Tourists travelling by ferry to Messina arrive at a historical city port of Italy, one of the largest in the Mediterranean, also called “The Gate to Sicily”!
Messina is considered as the third biggest city of Sicily after Palermo and Catania. It was firstly inhabited by the Greeks who also gave it the name "zancle" which means sickle (because of the port’s natural shape). After the Roman, Byzantine Arab and Norman invasions Messina became one of the most important harbours in the area. In the early 17th century the city reached the peak of its glory but in 1743 a terrible plague led to the death of 48.000 inhabitants.Forty years later a serious earthquake destroyed a big part of the city which was rebuilt over the years. After invasions, political changes and revolts in 1866 Giuseppe Mazzini, supporter of unification of Italy was elected deputy at Messina. Another catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in 1908 destroyed most of the ancient buildings and about 100.000 people died. But the city was rebuilt again in the following year. The last but not least was the air bombardments by the British and Americans during the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, as Messina had a strategic position for the transfer of Axis supplies sent to Sicily from mainland Italy.
Although other nationalities lived in Messina over the centuries, the town has its own character, attractive to every visitor from the moment of disembarkation from the ferry.” Madonnina del Porto” stands in the entrance of the port in order to bless all the ships that are approaching the city. Historical buildings, churches, museums, annual festivals and celebrations are some of the sights you must not miss to see and participate in. For those who are seeking a place to taste the local cuisine there is always a variety of restaurants and bars in the town centre.
Organize your holidays in Messina and make your booking in advance, in order to get the best available schedule and price.
Ferry connections to Messina
Ferry connections to Messina from the Aeolian Islands like Lipari, Panarea, Rinella, Salina,Stromboli and Vulcano are frequent and fast, especially during the summer months. Every year a great number of tourists visit Messina and the complex of the seven Aeolian Islands which form part of the Sicilian province of Messina.
Another famous historical harbour in Calabria is Villa San Giovanni with daily connections to Messina which is the shortest route (about 20 minutes) between Sicily and mainland Italy. The Villa San Giovanni - Messina ferry, if you choose the fast hydrofoil, arrives at the main ferry terminal.
- Messina - Lipari 1h and 25min
- Messina - Panarea 2h and 5min
- Messina - Rinella 2h and 20m
- Messina - Salina 2h and 15m
- Messina - Stromboli 1h and 25m
- Messina - Vulcano 1h and 25m
Messina ferry port
Messina ferry port is located very close to the city center. A bus station and a tram stop are available nearby. Probably the first place people visit after the ship docks is the Piazza del Duomo. It is a very lively square which contains most of the shops, bars, boutiques and restaurants of the city. A wide range of hotels is available around the port, the Cathedral and all the main sights of the city.
Messina Port to Messina City Center
Even for a short visit, the port town is an ideal place to explore as the distance from Messina port to Messina city center is definitely walkable. You will not feel the magic of the town if you miss an all day walking tour around the main sights, squares, churches and definitely the open air coffee shops and trattorias.
Please find below some information about the means of transport in Messina:
The bus terminal is located 550m from the ferry port, on Piazza della Repubblica. A well organized network of buses with several bus stops is available in Messina in case you need to move from the port or from your accommodation. Please visit Messina Bus in order to get further information.
Hop-on Hop-off Bus
An interesting way to explore Messina is the Hop on Hop off Bus, available 24h, with audio-guide available on board
The central train station in Messina (Messina Centrale) , really modern and fully organized, is located about 10-15min walk southeast of the city center and 5min from the ferry terminal.The day and night trains from the Italian mainland are loaded on to special ferries for the sea crossing from Villa San Giovanni to Messina Centrale with a trip duration of 1 hour.
An electric tram with one line and 17 stops, linking Gazzi with Annunziata, passes from the central Piazza Cairoli and Piazza della Republica as well as from Palazzo Reale up to the Museo Regionale. A very convenient way for the tourists to reach the most important sights. Please, check Messina Trams to organize your transportation.
Taxi services are available in Messina, either for a short ride or for an organized excursion. Take a look in Messina Taxis and book one.
Catania Airport to Messina Port
If you want to be transferred from Catania Airport to Messina Port there is a well organized network of buses. The direct bus service will take about 90 minutes and you can buy the tickets from the bus station located at the airport. The option of a taxi or a car rental is also available.
In Catania Airport Transfers, you are able to find all available transportation services towards Messina.
Holidays in Messina
Enjoy your Messina holidays during most of the year! The privileged position of the city, on the east coast of Sicily, is ideal for spring autumn and of course summer vacations, as the weather is mild and warm. Even in winter months the climate is not very cold, especially on sunny days.
Your Sicilian trip can be very pleasant throughout the year, depending on your choices. For sure you can combine everything such as sightseeing, relaxing, strolling and shopping, swimming, tasting the delicious specialties and leave the area enchanted by the best images and views !
Please find below some information about the highlights in Messina:
- Make a stroll to the historic center and admire the Cathedral Square with the Duomo with the largest mechanical and astronomical clock of the world. If you happen to be at noon in the square take a look at the carousel with the bronze statues, placed on the Bell Tower.
- You can admire the historical fountain of Orion next to the Bell Tower, by Giovanangelo Montorsoli and at the south east of the Piazza del Duomo is the church Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani one of the few buildings that saved from the Norman era.
- The Regional Museum of Messina deserves a visit if you are interested in sculptures and paintings. The works of Caravaggio are one of the top exhibits of the museum.
- The old Forte San Salvatore in the beginning of the port with the 60m high statue of the Blessing Virgin is easily seen upon the entrance of the ferry to the port.
Neptune fountain with Scylla and Charybdis symbolizing Messina´s power, is also worth seeing.
- El neoclassical Teatro Vittorio Emanuele, very close to the port, built by the Bourbons.
- Take a break for shopping on Viale San Martino and rest in Piazza Cairoli testing a fresh juice with granita or a salty lemonade, a typical drink of the area.
- A good place for relaxation and sunbathing is Torre Faro village, 30min drive from Mesina and from there to the west you can find Ganzirri Lake where you can take a walk around the lake and visit a local restaurant for seafood.
Please find below the most beautiful Messina beaches near the strait:
- The pebble Beach of Isola Bella in Taormina not far from Messina is visited every summer by many tourists and is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in eastern Sicily.
- In a distance of about half an hour from Messina there is Capo Ali Beach with clear deep blue waters, ideal for diving and swimming.
- Capo d´Orlando is a long famous long beach not far from Messina where you can visit for a day trip. The water is crystal clear and is a good idea for swimming and tasting a fish restaurant for lunch.