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Cycle Sicily - Syracuse to Mount Etna

Italy, Sicily - Trip code CSE Cycling
Days 8
Deposit From £117
Price from £1165
Flights not included

Why book this trip?

A varied and scenic journey by bike and bus discovering the highlights of Eastern Sicily. Starting our journey in Syracuse, the ancient Greek capital, we cycle between the beautiful Baroque towns of Ragusa, Modica and Noto. We end our journey with a ride around the flanks of Mount Etna.

  • Cycle Sicily - Picturesque landscapes and beautiful towns
  • Mount Etna - Ride around the volcano and optional ascent by cable car and 4WD
  • Gastronomic Sicily - Sample great regional cuisine and local wines
  • Included meals

    Breakfast: 7

  • Trip staff

    Explore Tour Leader / Cycle guide


  • Transport



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    7 nights comfortable hotel

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    Cycling grade:


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    Group Size:

    10 - 16


Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Day 1 - Join trip in Syracuse

We begin our trip in Syracuse. Founded some 2,700 years ago as a Greek colony of Corinth, the city once rivalled Athens as the most important and beautiful city in the Greek world.

If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Catania Airport (CTA), which is an hours' drive from Syracuse. Our Tour Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting and, slightly later, our first group dinner to get to know your fellow travellers. There are no included excursions today and if you miss the briefing your Tour Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.

If arriving earlier in the day, we recommend exploring the city. You can visit Neapolis Archaeological Park with its famous Greek theatre hewn out of the hillside and the fine Roman amphitheatre where gladiators once fought. The historic core of the city is located on the small island of Ortygia, linked to the mainland by bridges, where you can explore the atmospheric narrow streets, Fonte of Aretusa, Temple of Apollo ruins, Maniace Castle and the Jewish Quarter with its old baths found under the Residenza Alla Giudecca Hotel. Ortygia Island is also a great place to go to a local cafe or restaurant and sit and watch the world go by.

No cycling today.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: None

Day 2 - Drive into hilly interior to beautiful Palazzolo Acreide. Cycle to the Baroque pearl of Ragusa

We start the day with a local bus ride (1hr) to the lovely town of Palazzolo Acreide. Although its roots are much older, the town was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1693 and much of what we see today was slowly rebuilt in the following centuries including a number of impressive Baroque palaces built by wealthy noble families. The pastry shops here are famously good, employing centuries-old traditions using local crops such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, honey and oranges. After some time for bike fitting our first ride leads us through valleys in the Iblean Mountains before climbing into the highlands to reach the magnificent hilltop town of Ragusa. As with every other place in the region, the old town collapsed in the 1693 earthquake and a new town, Ragusa Superiore, was built on top of the hill. The oldest part of town, Ragusa Ibla, was rebuilt by the old aristocracy and upon arrival we will explore the narrow alleyways, baroque palaces and charming piazzas on foot before heading to our hotel for tonight. The two towns were later joined and became the provincial capital.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 39 kilometres (810 metres total accumulated ascent and 950 metres descent).


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 3 - Scenic cycle to the Med through Baroque gems of Modica, Scicli and Noto; chocolate tasting

After breakfast we cycle from our hotel on scenic roads and after about an hour we reach another Sicilian Baroque gem in Modica, nestling at the foot of a deep gorge. Also famous for its Aztec-inspired chocolate introduced during the Spanish rule of the island, we plan to visit a traditional chocolatier. Our ride continues as we descend along a ravine to our next stop in Scicli. We will stop for a coffee and to explore this charming town. Those familiar with the Italian TV series Inspector Montalbano will be able to visit some of the places featured in the show. Cycling further south our final stretch on the bikes is a descent to reach the sea at Pozzalo. A short drive brings us to Noto where we spend the next three nights. Noto is possibly the most beautiful Baroque city in Sicily, completely rebuilt between 1715 and 1780 (following the devastating 1693 earthquake) and still preserves a unified and homogenous architectural style and town plan, little affected by later developments. Its tufa stone has mellowed to a golden brown colour and its unique buildings leave visitors with an impression that is hard to forget. Sicily makes some great sorbets and you may like to try a local variety made with almonds, often served with a brioche.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 51 kilometres (500 metres total accumulated ascent and 980 metres descent).


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 4 - Loop ride through Marzamemi coastal village and Vendicari Nature Reserve

Today we will cycle a loop ride down to the coast and back, with the chance for a swim. Led by the Tour Leader there is no support vehicle today and we start with a descent to the coastal village of Marzamemi. Our route takes us through wetlands and into Vendicari Nature Reserve - a place of natural beauty, wild beaches and rocky coves - popular with migrating birds on their way to or from Africa. Along the way it should be possible to see the mosaics in the Villa Romana del Tellaro. Finally we leave the reserve behind and cycle back to Noto.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 45 kilometres (200 metres total accumulated ascent and descent).


