When Is the Best Time
Mount Etna in Sicily! Every question is answered right here in this detailed guide! Starting with the best time to visit: Mt. Etna can be visited and hiked year-round. However, the best months to visit with pleasant temperatures and without the extreme July/August tourist crowds are May and late September – October.
But still, expect busy areas at Etna South even during these shoulder months. Even more important is to choose the right time of day for your hike or visit.
Because we have visited Mount Etna over ten times, we are able to provide you with the most detailed and helpful tips for your next trip to this stunning volcano.
Visiting Etna during Eruptions? Tours are almost always possible during ‘normal’ eruptions. The tours by experienced operators are usually not affected by eruptions. On the contrary! They become even more spectacular!
Check our Hand-Picked Tours from the best and most reliable tour operators. Read more details below! Visiting Etna without a Guide? You can visit Etna without a guide only up to 2900 m. To see the highest craters at 3300 meters a tour guide is required (Mount Etna Summit and Crater Trek).
For safety reasons and a much better experience, we highly recommend booking a tour! And don’t forget to check out our Etna FAQ and 5 must-know tips at the end.
The 3 Best Etna Tours | Every Season
If you just would like to know really quick which tour you should join, we got you covered. While we still highly recommend reading our Hand-Picked Tours section below, the three tours above are still the greatest overall. Explanations for the three tours above:
- Catania: Mount Etna Day Trip with Tasting and Cave Trip: Stunning craters (2000m) and lava cave tour and tasting! Pick up from Catania
- Mount Etna Summit and Crater Trek: The only way to get to the highest summit craters at 3300m. Meeting point at Rifugio Sapienza (read below about the location)
- From Catania – Mount Etna Sunset Tour: Stunning craters and lava cave tour (below or at 2000m). Pick up from Catania
You can check the availability for the Summit and Crater Trek below (recommended):
Read on for our detailed season guide and when to go tips or jump directly to:
Etna Season Guide
The official winter season is from December to March and the summer season from April to October/November. Keep in mind that even in the summer you’ll need a jacket above 2000m. Helpful monthly overview: Mount Etna Weather
April – May | Spring
The season starts, yet April temperatures are not pleasant enough for most visitors and there is a chance of new snow. During both months the chance of a cloudy day is still high compared to the summer months.
Temperature-wise May is better than April as temperatures are rising. Although May is considered a shoulder month, it’s already busy. Not the crazy crowds like in July/August, but the queues at Etna South are already long.
June – July – August | Summer
Summer offers the most pleasant temperatures, stable mountain weather, and the least chance of cloudy days. Another climate advantage: Between June and late September, Mount Etna is snow-free.
This is also the peak season. Especially in July and August, it’s ridiculously crowded, and accommodation prices are at their highest (read below on how to avoid the crowds). However, if you follow our tips on how to avoid crowds, you will still have a great time. We loved spending the summers near Etna.
Tours from Taormina (best hotel deals via booking.com): Both tours are perfect if you stay in Taormina in the spring, summer, or fall: You will get picked up at or near your hotel. Very comfortable. One tour includes a summit trek, the other one wine and food tasting. Both with excellent guides!
September – October | Autumn
Temperatures drop, but those 2 shoulder months still offer pleasant temperatures, especially in September. In October, it’s windier, the chance of clouds is a little higher, and there is even a chance of snow. Dress accordingly. Both months are considered shoulder season.
Keep in mind that it’s still busy at Etna South. However, our September trips were always very enjoyable due to pleasant temps and reduced crowds compared to the peak summer season.
November – December – January – February – March | Winter
It’s winter season and quieter. Visits to Etna and even hiking tours are still possible. Skiing as well, of course. You need to dress for cold temperatures and even colder wind. Bring an extra pair of socks and a winter jacket. Be prepared for snow.
The Funivia (cable car, see below), as well as the jeeps (or snow-cats), run every day in winter, even during Christmas. However, depending on the weather conditions there might be days when they are not operating. In the winter, a pre-booked tour (see below) is highly recommended instead of going up on your own. They also provide you with snowshoes and sticks.
