22 Ways to Experience Etna

Mount Etna is full of mysteries and legends. The first Greek settlers named the volcano Aetna and thought of it as the home of Hephaestus, god of fire, who used its flames and lava to forge Zeus's thunderbolts. Etna is described in the book of myths as "the forge of the gods".

To the Arabs is was known as mongibello (beautiful mountain).

Visitors, local and international, are instantly charmed by the volcano and visit daily to this magical part of Sicily.

Since the Grand Tour started in 1680, Mount Etna was a "must see" attraction of visitors to the island and has been enjoyed by such notaries as Goethe, Byron and Maupassant, as it had already been by the Greek philosopher Empedocles and the Emperor Hadrian. This legendary area is a magnet for visitors looking for excitement and a dramatic landscape.

Mount Etna is the highest volcano in Europe. It covers an area of approximately 1250 square km's and reaches a height of approximately 3350 metres. For its repeated eruptions over many years, it can be considered as one of the most active volcanos in the world. From its height Mount Etna dominates Sicily, its three surrounding seas and the tip of the Italian mainland.

The volcano offers varied and captivating sightseeing opportunities with the added view of external craters, lava flows, forests, citrus groves, fruit orchards and vineyards.

Therefore here are my 22 ways to experience Etna. For most activities I would recommend taking sturdy boots or walking shoes, a warm jumper or jacket, sunglasses, plenty of water and also take a spirit of adventure with you for an experience you will never forget.

1) Hiking and Walking ..... While there is a number of trails to Mount Etna's summit the main area for average hikers begins at Rifugio Sapienza. The best way to enjoy hiking on Etna is to visit with a certified mountain guide or volcanologist. Never go walking alone unless you are experienced hikers. With a guide you experience fantastic trekking across lunar landscapes, ancient lava flows, visit lava tunnels, pass through green forests all whilst learning the geology and nature of the volcano with the added addition of breath taking views.

2) By Jeep ..... Scale the slopes of Etna on a 4 x 4 tour. Travel up rugged mountain tracks and terrain in an off road vehicle experiencing parts of the volcano unreachable by foot.

3) With a Private Driver ..... Your tour of Etna begins at your hotel where you will be met by your driver who will drive you throughout the whole tour, visiting the town of Zafferana Etnea then on to the famous Valle del Bove. From there you will visit the Silvestri Craters with the option to continue higher up by means of the cable car and an off road 4 x 4 bus.

4) Do It Yourself ..... If you have hired a car for your Sicilian trip it is easy to drive up the winding roads of the volcano to Rifugio Sapienza, where you can park your car and buy a ticket for the cable car and the off road bus that will transport you to 8,850 feet with the additional option of joining a group with a licensed alpine guide.

5) Escorted Tour ..... There are many tour companies where you can book an escorted group tour of Etna. Your bus will leave from your chosen departure point and you will be escorted by a tour leader. Sit back and enjoy your scenic ride whilst your tour leader explains the story, the history and the geology of the volcano on route to Rifugio Sapienza where you will be given free time to explore the area.

6) Quad Biking ..... Enjoy a thrill with a quad bike tour of Mount Etna and the Alcantara Valley. Soak in the views as you ride around Etna's base enjoying some of the volcanos most famous volcanic landscapes.

7) Horse Riding .....
One of the most amazing ways to experience Etna is on horse back. Horses can easily tackle the volcanos varied terrain and you will make a new friend for life whether you and your four legged friend explore the rims of the Silvestri craters or woodlands and pines forests.

8) Donkey Trekking .....
A trek on a donkey is a slower ride and is done in small stages over time so that you can enjoy the surrounding area, nature and atmosphere. It is a perfect option for families with children. Everybody always enjoys a donkey ride, how could you resist those ears and that smile?

9) By Train .....
The Circumetnea is a narrow gauge railway of 110km that circumnavigates Mount Etna. It passes through scenic and rural landscapes with Etna's summit forever visible throughout your journey. It is the perfect alternative way to enjoy Mount Etna's beauty.

10) Play Golf .....
Golf under the shadow of a volcano anyone? Enjoy a golfing holiday in a gorgeous resort with an 18 hole course, hotel and spa and volcanic atmosphere in Etna wine country.

11) Visit a Vineyard ..... Mount Etna's volcanic soil produces excellent grapes so no visit to the volcano is complete without a visit to a vineyard to taste some excellent volcanic wine. There are many wineries to choose from and you might just end up staying all day.

12) Honey Tasting ..... Zafferana Etnea is a beautiful town on the slopes of the volcano where they produce honey made by the honey bee and the Sicilian black bee, a visit here is a must to taste this precious nectar made by skilled hands.

13) Helicopter Tour .....
Enjoy a breath taking birds eye view of Etna in a helicopter where you will be able to get a complete view of the volcano and its craters, impossible to seen from the ground. A once in a lifetime experience.

14) Stay in a Boutique Resort .....
The slopes of Etna boast a number of beautiful boutique hotels and resorts. Many are renovated wineries and the perfect choice for a volcanic country retreat away from the hub bub of Sicily's busier towns. Enjoy fine dining created by using produce that grows in such abundance from the volcanic soil.

15) An Agriturismo .....
An agriturismo is primarily a farm with a number of rooms for guests where you can enjoy the taste of local produce, wine and local dishes and be made to feel part of the family. Most often they are restored farmhouses located on the quiet beautiful terrain and surrounding areas of the volcano.

16) A Cooking Class .....
With all the fresh produce that Etna supplies from its volcanic soil, a cooking class is a gastronomic must. Most boutique hotels and agriturismi offer great cooking classes ranging from modern fusion cooking to cooking the traditional Sicilian way.

17) Adventure Park .....
Parco Avventura Etna is a great place to enjoy a few hours, kids can have a great time climbing and zip lining whilst the adults can relax on hammocks under the trees. Pack a picnic.

18) Etnaland ..... Etnaland is Southern Italy's largest theme park packed with hair raising rides and exhilarating water slides all under the watchful eye of Mount Etna, how cool is that?

19) Cycling & Mountain Biking .....
The hilly and mountainous landscape is ideal for cycling and mountain biking. Either rent a bike yourself or join a tour with a lead cyclist.

20) Skiing ..... In winter the snow covered slopes of the volcano offer two ski resorts. From November to March you can ski one day and enjoy the beach the next.

21) Learn Italian ..... What else could be more inspiring than learning to speak the Italian language in a 19th century converted winery on the slopes of Etna? Have fun learning your new language with an active volcano.

22) Watch the Sun Set .....
Discover Etna at sunset and enjoy a panoramic view from the top of the volcano as you watch the Sicilian sun crash in the western side of the island.

However you decide to experience Etna you can be sure
that you will create Insta-envy with your Instagram followers
and create beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.

For my Etna recommendations
please feel free to email me at 

I have many lovely expert Mount Etna contacts,
I only suggest the most fun and finest
with local inside knowledge and experience.

Love Sarah x

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