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Why visit Syracuse?
Syracuse is nestled in south-east Sicily, about sixty kilometres from Catania. Its cultural wealth is astounding. The city was, in turn, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab and Aragonese, and it has kept the most beautiful tokens of this patchwork past. Enjoying a break in Syracuse is also a guarantee of sunny afternoons by the sea, festive evenings and tasty meals – it's a destination suited as much to a family holiday as to a getaway with friends. Go to all.com to find a hotel in Syracuse, Sicily, and read our tips for planning the best possible stay there.
What can you do in Syracuse?
Syracuse is brimming with historical and architectural treasures. But beyond these, it's a very pleasant city that's great for festivities and relaxation. One of the city's merits is the outstanding geography that surrounds it: you can enjoy plenty of outdoor activities during your stay, from swimming to hiking. So Syracuse is as much a place for families as it is for couples, groups of friends and even business travellers.
Visit the old town
The Greeks founded Syracuse on the island of Ortygia, which is separated from the rest of the city by the narrow Darsena canal. This islet beckons you to immerse yourself in the city's ancient history and taste la dolce vita. Wander its alleys and look for the ruins of the Temple of Apollo – Sicily's oldest temple. Admire the Piazza del Duomo, one of the city's most magnificent squares, where Syracuse Cathedral stands majestically. And marvel at the enchanting Fountain of Arethusa. Make sure to visit the Castello Maniace too – this medieval citadel was built on the islet's headland to fend off Arab invaders.
Step down into the San Giovanni catacombs
Do you fancy the idea of getting away from the crowds while discovering a remarkable site? The San Giovanni Catacombs form an extensive underground necropolis that dates back to the city's Greek origins – enter the bowels of the earth into a sacred atmosphere.
Discover Syracuse's archaeology
Immerse yourself in a world of Greek and Roman history at Neapolis Archaeological Park. There you can admire a Roman amphitheatre, the altar of Hieron II, a huge temple dedicated to Zeus, and the Ear of Dionysius, a giant cave renowned for its acoustic properties that was once used as a prison. It's best to visit these archaeological wonders in the morning to avoid the heat and big crowds. The Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum in Syracuse focuses on the city's prehistoric and ancient era. It houses an extensive collection of Greek and Roman sculptures, statues and ceramic objects.
Swim in the sea
Take a break between days of sight-seeing by cooling down in the sparkling waters of a beach south of Syracuse. Coves of crystal-clear turquoise sea await you in Ognina and Avola. But the most beautiful beach is Calamosche, with its fine sand and transparent water.
Go on a boat ride
Like to get away from the tourists and enjoy the best view of the coast's natural beauty? Then there's no better solution than renting a boat. Explore the surroundings from out at sea and moor whenever you like to dive into the refreshing waters.
Explore Syracuse's nearby nature reserves
If you're looking for unspoilt nature, several sites around Syracuse will charm you. The Cavagrande del Cassibile nature reserve is less than an hour's drive from the city. You can enjoy hikes in this outstanding area that features a stunning gorge through which a river runs, forming wonderful natural pools here and there – the perfect spots for a cool dip. This reserve is one of Sicily's hidden gems. And 10 kilometres south of Syracuse, the Plemmirio coastal nature reserve offers several beaches and spectacular cliffs. This spot's caves feature underwater biodiversity that will delight divers.