Catania in 1 Day: all you need to know

Being one of the oldest cities in Italy, Catania has many interesting things to see. Here are some of the things you can enjoy in one day.

Andressa García

Andressa García

12 min read

Catania in 1 Day: all you need to know

Catania day | ©Samir Kharrat

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Catania has attractions that you will love to know, starting with the fact that it stands at the foot of the most active volcano in Europe, Mount Etna.

Whatever your plan to visit Catania, in this itinerary I will focus on showing you some of the ** best things to see and do in Catania in one day**, whether you go for work or pleasure, alone or with your whole family, including the kids.

1. Eat breakfast and start the day off right

Streets of Catania| ©Metro Centric
Streets of Catania| ©Metro Centric

Assuming you have arrived in Catania in the evening of the previous day, you are going to start your tour very early in the morning. Your day is going to be very busy, so the first thing I recommend is to start the day with an early and hearty breakfast, so that you have time to do this itinerary, which is surely one of the best tours of Catania you can do.

For breakfast you have two options, the first one is to have breakfast at your hotel or place of accommodation. And in case you don't want to do it that way, or your accommodation site doesn't offer breakfast, then you have the second option which is to eat out. In this case, I recommend going out to the first place on your itinerary and eating near it.

Since you are going to start the tour at Villa Bellini Park, some of the places where you can have breakfast near the park are:

  • Insigne Café, one of the most special places in Catania to try some Italian sweets.
  • Due Pistacchi, ideal to have a light breakfast and taste some local delicacies.
  • Fud Bottega Sicula, one of the cheapest places to eat in Catania.
  • 7+ Catania, an ideal place to eat hamburgers and other not necessarily Italian food.
  • Sazi e Sani Catania, a good place to enjoy a coffee and a granita, or any other Sicilian specialty.

Walk the streets of Catania on a guided tour

2. Walk the paths of Villa Bellini

Villa Bellini| ©Luca Galli
Villa Bellini| ©Luca Galli

Around 8:00 is already a good time to start your walk through the Villa Bellini park, the first place to visit in your itinerary and which is nothing less than the lungs of Catania, a quiet place where you can breathe fresh air and fill yourself with energy and desire to walk, to begin this tour of the city. If you want, you can enjoy a granita or any other Italian snack, at the Pasticceria Savia in front of the park.

The interesting thing about Villa Bellini is that it is the favorite place for locals to relax, walk or play sports, so as a tourist, it is a place you should not miss. With more than 70 thousand square meters of paths, fountains, beautiful gardens and even playgrounds, visiting this place becomes a must, especially if you go to Catania with children.

It is a public park that opens from 6:00 and until 21:00, so 8:00 is the ideal time to enjoy its atmosphere. I recommend you not to stay more than an hour touring its spaces, so around 9:00 you will continue to the next point of the itinerary.

3. Visit the interior of the Teatro Massimo Bellini

Massimo Bellini Theater| ©Marco Verch
Massimo Bellini Theater| ©Marco Verch

Shortly after 9:00 is an ideal time to go and tour the Teatro Massimo Bellini, a building with an elegant structure dating back to the end of the 19th century. You will love visiting it inside, because you will be able to see the striking foyer, the four-story theater, the golden boxes and the frescoes on the ceiling.

As a theater, this structure is considered one of the best in the world thanks to its acoustics. To visit it inside I recommend you sign up for a guided tour that lasts about 40 minutes. As the theater opens from 9:00, you can enter in the first group of visitors. You will love its structure both inside and out.

On the ceiling you will be able to appreciate some of the most important works of the master Bellini, such as Norma, Mirata, Puritani and Sonnambula. You will love the tour inside, but if you want to know it in its main activity, which is to entertain the public, you can go to a show in the evening, after finishing the whole tour of the city. Generally the performances are after 20:00.

4. Walk along the Via Etna and photograph Mount Etna

Mount Etna| ©Paul OLIVIER
Mount Etna| ©Paul OLIVIER

A few meters from the Bellini Theater, is the main artery of the city of Catania, and it is none other than Via Etna. At three kilometers long, this avenue is not only popular but also one of the best places in the city to appreciate the Etna volcano framed between the buildings.

If you go for a walk in Catania at Christmas, you will surely love to pass through this street because you will find endless stores. The place is also popular because you will find the University Square, an incredible place to take beautiful pictures. In addition, you can see on both sides the palaces of San Giuliano and the University, facing each other.

