All there is to be known about Mount Etna

Mount Etna facts

This article contains over 40 questions about Mount Etna, Europe's highest and most active volcano. Inside you'll find the answer to questions such as: How much is the cable car up Mount Etna? How many people live near Mount Etna? Can you walk up Mount Etna? How many times has Mount Etna Erupted? This is the ultimate guide about Mount Etna facts.

information about mount etna volcano

After writing a detailed guide about Mount Etna's best guide tours, I thought it would have been a good idea to publish a list of all the most asked questions about this active volcano. Every month, almost seventy thousand people worldwide search the topic Etna. With it, lots of questions are asked thousands of times every day to Google, so we thought it was time to come out with this ultimate article about Mount Etna's most asked questions. So whatever you want to know, when did Mount Etna last erupt? How high is Mount Etna?, or if you can see Etna from Taormina, keep on reading, and you'll get all the answers about Mt. Etna you are looking for.

1 Where is Mount Etna?

Mount Etna is in Italy, in the southern region of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. To be more precise, Mount Etna is in the district of Catania on Sicily's east coast.

2 Where in Sicily is Mount Etna

Mount Etna is in the district of Catania on Sicily’s east coast, the councils sharing the territory of Mt. etna regional Park are: Adrano, Belpasso, Biancavilla, Bronte, Castiglione di Sicilia, Giarre, Linguaglossa, Maletto, Mascali, Milo, Nicolosi, Pedara, Piedimonte Etneo, Ragalna, Randazzo, Santa Maria di Licodia, Sant'Alfio, Trecastagni, Viagrande, Zafferana Etnea.

3 When did Mount Etna last erupted?

Mount Etna last erupted in October 2023. The southeast cone, one of the four active craters making up the summit area, produced an explosion spewing in the air a column of gases and debris. Soon after the explosion, Mt. Etna produced a lava stream of three kilometers long.

4 What type of volcano is Mount Etna?

Mount Etna is a stratovolcano, medium explosive and effusive. Mount Etna magma is classified as Mafic, with a medium level of Silica (Sl) and rich in Magnesium (Mg), Iron (Fe), and Calcium (Ca). Mount Etna lava reach 1000°/1100° Celsius on some rare occasion Mount Etna erupted lava very fluid classified as Hawaiite or Phaoe-phaoe.

5 What country is Mount Etna in?

Mount Etna is located in Italy, in the European continent.

6 What caused Mount Etna to erupt?

Like many other volcanoes, Mount Etna eruptions are triggered by a new upwelling of molten rocks called magma, coming from the planet's depth. When the magma moves from the chamber toward the summit craters, pressure lowers, and bubbles of gas start forming.  As the gas bubbles get in touch with the atmosphere, they expand until bursting, giving birth to the explosions producing lava fountains. A volcanic eruption can be compared to a bottle of soda. When a bottle of fizzy drink is shaken, the bubbles of gas expand, and the liquid overflow outside the bottle.

7 What continent is Mount Etna In?

Mount Etna is located in the European continent and is actually the European continent's highest active Volcano. Etna is part of the Eurasiatic tectonic plate

8 Is Mount Etna active?

Yes, Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. The last major eruption in 2002 produced an astonishing 60 milions cubic meters of lava.

9 Is Mt Etna a composite volcano?

Mount Etna is a composite Volcano also called a stratovolcano. A Composite volcano forms on plate margins that are subject to subduction, known as destructive plate boundaries. Mount Etna activity is a result of the subduction of the African plate under the Eurasian plate.

10 Is Mount Etna still active?

Yes, Etna is still active and kicking. From December 2020 to March 2021, Etna erupted 15 times! Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet.

