Things to do in Ortigia Siracusa, Sicily

by Kelly

Looking for things to do in Ortigia Siracusa, Sicily? We absolutely loved this little town and really recommend it when in Sicily. It not only oozes charm but is set by the sea with the most picturesque views. This blog contains the best things to do in Ortigia Siracusa, Sicily and how best to visit!

Where is Ortigia Siracusa?

Ortigia Siracusa is located in the south of Sicily, right on the coastline. It is 68km or 1 hours drive from Catania and its International Airport.

Are Ortigia and Siracusa the same place in Sicily?

It can sound confusing but Oritgia and Siracusa are actually different towns that are so close they feel like the same place. Siracusa (Syracuse) is the town on the mainland and Ortigia is the little island that sits just adjacent to it. They really feel like the same place though as the only means of separation are two small bridges.

The trains station is at Siracusa and you can get a taxi, bus or just walk to Ortigia.

How to get to Ortigia Sircausa?

You can fly into Sicily at international airports in Palermo and Catania. To reach Ortigia Siracusa depends on if you are hiring a car or using public transport. If driving then it will take 1 hour from Catania or 3 hours from Palermo.

You can get there by public transport, there are buses and trains from Catania to Siracusa which take about an hour. The buses or trains from Palermo take between three and four hours. Generally they go from Palermo to Catania then on to Siracusa.

Where to stay in Ortigia Siracusa?

Hotels in Syracuse

Syracuse is great to stay in to be close to the train station. The trains station is easier to get to from there and you can then walk into Ortigia without all your luggage. It is about a 20 minute walk from the train station to Ortigia. It is closer to the archaeological park but doesn’t have the charm of Ortigia, where you will spend most of your time. These are our best picks for Siracusa.


Casa Fiorita – Great location, host, price and room. Apartments with everything needed.

B&B L’Infiorescenza new – Good breakfast, location and host.


Regina Margherita – Bed and Breakfast & Rooftop Lounge Bar – Excellent location, rooms and a lift onsite is a well liked addition.

Little House: Cute accommodation , great price and location.

I Cinque Mori DEVA – Modern rooms and great location.

PhotoGuest B&B – Great rooms, host and breakfast. Terrace sea view rooms are gorgeous.


Grande Albergo Alfeo – Elegant hotel, clean and fresh. Breakfast is excellent and located close to the Siracusa train station.

Isonzo Suites – Immaculate rooms with unique design and stunning décor. The host is excellent, parking and bicycles available and a shared kitchen onsite.

Calafatari B&B – Beautiful rooms, great location walkable to Ortigia, amazing breakfast and very clean.

Hotels in Ortigia

Ortigia is best to stay in to be closer to the main attractions. There are some amazing choices, some right on the waterfront which is a dream! You will have about a 20 minute walk with your luggage or take a taxi. The walk is ok but along a main road that is pretty busy and the sidewalk isn’t the easiest with a rolling luggage bag. Mike was fine with his backpack. These are our best pics for Ortigia accommodation.

We stayed at Ortigia Charme piazza Duomo. It was perfect! The location was just off the main Duomo square. There is a external door and the apartment has its own private entry. There is a separate bathroom, great TV and kitchenette. The host is so helpful, it feels like you are staying in a renovated locals home. It has some little shutters that open out on to the street. As it is on the ground floor it is cool in the middle of the day.


Palazzo Spagna – Amazing location, lovely apartment, clean with everything needed. Excellent pricing.

Jasmine Studio by the Sea – clean, great location, good pricing.


Hotel Gutkowski – Simply designed rooms that are clean and fresh, perfect location on the waterfront lungomare in Ortigia. Good breakfast and some rooms with sea view.

Casa Bidduzza – Excellent location, quiet, clean and fresh.


Algilà Ortigia Charme Hotel – Incredible rooms and location. The breakfast is excellent and rooms are spacious and comfortable with an elegant design.

Alla Giudecca – Beautiful rooms in a great setting. Good breakfast and staff. Excellent location.

Things to do in Ortigia Siracusa, Sicily

Duomo di Ortigia (The Cathedral of Syracuse)

The Cathedral of Syracuse (Duomo di Ortigia) is a UNESCO site and was originally a 5th Century Greek temple. The current cathedral was built in the 7th Century and later rebuilt during 1725–1753 after the 1693 Sicilian earthquake.

Please remember that this is a working church and appropriate behaviour and dress is important. Covering shoulders and knees is a general rule.

Duomo di Ortigia Tickets

Cathedral entry costs 2€ and its opening hours do change slightly with the season but usually fall between 9am – 5:30pm.

