Playa di Catania is the summer refuge for the locals, a large and convenient beach just a short distance from the city. If you’re in Catania for a weekend or a week and you’re looking for a beach where you can spend a day relaxing and having fun, Playa is the place for you.
You’re not from Catania if you’ve never been to Playa beach at least once in your life. I spent all (and I mean all) of my summers there until the age of 13. Every year, when I broke up from school for the summer, we would take a cabin at Lido Roma and every day, with my mum and sister, I would go to the beach. It was heaven on earth to me, everything seemed perfect, even the concrete cabins and the sea that was not entirely crystal clear.
My favourite pastime? Watching the planes taking off and landing at the nearby airport, and selling little necklaces made from shells collected on the beach. It was not and is not the Caribbean, but it felt like it to me.
So much has changed at Playa di Catania since then; there are hardly any concrete cabins left (luckily), and Playa has also now become a lively summer location (more about that later) and the focus on passing tourists has changed.
The sea in Catania: Playa
Let’s get this over with and address the question that I’m sure you’ll be asking yourself: “what’s the sea like at Playa di Catania”? If I have to make a comparison I’d say that Playa to Catania is like Ostia is to Rome.
If you’re expecting picture-postcard, crystal-clear waters, you’re sure to be disappointed. But if you’re expecting quite a convenient beach for a refreshing dip, with a large area of sand, facilities, sport and entertainment, then Playa di Catania could well be the beach for you.
Are you looking for other beaches in and around Catania? Here’s my list.
Playa di Catania serviced areas
What I like most about Playa di Catania is its long stretch of sand: a good 18 kilometres of fine, golden sand.
Here you can find numerous serviced areas, with umbrellas and loungers for all types of visitor: young families, older people, young people looking for some entertainment and sport.
There’s lots on offer, aimed to suit a range of clientele. Some serviced areas also have a pool, so if the sea is not clean enough or there are jellyfish around (as is the case sometimes) you can take a refreshing dip in “safer” waters.
If you’re looking for beach activities, you could hire a canoe or pedalo to explore the coast or play beach volleyball with your friends. There’s also beach tennis, tamburello (a bat & ball game) and windsurfing.
There’s everything you can imagine for families: play parks, pools, entertainment, childcare and summer camps.
Playa di Catania public beach
For the brave there are also three public beaches, located separately at the start, in the middle and at the end of the stretch of beach. I say brave because in the summer, trying to find a free patch to lay your towel will be a hard task. But you can always try, along with the locals!
Restaurants on Playa di Catania
Playa is not just about sun and sand! Here you’ll also find numerous restaurants and bars where you can enjoy some Sicilian specialities and sip an aperitif as the sun goes down. Each serviced section has its own restaurant, also open in the evening for dinner right by the sea.
I recommend the Trattoria del Sole, which you’ll find on the initial stretch of the beach: a small restaurant overlooking the sea, very simple but serving excellent local dishes.
Other useful info on Playa di Catania
There are two hotels at Playa di Catania (four and five star), a tourist village and a campsite with spaces for campervans and tents.
At Playa you can also organise events, birthdays and even weddings on the beach!
Lovers of nightlife will be pleased to know that in the summer the beach turns into an open-air nightclub! Afro bars, tango evenings, Caribbean dancing, rock, concerts… there’s truly something for everyone.
If you like birdwatching, I’d recommend the Oasis of Simeto, just a few kilometres from Playa, where you can go on nature walks and spot the local birds.
How to get to Playa di Catania
You can get to Playa di Catania by public transport or by car. In the summer there’s a bus service from Catania to the beach, which is convenient but is usually crowded. If you’re staying near the port you can also walk to Playa by strolling through the port area, and that way you will also get to see the street art silos!
Parking at Playa
If you decide to drive, I would advise you to park in the paid spaces within one of the serviced sections. It costs around 3-4 euros per car for the whole day, and I’d say that’s more than reasonable considering the summer heat and the lack of free parking on the roadside.
Playa di Catania is a good option for the locals and for visitors who are passing through the city of Catania and fancy a day of sun and sand with their family or friends, and a bit of healthy relaxation or fun on the beach, in the sea or playing sport!