Via Etnea is located in the heart of the historic center of Catania and serves as a connection between Piazza Duomo and the ancient Tondo Gioeni. It is a must-see during your visit because in addition to being considered the nerve center of the city, it divides the old town in two.

5. Buy fish at the Pescheria

The Pescheria| ©jim
The Pescheria| ©jim

Well, maybe you don't actually buy fish, but what you can do is walk around the Pescheria, one of the most addictive places in Catania, and it's also very close to Via Etna, so in a couple of minutes you'll be there if you go by car.

Of course, if you want to buy fresh fish and experience the highlight of this popular market, it's best to visit early in the morning, but depending on your itinerary, you'd be at the Pescheria around 10:00 or a few minutes after that time, so you'll still have time to enjoy the buying and selling.

What is most appealing about this market is that it tends to be chaotic most of the time and even disorderly, which sets it apart from the rest of the European culture, and that is where the charm of this place lies, in how different it is. In this place I recommend you not to stay until after 11:00, so that you arrive on time for your next appointment.

6. Take a guided tour of the Catania Cathedral

Cathedral of Catania| ©Roberto Saltori
Cathedral of Catania| ©Roberto Saltori

Very close to the Pescheria, in the same historic center full of monuments in Catania, is the next place to visit on your tour, and it is none other than the Cathedral of Catania, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and obviously the most important religious building in the city.

Guided tours have their pre-established schedules, and in the case of this itinerary, you have the option of entering in two groups, one that enters around 10:45 and another that enters around 11:15. In this way, the time you want to spend visiting the Pescheria is up to you, whether it is half an hour or an hour.

Returning to the church, guided tours must be booked in advance and usually last about 2 hours and a half. During the tour you will get to know the interior of the structure, and you will learn about the history of this place, from its origins dating back to the 11th century, to the many reconstructions it has undergone as a result of earthquakes and eruptions.

7. Lunch before continuing the tour

Italian Pizza| ©Selena N. B. H
Italian Pizza| ©Selena N. B. H

Leaving your tour of the Cathedral of Catania, around 13:00, you will most likely want to have something to eat before continuing your tour of the city. To recharge your batteries I recommend you to visit some of the restaurants in the city, which are located very close to the center where you will be for this moment.

The good thing about having lunch in this place is that you have endless options to try the typical Italian cuisine, I would say that the city center is ideal for some of the best gastronomic tours of Catania. Even if you are tired of Italian food and want to try something different, you will also find options for those cases.

Uramakao, Osteria Antica Marina and Rasoterra Pizza Experience are some of the places near Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral where you can have lunch after leaving your tour of the Cathedral.

Join a gastronomic tour in Catania

8. Stroll through Piazza Duomo and admire the Elephant Fountain

Elephant Fountain| ©Leandro Neumann Ciuffo
Elephant Fountain| ©Leandro Neumann Ciuffo

As you won't stay long for lunch, by this time it is probably after 14:00. Very close to the restaurant where you have decided to eat, you will find other interesting places in the historic center of the city, which are none other than Piazza del Duomo and its elegant Fontana dell'Elefante. You will also be able to see the Fontana dell'Amenano nearby.

This is the very nerve center of the whole city, where most of the streets are located and where you can experience the most authentic Catania and its inhabitants. You will have time to take lots of pictures, especially at the Fontana dell'Elefante which is one of the most iconic places in the whole city.

The Fontana dell'Elefante is a fountain located in the center of Piazza Duomo and its main element is an elephant carrying a tall obelisk on its back. Moreover, the elephant is smiling. As you are going to this place in the afternoon, you are sure to find the square quite crowded.

I recommend staying about an hour at this place, so around 15:00, you should move on to the next point on your itinerary.

9. Visit the Roman Theater of Catania

Roman Theater of Catania| ©Mauro Astolfi
Roman Theater of Catania| ©Mauro Astolfi

A few streets away from Piazza Duomo, you will find one of the best places to see in Catania in 2 days or less, and it is none other than the Roman Theater You may take a few minutes to notice its entrance because at first impression it looks like an ordinary building. Right after the doors open you will find an architectural relic of the Roman culture.

Part of the history of this Theater is what will most catch your attention about the structure, and that is that it was built with volcanic material from Etna and was designed to have a capacity of 5,000 spectators. If you look to one side of the Theater, you can find the Odeon, another place similar to the Roman theater but much smaller and was built to hold about 1,500 people.

