Mount Etna: Europe’s Largest Active Volcano

by Charls Travels
December 9, 2021 | 4 min read

Mount Etna: Europe’s Largest Active Volcano

Hiking Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe – that sounds fun! The Etna has a mesmerising height of over 3000 meters and a base circumference of over 100km. However, it is easy and even more tempting for anyone to visit as it is just 35km from Catania’s City centre, on the island of Sicily. Let’s be honest, how often are we presented with the option to get that close to an active volcano?

Getting Around in Sicily

Car hire

The option we went with ourselves was car hire. This was one of the few times we didn’t opt for the cheapest option. Main reasons being that we could stay in a much better location, use time more wisely and explore much more of this beautiful island. We just loved road tripping Sicily!

Car hire from Catania airport will set you back something around €25 per day (including fully comprehensive insurance). The advantage of having your own car is that it will allow you to stay in a small town literally on the slope going to the volcano. This will allow you to get to the volcano early in the morning to do whichever activity you choose before the tourist crowds start to gather.

Public Transport

If driving is not something you look forward too, fear not! You’ll still able to hike the 3000-meter volcano. In the morning, the bus leaves at 8:15 a.m. from Stazione Catania Centrale. The bus will drop you at Rifugio Sapienza around 2 hours later and this will be the starting point of the hike.  

Back in Catania, the bus departs at 4:30 p.m. and it’s imperative not to miss this as it will be the only way off the mountain.

For more details, visit the AST official site.

Where to Stay near Mount Etna?

Our main reason for visiting Sicily was hiking Mount Etna. So, staying in Catania city centre would have made it very difficult to start the hike early in the morning. Really, who would want to miss the beautiful sunrise? Also, we wanted to spend our time there away from the busy city life and immerse with nature as much as possible. That’s why a town like Ragalna, on the slopes of Etna, made the perfect settlement.

At just a 30 minute drive uphill to Mount Etna, we strongly suggest the following picturesque holiday home. We can vouch for it as we have had such a wonderful experience ourselves. This peaceful house offers a large outdoor space, barbecue area and a drive-in parking. It is totally recommended for anyone looking to escape the city life for a while. This would be one of the cheapest opportunities one can have to enjoy a private villa, surrounded by a great view overlooking the city.

We found it even more perfect due to the fact that Ragalna is just a 40-minute drive to the city centre of Catania. So, settling there for a few days meant we could get the best of both worlds. We adored the place.  

Hiking Mount Etna

The starting point we suggest is the southern side of Mount Etna, co-ordinates 37.700897, 14.999012. Located here is the lower cable car station, Funivia dell’ Etna. There are actually three ways how one can reach the summit from here, all of them coming at a different cost.

To further understand, the starting point sits at around 2000m above sea level while the summit is another 1000m in elevation.

The most expensive way to get to the summit is with a combination of a cable car and a jeep. The cable car will get you to a height of 2500m. From here, a jeep ride to the very top is an option for a total cost of €60 return ticket.

The second way would be to only take the cable car and hike from the 2500m point to the top.

Then for the absolutely free and the adventurous’ backpacker’s option, is to ask your legs to do the work for you and hike from the starting point all the way to the top. Going for this, you will have to prepare yourselves for a 4-hour hike to the top. Honestly, we couldn’t get bored of admiring the views around us.

Although the weather might be warm, we always recommend to gear up with gloves and warm clothing as it can get really cold and windy the closer you get to the top. Moreover, as soon as you’ll get to the cable car station (at 2500m) there is a resting stop with a bar to take in some more of the breath-taking views.

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Any thoughts, tips or questions?

Hi! We are Charlon and Charlotte, both from a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea called Malta, more specifically Gozo. After we finsihed out studies last year, we packed all of our stuff in a 60L backpack and started to travel the world full-time. We created Charls’ Travels to take you on this journey with us. we’ll share our experiences, highs and lows so when it’s your turn to visit, you’ll have a platform to refer to.

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