11 Is Etna Dangerous?

If by being dangerous, we think about Mount Vesuvius eruption of 79 A.C., Mount Saint Helen 1981, or the Krakatoa in 1883 then Mount Etna is not a dangerous Volcano. But why Mount Etna is not a Dangerous Volcano? Well, it is all about magma chemistry and the number of bubbles of gas. The magma of Mount Etna is not very viscous, so bubbles of gas can come out of the solution and rise easily along the magma column, and create medium explosions. Mount Etna lava being fluid flows away from the summit craters before solidifying so it does not seals the crater's mouth. Dangerous or very explosive volcano craters usually are sealed and produce very acidic and viscous magma, these sort of volcanos are like a pressure pan left on the fire until it explodes. Mount Etna we can say it has a safety valve that stops it from reaching a critical boiling point.

12 Is Mount Etna worth visiting?

No doubt about it, Yes Mount Etna is worth more than a visit. This volcano rises from the depth of the Mediterranean Sea all the way to the 3320 meters high summit. Mount Etna houses a fantastic wine district, lush forests, caves, and a large network of cycling and hiking trails. Find out Etna best tours

13 How tall is Mount Etna?  How high is Mount Etna?

This is one of the most asked questions about Mount Etna. Being an active volcano, Mount Etna's height changes often. This is due to explosions adding new layers of rocks to the summit increasing the height of Etna or structural collapses produced by the daily seismic activity that decreases the height. The last measurement says that Mount Etna is 3332 meters tall, the equivalent of 10892 feet.​

14 How to get to Etna from Catania

To get to Etna from Catania by car takes roughly 50 minutes. First, drive along the road SP 10 towards Nicolosi. Then drive the last 11 kilometers along the SP 92 to “Rifugio Sapienza”, where there is the Etna cable car. The second way to get to Etna from Catania is By bus; the company running the service is Azienda siciliana Trasporti.

15 How far is Catania from Mount Etna?

Catania is 34 kilometers away from Mount Etna Rifugio Sapienza, where the Etna cable car is located. The distance from Catania to Etna North flank Piano Provenzana is 45 kilometers.

16 How to get to Mt Etna?

Is it possible to get to Mount Etna by Car, by bus, or with private daily tours.

17 How did Mount Etna form?

Mount Etna start forming 600.000 thousand years ago as a submarine volcano.  The activity moved towards the present center 170,000 years ago, forming a stratovolcano; the continuous alternating of explosive and effusive eruptions plus the layering of lavas, ashes, and debris built up Etna to nowadays height of 3320 meters.

18 How to visit Mount Etna

This is a good question! Mount Etna can be visited through a series of tours. The most popular way to visit Mt. Etna is the climb to the summit active craters. Mountain biking tours on Mount Etna have become very popular too; Quad tours around the volcano are also available. Horse riding tours are also a nice way to explore Mt. Etna. In winter, two ski lifts operate on the south and north side of Mount Etna. A reliable tour operator to visit Mount Etna is Sicily Active, especially if you are based in Taormina or Giardini Naxos.

19 How often does Mount Etna Erupt?

In volcanology, predictions are hard to make, so there is no straight answer to this question. Still, looking at the statistic, since 1928, Etna produced at least 12 major eruptions. Therefore, we can say that Mount Etna produces major eruptions every 8/10 years. Explosions from the summit areas occur almost daily and are visible from most of Sicily's east coast, Catania and Enna districts. For a complete list of Mount Etna's major eruptions, you can read Mount Etna Eruptions

20 How to get to Etna

To get to Mount Etna you can drive, catch a bus or buy one of the many available Mount Etna’s tours.

