Traveling to Agrigento Sicily? Check out the best things to do in Agrigento including Valley of Temples, beach, food, and the old town of Agrigento. #Agrigento #Sicily #Italy

Agrigento Sicily: Things To Do + Ultimate Travel Guide For 2024

Last Updated on December 8, 2023 by Soumya

Agrigento in Sicily is one of the best places to visit in Italy. There are many wonderful things to do in Agrigento like visiting the iconic Valley of Temples. But that’s not all. More attractions including some hidden gems await you in Agrigento.

When I last visited Sicily for 5 days, my main aim was to focus on the pretty Baroque towns of Ragusa and Modica and see the Greek ruins at Agrigento. However, when I arrived in Agrigento, I realized that there was so much more to the town than the famous Greek temples. I walked through its historic center and spotted beautiful palazzos, stepped into impressive churches, dined at amazing restaurants, and tasted some unique desserts. The beach with its gorgeous white Stair of the Turks was not very far away, either.

I agree that Sicily’s Agrigento is an absolute gem for all history lovers. But honestly, if you dive in a little, it is a destination for all kinds of travelers. Would you believe if I told you that you could go ATV off-roading near Agrigento? Well, you’ll have to read through this ultimate Agrigento travel guide to find out.

So, let’s get started with my travel blog which answers all your burning questions on what to do in Agrigento apart from the temples, where to stay, what to eat, and so on.

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Top Experiences and Tours in Agrigento

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About Agrigento, Sicily

  • Agrigento is the capital of the Agrigento province, located on the southern coast of Sicily. Long ago, the city was a prosperous Greek town called the Akragas after which it came under the Romans and the Turks among others. With centuries of history behind it, Agrigento is one of the best places to visit in Sicily.
  • Agrigento is home to the famous UNESCO world heritage site – Valley of the Temples. The Valley consists of several 6th-century-BC, Greek temples that are terrific examples of ancient Greek architecture. You’ll also find a well-curated museum that has over 5500 historical artefacts depicting the history of the city.
  • The old town of Agrigento is an unexplored gem. Wander through its historic lanes to find charming Baroque palazzos, medieval cathedrals, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants.
  • A lesser-known fact about Agrigento is that it is the birthplace of the Original Pistachio Couscous that is still prepared by the nuns of the Holy Spirit Monastery. You can still taste this couscous at the abbey but the recipe is a closely-guarded secret.
  • Near Agrigento, you’ll find the spectacular Stair of the Turks – a calcite white cliff that makes for an amazing day trip.

Best things to do in Agrigento, Sicily

Agrigento Valley of the Temples

Temple of Concordia
The Temple of Concordia in Agrigento Italy.

One of the best things to do in Agrigento (and the reason why most people visit here) is to see the Valley of the Temples. Well, that’s the reason why I also visited this Sicilian town. But I was pleasantly surprised by the number of other attractions that Agrigento had to offer. Though I would agree that the Valley of the Temples is, hands down, the highlight.

Valley of Temples is an ancient complex of Greek temples (ruins) that dates back to the 6th century BC. Agrigento was called Akragas then and it was a powerful center of trade and politics for the Greek Empire. Today, the highlights of the archaeological park include the temples of Concordia, Hercules, Juno, and Dioscuri. I have a detailed travel guide for Agrigento here that you should definitely check out before your visit.

The archaeological park is open from 8:30am – 10:00pm on weekdays and 8:30am – 11:00pm on weekends and public holidays. It is magical to watch the sunset at the historic site and then wait for the temples to be lit up.

Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month till 7:00pm. But remember that this is also the time when the site is the most crowded.

Archaeological Museum

Roman sarcophagus at Agrigento Archaeological Museum
A Roman sarcophagus at the Agrigento Archaeological Museum that shows the death of a child and the pain that the rest of the family goes through.

When traveling to Agrigento, do not miss the regional archaeological museum that is a treasure house of all kinds of artefacts unearthed from the historic site nearby.

There are more than 5500 artefacts in the museum, displayed in 18 rooms. You’ll see pottery, sculptures, votives, masks, coins, and inscriptions. I found their vase and waterspout collection to be amazing. These artefacts depict the history of Agrigento right from the prehistoric times to the Greco-Roman era.

The museum is open from 9:00am – 7:00pm every day. Check for updated hours on the official website here. You can buy a museum only ticket or a combined ticket (recommended) for museum and the Valley of Temples.

Paleo-Christian necropolises

Early Christian necropolises
Early Christian necropolises.

In the middle of the archaeological site, you’ll find an interesting collection of tombs that belonged to the early Christian period, between the 3rd – 6th centuries CE. These are located between the temples of Heracles and Juno & are called the Paleo-Christian necropolises of Agrigento.

There are three types of necropolises here. First, tombs that are cut into early Greek fortifications. Second, a large communal catacomb. Third, 130+ burial pits in an open cemetery. The tombs are organized around a central axis that is called the “avenue of the dead”. Now, that reminds me of the “avenue of the dead” at the ancient city of Teotihuacan in Mexico. Have you heard of that?

Visiting the necropolises is fascinating because it gives us a fair idea about the burial practices and funerary cults of early Christians in Southern Italy.

Garden of Kolymbetra

Olives in the Garden of Kolymbetra
The Garden of Kolymbetra in Agrigento.