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 5 - Free day. Optional loop ride to Cavagrande Canyon or visit to ancient Syracuse

Today has been left free to relax and explore. There is plenty in Noto to keep you entertained for a day but for those interested we recommend an optional cycle ride to Cavagrande Canyon or a visit back to Syracuse (45 minutes away by train). The Tour Leader will lead a loop ride on almost car free roads to the Cavagrande Cassibile Canyon, taking in a great view point from up high. This optional ride is not accompanied by a support vehicle. Alternatively you may choose to take the train back to Syracuse and Ortygia Island for more cultural sightseeing.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 43 kilometres (580 metres total accumulated ascent and descent). (Optional)


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 6 - Bike ride around the northern flanks of Mount Etna

Leaving Noto after breakfast we drive north for about 2 hours around the western side of Mount Etna to reach Malletto. It is from here that we start our last cycle ride around the northern flanks of Etna with a downhill bias and fine views of the mighty volcano as we make our way around to our hotel in Giardini Naxos close to the sea. Along the way we pass the impressive gorge of Alcantara. Standing at around 3330m Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in Europe and the largest outside of the Caucasus. Etna is derived from the Greek word for 'I burn' and its craters and form has constantly been changing through numerous eruptions. Today the Leader will drive the support vehicle with the luggage, accompanying the ride in the van and giving clear instructions to the group along the way.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 47 kilometres (320 metres total accumulated ascent and 1300 metres descent).


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 7 - Free day. Optional ascent of Mount Etna and visit Taormina

Today has been left free to relax and explore. This morning, you have the opportunity to join a tour to explore the lunar landscape, craters and lava fields of Mount Etna. We drive from our hotel to the cable car base at Rifugio Sapienza, which is on the south side of Etna and 1,900 metres above sea level. Here there are several cafes and gift shops and you can also see the old Silvestri Craters. From here you can board the cable car up to 2,500 metres where you can have a walk around or take a 4WD coach drive up to 2900 metres to take a short walk (around 45 minutes) with a mountain guide to view the craters formed in the 2002/3 eruptions and the fumaroles at around 3000 metres, which is as close to the summit as we're currently permitted to go. In the afternoon you may choose to visit Taormina, Sicily's most famous resort - a favourite place during the days of the 'Grand Tour'. The Greek Theatre offers possibly the most famous view in Sicily - with snow-capped Etna acting as a backdrop to the remarkably well preserved columned stage.

No cycling today.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 8 - Trip ends in Giardini Naxos

The tour ends in Giardini Naxos this morning after breakfast. Arrivederci Sicilia!

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Catania Airport (CTA), which is around 1 hour from the hotel.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Trip information

Country information



April/May and October/November are pleasantly warm. June/September are the hottest months. Showers are common in Autumn.

Time difference to GMT



2 Pin Round


Roman Catholic




Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract.

Syracusa and Ortygia - 8 Euros train ticket
Taormina - 6 Euros by public bus
Three different options for the Mount Etna tour on day 10:
1. Bus to 1,900 metres €32 per person
2. Bus to 1,900 metres plus cable car to 2,500 metres €64 per person
3. Bus to 1,900 metres, cable car to 2,500 metres plus four-wheel drive coach up to 2,900 metres €96-120 per person
Due to the volcanic dust and sulphur fumes on Mount Etna, we ask asthma sufferers or customers with heart conditions of any kind to take these factors into consideration when deciding if this optional excursion is right for you.
Due to the colder temperature on Mount Etna it's possible to hire equipment at the top of the cable car: Quilted jackets €3.00 per person and walking boots €3.00 per person.
In windy conditions the cable car might not be running, in which case the four-wheel drive coach normally operates from 1,900 metres up to 2,500 metres.


When cycling: quick drying cycle tops, padded cycle shorts, lightweight wind and water proof jacket and warmer breathable layers where local conditions require. Cycling gloves are strongly recommended as they will protect you from sunburn and may also help protect your hands if you fall.
General: Pack essentially for hot or mild weather depending on the time of the year. A warm sweater or fleece and long trousers are advisable for the evenings especially in early and late season when the weather tends to be cooler. A rain jacket is also recommended.


