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Sicily: Syracuse & Ortygia Without A Car

Piazza Duomo, Ortigia, Siracusa, Sicily, Italy
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Siracusa is a remarkable city on the southeast of the island of Sicily. Spanning 2700 years of history, it was once one of the most influential cities of Ancient Greece.

By the 5th century BC, Siracusa rivaled Athens in size and Cicero lauded it as "the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all". Today you can still visit the ruins of Greek and Roman amphitheaters and temples, while Ortigia is its charming baroque historic center.

 

Jump to: Choosing Your Base ● Getting Around ● Accommodation ● Eating ● SightseeingBeaches

 

ARRIVING

The closest airport for Siracusa is Catania Fontanarossa (CTA). It receives direct flights from all over Europe and even Dubai. However, lots of those flights are seasonal.

It's no surprise that there's no rail connection at the airport. Tho reach your base, you have some options:

  • coach: Interbus connects the airport directly to Siracusa in 1h15' with several departures every day;
  • urban bus or taxi to Catania Centrale + train to Siracusa: the train journey alone takes roughly the same time as the bus, so there's no advantage to this arrangement;
  • private transfer: definitely the most comfortable option, as it brings you to the door of your accommodation. We could recommend Rideways, who greeted us at Arrivals and took us safely and comfortably to our rental apartment.

SIRACUSA & ORTIGIA

Cheat Sheet

  • fly into: Catania Fontanarossa (CAT)
  • base: Ortigia Island, Siracusa
  • getting around: private transfers, buses, trains
  • accommodation: booking.com
  • typical foods: arancini, cannoli siciliani, caponata, granita
  • sightseeing: wait for next blog "top 10 things to do in syracuse"
  • beaches: Forte Vigliena (free) and Nettuno (paid) solariums, Fontane Bianche

CHOOSING YOUR BASE

Although staying in Siracusa will make it easier to reach the train station and move about the region, it’s not nearly as charming as Ortigia. If you want to just relax, walk everywhere, and be close to the (swimmable) water, stay in Ortigia Island.

 

GETTING AROUND

If you want to visit several places in Sicily, it is advisable, and even necessary, to rent a car. However, if your interest lies in Siracusa, it's not necessary. Ortigia, in particular, is a nightmare for parking, even at paid lots.

True story: when I went in 2016 (with a car), we left it parked the entire 5 days we were in Ortigia because we were simply too afraid of losing our spot. That's exactly why we went without this year.

 

ACCOMMODATION

You have lots of options for both hotels and rental apartments, so consider how many days you'll have. After 4-5 days, I suggest getting an apartment. Having a living room, balcony, and kitchen, to be comfortable and not obliged to go out for every single meal is an ideal set-up.

Appartamento Pelagos is a lovely rental apartment, a bit further from Piazza Duomo, but still within a 10-minute walk. The free and paid solariums are 500m and 300m away, while a 5-min walk takes you to the Ortigia street market. Book here.

For shorter stays, however, a hotel is just as good a choice. Our recommendation is Alla Giudecca, set in a restored 15th-century building in the heart of Ortigia. There are organized groups (of guests and non-guests) to visit the ancient Jewish ritual bath underneath the property. Book here.

Both properties are walking distance from the free and paid solariums and Piazza Duomo. In other words, forget the car, go everywhere by foot and relax.

TYPICAL FOODS

Fish is obviously a big part of Sicilian cuisine but there are many other delicious typical options. You cannot leave without trying these four, though, all easily found all over Siracusa and Ortigia:

  • arancini, saffron-rice balls stuffed with ragù, mozzarella, and peas; different regions make their own variations.

 

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  • brioche con gelato, a brioche filled with ice-cream; sounds odd but it's delicious!

 

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  • cannoli, fried pastry dough shells filled with sweet cream; ricotta cream sprinkled with pistachios is the most traditional.

 

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  • granita siciliana, a refreshing dessert to beat the Sicilian heat, made of thinly crushed ice, sugar, and varied flavors. Lemon and coffee are popular choices.

 

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Both the arancini and brioche con gelato are filling enough to substitute a meal. Follow either with a cannolo or lemon granita and you're golden 🙂

The places I can recommend are:

Condorelli

Piazza Duomo 16, in front of the Cathedral. Serves yummy pastries baked on-site, including the traditional cannolo with sweet ricotta cream and pistachios. You can order take away from the bar or sit on the terrace to people-watch and indulge your sweet tooth. Good place for breakfast as well: the still-hot-from-the-oven brioche is a great way to start the day.

Antica Giudecca

Via della Giudecca 26. In the heart of the Jewish quarter, this no-frills, authentic and family-run place serves the best arancino in town. Other variable choices of (simple) hot dishes, like lasagna, pizza, bread are also offered. There are only a few places inside, so at busier times, be prepared to take away.

Osteria Sveva

Piazza Federico di Svevia, 1, not far from Castello Maniace. This Slow Food-recommended restaurant with a pleasant open terrace on a quiet cobblestone corner is guaranteed to satisfy with its simple but authentic food. Try the pesce in crosta di patate (grilled fish in a potato crust).

Enoteca Evoè

Via Maestranza 56. Modern wine bar, with fresh delicious food and great customer service.

 

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SIGHTSEEING

There's so much history to explore in Siracusa that it deserves its own dedicated post. To be published on Sep 29th.

 

BEACHES

The city of Siracusa is famous for its rich history but not beaches, which does not mean you need to go without in the hot months. While Ortigia is not home to the typical sandy beaches, there are two solariums, one public and one private, from where you can comfortably climb down into the water.

Free Solarium by Forte Vigliena

Solarium Forte Vigliena Ortigia Siracusa Italy

In all honesty, it's not exactly my idea of fun to spend an entire day here. But it's the reasonable choice when you want a dip before or after sightseeing and exploring the city. The private solarium is not exactly cheap (in August) and it would be a waste of money to pay the daily rate there for just a couple of hours.

 

Solarium Nettuno

Solarium Nettuno Ortigia Syracuse Sicily Italy

Natural Pool accessible only from Nettuno

Now, this makes for a perfectly relaxing day. Solarium Nettuno has all the beach facilities you find at the private beaches throughout Italy, plus cocktails and waitressing service to your umbrella. If you are visiting in August, you should make a reservation at least the day before.

Expect crystal clear water, overall deep enough that you won't be able to stand on your feet, but with the occasional rocks closer to the surface. Make sure you bring your swimming goggles to enjoy the underwater beauty.

 

Fontane Bianche

But if a sandy beach is what you really really want, during the summer the station of Fontane Bianche goes into service. That means that a 15 minute train ride from Siracusa is all it takes to arrive. From the station, it's a short 600m walk. There are both private establishments and free stretches of beach.

Unfortunately, I visited on a bad-weather day and didn't remember to snap pictures until the end of the day, so I couldn't make it justice here. Thank God there's instagram 🙂

 

Do you have any other tips for enjoying Siracusa & Ortigia without a car? Restaurants, hotels, foods? Let me know!

 

See also:

Ortygia: Top 10 Things To See & Do

Mini-Review: Four Points by Sheraton Catania Hotel

Costa Smeralda: Ultimate Guide for 1 Week in Paradise

Weekend in Nice, Côte d'Azur

 

Pin this post and happy travels!

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    seksitreffit
    April 4, 2019 at 10:30

    Excellent post. It will certainly will get people talking.

    • Reply
      Alline
      April 9, 2019 at 11:07

      Thanks for the support, Seksitreffit! ????

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