Time of Day
Ascending to the top of Etna by askii, CC BY-SA
To avoid the heavy crowds it’s recommended to start early in the morning. Read below (Avoiding Tourist Crowds) for more details regarding an early morning visit. Another advantage: Clouds tend to form later in the day. This means you’ll experience much better views by going early.
Heavy clouds and mist can spoil the whole experience at the top. In case you are going in the peak summer months with the least chance of clouds (see above) and the weather forecast predicts a clear next day: Then you might try a sunset tour as well.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
Silvestri Craters near Rifugio Sapienza at 1900 m
Usually, the whole summer season between late April and October is busy at Etna South. If possible, try to avoid July and August on the south side, as it’s ridiculously crowded during both peak months. The heaviest crowds are at Rifugio Sapienza (read more below).
However, as soon as you get to the top and start hiking further with a guide, you’ll get away from the masses of tourists anyway. Read on for more tips on how to avoid the crowds, even in the peak summer months:
To use the cable car + jeep and avoid the crowds at Etna South between April and October: Regardless of the month, take the very first bus to Rifugio Sapienza (see below). If you go by (rental) car: Be at Rifugio around 8:30 in the morning. The cable car (Funivia) starts officially at 9 AM.
However, the first lift often begins 15 minutes earlier. Be there at this time and you’ll avoid the heavy crowds which usually start to arrive around or after 10 AM. Another advantage of going early: It’s less cloudy in the mornings compared to afternoons/evenings. Additionally, avoid weekends, it’s less busy during the week.
Hiking Mount Etna
You can hike Mount Etna without a guide up to 2900 m. Be at Rifugio Sapienza as early as possible to avoid the crowds. The hike takes at least 2.5 hours. You won’t see many others and might even walk in solitude. It’s also possible to take the cable car first and hike the rest.
This is the only tour which takes you to the highest point at 3300m! Please click the tour image for more details.
If you want to approach the highest craters at 3300 m, you need to use the long trek (see below) or pre-book with a tour operator (see banner above): They use the cable car and jeep in the morning for longer treks. Extra tip to avoid the crowds: Book the Rifugio Sapienza hotel (see below, at the very end) and explore the area there when it’s quiet: early in the morning or late in the evening.
Visit Etna North
Alternatively, visit Etna North. The landscape is less volcanic-like but still fascinating and much less touristy. You can either hike self-guided or book a guided Etna North tour: Operators offer guided hiking tours to the top as well as jeep tours.
2-4 Days Itinerary (Mount Etna & Syracuse)
What would be an awesome Mount Etna itinerary? What are the most stunning things to do? First of all, we strongly suggest staying 3 days or at least 2 days. Visit Mount Etna twice! Yes, you are reading it right. The first day should be on a private pre-booked tour with excellent guides on the north side of Etna (north/east flank).
The next day you go on your own or on a public tour and visit Etna South via cable car and 4×4 jeep. Read our detailed guide & tips below to understand this part.
On day 3 you book a private tour to experience Syracuse and other fascinating historical parts.
Only got 1 or 2 days? It’s difficult but we usually recommend skipping day either skipping day 2 or day 3. That means you book a private Etna tour on the north (east) side, as it’s unforgettable with great guides and less touristy than Etna South. Also, you go on the private Syracuse tour or choose the public visit to the south side.
Where should you stay? If you don’t have a car, then it’s easier to stay in Catania. If you have a care or if you skip day 2 (Etna South on your own) then it doesn’t matter. On all the tours below you get picked up from Catania or Taormina.
- FIRST DAY: Private Tour Etna North/East — You experience an unforgettable Mount Etna tour, and learn amazing details about the volcano. The tour we selected for you is on the north side (or north/east flank) and offered by Sicilia Adventures with exceptional tour guides. Please check more details below in the section ‘Handpicked Tours‘, including safe and reliable booking links.
- SECOND DAY: Public Visit or Hike Etna South — After the private tour it’s time to go on your own and visit Etna Sud (South). You can either use the public transports (cable car and 4×4 jeep) or even hike from Rifugio Sapienza to the summit. It’s also possible to select a public tour directly at Rifugio Sapienza. Without it, you’d only be allowed up to 2900 meters at Etna South. Sounds confusing? Read our full guide below to understand the different options at Etna South.
