Montagnola where there are ski resorts in winter. There are 6 ski-runs (2 Amphitheatre – 1 Monte Conca (high) – 1 Coccinelle – Monte Conca (low) – Baby/Tanaurpi that allows you to ski in the woods). One day skypass is about €28 per adult and €16 for children aged from 4 to 10 years. There are different rates according to your needs. There is also a half day skipass.
Etna cable car
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6. Sleep in a chalet. 6 years ago I spent a weekend in a lovely residence in Mount Etna, Residence Serra La Nave, which is very close to Rifugio Sapienza, the Astronomical Observatory and woods. Rooms were clean and they all have a fireplace. There are also many chalets you can rent. I also suggest Etna Chalet Milo, very cute chalets in Milo, surrounded by woods and with the Etna view, but they are far about 22 km from Etna.
Etna Residence Serra La Nave
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7. Trekking. I love trekking and enjoying the nature in peace, listening to the rustle of the wind, to the songs of the most different species of birds, feeling the fresh air caressing my face and the warm sun peeking through the trees. The Valle del Bove is a great depression, created by the sinking of Trifoglietto, an ancient volcanic structure, whose walls reach a height of 1,000 metres. In the northern part it is surrounded by the mountains Pizzi Deneri, Rocca della Valle and Serra delle Concazze, while in the southern part it is surrounded by the ridges of Schiena dell’Asino, Serra and Salifizio and from the craters of Mount Pomiciaro and Mount Zoccolaro. A few hundred metres from the Rifugio Sapienza you can find the beginning of the path Schiena dell’Asino. A walk of 2.5 km will lead you on the edge of the valley, with a beautiful view of the central craters and the Ionian Sea.
Etna Valle del Bove
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How to get to Mount Etna:

– By car. If you are in Catania follow signs to Nicolosi, Etna Sud;

– By bus. Catch the AST Autolinea Bus which leaves from Piazza Papa Giovanni XXIII at 8.15 and leaves from Etna at 16.30. The ticket is about €10 round trip.

As a good Sicilian I love my Mount Etna. It is always spectacular, not only when it erupts. It is perfect for each type of personality and there are many things to do according to your interests. You will live an unforgettable experience!

Would you like to visit Mount Etna? Which is your favourite activity? 🙂

6 replies
  1. Dorienne Grech says:

    Dear Maria

    Thanks a lot for the super informative blog
    We will be visiting Sicily (catania/Etna) towards the end of January – with a 5yr old boy.
    We wish to experience the snow, maybe a bit of sledging and some trekking.
    Where would you suggest us to stay pls? Was looking at some villas near ParcoAvventura…would we be able to reach refugio sapienza to get the Cablecar or Skichairs to reach a higher point on the mountain. we Won’t have a private car.

    What kind of clothing would we need?
    Never been on the snow before?
    Bought snow/trekking waterproof boots….would we need waterproof clothes?

    We only have 3 days in sicily…what itenary would you suggest pls?


    • Maria Orlando says:

      Hi Dorienne!

      I’m glad you find my blog informative 🙂

      You will find snow in that period of the year, so you have to buy a waterproof snow suit and boots.

      Now, the itinerary depends on you.

      My advice is to stay in Catania and then spending one day on Mount Etna. Catania is a lively city with nice places where to eat (food is delicious!). From here you can visit Mount Etna taking AST bus. The bus should leave from Papa Giovanni XXIII square at 8.15am and arrive at Nicolosi (from here you can take the cableway)

      More info here >

      Always check out the timetable Dorienne!

      Have a look at this itinerary >

      Otherwise, if you want to spend all you days on Mount Etna (but I don’t think it is the best solution for you cause you could get annoyed, just because it is your first experience and you are not an expert) you could stay at “Residence Serra La Nave” which is close to the ski run.

      Read this article >

      Hope it helps

      Let me know Dorienne!

  2. katya mercieca says:

    hi maria,

    very informative thanks 🙂 my family and j are visiting next March. we’re hoping there will be some snow left. but what abt clothing in case there is snow? will normal running shoes and sports wear do? we’re not planning to ski per se. just trekking a bit.

  3. R says:

    Hi Maria! I love your blog! So informative and helpful. My friends and I are coming to beautiful Sicily, Catania to be precise, from England in a few weeks. What’s the weather like at the moment and do you have any tips on what to pack for trekking up the mountain??

    • Maria Orlando says:

      Hi! So glad you like my blog 🙂

      We had some couldbursts but now it is sunny! It looks like a tropical weather. Today it is hot, 24°C. There are a lot of tourists and they all wear t-shirts! My advice is dressing in layers. If you are going to Etna for trekking the rule is the same: dress in layers, keep yourself warm when it is cold and vice versa. It could be colder at height altitudes.

      Let me know if you need other suggestions and read my articles about Catania. They will help you enjoy your stay to the fullest!

      Maria xxx


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