Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Help with Sicily Decision - Agrigento vs. Siracusa in August

Help with Sicily Decision - Agrigento vs. Siracusa in August

Jun 5th, 2019, 05:28 AM
  #1  
cdc
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 68
Help with Sicily Decision - Agrigento vs. Siracusa in August

Hello,
I have a dilemma - and while it is a tough decision, it is a good problem to have. We are a family of five - three kids ages almost 13, 10 and 9. We are going to Sicily to visit family and friends in the Catania and Messina area (both in beach towns, so planning on a lot of beach time and boat trips, plus a trip to Etna if the weather permits). We have a few days mid week - from probably Tuesday afternoon until Friday afternoon free.
We have never been to Agrigento, valley of the temples, etc. so initially I thought that we should go there and explore that area. A few years ago we did a day trip to Siracusa and Ortegia - we did a boat ride around Ortegia, walked around, had lunch, swam at one of the beaches (not that nice), and spent a few hours at the ruins next to the cathedral. My husband and I were in Siracusa years ago and did slightly more - but I think that there is a still a lot we could do for the first time or do again and enjoy.
More about us so I can ask for advice: Our kids love exploring ruins, and love the water (boat rides and swimming). They enjoy hanging around in piazzas and running around tiny old stone streets. They are pretty much done with visiting old churches, but if it is something really cool I could persuade them to feign interest. We all adore everything about the food in Sicily- the kids especially love the gelato and granita. We have been to mainland Italy a number of times and nearly three years ago we were in Sicily for two or so weeks where we were able to explore a few different areas. They are good travelers and we usually mix our trips up with a few days of sit by the beach and take long meandering walks with a few days of back to back touring activities. It will be August and unbearably hot in the middle of the day - and while we don't wither in the heat, I am not looking to get heat stroke on our holiday. We don't mind driving, but figured we would stay mostly on the east side of Sicily (we visited Trapani, Segesta and Palermo last trip). We will have a car on this trip. We speak very basic Italian.
I am feeling overwhelmed about trying to see the Agrigento area over realistically two days (the Wed and Thursday). I don't know when we will back to Sicily (probably another two years at least) so I also want to see this area now rather than later...
At the same time, I like the idea of keeping things simple, getting to know the Siracusa area better and cutting a few hours of driving off the itenniary.
So my question is - is Valley of Temples and Agrigento a must see? And if so, can I do it leaving the Catania area mid day on Tuesday and being back up in Messina by Friday afternoon/ early evening? Suggestions for how to spend our two full days and where to stay would be appreciated.
If it is not a must see, what else is a must do in Siracusa/ Ortegia? Any recs for family friendly budget to 'reasoanbly' priced accommodations in Ortegia.
Or am I missing another gem - feel free to throw in a third option for our few days break.
If you can't tell by the tone of this post- I am really overwhelmed because I don't think that we can make a wrong decision - so many great options... perhaps too many options.
Thank you in advance!
Carolyne
cdc is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 05:53 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13,515
Yes, the Valley of the Temples is a must see. Spend one night there but NOT in the city of Agrigento itself which is up the steep hill, run down, dicey.
We spent a full week on Ortigia and love it there. We took the little 5 a day mini bus into Siracusa to see Greek and Roman theaters, and Museum.
Agrigento day tours go from many places in Sicily, another option.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 05:59 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,379
While it would be nice, you do not need two days for Agrigento. I did it as a day trip from near Catania. I did not see everything and was tired by the end of the day, but it was wonderful, beautiful and amazing. I also have been to Italy many times and to places with other amazing ruins, like Turkey, Greece and Israel. Agrigento is, for me, one of the most spectacular sights and a highlight of my travels. The way the temples are situated up on a hill, makes them even more impressive. I can only imagine the awe they inspired in people seeing them from the sea for the first time. Seriously, the sight of them is enough to make you cry.
If you have time to spend the night there, go in time for dinner and see them at sunset. Get up early and see them at sunrise and do the walking in the morning before it reaches the hottest part of the day.
Siracusa is interesting and charming, nice for walking, etc. but is another town. Go to see the temples.
Sassafrass is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 06:08 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,163
We thought the temples in Agrigento were amazing. ( I assume you saw the temple in Taormina previously.) IMHO the archaeological park in Siracusa is just not as appealing as the Valley of the Temples. You can also pay a visit to Noto or Ragusa on your way to Agrigento. The older children might be amused by watching some episodes of Detective Montalbano which is set in Ragusa and then seeing the old town itself.
Marija is online now  
Jun 5th, 2019, 10:13 AM
  #5  
cdc
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 68
Where should one stay if not in Agrigento? This is part of the reason I am getting overwhelmed.... I have some sense of the distance between Ortegia and Siracusa, and general idea of the landscape... but Agrigento will be totally new. I have heard that there are areas to stay away from - so it sounds like I need to do more research if we go that route. I also would consider a day trip/ tour. Thanks.
cdc is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 10:14 AM
  #6  
cdc
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 68
Thanks!
This is helpful. We may consider a day trip - but it does sound like a lot. I need to do more research.
cdc is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 10:16 AM
  #7  
cdc
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 68
Hello. We have been to Taormina and on our last trip, at the suggestion of this forum we went to Segesta, which was amazing! I will take a look at Ragusa as well. I need to do a bit more research it seems.
cdc is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 12:17 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,163
We stayed at the Villa Athena which has great views of the temples. It’s the “new” city above the “old” city which is uninteresting.
Marija is online now  
Jun 5th, 2019, 01:57 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,852
I would vote for Ortigia (not so much Siracusa). Seems to meet your kids' requirements exactly. The temples at Agrigento are fine, but there's nothing else there that I'm aware of, and it sounds like you've seen others. If you need more then Ortigia, easy enough to do a side trip to Noto.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 08:24 PM
  #10  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,898
I thought the temples of Agrigento well worth seeing and sufficiently different, to my eye, from anything else you would see to warrant the time. And Agrigento has a warren of medieval streets in its old, little visited, medieval district that I, for one, found interesting --- but not necessarily more interesting than the back streets of delightful Ortygia.
kja is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 09:04 AM
  #11  
cdc
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 68
I have taken these suggestions to heart and will add a night in Agrigento.

