Syracuse is on the south-eastern coast of Sicily, about 66 km from Catania and 110 km from Taormina. It is one of the island’s most treasured tourist attractions. The city has a lot of ancient Greek history, many Roman remains, catacombs, churches, castles, and other sights. A visit to Syracuse promises a journey through time and a chance to see significant works of art. This historically and culturally rich city is a must-see for anyone who loves history, art, and sightseeing in Italy.
Why Visit Syracuse, Sicily?
Syracuse – or Siracusa in Italian – is a gorgeous city that stands as a reminder of bygone times. The island of Sicily was occupied by the Greeks before the arrival of the Romans, and in Syracuse you will find fragments of both ancient civilisations.
Many tourists flock here for its history, culture, baroque-style architecture, beautiful beaches, and the Ortigia shopping district. If you’re planning to visit Sicily, Syracuse should be on your itinerary.
What To Do On Your Visit To Syracuse
Here are some of the top things to do in Syracuse.
Neapolis Archaeological Park
The Neapolis Archaeological Park is part of the World Heritage site known as Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica, one of seven UNESCO Sites in Sicily. Neapolis was an ancient Greek city and today it is one of the most significant sites in Syracuse.
A visit to Neapolis provides the opportunity to explore and discover some fascinating archaeological sites. And if you’re travelling in summer, there are also festivals and events within the park to attend.
The park is divided into three sections. It is open every day from 9 am to 5.30 pm.
Latomia Del Paradiso
Also known as the Ear of Dionysius, this ancient quarry is found in the latomie section of the park. This is a series of quarries in a peaceful setting, overgrown with vegetation. They are all picturesque spots, but the Latomia del Paradiso is the most magnificent.
Known as the largest theatre of the ancient world, this stadium could once hold up to 15,000 spectators. It was built in 470 BCE and many spectacular plays were performed here for the ancient Greeks. (Every Greek town had a large stadium – if you’re interested in ancient Greek theatres have a look at this post about the Ancient Theatres of Epirus.)
Built between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE, this theatre was created by the Romans, mostly for gladiator fights. It was all but destroyed in the 16th century by the Spanish, but it’s still possible to see the impressive design and structure.
Ortigia is the ancient city centre of Syracuse and, more recently, part of the same UNESCO World Heritage site as Neapolis. This area is filled with history inside its maze of streets. You can go shopping, visit one of the historic ruins, or simply stroll through the Old Town streets.
Located in Ortigia, Piazza Duomo is an extremely beautiful square, especially at night. This is a great spot to stop for a meal, a drink, or just some people watching.
Cathedral Of Syracuse
The Cathedral of Syracuse is a beautiful Byzantine church in the heart of this thriving city.
Your Visit To Syracuse – Practical Information
For those who have never been to Syracuse – or even the island of Sicily – here is some practical travel information to make your trip a little smoother.
- Syracuse is not a large city, so two or three days is enough to see and enjoy the city perfectly.
- Getting to Syracuse from anywhere in Sicily can be done by train or bus. However you may find it easier to drive. You can rent a car from the airport, or drive from anywhere in Italy.
- The nearest airport is Catania.
Where To Stay – Syracuse Accommodation
- Caportigia Boutique Hotel provides buffet-style breakfast, rooftop relaxation space, and easy access to the best Syracuse points of interest.
- Sbarcadero Hotel is set in the historic centre of the city but boasts all the modern conveniences and comforts you need on your trip.
- Domus Mariae Albergo offers a rooftop terrace, walking distance to surrounding restaurants, and spectacular views.
Syracuse Places To Eat And Drink
- At Trattoria La Foglia, you’ll find a family feel with plenty of reminders of the city’s history.
- Taberna Sveva is cosy and removed from the busier tourist areas. But you’ll still find quality meals and a welcoming atmosphere.
- If you’re in need of a more elegant dinner out, try Regina Lucia. Take your pick from their menu of fresh seafood and other Italian favourites.
Visit The Ancient City Of Syracuse
Syracuse should not be overlooked when planning a trip to Sicily. Whether you’re on the hunt for ancient Greek ruins or simply need a beach spot to sunbathe and unwind, Syracuse offers it all.