Siracusa Sicily: guide to Ortigia and more

9 Aug, 2018

Here are my tips on what to see and do in Siracusa Sicily, where I recently spent one week, running away from Rome’s metropolitan summer. Siracusa has something for everybody, and you should definitely stop by if you’re interested in authentic Sicilian cuisine and ancient history. It will be a perfect destination for you if you decided to take your time and breathe in the brisky breeze of the Italian coast leaving behind all your duties and worries. I highly recommend visiting Sicily in the off-season, to avoid the extremely hot weather: go in May, June, September or October to make the best out of it. As a base, I decided to get accommodation in Ortigia, a very tiny island which is the historical core of Siracusa. If for any reason you opt for staying off Ortigia, make sure you don’t go too far.

Italy Sicily Syracuse what see do View from Ortigia boardwalk

SIRACUSA SICILY: FAVORITE THINGS TO DO AND SEE

Explore Ortigia by foot

Ortigia island is very small. Get lost, enjoy the architecture of the common houses in all their shades of white and ivory, explore the Cathedral of Syracuse (Cattedrale della Natività di Maria Santissima), and find interesting ancient architecture in the alleys. The history of Siracusa’s cathedral is incredible. In very ancient times, before the Greek’s invaded Sicily, it was a place of worship for the indigenous population, the Siculi. During the 5th Century BC the Greeks appointed the temple to Goddess Athena, and nowadays, you can still see the columns in place in and outside the cathedral. Evidences suggest that it was the first Christian temple in Europe. The front facade of the cathedral is baroque, instead. The square surrounding the cathedral is the core of Ortigia and hosts more beautiful architecture. The bright marbles dominate the scene, changing nuances as the day passes. The square is even more beautiful in the night, and invites you to sit in one of the cafes having a drink immersed in a magical atmosphere.

siracusa sicily

The Cathedral of Siracusa

Here is more interesting architecture and sculpture to visit in the Ortigia district in Siracusa Sicily:

Fonte Aretusa – Aretusa Spring

Tempio di Apollo – Temple of Apollo

Chiesa dello Spirito Santo – Church

Fountain of Diana

Castello Maniace – Castle

Bellomo Palace and Gallery

Chiesa di San Martino – Church

Ipogeo di Piazza Duomo – underground

Montalto Palace

Orologio Palace

Browse a list of photos and reviews about the accommodation in the beautiful Ortigia in Siracusa Sicily

Where to eat in Ortigia – Siracusa Sicily

There are plenty of places to sit and eat genuine Sicilian food in Ortigia. Treat yourself with granita & brioche, the traditional Sicilian summer breakfast. Try the granita in different cafeterias as flavours and prices vary (cafes just off Ortigia Island are cheaper). If you’d like more consistent food but you are in a hurry, get a sliced pizza (it’s different here than in other parts of Italy) or arancino (balls of rice, green beans, ham, tomato sauce, ragu and mushrooms, fried in oil) or other street food specialties at Pizza e Altro. 

When you wish to sit and have your meal in a very quiet, special place, head for La Foglia. This restaurant surprised me with the unique, handcrafted, colorful decoration of its interior. It’s a family-run restaurant, founded by a local hippy chef and her artist husband. The dishes are sensational, and for the quality offered, they´re more than affordable! You’ll find original variations of traditional Sicilian cuisine. Don’t miss the fettuccini with shrimps, walnuts, pachino tomatoes, and wild fennels and the Sicilian almonds’ pudding. I went back to this restaurant several times, charmed by the atmosphere. La Foglia is a pleasure for both the eyes and the palate!

Siracusa Sicily

Almond dessert at restaurant La Foglia

Almond dessert at La Foglia

Siracusa Sicily Fettuccine with seafood, nuts, herbs at La Foglia

FAVORITE ACTIVITIES IN SIRACUSA SICILY

Relax on Ortigia Beach and swim

In Ortigia, there is one special spot where it’s nice to swim and relax, but it´s quite small. Once you reach Fontana Aretusa, walk to the left to a bay perfect for snorkeling.

Take a bike to the Siracusa’s bike trail and swim more.

Once you’re familiar with Ortigia, go ahead and explore the coast on the mainland. When the old railway line connecting northern Sicily to Syracuse was dismantled, a bike path was created which stretches for 6.6 kilometers along the wild landscape of the coastline. The bicycle paths are mostly unpaved, used by a few local runners, and they are most enjoyable in the hours before sunset. Your first sight of this part of the Sicilian coast will leave you breathless from the colours of the sea and the cliffs, the fragrances of the plants and the tranquillity.

