How To Get Around Catania
Wondering about public transport in Catania? This lovely city has a limited subway system so it is not difficult to figure out the metro. But the buses can be a bit crazy at times when you do not know the city well or the different stops along the way. Fortunately, the friendly locals are great about helping you find your way when you are trying to get from place to place.
Keep reading to learn how to get around Catania. Before long, you will be a pro that has mastered the public transport system from buses to trains and more. You can easily make your way through the city to visit all the attractions and find where you need to go without too much stress.
Are you ready to see the city? From historical sites like the Catania Cathedral of Saint Agatha to breathtaking views of the Ionian sea, Catania has much to boast about. Learn how to navigate streets like Corso Italia for upscale shopping or Via Etnea for cozy cafés. But don't drag your bags along as you tour and dine. Store them in a Catania luggage locker for safekeeping, picking them up before heading back to your hotel. Enjoy the adventure!
How to get around Catania by train
With only six stations in Catania, it is the shortest metro system in not just Italy, but in the entire world. Trains run every 15 to 30 minutes each day from 7:00 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. You will purchase your tickets at the station or at tobacco shops or newsagents. Many times the kiosks in the metro stations do not work, so get your ticket before you reach the station.
Tickets for the metro are valid for 90 minutes so you will want to make sure you watch your time closely. You can buy a 90-minute single metro ticket or you can buy a combined metro and bus ticket that lasts for two hours. Metro runs throughout the day making it easy to get around the city.
The Stazione Centrale is the main train station in Catania and runs trains from Platform 11 to Catania Porto to the south and then to Catania Borgo to the north. The Stazione Circumetnea on Via Caronda is located to the northwest of Stazione Centrale. This is a one-line metro so even though you go to Platform 11, there really is no other platform to board the train.
Central Station or Stazione Centrale is within walking distance of the city center and when visiting Catania, riding the metro is an experience.
Stazione Central Railway Station Catania
This is the central railway station in the city of Catania and is one of the most important stations in the region with about 12 million passengers passing through the station each year. There are 80 trains, intercity, regional, and fast regional, that come through the station. These trains are operated by Trenitalia.
The trains run from Catania to Messina and on the regular train will take just under an hour and a half. The trains that run from Catania to Palermo will take just under three hours, so you can take a few fantastic day trips from Catania and see more of Sicily. You can even catch one of the buses heading to the Catania Airport or to several of the nearby villages and towns.
Simply put, it is the Circumetnea Train, and travels around Mount Etna. This rather narrow railway is not for the faint of heart and is only about 68 miles long. As you travel along you will see the lava trenches that have been cut into the volcano by the many eruptions. It is a marvel to see. You can also see the citrus groves in bloom when you visit during the summer months.
Visit the Catania Borgo station which is located along the central part of Via Etnea. You can easily walk to this station or you can take the city bus or metro. You can also access Circumetnea through the Giarre Station which is located in the middle of Giarre, a small town just outside Catania. From the Giarre Station, you can get to Ferrovie dello Stato and then head into Giardini Naxos or Taormina.
The Circumetnea Railway is the only narrow-gauge railroad that is still in operation in Sicily. These narrow-gauge railroads were very popular throughout Sicily when the railroads began being built in the 1880s. Since then, these railroads have been discontinued or destroyed by active volcanoes.
How to get around Catania by bus
The Azienda Municipale Trasporti or AMT operates a large network of buses that have several routes throughout Catania. When you purchase a bus ticket, it is good for 90 minutes so you do not want to get your ticket too early. You can buy day tickets that are good for multiple rides; those are more expensive but are a good value if you are planning multiple stops throughout the day.
Tickets can be picked up at tobacco shops or tabacchi, newsagents, or AMT kiosks located near bus stops throughout the city. A great tip for visitors is to hop on bus number 410 which takes a circular route past all the major attractions. You can easily see all the main attractions during one 90-minute bus ride such as a Unesco world heritage site, the Piazza Dante, and Piazza Papa Giovanni XXIII.
Many of the city buses also go into neighboring areas so you can easily explore more of the regions surrounding Catania. Interbus is another bus company that will whisk you through the city. There is an Interbus station located in front of Stazione Centrale. With several bus stations, you can easily get to and from the Catania Airport.
