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Discovering Syracuse: A Timeless Journey Through History, Culture, and Cuisine

20 Marzo 2024

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Located on the beautiful island of Ortigia in Sicily, Italy, Syracuse, known as Siracusa in Italian, prides itself on a rich history that dates back over two millennia, making it one of the most captivating destinations in the world. Syracuse is a city that seamlessly blends the past and present, offering a unique journey through time and culture. Whether you're a history enthusiast, nature lover, or foodie, Syracuse has something to offer everyone.

Syracuse: A Glimpse into the Past

Syracuse was once the largest metropolis of the ancient world and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The heart of Syracuse is Ortigia, the island where the city was founded more than 2,750 years ago. This historic island witnessed significant events, including the defeat of Athens in 413 BCE and the residence of the renowned Greek mathematician and inventor, Archimedes. At its zenith, Syracuse was a thriving city with a population of 300,000, earning praise from Cicero as "the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all." Today, Syracuse continues to hold its charm, offering a unique blend of historical treasures and natural beauty that should not be missed by travellers visiting Sicily.

Ortigia: The Heart of Syracuse

Ortigia is not merely an island in front of Syracuse; it is the essence of Syracuse itself. This compact island is a treasure trove of architectural heritage spanning over 2,500 years. Its winding streets lead you through Greek and Roman ruins, mediaeval Norman buildings, and elegant Baroque architecture. The focal point of Ortigia is the picturesque Piazza Duomo, where you'll find the Cathedral built upon ancient Doric columns.

Must-See Attractions in Syracuse

Street Market 
  • Piazza Duomo & the Cathedral: This stunning square showcases exquisite Baroque architecture, and the Cathedral, built upon ancient Greek ruins, is a testament to Syracuse's rich history.
  • Archaeological Park: History enthusiasts will be mesmerised by this archaeological park, featuring the 5th-century BC Greek Theatre and the Ear of Dionysus, a remarkable cave with incredible acoustics. The Roman Amphitheatre, used for gladiatorial combats and horse races, is another highlight.
  • Street Market: Experience the vibrant colours, aromas, and flavours of Sicily at Ortigia's outdoor market. It's a feast for the senses, offering fresh produce, seafood, artisanal bread, and more.
  • Latomie dei Cappuccini: Explore the captivating gardens of Latomie dei Cappuccini, a former quarry that showcases the forces of nature and human history. Two open-air theatres come to life during summer nights.
  • Catacombs of St. John:  Visit this ancient Greek fortress, offering underground tunnels and breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area, including Mount Etna and mainland Italy.
  • Euryalus Castle: Visit this ancient Greek fortress, offering underground tunnels and breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area, including Mount Etna and mainland Italy.
  • Maniace Castle: Located at Ortygia's southern tip, this 13th-century castle provides a scenic spot to reflect on Syracuse's historical significance.
  • Burial of St. Lucy by Caravaggio: Admire Caravaggio's masterpiece in the church of Santa Lucia, depicting the patron saint of Syracuse in a sombre yet captivating scene.
  • Our Lady of Tears Sanctuary: Marvel at the contemporary architectural wonder designed to resemble a teardrop. Pilgrims flock to this site to witness the miraculous weeping of the Madonna statue.
  • Opera dei Pupi: Experience traditional Sicilian Puppet Theatre, where epic sword fights and fantastical monsters come to life. A unique cultural experience for the whole family.
  • Parcallario - Adventure Park: Just a short drive from Syracuse, this adventure park in a pine forest offers fun for kids and families with different paths suitable for various ages and abilities.
  • Archaeological Museum Paolo Orsi: Explore one of Italy's most significant archaeological collections, showcasing the area's pre-history and Syracuse's development through the ages.
  • Pantalica: Visit the ancient Necropolis of Pantalica, a collection of rock-cut chamber tombs dating back to the 7th to 13th centuries BC.
  • Galleria Regionale Palazzo Bellomo: Admire medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art, including stunning renditions of the Madonna by various artists.
  • Pista ciclabile: Enjoy the former rail track transformed into a scenic linear park along the sea, complete with sculptures and beach access during the summer.
  • Jewish Miqweh: Explore the ancient Jewish bath, a testament to the presence of one of the oldest Jewish communities in the Mediterranean.

