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215 215 9814

Ortigia Travel Guide: What to Do and See in Ortigia Italy

February 13, 2023 14 min read.

Picture of Antonio Sessa on Unsplash

General Information About Ortigia

Ortigia is a small island located in the city of Syracuse, Sicily, Italy. It is known for its rich history, stunning Baroque architecture, beautiful beaches, and vibrant cultural scene.

Throughout its long and complex history, Ortigia has been shaped by a variety of civilizations and cultures, including the ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and Normans. Today, the island is a well-preserved example of ancient and medieval city life, with historical sites, monuments, and buildings that have been preserved for centuries.

Ortigia is also known for its delicious food and drink, with a variety of local specialties, from fresh seafood to handmade pasta dishes, as well as a selection of local wines and other traditional drinks.

Visitors can also experience the island's vibrant festival scene, with several major festivals and events taking place throughout the year, including the Festa di Santa Lucia, Carnevale di Ortigia, and the Jazz & Wine Festival.

Whether you are interested in history, architecture, food or just enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the island, Ortigia is sure to offer something for everyone. It is a charming and vibrant destination that offers a unique and authentic insight into Sicily's rich cultural heritage.

Location of Ortigia

Bellow, we show you where is located Ortigia: 

Map of Ortigia on Google Maps

What to See in Ortigia?

Ortigia is a rich island, where visitors can easily spend several days exploring its vast history and culture. Here we mention some of its most amazing treasures.

Temple of Apollo

This ancient Greek temple is dedicated to the god Apollo and is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Sicily.

Syracuse Cathedral

This is a beautiful baroque-style cathedral located in the heart of Ortigia, the Cathedral of Syracuse is an important landmark and an important place of worship for the local community.

Palazzo Bellomo

This beautiful palace now houses the Museum of Art and Popular Traditions of Syracuse, and contains a rich collection of art, sculptures, and other artifacts from the city's history.

Duomo Square

A charming square surrounded by historic buildings and churches, including the Cathedral of Syracuse, Piazza del Duomo is a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike.

Arethusa Fountain

This impressive fountain, located near the port of Ortigia, is believed to be the site of the mythological spring of the same name and is a popular place for locals and tourists alike to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Castle Maniace

A historic castle located in the southeast corner of Ortigia, Castello Maniace is a popular place for visitors to enjoy panoramic views of the city and surrounding coastline.

Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum

This museum is dedicated to the history and archeology of Syracuse and the surrounding area, featuring a rich collection of artifacts and exhibits from the ancient Greek, Roman, and medieval periods.

Activities to Do in Ortigia

Ortigia offers wonderful attractions and things to do for all types of travellers, both for those who enjoy a vacation full of adrenaline and for those who enjoy relaxing and contemplating the most beautiful landscapes, or the curious, lovers of history and culture.

Here are some of the most entertaining activities you can do on this fascinating island, whether you are interested in history, culture, food or the outdoors, there is something for everyone on this enchanting and beautiful island.

Explore the Historic Center

The historic center of Ortigia is a beautiful and fascinating place, full of narrow streets, charming squares and old buildings. Take a walk downtown to explore its architecture, shop for souvenirs, and try the local cuisine.

Visit the Temples of Apollo and Athena

Ortygia is home to two ancient temples: the Temple of Apollo and the Temple of Athena. These historic structures are among the oldest in the world and offer a fascinating insight into the island's rich history.

Take a Dip in the Sea

Ortigia is surrounded by the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean, and there are several beaches where you can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy water activities such as snorkelling and kayaking.

Visit the Fish Market

The Fish Market in Ortigia is a bustling place, full of local fishermen selling their catch of the day. It's a great place to see the local culture and try some delicious seafood.

Enjoy Local Food and Drink

Ortigia is known for its delicious cuisine, which includes traditional Sicilian dishes such as pasta alla Norma, Arancini and cannoli. Take a walk through the narrow streets of the city and stop at a local trattoria or cafe to sample the local flavors.

Take a Boat Ride

There are several boat trips available from Ortigia, offering the opportunity to explore the island's coastline and nearby islands. These trips can be a great way to enjoy the beautiful scenery and get some exercise.

Visit the Art Museum

Ortigia is home to several interesting museums, including the Museo de Arte Museo, which houses a collection of works by local artists. The museum is a great place to learn more about the local culture and history.

What to Eat and Drink in Ortigia

Ortigia, located in Sicily, Italy, is known for its rich culinary traditions and delicious local cuisine.

Some of the most typical foods and drinks that visitors can enjoy while in Ortigia include seafood, Sicily is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and Ortigia is no exception. Visitors can expect to find a wide variety of fresh seafood dishes, including grilled fish, pasta with seafood sauces, and fried seafood dishes.

Also, you must try the Arancini, these fried rice balls are a staple of Sicilian cuisine and can be filled with a variety of toppings, such as cheese, meat, or vegetables.