- THIRD DAY (OPTIONAL): Private Syracuse and Noto Tour — Be prepared for a fascinating travel back in time. You explore the intriguing history of Syracuse, view temple remains and discover the site of ancient Epipoli, and more! You’re also experiencing the ‘Garden of Stone’ in Noto. Due to its architectural beauty experts say it’s the most beautiful city of the Sicilian Baroque. Like with the other tours everything is taken care of: Pick up at your hotel in Catania or Taormina and drop off at the end of the day.
Epic Tour (Mount Etna Helicopter Flight)
Private Helicopter Flight Over Mt Etna — This is epic! If you can afford it, do it! You enter a helicopter, ride high over Mount Etna’s highest craters at 4000 m. You get a unique and absolutely stunning look at the summit craters and the lava flows that flank the volcanoes’ sides. A once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll never forget! We promise!
Hand-Picked Etna Tours
Etna by Véronique Mergaux, CC BY-SA, cropped, removed parts
Which tour should you choose? You can always go on your own and use the public tours at Etna South if you like: It’s allowed up to 2900 m with cable car and jeep or by hiking. Scroll down to our main section for more details on those self-guided visits using the public tours.
However, booking a private tour is always recommended as it’s hassle-free: You get picked up in Taormina, Catania, or another town in the region. Everything is taken care of! Something else makes these tours even more special: You experience the Etna region with very knowledgeable guides which is an unforgettable experience! These are our hand-picked private tours we recommend year-round:
‘Our tour guide was absolutely fantastic!’
‘An unforgettable and mesmerizing Etna experience!’
Mount Etna Summit & Crater Trek
- Side: South
- Pick-Up Service: No
- Meeting: At Rifugio Sapienza (read our guide below on how to get there easily from Taormina or Catania. Alternative: A taxi for up to 4 persons costs roughly 100 EUR, one way. When you drive with 2 persons or more it’s ok. Too expensive when you’re alone)
- Use of Cable Car and Public 4×4: Yes
- Highest Craters (3300 m): Yes
- Hiking: Yes
- Difficulty: Not that difficult but must have average fitness and no health issues
Why choose this tour? First of all, you’ll get to the highest craters – 3300m – with this tour with amazing guides! Please note: During eruptions, it’s even more important to get up there with reliable guides! You’ll be safe! The guides from this tour operator are exceptional. If it’s necessary to take another route due to possible lava flow during an eruption, the price will be reduced. However, the tour will be equally stunning and often even more spectacular. The meeting point is at the restaurant at Rifugio Sapienza.
Mount Etna Sunset Jeep Tour – From Catania
- Side: North/Northeast
- Pick-Up Service: Yes, from Catania
- Meeting: Pick up from your hotel and drop off at your hotel
- Cable Car and Public 4×4: No
- Highest Craters (3300 m): No, you’ll be at 2000 m but will also visit a stunning lava cave
- Hiking: Short walks only, you’ll drive up with a private jeep
- Difficulty: Easy | Why choose this tour? Get away from the crowds and get up to 2000 m in a private jeep with amazing guides. Includes a stunning lava cave, and more
Mount Etna Morning Trek – From Taormina
- Side: North/Northeast
- Pick-Up Service: Yes, from Taormina
- Meeting: Pick up from your hotel and drop off at your hotel
- Cable Car and Public 4×4: No
- Highest Craters (3300 m): No, you hike at 2000 m but will get to see amazing ancient lava caves. It’s worth it
- Hiking: Yes, about 2 hours or less at 2000 m | Difficulty: Easy – medium | Why choose this tour? Visit Etna with the most fantastic guides we know. These are expert naturalists, geologists, and volcanologists. A stunning tour with these guys!
Where to Stay (Our Hotel Tips)
Mount Etna – Taormina View
Where should you stay? That depends on which Etna activity you’re planning! If you want to visit Etna South on your own, then it’s a good idea to stay in Catania (or book the hotel directly at Rifugio Sapienza). Taormina on the other hand is closer to Etna North activities.
