3 Days in Syracuse: Itinerary with Top Things to Do

What to do in Syracuse?

If you are going on a trip to the east coast of Sicily, and you are looking for what to do in Syracuse?

You are in the right place!

Take a magnificent setting by the sea and add a remarkable historical heritage, you will have all the ingredients for spending a few perfect days of vacation.

In order to help you plan your stay, I have therefore prepared this guide to Syracuse. You will find all the main places of interest in the city and the surrounding area as well as itineraries to visit Syracuse in 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days.

And at the end of the article, find my selection of the best accommodations according to your budget.

So, what to see and where to stay in Syracuse?

Visit Syracuse: the must-sees

1. Island of Ortigia

The Island of Ortigia, or (Isle of Ortygia in French) constitutes the heart of the historic city of Syracuse and certainly the most attractive district.

Once past the bridge that connects it to the city, you will be surprised at the calm that reigns there. In order to preserve all its charm, the island is mostly car-free, and some parking spaces are only reserved for residents.

But don’t worry, you will of course find car parks charged by the day and you will quickly realize that the parking rules are quite flouted in Sicily.

After 2 days, it is not improbable that you will adopt the local method and park your car in the least free space, authorized or not.

Tips for your Syracuse itinerary:

Ortigia is forbidden for cars but not for Segways! If you want to visit the island while practicing an original activity, I advise you to book a Segway tour.

It lasts 3 hours and allows you to discover the main places of interest of Ortigia but also those of Syracuse. 

Syracuse itinerary 3 days

2. Temple of Apollo and Syracuse Market

Once the parking problem has been solved, start by going to see the Temple of Apollo located at the entrance to the city and you will come across the Syracuse market which is held every morning.

Attracted by the colors and smells, take the opportunity to plan a good picnic with Sicilian charcuterie and cheese!

Tips for your Syracuse itinerary:

And if you want to discover the typical small taverns and taste excellent local products, I advise you to choose a gastronomic tour.

Your guide will share with you all his good addresses in the city. On the program: seafood, fish, bruschetta, arancini, foccacia, cheeses, cannoli and tasting of several wines.

Book this food tour here.

Temple of Apollo, Syracuse itinerary

3. The port of Syracuse

Located near the market, the port of Syracuse will allow you to discover some scenes of life, in particular the fishermen and their boats which seem to come from another time.

It is the port that makes the connection between the city of Syracuse and the island of Ortygia.

Fisherman in the port of Syracuse
Fisherman in the port of Syracuse

4. Maniace Castle

Then go to Castello Maniace, at the tip of the island of Ortigia, open only in the morning.

It is one of the places of interest not to be missed in Syracuse. With an entrance fee of €2, the visit will take you around an hour, but the castle is especially interesting for its view. There are also a few showrooms to visit.

Syracuse itinerary 3 days

Maniace Castle, 3 days in Syracuse
Maniace Castle – Syracuse

5. Fontaine Aretusa

Then stroll through the many narrow and quiet streets.

No risk of getting lost, the island of Ortigia is very small and no matter which path you take, you will always end up finding the seaside.

Along it you can go all around the island and discover the fountain of Aretusa with mythological origins. At the end of the afternoon it is the ideal place to admire the sunset which is just magnificent.

3 days Syracuse itinerary

fountain of Arethuse
View from the fountain of Arethuse

6. Cathedral square

The other must-see tourist site in Syracuse is Piazza del Duomo, the island’s main square .

This huge square is surrounded by many white stone buildings that will dazzle you not only because the sun is reflected very strongly but also by their size and their excellent state of preservation.

You can admire there:

  • Syracuse Cathedral
  • The Beneventano palace
  • City Hall
  • The Archbishop’s Palace
  • The church « Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia »

This is also the time to enjoy a drink on one of the many restaurant terraces on the piazza or taste a homemade ice cream on the steps of the cathedral. In the evening the place lights up and it is even more beautiful.

