Mount Etna – a must-do excursion when visiting Sicily, Italy
UNESCO World Heritage sites are great places to visit for immersive excursions. With 1092 cultural sites, wilderness areas or a combination of both, in 167 Party States (countries that participate), there are plenty to choose from, especially in Europe where there is an abundance. One such site worthy of visiting is Mount Etna on the island of Sicily in Italy.
At 3350 metres above sea level, although not the highest in Europe (that is Teide in Tenerife), Mount Etna is the largest active strato volcano in Europe and the highest in Italy. On clear days, it is visible from half of Sicily, so even on a visit to the island you’re bound to see its sometimes snow-capped peak at some point.
But to truly experience Etna’s vastness and uniqueness as well as its historical and on-going impact on the island, not forgetting spectacular panoramic views, an excursion up to the top (or almost the top) is a must, whether you’re vacationing on the island or visiting as part of a tour of Italy or as a shore excursion during on a Mediterranean cruise that includes a port stop at Catania, Messina or even the quaint town of Taormina, where the view of Etna is fantabulous (see top pic).
Although you can drive the base of the volcano and stop at Sicilian villages, souvenir shops and other sites, much of Mt Etna is protected and can only be visited by or with authorized personnel for educational and recreational purposes. Certain areas are also dangerous for obvious reasons so, while hiking to the top of the volcano is possible much of the year, if you have the time, energy and strong knees, it is certainly not advisable to hike alone beyond the cable car station, and only designated, well-defined trails should be used.
A guided hike up the trail that follows the cable car is the best way for energetic adventure-seekers who want to experience this active volcano, but you’ll need to allow a few hours to reach the top. If you love volcanoes and want to experience more of Europe’s most active volcano, a multi-day guided trek that takes you to various craters and other volcanic features is ideal.
If you’re a less active traveller, or limited on time, a cable car ride that takes you to an elevation of 2500 m, followed by an escorted tour in a 4×4 vehicle that takes you up to 2950 metres above sea level is the best way to experience Etna. Or if you’re somewhat energetic, you can take a guided hike from the top cable car station (I’d do this). The hike beyond there takes about 2 hours, so make sure you have time if you’re on a shore excursion.
Whichever you choose, plan your trip. Book your excursion in advance, and be prepared for at least some hiking. Wear appropriate footwear, and dress in layers as the temperature can drop by 10 degrees. You’ll also need water as well as sunscreen and a shirt or jacket to protect you from the sun; and don’t forget your sunglasses.
Is Mount Etna on Sicily in Italy on your bucket list?
If you’ve dreamed of visiting Sicily and exploring Mount Etna, stop dreaming…start planning. Kaz Custom Travel can help you plan, create and arrange everything needed for an experience of a lifetime at this UNESCO World Heritage Area and Italy’s biggest and most famous island.