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Traveling Italian

Posted On November 28, 2023 By Louis

The Syracuse Travel Guide

An Introduction to Syracuse

Syracuse also known in Italy as Siracusa is just south of Catania on the south east of Sicily. The city has a deep greek and Roman history and is the birthplace of the famous greek mathematician Archimedes. The population of Syracuse is 125,000 and was once known the greatest and most beautiful Greek city of them all, with a similar size to Athens. Eventually Palermo took over the importance but the city is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The top things to do in Syracuse

The main things to do in Syracuse city are:

Visit the historical sites such as the Duomo di Siracusa a Doric temple that is a World Heritage Site or the The Ear of Dionysius. This is a limestone cave that looks like an ear that was carved out of a hill in Syracuse. Personally I like to book a walking tour in Syracuse to discover all the major sites.

Go shopping in Ortigia. Ortigia is the centre of the ancient town of Syracuse and is very popular destination to go shopping. You can find many shops such as well known brands H & M, United Colors of Benetton and many boutique retailers. I recommend spending around a day going shopping.

Walk around and enjoy the fresh markets in Syracuse. Open every day until lunch except for Sunday is the Ortigia Street market. This is a fresh fish and vegetable market. You can try oysters with a wine, olives cheese and more. Across the road are souvenir and clothes stands. A minutes walk away is the local markets next to the remains of the Temple of Apollo that has similar goods. Try and go early morning at 7am to avoid the lines.

Enjoy the food. Syracuse is on the ocean and is a popular city to have fresh seafood dishes and a must is fried fish and shellfish. It is also very close to Catania which is a big importer of foods. You can find many restaurants in Syracuse.

You can view more in our top things to do in Syracuse Blog.

Languages Spoken in Syracuse

Syracuse adopts Italian as its official language. Familiarising yourself with essential Italian words and phrases before visiting can enrich your experience with the locals in Syracuse. The closer to the city centre you go the more chance of english however, I would get onto the Duolingo App before you visit.

The Best Time to Visit Syracuse

Syracuse has a Mediterranean climate, characterised by warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The city experiences a fair amount of sunshine throughout the year, with an average of 2,600 hours annually. Throughout the year, temperatures in Syracuse usually range from 8°C to 30°C.

Temperature in Syracuse
Average Rainfall per Month in Syracuse

How to get around Syracuse

Getting to Syracuse is pretty easy, thanks to its small size and convenient access to major airports. Here are some helpful tips for getting around:

Aeroplane - For those journeying to Syracuse from overseas, air travel stands out as the most convenient option. The nearest airport to Syracuse is Catania Airport, catering primarily to European travelers with limited international flight routes. If you're flying from New York, the anticipated flight duration is around 10.5 hours, usually involving a layover in Rome. If you have more than hand luggage, it's advisable to consider a longer layover to ensure a smooth connection between flights.

Bus - Buses in Syracude provide a convenient means of transportation, however you need to acknowledge the possibility of delays or cancellations. The primary bus line within the town is run by SAIS Autoline. To travel from Catania Airport to the Syracuse, the Interbus is available. The bus ride is just over an hour and cost 6 euros.

Car - I would recommend opting for a car when exploring Syracuse. If you're landing at Catania Airport, the journey to the city center typically takes around 50 minutes. For those driving from mainland Italy, there's an additional step to consider. Initially, you'll need to take a 20-minute ferry from Villa San Giovanni Port to Messina. From there, it's a drive of just under 2 hours to reach Syracuse.

Keep in mind that in Italy, driving occurs on the right-hand side of the road, with the driver positioned on the left-hand side of the vehicle. Manual cars are more common than automatic ones, leading to higher rental prices. To avoid falling prey to scams or excessive charges often targeting tourists, it is advisable to choose a reputable car rental agency. Start saving now and secure your reservation for a rental car.

Rail Travel - Siracusa Station, managed by TRENITALIA, serves as the primary train station in the city. The train journey from Catania Airport takes approximately one hour, with services operating from 6 in the morning until around 9 pm. Priced just over 8 euros for a single journey, it proves to be an economical and convenient means of reaching Syracuse from Catania Airport.

