Siracusa, Sicily, Italy | Top Things to See & Best Places to Visit | wayamaya

Siracusa, Sicily, Italy | Top Things to See & Best Places to Visit | wayamaya
Siracusa, Sicily, Italy | Top Things to See & Best Places to Visit

For our last stop in Sicily, Italy, we chose to visit the ancient city steeped in history, which famous Cicero described as "the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all". Therefore, today on wayamaya | travel and lifestyle blog we give you a detailed travel guide with useful travel tips to:

Siracusa, Sicily, Italy.

If you haven't seen them already, check out wayamaya series of travel blog posts useful Sicily travel tips, Sicily travel essentials, where to go in Sicily, things to do in Sicily, the best places to visit in Sicily and the top things to see in Sicily, Italy: 




Sicily, part 7

Siracusa - a day trip to the ancient Greek city

Ortigia Piazza Duomo, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Ortigia Piazza Duomo, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy

Siracusa or Syracuse (there is a city with the same name in the state of New York, USA, therefore we will be using its Italian name). Siracusa is the ancient city (Siracusa was founded in 734 BC by Greek settlers) located in the southeast corner of the Sicily island by the Ionian sea.
Siracusa used to be a flourishing center of Greek culture, at times, surpassing Athens in size and influence. Also, the greatest mathematician of antiquity, Archimedes, was born in Siracusa.
In subsequent centuries, Siracusa became part of the Roman Republic and later the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Also, Siracusa was originally the capital of Sicily (the capital was moved from Siracusa to Palermo after the Muslim conquest of Sicily).





Why to visit Siracusa

Ortigia restaurants on the street, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Ortigia restaurants on the street, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy

Over the centuries, Siracusa became a lively town with a population of about 125.000.
The 2.750 years old Siracusa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it's like a monument by itself with a visible influence of Greek, Romans, Vandals, Normans and others who ruled Siracusa after the Greeks.
Siracusa is also a charming city that offers amazing attractions for every type of tourist and you will probably fell in love with Siracusa Ortigia - "the Old City" island (Isola di Ortigia) connected to the mainland ("the New City") by a trio of short bridges.



How to get to Siracusa

View from the bridge on Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
View from the bridge on Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy

Travel tip: Siracusa is located less then an hour drive from Catania airport (65 km) and Siracusa is more than 3 hours from Palermo airport (290 km).
Travel tip: if you are driving to Siracusa, then remember that much of Ortigia island is closed to non-resident vehicles (Zona Traffico Limitato). Fortunately, there are many paid car parking places around the northern edge of Ortigia.

Marina in Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Marina in Siracusa | Sicily, Italy

Travel tip: some of the top Siracusa attractions are outside Ortigia (the Archaeological Park of Neapolis with Siracusa Greek Theater and Latomia, the Archaeological Museum, the Catacombs of San Giovanni).
Travel tip: if you aren't traveling to Siracusa by car, the best way to get to Siracusa is by hourly trains from Catania, unless you travel from Palermo or smaller, interior towns, in which case you should take the bus. Siracusa is also served by direct trains from Rome (more than 10 hours journey). You can walk to Ortigia from the train station (15 minutes), take one of the city buses or choose Siracusa hop on hop off bus.




Siracusa Ortigia | "the Old City" suspended in time

The Cathedral of Syracuse (Duomo di Siracusa), Ortigia | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
The Cathedral of Syracuse (Duomo di Siracusa), Ortigia | Sicily, Italy

Siracusa is famous for its small Ortigia island - a historical Siracusa Old Town (Città Vecchia). Ortigia or Ortygia (meaning quail in Ancient Greece) is like one of the most picturesque locations in Sicily and a must-see place.
Centuries-old Ortigia monuments were built with the so-called giuggiulena white stone (an organic limestone with yellow sands) and they make a truly unforgettable sight, especially in contrast with the awesome blue sea.

Ortigia square, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Ortigia square, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy

It's so easy to get lost in the beautiful narrow back streets of Ortigia island, admiring the gorgeous architecture.
Travel tip: while it may be a good idea to start your Ortigia sightseeing by taking the main tourist route, we advise you to get off the beaten track to get the full experience of the ancient city.



What to see in Siracusa and Siracusa highlights

Narrow street in Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Narrow street in Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy

Most tourists visit Siracusa for a day to see the main Siracusa historical sites and eventually only discover Ortigia highlights. They can't be blamed because it's so easy to spend a whole day wandering through the charming Ortigia island, but there is so much more to see in Siracusa and its surroundings.
Below is a list of the 4 top things to see in Ortigia and the 3 best places to visit in Siracusa. We divided it into the Old City (Ortigia) and the New City (mainland) sections, in subjective order of interest.



Top things to see in Ortigia | the Old City

The Cathedral of Syracuse (Duomo di Siracusa), Ortigia | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
The Cathedral of Syracuse (Duomo di Siracusa), Ortigia | Sicily, Italy


1. Duomo di Siracusa di Ortigia.

Duomo di Siracusa is an ancient Catholic Cathedral of Santa Maria delle Colonne situated in Piazza del Duomo square (which is Ortigia top sight by itself). This beautiful church was built in the 7th century in Greek Doric order. Today it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and rightly so. Famous Ortigia cathedral is kept in great condition and its intricate details and figurines are the finest example of outstanding Siracusa architectural creation.
Travel tip: the Ortigia cathedral holds a number of relics of St. Lucy, the patroness of Siracusa, and on the first Sunday in May and on December 13 (St. Lucy feast day) a statue of the patroness is brought out of the cathedral and paraded through the streets.

