Mount Etna Travel Guide: Essential Tips for First-Time Visitors

Discover the Ultimate Guide to Your First Mount Etna Adventure

What to Wear on Your Mount Etna Tour?

To fully enjoy your tour, wearing the right clothing is crucial. If you’ll be at an altitude above 1500 meters, always have warmer attire on hand. During summer, a sweatshirt or wind jacket will suffice, while winter demands a warm jacket. Given frequent strong winds at higher elevations, a hat is a must. At 3,000 meters, even summer requires a warm sweatshirt, windbreaker, and hat. Dress in layers and remember to bring sunglasses and sunscreen-infused face cream for both seasons. For hiking, opt for comfortable mountain gear and appropriate hiking shoes.

Etna in the summer.
Etna in the winter.


As for the shoes, it depends on the type of Etna tour you are planning to choose. You can even wear flip-flops to get to and take a walk near the hostel on the asphalt street. However, to walk the mountain trail, you need sturdy trainers or proper hiking shoes. For a trekking tour, wear hard-soled hiking boots to protect your ankles. Always use high (above ankle) socks because volcanic sand will enter your shoes, potentially causing cuts on your feet. If you do not have hiking shoes, you can rent them at mountain footwear rentals (costing about 8 – 10 Euros). There are a few of them close to the Rifugio Sapienza tourist area.

Rifugio Sapienza and other tourist facilities on the south side of Mount Etna.


It really depends on the option you choose. You can reach Mount Etna by a public bus AST that departs every morning at 8:15 am from Catania Central Station (Piazza Giovanni XXIII). A bus ticket costs €6.60 (as of 2023) for a round trip. Alternatively, a special tourist bus, which costs €35 (as of 2023), also departs from Catania every day to Mount Etna.

Prices for guided tours start at around €50 per person.

The cost of the cable car provided by Funivia dell’Etna from 1900 meters to 2500 meters is €50 for a round trip. The full package (cable car + special off-road vehicle + alpine guide service at an altitude of 2900 meters) costs €78 for adults and €50 for children up to 10 years old.

If, due to a large amount of snow, snow groomers are used instead of off-road jeeps above 2500 meters, the cost per adult is €89, and it’s €50 per child up to 10 years of age.

Read the tour organizers’ offers carefully and make sure to confirm what is included in the tour price. Some agencies publish the base price and, in fine print, mention an additional fee for the cable car ride, which you will need to pay on-site.

How Much Time Should You Allocate for Your Etna Visit?

A minimum of 4-5 hours is necessary for a classic half-day trip to Mount Etna. If you plan to go on a hiking tour, you will need a minimum of 5-6 hours, depending on the trail you choose. It is best to visit Mount Etna in the morning, although the sunset tour is also a great experience during the summer months.

Summer sunset tour.

When is the Best Time of Year to Explore Mount Etna?

Mount Etna can be visited throughout the year. However, during the winter months, there is a higher probability of encountering fog, rain, or snow. For those who enjoy adventurous winter trekking, it’s possible to arrange trips with snowshoes or opt for lower-altitude trekking experiences.

Snowshoe tour on Etna.

Exploring Etna with Young Children: Is It Feasible?

You can definitely visit Mount Etna with kids. There are several easy trails (e.g. Crateri Silvestri) suitable for walking with young children. Strolling near the hostels located alongside the road is even possible with a stroller. However, if you have children who are prone to car sickness, take precautions. The road to reach tourist areas on Etna is winding, and many people, especially children, may experience discomfort.

Is Mount Etna Dangerous? A Guide to Safely Visiting an Active Volcano

Mount Etna is under constant supervision by volcanologists. Despite its history of eruptions that have caused significant damage, it does not present a serious threat to the residents of the Etna area or tourists. It’s important to remember that Mount Etna is first and foremost a mountain, and like any other mountain, it can potentially be hazardous. To ensure a safe visit, always adhere to basic safety rules, including wearing proper clothing, planning your route, staying on designated trails, checking the weather forecast, and having emergency contact numbers on hand.

Never venture into areas that are only accessible with vulcanologist guides; it’s crucial to respect these guidelines. Additionally, always adhere to posted rules and avoid prohibited areas. By following these precautions, the likelihood of suffering injuries due to volcanic activity on Mount Etna is extremely low.

Can You Explore Mount Etna Without a Guide?

Visiting Mount Etna without a guide is indeed possible. You can venture on your own up to an altitude of 2500 meters. There are numerous kilometers of stunning trails that you can hike independently. However, beyond the 2500-meter mark, it is imperative to be accompanied by a licensed alpine or volcanological guide.

Can You Reach the Summit Craters of Mount Etna?

Hiking to the summit craters of Mount Etna is possible, but it requires the guidance of a licensed alpine or volcanological guide. It’s important to note that during periods of intense volcanic activity, tours to the Etna summit are prohibited.

Etna summit hike.