Discover Mt Etna and the beautiful volcanic archipelago of Northern Sicily
Reviews 27 Reviews5/5
Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Moderate
Group Size Small Group
Striking active volcanoes, black beaches, thermal springs and a stunning cobalt sea make the Aeolians Islands a unique must-see destination. Exploring the varied landscape by boat and on foot is without doubt the best way to take in the natural beauty and contrasts of this part of Sicily. During the week we trek on the archipelago’s best islands: Lipari, with its archaeological ruins and lively harbour, Vulcano, with its craters and famous fumaroles and fiery Stromboli, which will hopefully greet us with spectacular shows of its explosive activity. On the mainland, we explore Taormina and trek on the famous Mount Etna (3350m), the highest and most active volcano in Europe.
* All breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
* All accommodation
* Airport transfers (at designated times)
* Tour leader throughout
* Stromboli summit trek led by volcanologist
- Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)
- Local city taxes (approx €10)
- Optional Etna summit trek (volcanic conditions dependent)
- Walk on Mt Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano
- See the continuous volcanic activity of Stromboli
- Discover the picturesque villages of the Aeolian Islands
- Walk around Vulcano’s spectacular crater rim
- 7 nights in hotels, apartments and guesthouses, all rooms en suite
- 5 days guided walking; moderate/challenging treks on Etna and Stromboli
- Group normally 5 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
- Maximum altitude 3350m (on optional Etna summit trek), average 800m
- Travel by minibus, local buses, public and private boats/hydrofoils
We start in the harbour town of Milazzo, the gateway to the Aeolian Islands located in the northern tip of Sicily’s mainland. We strongly recommend joining the group transfer at Catania airport and travelling to the start point with the group, as public transport connections from Catania to Milazzo are limited.
Boat to Vulcano and trek to the crater to see the famous fumaroles; free afternoon for bathing in Vulcano's hot springs, beaches and mud baths.
Today we travel by boat across the cobalt waters to Vulcano (1hr), one of the seven Aeolian Islands, famous for its long stretches of black beaches and bubbling thermal springs. Our first walk takes us to Vulcano’s crater rim to see the steaming ’Fumaroles’ (vents of volcanic gas). In the afternoon there will be some free time for bathing in Vulcano’s hot springs and mud baths. Hydrofoil back to Lipari and overnight in Lipari.
Walk along Lipari's unspoilt western coast; free time to explore Lipari historic town and the archaeological museum; wine and produce tasting.
This morning we travel by public bus to the village of Quattropani, the start point of today’s walk which follows a panoramic trail along Lipari’s western and wildest coast. We continue to Lipari town past pretty villages and the old roman spa of San Calogero. In the afternoon there is some free time to discover the historic part of the town, including the castle and the archaeological museum. We conclude the day with a well deserved Sicilian wine and produce tasting.
Boat to Stomboli; free time to explore the island before a sunset hike to the 'Sciara del Fuoco' (Stream of fire), to witness the volcanic activity.
Our day begins with a two hour boat journey to Stromboli, a unique island famed for being home to one of only four active volcanoes in Italy and an interesting place to explore for geologists and tourists alike. Once there, we have free time to relax on the island’s black sandy beaches. For sunset, we walk to the western side of Stromboli to reach the spectacular ’Sciara del Fuoco’, a fiery channel where the lava outflows can sometimes plunge directly into the sea (4 hours walking, ascent 400m descent 400m, 9km).
Free half day in Stromboli to visit the town or relax on the island's black beaches; sunset trek to the summit of Stromboli.
The morning is free to take a wander through Stromboli town, relax on one of the island’s beaches (seasonal) or enjoy a boat trip around the island. In the afternoon we take a guided excursion to the summit area of Stromboli at 942m accompanied by a certified volcano guide. Although Mother Nature doesn’t work with an exact schedule, here we can usually witness the pyrotechnical activity of the volcano with nightfall emphasising the dramatic red-hot spurts of molten rock. Please note: the excursion is weather and volcanic conditions dependent; the descent is very dusty so it may not be suitable for asthma sufferers. You will need a head-torch as you descend after nightfall (5 hours walking, ascent 924m descent 924m, 12km).
Travel to the town of Taormina for a short optional walk and sightseeing; continue towards Etna’s southern slope.