Where to stay:

Find our most recent list of charming small hotels, romantic bed & breakfasts and beautiful holiday homes in Syracuse here.

Nature Reserve:

If you enjoy a good excursion, we suggest Casagrande del Cassibile and Vendicari's nature reserves, both located south of Syracuse. We will be happy to give you more details and help you plan your day in nature. You can also see more of Syracuse’s surroundings by choosing gozzo – a typical wooden boat – and then either sail to the marine reserve of Plemmirio or the sea caves north of Ortigia.

Where to eat:


Address: Via Carmelo Campisi 18

Phone: +39 0931 483362

This classic Sicilian Osteria is tucked away in a small street in Ortigia. While the interior may not be stylish, it offers an authentic old-style experience of dining in Syracuse. We've received positive feedback from our guests who highly recommend it. Please let us know your thoughts on this place, as we haven't personally experienced it yet.


Address: Lungomare di Levante Elio Vittorini 18

Phone: +39 0931 465861

Gutowskino offers modern Sicilian-based cuisine with meticulous attention to detail, creating dishes that celebrate Italian cuisine.

Divino Mare

Address: Via Raffaele Lanza 10 

Phone: +39 0931 1810209

Divino Mare is a simple and colourful seafood restaurant known for its daily chalkboard menu featuring fresh catches from the sea. The friendly staff serves up a variety of seafood dishes, including carpaccios, ceviches, seafood pasta, and more.

Cappuccio-Pesce Fresco

Address: Via Emanuele Giaraca 8 
Phone: +39 0931 196 0301
This street food restaurant is located directly in the Market where fish is always fresh. It's an ideal place for a quick lunch while exploring the street market.

Scuola Alimentare

Address: Via della Maestranza 66 

Phone: 0931 095077

Scuola Alimentare offers freshly handmade, locally sourced food at reasonable prices in a cosy atmosphere. They are highly recommended for a delightful dining experience.

A Putia

Address: Via Roma 8 

Phone: +39 334 352 4585

A Putia is the place to be for a good pasta lunch. While the space may not be large, the quality of the pasta is outstanding. We recommend making a reservation.

Latteria Mamma Iabica 

Address: Via G.B. Perasso 13 

Phone: +39 333 189 3176

Latteria Mamma Iabica is our favourite restaurant in Syracuse, offering a perfect balance between vintage design and exceptional cuisine. It's just a few steps from Ortigia and comes highly recommended. Be sure to reserve your table in advance.

La Sicilia in Tavola

Address: Via Cavour 28 

Phone: +39 392 4610889

La Sicilia in Tavola is one of the longest-established and most popular eateries in town, serving traditional Sicilian dishes made with the finest ingredients and wines.

Soul Kitchen

Address: Largo Gillippi 1 

Phone: +39 0931 967308

Soul Kitchen is the best "fusion" tapas restaurant in town, offering small and affordable dishes with flavours from around the world, combined with local ingredients and wines. The knowledgeable staff is eager to explain each dish. It's conveniently located just a few steps from Ortigia, in the Borgata area.

Piano B

Address: Via Cairoli 18 

Phone: +39 0931 66851

Piano B is an award-winning pizzeria known for serving some of the best pizzas in town and possibly in all of Sicily. Don't miss out, but make sure to reserve a table in advance.

Pizzeria Era Ora

Address: Via, Riva Giuseppe Garibaldi 10 

Phone: +39 3270113454

Era Ora offers the best pizza in Syracuse, featuring special doughs from Sicily and Naples, and high-quality ingredients. The interior design has recently been improved, and the culinary experience is excellent. We consider it our favourite pizza place in town and recommend making a reservation in advance, especially on weekends when it's often fully booked.

Cortile Spirito Santo

Address: Via Salomone 

Phone: +39 0931 181 5404

If you're seeking a refined and special dinner experience with exceptional wines, Cortile Spirito Santo, located on Via Salomone, is an excellent choice. This restaurant is favoured by VIPs when they visit Syracuse, offering a memorable dining experience in a sophisticated setting.

Let’s have a drink!

Fratelli Burgio al Porto

Address: Foro V. Emanuele II, 6, 96100 Siracusa 

Phone: +39 329 921 0055

Fratelli Burgio al Porto is the best spot for enjoying an Italian aperitivo by the sea and witnessing an unforgettable sunset. You can also indulge in the best street food in town while sipping your drinks.