If you are not bringing cycle shoes then try to bring stiff-soled shoes as these are better for cycling - transmitting your energy into the pedals more efficiently. This becomes more relevant and recommended the more demanding the grade and distances to cover. SPD cycle shoes are not well suited to tours that combine sightseeing with cycling so please check the trip notes.
Comfortable shoes, trainers, sandals or flip flops are useful when not on the bike.



Luggage: On tour

We recommend you bring a daypack and one main piece of luggage (total allowance: 44lb/20kg) which will be transported between hotels while you cycle. Check the bike details section to see if a pannier or handlebar bag is provided on the bike. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.


On all Explore cycle holidays we strongly recommend you bring along and wear your cycle helmet. In case of an accident resulting in personal injury, certain insurance policies are invalidated in cases where a helmet was not being worn.

Cycle glasses to protect against dust, pollen and the sun, padded cycle gloves and a water bottle or water delivery system (e.g. camelback or platypus) are also useful. You may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. If a handle bar bag or pannier is not provided (check bike details) then you may like to bring a small rucksack to wear while cycling. Other items to consider bringing are a sunhat and sun cream, torch, earplugs and insect repellent. Please carry some or all of your cycling equipment e.g. helmet as part of your hand luggage.


Explore leader
Tipping isn't compulsory, and we work hard to ensure that our leaders all receive a fair wage. You may however, want to recognise a leader that has done a great job or really added to your trip by giving them a tip. We're often asked about the recommended amount. It is a tricky one, and down to personal preference, but we would recommend £15 to £20 per person per week as a guideline.

Local crew
Although voluntary, tipping is a recognised part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. Accordingly, you should allow approximately £15 of local c urrency for tipping. In order to make things easier for you, the Explore Leader may organise a group's tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the trip.


Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.

Lunch price
£10.00 - 15.00
Dinner price
£20.00 - 25.00
Beer price
£2.00 - 4.00
Water price
£1.00 - 2.00
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Recommended Currency For Exchange
Where To Exchange
We recommend that you change any currency into Euros prior to arrival. Bureau de Change are generally only found in major cities and large airports.
ATM Availability
Major towns.
Credit Card Acceptance
Larger hotels and restaurants.
Travellers Cheques
Only in major towns. Please note, the exchange rate for cash and Travellers Cheques is poor.


Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.

Foreign Exchange
Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Bus, Bicycle

Essential Information

Government Travel Safety Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice click here.

For more information from Explore about travel advice, click here

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

Italy: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.

If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.


Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.

Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will now receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.

The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Polar, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  

For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here


It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.

Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.


Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.



Nothing required. Tetanus recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.


Cycling information
General cycling information
On this tour we cycle 182 km over four days (an average of 45 km per day) with a further optional 43km ride available. We generally cycle on quiet tarmac roads on undulating terrain with pronounced uphill sections. The Tour Leader cycles with the group on days 2 and 3 while a support vehicle (with room for 2 passengers) carries the luggage from point to point, accompanying the ride wherever necessary. There is no support vehicle on days 4 and 5 and the Leader guides the ride. On the final ride the Leader drives the support vehicle and provides clear directions to follow. We have graded the route as moderate.

Bike included
27 gear Stevens Galant or Stevens Savoie hybrid bikes.

Electric bikes (e-bikes) are available for an additional cost for the duration of the holiday. Please contact us for more details or to request your e-bike.
Bike information
Your included bike is a 27 gear Stevens Galant hybrid or Stevens Savoie hybrid and will be the correct frame size for your height. A pannier is included as well as the facility to fit your own pedals or saddle if you wish to bring them. We provide spare parts and take care of the day to day maintenance. All you need to bring is your own helmet and water bottle.

Electric bikes (available for an additional cost) will be a Haibike sDuro Trekking 4.0. Please note this is with a unisex step-through frame. Please contact us for more details or to request your e-bike.
Cycling grade
Additional Information

Why book this trip

Unlike many other operators, we include the hire of your bike in the overall cost of the holiday: you don't need to bring your own or pay extra to hire one locally. We also provide a support vehicle, spare parts and take care of day to day bike maintenance. All you need bring is your own helmet.

Dates, prices and booking

All holidays are subject to availability and prices are subject to change
Sun 6 Sep 2020 - Sun 13 Sep 2020 Guaranteed departure
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Add a flight with Explore

  • Full Explore refunds in the event of FCO cancellations or major disruption at your UK departure airport
  • Carbon neutral flights – Gold Standard offsetting included
  • Rearranged flights and transfers in the event of delays, missed connections, or cancellations (including accommodation overseas)
  • ATOL protected
  • No surcharge guarantee


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