And definitely, you must try Cannoli, a sweet pastry filled with a creamy ricotta filling, cannolis are a popular dessert in Sicily and can be found in many cafes and pastry shops in Ortigia, and Granita, refreshing Sicilian treat made of shaved ice, granita it is often flavored with fruit syrup or coffee and is a popular way to beat the heat in Sicily's hot climate.

As for drinks, we invite you to try Limoncello, a sweet lemon liqueur that is a popular after-dinner drink in Sicily and is often served chilled in small glasses, or Nero d'Avola wine, a Rich, full-bodied red wine produced in Sicily and a popular choice to accompany meals in Ortigia.

Festivals in Ortigia

Ortigia is known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant party scene. Some of the more notable festivals and events that take place in Ortigia include:

  1. Festa di Santa Lucia: Held in December, this festival celebrates the patron saint of Syracuse with a procession through the streets of Ortigia and a series of religious ceremonies.
  2. Carnevale di Ortigia – A pre-Lenten festival held in February, the Carnevale di Ortigia is a colorful and lively celebration with street performers, parades, and parties.
  3. Festival of Myth: Held in the summer, this festival is a celebration of Syracuse's rich mythology and features performances, exhibits and events that bring legends and stories from the city's past to life.
  4. Jazz & Wine Festival: A celebration of music, food, and wine, the Jazz & Wine Festival takes place in the summer and features performances by local and international jazz musicians, as well as tastings of local wines and other culinary delights. .
  5. Syracuse International Film Festival – A celebration of film and cinema, this festival takes place annually in the fall and features screenings of international and local films, as well as events and workshops for aspiring filmmakers.

How to Get to Ortigia

Ortigia is a small island located in the city of Syracuse, Sicily, Italy. There are several ways to get to Ortigia, depending on your starting point.

One option is by air. The closest airport to Ortigia is the Catania Fontanarossa airport, which is located about 70 kilometers from Syracuse. From the airport you can take a taxi or rent a car to get to Syracuse and then take a short bridge to get to Ortigia.

Also, you can go by train. If you're already in Sicily, you can take a train to Syracuse from several major cities, including Catania, Palermo, and Messina. From the Syracuse train station, it's a short walk to the bridge that leads to Ortigia.

Another alternative is by Bus. Buses run regularly between Syracuse and other cities in Sicily, and there is also a local bus that connects the mainland of Syracuse with Ortigia.

And of course you can go by car. If you're driving, you can reach Syracuse by taking the A18 motorway, which connects the city with several major cities in Sicily, including Catania and Messina. From Syracuse, you can take the bridge to reach Ortigia.

However you choose to get to Ortigia, the island is easily accessible and well connected to the rest of Sicily, making it a convenient and easily accessible destination for visitors.

How to Move Around Ortigia?

Ortigia is a small island and it is easy to get around on foot or by bicycle. Here are some options for Getting Around Ortigia:

  1. Walking: Ortigia is a compact and walkable island, and many of the city's attractions are within a short radius of each other. Walking is a great way to see the island, take in its sights and sounds, and explore its charming streets and alleyways.
  2. Bicycling: Bicycling is another popular way to get around Ortigia. Renting a bike is a convenient and eco-friendly option, and allows you to cover more ground than walking, while taking in the sights and sounds of the island at a leisurely pace.
  3. Public Transportation: There is a local bus that connects the mainland of Syracuse to Ortigia, and it is a convenient option to get around the island, especially if you want to avoid the hills.
  4. Taxis – Taxis are readily available in Ortigia and are a convenient option if you need to get somewhere quickly, or if you are carrying heavy bags.
  5. Rental Cars – If you are visiting Ortigia from further afield, or planning to explore other parts of Sicily, you may want to consider renting a car. This is a convenient option, especially if you're traveling with a group, but keep in mind that parking can be limited on the island, so you may need to park on the mainland and walk or take a bus to reach Ortigia.

However you decide to get around Ortigia, the island is small and easy to navigate, and you are sure to find a mode of transport to suit your needs and interests.

Best Time to Visit Ortigia

The best time to travel to Ortigia depends on your personal preferences and what you want to experience during your trip. Here are some things to consider:

If you're looking to spend time on the beach, soak up the sun, and enjoy the island's outdoor attractions, the summer months of June through August are the best time to visit Ortigia. During this time, the weather is warm and sunny, and the beaches are busy and lively.

If you're looking for milder weather and fewer crowds, the spring and fall months of April through May and September through October are a great time to visit. During these months, the temperatures are mild, the beaches are calmer and the island is bathed in a warm and welcoming light.

If you are looking to experience Ortigia's rich cultural heritage, then the winter months of November to February are a great time to visit. During this time, the crowds are smaller, the weather is cooler, and you can take advantage of the island's inland attractions, such as its museums, churches, and historical sites.

What to Give If You Travel to Ortigia

If you are traveling to Ortigia, you may be looking for a unique and special gift to bring to your friends and family.