Taxi - Taxis offer a convenient and reliable transportation option for exploring Syracuse, especially after a long overseas journey. Opting for a taxi can save you from the hassle of waiting for buses or dealing with rental cars. If you're traveling from Catania Airport to Syracuse city center, consider using the local taxi service situated just outside the main entrance. The fare is approximately €88, so be sure not to overpay. The journey usually takes around 1 hour. For a trustworthy taxi service in Syracuse Centre, I recommend Radio Taxi Syracuse 17977.

Parking in Syracuse

Parking can be a daunting task for tourists in a foreign country, requiring careful selection to avoid fines. Simplifying parking in Syracuse, it's important to note that payment is generally necessary, and carrying both cash and card is advisable.

Navigating Syracuse's parking can be challenging, especially during the busy summer months when narrow streets become congested. While street parking is available, it's limited, and awareness of resident-designated spots is crucial. Free parking is usually marked by white lines, unless a blue sign with a white 'P' indicates otherwise. Blue lines signify paid parking. When street parking, utilize a meter or obtain a ticket from a local tobacconist, ensuring it's visible on the dashboard and adhering to time constraints due to the consistent presence of parking wardens.

EasyPark is a convenient method for paying parking fees in Italy, operating in various locations nationwide. The app allows direct payment from your phone, eliminating the need for a parking meter or newsagent. Payments can be made for a predetermined time or adjusted if you return early. A helpful tip is to enter a random Italian phone number when downloading the app, as using a local number may not be recognized when in Italy.

Being aware of the Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL) in specific Syracuse areas is crucial, as these zones restrict access to residents and authorized vehicles during specific hours. To avoid hefty fines, it's advisable to refrain from entering ZTL areas with your personal or rental car, with regular checks on the ZTL website for the latest information. The zone is pretty much the whole of island of Ortigia.

For a hassle-free parking experience, consider using parking garages, easily located by searching "Parcheggio" on Google Maps near your destination. I usually park here as is the closest you can get to the island Via Rodi, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy. If staying at a hotel, it's recommended to use their designated parking for security, with some Syracuse hotels offering complimentary parking while others may charge a small fee.

The Top 5 Hotels in Syracuse

The Grand Hotel Ortigia Siracusa stands as a beacon of elegance and hospitality, catering to families seeking a luxurious and memorable getaway. This iconic establishment, built in the 19th century and meticulously renovated in 1995, seamlessly blends old-world charm with modern amenities, ensuring a comfortable and enriching stay for guests of all ages.

Hotel Ortigia balcony in Syracuse

Caportigia Boutique Hotel, situated in the heart of Syracuse, is a luxurious 5-star establishment just a stone's throw away from the enchanting Ortigia. Featuring 14 exquisitely designed rooms, each exuding a contemporary ambiance, our accommodations offer modern amenities, including select rooms with jacuzzis and terraces for an elevated experience.

What sets the hotel apart is the exceptional manager's reception, available around the clock to cater to your needs. Guests enjoy the convenience of complimentary parking, and the dedicated staff are ready to assist with activity arrangements and valet services. Experience unparalleled comfort and service at Caportigia Boutique Hotel.

Caportigia Boutique hotel terrace in Syracuse

Overlooking Porto Piccolo, the 5-star Ortea Palace Hotel is a luxurious retreat in Syracuse. This meticulously restored and modernised hotel, once the Syracuse Post Office from the 1920s, seamlessly blends historic charm with contemporary elegance.

Boasting a range of amenities, including an indoor pool, spa, hair salon, and a cutting-edge fitness centre, the hotel provides a haven of relaxation. Two on-site restaurants offer breathtaking ocean views for a delightful breakfast experience, while the wine bar invites guests to savour drinks while watching boats navigate the harbour.

The rooms at Ortea Palace Hotel feature classic design infused with modern technology. Guests can expect high ceilings, sumptuous velvet antique furniture, and touches of marble, ensuring a refined and comfortable stay.

