Located along the west-central coast on the Ionian Sea, Catania is the 2nd largest city on the Italian island of Sicily.
Catania sports a population of nearly 300,000 residents and is most well-known for being destroyed multiple times between the 12th and 17th centuries due to natural disasters, such as earthquakes and an eruption from Mount Etna, which looms just inland.
The coastal town is a popular destination for beach lovers from all over the continent. It features mild year-round weather that makes it a favorite winter escape hotspot as well.
Below are 15 of the best tours of Catania.
1. Catania Street Food Tour
There may be no better way to experience cultural immersion more quickly than by eating street food with locals.
Catania’s food scene is vibrant and many-faceted and includes traditional, contemporary, and international influences.
This three-hour, mid-morning food tour includes the services of a local guide, who’ll give guests unique insights into the city’s food, history, and culture, while visiting key attractions like the Piazza Duomo, the port, and markets, where residents do most of their daily shopping.
Plenty of samples will be available along the way, including pastry, pasta, cheese, and tasty meatballs grilled over a bed of white coals.
2. 4-Hour Boat Tour with Snorkeling
Catania’s rugged volcanic coastline is full of impressive rock formations, abundant wildlife, and clear water that makes it perfect for snorkeling.
On this four-hour snorkeling tour, guests will visit the area’s two premier natural areas—the La Timpa Natural Reserve and the Marine Protected Area of Isola dei Ciclopi.
After a short briefing from their experienced guide, guests will gear up and head into the water to explore an amazing underwater world that most tourists never get to see.
It’s common to see a variety of fish among the lava flows, like colorful grouper, sponges, and even octopus.
Everything except personal expenses is included.
3. Catania like a Local—Customized Private Walking Tour
Bar none, hanging out with locals is the quickest and most fun way to experience foreign cultures.
On this customizable private walking tour, participants will do just that as they set out with their guide to see the sights, learn about the city’s history and culture, and familiarize themselves with its geographical layout.
Tours are limited in size, making for more intimate and memorable experiences. They can last anywhere from two to six hours, depending on the interests, preferences, and schedules of guests.
Site entrance fees, transportation, and food and drinks aren’t included, so bring a few extra bucks.
4. Alcantara River Jumping Experience
The landscape around the Alcantara River is characterized by impressive volcanic rock formations that have amazingly geometric shapes.
After being picked up from their Catania hotel, guests of this guided river jumping experience will make their way to one of the region’s most unique natural attractions, where they’ll hike, swim, and cliff jump into the river below.
As many guests are beginners, the jumps start small and gradually progress; however, everyone is encouraged only to participate in only the ones they feel comfortable with.
Tours last six hours, depart from Catania in the morning and require a moderate level of physical fitness to participate.
5. Traditional Home Cooking Experience
Learning to cook like a Sicilian grandmother isn’t something you can achieve in a few short hours, but this three-hour traditional home cooking experience is a good start.
Like many of Catania’s tours, it’s all about food and cultural immersion, and it takes place in the centrally located home of the instructor.
Guests will learn about traditional Sicilian cuisine and culture. Under the guidance of their host, they’ll prepare a four-course meal that will include fresh seafood, local produce, and wine.
Tours are offered in the late morning and early evening and are often among the most memorable experiences of many visitors’ vacations.
6. Half-Day Buggy Tour of Mount Etna Volcano
Motorized buggies are great ways to get up-close-and-personal with Catania’s attractions.
On this four-hour tour, guests will get a crash-course in how to handle their machine before heading off with their guide to the villages of Pedara and Nicolosi, which are just a stone’s throw from majestic Mount Etna.
The landscape leading up to the volcano is comprised of craters, crevices, and quarries that highlight the buggy’s off-road capabilities.
A mid-tour coffee break is a welcome stop before continuing to other attractions like Valley del Bove and Mount Zoccolaro.
Buggy tours are not a good fit for pregnant women and the elderly.
7. Mount Etna Sunset Tour from Catania
As long as there’s not an unexpected eruption, the sunsets at Mount Etna are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
After meeting their guide at a central location in the afternoon, guests will embark on a short journey to the mountain’s southeast side that features an otherworldly landscape, with ash fields, lava flows, and fascinating rock formations.
The hike to the vista point is only moderately exerting. As the sun begins to fade, guests will dine on Sicilian street food and enjoy local wine.
Helmets and flashlights are distributed to each guest, and sturdy trekking shoes are available upon request as well.