La Barca

Address:  Foro V. Emanuele II, 96100 Ortigia 

Phone: +39 389 139 2811

For a truly special experience, consider booking a simple lunch, dinner, or a night drink on the lovely boat called "La Barca." Occasionally, they host impressive concerts on board, including performances by the famous Norwegian band "King of Convenience," who reside in town. The boat is adorned with hand-painted flags by Spanish artist Clara Cebrian. Check their program on their website or inquire about daytime or nighttime tours that may include lunch, dinner, or drinks.


Address: Via dell'Apollonion, 5, 96100 Siracusa 

Phone: +39 328 881 8373

BOATS, despite its name, doesn't offer sea views but provides something equally unique: a view of the ruins of the approximately 2,500-year-old Temple of Apollo. The bar is lit by candles and features impeccable retro-vintage decor. It also boasts multiple turntables, an impressive collection of funk-soul vinyl records, and a creative cocktail menu with offerings like "The Flaming Zone" (Cynar artichoke liqueur, Campari, whiskey, mezcal, and bitters; 9 euros).

Cortile Verga

 Address: Via della Maestranza, 33, 96100 Siracusa

Phone: +39 392 331 8599

Cortile Verga is a charming establishment with antique furniture and an upright piano. It surrounds a courtyard adorned with white marble tables, offering both indoor and outdoor seating. You can enjoy a mild I.P.A. from Sicily's Vittoria brewery (7 euros) or try the expertly crafted Italian-Mexican "Malinche" cocktail (Campari, vermouth, mezcal, orange juice, agave; 9 euros).


Address: Piazza Cesare Battisti, 6/8, 96100 Siracusa

Phone: +39 0931 24580

Barcollo is a chic and sultry lounge with a candlelit, palm-planted courtyard. It offers fruity drinks like the Ortigia Mule (vodka, prickly pear liqueur and ginger ale and lime for 10 euros each).

Solaria Vini & Liquori

Address: Via Roma, 86, 96100 Siracusa

Phone:  +39 0931 463007

This small and rustic enoteca (wine shop) is wonderfully old-school and offers a wide selection of wines and liquors.

Nuova Dolceria

Address: Corso Umberto I, 18, 96100 Siracusa

Phone: +39 0931 414840

Just a few steps from Ortigia, Nuova Dolceria is one of the best Sicilian pastry shops in town, featuring products from the nearby village of Ferla, one of the most authentic villages in the area. Here, you'll find the best coffee from Syracuse (local brand Fiume) paired with excellent almond pastries, ice cream, granita, and a variety of sweet and savoury Sicilian treats. It's a must-visit for breakfast or a post-lunch indulgence, offering a quintessential Sicilian experience.

Best beaches to go to:

If you have a car, we recommend a drive southward and a visit to the best beaches of the coast, such as Fontane Bianche and Arenella (15-20 minutes away), or the little cove of Ognina. The Lido di Noto can also be the first spot of an expedition in the Noto Valley, which comprises Noto, Modica, Scili, and Ragusa. Further south, you can also enjoy the sun of Marzamemi, a little fishing village, and see some local colour from the tip of the island.

Scogli di Forte Vigliena

Solarium “Ru Frati”: Open only in summertime in the north of the City Center (the area is also known as Pista Ciclabile). Along the beautiful walk side path, you will find a permanent open-air art installation.

Solarium Forte Vigliena: Rocky beach in Ortigia. This is the favourite spot for locals and tourists. Water is most of the time crystalline and is accessible all year.

Cala Rossa Beach: Located in the Turba district. A long stairway will bring you down to the beach. The “Cala” is a very little shingle, and most curiously, it’s artificial. You can reach wonderful beaches from 15 to 45 minutes by car in the South of Syracuse.

Punta Mola - Pillirina - Varco 34: This is just in front of Ortigia in the cape closing the lagoon. You need a car, a scooter, or a boat to reach this very small but beautiful beach with a breathtaking landscape.

Varco Venti: Nicely equipped rocky beach with enchanting blue water in the maritime reserve of Plemmirio. The perfect spot for snorkelling and a sunset aperitive. Open only in summertime.

Ognina e Punta Asparano: Rocky beach with crystalline water. Perfect spot for snorkelling and relaxation on one of the Kiosks at sunset or to have dinner at night along the small harbour.

