There are some people who won’t be discouraged from climbing a mountain, any mountain, even if they hear it’s one of the most active volcanoes on earth, in a near-constant state of erupting. That’s exactly how Sicily’s Mt. Etna can be described, and yet you can still go on a hiking tour of Mt. Etna. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that in order to climb to the upper parts of Mt. Etna, however, you really need a guide.
Hiking Mt. Etna on the lower slopes is possible without a guide, but in order to get to the upper parts of the mountain – the places where you’ll see any volcanic activity that’s taking place – you must have a guide. Keep in mind that because the volcano is unpredictable, it may be closed to hikes at any time without notice. Having an experienced guide is important in case you need to get down the mountain quickly, too.
Sicily gets quite hot during the summer months, which is the high season for visitors, but remember that even during the hottest weather the temperature at elevation on Mt. Etna will be colder. Be sure to bring adequate gear so you don’t get too cold.
Mt. Etna is on the eastern side of Sicily, not far from the city of Catania. There are guided hiking trips that leave from several nearby cities, including Catania, Messina, and the beach resort town of Taormina. Those who have rented a car can drive up to the Rifugio Sapienza, the point from which most guided tours depart. There are also 4-wheel drive tours of Mt. Etna, if you decide a hike on a volcano is too difficult for you.