Sicily's incredible, with sun-soaked mountains and shores hugged by sea waves. If you're after a chill weekend or a peaceful day in the sun on the beaches in Catania, you've got to read this article.
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- Where is Catania
- Map of Catania
- The Best Beaches in Catania
- Map of the Beaches in Catania
- 🏖️ The Riviera of the Cyclops (La Riviera dei Ciclopi)
- 🏖️ La Playa
- 🏖️ Foce Simeto Nature Reserve (Spiaggia della Riserva Naturale Foce Simeto)
- 🏖️ San Marco beach in Calatabiano
- 🏖️ San Giovanni li Cuti beach
- 🏖️ The Praiola of Giarre
- 🏖️ Aci Castello beach
- 🏖️ Fondachello beach
- 🏖️ Mill Beach (La Spiaggia del Mulino di Acireale)
- 🌳 Timpa Nature Reserve (Riserva naturale della Timpa)
- Things to Do in Catania (besides the beach)
- Guided Tours in Catania
- Catania Travel Resources
- Traveling around Catania
- Where to Stay in Catania Near the Beaches
- Where to Eat in Catania
- FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions About Catania)
- Explore More About Italy!
There's something very un-beachy about Catania, Sicily. Though there's a sizable, bustling port, you can't really feel the shore when strolling around the old core. However, there is a sea, and the beaches are really beautiful.
I was particularly struck by how some coastal areas still retain the allure of little fishing communities. Like tiny towns inside of a major metropolis, they're cozy and real. There are, however, some locations with lengthy, broad beaches that are perfect for anyone who want roomy sandy Sicilian areas to relax on.
Where is Catania
Catania's in eastern Sicily, Italy, right on the Ionian Sea, under Mount Etna - Europe's tallest active volcano. It's smack in the middle between Messina and Syracuse. Catania's Sicily's second-biggest city by size and population and is the capital of its province.
Map of Catania
The Best Beaches in Catania
Map of the Beaches in Catania
🏖️ The Riviera of the Cyclops (La Riviera dei Ciclopi)
The coast from Catania to Acireale, the Riviera of the Cyclops, is near Acitrezza, a village facing the Ionian Sea. It's got clear waters and is famous for the Faraglioni dei Ciclopi: lava rock formations in the sea.
For centuries, this stunning place has inspired writers like Giovanni Verga. His novel "Malavoglia," set in Aci Trezza with fishermen characters, is one example. Travelers today still get wrapped up in its beauty, taking romantic walks in the village.
There's a legend about the Faraglioni, from the Odyssey. It says Polyphemus, the Cyclops, threw these rocks at Ulysses in anger, trying to stop his escape.
The Cyclops archipelago includes the larger Lachea Island, just off Aci Trezza's coast. It's volcanic and rich in landscapes, nature, geology, and archaeology. Great for diving, snorkeling, and canoeing in the clear waters.
The beach around Lachea Island is small. You can swim or take guided tours there, but you're limited to a small area on the island.
🏖️ La Playa
Talking about the long, broad beaches, La Playa is 18 km of golden sand by a calm sea. The Playa, yeah that's its Spanish name, is Catania's go-to beach. It stretches from the port to Agnone Bagni with fine golden sand.
It's got loads of equipped areas, beach services, clubs jazzing up the city's summer nights, and plenty of restaurants. The kicker? You can chill on the sand and gaze at Mount Etna.
You'll find beach volleyball, surfing spots, jet ski rentals – Catania loves its water sports. Plus, there's a bike path running along the coast for a sweet ride.
Nightlife's big here. Clubs, some right by the sea, offer Ibiza-style aperitifs with sea views before the dance floor heats up. The Playa's big day is May 1st. That's when you get huge music events like One Day Music, featuring top DJs and bands.
Nature lovers need to check out Boschetto della Playa. It's a green spot with big pines, set up in the fascist era, now a sports area. This beach rolls into the Oasi del Simeto nature reserve.
🏖️ Foce Simeto Nature Reserve (Spiaggia della Riserva Naturale Foce Simeto)
This spot's big for nature and has a great beach. The Reserve, set up in 1984, is south of the Playa on the Catania Plain. It's a lakeside area, a hit with migratory and resident birds. Birdwatchers can spot herons, marsh harriers, mallards. Plant lovers will dig the willows, beach lilies, cornflowers by the river and near the beach. The sandy coast has dunes and seasonal water basins, called salatelle, shaped by tides.
Sea turtles used to frequent this coast, but now sightings are rare. We found the place captivating but dirty. The beach had a lot of waste and sharp, even dangerous, stuff. So, we skipped swimming. Plus, nearby areas are known for not being too safe, especially after dark.