 Some great options for Ortigia gifts include pottery. Sicily is known for its rich tradition in ceramics, and Ortigia is home to several local artisans who create beautiful handmade pieces. Look for traditional majolica plates, vases, and tiles decorated in bold, eye-catching patterns.

Another great idea is olive oil. Sicily is known for its high-quality olive oil, and there are several local producers in Ortigia who offer a range of products, including extra virgin olive oil, infused oils, and flavored oils.

Also, a nice gift could be Limoncello; a sweet lemon liqueur is a popular after-dinner drink in Sicily and makes a unique and tasty treat. Look for small bottles of the traditional homemade liquor, or opt for a more elaborate gift set that includes glasses and other accessories.

And something that never fails is the wine. Sicily is home to several major wine regions, and there are several local wineries in Ortigia that offer tastings and sales of their products. Look for bottles of Nero d'Avola, a rich, full-bodied red wine, or Moscato di Noto, a sweet, fragrant white wine.

Finally, a great idea is jewelry. Ortigia is home to several local jewelry artisans who create beautiful handcrafted pieces inspired by the city's rich cultural heritage. Browse traditional gold and silver jewelry, including filigree earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.

Cultural Aspects of Ortigia

The History of Ortygia

Ortygia is a historic island, located in the city of Syracuse, in Sicily, Italy. The island has a rich and complex history that spans thousands of years and has been shaped by several major civilizations and cultures.

Ortigia was first settled by the ancient Greeks in the 8th century BC. C. and soon became one of the most important city-states in the Mediterranean world. Over the centuries, Syracuse was ruled by a succession of powerful civilizations, including the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and Normans, each of whom left their mark on the island's history and culture.

In the Middle Ages, Ortigia became a center of trade and commerce, with a thriving port and a bustling market. The island was also home to several important religious institutions, including the Cathedral of Syracuse and the church of Santa Lucia, which still stand today.

In the modern era, Ortigia has continued to play an important role in the cultural and economic life of Sicily. Today, the island is a popular tourist destination, known for its historic architecture, charming streets, and beautiful beaches.

Despite the growth and development of the city, many of Ortigia's historical buildings and monuments have been preserved, making it one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the world.

Throughout its long and rich history, Ortigia has been shaped by a variety of cultures, civilizations and events, and continues to be a vibrant and important part of Sicily's cultural heritage.

Whether you are interested in history, architecture or just enjoying a charming seaside town, Ortigia is sure to offer something for everyone.

Where to Stay in Ortigia?

Ortigia offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Here are some of the more popular choices for where to stay in Ortigia:

  1. Hotels: Ortigia has a good selection of hotels, ranging from budget options to luxurious boutique hotels. Many of the hotels are located in historic buildings and offer views of the sea, the city or the nearby countryside.

  2. 2.Bed & Breakfasts: There are several Bed & breakfasts in Ortigia, offering comfortable and affordable accommodation in the heart of the city.

  3. Apartments: For those looking for more independence and space, there are several apartments and holiday homes available to rent in Ortigia. These can be a great option for families or groups of friends traveling together.

  4. Hostels – While there are no traditional hostels in Ortigia, there are several affordable options for backpackers and budget travelers, including budget hotels and Bed & breakfasts.

When choosing where to stay in Ortigia, it is worth considering your budget, the location you prefer (near the sea or the city center, for example), and the type of accommodation that suits your needs.

Is It Worth Visiting Ortigia?

Definitely yes! Ortigia is characterized by a rich and diverse mix of history, tradition and modernity, and visitors will find a warm and welcoming atmosphere, a rich cultural heritage and a vibrant sense of community whenever they visit this enchanting island.

In turn, due to its proximity to Palermo and Monreale, many travelers combine their trip to Ortigia with these destinations, so you will find these places in our offers.

You also have one-day tours of the places of interest in Ortigia. Do not wait any longer to book your excursions through the beautiful Ortigia!

How much does it cost to eat in Ortigia?

Eating in Ortigia can be more or less expensive depending on your needs. A meal in a cheap restaurant can cost between 10 and 15 euros.

When is it cheapest to travel to Ortigia?

Ortigia's low season is from November to March.

What is the best time to travel to Ortigia?

We recommend visiting Ortigia in June, July or August, when the days are long and you can enjoy the sun and warm temperatures; or in the middle season, during spring or autumn.

What are the requirements to visit Ortigia?

You must have a 6 month old passport to enter Italy.

What currency is used in Ortigia?

The currency used in this region is the Euro.

How many days are necessary to visit Ortigia?

Being a small island, Ortigia can be covered in a day, however, the more time you dedicate to it, the more you will be able to appreciate the local customs and ways of life.

Is it safe to travel to Ortigia?

Traveling to Ortigia is completely safe, so no special measures are necessary. Enjoy your trip with complete peace of mind.

How do I book my trip to Ortigia?

To book your trip to Ortigia, you can contact one of Greca's sales representatives or contact us through our official page, completing the form for your site and date of interest.

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