Catania is a city located on the eastern coast of Sicily at the very foot of Mount Etna. Looking at the map, it might seem that sunbathing in Catania should not be a problem. After all, the entire eastern part of the city stretches over the sea. You arrive in Catania, and here’s a trick! No beach.
If you choose to stay in the city center (around Piazza Duomo and Piazza Stesicoro), you will have quite a distance to the seaside. Do not think that you will leave the hotel in a costume, with a towel tied around your hips and a flamingo under your arm, and after a few minutes’ walk you will be paddling in the sea on golden sand.
Depending on whether you have a car or will use public transport, you have the following options:
PLAJA DI CATANIA
The longest sandy beach of Catania is Plaja di Catania. It extends south of the city for about 18 km along Viale Kennedy. There are sections of the public beach (spiaggia libera) where everyone can come with their own towel and umbrella and set wherever they like. There you will also find the so-called LIDO – these are paid beaches with umbrellas, sunbeds, restaurants, bars, toilets and other amenities.
In the summer season, Plaja is quite crowded and it’s hard to find a moment of peace there. In the evenings and at night, discos are organized in many of the beach venues. In the off-season it is very nice to take a walk there, although often the sea throws rubbish ashore and unfortunately the beach is not always clean.
Getting there on foot from the center of Catania is quite troublesome, because Plaja is located on the outskirts of the city and the road to it leads through a not very interesting district. You can get there by the ‘D’ bus from the stop in Piazza Borsellino; the bus goes along the coast and you can choose the section you want to get off. The further away from the city center, the quieter and cleaner it is. If you choose a hotel or B&B near Viale Kennedy, take into account that you will have quite a distance to the center of Catania, and the restaurants and bars in this area are open only in summer and in winter there is not much to do in that area.
OASI DEL SIMETO NATURAL RESERVE
If you have a car, a few kilometers south of Plaja di Catania is the Simeto River Reserve, where the river flows into the sea. There is hardly anyone in the reserve, even in high season and the beach is sandy. Of course, you will not find any bars, toilets, restaurants or sunbeds there. Public transport is also not available there.
SAN GIOVANNI LI CUTI AND LUNGOMARE DI CATANIA – SCOGLIERA
San Giovanni Lì Cuti is a district of Catania located quite close to the city center. There is a tiny fragment of a volcanic beach with black sand and huge lava boulders. In summer, wooden platforms are built there that allow you to descend into the water. There are some nice restaurants (eg Cutilisci) and bars in San Giovanni Lì Cuti; it is a very pleasant neighborhood that is liked by the locals. You can get there by metro, getting off at the Galatea stop and from there on foot (about 15 minutes).
San Giovanni lì Cuti is part of the so-called Lungomare di Catania, the lava coast of Catania. In summer, in many places along the coast you will find wooden platforms (solarium) on which you can spread a towel and from there you can easily go down to the sea. However, it is not the classic beach that many of you expect when choosing a vacation in a seaside town.
ACITREZZA AND ACI CASTELLO – LUNGOMARE DEI CICLOPI
A few kilometers north of Catania there are two nice towns: Aci Castello and Aci Trezza. The part of the coast that stretches along these towns is called Riviera Dei Ciclopi. The coast is volcanic. Here, too, wooden solariums are built in many places. These villages are about 10 km from the center of Catania, so it’s a bit far on foot. You can get there by city bus or tourist buses. Unfortunately, city buses run as they want, so don’t be surprised that the bus will arrive at a completely different time than shown in the timetable.
SAN MARCO BEACH (CALATABIANO), FONDACHELLO AND MARINA DI COTTONE
About 30 km north from Catania there are beautiful beaches along the villages of Fondachello, Fiumefreddo di Sicilia (Marina di Cottone) and Calatabiano (Spiaggia di San Marco). These are wide gravel beaches spreading for several kilometers. You will find both private beaches and fragments of the public beach. If you have a car, I highly recommend this area. You cannot get there by public transport.
GIARDINI NAXOS AND TAORMINA
If you don’t have a car and want to sunbathe away from Catania, you can take the Interbus Etna Trasporti line to Giardini Naxos. There are fragments of the sandy beach in the center of the town, but I recommend getting off in the Recanati district. Several dozen meters from the stop there is a descent to a wide pebble beach.
You can also get to Taormina by bus. At the foot of the town there is a famous beach opposite the Isola Bella islet. In season, the beaches in this area are terribly overcrowded. The coast of Taormina is rocky, so be sure to wear rubber beach shoes as it will be difficult for you to walk there barefoot or in flip-flops. Bring your snorkeling mask as there are wonderful underwater landscapes around Isola Bella.