Hiking Guides Travel Tips & Guides

Mount Etna: Easy, Intermediate and Advance Hikes

Mount Etna, or Etna is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, Italy. It is the highest active volcano in Europe, and one of most active of the world. In my humble opinion, visit to Sicily is incomplete without a visit to Etna.

In this guide, I will cover 3 different options to (potentially) reach near peak, from easy to advance. Keep in mind that summit is closed because of obvious reasons. It’s an active volcano and it has eruption from time to time. You don’t want to be next to lava when it erupts.


The hike is itself is only challenging because of slopes, it’s not very technical. Having said that, you should only attempt it if you’re in good physical shape.

I know it’s obvious but I would still like to mention that make sure you take enough water and snacks with you to the hike. It’s also recommended to have hiking polls. Also, you’ll be hiking on small scree most of the part and it gets inside your shoes so I suggest hiking with mid ankle hiking shoes.


Advance: Rifugio Sapienza to Summit

  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Distance: ~9 kilometers
  • Elevation gain: ~1200 meters
  • Experience: 99.99%

Rifugio Sapienza (1900 meters) to Bar Funivia (2500 meters)

This is advance level hike and round trip can 10-12 hours based on your pace. I recommend starting as early as 8 AM in the morning. Drive to the parking spot of Rifugio Sapienza. It’s a alpine-style hotel set on the southern slope of Mount Etna at the elevation of 1900 meters. There is also a cable lift starting from next to the hotel but for the advance track, we will skip the lift and hike instead.

On the way from Rifugio Sapienza (lower lift station) to Bar Funivia (upper lift station)

Park your car parking spot and start hiking to the upper station which is location at 2500 meters. It’s 2.5 kilometer hike with elevation gain of 600 meters. Quite a steep and tiring hike but you should be able to pull it off in 2 hours at the most.

Take a 5-10 minutes rest here and enjoy the view. This is where the cable lift lifts stops and big 4×4 tour buses runs from here all the way Torre Del Filosofo, which is our next stop. Since we’re in advance mode, we’re gonna skip the bus and walk to next stop instead.

Bar Funivia (2500 meters) to Torre Del Filosofo (2870 meters)

From here on to next stop, you’re in for real treat. You will be hiking at Moon like landscape. When we were there, it became cloudy and the view was surreal it almost felt unreal. It’s 2.5 kilometers hike from Bar Funivia to Torre Del Filosofo with elevation gain of around 375 meters.

Moon like landscape

Torre Del Filosofo meaning Tower of philosopher is where in Roman times, a stone and lava building was erected on Mount Etna. This is also the also last stop of bus that runs from upper station of cable car. Take a rest here and grab something to eat. You will be pushing for your final step from here on.

Torre Del Filosofo (2870 meters) to Summit (3323 meters)

The trail from here is closed to public but fortunately most of the times, there is no one to check, so you can bypass the stop and keep walking further

From now on, the hike will become more tough, I suggest taking this route shown on Google Maps, It’s another 2.5 – 3 hours of hike of 4 kilometers with elevation gain of 390 meters or so but this route goes through very wide trail.

It’s a very tough one day hike to peak but it’s totally worth it. Not only will you be scaling one of the highest Volcano, you’ll also be passing the landscapes out of this World.

Intermediate: Rifugio Sapienza to Crateri barbagallo

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Distance: ~5 kilometers
  • Elevation gain: ~1000 meters
  • Experience: 75%

This one is rather easier route, it’s still requires a lot of walking but doesn’t take you all the way to summit. Instead it takes you to a smaller crater next to Torre Del Filosofo.

Crateri barbagallo is crater born with the eruption of 2002. You can walk around it’s perimeter and enjoy a spectacular view from different parts of crater. In order to get there, you will follow the same route from Rifugio Sapienza (1900 meters) to Torre Del Filosofo (2870 meters) as described in advance hike.

Crateri barbagallo

Once you reach Torre Del Filosofo, walk a bit further straight and trail on the left will lead you to crater’s rim. I suggest to walk around the crater. This hike is also 6-8 hours long depending on your pace and strength.

Easy: Torre Del Filosofo to Crateri barbagallo

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: ~1 kilometers
  • Elevation gain: ~80 meters
  • Experience: 50%

This one is an easy route. Basically, you will take the cable lift from Rifugio Sapienza to Bar Funivia and from there, you will take bus all the way to Torre Del Filosofo. After getting off from the bus, you basically follow the trail to Crateri barbagallo and walk around the rim of crater.

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