The Essential Guide to Hiking Mount Etna, Sicily

2A68E6E Tourists hiking through the volcanic landscape of The Craters Silvestri  of Mount Etna (Volcano), Sicily, Italy. 8/3/2019.
2A68E6E Tourists hiking through the volcanic landscape of The Craters Silvestri of Mount Etna (Volcano), Sicily, Italy. 8/3/2019. | © Catrina Genovese / Alamy
Photo of Aubrey Martin
2 September 2021

Almost constantly erupting, Mount Etna is as thrilling a visit as it is picturesque. If you want to get up close to this stratovolcano, which constantly spews lava as it looms above nearby Catania, here’s your itinerary for hiking near the beastly mountain of Sicily, Italy.

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Step 1 – Preparation

Whether you’ve decided to join a tour group on a well-framed journey or elected to embark on an adventure all your own, you’ll need the essentials first. Even in the summer months, Mount Etna can remain snow. Be sure to bring a few warm layers, in case a sudden drop in temperature takes hold as you scale the slopes.

Etna Volcano Excursions | © Photo by Daniel on Unsplash

Although the temperature may vary, the sun is almost always shining bright, so remember to bring along plenty of water to keep you hydrated.

Be sure to have appropriate, reliable footwear for the mountain trails. Whether you’re treading through snow, carefully walking upon spongy lava pebbles, or balancing alongside barren craters, you must have dependable boots to carry you on your way.

HF42RF Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa, hike up Mt. Etna, an active volcano in Sicily for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor course graduation, July 21, 2016. The four-week long MAI course included intense hand-to-hand combat, physical training, and classes on additional techniques and warrior ethos. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alexander Mitchell/released) Marines climb volcano for MAI graduation 160721-M-ML847-143

Step 2 – Select Your Route

Before commencing your hike, make sure to research which trail or area of the mountain best suits your skills. Local maps will detail differing paths and trails, and may 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 Etna, reachable by public transport, you’ll find Refugio Sapienza. From there, ascend the volcano by cable car and find a myriad of hikes.

In the northern region of the mountain, passing through the small town of Linguaglossa, you’ll 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.

© Maurizio Callari / Alamy

Step 3 – Bring a Camera

No matter where you find your feet on the hiking trails, don’t forget to take a few moments to absorb the natural grandeur that you’ll be surrounded by. Document your voyage into the unspoiled mountains, capture the sprawling lava spills and eruptions, and seize the eerie majesty of the network of caves.

Mount Etna Hiking Tours

If you’re opting for a guided tour, there are numerous local and organised groups with different packages on offer. You can choose between morning and afternoon tours, half- or full-day expeditions, and even multiple-day ventures.

WFPKY0 Italy, Sicily, Etna Regional Nature Park, Mount Etna, listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, hikers on the edge of the Valle del Bove which corresponds at a collapse of one of the walls of Mount Etna creating a field of volcanic rocks of 7 km by 6 km | © Hemis / Alamy

A lot of these tours combine a native Sicilian lunch, visits to wineries or honey manufacturers, and treks through ashy wonderlands and caves. They’re rich with education on the volcano and the energetic past there.

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

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