To enter the Roman Theater of Catania you will have to pay an entrance fee of about 6 euros. Theater hours are from 09:00 to 18:30, so, assuming you arrive at the theater after 15:00, you can stay there for thirty minutes to an hour.

10. Walk along Via Crociferi

Via Crociferi| ©Mauro Astolfi
Via Crociferi| ©Mauro Astolfi

Around 16:00 you can walk to Via Crociferi, another of the main streets to see and photograph in Catania. During your walk along this street you will be able to find up to five different churches, which is why it is known as the street of churches.

The Church of San Francesco, the Church of San Camillo, the Church of San Giuliano, the Church of San Benedetto, and the Collegio dei Giesuiti are the religious temples you will see on your way.

One of the icons you will see in this street is the Arco di San Benedetto, which, according to legend, the Benedictines built during one night, because they had been forbidden to start construction for fear of an earthquake.

Not only can you take pictures of the facades, but I also recommend you to sit and rest in one of the cafes that are located on this street. As tasting Sicilian sweets is a must if you visit Catania, I recommend you try cannolis, cassatas, pistachio granitas and brioches. You will stay in this street for no more than 30 to 40 minutes, to be on time for your next appointment, before the venue closes.

11. Admire the Roman Amphitheater of Catania

Roman Amphitheater of Catania| ©zug55
Roman Amphitheater of Catania| ©zug55

You can go by car to get there faster, but from Via Crociferi to the Amphitheater you can walk. In either case, it won't take you more than 10 minutes to get there.

The Roman Amphitheater of Catania is located in the center of Catania, and although today it looks like some ruins in the center of the city, in its time it was one of the largest amphitheaters of the Roman Empire. It had a seating capacity of about 15,000 people. Standing up, thousands of people could enter.

I assure you that you will find it interesting that of this megastructure only a fragment of the stands is preserved, while everything else remains under the modern buildings that were erected over the years and centuries. It is incredible to imagine what it might have looked like in those times.

Seeing and photographing the Roman Amphitheater should not take you more than an hour, bearing in mind that they close at 18:00, and the last entrance tickets are sold at about 17:30.

12. Sign up for an evening tour of the Monastero dei Benedettini

Monastero dei Benedettini| ©HEN-Magonza
Monastero dei Benedettini| ©HEN-Magonza

One of the places you have to visit during your tour of Catania is undoubtedly the Benedictine Monastery of St. Nicholas. This will be the last stop of your tour of the city, and the best thing is that you can book an evening visit, which will take you inside the monastery when it is just getting dark, an incredible and mysterious experience.

This Monastery is the second largest in Europe, and during this guided tour you will get to know each of the most interesting places inside. You could start this tour around 18:00, so you will arrive on time from the Amphitheater to the Monastery, and you will even have time to discover some of the streets in between, before entering your guided tour.

If you are one of those people who love mystery, this tour is for you, because you will walk through the corridors of the monastery in absolute silence. You will also get to know the cloisters, the Roman domus and walk through the long corridors where the view is lost. You can take a tour of the kitchen and the subway storerooms, which today have been converted into the Museo della Fabbrica.

Of course your guide will tell you everything you need to know about the history of Catania and this special place. The visits in this temple can last as long as you have planned, but you will know the exact duration right when you make your reservation.

13. Dinner at Vico San Barnaba

Catania by night| ©michael kogan
Catania by night| ©michael kogan

After leaving the Monesterio, you'll definitely want to grab a bite to eat for dinner. One of the best bets to eat in the evening, and then perhaps go to the Teatro Massimo Bellini again, but this time to enjoy a play, is the Vico San Barnaba.

This is a restaurant where you can find local Sicilian food. But besides that, you will be struck by the location of the restaurant, because its structure is in the middle of an old house, so its atmosphere is unique and almost magical. In addition to the food, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a good dessert after dinner.

If you decide to stay longer in Catania, I recommend taking an excursion from Catania, to visit other incredible places just outside the city, such as Mount Etna itself, which is an incredible experience.

Sign up for an excursion from Catania

In case you want to enjoy a little more the night in Catania, I recommend going to see an Opera show, preferably at the Teatro Massimo Bellini. That way, you will have the opportunity to get to know the Theater in every possible way, on a guided tour, and watching a show inside the venue.

After eating some dinner, it is time to go on to your hotel to rest, bearing in mind that the next morning you will have to transfer from Catania to the airport to leave back home.