If you book a private tour and get picked up from almost any town (Catania, Taormino, Nicolosi) then choose the town you like. They are all different. Catania is more of a ‘working’ city, full of life and culture. Also with great architecture and museums. It also has the best transit and travel connections.
Taormina on the other hand is more like a typical tourist resort, but the transit connections aren’t as good. Many prefer Taormina because of its breathtaking views (see the hotel below).
These are the best choices for each town with a link direct link to each hotel via booking.com (Etna Hotels) with price guarantee (bookmark your preferred hotel link):
- Rifugio Sapienza (direct, Etna South): This hotel is located directly at Rifugio Sapienza, where the Funivia (cable car) starts. Free parking, comfortable rooms, great breakfast and a 30% discount on the cable car. Huge advantage: You can explore Rifugio Sapienza early in the morning before the tourist buses arrive and later in the evening after they are gone!
- Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo (Taormino, Etna North / South): If you stay in Taormina, this is our #1 choice. The view of Mt Etna from this hotel is utterly breathtaking. Besides the outstanding location, everything else is perfect as well: Superb staff, great food, super clean rooms. Absolutely worth every penny!
- B&B Etna House (Nicolosi, Etna South): Nicolosi is located between Catania and Rifugio Sapienza. The public bus stops here. This B&B is highly recommended! Angela is the loveliest host you could imagine. Her homemade breakfast is just perfect. The rooms are very clean and comfortable.
- Liccu Bed and Breakfast (Catania, Etna South): Outstanding B&B located in the heart of Catania. Despite the location, it’s not too noisy. Big, clean and really comfortable rooms. Excellent homemade breakfast. Nice and extremely helpful hosts!
- B&B Da Rosa (Linguaglossa, Etna North): Rosa is an amazing host, very kind and helpful. You’ll get a superb homemade breakfast from her. Rooms are super clean and comfortable. Don’t miss the pizza around the corner!
- Alternative Hotels and B&Bs in each town: Nicolosi | Catania | Linguaglossa | Taormina. Enter your preferred dates and then check the list of hotels. Make sure to change the search criteria to your liking at the top bar. We usually select ‘Review Score & Price’.
Mesmerizing Sicily Tour (with Mt Etna)
‘What a fascinating adventure! Our guide was amazing and we enjoyed seeing parts of Sicily that we would not have known about!’
Our Special Tip! Your adventure in Sicily begins right here! Everything from UNESCO Heritage sites and stunning cathedrals to the majestic Mt Etna. All without the hassle of taking care of everything! We travel with G Adventures ourselves and love this eight-day this trip (click the link for more details): Best of Sicily (8 Days): Hands-On: Wine Tasting, Ragusa / Chocolate Tasting, Modica / Cheese Tasting, Scicli > Short orientation walk in Palermo > Walking tour of the city > Cathedral visit (Monreale) > Orientation walk of Ragusa > Historic centre visit in Modica > Scicli visit > Free time in Syracuse > Mt Etna hike
Tourist and Weather Calendar
Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Eruptions are quite frequent, with powerful lava fountains, lava flows and ash clouds. As a result, the landscape changes steadily as lava hardens, craters collapse and sometimes even new craters are created. With black lava sand and volcanic gravel, you experience a lunar-like scenery and stunning view if you make it to the summit craters. Mt Etna is part of the Parco dell’Etna Regional Nature Park. You’ll find tons of additional helpful information on their website: Parco dell’Etna. Read on for our detailed tips and the ways to visit and get to the top (Three options: A, B, C > read more below. Keep in mind that these have nothing to do with the park A,B,C,D zones).
ETNA SUD (South Side)
Strombolian Eruption – Mount Etna by Robin Wylie, CC BY
Base: Rifugio Sapienza
The south side ‘base station’ is Rifugio Sapienza and it’s the highest point you can drive to. It’s more touristy and popular than the north side: A collection of shops, souvenir stands, larger car park as well as restaurants at 6,262 feet (1,909 m). Landscape: Barren looking, volcano-like, lava scenery.