So our Sicilian holiday looks like:
Saturday: Arrive at CTA early in the day. My kids and I will have arrived in Europe earlier in the week, so hopefully will be over jet lag. My husband is flying from the US. In any event - it will be a relax by the beach or the pool or take a boat ride kinda afternoon for sure.
Saturday - Tuesday: Time with friends in one of the beach towns near Catania, possible day trip to Etna on Sunday or Monday (weather permitting)
Tuesday: 2-3 hour drive to Valley of the Temples and Agrigento. Long day exploring the Valley of Temples. Overnight at the Colleverde Park Hotel (a recommendation from someone on Fodors. The other rec was out of our price range and too much of a resort for just one night. The Colleverde seems to have a nice family room set up to accommodate our family of 5). I will report back when we return.
Wed: In the morning, see anything we missed / revisit anything we wanted to see again in the area. If time permits, take the long way with stops in Villa Casale or Piazza Armarina, on our way to Ortegia. I heard that it is a solid 2.5- to 3 hour drive, so unless we get an early start, I don't see how we can make the stops... and I want to be sure that we don't feel rushed in the Agrigento area. One poster noted that they did it in a day - a long day, but a day. So I am playing this part by ear.
Wed night to Friday: Ortegia - which means really only Thursday to explore Ortega and Friday to go into Siracusa for the cathedral and the ruins. We booked an airbnb apartment.
Friday night to Monday: drive two hours up north to spend the weekend with family outside of Messina. Probably no sightseeing - just family time with my cousins and extended family.
Monday evening: flight from CTA to London for a few days; I keep saying that one of these days we will stop in Catania on the way to or from the airport to visit the cathedral, the fish markets and other sites... but we have yet to do that. I have heard wonderful things about the cathedral... but I also feel like my kids may be 'churched out' after a trip to Paris, Britany and Normandy a few years ago, where I might have taken them to two churches a day on average. If you have any suggestions for a stop between Messina and CTA that would be an hour or two detour in the late afternoon, please share.

Thank you all again for your suggestions. I am glad we are doing the night in Agrigento / Valley of Temples, and as much as I wish we had another full day in Ortegia, I think that we can make it work without being too rushed, or overheated. I don't think we will have time to squeeze in a stop at Villa Casale ... but we will see where the day and the weather take us.

If you have any other specific pointers for Agrigento, Siracusa or Oregia, and even Messina or Catania - I would welcome them.

Have a great day!
cdc is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 05:20 PM
  #12  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,898
Originally Posted by cdc View Post
Wed: In the morning, see anything we missed / revisit anything we wanted to see again in the area. If time permits, take the long way with stops in Villa Casale or Piazza Armarina, on our way to Ortegia. I want to be sure that we don't feel rushed in the Agrigento area.
Perfectly understandable, but note that the Villa Romana del Casale is truly exceptional and unlike anything else you will see.

You can check the driving times on google maps; I always add some time for getting lost, stopping for gas, whatever.

Originally Posted by cdc View Post
Wed night to Friday: Ortegia - which means really only Thursday to explore Ortega and Friday to go into Siracusa for the cathedral and the ruins.
There are some churches that might be of interest in Siracusa, but the primary cathedral (Duomo) is in Ortigia and is well worth seeing.

Last edited by kja; Jun 12th, 2019 at 05:24 PM.
kja is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:44 AM.