To learn about its history and features you can take a walking tour which will describe the history of main features around the town as well as the archaeological park. Two great options are: Syracuse: Ortygia Walking Tour, Walking tour of Ortigia: the stage of history and Syracuse: Ortigia and Neapolis Guided Walking Tour (per group of 4)

Duomo Piazza

The Duomo Piazza is a must to sit and soak up the atmosphere of Ortigia. It is lined with cafes and restaurants which provide the perfect people watching spots. This is a main thoroughfare and meeting place there will be no shortage of action here.

Archimede Square

The second most important square in Ortigia, it is the location of the Fontana di Diana (Fountain of Diana). The Piazza de Archimede was completed in 1879 and is a hub of city life, surrounded by palaces. The 18th Century palaces of Palazzo del Banco di Sicilia, Palazzo Pupillo, Palazzo Interlandi Pizzuti, Palazzo Gargallo are combined with Palazzo Lanza Bucceri from the 13th Century and Palazzo Platamone (Palace of the clock). These grand buildings line the square combine the history of Ortigia from middle ages to today and are stunning when standing amongst them.

Fontana di Diana (Fountain of Diana)

The Fontana di Diana (Fountain of Diana) is at the centre of the Archimede Square. It depicts Arethusa, a nymph, protected by Diana goddess of the hunt (also her mother), as she flees from the god, Alphaeus. The fountain was created by sculptor, Giulio Moschetti.

Fountain of Arethusa

The Fonte Aretusa (Arethusa’s Spring) is an interesting and slightly mysterious place in Ortigia Siracusa. It is a freshwater spring that is only metres from the ocean. It also has papyruses growing in it which is rare in Europe. There is a circular wall built around it from which you can stand and admire the spring. It is also a great sunset spot.

Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia

Sitting at the end of the Piazza Duomo you will find the beautiful baroque Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia. Both the church and the monastery were damaged during the Sicilian earthquake and rebuilt, moving the entrance. It conists of one room and is dedicated to Santa Lucia, who protected the city from famine. Every year in May there is a festival known as Santa Lucia and the quails and the church is one of the stops on the procession.

Jewish baths

This is a very unique and interesting place in Ortigia Syracuse. Called the ‘miqweh’ the Jewish Baths are located 18m below street level in the Alla Giudecca Hotel. Fed by pure spring water they are among the only ritual baths in Europe that still retains its original form and charm.

There are three main deep pools and then to the side smaller pools that were meant for the Rabbis. The fresh waters, tanks, pillars and vaults are carved into the rock. Here you can glimpse ancient community life showcasing the customs and norms of the day. Incredibly you can visit this historical site, there are guided tours every 30 minutes. The tours run between 10am-1:30pm and then again 3pm-6:30pm. The cost is 7€ per person.

Temple of Apollo

The ruins of the Temple of Apollo are one of the first things you will see when you enter Ortigia from Siracusa. It is just opposite the bridges and is a large fenced off area. It was built in the 6th Century and is one of the most important in Sicily. Over the years the temple was used as various churches and mosques before the stone was taken to be used in buildings around Ortigia. Finally the area was made prominent and as it is today for all to appreciate. The temple is considered important as it marks the time that construction of temples changed from wood to stone. An inscription on a step reads “Kleomede made for Apollo (the temple), the son of Knidieidas, and raised the colonnades, beautiful works”.

Castello Maniace

The Maniace Castle is one of the most important buildings in Orgitia Siricusa. It dates to 1240 and was originally built with a square base and four towers has undergone numerous modifications to the current structure. Named after a Byzantine commander it is open to the public to tour daily. Unfortunately it was closed for a private function while we were there. Tickets cost 8€ for entry and the exhibition.

Lungomare Ortigia

The Lungomare in Ortigia is the perfect place to stroll along and get lost in the views of the ocean. It stretches around the coastline of Ortigia and you can walk along for quite a long time. It is the perfect location for aperitivo and watching the sunset. You will find the Fonte Aretusa here and a really lovely garden to take shade in during the hot days.

Aperitivo Ortigia

Aperitivo in Ortigia is everywhere but our favourite is right on the Lungomare. There are many little restaurant sand bars here to sit and watch the sun sink into the sea but you have try our favourite, Mikatu. It does fill up so get there a bit early if you want front seats. The owner has a dog that chases away the seagulls on command, which is fun to watch while enjoying the sunset.

Ortigia beaches

Spiaggia di Fonte Aretusa

Spiaggia di Fonte Aretusa is a great little beach right in the centre of Ortigia. It can get busy but it is really worth it. I loved the Sicilian heads as you enter the area.

Cala Rossa Beach

Cala Rossa Beach is another beach in the town of Ortigia, just off the front walls. There is a large staircase to walk down and enter the pebbly beach.

Fontane Bianche

Located 17km south of Ortigia Siracusa you can drive in 30 minutes or a train takes 50 minutes. This is a really beautiful beach that is definitely worth the time it takes to get there.