Syracuse itinerary 2 days
The Cathedral Square

7. Fontana at Diana

Located in Piazza Archimede, it is a magnificent fountain located right next to Piazza Duomo. It is also called “  Fontana di Artemide  ”

Syracuse itinerary 1 day
Fountain of Diana – place d’Ortigia

8. Stroll through the alleys of Isola d’Ortigia

Getting lost in the alleys of the old town of Syracuse is a good way to discover the charms of Italian life.

In 3 days in Syracuse, we discovered new alleys every day!

Syracuse itinerary 3 days
Ortigia – Old Town of Syracuse
Syracuse itinerary 3 days
Alley of Ortigia – Syracuse

9. Syracuse Bike Path

Leaving the island of Ortigia, turn right and walk along the seafront until you reach piazzale dei cappuccini, the start of the Syracuse cycle path.

Ideal for a long bike ride, your daily jog or just for a walk. You can enjoy many viewpoints over the island of Ortigia and the surrounding cliffs.

10. Neapolis Archaeological Park

The Neapolis Archaeological Park is located north of the modern city of Syracuse, on Viale Paradiso. It is Syracuse’s main tourist attraction.

There are plenty of parking spaces available and free along the road, so you will have no trouble parking, except of course in the middle of July and August when it is better to arrive at the opening (at 9 o’clock).

The ticket office is not located at the entrance to the park but on the left, at the far end to take you past the souvenir shops and refreshment stands. Admission is €10 and free every first Sunday of the month.

Syracuse itinerary 3 days
Syracuse Archaeological Park

Once inside you can admire:

  • A Roman amphitheater almost completely dug into the rock and having hosted fights of wild animals and gladiators
  • A huge Greek theater that can hold up to 20,000 people
  • The altar of Hieron II dedicated to Zeus and used for animal sacrifices
  • The ear of Dionysius, an old limestone quarry (also called latomies) over 20 meters high. It is so called because when you look at the entrance you can easily see the shape of an ear. Legend has it that the tyrant Dionysius sat there to listen to the conversations of his prisoners. Inside the echo is impressive.

It is a pleasant site to explore which does not present any particular difficulties provided you are equipped with hats and sunscreen because it is really very hot there. Allow around 2 hours for the visit.

Tips for your Syracuse itinerary:

Do you want to know everything about the archaeological park? In this case, I recommend that you opt for a guided tour.

In addition to the park, you will also have the chance to visit the island of Ortigia with a really interesting and passionate guide .

If you like archaeological remains and are interested in history, 1 hour from Syracuse, you can also visit the necropolis of Pantalica.

The site is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its 5,000 rock-cut tombs.

To get there, a short hike is necessary. Guided treks are organized to allow you both to be safe and to benefit from all the historical explanations on site.

To book by clicking here!

Syracuse itinerary 3 days

11. Sanctuary of Our Lady of Tears

To see especially for its extraordinary exterior architecture, this sanctuary dominates the city of Syracuse and can be seen from afar!

It is the perfect visit to do when returning from Neapolis Park on foot to Ortigia.

Syracuse itinerary 3 days
Shrine of Our Lady of Tears

12. Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum

Located 500 meters from the Archaeological Park of Neapolis, it is the ideal place to complete the visit to the park.

Remember to take a combined park + museum ticket at 13.5€, you will save a little. Otherwise, admission to the museum alone is €8, but beware, it is closed on Mondays.

The museum brings together a collection of statues, sculptures, ceramics and various objects ranging from the period of Sicilian prehistory to Greek colonization.

13. Catacombs of San Giovanni

Also in the corner of the Neapolis Archaeological Park are the Catacombs of San Giovanni (“Chiesa di San Giovanni alle Catacombe” in Italian). Little known to tourists, it is nevertheless a great visit to do in Syracuse!

These catacombs of Greek origin are located under the church of San Giovanni, and it is possible to take a guided tour in Italian or English. It’s really worth the detour!

What to do around Syracuse?

14. The beaches near Syracuse

For many of you, a Sicily itinerary also certainly rhymes with beaches!