Cava Grande: Amazing falling waters and small lakes surrounded by nature in the Valley of Cassibile. You need hiking shoes or training shoes and you have to walk for 30-40 minutes in nature.

Pineta del Gelsomineto: This is a wonderful white sandy beach surrounded by maritime pine wood, while the sea is a myriad of enchanting colours (you have to pay for the parking). Is perfect for children if you have an umbrella and is our favourite beach!

Pantanello: This beautiful beach near the town of Avola is lined with agave. Fine sand and a slowly sloping seabed make it ideal for children.

Laghetti Cavagrande
Laghetti Cavagrande

How to Reach Ortogia:

The cheaper way to arrive in Syracuse from the airport is by bus (not the train at the moment)

Tours and Activities Natural Reserve Excursions (Pantalica, Cava Grande, Cava Carosello, Vendicari) – info here Ortigia from another angle – the Mindful' walks – nice info here Ciane river canoe tours – Circle Nautico Ciane – telephone 327 1056230 Discover the Etna terroir – winery and wine tasting tours – contact Natalie Guziuk at 339 6008704

The access to Ortigia by car has been completely limited and forbidden to non-permanent residents every day except for taxi. Please be aware that in this time frame Ortigia is only pedestrian. There are many buses from the plaza in front of the airport, mostly hourly. You can check their timetable here: (Italian). You will arrive at train station and from there you can walk to Ortigia area in about 10/15 minutes or you can take a cab. If you arrive in the night unfortunately the only way is by private transfer.

Parking in Syracuse is regulated by coloured lines painted on the streets:

  • White indicates free parking.
  • Blue indicates paid parking (usually hourly); we recommend using the Easy Park app on your phone.
  • Yellow is designated for residents only (do not park your car here).

  • Casa del Forte ofrece una experiencia auténticamente italiana en una histórica casa de pescadores, perfectamente ubicada en Siracusa. Los apartamentos con encanto renovados combinan estilos tradicionales y contemporáneos, cada uno con características únicas como un acogedor patio o un balcón privado con vistas al mar. Los apartamentos comparten una impresionante terraza para relajarse, una ducha al aire libre y comidas a la luz de la luna junto al mar Mediterráneo.
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    • Hipster Chic
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    • Ciudad
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    • 2 propiedades
  • El bonito apartamento de dos habitaciones, Casa Esther es un refugio para los entusiastas de Italia que aprecian la mezcla de elegancia y modernidad dentro de un nido centenario en el corazón de Siracusa.
    • Apartamento con encanto
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    • Chic
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    • Centro Histórico
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    • 4 personas
  • Ubicado en el centro histórico de Ortigia, este elegante apartamento ofrece una inmersión siciliana con vistas al mercado local. Dos habitaciones dobles, dos baños y una cocina abierta permiten a los huéspedes experimentar el vibrante estilo de vida siciliano mientras preparan platos italianos con ingredientes locales frescos.
    • Apartamento con encanto
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    • Elegante
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    • Ciudad
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    • 4 personas
  • El Dimore delle Zagare Ortigia es un edificio del siglo XIX recientemente restaurado en el centro histórico de Ortigia. El estilo minimalista y contemporáneo complementa la cuidadosa selección de comodidades modernas. Las habitaciones están equipadas con WiFi gratuito, baño privado, cafetera y mucho más.
    • B&B
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    • Contemporáneo
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    • Centro Histórico
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    • 10 habitaciones
  • Hotel Gutkowski en Ortigia, Siracusa, ofrece una encantadora estancia en edificios restaurados de pescadores y artesanos con un toque contemporáneo. Sus habitaciones decoradas de forma individual cuentan con una mezcla de mobiliario siciliano tradicional y moderno. El hotel incluye salas de estar, espacios para reuniones, una recepción y una sala de desayunos.
    • Hotel & Self-Catering
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    • Design
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    • Centro Histórico
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    • 25 habitaciones
  • El Penthouse Cordari es un encantador apartamento en el centro histórico de Siracusa, Italia, que ofrece comodidad, diseño y una amplia terraza para hasta 4 huéspedes. Cuenta con una cocina totalmente equipada, aire acondicionado, internet gratuito y recientes reformas.
    • Apartamento con encanto
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    • Contemporáneo
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    • Ciudad
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    • 2 personas
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