21 How many times has Mount Etna Erupted?

Since we have records of Mount Etna Eruptions dating back to 520 B.C. until 2021, we can say that Mount Etna in the last 2500 years has erupted between 265 and 270 times. The longest eruption lasted 10 years between 1614-1624, while the most destructive was the eruption of 1669 that wiped out several towns on the south side of Mount Etna and reached Catania, the second-largest city on the island of Sicily. Catania in 1669 counted a total population of 20000 dwellers. The last eruption that destroyed a town was in 1928, while in 1951 and 1971 the small village of Fornazzo on Etna's east flank was close to being destroyed. Mount Etna eruption of 1971 gave birth to the southeast crater on the summit area at an altitude of 3000 meters. In 1981 and again in 1992 Randazzo and Zafferana were threatened by a lava eruption. All the data reported in this answer comes from the book "Mt. Etna Volcano Laboratory, by Bonaccorso, Calvari, Coltelli, Del Negro and Falsaperla

22 How many times has Mount Etna erupted since 2000?

Since 2000 Mount Etna Erupted 14 times, for a more detailed article read the history of mount Etna Eruptions.

23 How to climb Mount Etna?

Mount Etna can be climbed on foot on the south side from Rifugio Sapienza at an altitude of 1900 meters or on the Northside from Piano Provenzana at an altitude of 1800 meters. From Rifugio Sapienza on the south side, there is the Etna Cable car that goes to 2500 meters and then a Massive Unimog Van goes to 3000 meters. From 3000 meters the walk to the summit of Mount Etna, it takes three hours on foot. From Piano Provenzano on the north side of Mount Etna, there is no cableway and the climb to the summit takes an 8 to 10 hours hike including the return. A third way to reach the summit of Mount Etna is through the “Serracozzo” trail on Etna's north side, along the way a beautiful cave can be visited. Keep in mind that any way you choose to climb the summit of Mount Etna you need to hire a certified guide.

24 How long does it take to climb Etna?

It depends on which flank you want to get to the summit. From the south side of Rifugio Sapienza, it takes six hours including the return. From  Piano Provenzana North-side it takes 8/10 hours.

25 How to get to Mount Etna from Taormina

To go to Etna North from Taormina drive along the Motorway A18 towards Catania. Exit at Fiumefreddo Junction and then follow the road SS 185 first towards Piedimonte Etneo, then towards Linguaglossa. Once in Linguaglossa follow the sign Etna and drive on the road Mare-Neve. From Taormina to Etna South-side drive along the A18 motorway exit at Giarre Junction, drive along the SP 118 towards Zafferana Etnea and then drive Follow the sign Etna South along the road SP 92.

26 How far is Mount Etna from Taormina

Taormina is 46 kilometers away from Mount Etna Northside “Piano Provenzana” at 1800 meters above sea level kilometers, while Etna south side Rifugio Sapienza  1900 meters, where the etna Cable car is located is 55 kilometers away from Taormina.

27 How long has Mount Etna been active?

Mount Etna has been active for 600.000 thousand years. Just 300.000 thousand years ago Mount Etna started to erupt above sea level. The activity moved towards the present center 170,000 years ago, forming a stratovolcano.

28 How many people live near Mount Etna?

Near and around Mount Etna live slightly more than a million people. Six hundred thousand of these dwellers are concentrated in the Catania metropolitan area. Catania is the second-largest Sicilian city after Palermo.

29 How many tourists visit Mount Etna each year?

Well, I have tried to find some figures on the website of the Sicilian tourist board but I could not find any statistic on the number of people visiting Mount Etna every year. However, I can say for sure that in 2019 before the Covid- 19 put the travel and tourism industry to an alt; Sicily the region where Mount Etna is located had 14 million visitors. Considering that Mount Etna is one of the top ten tourist attractions in Sicily I guess that in 2019 at least 600000 thousand people visited Mount Etna.

30 How much is the cable car up Mount Etna

The cost for the cable car up to Mount Etna for 2024 is €50 for adults and €30 for kid 5-10 years old. Keep in mind that the cable car does not go to the summit. In order to reach the summit, you need to buy an excursion to the summit that starts at €159.

31 How old is Mount Etna

Mount Etna is 600000 thousand years old.