The fountain of Arethusa, Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
The fountain of Arethusa, Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy


2. Fonte Aretusa di Ortigia.

The Fountain of Arethusa is a natural freshwater fountain where, according to Greek mythology, the nymph Arethusa, the patroness of ancient Syracuse, returned to earth's surface after escaping the undersea Arcadia. The Fountain of Arethusa is probably the most famous Siracusa sight and at the same time... the most disappointing. If you forget or don't know the legend associated with the fountain, then its view will leave you somewhat unsatisfied.

Castello Maniace citadel & castle, Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Castello Maniace citadel & castle, Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy


3. Castello Maniace di Siracusa.

Castello Maniace is a citadel, a fortress and a castle constructed between 1232 and 1240 at the very edge of Ortigia island. It used to control the harbor and the city of Siracusa and remained a military structure until the 1970s.
Travel tip: Castello Maniace castle is open for tourists (in the mornings) and it's an Ortigia must-see place to visit. The castle complex offers great views and access to the grand hypostyle hall which is absolutely magnificent.

Marina in Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Marina in Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy


4. Ortigia marina and promenade.

While it certainly wasn't the most beautiful promenade or marina we have seen, it really made a great impression on us.
Calm blue Ionian sea contrasting with beautiful green trees and a warm atmosphere - it's everything you need after hours of wandering through Ortigia.
There is another great marina in Siracusa, but it seems to be hidden and is too close to the car parking lots.
Travel tip: don't start your Ortigia sightseeing from the promenade.



Best places to visit in Siracusa

Teatro Greco (Greek Theatre), Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | Source: Wikimedia
Teatro Greco (Greek Theatre), Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | Source: Wikimedia


1 - 3: Parque Arqueológico de Neapolis.

Siracusa is full of great remnants from its long history, but Siracusa Archaeological Park of Neapolis is arguably Siracusa top sight. It also includes many amazing monuments and all of 3, in our opinion, best places to visit in Siracusa:
1. Siracusa Teatro Greco (Greek Theatre) - created in 470 BC, it might not be the most famous (Greek Theatre of Taormina definitely is), but it's still the largest Greek theatre in Sicily and one of the largest and greatest in the world.


Ear of Dionizos cave, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Ear of Dionysius cave, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy

2. Siracusa Latomia del Paradiso (Paradise Quarry) with the unique cave - the Ear of Dionysius (Orecchio di Dionisio) that is 60 m long and 11 m high. It is said that Dionysius (ancient ruler of Syracuse) used to eavesdrop on his prisoners inside the cave, thanks to the cave's acoustics.
3. Siracusa Anfiteatro Romano (Roman Amphitheatre) - the amphitheater is usually overlooked by tourists, but it's still very beautiful and worth visiting.



Top things to do in Siracusa

Fish souvenirs shop, Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Fish souvenirs shop, Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy

After spending long hours admiring splendid squares and monumental buildings in the narrow streets of Ortygia or on strolling through the ancient Siracusa ruins of the great Greek and Roman empires, there are still more things to do in Siracusa. What to do:
1. Siracusa restaurants are some of the best in Sicily and have a strong mix of the southern Mediterranean and Arab flavors. Try one of the restaurants on Piazza Duomo or on Piazza di Archimede.
2. On certain days and in Siracusa events, there are local markets (fish market included) held in Siracusa that will surprise you with beautiful sights, colors and smells. Those markets are also the perfect place to pick up a real bargain and buy quality local produce.

Fontane Bianche Siracusa beach | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Fontane Bianche Siracusa beach | Sicily, Italy

3. Take a boat tour around the Ortigia island with stops at natural Siracusa landmarks which will give you a very interesting new perspective and the opportunity to take amazing selfies.
4. Southern Siracusa beaches are some of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily with amazingly clear turquoise waters and soft, golden sand. Aranella beach is the nearest Siracusa beach (less than 10 km south from Siracusa), but we advise perfect Fontane Bianche beach that is less than 20 km south from Siracusa.



Ancient Siracusa | a day trip to remember

Decorated streets in Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Decorated streets in Ortigia, Siracusa | Sicily, Italy

While Siracusa wasn't originally on our Sicily travel bucket list, we were so happy to be there! Siracusa is often overlooked by tourists, but, for us, historic Siracusa is like taking a journey back in time. A journey that gives you a front seat into the heart and soul of ancient Greece. In Siracusa, you will find a sense of peace and an opportunity to experience unique sights and emotions. Trust us - you won't regret visiting Siracusa!



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Wayamaya detailed travel guide to Siracusa or Syracuse Sicily Italy & Syracuse island Ortigia. Why visit Siracusa, how to get to Siracusa, what to see in Siracusa (Teatro Greco, Duomo, Latomia), things to do in Siracusa (beaches, restaurants), things to see in Ortygia (cathedral, Fountain of Arethusa, Ear of Dionysius) #italy #italia #sicily #sicilia #traveltips #agrigento #travelphotography #traveldestinations #wayamaya
Siracusa, Sicily, Italy | Top Things to See & Best Places to Visit

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