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Etna tour tips

Etna Excursions Tips, how to visit it on your own or with a Guide


Useful Information on How to Visit Mount Etna

Mount Etna is a must-visit destination for tourists from around the world who come to Sicily. In addition to being Europe's highest active volcano, the numerous trails that allow you to explore it make Mount Etna a treasure trove of unique landscapes, nature, and colors.

In this guide, we will try to explain how to visit Mount Etna, the best months for trekking, what to wear, which side to choose, and other very useful tips to make your visit a pleasant experience.


How to visit Mount Etna


Let's begin by saying that, to visit Mount Etna, although recommended, it is not mandatory to rely on a guide. Anyone who wants to go on an excursion to Mount Etna independently is free to do so; the important thing to know is that without an authorized guide, you cannot go beyond 2,800 meters in altitude.

It's important to note that, in addition to the four summit craters, below 2,800 meters, Mount Etna has many other lateral craters and approximately 200 lava tube caves. So, to have fun and explore the volcano and its beauties, it is not necessary to reach the summit (an experience not suitable for everyone).


Recommended clothing


The recommended clothing naturally varies depending on the season in which you intend to visit Mount Etna and the altitude you will reach. If you visit Mount Etna between November and April, warm clothing is necessary, such as winter pants, hiking boots, a fleece sweater, a windproof jacket, a cap, and gloves.

Between May and October, we suggest lighter clothing. You can wear a lighter T-shirt under the fleece in case it gets warm, and a cap for sun protection will be sufficient.

In the months of July and August, you can simply wear lightweight pants (or knee-length shorts), a short-sleeved T-shirt, and carry a fleece in your backpack.

Please note: in August, below 2,500 meters in altitude, temperatures are generally very warm.

  TIP: Always check the weather conditions on Mount Etna one day before your excursion. If you're going to the north side, search for "Piano Provenzana weather" on the south side look for 'Rifugio Sapienza weather," and "Etna weather" to find out the climatic conditions at the summit craters.

During colder months, pack a fleece sweater and a spare pair of socks in your backpack.


Mount Etna: South or North?


The first thing you need to decide is whether to visit the north or south side of the volcano. If you are in Catania and its surroundings, you might consider going up the south side, whereas if you are in the province of Messina (for example, between Taormina and its surroundings), you will definitely want to visit the north part of the volcano.

It's not possible to determine which side offers the best excursions on Mount Etna. Each side has its unique features capable of providing you with unique and exciting experiences. Let's look at the characteristics of the north and south sides of the volcano.


Northern side of Etna


The north side of Mount Etna is undoubtedly the lushest. It hosts an immense pine forest with a network of hiking trails and cycling paths winding through it. To reach this side, you must ascend the famous Mareneve road, characterized by dense and fragrant broom flower vegetation and coniferous forests, until you reach the lava flow that in 2002 engulfed Piano Provenzana, causing its destruction.

This side of the volcano is less crowded than the south side, which makes it ideal for those seeking a unique experience away from the crowds.

This side is perfect for those looking to optimize their time by visiting Mount Etna and the Alcantara Gorges in a single day. The tour is one of the most popular precisely because it allows you to visit the highlights of the north side and then experience the grandeur of the Alcantara Gorges in approximately eight hours.

  UPDATE: for some years it has been possible to reach the summit of Etna also from Etna Nord, in fact there is an excursion service departing from Piano Provenzana at approximately 1800 m.

The trek has a total duration of approximately 2 hours. Difficulty: medium-high (due to the difference in altitude and climatic conditions).

WHAT TO VISIT: Summit Craters (Central Crater – Bocca Nuova) at an altitude of approximately, 3300 m.

RESTRICTIONS: the excursion is prohibited for children under 10 years of age (heart patients, asthmatics, and hypertensives).



Questions and answers



Mount Etna South Side


The south side of the volcano is the most popular because the cable car allows you to reach the summit craters. So, if you are determined to reach the peaks of the volcano, you have no other choice but to go up the south side.

The tourist station Rifugio Sapienza (a former alpine refuge now used as a small hotel) is located on the south side, in the municipality of Nicolosi (CT) at an altitude of 1910 meters. Here, you can find many shops and dining options.

The landscape in this part of Mount Etna is characterized by forests alternating with volcanic rock and old lava flows from past eruptions.


Silvestri Craters 🌋

Once you reach the southern side of Etna, right at the entrance (about a hundred meters before arriving in the parking area 🚗), you can visit the Silvestri Craters in complete autonomy, two volcanic cones formed in 1892 following an eruption which lasted almost six months.

From here you can admire the lunar panorama of the craters, the charm of the landscapes, the mountain paths and the Etna south ski resort. You can also climb to the top of the craters, both the lower and upper ones, and enjoy the spectacular view up to the coast of Catania.

🕐 Duration of the tour (if you visit both the lower and upper cones) approximately 1h 30 minutes.

  INFO: The ascent on foot to the summit craters is not for everyone. With the cable car you will reach an altitude of 2500 metres, from here by jeep you will reach an altitude of approximately 2940 and then continue on foot to the summit craters.

The trek has a total duration of approximately 5 hours. Difficulty: medium-high (due to the difference in altitude and climatic conditions).


Questions and answers



Do-It-Yourself Etna Excursions


Before choosing to venture on a do-it-yourself excursion without the guidance of a tour, you should consider several factors. As mentioned earlier, first assess your physical fitness, endurance, and your willingness to trek in terrain that may not always be straightforward.

Additionally, research the trail you decide to undertake. Consider its length, elevation, the way it's conducted, the recommended equipment to carry, and the season in which it is advised to hike it. In any case, we suggest you never venture alone on very isolated trails where there is no cellphone signal.

Don't forget to bring with you a map of the area, sufficient water for the trek you intend to undertake, some energy bars, hiking boots, and clothing suitable for the season and altitude you aim to reach. On Mount Etna, sudden weather changes are not uncommon.

  TIP: Equip yourself with a hiking map of the trail you plan to take. Many hiking paths on the volcano lack detailed signage.

If, in addition to visiting the craters, you also plan to explore some volcanic caves along the way, we recommend you thoroughly evaluate the feasibility and bring a helmet and a torch.


Etna Tour with a Guide


Relying on a certified guide has significant advantages. Etna guides are, in most cases, individuals who were born and raised in the area, and in addition to studying and knowing it in great detail, they are truly passionate about it.

Beyond the complexity of some routes that are impossible to do alone, a guide will not only lead you to discover the most picturesque paths of Mount Etna but also provide you with a unique experience through stories and anecdotes about the volcano. 



  • 1. Utilizing a professional who knows the area well.

  • 2. Discovering the most scenic places on the volcano.

  • 3. Simply enjoying the adventure without the worry of getting lost.

  • 4. Most guided tours offer a transfer service to and from your hotel.

  • 5. Typically, the guide provides all the necessary equipment.

  • 6. Enhancing the experience with valuable information that will make you appreciate your excursion even more.


Do you want to rely on an expert Etna guide?

Contact us now, we are sure that we will make you live a spectacular experience!

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