Leaving Stromboli we take a boat ride to Milazzo (approx 3hrs journey) and transfer to the elegant town of Taormina by private minibus (approx. 1hr). There may free time to visit the town’s Greek Theatre – originally built during the 3rd century BC and still used for performances during Taormina’s annual summer arts festival – or take advantage of the town’s great shopping opportunities and perhaps sample some refreshing mulberry gelato. Time permitting, it may be possible to take an optional short walk which starts from the pretty mediaeval town of Castelmola (45 minutes walking, descent 320m, 3 km). We usually spend the night in a mountain lodge at 1900m above sea level, from where we can enjoy great views over the sea and the east coast of Sicily. The lodge is located very close to the most recent lava flow. When the lodge is not available (see accommodation section for more info) we will spend the night at hotel Le Pendici *** in Nicolosi town.
Walk the southern area of the Mount Etna or take an optional trek to the summit crater (3350m); transfer and overnight in Catania.
Today, you can decide between two walks: a hike in the southern area of the Mount Etna volcano (scheduled in the programme and accompanied by your tour leader) or an optional summit trek accompanied by a volcanologist to the top craters of Mt Etna (payable locally and volcanic conditions dependent). If you choose the first walk you will hike up past several lava flows to be rewarded with a dramatic panoramic view of the four craters that make up the top of this famous volcano, plus extensive views of the entire coast of Sicily (4 hours walking, ascent 400m descent 400m, 9km). Alternatively, if you opt for the summit trek, you will start with a ride by cable car and sometimes 4×4 jeeps up until 2900m and then further on foot to 3350m to walk along the rim of the Bove valley, an extensive depression that opened up thousands of years ago as a result of a massive landslide (6 hours walking, + 450 – 450 mt, 9km; depending on recent volcanic activity, the length, duration and altitude of this walk might vary). In the afternoon we will be transferred to Catania by a private minibus; overnight in Catania.
The trip ends in the morning of day 8 in Catania.**
7 nights in hotels, apartments and guesthouses
We spend 7 nights in hotels, apartments and guesthouses which have been chosen for their warm hospitality and their typical Sicilian character.
All hotels have Wi-Fi and en suite facilities although please be aware that a small number of rooms at the hotels in Catania may have private toilet facilities located outside of the bedroom.
List of hotels normally used:
1 night at Hotel Milazzo in Milazzo
2 nights at Oltremare Residence, Hotel Oriente or Residence Baia Portinenti in Lipari
2 nights at Villa Petrusa or Hotel Ossidiana in Stromboli
1 night at Hotel Sapienza on Etna South
1 night Hotel Valentino or B&B Gattopardo House in Catania
All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner included.
In the itinerary, we state which meals are included on which day. Please note that the diet in this part of Sicily is heavily dependent on fish and meat. However, vegetarian options are widely available. Breakfast: usually a continental style buffet. Lunch: normally a picnic or taken in local cafes. Evening meal: dominated by Mediterranean flavours like pasta with rich tomato sauces, olive oil, cheese, salami and pizza. They combine an excellent variety of seafood and meat for the perfect taste of Southern Italy.
Overall Activity Level: 3 (Moderate). Most walks are classified as Level 2 (Leisurely/Moderate) or 3 (Moderate). Stromboli and Etna summit walks are level 4 (Moderate/Challenging).
Although during the week the walking is fairly easy and there is plenty of free time to relax, we do recommend that you have some previous hiking experience. Daywalks will take between 3 to 5 hours on hilly-to-steep terrain of dried lava, rocky ash and sand. The excursion offered on Stromboli and the optional summit trek on Etna are more demanding and you will need to be confident of your fitness if you decide to join these.
Please note that the summit treks to Stromboli and Etna are weather and volcanic activity dependent. The local authorities may decide (without previous notice) to close the summits and suspend all excursions. In the unfortunate event this occurs on your departure, the leader will suggest some alternative optional activities. These walks are led by local volcanologist guides who will assess clients suitabilty to participate locally. Please note that people with pre-exhisting medical conditions such as heart conditions, serious asthma and severe vertigo may not be able to participate.
All timings of activities might be subject to change as they are dependent on ferry schedules.