10 Best Things to Do in Ortigia, Sicily

Want to know what the best things to do in Ortigia, Sicily? If you’re looking for stunning blue waters, plenty of sunbathing opportunities, history, and amazing food you’re in luck! Plus, as one of the most affordable places to visit in Italy, coming here is a no-brainer.

Ortigia is a small island and historical district that forms the heart of the city of Syracuse. It is connected to the mainland of Syracuse by bridges and causeways.

Read on for my ultimate guide to Ortigia, Sicily. It’s one of Italy’s most beautiful places after all!

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Check out my Instagram video to see what Ortigia is like!

How to Get to Ortigia, Sicily

The closest airport to Ortigia is Catania-Fontanarossa Airport (CTA), located approximately 62 kilometers (38 miles) north of Syracuse.

By Renting a Car

I’d highly recommend driving so you can explore other nearby towns on your Eastern Sicily itinerary.

From the airport, you can rent a car ahead via Discover Cars which finds the best deal for you across many rental companies and offers the best customer support. I loved the freedom of having a car because I saw many other small towns like the magical village of Ragusa Ibla, Modica, and Noto too!

By Train

If you don’t plan to see many of the other small towns around Eastern Sicily, then you can easily reach Syracuse by public transport.

The train from the Catania airport takes you straight to Syracuse in one hours time. The main train station in Syracuse is Stazione di Siracusa, located on the mainland. From there, you can walk or take a taxi to Ortigia, which is just a short distance away.

By Bus

There is also a convenient bus from the Catania Airport that will take you to Syracuse in just over an hour.

By Private Transfer

This is the more costly option. However, it is economical if you’re traveling with a group. You can book a private transfer from Catania Airport for around $150. You will be taken straight to your hotel so this is the most convenient way to get to Syracuse if you aren’t driving yourself.

How Long Do You Need to Visit Ortigia?

While it’s possible to explore the main attractions of Ortigia on a day trip, I’d recommend spending at least two to three days here. There’s a lot to do compared to the other smaller towns in Sicily.

In 2 to 3 days you can wander through the maze-like streets, discover hidden gems, and lay on the beach for hours! You can also se historical landmarks such as the Syracuse Cathedral and Castello Maniace.

Best Time to Visit Ortigia

The best time to visit Ortigia is spring (April – May) or fall (September – October) where you’ll find favorable weather and fewer crowds.

The summer can be very hot and busy!

My personal visit during October had perfect weather (29C/85F!) . With fewer tourists compared to the peak summer months, October allowed for a more relaxed and authentic experience.

Best Things to do in Ortigia, Sicily

1. Wander the picturesque Streets in the Old Town

There are so many charming streets in Ortigia’s Old Town. All are white washed and picturesque. Just get lost and wander through the bustling streets. Have a coffee and enjoy watching time pass by! One amazing cafe just for that is Alta Pasticceria. Not only do they have amazing pastries but it overlooks Piazza Archimede which has a beautiful fountain in the center.

Pro-tip: A great way to acclimate to a new city is to start with a walking tour!

2. Marvel at the Temple of Apollo

The Temple of Apollo is a fascinating archaeological site located in Ortigia, the historic center of Syracuse, Sicily. It dates back to the 6th century BCE and is one of the most ancient Greek temples in Sicily. It’s located towards the beginning of your wander through Syracuse past the connecting bridge.

3. Shop at the Ortigia Street Market

Right next to the Temple of Apollo, you’ll find a street market full of so many goods including clothing, accessories, ceramics, and more! In addition, there’s a food market where you can find fresh seafood. The market is open daily except for Sunday between the hours of 7 am to 1:45 pm.

4. Try aranchini at Bar Pasticceria Midolo

If you’re looking for the best arancini in Ortigia, look no further than Bar Pasticceria Midolo. These fried rice balls will have you in foodie heaven. Plus, they have granita too which is my obsession! It is basically a frozen slushy you can get with different flavors like coffee or fruit. Another amazing spot is also Pasticceria Artale.

Take a street food tour to taste more of the amazing food in Ortigia!

5. Stroll through the main square

Stroll through the main bustling square of La Piazza Duomo which is home to the beautiful Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia.

6. Eat a delicious panini

There are so many amazing sandwich shops on Ortigia island! I tried mine (pictured above) at A Putia di Giugiò. I really wanted to try Caseificio Borderi but ran out of time and usually there’s a long line to eat there! However, if you can make it go!

7. Take a swim at Forte Vigliena or Lungomare d’Ortigia

There are many places you can take a swim in Ortigia but these 2 are my favorite and most picturesque spots!

Solarium Forte Vigliena

This was my favorite spot for sunbathing! It’s essentially a platform built on the rocky coastline of Ortigia. This super popular spot is perfect for relaxing all day, You can lounge on the sunbeds or rocky terraces, soak up the sun, and enjoy panoramic views of the sea and Ortigia’s coastline.

Lungomare d’Ortigia

Another amazing spot to relax in the sun is Lungomare d’Ortigia. It’s a picturesque waterfront promenade that lines the perimeter of Ortigia. You’ll find stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and the coastline of Syracuse. Take the stairs down to this famous spot and the sparkling blue sea awaits you.

Take a sea caves boat tour if you’re down for more exploring!

8. Visit Castello Maniace

Overlooking the sea you’ll find a 13th-century castle, Castello Maniace built for Emperor Frederick II. The entrance ticket to Castello Maniace is € 8 if you wish to enter. Or you can admire it from the outside with the backdrop of the sea at the southern most tip of the island.

9. Watch the sunset at one of the waterfront restaurants

There are many restaurants all lined up at the waterfront. You can try one like Sunset Ortigia near to Spiaggetta della Marina. It’s perfect for an aperitivo before dinner. Be sure to also walk down to the beach for some nice sunset photos.

10. Have dinner at A Putia or L’ancora

If you’re looking for a great dinner spot try A Putia or L’ancora. They both offer tasty Italy cuisine!

Where to Stay in Ortigia, Sicily

Staying in the Ortigia Old Town is best. Here are some options. I stayed in Calamùrn Ortigia and the location was great,

$ Budget: Calamùrn Ortigia
$$ Mid-range: Palazzo Gilistro
$$$ Luxury: Grand Hotel Des Etrangers | Ortea Palace Hotel

For more reading, you may also like these posts:
🏝️ Sicily 10 Days Itinerary
🌅 A Guide to Ragusa Ibla
🍕 15 Unmissable Things to Do in Taormina, Sicily
💸 7 Amazingly Cheap Places to Visit in Italy

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