No trip to the Italian island of Sicily is complete without a ride on the Circumetnea Train, well, not for lovers of slow romantic train travel that is. Travelling for 110km and three hours the train travels from the island’s second largest city, Catania, to the seaside town of Riposto. It almost entirely encircles Mount Etna, one of the world’s tallest active volcanoes, travelling down a narrow-gauge railway that shows off spectacular views of the volcano and Sicilian landscape.
The railway line first opened in 1898 and is still popular with tourists and locals, crossing villages at the foot of the majestic volcano and showing off dark lava landscapes typical of the area. Be prepared for an old-world journey of nostalgia, as while some trains carriages are modern, some are dated and without modern amenities.
Prices from: € 7.90
Departing from: Catania, Italy
Journey length: 3hours
The Circumetnea Train route
A journey on the full Circumetnea railway takes three hours, covering 110km as it travels from Catania to Riposoto. Stops include Paterno, Adrano, Bronte, Randazzo and Giarre, villages at the foothills of Mount Etna, and scenery is spectacular and varied, from dark lava formations to rugged Mediterranean countryside. While the non-stop journey isn’t overly long, train schedules allow for easily splitting up the trip and hopping off at some of the stops. We recommend stopping off at Bronte and Randazzo
The Circumetnea Train
Trains can be hit or miss along this route. Passengers will either end up with a modern, comfortable train or old carriages that are devoid of air-conditioning and toilets. Sometimes the line runs journeys using vintage mid-20th-century railroad cars, which add to the ‘lost in time’ feel of the route. Passengers will need to board the train at Catania Borgo station, served by both buses and the underground. Tickets can be purchased at the station.
Why we love it
The train is worth riding for views of Mount Etna alone, and also to discover unknown corners of Sicily along the way.