How to Trek Etna Volcano, Sicily Italy

Summit Etna

In this article I will outline how to trek Etna Volcano to the summit. I will provide details that include maps, costs, logistical requirements and facts as well as links photos and videos. This is a self-guided adventure on a shoestring but it can also be expensive based on the options you select. Follow the links to dig deeper into the adventure.

Difficulty Level:

This is an Easy ActivityI’ve broken this adventure into 5 stages for simplicity. There are different options for each stage.

Summit Route Stages

See Gear & Guides section for important details

Stage 1

Catania to Etna South 1910m (Refugio Sapienza) by public bus.
If you take the public bus and wish to do the summit you will have to spend one night or do the summit as a package with lift (funivia) & 4WD to stage 3 and cut part of the return tour in order to return to Etna South for the last bus of the day. See transport for details.

Stage 2

Etna South to Terminal Funivia (2500m)
This is a very undesirable area to walk. The trail is the road used by 4WD buses when the lift is not working due to high winds. In which case expect a lot of dust. The lift cost €30 return but if you spend the night at the Refugio you can get a discount coupon that drops the price to €21 return.

Stage 3

Terminal Funivia to Torre del Filosofo (2920m)
This stage can also be covered by 4WD bus (€24 return) or via a side trail (do not walk up the dusty winding road) for 1 hour (5 km). At the 2700m mark on the trail you will encounter a sign pointing out that a guide is required since the February 2017 eruption. Continue past the sign to complete this stage but but beyond Torre del Filosofo you will need to hire a guide/join a guided group.

Stage 4

Torre del Filosofo to Summit Craters 3330m
2 hours up, 1 hour return to Torre del Filosofo then an hour trek past Valle del Bove, then back to Terminal Funivia. As stated above, since the February 2017 eruption you must use a guide to travel beyond Torre del Filosofo (or above 2700m). Guides/groups are available at this location if you reach it by 11am. Cost €30 (will provide helmet and maybe hiking boots, limited supply).

Stage 5

Hang out on the summit and then return to Torre del Filosofo for lunch. Then trek down to funivia via Valle del Bove (or opt out and take the 4WD down).

cost range

Total Cost Range of this Activity is: $

Details: Per person, without meals, 2017 prices

1 Night Refugio (breakfast included)
Lift (Funivia) Return ticket (with €9 discount coupon from Refugio)
Guided package from Torre del Filosofo
Jacket & Boots Rental
Public bus to/from Etan Sud/Catania
Total €130

Transportation Details link

As mentioned elsewhere, you will need to leave the tour at the return to Torre del Filsofo if you wish to make the 16:30 last public bus back to Catania. You will have to skip the Valle del Bove section. If you took the 4WD up from the lift you can obviously take it back down. However, they don’t check tickets for the return to the lift so we simply jumped onto the next leaving 4WD bus to cut our return time. From the lift we used our Funivia return ticket to get back to Etna Sud. So we were back with over an hour to spare before the bus.

Recommended Approach

Stage 1. Take public bus from Catania at (8:15 or 11:00). Stay the night at Etna South. Hike to Valle del Bove if you have time and want something to do in the area that is free.
Get lift discount coupon and use the lift to complete the dusty Stage 2 next morning.
Walk from Terminal Funivia to Torre del Filosofo. Be there before 11am or it will be a no go day. Make sure you have a winter jacket that is wind proof. It is very cold and windy above 2700m, even in the summer.

Evaluate weather and your health and the available groups. Join the guided package on the spot for €30 (cash only) if inclined. If not there is an easier hike (no gear) to Mt Torre del Filosofo for a lower price.

So you have two options. Pay & join the group at the start of stage 4 (Torre del Filosofo) if you are there by 11am. Cash only. They have helmets but other items are limited. If on the other hand you are sure you want to summit you can also arrange with one of the guided services at Etna South (see below). Pay them the full amount €84 (all services, lift & 4WD included) or just €30 for the last stage (but once again, you must be at Torre del Filosofo by 11am). They will provide all gear (boots, pools, jackets, helmet, etc) at their shop in Etna South in both cases if you book/pay in advance.


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Terminal Funivia to Torre del Filosofo (2920m) Photos


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Stage 4. Torre del Filosofo to Summit Craters 3330m Photos


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Stage 5 Summit Photos


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Stage 5 Descent Photos


What is a Decade Volcano?

Gear & Guides

There are two aggressive guide service providers in front of the Refugio Sapienza. Both charge €85 for the full summit package (2017 prices). If you decide to do parts of the trip yourself and buy your own section tickets that break out like this.
Stage 2 – Lift ticket – Return €30 (€21 with Refugio coupon).
Stage 3 – 4WD €24
Stage 4 – Guide to summit €30

Minimum cost is the Stage 4 – Guide to summit €30. Other costs/services are optional.

Etna Sud Services

Euro Etna Tourism

Gruppo Guide Alpine Etna – Sud

Required gear – provide with guide services

Hiking boots above ankle
Wind breaker (but serious cold weather layers also required, even in mid summer).

Also, boots and jackets are available at Terminal Funivia (the top of the lift) for €3 each.

Independent (private) Guides

The two services in Etna Sud also provide private guides for €280 a day.

Catania Based Excursions & Guides

Etna Excursions

Etna Tribe Bike Tours

Etna Tribe Excursions

Other Options

Etna Nature Trails


On the Volcano

Rifugio Sapienza (Club Alpine Italy), Etna Sud
Most central location, ask for discount coupon if planning to use lift (Funivia)
2-3 rooms €110+ per night, 10% discount for CAI members
Internet pricing around € 65 – book online!
No dorms
Great breakfast included and very reasonable (and large) dinners. However, this is a busy evening place with lots of locals. Noisy so don’t get a room facing the road/parking/bar area.

Next door to Sapienza

Hotel Corsaro

To the West

Rifugio Ariel (dorms available)–promo.html


Golden Villa Hotel

Residence Serra La Nave

In Catania

Many options, but if you want to stay in a hostel, I recommend Ostello degli Elefanti. Centrally located with a great rooftop bar and views.


BBC February 2017 Eruption

Geology or Etna

Wikipedia about Etna


Monte Etna Alcantara-Simeto 1:50,000

English & Italian, showing hiking, alpinism &

climbing, ski touring, cross country skiing, MTB, speleology, paragliding, hang gliding, kayak, rafting and diving routes/locations. Cost € 8. Available in bookshops in Catania and in trinket shops at Etna Sud.

Buy it


Public Transport

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