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Visiting Mount Etna – all you need to know.

Visiting Mount Etna – all you need to know.

Are you planning a trip to Mount Etna for the first time ? Here is everything you really need to know.
WHAT TO WEAR FOR A MOUNT ETNA TOUR?

To enjoy your tour, proper clothing is very important. If you are going to an altitude exceeding 1500 meters, you should always have something warmer to wear. In summer, it can be a sweatshirt or wind jacket, in winter a warm winter jacket. Strong winds are very frequent in the higher parts of the mountain, so don’t forget your hat. If you are going to an altitude of 3,000 meters, even in summer, a warm sweatshirt, windbreaker jacket and hat are necessary. Dress in layers.  I also recommend bringing sunglasses and face cream with sunscreen, both in summer and winter. If you are planning a hiking tour, get comfortable mountain clothing and proper hiking shoes.

Etna in the summer.
Etna in the winter.
WHAT SHOES TO WEAR FOR A MOUNT ETNA EXCURSION?

As for the shoes, it depends what kind 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 ankle. Always use high (above ankle) socks because volcanic sand will enter your shoes cutting your feet. If you do not have hiking shoes you can rent them at mountain footwear rentals (cost about 5-8 Euro). There are few of them close to Rifugio Sapienza tourist area.

Rifugio Sapienza and other tourist facilities on the south side of Mount Etna.
HOW MUCH DOES A TOUR TO ETNA COST?

It really depends on the option you choose. You can reach Mount Etna by a public bus that departs every morning from Catania Central Station (Piazza Giovanni XXIII). A bus ticket costs 6,60 € (2020) both ways. A special tourist bus, for which the ticket costs 35 € (2020), also leaves from Catania every day to Mount Etna.

Prices for private guided tours start from around 50 € per person.

The cost of cable car provided by Funivia dell’Etna from 1900 meters to 2500 meters is 30 € both ways. The full package (cable car + special off road vehicle + alpine guide service at the height of 2900 meters) costs 66 € for adults and 48 € for kids until 10 years old. 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO VISIT ETNA?

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

Summer sunset tour.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR TO VISIT MOUNT ETNA?

Mount Etna can actually be visited all year round. Of course, in the winter months, the likelihood of hitting fog, rain or snow is greater. For amateurs of ambitious winter trekking, it is possible to organize a trip with snowshoes or trekking at lower altitudes.

Snowshoe tour on Etna.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO VISIT ETNA WITH YOUNG CHILDREN?

You can absolutely visit Etna with kids. There are many easy trails that you can walk with a young child. Walking close to the hostels located near the street is possible even with a pram.

IS ETNA DANGEROUS? CAN I SAFELY VISIT AN ACTIVE VOLCANO? 

Etna is constantly controlled by volcanologists and despite the fact that in its history there have been eruptions causing huge damage, it does not pose a serious threat to the inhabitants of the Etna area or tourists. It should be remembered that Mount Etna is first and foremost a mountain and like any other one, it can turn out to be dangerous. You must always follow the basic rules, i.e. plan a route, stick to the trail, check the weather forecast, write down emergency numbers, etc. Suffering any injuries due to the volcanic activity of Mount Etna is possible, but very unlikely.

A river of incandescent lava flows just behind me.
CAN I VISIT MOUNT ETNA WITHOUT A GUIDE?

You can visit Etna without a guide. You can go on your own until the height of 2900 metres. Higher you can go only with a licenced alpine guide.

CAN I GO TO ETNA SUMMIT CRATERS?

It is possible to hike to the summit craters of volcano Etna but only with a licenced alpine guide. However during periods of intense volcanic activity tours to Etna summit are forbidden. 

Etna summit hike.
ARE THE SICILIANS AFRAID OF ETNA?

Most Sicilians are not afraid to live near a volcano. The real threat arising from the presence of an active volcano is very small.

The town of Nicolosi is situated on the southern slope of Mount Etna.

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