Sign up for a tour with either AMT or Interbus to see the major tourist attractions in Catania and some of the closer areas. When you are on one of the bus tours, make sure your ticket gets stamped so you do not have to buy additional tickets or have to pay a fine. Most tickets start around one euro and go up from there depending on the tour.
AMT offers service from 5:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. and you can hop on at the main bus station or wait for the bus at any of the stops located throughout Catania and near Mount Etna. Interbus offers service from 6:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m., they also have an on-call service where you can request transport.
How to get around Catania by car
There are several taxi services in Catania that are willing to take you where you need to go. Radio Taxi Catania is the largest company and has taxis operating 24 hours a day so you can always find a taxi no matter where you are in Catania or what time of day it is. There is a bigger concentration of taxis in the Piazza del Duomo and Stazione Centrale.
The best thing to remember in Catania is that taxi fares are negotiable, especially when you are taking a longer trip. You will want to negotiate the fare before getting into the taxi and you can even order a taxi over the phone and negotiate the fare at that time. Taxi drivers do expect you to haggle a bit over the fare and will know immediately that you are not a local if you do not haggle over the price.
Car rentals are also popular in Catania and really easier if you are comfortable using GPS and driving yourself around town. If you are planning to visit Mount Etna, driving there is an easier option, or hiring a tour guide to take you might be better so you can take in the landscape as you leave this wonderful city. It is truly breathtaking.
There are several great car rental companies in Catania to choose from including international companies such as Hertz, Europcar, Avis, and Budget. Italy by Car and Maggiore, two well-known Italian car rental companies are also available. You can download a map with public parking.
You will most likely have to deal with heavy traffic and traffic jams as you make your way through the streets. Sometimes, it can be a bit complicated to navigate the one-way streets of Catania but if you are up for the challenge, it is rewarding to be able to drive yourself around. Remember to lock your doors and keep any valuables out of sight; theft rates are high in Catania.
Mount Etna Cable Car
Construction for the cable car was started in the late 1950s with the starting platform being about 6,322 feet up Mount Etna near Rifugio Sapienza. The cableway was completed in 1966 with the first cable car going up to 9,612 feet with a stop at 8,200 feet at an intermediate station. The Mount Etna Cable Car continued to operate until 1971 when Mount Etna, an active volcano, erupted and destroyed a big section of the cableway.
Another eruption in 1983 destroyed the intermediate station. The cableway was repaired but it was then wiped out in 1985 during another eruption. It took five years for the cableway to be rebuilt and it was opened in 1990. The new intermediate station was built at 8,185 feet. But once again, the upper station was damaged by a volcanic eruption in 2001.
The cableway was completely restored and reopened in 2004. The departure station is now located at 6,200 feet and the highest station is at 8,200 feet. Plan on riding the cable car up Mount Etna which will take about 50 minutes and give you some of the best views of Mount Etna and the surrounding area.
Do you like to hike? Make Mount Etna a destination for a trek. It is not that expensive to ride the cable car and includes the ride in the cable car, a 4x4 vehicle ride, and a guided walk that lasts about an hour. You can opt out of the guided walk and just do a self-guided tour along the Intermediate Station. If you are hoping to tour the active craters you have to be part of the guided tour.
The cable car is open from December to March from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and then from April to November from 9:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. There are sunset excursions on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday; reservations are required and you will depart from the station at 5:30 p.m. It is best to visit during the summer months when the sunsets are more vivid.
Can I get around Catania by foot?
The historic center of Catania is very compact, making it very easy to make your way around on foot. You can meander the streets and check out most of the important monuments and even a Unesco World Heritage Site or two in the area.
Join a walking tour and spend time exploring the city with a small group or with a private tour guide. There are apps you can download and make the walk through the city on your own so you can go at your own pace. Grab your walking shoes and your camera, and spend the day exploring the city. You can even find a bike rental to get around the city.
See Catania, Sicily
We know these useful tips will give you more travel inspiration and allow you to make your way through Catania without getting lost. Navigate the passenger traffic, and enjoy the fun bars and pubs, shopping destinations, and fabulous restaurants. Take adventures to places like Siracusa and Augusta. Spend time getting to know the public transport system and you'll soon know the city like a native Sicilian!