Ortea Palace Hotel in Syracuse

The Grand Hotel Des Ètrangers stands as a 5-star luxury establishment in the heart of town. Boasting contemporary elegance, the rooms vary from 27 m² to 97 m², all exuding a modern style. The bathrooms are a testament to superlative modernity, adorned with designer toiletries.

Indulge in tranquility at the Sarausa Spa & Wellness onsite, offering a plethora of rejuvenating treatments. For dining and libations with unparalleled views of the ocean and town, the signature Clou Lounge Bar & Restaurant awaits. As a smoke-free environment, the hotel prioritises guest well-being, complemented by the staff's assistance with Syracuse tours and other concierge services. Stay connected with available Wi-Fi, and enjoy the convenience of valet parking during your luxurious stay.

Grand Hotel des etrangers room in Syracuse

Charme Hotel Henry's House, a distinguished 4-star boutique hotel, graces the Gulf of Ortigia with its classic Sicilian allure. Recently refurbished, this intimate retreat features just 14 rooms, each offering captivating views of the town or the ocean, with some adorned with intricately painted ceilings.

Inside, guests are treated to king-size beds, tasteful Sicilian furnishings, and well-appointed bathrooms stocked with designer toiletries. The hotel's amenities include a rooftop terrace, a library, and a welcoming fireplace, creating an inviting ambiance.

The multilingual staff at Charme Hotel Henry's House stands ready to assist guests with tour bookings and recommendations for activities in Syracuse. For those arriving by car, convenient parking facilities are available, ensuring a seamless and delightful stay.

Charme hotel henrys house terrace with a ocean view

If you are looking for more recommendations check out our where to stay in Syracuse blog.

How much should you budget for Syracuse

To fully immerse yourself in the wonders of Syracuse and make the most of your time in this captivating city, I recommend budgeting at least €230 per day. This will allow you to experience a variety of activities and attractions without feeling financially constrained. Here's a breakdown of how you can allocate your budget effectively:

Breakfast (sometimes included in accommodation)€20
Tourist Activities€30
Going out€30
Total cost per day€230

How long should you stay in Syracuse

I suggest planning a stay in Syracuse for at least 2-3 days when exploring Sicily, but ideally longer if you wish to engage in various activities and fully experience all the attractions. The duration can also be influenced by your preferences and the nature of your holiday, whether it's a family trip, solo adventure, or a romantic getaway.

A 2-3 day stay allows you to visit historical sites such as The Cathedral of Syracuse and the Ear of Dionysius, exploring the main attractions of Syracuse. For those inclined towards activities, hiking in the Riserva Naturale Orientata Cavagrande del Cassibile is a great option. Additionally, Syracuse boasts a range of top-notch restaurants in Sicily, so taking the time to explore them without rushing is worthwhile.

Given Syracuse's popularity, especially during the summer, it's advisable to book your flights and accommodation well in advance, as they tend to fill up quickly each year. This is particularly crucial for 5-star hotels, which are limited in number. Prices may also experience an annual increase, so a helpful tip is to secure your luxury Italian holiday for the summer the year before. I've have seen rates rising shortly after the Christmas holidays.

Make sure to read our blog on Travel Essentials for Europe for more tips when planning a trip.

Frequently asked Questions about Syracuse

What is Syracuse known for?

The city of Siracusa (Syracuse) in Sicily is known for its rich history, ancient architecture, and cultural significance. Some key points of interest and aspects for which Siracusa is renowned include Archimedes, Ancient Greek Ruins, and island of Ortigia.

How many days do you need in Syracuse?

I would recommend staying in Syracuse for around 4-5 days to not rush your holiday. however it is possible to visit the main attractions and things to do in around 2-3 days.

What food is Syracuse known for?

Syracuse food dishes are known for their fried fish and shellfish.

Can you swim in Syracuse?

At the point of Ortigia is the pebbly beach of Cala Rossa Beach. Apart from this beach you will find more south of the town that are more sandy.

How long is the train from Catania to Syracuse?

The train ride from Catania Airport to Syracuse takes roughly one hour, running from 6 a.m. until approximately 9 p.m. and costing slightly above 8 euros for a one-way trip.

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