Ortigia Street Market

The street market in Ortigia is excellent. There are fish vendors, oyster bars, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, spices and loally made products. Around the corner you will find a clothing and garment area. There are loads of hats and bags as well as souvenirs.

Shopping in Ortigia

Ortigia is full of great shops. From jewellery, homewares, perfume and clothing there are tons of cute and unique artisan stores to enjoy. Walking along the streets you will see stalls set up with the makers selling their pieces as well as the boutique stores.

Ortigia Porfumi

Ortigia Sicilia is such a beautiful brand and their products are so unique. The scents are divine, specialising in candles, soap, body care and giftware, they make the most perfect gifts for loved ones or a treat for yourself! You will find the stores dotted throughout Sicily but I can’t think of a better place than Ortigia to make a purchase. The shops are stunning to browse, my favourite fragrance is Florio.

Location Via Roma, 29, 96100 Siracusa

Jewellery, clothing and curio shops

Another of my favourite shops in Ortigia is the little boutique jewellery store Baco Ortigia. I stumbled inside one day while waiting for Mike and loved everything I saw! The gorgeous pieces are handmade by hand Simona and Marco who moved here 6 years ago from Milan. They are such welcoming lovely people and their store is an Aladdin’s cave of beautiful stone, jewel, silver and bronze pieces. Make sure to stop by when in Ortigia and check out their stunning pieces for your special keepsake.

Located at Via Roma 101/103, Ortigia, Siracusa.

You can also take a tour of the artisan shops in Ortigia, check out this Tour Artisan Shops in the Old Town of Ortigia.

Best tours around Ortigia Siricusa

There are some excellent tours around Ortigia which can really add to your experience there, these are our favourites.

Highlights of Ortigia Guided Walking Tour

This walking tour is a great way to learn about the town and its interesting history, you will finish up feeling like a local with a deep appreciation for the area..

These boat tours are all excellent and offer something slightly different. Whether you are looking for a swimming tour, an aperitivo sunset cruise or to explore all the caves and grottos there is something here for you!

Ortigia Sunset Cruise with Aperitif,

Syracuse: Boat Trip with Lunch, Wine, and Swimming Stops,

Siracusa: Ortygia Island Boat Tour with Grotto Visit,

Half Day boat tour along Ortigia island,

Syracuse: Ortigia Boat Trip with Caves and South Coast.

Neapolis Archaeological Park

Neapolis Archaeological Park includes multiple ancient sites that can be visited at the same time. This includes the Greek Theatre, Ear of Dionysius, Grotta dei Cordari, altar of Gerone II. It is located 3km from Ortigia.

The Ear of Dionysius

The Ear of Dionysius is a popular attraction at the park that is thought to have been named by Caravaggio due to the shape. The stone quarry was used to detain slaves or war prisoners, guards were able to hear the prisoners conversations due to its shape.

You can buy tickets on arrival at the booth or book them ahead of time. Tours are also available to further your understanding of the features of the park. This Neapolis Archaeological Park Tour is very popular.

Where to eat in Ortigia

Ortigia has some of the best food options, We loved the local foods here these are oud favourite places to eat. If you are interested in a local perspective check out this Street food tour of Syracuse.

Our favourite places to eat in Ortigia

Mangano Sapuri Siciliano – the best gluten free options for sweets. There is excellent cannolo and gelato, they have gluten free options for both as well. They have a boutique store attached with lots of gourmet pastas, biscuits and condiments to buy.

Best lunch places in Ortigia

Alimentari Randieri Lucia – this is a tiny deli, they have a couple of seats out front that look to the water. Mostly locals will come here, Mike loved their fresh sandwiches and cold beer in the fridge. The food in this family run store is good and cheap!

Pasticceria Artiginale – This great little pasticceria has excellent arancini for €2.50 as well as biscuits, cakes, gelato and coffee! The prices are great and it is always busy so turnover is high.

Cafetteria Salumeria Mini Market – Located at the Ortigia Street Market is incredible. They are not too expensive and make great sandwiches. They have an excellent selection of wines and fresh foods as well as artisan products. Eating here is a must.

Best pizza in Ortigia

Pizzeria da Mario was great for pizza takeaway, they are really cheap and located close to the waterfront. Their gluten free pizzas have a 4€ surcharge and they are not as good as the regular pizzas.

Pizzeria Schiticchio and La Sciccheria – Ristorante, Pizzeria both do excellent pizzas! We loved them while in Ortigia. They also do gluten free pizzas and only charge 3€ surcharges. I recommend both of them!

Mikatú – A wine bar that is in our opinion the perfect place for aperitivo. The staff are fun and the drinks are good! You will get a great platter with some bruschetta, peanuts, chips and olives. Get there early for a front table.

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