Cruise Port Atlas | Syracuse (Sicily), Italy Day Trips | Attractions

Syracuse (Sicily), Italy Day Trips | Attractions

With limited time in port, planning is the best way to make the most of your time. Should you strike out on your own? Should you hire a local guide? Or should you book a shore excursion offered by the cruise line or an international tour company? Below we have listed the attractions and activities that many other cruisers have enjoyed. This information should help you plan.

The advantage to cruise line tours is that they are timed for your visit and give you flexibility to change your mind after your trip begins. The advantage of using a large international firm is that tours are often less expensive than cruise sponsored tours. The advantage to using a local tour company or guide is that prices can be significantly lower or you may be able to get a customized trip just to see the attractions that interest you most.

Cruise lines that visit Syracuse: Star Clippers, Voyages to Antiquity, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club

Key Attractions: Syracuse Old Town - Ortygia, Syracuse Cathedral, Maniace Castle, Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica, Greek Theater, Roman Amphitheater, Stone Quarries, Noto, Ragusa Ibla, Modica, Cava Grande del Cassibile Natural Reserve, Fiume Ciane Natural Reserve, Catania, Arenella Beach, Fontane Blanche Beach

Syracuse Attractions

Port to Syracuse Cathedral - 1.3 KM, 5 minutes, 12 minute walk
Port to Maniace Castles - 2 KM, 8 minutes, 18 minute walk
Link to Full-Page Google Map

The island of Ortygia, the Old Town of Syracuse, is the center of tourism with its many baroque churches and palazzos, including the stunning Syracuse Cathedral. Incorporated into the present day cathedral are parts of 20 Doric columns. Part of the roof and some of the mosaics are from the Norman period. The Byzantine Basilica of Santa Lucia, according to tradition, is located on the spot of the martyrdom of St. Lucy and inside the church is Caravaggio's Burial of St. Lucy. At the southern tip of the island Ortygia is a cliff on which the Greek General George Maniakes built a fortress in 1038 after recapturing the town from the Arabs. It has served as the home for many Sicilian rulers.



Photo of Maniace Castle by frabuleuse

Archaeological Park and Necropolis

Port to Archaeological Park - 2.5 KM, 7 minutes
Port to Necropolis - 34 KM, 45 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Historic Syracuse and the Stony Necropolis at Pantalica together form the UNESCO World Heritage site. Within the city limits of Syracuse is the Archaeological Park, which has several significant ruins including a Greek theater which was one of the largest ever built by the Greeks and is still used today for performances. Nearby is a Roman amphitheater. The Necropolis is outside the city and is the site of over 5000 tombs cut into rocky outcroppings beginning the 13th century BC. The area was repeatedly inhabited when outsiders (including the first Italians to invade) conquered coastal areas and the older inhabitants moved inland to defensible positions. The ruins of Palazzo dell’ Anaktoron, which may be part of Mycenaean settlement are also in the area.



Photo of Greek Theater by Victoria from London, UK


Port to Noto - 40 KM, 45 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

The city of Noto was important during the Greek era of Sicily and maintained its importance through the 1693 earthquake when the entire city was destroyed. The inhabitants rebuilt it at a different location creating a completely Baroque style that is now a UNESCO World heritage site with an incredible number of beautiful churches and palazzos built of the local honey-colored tufa stone. Because of this consistency, the city is sometimes called the Stone Garden.



Photo of Noto Cathedral by Pequod76


Port to Ragusa - 84 KM, 1 hour 35 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Ragusa was a village long before the arrival of the Greeks, set on the top of a hill between two deep valleys. The town is divided into an upper and lower town, separated by a ravine that is crossed by four bridges. The town has two Baroque cathedrals, San Giovanni Batista in the upper town and San Giorgio in the lower town. Though much of the town was destroyed by the 1693 earthquake, there are a few examples of earlier architecture such as the Norman style Church of San Antonino and the Catalan-Gothic San Giorgio Vecchio which are both in the lower town. There are also several important Baroque palazzos. In the upper town you can find artifacts from earlier eras in the Hyblean Architectural Museum.



Photo of Ragusa by Urban


Port to Modica - 74 KM, 1 hour 30 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Modica was less impacted by the 1693 earthquake than others in the UNESCO World Heritage Val di Noto, resulting in a more diverse architectural heritage including more buildings from earlier eras such as the Castle of the Counts of Modica. The stunning San Giorgio Cathedral with its central tower is built on elements from the Middle Ages.



Photo of Modica's San Giorgio Church by Urban

Natural Attractions near Syracuse

Port to Cava Grande del Cassibile - 36 KM, 45 minutes
Port to Fiume Ciane - 6 KM, 15 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

The natural park of Cava Grande del Cassibile is not far from Syracuse and offers a scenic hike into the canyon and the opportunity for a swim in pristine waters. The hike is challenging, especially on the way out and should only be done during daylight hours. It can be done in 3 hours. Fiume Ciane is at the west shore of Syracuse Bay and is a wetlands park that offers boat tours down the Ciane River where you can watch the indigenous water birds and see the only papyrus growing in Europe.



Photo of Cave Grande del Cassibile by Carlo Columba

Syracuse Area Beaches

Port to Arenella Beach - 12 KM, 20 minutes
Port to Fontane Blanche Beach - 18 KM, 30 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

South of the city are two resort areas that offer well organized beaches with sand and water sports. Closest to the city is Arenella, with its sandy and flat walk-able rocky areas. Fontane Blanche is just a few kilometers south of Arenella and has sandy areas and a seaside cliff walk. Both offer bus service to Syracuse every 90 minutes.




Port to Catania - 64 KM, 50 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Destroyed by an earthquake at the end of the 17th and reconstructed in the baroque style in the 18th, the primary architect of this renaissance was Giovanni Battista Vaccarini, who designed many of the iconic structures of the era. Besides the cathedral, Catania is filled with churches built during this era, including the Church of Santa Maria dell'aiuto (right). Catania's Baroque center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. While much of Catania's pre-18th Century buildings were destroyed, there are still some significant Roman ruins near the city center and the Ursino Castle that are worth visiting. The castle was built on the sea by Richard the Lionhearted to protect the city from marauding Muslims (during the era of the crusades). It now houses an historical museum with art and artifacts of local significance from the Greek era onward. While most Roman era ruins were built over, there are several that cruisers may still visit. Two significant Roman amphitheaters are the most visited. The smaller held about 6,000 and is generally available for tours. The larger held up to 13,000, but is currently closed.



Photo of Catania Cathedral by Urban

Interests Key:

Art Architecture Beach Children Wild Animals Local Cuisine Flora Gardens-Parks Geology

Diving UNESCO Views Wine Dance Music Shopping History Hiking

Walking & Wheelchair Accessibility:

No Walking Easy Walking Normal Walking Difficult Walking Accessible Limited Not Accessible