32 How to get from Palermo to Mt Etna

From Palermo to Mount Etna is a long drive, roughly 240 kilometers and four hours. From Palermo, follow the highway A 19  Palermo- Catania, then follow the road sign to Paternò, from Paterno head towards Ragalna, and then drive along the road SP 92 to Rifugio Sapienza.

33 Can you visit Mount Etna?

Yes, you can visit Mount Etna independently, or through a series of Mount Etna tours departing from Taormina, Catania, or nearby places.

34 Can you walk up Mount Etna?

Yes, you can walk up to Mount Etna's summit area where there are the four active craters. The best place to hike to Mount Etna summit is from Rifugio Sapienza on the south side of Mount Etna. The walk lasts 6 hours is 14 kilometers long with a positive gain of 500 meters. If you wish to really walk to the active craters away from mass tourism, you can do it from Piano Provenzana Etna Nord's side. From here, the walk to the summit area takes 10 hours including the return to the starting point. Keep in mind that by law you need a qualified guide on Mount Etna when hiking above 2800 meters.

35 Can you see lava on Mount Etna?

mount etna Eruption 2017
Sicily Active Guide on Mount Etna, 2017 eruption 

This is another common question posed by lots of people; can I see Lava on Mount Etna? Yes, you can, if you are so lucky to visit Mount Etna during one of the frequent eruptions. When Mt. Etna finishes producing explosions and the lava starts to come out, people accompanied by a certified guide are allowed to get close to the lava. The picture I am posting was taken on Mount Etna during the eruption of 2017.

36 Can you climb Mount Etna?

Sure, you can climb Mount Etna! Every day there are hiking tours to the active craters of Mount Etna. The walking tour to reach the summit of Mount Etna lasts eight hours, six of which are spent walking.

37 Can you drive up to Mount Etna?

Yes, driving up to Mount Etna is possible, but not all the way to the summit. Either way, south or north, the road ends at an altitude of 1850 meters above sea level. Etna's north side has lush forest as impressive craters to visit. The south side has a cableway that goes to 2500 meters.

38 Can you see Etna from Taormina?

The answer to this question is… Yes, from Taormina, you can see one of Mount Etna's most stunning views. From Taormina “Piazza IX April” on Corso Umberto, Taormina main road the view of Mount Etna towering over Giardini Naxos Bay is magnificent. There is also a fantastic view of Mount Etna from Taormina's public garden. From the small town of Castelmola just four kilometers from Taormina, there are a few spots where to enjoy the sunset over Mount Etna.

39 Which country is Mount Etna In?

Mount Etna is in Italy.

40 Which island is Mount Etna On?

Mount Etna is on the island of Sicily, in the central part of the Mediterranean Sea. Sicily has nine volcanoes, three of which are still active. Sicily's active volcanoes are Mount Etna, the island of Volcano, and Stromboli. The latest two are located in the archipelago of the Aeolian island of Sicily's north coast.

41 Why is Mount Etna famous?

Well, Mount Etna is famous for a series of reasons, but let's see the first five. His undisputed stunning geographical location, towering over the blue Mediterranean sea, makes Mount Etna one of the most iconic volcanoes on the planet. It is famous because it is one of the most active volcanoes on the earth and can be visited with hiking tours. Mount Etna is a mountain bike heaven. Mount Etna is famous because it houses a great wine district. Mount Etna is also renowned because is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

42 Why do people live near Mount Etna?

People live on the flanks of Mount Etna because the land is fertile; there are forests that until 1955 were exploited for the timbers and for a resin produced by the pine trees used mainly in shipyards. Two of the main Sicilian rivers, the Simeto and the Alcantara flow at the feet of Mount Etna. So if people live close to mount Etna it has to do with natural resources. But do people really live so close to the active craters? No, not really and to prove that Sicilians do not live dangerously close to the volcano is supported by the fact that nobody has ever being killed by Mount Etna in any town on the flanks of the volcano.

43 Has Mt Etna erupted recently?

Yes, Mount Etna has erupted recently; the last eruption took place in October 2023!