Agrigento history dates back to the 5th century B.C. when it became one of the first Greek colonies on the island. It grew into an important centre of the Ancient Greece civilization shortly after. Nowadays the famous Valley of the Temples and the nearby Archaeological museum contain well-preserved remains of this glorious past.
The perfect state of this archaeological site, its stunning position at the cape by the Mediterranean Sea have been luring the visitors from all over the world. However, Agrigento’s Classical heritage is by no means the only reason for a visit.
The first appearance of Agrigento is rather misleading – vast areas of unattractive city blocks welcomes the newcomer at the entrance to the city. The modern big Agrigento is indeed little about prettiness, but continue your way to the historic centre and you will find a lovely medieval core of the city.
Via Atenea should be your reference point to unveil the modest charm of this once fourth biggest city of the entire civilization.
Sights & Orientation
The Valley of the Temples is undeniably the most famous site Agrigento is famous for. It is located 3 km below the modern town (towards the coast), and you will need a ride to get there.
Agrigento’s town historic attractions as well as lively trattorias, artistic shops and bars are all concentrated around via Atenea. Slightly to the sides of this main pretty strip there are arguably the town’s most significant tourist attractions:
- Agrigento Cathedral
- Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Greci (Church)
- Monastery of the Holy Spirit
The Civic museum is worth a quick visit if you stay a bit longer. The Pirandello Theatre is the third largest in Sicily with the program running out of touristic season (Nov- Apr).
Both Intercity bus station and a train station are located within a short walk from each other to the different sides of via Atenea (Piazza Rosselli and Piazza Marconi respectively).
How to get to Agrigento
Agrigento is hardly on the way to anywhere in Sicily unless you are traveling along the southern coast. Sicilians have been complaining for years that the major infrastructure works to build the highway to Agrigento and along the southern coast are incomplete. There is a decent but rather slow road connecting Agrigento to major cities of the island.
It takes some 2.5 h to reach Catania by car, and just slightly less to reach Palermo. The way to Siracuse which may look so close at the map, can easily take more than 3.5 h. Slow roads are the main if not only reason why Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples is not a good option for a day-trip from major Sicilian cities.
We recommend to stay at least one night at Agrigento to explore the Valley and the pretty medieval town on a comfortable pace.
The Turkish Stairs (La Scala dei Turchi) is a marvelous beauty spot that Agrigento has solid reasons to be proud of. The site and its beach (Lido Scala dei Turchi) are within a 15 min drive from Agrigento – town.
It is best to plan half-a-day walking to the Stairs along the coast and enjoy the nearby sandy beach waiting for a spectacular sunset. If you only have one night in Agrigento, then it is a great plan to admire the sunset around the Scala and then head to the Valley for a late evening walk around the lit up temples (only possible in summer).
However, The Turkish Stairs is not the closest beach to Agrigento. San Leone is your option if you only have just a bit of time – it is right below the town and the Valley with a few smart restaurant options for a lunch and dinner.
Traveling by car you will find beautiful spots for a wonderful time at the beach all along the Agrigento coastline. Here are just some of the options:
- Torre Salsa beach
- Siculiana Marina
- Eraclea Minoa
There are year-round ferry service to an amazing getaway beach destination Lampedusa from Porto Empedocle just next to Agrigento. Lampedusa is an island 200 km from mainland Sicily, and it is actually closer to Tunisia than Italy. Of course, with a 9 h trip one-way it is hardly a destination for a very short stay.