I checked out a few bike rentals and found that the cheapest, with a super-friendly staff, was the Ortigia Service. They’ll give you a map together with your bike, which will help you reach the starting point of the bicycle track (near the Monumento ai Caduti d’Africa in the Piazza Cappuccini). Anyway, it’s very easy to find, and you can also get there in half an hour by walking from Ortigia.

Along the way, several rocks that have been made accessible in order to allow locals to get into the water. Be sure to wear your swimsuit!

Siracusa Sicily

View from the Siracusa’s bike path

View from the bicycle trail

VISIT THE ARCHEOLOGICAL PARK OF SIRACUSA SICILY

Approximately a half hour by foot from Ortigia lies the Neapolis Archaeological Park (Parco Archeologico Neapolis), with the Greek amphitheater and the monumental cave called “Dionysus’ Ear” (Orecchio di Dioniso), dug in limestone in an “S” shape, which is still a mystery for archeologists. What was its purpose? How and why was the natural echoing quality of the limestone used? Adult tickets for the Neapolis Archeological Park cost €10.

Every summer, between May and July, the Greek theater hosts presentations of Greek tragedies, recreating the ancient atmosphere of the 5th century BC. Consider seeing one if you travel to Syracuse during the right season. You’ll find updated info on the INDA foundation website.

DAY-TRIP FROM SIRACUSA SICILY

Fontane Bianche Bay

The town of Syracuse offers breathtaking views and historical landmarks, but lacks a long stretch of sandy seashore. If you want to spend time on a proper beach, all you need to do is rent a car and head for Fontane Bianche, 18 km  south on the coast from Ortigia. There, you’ll find a tropical paradise of white sand and blue water. Only a few little restaurants where you can enjoy a seafood meal based on the catch of the day.

siracusa sicily

The beach at Fontane Bianche. Pic by that’s Sicilia

Vendicari Oasis and Calamosche Bay

About 45 km south of Syracuse, you’ll have other chances to hike the deserted coast and swim in secluded bays in the Vendicari Nature Reserve. The area was made a reserve in order to protect several species of birds, and the coast is unspoiled for kilometers. Look at the photos to have an idea of how beautiful this natural oasis is. The bay of Calamosche, that you can reach in 45 minutes on foot after entering the reserve, holds what is considered to be one of the most attractive beaches in Italy.

Siracusa sicily Approaching Calamosche Bay in the Vendicari Natural Reserve[/caption]

Fishermen’s village of Marzamemi

Roughly one hour by car from Syracuse lies the little fishing village of Marzamemi. In here there is plenty of spots where you can chill out by the sea and taste local dishes. The old town spreads out around a central square with the church of San Francesco. As soon as you get out of the car, you’ll perceive the relaxed atmosphere that envelops this place. That will immediately make you feel quieter and more serene.

Siracusa Sicily

Happy woman posing in an alley in Marzamemi

myself in a alley in Marzamemi Village

Siracusa Sicily

Main square of Marzamemi village.

from the main square of the old village Marzamemi

How do you feel about traveling to Siracusa Sicily, now?

Would you like a local, expert Italian traveler to plan your trip to Italy and Sicily? Check out my Italy travel planning services.

Siracusa Sicily

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In love with Sicily[/caption]

Annalisa, Travel Connect Experience Blog

In Zen philosophy, travelling is considered one of the most efficient techniques for getting to know oneself, letting go of reference points, of the balance we have built around ourselves for the sake of a deeper balance, of the essence which has always been our center and will stay with us until the end.

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46 Comments

  1. maurizio

    Very nice description, relax and romantic 🙂
    For sure, places to visit to enrich spirit and body!

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Thank you Maurizio 🙂

      Reply
  2. Arnab Majumdar

    This place looks amazing. Must be worth a trip. Will be adding to my bucket list.
    Thanks for the information, really helpful

    Reply
  3. Tamalyn Lee

    What an AMAZING trip!! I had not considered Sicily yet but it is definitely on my bucket list now! Puglia/Bari was where I wanted to be and now my life won’t be complete with Sicily as well. It is a lovely lovely place. Glad your mood was lifted when you got there!

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Wow! Puglia is very special, too. I guess you should include Lecce then 🙂

      Reply
  4. Cris

    What a beautiful place to visit! I am sure that you had blast!

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Yes! It was amazing and time def went too fast…

      Reply
  5. Joanna

    I have only been to Sicily one time, when I visited Catania and Taromina, and I did promise to return as I loved the atmosphere and the laid back way of life there. I would like to visit Syracuse as well, and Ortigia, the place where you were based, looks so pretty! I would definitely like to go swimming there.

