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Traveling Italian

Posted On June 26, 2023 By Louis

Best Things to Do in Agrigento 2023

On the south coast of Sicily opposite the Mediterranean Ocean is the hilltop city of Agrigento. This town is known for its long history dating back to around 582 BC by Greek colonists & beautiful beaches. You can also find many ancient ruins, with the Valley of the Temples being part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

There are many things to do in Agrigento, here are the top ones:

Explore the local beaches and explore the Scala dei Turchi. 

It is a rocky white cliff formed by a sedimentary & naturally white material Marl in between Porto and Realmonte. Its name means stairs of the Turks however is not a real staircase but a beautiful white cliff going into the sea. The rock formation looks like stairs hence the “scala” and the last part of the name comes from Turkish pirates that found shelter in the area that were less beaten by winds.

Bring your swimmers and enjoy turquoise water whilst taking in the contract between the Scala dei Turchi & ocean. In 2007 it was included in the UNESCO world heritage list.

Visit the archaeological site of the Valley of the Temples. 

Another UNESCO site and probably the main reason people come to Agrigento. The valley has 6 temples all built between 480 BC - around 5 BC. 

  • The best preserved one from 5 BC is the Temple of Concordia which was later turned into a church in 6 AD. It was named after Concordia, the Roman goddess of harmony.
  • Also in 5 BC the Temple of Hera Lacinia remains.
  • 1km away west lays only 8 columns left and is the Temple of Hercules (the hero), an earthquake almost destroyed this temple.
  • Characterised by men acting as support was the largest temple ever built, the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It was thought to have been created by slave labour. It was never finished and now lays in ruins due to earthquakes and was quarried to provide material for nearby towns.
  • The temple of Castor & Pollux comes next and is named after the half-twins Castor & Pollux. Only four columns remain.
  • Close to the Temple of Zeus lays the Temple of Hephaestus. This construction is the most eroded despite being named after the Greek god of Blacksmiths, artisans, and sculptors.
  • Located beyond the southern perimeter of the town walls, you'll find the Temple of Asclepius, dedicated to the god of medicine, Asclepius. In ancient times, this sacred site attracted pilgrims searching for remedies for their ailments.

To get access to the archeologic site you will need to buy a ticket and there is usually a long line. I would recommend booking in advance to avoid the waiting time. If you prefer you can book a guided tour that can go into details around the history of the sites and surroundings.

The Valley of the Temples are open Monday- Friday 8.30 am - 8.00 pm

Explore the old town in Agrigento

There are many old baroque buildings in the old town. There is the Cattedrale di San Gerlando, a roman catholic church built in the 11th century dedicated to the bishop of the Agrigento St Gerland. Nearby is Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Greci which was built in 1200 and named because it was occupied by Greek monks who chose it as the cathedral of the greek orthodox rite. You can see the surviving columns of the Greek temple in the walls beneath glass panels.

Enjoy the nature at Il Giardino di Bonamorone

This is an ancient garden that you must visit. It is a 40,000 square metre area of citrus grove filled with olive trees, oak trees and much more to see. It also has some unique olive trees like the olive tree of lovers, the wild boar olive, and the Gemini olives. This is around a 10-15 minute walk from the city centre and has views of both the ocean and the valley of temples.

Walk around the Giardino Botanico Agrigento

This is on the way to the Valley of the Temples open from Monday to Friday 9 am - 1 pm. This garden is home to about 20,000 plants flowers and trees. Entry is free and also has a museum of ancient herbs and seeds from the 19th century. You can find natural caves and fossils or you can enjoy sitting on the terraces that have a view of the Valley of the temples.

Go to the Museo Archeologico Regionale di Agrigento

At this museum, you can see lots of Greek architecture that have been dug up from the Valley of the Temples and its surroundings. They have over 15 rooms to explore items from the Bronze Age, Iron Age, sculptures and much more. The museum also has a lot in English explaining the artefacts in detail and where they come from. I advise going in the morning and then going for lunch at a restaurant in Agrigento town centre.

Go shopping at the Agrigento Markets

This is one of my top things to do in Agrigento. The market is in the centre of the city and is only open on Fridays. I would advise going close to the opening time 7 am as it's only open for a few hours. Here you will find lots of fresh fruit and vegetables along with cheese stall holders from local farms and souvenirs, and clothes to take back with you.

Here are some tips when planning your trip to Agrigento

  • If you are visiting the Valley of the Temples, some of them are pretty far apart so make sure to bring some solid walking shoes with you.
  • Try and visit the outside areas early in the morning especially during summer as it gets very hot in the sunshine.
  • Bring a hat, sunglasses some water and suncream if going out in the sun to visit the tourist site or going to the beaches and gardens
  • There are many great restaurants in Agrigento, some even reviewed my Michelin so book early if possible.
  • Consider using a local tour guide to really understand the history of the City.

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