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The Essential Guide to Hiking Mount Etna, Sicily
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The Essential Guide to Hiking Mount Etna, Sicily

Picture of Aubrey Martin
Updated: 14 December 2017
Mount Etna is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular sites to witness while traveling through Europe. Constantly putting on an exhilarating show of life with its many erruptions, it is known for attracting thrill-seekers of all kinds. Avid hikers and climbers, volcano enthusiasts, and history buffs from every ilk of life find this celebreated mountain to be a hub of life and activity. Check out our model for the best ways in which to take on hiking the legendary and invigorating summit.

Step 1 – Preparation

Whether you’ve decided to join a tour group on a well-framed journey through sections of this distinguished mountain and its surrounding nature, or you’ve decided to embark on an adventure all your own, you will need some essentials first. Even in the summer months, Mt. Etna can remain snowy in parts year round. Be sure to bring a few warm layers either stuffed in a backpack or tied around your waist in case a sudden drop in temperature takes hold as you scale the slopes.

Although the temperature may vary, the sun is almost always brightly present in the sky, so remember to bring along plenty of water to keep you hydrated.

Shoes may be one of the most key requirements for undertaking a climb on Etna. Be sure to have appropriate, reliable footwear that can provide you balance and tred on the fluctuating terrain of the mountain trails. Whether you’re tredding through snow, carefully walking upon spongy lava pebbles, or balancing alongside barren craters, you must have dependable boots to carry you on your way.

North side of Mt. Etna
North side of Mt. Etna | ©Aubrey Martin

Step 2 – Select Your Route

Before commencing with your hike, make sure to research which trail or area of the mountain best suits your skills. You can utilize a number of resources such as local maps that detail differing paths and trails and guide you to discovering caves, ravines and summits along the course of the hike.

There are two popular areas to know of when beginning on your expedition. On the southern side of Mt. Etna, reachable by public or hired transport, you can find Refugio Sapienza. From there, ascend the volcano by cable car and find a myriad of hikes with varying challenges that reach about 4,500 feet.

In the northern region of the mountain, passing through the small town of Linguaglossa, you will be able to access dozens of sleeping craters, incredible vistas of the frozen pour of lava from hundreds of years ago and the steaming mouth of Etna’s tireless peak. These treks can be challenging, with steep climbs and changing altitude, but are well worth the effort.

Rifugio Sapienza, Piazzale Rifugio Sapienza, Nicolosi CT, Italy + 39 095 915321

Lava Flow
Lava Flow | © Aubrey Martin

Step 3 – Bring a Camera

No matter where you find your feet on the hiking trails of Mt. Etna, don’t forget to take a few moments to absorb the natural grandeur that you will be surrounded by. Document your voyage into the unspoiled mountains, capture the sprawling chaotic history of lava spills and erruptions, seize the eerie majesty of the network of caves and consume the unfurling mountain side, sea towns, and meadows that envelope the area.

As long as it isn’t too strenuous to carry or bring along with you, a compact camera is perfect for a day hiking the trails of Mt. Etna.

20170512_093906 (2)
20170512_093906 (2)

Mt. Etna | ©Aubrey Martin

Mt. Etna Hiking Tours

If you are opting for a guided experience through this elating landscape, there are numerous local and organised groups that offer different packages catering to your adventure needs. You can choose between morning and afternoon tours, half- or full-day expeditions or even mutliple-day ventures.

A lot of these tours combine a native Sicilian lunch, visits to wineries or honey manufacturers and treks through ashy wonderlands and caves. They are noted for providing personal and knowledgeable hikes rich with education on the volcano and its notoriously energetic past.

No matter which method of visiting this incredible site you choose, hiking Mt. Etna is a challenging and engaging way to spend the day while in Sicily.

South Side of Mt. Etna
South Side of Mt. Etna | ©Aubrey Martin