Getting to Rifugio Sapienza
From Catania (by bus):
You can get from Catania to Rifugio Sapienza by public bus or by car (21-mile (34 km) drive). The bus stops halfway for half an hour at Nicolosi. If you choose to take the bus, buy the tickets at the AST office (Google Maps) in advance close to the station. Preferably early in the morning.
During the busy summer months, it’s recommended to buy them the day before. The bus runs once a day only (twice daily July-August) from Catania’s Stazione Centrale, or main railway station. Buses usually depart around 8:15 AM and drive back at 4:30 PM. In peak season (July/August), be early at the bus stop as it gets full and you might not get a decent seat.
From Taormina (and by car):
If you are in Taormina you’d first have to take another bus from Taormina to Catania. There is no direct (public) bus connection from Taormina to Rifugio Sapienza. If you are in Taormina and want it hassle free via bus: Book a tour: see below at C) Pre-Booked Tours. If you choose to get to Rifugio Sapienza by car, we highly recommend to book in advance: Rental Car Deals in Taormino or Rental Car Deals – Catania Airport (best price guaranteed)
By taxi or book a tour with pick-up service:
The easiest way is to choose a tour with pick-up service either from Taormina or Catania (depending on where you’re staying). Check our Tours Section for our recommended tours. Please note that usually, tours with a pick-up service don’t take you to 3300 m. If there are any, we’ll recommend them. However, the other tours are stunning as well.
Alternative (taxi): If you’re traveling with a small group of 2-4 persons, you may also take a taxi to Rifugio Sapienza. The price from Catania is roughly about 100 EUR (no guarantee!) for a one-way drive with up to four people. Some offer it even cheaper: Taxi Catania for 75 EUR. When you’re 2-4 people, a taxi is an alternative to consider. Alone it’s too expensive.
A) Public Tours (up to 2,900m or 3,300m / no reservations)
Short trek 2,900 m and long trek 3,300 m: 1) Rifugio Sapienza (Funivia) > 2) Mountain Station (Jeep/4×4) > 3) Summit Area. From here on: the long trek up to 3,300 m or short trek staying at 2,900 m. Want to know more details? Read below the insights about transport and stations for both treks, long and short (you can decide at any point/station to stay there and/or head back):
1. Rifugio Sapienza (1,900m > enter Funivia = Cable Car): Drive here by car or use a bus (see above). You may visit the two very old Silvestri Craters: It’s a 1 km walk, very easy and free. Some visitors only do this ‘quick visit’ and don’t go further. However, staying at Rifugio Sapienza only would mean to miss the best part of Mt. Etna. To continue from Rifugio Sapienza use the cable car (Funivia dell’Etna) up to the mountain station. The ride takes about 15 minutes. Schedule: 9 AM – 5:30 PM.
2. Mountain Station (2,500m > enter 4×4 Jeep): After arriving with the cable car at the mountain station (Webcam) you can take a break at the bar there if you like. Then continue by jeep (large 4×4 Unimog, 15-20 minutes) up to the summit area.
3. Summit Area (2,800 m, 3,300m): With the large jeep you reach the summit area: Torre del Filosofo. From here the guide either takes you to the low craters (short trek, 2,900 m, 40 minutes) or the higher craters (long trek (3,300 m). Depending on which trek you are on.
No reservation or booking in advance for these public tours: You buy all tickets on the spot (Funivia tickets soon online). Both, long and short treks, use the same transports up to the summit. The differences between both treks:
Short Trek (1-3 up to 2,900m): From Rifugio with Funivia + Jeep (see description above) to the summit, then short hike with a guide (40 minutes) to a low crater. As soon as you take the jeep, a mandatory guide is included. You can stay as long as you like and take the next jeep down.
- Total time: 2 – 2,5 hours
- Start: Several times daily
- Tickets: At Rifugio / Mountain Station
- Price: Funivia 30 EUR + Jeep 33 EUR
- Difficulty: Very easy (40 minutes walk)
- Craters: Old craters (eruption 2002)
- Value: Great scenery and views
Long Trek (1-3 up to 3,300m): Same transport to the summit area (Funivia + Jeep). However, instead of a short guided hike, you head for the high craters (3,300 m) and back down to Rifugio Sapienza on foot (4-5 hour trek). You buy the tickets at their Meeting Point at Rifugio Sapienza. No reservation is necessary. However, it’s usually a good idea to call or write them in advance to make sure the trek will happen.
