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Hike Sicily's Highest Peak: Volcano Etna

Updated: Feb 1

The climb to the Torre del Filosofo on the Etna volcano is not an insider tip but offers (in the truest sense of the word) breathtaking panoramas over Sicily.

Sicily Etna Italy smoke crater ash snow hike
The hike to the Torre del Filosofo 2912m in Sicily is practically like the hike to Mordor...

only without orcs... ok and I didn't throw a ring into the fire simply because there was no lava, but there was a lot of smoke!

Key facts about the hike to Mount Etna in Sicily

factor: ♡♡♡♡♡

Difficulty: medium

Walking time: 3:30h

Altitude: 520Hm

Length: 7km

Accessible by public transport: no

Best time: All year round - but even when it's hot on the coast , it can be freezing cold at an altitude of almost 3,000 meters, so be sure to pack a thick jacket.

Starting point: Etna cable car mountain station at Rifugio Sapienza 2478m.

All four seasons in one day

In the morning we sit, completely relaxed in 20 degrees in a T-shirt and shorts - on our wonderful terrace at the Donna Carmela and see the top of Mount Etna flashing white in the distance. In March it is already warm like summer on the coast, even if the water temperatures are not yet really inviting for swimming. Today we want to hike up the highest mountain in Sicily: up the volcano Etna up to the Torre del Filosofo 2912m.

Click on the first picture to start the photo series:

From 0 to almost 3,000 meters in one hour

And today the program doesn't include swimming, but rather hiking. The path to the Torre del Filosofo 2912m is certainly not an insider tip, but it is still our goal, as it brings us closest to the deep throat of Etna. Not particularly sporty, we take the chairlift for the first few meters in altitude. At 2478mm the world looks completely different.

In March there is still thick snow here and I'm glad I brought my down jacket, hat and gloves.

The wind also whistles really well up here.

The climb to the Torre del Filosofo:

Even at the mountain station it is 20 degrees colder than on the coast

From the mountain station you first go up the wide bus track. After crossing under the chairlift, we leave it straight onto a lava field, the black crater of the Torre del Filosofo rises in front of us, behind it steam comes from the main crater of Etna - which you cannot climb because it is too active ( at least when we were there). At a junction we keep left and after turning right we come back to the bus track. The buses actually look pretty cool - more like lunar vehicles and the break we have to let them pass is not at all inconvenient when changing from o to almost 3,000 meters in altitude. At the edge we can admire very pretty crystalline snowdrifts everywhere.

The blaze of color from the azure sky, pitch-black lava and brilliant white snow is impressive.
Sicily Etna Italy Smoke Crater Ash Snow Hike Monte Escriva Fog

Azure blue, pitch black and snow white

We follow the bus track for a few curves until we leave it to the left at a lava wall and head towards the crater with a reddish rim. At the junction of a small path we stay on the wider path and climb quite steeply to the left. The Rifugio soon appears - the bus station for the lazy tourists. From here the path is easy to find. And so we soon stand on the Torre del Filosofo and a fantastic panorama with several volcanic cones opens up in front of us. Thick clouds are gathering further down and we feel like we are floating above everything. Fantastic panorama A circular route circles the crater and always gives new, great insights and views into the volcano and the island. From the summit of the Torre del Filosofo we turn right onto a wide cinder track and quickly slide down with a view of the bus track. Once at the bottom, we go back on the familiar route and head for the dominant crater that we missed on the climb.

Don't miss: Monte Escriva

The ascent path to the crater rim of Monte Escriva 2650m is clearly visible in the snow. When you circle it clockwise, only the first part is a bit alpine. At the highest point of Monte Escriva we have a fantastic view of the main craters of Etna. Further up the crater rim we reach an ash slide which takes us back to the bus track and after a short distance back to the mountain station...

and then the little hobbits are so tired and cold that they don't mind going back to the coast and the warmth...

The Donna Carmela in the middle of a huge Mediterranean garden


The websites (English) and provide a good overview of possible options Free time activities. There is a livecam on the Rifugio Sapienza homepage:

Get there:

From Frankfurt, Lufthansa and Ryanair offer direct flights to Catania. From there continue with a rental car, for example via


Three quarters of an hour from Etna lies the Donna Carmela in the middle of a huge Mediterranean garden. Some of the rooms have a wonderful view of Mount Etna and the sea. Double room with an exceptionally rich breakfast from €100 in the low season. As a bonus, the hotel offers free transfers from the airport and to Taormina. Contrada Grotte, 7 Carruba di Riposto, Tel. +39 (0)95 80938,

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