Here is our small selection of the best beaches to go to near Syracuse:

  • Ortigia beach : It is possible to swim without leaving the city of Syracuse, on the peninsula of Ortigia. In addition to the beach, pontoons have been set up to facilitate access to the sea.
  • Vendicari beach : Located in the nature reserve of the same name, you can, in addition to swimming and sunbathing, observe pink flamingos.
  • Calamosche Beach : The beauty of the place and the crystal clear waters make it one of the most popular beaches around Syracuse!
  • Fontane Bianche: Apart from Ortigia, this is the closest large beach to Syracuse.
  • The Beaches of Avola : the sandy beaches of Avola, of which Gallina is the most famous , are ideal if you are traveling with children, as the water there is very shallow over a large distance. Perfect for playing in the water!
  • Parco Marino del Plemmirio : My favorite place to finish! Several beautiful little coves very close to Syracuse. Out of season, you will be really quiet!

Tips for your Syracuse itinerary:

To go around the most beautiful beaches and coves around Syracuse and also discover Ortigia from the sea, I recommend a sea kayak trip.

This activity lasts about 4 hours, during which your instructor will take you all along the coast of Syracuse, discovering the most beautiful landscapes in the area.

Book your kayak trip with a guide in Syracuse.

Syracuse itinerary 3 days
A cove in the parco marino del Plemmirio

15. Cavagrande del Cassibile Oriented Nature Reserve

This is the nature getaway not to be missed near Syracuse!

The Orientata Cavagrande del Cassibile nature reserve is about an hour’s drive from the city.

From the car park, count 30 minutes of descent on foot to reach the gorges. The ascent will be done in 45 minutes / 1 hour.

The panorama is magnificent, with a beautiful view of the canyon. It is also possible to see Etna in the distance! It is an ideal place for walking, picnicking and swimming.

A few tips to make the most of your visit :

  • Plan to drink and preferably good shoes, because it is quite steep!
  • In summer, go early in the morning to avoid the crowds!
Syracuse itinerary 3 days
Gorges de la Cavagrande del Cassibile Oriented Nature Reserve, proche de Syracuse

16. Catania

It is the nearest big city around Syracuse and certainly where you will start your Sicily itinerary because the city has an airport.

One day is enough to walk around and discover the main historical buildings of Catania.

If you have planned to visit Mount Etna, you can also spend a little more time there, as the town is an excellent starting point for this excursion.

I explain how to visit Catania in my dedicated article: What to do in Catania?

Syracuse itinerary 3 days
The cathedral of Sant’Agata – Catania

17. Taormina

Still in the vicinity of Syracuse, I strongly advise you to go to Taormina.

With its small streets lined with restaurants, its Greek theater and its breathtaking views of Mount Etna, the place is really worth a visit! Not to mention the magnificent little cove of Isola Bella which is located at the foot of the town and where you can swim in translucent water.

Just like Catania, Taormina is a good starting point to visit Etna.

If you want to know everything about Taormina, it’s in my article: Visiting Taormina – The ultimate guide.

Syracuse itinerary 3 days
Isola Bella, the jewel of Taormina

18. The Baroque towns of Noto, Modica and Ragusa

South of Syracuse, I advise you to plan a day to discover the 3 baroque cities of Noto, Modica and Ragusa.

They are all listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites for their historic center and their magnificent Baroque churches and palaces.

Syracuse itinerary 3 days
Noto, city of Sicily

How many days to visit Syracuse?

It is good to be able to spend at least 2 days in Syracuse. This is the time it will take you to visit the city’s must-see places of interest.

Syracuse is also an excellent starting point for day trips. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Visit the Baroque towns of Noto, Ragusa and Modica (all 3 can be done in one day)
  • Go to Parco Marino del Plemmirio to enjoy the sea!
  • Spend half a day at the Orientata Cavagrande del Cassibile reserve

1 Day Syracuse Itinerary

In 1 day in Syracuse, the best is to focus on the island of Ortigia, by far the most beautiful area of ​​the city. The visit is entirely on foot.