- Total time: 5-6 hours
- Start: Only once a day at 10:30 (be there at 9:00 AM sharp)
- Tickets: Meeting Point Rifugio
- Price: Total > 70 EUR
- Difficulty: Moderately strenuous
- Craters: More active (eruption recently)
- Value: Spectacular scenery and views
Everything from the text above (stations included in the public tours) is summarized in the following infographic:
B) Self Guided Hikes (up to 2,900 m)
Monte Escrivà (2650 m, April) by Enrico Strocchi, CC BY-SA
From Rifugio Sapienza, you can hike up to 2,900 m from Rifugio Sapienza without a guide. You may also choose to use the Funivia (see #2) from Rifugio Sapienza to the mountain station and then hike from there to the top.
However, you are not allowed to go any further after arriving at 2,900m (see below) without a guide. That means there is no way of getting to the high craters (3,300 m) on your own. Some say that the hike up itself at Etna South can be a little monotonous until you get to the top.
C) Private Pre-Booked Tours (up to 3,300 m)
As an alternative to the standard long or short trek or even going on a self-guided hike, you may also book a guided private tour in advance. Those tours often start in Catania or Taormina, which means that you don’t have to worry about getting to Rifugio Sapienza on your own. Great tour operators and tours are (check their tour details, as they often offer both Etna South and Etna North tours):
- Mount Etna Tours: From Catania or Taormina, safe booking, excellent and friendly guides. Hassle-free: They pick you up! Safe booking!
- Continente Sicilia
- Legendary Sicily
Tip: If you stay in Taormina and don’t have a rental car, it’s easier to book a tour which starts in Taormina rather than taking 2 bus lines until you arrive in Catania or Rifugio Sapienza: Taormina >bus> Catania, then >bus> from Catania to Rifugio Sapienza.
ETNA NORD (North Side)
Base: Piano Provenzana
The north side ‘base station’ Piano Provenzana is a (ski) station at about 5,970 feet (1,820 m), with a car park and winter ski lift. It’s a lot quieter with fewer tourists than Etna Sud, especially more relaxing for a visit during the busy summer season.
Landscape: Forests, wildflowers, less volcano-like. However, if you choose a guided tour to the very top, you’ll see the same craters and volcanic landscape at the summit area.
Tours and Hikes: The village of Linguaglossa is the best starting point for excursions on the north side of Etna. From Linguaglossa you access Piano Provenzana. Piano Provenzana is the main ski resort on Etna and the center for hikes and treks. 4WD excursions are organized from here, and hikers can take the 3-hours hikes from here to the cone of Etna.
Questions & Answers (FAQ)
The different tours and hikes are confusing. Which one should I pick? If your health condition allows it, choose a tour to the higher summit craters (3,300 m). The views are stunning. You are not allowed to ascend to 3300 m without a guide. In order to get to the 3300 m area, you either need to choose the public standard long trek (see above) or any privately pre-booked tour for the south side or north side. The best selection of tours (including safe booking) can be found here: Mount Etna Tours (South and North)
How do I get up there in general? For Etna South it’s always: First get to Rifugio Sapienza, then take the Funivia (= cable car), then at the mountain station, you get into one of the large jeeps. Even the tour operators use both ‘public’ means of transport. Alternatively, you can hike at any point. For Etna North, your starting point is Piano Provenzana and then hike to the top without a guide or book a guided hiking tour. The guided Etna North tours either use jeeps or are pure hiking tours.
Is it difficult? Do I need to hike? Not at all. You can even get to 2,900 m and experience great views without a longer hike by taking the public short trek (see above): From Rifugio Sapienza, you take the cable car (Funivia), then get into the jeep and at the summit area it’s a 40-minute walk to the closer craters. However, you won’t experience the more stunning craters at 3,300 m. You may even visit Rifugio Sapienza only and walk to the old Silvestri Craters (see the infographic above).