If you're around, check out the Castle of the Duke of Misterbianco in Bartoli village. It's a big, ruined villa in the greenery, looking like an ancient castle.
🏖️ San Marco beach in Calatabiano
Next up in Catania's top beaches is San Marco beach of Calatabiano. It stretches along the coast between Fiumefreddo and Alcantara river's mouth.
It's a long sandy beach with clear, pristine water. Acacia and eucalyptus frame this serene spot. This beach, a gem in eastern Sicily, is near Calatabiano Castle, the town's symbol. The fortress sits 220 meters up, overseeing the Alcantara Valley's eastern entrance.
Originally, Arabs called it Kalaat-al Bian, but recent digs show it's older. Normans, Swabians, and Aragonese all added to the castle. Today's look and size? That's thanks to the Cruyllas family.
Lately, the Castle of San Marco, a Sicilian baroque piece, turned into a luxe resort. It's got restaurants, wine bars, meeting rooms, and family areas – a top spot for a memorable stay.
🏖️ San Giovanni li Cuti beach
Favorite for its unusual coal-black beach and laid-back atmosphere, San Giovanni li Cuti is another beach location in Catania. Dark sand and black volcanic rocks dot the region. This serene area close to the city center comes alive in the afternoon with people swimming or sunbathing in the deep blue water. It also has a picturesque marina and colorful yachts.
In the summer, it's also teeming with street food vendors, ice cream stores, and seafood restaurants. Vibrant paintings by artist Salvo Ligama, which include some of the sea deity Poseidon, can be seen when strolling along the beach.
🏖️ The Praiola of Giarre
Dark volcanic stones and pebbles are a distinctive feature of the province of Catania's Praiola di Giarre. A tuff ridge contrasts with the pure, blue water, making this an unusual place for a lazy beach day.
Praiola seems untamed because of its dramatic rock background. An excellent place to take a rest is the nearby campground and kiosk.
🏖️ Aci Castello beach
Beach goers love looking up at Aci Castello's cliffs, which are located around 25 kilometers north of Catania. Many coves and inlets can be found there. The rocky beaches in the area are excellent for sunbathing since they have footpaths. Rising above the sea, visible from the shore, is the castle that bears the town's name.
Aci Castello is very quiet in the winter, save on Sundays when tourists flock to its well-known fish eateries. Summertime, however, brings with it a vibrant beach scene complete with bustling eateries, clubs, and street food vendors.
🏖️ Fondachello beach
North of Catania, about 30 kilometers between Acireale and Taormina, you'll find Fondachello beach. It's a mix of pebbles and coarse sand.
This eastern Sicilian beach area is a hit in summer. It's great for holidaymakers looking to lounge in deckchairs. You can pick between free sections and equipped spots with lifeguards, rentals, and amenities like bars and restaurants.
The clear, deep waters near the shore are ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving fans. And if you're up early, Fondachello beach's sunrise is a stunner.
🏖️ Mill Beach (La Spiaggia del Mulino di Acireale)
In Acireale, Catania, you'll find La Spiaggia del Mulino. It's a totally calm spot where the sea meets a pebble and fine sand coast. An old mill adds charm to the scene. In the clear blue sea, you can often spot rare fish, octopus, algae, and crustaceans.
Getting to this nature-wrapped beach means walking paths through rocky Timpa and lush greenery.
Wear the right clothes and sturdy shoes for the lava stone paths. Though many routes lead there, Scala d'Aci is best. It offers stunning views, cutting through Costa della Timpa from Acireale's center.
A cool thing here is the Miuccio River, steeped in local myth. Plus, under the rocks, fresh water flows, a unique feature of this beach.
🌳 Timpa Nature Reserve (Riserva naturale della Timpa)
Timpa is mainly a southern Sicilian term, used around Etna cities for ravines and cliffs on volcano slopes. Acireale's Timpa is wild, shooting up a hundred meters above sea level in spots.
In 1999, locals and Sicily's Department of Territory and Environment turned it into a protected area. They wanted to save its nature, geology, and landscape. The Timpa under Acireale? Used militarily for its strategic spot. Even built Fortezza del Tocco there.
The Reserve's got stony beaches, clear seas, and killer views. You get there via the "Chiazzette" path to Santa Maria La Scala. It's key for Etna's coastal scenes. Think lava ridges built up over years.
The rocks' colors tell a story. Lighter ones are from early eruptions; darker ones are newer.
Vegetation's thick around here, changing with human presence. Near the coast, plants adapt to saltiness, like sea fennel, cliff broom. By the Miuccio River, near Santa Maria la Scala's mill, you find water plants like celery, watercress, aquatic Veronica. Escarpment vegetation gets rockier, forming prairies.
