Catania with children: museums and activities

Catania with children: museums and activities

The beautiful Baroque city of Catania, with a population of 500,000 inhabitants, lies nestled at the foot of Mount Etna on Sicily’s east coast. Shaped by Mount Etna’s eruptions and changes in volcanic activity (characteristic of the Ionian coastline), Catania is also known as the Elephant City, for the lava-stone elephant in the heart of the famous Piazza Duomo.
catania piazza duomo elefante

It also happens to be the place I was born and raised, and has watched me change and grow over the years. I lived there as a young girl, as a teenager, a young woman, and now as a mum of three. Over the years, I have discovered new places that are perfect for my little explorers and family-friendly activities in the city, including museums, parks, and adventure parks very close to the city centre.

Catania with children: museums and activities

I must admit that Catania does not offer a huge amount of children’s activities and is not always ideal for families. However, here are some ideas that you might like, even on those rainy, autumn days.

Sicily Landing Museum

museo sbarco sicilia catania cannoni

Visit the Sicily Landing Museum (Museo dello Sbarco in Sicilia), located in the Catania trade centre (Le Ciminiere), and find out what took place between 10 July and 8 September 1943 when the Allies famously landed in Sicily. They have a realistic reconstruction of a 1940s town square, replicas of air-raid shelters, canons, tanks, historical uniforms, and many contemporary testimonies.

Recommended age: 5 years +

Zoology Museum

museo zoologia catania
Pic: Università di Catania

The Catania Zoology Museum is on via Androne 81 in a Liberty-style building.

No barrier or glass partitions separate you from the specimens here, which are systematically categorised according to their zoological and geographical profiles. There is a huge exhibition on Southern hemisphere mammals and birds, as well as tigers, lions, leopards, and mountain lions. There are also reptiles, primate, and hominid exhibits, and information and multimedia points and nature and wildlife documentary screenings.

For more information: Museo di Zoologia

Fratelli Napoli Puppetry Museum

museo pupi siciliani catania

Puppetry takes centre stage in Silicy´s historical and cultural heritage. The Napoli brothers’ shop is in the historic centre of Catania, near Ursino Castle and the fish market. Here, see how the art of puppetry is passed down generations and a vast display of Sicilian puppets. This is an unmissable experience for children that transports them to the fantastical world of puppets and storytelling.

Recommended age: 2 years +

For more information: Museo e Teatro dei Pupi Fratelli Napoli

Liotru Adventure Park- Catania

liotru adventure park
Pic: Liotru Adventure Park

Liotru Adventure Park is in il Boschetto della Playa (a small forest), just two minutes from the historic centre. Walk under the tree canopies, enjoy wide green areas, play games, and learn in their laboratories. This is a great place to take a pitstop before heading home, as it’s just a few minutes from the airport.

Recommended age for il Boschetto della Playa: all ages

Recommended age for adventure routes: 2 years +

For more information: Liotru Adventure Park

A walk in Villa Bellini

villa bellini catania

The Bellini Garden (Villa Bellini) lies at the heart of Catania, the historic centre along the famous via Etnea. It’s a place where children can run and play under the huge ficus and eucalyptus trees.

Continue through the garden and up the path to Piazza Roma, to a playground (it’s not well maintained, being honest, but it’s there). For those with a sweet tooth, and we all know that children have it, I recommend stopping at Bar Savia e Spinella to try a delicious brioche-topped ice cream, slushy, or an arancino, if you’d rather something savoury.

Recommended age: all ages

Butterfly House – Viagrande (Catania)

casa delle farfalle viagrande

In the Catania province, discover a magical place in the Monte Serra forest home to tropical butterflies that flutter freely around you. This is Casa della Farfalle, the Butterfly house, a large aviary where extraordinary, colourful, tropical butterflies and interesting insects live. You can also join an educational tour.

Located in the Monte Serra Park, it’s the perfect place for a Sunday picnic. There’s also a large playground and picnic area.

Recommended age: all ages

For more information: Casa delle Farfalle 

Trips to Mount Etna

etna con bambini

Going to Catania and not seeing Mount Etna is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower.

A family trip to Mount Etna is a fantastic experience, either on your own or as part of a guided tour aimed at little explorers. There are so many ways to explore the volcano, from North to South or East to West. If you enter via Catania, I recommend exploring the South side. You would start at Nicolosi as it has easy access to the volcano, hence its nickname: ‘the gateway to Mount Etna’.

If you start from Sapienza refuge, you can visit the 1900-metre Silvestri crater, and then take the cable car and jeep to the highest level allowed (currently 2700 metres).  Trips to Mount Etna run in the summer and, weather permitting, also in winter. Be sure to wear weather-appropriate clothes on the day.

Recommended age: all ages

For more information: Guided tours to Mount Etna with children

You can do these activities all year round. Just check the opening hours and the entry and booking requirements. I hope that you find this information useful for your family holidays in Catania. Now all that is left to do is book a flight with Volotea and discover the Elephant City!

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