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Yes it’s one of the top destinations for swimming in the sea in Italy 🙂 thanks!

      Reply
  6. What Corinne Did

    Reading your post put me in the holiday mode! Sicily is gorgeous and Syracuse is lovely! I’d love to visit some day! I am off to corsica on saturday!

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Wow, haven’t been to Corsica yet, but I’ve heard so many positive feedback! Hope your trip went well!

      Reply
  7. Monidipa

    My family lives in Cefalu, so I have been quite a few time to Syracuse and I must say, I couldn’t relate more. This post brought back all the memories back to my mind. Loved the post, great photos.

    Reply
  8. Amber Myers

    Stunning! I hope to go here one day. I love Italy. I’d mostly go for the food, I won’t lie 😉

    Reply
  9. prabashi

    visiting italy next month. I hope i can take a dip at vendacari if time permits.

    Reply
  10. Edward

    The first time I encounter facts about this place was from world hisrory something to do with nazis and this place was featured in one of nicholas cage movies. Any way the place is great

    Reply
  11. Nabanita

    You just made me dream of Itay which has been my dream destination forever. One day I’m going to make that trip till then will stay satisfied with posts such as yours

    Reply
  12. kumamonjeng

    Fettuccine with seafood, nuts, herbs at La Foglia look super delicious! We dont usually have Fettuccine over here, more of spegetti instead. Sicily, will be in my bucket list.

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Yes, it was delicious and of course, they make pasta themselves…

      Reply
  13. Blair Villanueva

    Oh dear, you show us how romantic Sicily is and I am feeling in-love! The view, the horizon, foods, everything… I would love to travel to Sicily with my boyfriend.

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Oh, thanks! It’s truly romantic. I was there alne and my heart was mellow mellow!

      Reply
  14. Stephanie | Adventures in Aussieland

    I would LOVE to go to Syracuse and explore for a week! It looks like you had an incredible trip. Definitely will be saving this so when I do eventually make it to Sicily I’ll have an idea of what to do.

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      It is totally possible to make it a budget travel if you make plans ahead.

      Reply
  15. sundeep

    That’s a great combination of text and photos. All ingredients of a great blog post.

    Reply
  16. Princess Quinn

    What a beautiful city to visit. This seems to be one of the laid back travel go to. I love the serenity of the place.

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Yes! And still enough off the beaten path, compared to other destinations in Italy 🙂

      Reply
  17. Angela Ricardo Bethea

    This is one of the places I’d love to visit with my family. The pictures came out great and the place looks amazing.

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Hi Angela! Thanks. I feel that Syracuse would make perfect destinations for couples but if you decide to bring there your family, I’d love to read about it.

      Reply
  18. Kaitlyn

    That looks like so much fun! Yet another place to put on my bucket list.

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Thank you, Kaitlyn. Definitely, I recommend you consider Sicily for your next trip to Italy.

      Reply
  19. Ada

    Rome is such a dream of mine! It’s seriously so romantic and I would love to just spend a month there!

    Reply
  20. Krystal Orwig

    Italy is my favorite country! I have never been as far South as Sicily but it is a dream of mine! I will definitely be using this post to help plan my trip. Great read!

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Happy you appreciate 🙂 Traveling southern Italy is an intense cultural experience, I never get tired of it…

      Reply
  21. Charmain Lee

    Wow, what great pictures…makes me wish I were there! And the food is making my tummy growl just looking at it! Thanks so much for sharing. Glad to hear the trip made you feel more serene…It’s so lovely a place, I am sure it’ll perk anybody’s mood up. 🙂

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Thank you, Charmain. Sicily is the top for Italian food…

      Reply
  22. vikramjit singh

    Lovely place Syracuse. I think I visit this country next year 2019.

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Wow! I’m glad you put it on your bucket list. I would totally travel there again next year too.

      Reply
  23. Lewis Johnson

    The city looks amazing. I’ve been to few places in Europe but never in Sicily. I will have to add it to my bucket list

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Yes, do it! It’s an easy trip Siracusa.

      Reply
  24. Claudia

    Looks amazing! I absolutely need to go. Thanks for the tips.

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Thank you for the feedback, Claudia.

      Reply
  25. Ellie @ Five Go Exploring

    It looks and sounds amazing! I’m staring at grey skies right now – thank you for the escapism!

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Thank you for sharing, Ellie. It was the perfect weather back in Sicily. It’s going to be good even during fall, anyway.

      Reply
  26. Jane

    That view of the ocean by the bike trail, gorgeous!

    Reply
    • lizanna3891

      Yes it’s very relaxing and clears the mind too!

      Reply

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