Timpa's got big Euphorbia bushes, ivy, lemon groves, mastic, wild olives. Near the coast, there are seagulls; the escarpment shelters reptiles and birds of prey.
Geologically, the coast's a goldmine. Columnar basalts in Palombe Cave show past underwater volcanoes. The cave, now partly gone due to waves, had a legend of nymph Ionia, guardian of lovers like Galatea and shepherd Acis.
They feared Cyclops Polyphemus, who killed Acis with a boulder. Galatea's cry turned Acis into a stream, which she kept loving.
Ionia, guilty over this, stopped aiding lovers and raised pigeons in the cave. Envious nymphs blocked her pigeons, driving her to despair. Her screams caused the cave's collapse, burying her and her pigeons.
Until the '70s, you could see a rock looking like a giant's fist in the sea; part of this mythological cave's gone now. But the coast's beauty and tales of Ionia's kindness remain.
Things to Do in Catania (besides the beach)
Piazza del Duomo is Catania's central hub, often the start point for city tours.
Palazzo Biscari stands out for its architecture. A Biscari family member, funny and charming, guides tours there.
Parco Archeologico Greco Romano di Catania has restored amphitheaters and killer views, making a dramatic scene.
Chiesa di San Nicolo All'Arena lets you climb up for top views of Catania and Mount Etna.
Saint Biagio Church - Sant'Agata alla Fornace is another key religious and historic spot in Catania.
Looking at museums?
Museo Civico Castello Ursino, in a castle, displays diverse artifacts, including a photography exhibit.
Museo Diocesano Catania, in the city's heart, includes a tour of baths under St Agatha Church.
Casa Museo Giovanni Verga, the well-kept house of writer Giovanni Verga, gives insight into his life and work.
Museo di Archeologia dell'Università di Catania specializes in archaeological finds.
Museo Civico Prospero Grasso is another history museum in Catania worth checking out.
Guided Tours in Catania
Mount Etna Morning or Sunset Day Trip with Tasting: 6-hour small group trip. Choose morning or sunset. Includes local tastings.
Guided Volcano Summit Hiking Tour with Cable Car: 5-6 hour adventure. Guided hike to Etna's summit with a volcanologist. Cable car ride, amazing views.
Syracuse and Noto Culture and History Tour: 8-hour trip. Explores Syracuse and Noto's culture and history.
Underground Catania Tickets and Guided Tour: 2.5-hour underground tour of Catania.
Hop-on Hop-off Bus Catania-Acicastello-Acitrezza: 1-day bus tour linking Catania, Acicastello, and Acitrezza.
The Godfather Movie Day Trip in Sicily: 7-hour trip to "The Godfather" movie sites.
Catania Travel Resources
Check out our travel resources. We've used many of these companies ourselves. Others come highly recommended by friends and family.
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Traveling around Catania
Getting to Catania, most folks fly in or take a ferry. Catania Fontanarossa International Airport's the main gateway. You can get downtown by bus, taxi, or car. The AMT Alibus #457 is cheap, runs every 20 minutes from dawn to midnight. Taxis charge a flat rate to downtown, about 20-30 minutes away. If you're up for it, rent a car, but driving here is tough.
In town, over 50 bus lines cover most spots. A bus ticket costs 1 euro, good for 90 minutes. Check AMTS for routes and times. Key tourist buses are Line 504M, Line D, and Line 534. The Alibus links the airport and city for 4 euros a ticket. To hit Mount Etna, try the AST Company bus.
The Catania Metro's easy, one line with 10 stops. Key stop for tourists is Stesicoro, near the historical center. A metro ticket is 1 euro, also good for 90 minutes. They sell daily and combined bus-metro tickets.
From the airport, bus companies like Interbus and Etna Trasporti go to Taormina, Syracuse, Ragusa. SAIS Autotrasporti hits Agrigento, Porto Empedocle; SAIS Autolinee does Palermo, Messina. Alibus is best for airport to Catania city.
Try the Circumetnea Train for views of Etna and the scenery. It runs from Catania Borgo station or Giarre Station. Great for exploring the area.
Taxis in Catania are always around. For more freedom, rent a car, but brace for tricky driving.
For Etna, the cable car's a unique option. Just note that eruptions sometimes disrupt it.
Travel tips: Double-check transport times as they can change. Guided tours help, especially for Mount Etna first-timers. Expect busy, chaotic traffic. Buy tickets early to save hassle.
Where to Stay in Catania Near the Beaches
🇮🇹 Over the years, I stayed at a couple of great places in Catania. Check them out! Also, visit Tripadvisor for more options, deals, booking, reviews and photos!