North vs. South, which side is better? There is no better side. Both offer stunning views. The south side has the typical volcano look, with barren black lava rocks, typical lunar-like landscape (find photos from the south side in the gallery below). It’s also the ‘tourist side’ and often very busy. The north side is much quieter and includes forest, wildflowers as well as some lava parts of course, but not the lunar-like feeling from the south side. Photo North Side. However, if you reach the very top via the north side, you’ll see the same craters and volcanic landscape at the summit area. If you don’t like longer hikes: The summit area of Etna South can be reached without pre-booking via the ‘public’ transports (cable car, + 4×4). Etna North can be ascended with jeeps as well, but only via privately pre-booked tours.
Some say the massive crowds at Etna South spoil the trip? In fact, it’s difficult to find a month with pleasant temperatures and no crowds at all at the same time. Follow our tips (in the top section on this page) to avoid the heavy crowds, as they can spoil the experience. Also keep in in mind, that it’s ‘only’ heavily crowded at the stations (Rifugio, etc.)
Do I need to make tour reservations? Not for the standard (public) Etna South tours (long and short treks, see above). You buy the tickets on the spot. Private tours require pre-booking of course.
How can I see volcano eruptions? You cannot predict when eruptions happen. Some operators offer special night tours when it happens: Go Etna – Night Eruption Tour However, keep in mind that depending on the latest or current eruptions parts of the summit area can be off limits (see below: Current Alerts).
Where can I see a lava cave? Book a private tour which includes visiting and entering a lava cave by checking our handpicked tour describe above: Hiking excursion up Mt Etna (incl. lava tube) by Sicila Adventure. You’ll explore a lava cave with a helmet and head lamp, and see how lava flows. A great experience with very knowledgable guides!
Where can I go without a guide? Since 2013 there are new rules and restrictions (that’s important to know in case you read any reviews about visits before 2013): Official Access Rules for Etna They defined a yellow-zone including the Summit Craters and proximal areas, which you can only visit if accompanied by authorized personnel. In other words: Above 2900 meters an authorized guide is required.
During some eruptions, tours are still happening but sometimes tour operators will guide you to 2800 m max.
The only reliable Etna eruption status update can be found here (only Italian): Alert Status Etna (> Unfortunately this site is not available to the public anymore. Which means there is no official reliable source for status/alerts at the moment). The alert levels in English are explained here (yellow = 2 at the moment): Access Rules and Alert Levels.
5 Must-Know Tips
- It’s cold up there at the top, even in the summer. Always bring a layer of clothes and a jacket
- The typical temperature difference in July: Rifugio (1900m) vs. Summit (3300m): 25°C vs. 9°C (77°F vs. 48°F)
- You can also rent a coat at the mountain station (Etna South, 2500m)
- Wear sturdy shoes. Bring a scarf for protection, sunglasses, sunscreen
- Bring water and snacks
Mount Etna Location, Maps, Photos
4 thoughts on “Mount Etna”
Fantastic volcano. Best place in Europe to see volcanic activity. We visited the summit with a local guide and it’s worth the money. They explain the volcanology and take you to lava tubes and special lava fields. Apart from the summit, there are some nice hikes around the Etna.
Visited in May 2017. Usually Etna is surrounded by clouds and it’s quite cold, also in summertime.
The photo shows one of the sleepy craters, easily achievable by car, close to the cableway car parking (Rifugio Sapienza).
I warmly suggest to walk along the “sentiero dell’asino”, the donkey pathway. At the end of it you will discover a fantastic view on a great crater.
I visited Mt. Etna many years ago, some time in the mid-nineties. We traveled on our own through Sicily and had a really beautiful trip. It was in the autumn and not very crowded, but not sure that’s relevant 25 years later! You can find the photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kimbar/363806251/in/photolist-y9AVz-wrzWeE-vCUVUf-AkYM9/
Etna Park is beautiful for its eruptions, its lava flows and the unique environment surrounding it. All seasons are good for a visit to the volcano, but personally avoid July and August, too hot and crowded, Etna is one of the most visited places in Italy. I am a lover of this place and in free time, I am collecting images that I share on a site with my own photo stream. More pics here : https://www.flickr.com/photos/vadda/
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