8. Isole dei Ciclopi Snorkeling Trip
Just a short drive from Catania, Aci Castello is one of the island’s premier watersports destinations due to its clear water, easily accessible dive spots, and diverse array of easy to see marine life.
After getting outfitted with masks, snorkels, and swim fins, eager swimmers will take to the water with their experienced marine guide.
The coastal seascape is a fantastic mix of basalt columns, caves, and dramatic lava flows that are true wonders to behold. Depending on guests’ swimming ability, it’s possible to hang close to the boat, sunbathe on deck, or set out for a little underwater exploration.
9. Three Best Etna Wineries Private Tour with Tasting
There is no shortage of renowned wineries in and around Catania, but this tour focuses on three that are consistently ranked among the best.
Tours last between six and seven hours and include tastings at each stop, after which guests will have sampled a dozen or more locally produced organic wines.
Tour participants will learn about the region’s wine culture, the cultivation of grapes, and the process by which they’re transformed into amazing wine.
Expect to see spectacular views of Mount Etna and the Sicilian countryside, sample traditional food specially paired with the wine, and learn about the area’s history and culture as well.
10. Inspector Montalbano and Sicilian Food Combo Tour
Based on the main character in the novels written by Andrea Camilleri, the Inspector Montalbano television series was primarily filmed in the area around Catania.
For fans of the books and television shows, this Inspector Montalbano food tour combo is a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short period.
Tour groups are limited to just eight participants and include transportation by executive class air-conditioned vehicles.
Tours include multilingual guides, boxed lunches, and stops in multiple towns, where guests will see landmarks like the Church of San Giorgio and the Palazzo Polara – both of which have appeared in the show.
11. Evening City Secrets and Aperitif Tour
What could possibly be more mysterious and alluring than discovering historical secrets and enjoying an aperitif where locals drink and dine in an exotic Sicilian city like Catania?
On this three-hour guided tour, guests will discover many of Catania’s ancient secrets and visit a variety of iconic attractions, like the Elephant Fountain, Biscari Palace, and the Benedictine Monastery of Saint Nicolo, built on the site of the city’s original acropolis.
Previous guests appreciated the tour’s eclectic mix of popular attractions and those that are less well-known.
Evening tours end with street food, conversation with locals, and a traditional drink.
12. Private Walking Tour and Arancini Tasting
For activity-minded travelers, walking tours offer the ability to see things from a ground-level perspective that those stuck on tour busses just won’t get to experience.
This private Catania walking tour and Arancini tasting includes a unique mix of attractions, starting with the city’s seafood market, or pescheria—one of the largest of its kind in the country.
Additional highlights include Ursino Castle, Via Etnea, Elephant Fountain, and the city’s famed cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Guests will also enjoy sampling a variety of locally made arancini with a variety of tasty fillings before calling it a day.
13. Bronte Gran Pistachio and Olive Oil Farm Tour
The town of Bronte is the center of one of Europe’s premier pistachio growing areas. In addition to its culinary appeal, it also features narrow ancient streets, old-world charm, and lots of fascinating history.
Tours begin with a guided tour of a pistachio farm, where guests will learn about how they’re grown, processed, and distributed around the world.
There will also be time to explore the town before heading off to a mill that produces some of the region’s most sought after extra virgin olive oil.
Pretty much everything is included, like a traditional country-style lunch with wine and round-trip transportation.
14. Orange Plantation and Wine Tasting Private Tour with Lunch
The area around Catania features diverse agriculture that is mostly dominated by oranges, olives, and pistachios.
This four-hour private tour departs from Catania mid-morning and includes visits to a citrus plantation, where guests will meet the staff, explore the fields, and enjoy ample scenery and fresh Mediterranean air.
Another of the tour’s centerpieces is a trip to a winery, which includes an overview of how grapes are transformed into wine – from growing and harvesting to fermentation, bottling, and distribution.
A number of wine samples and a traditional Sicilian lunch are also included before participants are returned to Catania.
15. Cyclops Riviera Guided Tour
Catania’s coastline is full of impressive sea views, quaint villages, ancient stone fortresses, and large swaths of citrus groves that make for amazing photo ops.
After meeting at a central location, guests will make their way to the Cyclops Riviera and eventually, the historic fishing town of Aci Trezza.
Along with their guide, guests will learn about the area’s history, culture, and economy, after which they’ll head to the Marine Protected Area around the Island of Cyclops, which is steeped in myth and legend.
Tours last about four and a half hours, include transportation to and from Catania, and are offered two times daily.