Mirage Place B&B: About 1.1 miles from the beach, 700 meters from central Catania. Offers sea and city views, close to Catania Piazza Duomo.
GL Golden City Apartments: In central Catania, 1.1 miles from the beach. They've got free WiFi and a balcony, near Catania Cathedral.
Be Happy Rooms: Recently renovated B&B, around 1.2 miles from the beach, 800 meters from Catania Piazza Duomo.
Mirage Mer B&B: Also 1.1 miles from the beach. Sea views, under 1 km from Catania Piazza Duomo. Has a garden and shared lounge.
Pasubio Quattro BB: About 1.3 miles from the beach, near Stazione Catania Centrale. Offers mountain and city views.
Bed-da Catania Rooms: Recently renovated, in central Catania, about 1.3 miles from the beach. Allergy-free rooms, close to Catania Piazza Duomo.
Hotel Romano House: 4-star in Baroque Catania, in an 18th-century building.
Art & Jazz Hotel: Short walk from Catania's historical center. Offers 24-hour desk, air-conditioned rooms, free WiFi.
Habitat Hotel: In central Catania with free WiFi. Rooms have flat-screen TV and air conditioning.
Hotel Nettuno: Popular for its location and amenities.
Plaza Hotel Catania: In an exclusive area on Catania's seafront, about 1.2 miles from the city center.
NH Catania Parco degli Aragonesi: Near the beach, known for location and services.
Grand Hotel Baia Verde: Terraces with Mediterranean Sea views, a visitor favorite.
Romano Palace Luxury Hotel: Luxury hotel close to the beach.
Miramare Hotel: Good for location and services, near the beach.
CUCARACHA BUNGALOW: Unique and popular, close to the beach.
Where to Eat in Catania
🇮🇹 Consider these top dining options in Catania for a delightful Sicilian culinary experience. For even more choices and exclusive deals, don't forget to check out TripAdvisor.com, where you can find a broader selection of eateries in the vicinity.
Docalquadrato: Italian-Mediterranean wine bar. Mid-range, offers Sicilian specialties.
Le Bistrot Napoleon: French restaurant. Does steak, seafood, international. Mid-range prices.
Deliziosa: Focuses on Italian, Mediterranean, Sicilian dishes. Budget-friendly.
Puti': Italian, Seafood, Mediterranean with healthy choices. Priced mid-range.
Le Quinte: Good for Italian, Pizza, Mediterranean, especially Sicilian. Mid-range.
MOON: Specializes in Seafood, Mediterranean, Sicilian, Southern-Italian. Mid-range.
Trattoria Catania Ruffiana: Italian, Seafood, Mediterranean, healthy options. It's fine dining.
Concezione Restaurant: Upscale, with Italian, Seafood, Mediterranean, Contemporary cuisine.
Giardino di Bacco: Fine dining, offers Italian, Seafood, Healthy, Sicilian dishes.
SIKULO Restaurant: High-end place. Italian, Seafood, Mediterranean, Sicilian cuisine.
Etnea Roof Bar & Restaurant by “UNA Cucina”: Fine dining. Italian, Seafood, Mediterranean, European.
Km.0: Upscale Italian with Seafood, Mediterranean, European dishes.
L'ISKA Catania: High-end Italian, Seafood, Mediterranean, Contemporary cuisine.
Oxidiana: Unique high-end Japanese, Seafood, Sushi, Asian dining.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions About Catania)
La Playa, or Playa di Catania, sits right in the city. It's a 20-minute walk from the Catania Acquicella train station, and under four kilometers from Catania Centrale, the main station. You can drive or take public transport there in less than 20 minutes. This 18 km sandy beach has both public and private sections, with beach clubs and restaurants. You can swim, snorkel, or even bowl there.
Yes, swimming is great in Catania. The nearby beaches, known for their beauty and clear waters, are perfect for a swim.
Beaches in Catania cater to different tastes, with both free and private sections:
In Catania, watch out for pickpockets and muggers, especially in crowds and at night. Public transport's pretty safe, just guard against thieves. Earthquakes and floods are a medium risk. Overall, it's sort of safe, but theft and corruption are issues.
Palermo's got a medium risk for pickpocketing and mugging. Tourists are targets, especially in crowded spots and on buses or trains. Transport's generally safe, and there's not much worry about natural disasters. It's moderately safe overall.
In both cities, keep an eye on your stuff, especially where there are lots of tourists. Safety really depends on where you are in the city.
Palermo's beaches, like Mondello, are stunning with sandy shores. Beach season goes till October or November. Catania's beaches include Playa di Catania, offering both organized and public areas. Your choice? It depends on what kind of beach experience and extra activities you want.
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