A Guide to Mount Etna's best tours
When they think about an excursion on an active volcano, most travelers picture the red, hot flowing lava. Those who visit Sicily during one of the frequent Mt Etna eruptions can see lava streams and get so close to it that they can feel the heat. Still, the Volcano has much more to offer in terms of tours and excursions than you can imagine. Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe. This giant's flanks rise from the depths of the mediterranean sea to an altitude of 3320 meters. There are lush forests, lava deserts, 300 craters, hundreds of trekking trails, many caves, and the beautiful wine district on Mount Etna's slopes. In wintertime, it is possible to ski. The proximity to the Alcantara valley and the Alcantara Gorges and to Taormina offers the possibility to discover some of Italy's most beautiful mountain villages. If you are one of those travelers who love outdoor adventures, keep reading and find our top five tours to explore this Volcano.
1 Mount Etna Summit tour
This Mt. Etna Summit tour with departure from Taormina must take the number one spot because most travelers that visit mount Etna aim to climb the top of this active Volcano and experience the feeling of walking around the rim of the big active craters; moreover, the view from the 3340 meters summit is breathtaking. This excursion's departure occurs from the cable car on the south slopes at "Rifugio Sapienza," not far from Catania and close to the Silvestri Craters. After reaching 2220 meters with the funivia dell Etna, a massive 22 seat Unimong van in 20 minutes reaches the south-est craters' feet. The walking tour starts at 2900 meters, and it takes roughly three hours to get to the Summit. The trekking on the way back goes to the Barbagallo craters, formed during the eruption of 2002, to the viewpoint on the bove valley's edge, and back to the cable car.
Total time: 6h/Best price €129.
Careful: Some agency sells tours advertised with the words: top, summit or 3000 meters, but they do no go to the Summit.
Tips: Ask if trekking boots and walking poles are included in the price.
2 Etna mountain bike tours
Mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe. Still, to see some incredible landscape, you do not necessarily need to reach the Summit. The lush forest and the lava desert of the north flanks between 1500 meters and 2800 hide some of the best views you will ever see in Sicily. The Offer for Mountain Bike tours is considerable; in the last ten years, Mount Etna's cycling trails have become very popular. Sicily Active offers different Mtb excursions both with electric and muscle bike cycles. We recommend the Etna bike Tour on the north side between the great eruption of Piano Provenzana, the Pine and birch forest, and the passage by a beautiful cave. For a more detailed list of check out Mountain bike tours.
Total time: 6h/Best price €79
Careful: The transfer to Mount Etna must be included in the tour's price.
Tips: If you are not very fit, ask for an Electric MTB.
3 Horse riding
The nature that the Volcano enclose is spectacular, and among the available adventures on Mt. etna, we place the horse riding tour on the top things to do because exploring the forest and craters on the back of a horse delivers unbelievable feelings. The Mountain chalet "Clan Dei Ragazzi" is the best place on Mount Etna to ask for a horse riding tour. Giulio is a fantastic rider and loves horses so much that his entire life is devoted to taking care of these noble animals. The tour usually goes through the pine forest and on top of some craters overlooking The Mediterranean sea. Giulio will show you the best places around while telling you about Mount Etna's geology and history.
Total time: 4h/Best price €120.
Careful: The lunch must be included in the price
Tips: Ask if they have both English and American saddles.
4 Mount Etna and the Alcantara Gorges
This full-day trip mount Etna tour that departs from Taormina has been a best seller for many years now. We have included this "Grand Tour" in the top five Mount Etna tours because it consists of a hike through the forest, the climb to some of the most beautiful craters on the north flanks, the visit to a lava cave, and after lunch, the tour goes through the Alcantara Valley and inside the Alcantara Canyon. This excursion packs so much in a single day that no other tour can beat the ratio quality-price of this full-day Alcantara Etna Tour. Visiting Mt. Etna through this tour will make you discover the best views of the north side and some hidden naturalistic jewels like the white birch forest.
Total time 8h/Best price €69
Careful: Choose tours in small groups, make sure the gorge's ticket is included in the tour price.
Tips: Bring shorts and river shoes for the visit to the Alcantara Gorges.
5 Etna wine tour
This Mount Etna wine tasting tour that we place at number five deserves to be listed in the top things to do in Sicily. For those people not very fond of walking and more focused on food, the wine tour is the best way to see to visit Etna. The view of the smoking craters and the vineyards is phenomenal. The best tour operators offer a jeep tour that goes off-road through the forest and a short guided walking tour, plus a visit to a famous winery. We have a dedicated article about the best Etna wineries to visit.
Total time: 7h/best price €99
Careful: Make sure it is a Jeep tour
Tips: Check if the tour goes to the Alcantara valley and the beautiful town of Castiglion
6 Sking on Mount Etna
There are two ski lifts at the foot of Mount Etna's summit craters, both on the north and south sides. Between December and March, the slopes are busy with local people skiing, snowboarding, or just relaxing on the snow. Alpine skiing up to 2800 meters is also available, like Nordic skiing through a 6 km. long trail, the "Pista Poiana."
The price for a ski lift pass is €28.
Careful: The weekend is jam-packed.
Tips: Try to sleep at the beautiful mountain Chalet of Clan dei Ragazzi.
Things to do near Mount Etna
We thought that it would have been a good idea to include a couple of extra excursions to discover the beauty of two places not far from the Volcano and that are amongst the top five attractions of Sicily's island; The Alcantara Gorges and Isola Bella Taormina Marine park. These two wonderful locations offer various tours and things to do. Let see what we have selected for you. If you wish to find out more about this two fantastic places read our Alcantara Gorges Guide or Taormina's Guide.
1 Body Rafting Alcantara
Located in the Beautiful Alcantara Valley, we find the wild Gorges of Alcantara. The amazing rock formations of this Sicilian canyon along the river Alcantara is a geological marvel created by ancient eruptions and lava flows and is one of Italy's most beautiful landscapes. A body rafting and riverwalk tour is the ideal choice to reach the Canyon's deep part. The local tour operator provides you with all the technical gear (wet suit, helmet, footwear, and life jacket). To visit the Alcantara Gorges, you do not necessarily need to take part in any excursion. The first 100 meters of the Canyon are accessible even without any technical gear.
Total time 3 h/ Best price €39
Careful: Make sure you book through a legitimate tour operator.
Tips: In August and July, go for the first tour; the Gorges are less busy.
Marine reserve of Taormina Isola Bella
Taormina is called the pearl of the Mediterranean. The marine park of Isola Bella is a must-see place while visiting Sicily. From the coastal town of Giardini Naxos, several activities explore the marine beauty of the Taormina coastline. Still, we believe that a relaxing boat tour to the blue grotto of Taormina is the number one choice. The departure of the Taormina Boat trips heading to Isola Bella takes place from Giardini Naxos Harbour. The two-hour tour visits the four most beautiful bays and the "Grotta Azzurra" Blue cave, where there is time for a refreshing swim. Onboard is available fruits and drinks.
Total time 2h. Best price €20.
Careful: Do not buy directly from Isola Bella beach; the tour is shorter, and they do not serve fruit and Drinks.
Tips: Go for a Sunset boat tour.