  • Commencez par la piazza del duomo
  • Then descend to the Temple of Apollo and the market passing by the Fontana di Diana
  • Take a short tour of the fishermen’s port
  • You will definitely want to return to the market for a bite to eat!
  • Then go up along the coast to Castello Maniace and take the tour.
  • Stroll through the alleys of the island of Ortigia, have a drink on the terrace of a café and enjoy the Italian dolce vita!
  • Then go and enjoy the sunset from the side of the Aretusa Fountain
  • End your day with an ice cream in piazza del duomo

2 Days Syracuse Itinerary

If you have 2 days in Syracuse, take the 1st day itinerary above and take advantage of this second day to visit the greatest attraction of the city, after the island of Ortigia. This day can also be done on foot.

  • Start your day with a walk along the Syracuse cycle path, which offers a beautiful view of the island of Ortigia, and the sea.
  • Lunch break
  • Direction then the archaeological park of Neapolis for the first part of the afternoon.
  • A short tour through the Catacombs of San Giovanni before descending to your accommodation on the island of Ortigia.
  • If you have followed our advice and are staying on the island of Ortigia, on the way back, you will pass in front of the Santuario Madonna delle Lacrime.

3 Days Syracuse Itinerary

In 3 days in Syracuse, you will have time to take a short getaway outside the city.

You have several options:

  • Visit Noto, Ragusa and Modica, 3 superb baroque towns around Syracuse. This is the cultural option.
  • Go and enjoy the beaches near Syracuse, for example at Parco Marino del Plemmirio.
  • Why not split the day, and go to the Orientata Cavagrande del Cassibile nature reserve in the morning?

For this day, or if you want to spend 4 or 5 days in Syracuse, you can also:

  • Join Taormina and enjoy the cove of Isola Bella
  • Visit Catania

Accommodation in Syracuse

A word of advice, prefer to stay on the island of Ortygia rather than in Syracuse itself, the prices are not necessarily higher and the environment is much more pleasant there.

  • TRE Archi B&B : Located 50 meters from piazza del duomo, quiet. Colorful and authentic double room from €50, breakfast included. Most: the geographical location, the calm, the availability of the owners.
  • II Duomo : Located in Piazza del Duomo, you couldn’t ask for a better location. Large room with classic decoration. View of the garden or the square. Double room from €80, breakfast included. Most: the location of the establishment, the warm welcome, the comfort of the rooms.
  • Alla Giudecca: Located 5 minutes walk from the Duomo. Spacious and bright double room from €120 per night, breakfast included. Most: the magnificent view from the terrace, the ideal geographical location, the very good breakfast.
  • Caportigia Boutique Hotel: Located 1 km from the archaeological park of Neapolis. Double room with a modern and refined design from €200 per night, breakfast included. Most: the delicious breakfast, the warm welcome, the jacuzzi on the terrace. This is our recommendation for a luxury stay in Syracuse.
Syracuse itinerary 3 days
Tip of the island of Ortigia – Syracuse

Where to eat in Syracuse

  • Caseificio Borderi : Located at the market end of the island of Ortigia. Witness live the preparation of a HUGE sandwich prepared just for you by the chef according to the inspiration of the moment. Each sandwich is unique and their preparation is a real spectacle. All this for only €5 for 2 people, the sandwiches are so big that one is enough for 2. Plan to go early because the queue is impressive.
  • Sicilia in tavola : Nice decor and welcome, this is the perfect trattoria for your meal. Pizzas, homemade pasta, fish, large choice of dishes for a moderate price. Don’t miss the tiramisu for dessert. Better to book.
Syracuse itinerary 3 days

How to get to Syracuse?

From Catania airport:

  • By car : 1 hour drive via E45 and SS114
  • By bus : One bus every hour from Monday to Saturday and 6 on Sunday; 1h15 drive; 5.70€
  • By train : Frequent but somewhat slow trains; 2 hour journey; 6€

I hope I have made you want to visit Syracuse!

If you have any other suggestions for things to see and do in Syracuse, please let me know in the comments.

Are you going to Sicily? Read also

Discover all our articles about Sicily: All tips about Sicily are listed here.

Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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