Mount Etna is an active volcano located on the island of Sicily. If you are in Sicily, Mount Etna is definitely worth a visit. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sicily and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mount Etna can be a difficult hike, especially for inexperienced hikers. It is possible to hike Mount Etna without a guide but only if you are very fit and an experienced hiker. But, independent hikers can only reach 2,900 meters above sea level. If you wish to reach the summit craters, you need to have a guide.
In this article, we will talk about how to go to Mount Etna, what clothes and gear you need for the hike, as well as other ways to hike Mount Etna.
Is It Possible To Hike The Summit Of Mount Etna Without A Guide?
Hiking Etna without a guide is possible as long as you are very fit, an experienced hiker, and know about volcanoes. Mount Etna is an active volcano so there are dangers that you have to be wary of if you are going to be hiking Mount Etna independently.
As Mount Etna is an active volcano, it is safer to hike with a guide. Active volcanoes can erupt anytime. If you do not know the trail and the volcano erupts, you can get lost and be in danger.
If you are not that fit or are an inexperienced hiker, we recommend that you hike Mount Etna with a guide for your safety. But, if you are an experienced hiker and really want to hike Mount Etna, you can do so without a guide.
If you are hiking without a guide, you can only reach 2,900 meters above sea level. Any further than that requires a guide to reach the summit craters.
If you are set on hiking Mount Etna without a guide, you have to be prepared. You will need to have the appropriate hiking gear, especially if you are hiking without a guide. So, what do you need to pack when you visit Mount Etna?
What To Pack And Wear On Mount Etna Hike
You definitely need hiking boots as the grounds on Mount Etna can be steep and dangerous. You won’t survive the hike with your flip-flops or regular sneakers. You will also need to bring a helmet and a walking pole. If you are joining a guided Mount Etna tour, some tour companies include hiking gear in their package so you don’t have to bring your own.
Make sure to also bring windbreakers and other layers as the weather can get chilly once you reach a certain altitude. You can also wear hiking trousers and a moisture-wicking top to help you keep cool and dry.
Other things to bring are:
– Refillable water bottle
– Food and snacks
How To Get To Mount Etna
Rifugio Sapienza, also called Etna South or Etna Sud, is the best access point to Mount Etna. To get to Rifugio Sapienza, you can either drive there yourself or use public transportation.
There is a parking lot at the base so you don’t have to worry about parking. For public transportation, you can either take the AST bus or a taxi.
You can take the only direct bus going to Rifuge Sapienza at the Stazione Centrale in Catania. This bus leaves at 8:15 AM and goes back to Catania at 4:30 PM. The travel time takes about 2 hours so you might want to book your bus ticket ahead of time. During the high season, there is an extra bus that travels from Catania to Rifuge Sapienza.
If you are hiking independently, you can definitely take the bus. You can also take a taxi from Catania to Etna but it will definitely cost you more.
Other Ways To Hike Mount Etna
If you feel like you are not ready to climb Mount Etna without a guide, there are other ways to visit Etna and see this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can book guided tours to explore Mount Etna. This is a safe and only way to reach the crater summits. If you are hiking independently, you cannot hike all the way to the summit. You are only allowed to hike until 2,900 meters above sea level. If you are on a guided tour, you can reach the summit which is 3,340 meters above sea level. Currently, hiking to the summit is not possible so self-guided hikes and guided tours are only allowed until the 2,900 meter limit.
Most hikers also take the Mount Etna cable car from Rifugio Sapienza to the Mountain Hut at an altitude of 2,500 meters. After riding the cable car, the rest of the trail is accessible by foot. The cable car is definitely a good option if you don’t want to spend the day hiking. However, the cable car costs a lot so you’ll have to take your budget into consideration.
Hiking Mount Etna without a guide is possible but having a guide is safer, especially if you are not an experienced hiker. Mount Etna is also an active volcano that can erupt at any moment.
Guided Mount Etna tours are available and some of these tours already have hiking gear included in their package. If you plan to visit Sicily, visiting Mount Etna is definitely worth it. If you have any other questions, let us know!