Top 12 FREE Things to do in Catania, Sicily
What to do in Catania on a Budget
If you’re planning a trip to Sicily, make sure you add Catania to your itinerary! This coastal city is an ancient port city that sits at the base of the famous volcano, Mt. Etna. Here you will find seafood dishes like no where else, a beautiful variety of architecture, miles of beach, a bustling shopping district, and so much more.
The good thing is you can easily explore this Sicilian city on a budget! Catania makes for a great base location if you want to explore Mt. Etna by bike or by foot. But it’s also worth exploring as well. There is so much to see and do in Catania, Sicily.
Read also: Best Mountain Biking Tour on Mt. Etna
But with a list miles long with things to do in Catania, it would take you weeks to check them all off. So if you have a day or two in this coastal city, we’ve narrowed it down for you. And the best part? You won’t have to spend a penny! Keep reading for FREE things to do in Catania, Sicily!
Things to do in Catania for FREE!
This historical landmark is located at the end of Via Giuseppe Garibaldi. It was originally built to celebrate a royal wedding between King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and Maria Carolina of Austria. It's built of alternating white stone and local dark lava blocks.
While this is a museum you can pay to enter, it is worth a visit to admire from the outside. Originally built as a military fort, Castello Ursino was rebuilt after a lave flow damaged it in 1669. Now it houses historical, cultural, and archaeological artifacts.
This stunning baroque cathedral is known for its frescoes, domed ceiling, and intricate architectural details. It is beautiful from the outside, but well worth a FREE visit inside as well.
The square famous for its elephant statue, and also the location of the cathedral above, is a great place to walk around. Along with the beautiful cathedral, in Piazza del Duomo you will find the Fountain of the Elephant monument, Porta Uzeda, stores, and restaurants.
5. Villa Bellini/Chiosco Bellini
Looking for a great place to go for a stroll or have a picnic? Head over to Villa Bellini/Chiosco Bellini for a great variety of plants, a quiet place to walk, or to have a rest on one of the many shaded benches. It's also dog friendly!
6. Chiesa di San Nicolò l'Arena
Construction of this church was started in 1687, but was interrupted by the Sicily earthquake in 1693. They never finished the facade, leaving several parts looking incomplete. You can enter for free and admire the vast ceilings and frescoes, and for 3 euros (Nov. 2022) you can climb to the top of the roof for incredible views of the city.
This street is well worth a walk down. It's famous for having multiple churches with great exteriors, and other fantastic buildings. You'll also find the Piazza S. Francesco d'Assisi sculpture here.
8. Monastero dei Benedettini di San Nicolò l'Arena
Now a university, this monastery holds an interesting history. The architectural details are stunning, and the courtyards are gorgeous. You can purchase a guided tour (€9 Nov. 2022) if you want to dive into the history, but entrance is free if you just want to stroll around (which we did and loved).
Are you a history lover? Make sure you check out Piazza Stesicoro. Here you will find ruins of the Old Roman Amphitheater originally built around the 2nd century. It was buried over time, most likely from earthquakes and lava flow, but it was uncovered during an excavation.
Also located in Piazza del Duomo, mentioned above, another must visit is the Fontana dell’Amenano. This Baroque style fountain is situated right in front of Pescheria, an ancient fish market in Catania. The water from the fountain actually flows into an underground river below the streets!
If you want a fun photo opportunity, you should definitely check out Le strade degli ombrelli. Here you will find a rainbow exhibition of umbrellas hanging above the street. It's fun to admire and just a short walk from Piazza del Duomo.
Another fun place to check out is the Art & Fun District. You'll find various types of art, many plants, and an array of vibrant colors here. It's another cool photo opportunity, but also fun to stroll around.
While there is so much more to see in Catania, we truly believe these are must visit sites. And they’re all free which is a great bonus! This coastal city has so much to offer and is well worth a visit while you’re in Sicily. And if you do have a few euros to spare, make sure you try some authentic Sicilian granita! Pistachio and lemon are delicious flavors.
From personal experience, these locations are all within walking distance if you are of decent physical health. We love exploring new places on foot, so it was fun seeing so much of the city by walking from place to place. However, there is public transportation in Catania as well.
If you have the time, we highly recommend taking a trip to Mt. Etna as well! Catania is a great base for exploring this region of Sicily; the city itself is vibrant and full of life, and there’s so much nearby for nature lovers. Beaches, hiking, biking and more!
Read also: Packing for Italy
Have you been to Italy before? Or will this be your first trip? Let’s chat in the comments; we want to hear ALL about your Italy trip!