Located within the Valley of Temples, the Garden of Kolymbetra is often a missed attraction in Agrigento.

Locals call this beautiful Sicilian garden Giardino della Kolymbethra and often refer to it as the “Pool of Gods”. Since most landscape around the temples is dry and arid, it is nice to find a green patch inside. It is one of Sicily’s famous citrus gardens and is full of citrus groves and almond & olive orchards. You’ll also find some ancient cave churches in the garden.

Kolymbetra Garden holds great historical and cultural significance for the people of Agrigento. It is not only a historical remnant from the olden times but also provides gainful employment to its people even today. Further, it is very different from the classical Italian gardens that you would see elsewhere. No manicured lawns, trimmed hedges, and marble statues – only pure nature.

Within the gardens, there’s a hypogeum – a 5th-century BC underground chamber filled with caverns and tunnels. Find more about the hypogeum on the website of Agrigento Sotterranea here. You can book hypogeum tours on the Sotteranea website or check out this Tiqets guided tour. I always prefer booking my tours through Get Your Guide and Tiqets because of their flexible cancellation policies and competitive rates.

Here’s a highly-recommended, small group tour that includes access to Kolymbetra Gardens and the hypogeum within the gardens. Remember that you’ll need to buy an entry ticket for the Valley of Temples in order to access the Kolymbetra Gardens.

Stroll through Via Atenea

When back in the main town of Agrigento, I had a blast strolling through the atmospheric lanes of the old town, especially along Via Atenea. Via Atenea is the main street of Agrigento town and is the most happening place in the city. Come here for a free stroll through the city, shopping, exciting nightlife, and mansion spotting.

Via Atenea is lined with boutique shops and alfresco restaurants as well as beautiful palazzos that date back to the 18th and the 19th centuries. Notable families of Agrigento built their homes here. These mansions feature decorative friezes and ornate balconies. Some of the most remarkable palazzos are the Borsellino, Carbonaro, Noto-Biondi, and Granet. Access directions in the interactive map below.

Agrigento Cathedral

The Roman Catholic cathedral in Agrigento, Sicily dates back to the 11th century. Built in the Norman-Gothic style, the cathedral is dedicated to Saint Gerland and is now the seat of the Archbishop of Agrigento.

The interior of the cathedral is remarkable and deserves a detailed tour. Its richly adorned wooden ceiling and brilliantly painted dome take you straight back to the medieval times. The Treasury is fascinating with lots impressive of art works including the ancient Agrigento Sarcophagus from the 3rd century CE.

The Agrigento Cathedral or the Cathedral of San Gerlando is open to visitors from 10:00am – 1:00pm, Tuesday – Sunday. It is closed during Mass, weddings, and funerals. Check for updated times on the cathedral’s official website here.

Cathedral of Saint Gerland
The Cathedral of Agrigento.
Image courtesy: Arghman via Canva Pro.

Visit the Monastery of the Holy Spirit

Visiting the Church and the Monastery of the Holy Spirit is one of the most interesting things to do in Agrigento. The monastery dates back to the 13th century but the church is more recent (early 18th century) when it was built in a unique Gothic style called the Chiaramonte. The stucco work inside the church is brilliant.

An interesting fact about the monastery is that the Cistercian nuns who reside here specialize in making delicious desserts with pistachios and almonds. Some famous examples are the Original Pistachio Couscous, stuffed pastry shells, and Easter lamb sweets.

The best part is that the recipes of these age old desserts are well-guarded secrets. Legend has it that some African women who came from Tunisia in the 13th century taught the nuns how to prepare sweet couscous. The recipe has since passed on orally. Even if you cannot learn how to make it, you can always buy some pistachio couscous and other sweetmeats here.

The monastery also offers rooms where you can stay for a night or two. The Monastic Guest House is located in the historic center and offers single and double rooms at affordable rates. They have private bathrooms, AC/heating, lift, and kitchenettes. Breakfast is local and delicious, prepared by the nuns of the monastery, and includes almond and pistachio pastries. If you are looking for a unique experience in Agrigento, stay at the Monastic Guest House. Check out reviews on Tripadvisor here.

Stay in a hotel with a temple view

Temple view from the Agrigento hotel
Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up to a view like this?

How about staying in a hotel with views of the temples of Agrigento? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Well, Hotel Villa Athena is just the perfect place for you.

Located in the heart of the archaeological park, Hotel Villa Athena is a highly-rated 5-star hotel that features rooms with temple views. It is located within walking distance of the Temple of Concordia, the views of which from your room and terrace will make your Agrigento trip absolutely memorable. Further, the rooms are tastefully furnished and spotlessly clean. And Hotel Villa Athena has some of the friendliest staff in the world.

Enjoy alfresco dining

Open air dining in Agrigento Sicily
Open air dining in Agrigento, Sicily.

Agrigento is full of wonderful restaurants and some great alfresco dining options in spring and summer. The entire stretch of Via Atenea as well as of other streets is dotted with restaurants that have outdoor seating.

La Scala Ristorante on Via Atenea is a popular place that serves some great seafood and pasta. Naif is known for its octopus salad and eggplant pasta. Sal8 Ristorante Bar on Via Cesare Battisti is famous for its pistachio crusted swordfish and great selection of wines.

Visit the famous Stair of the Turks

Stair of the Turks
The beautiful Stair of the Turks.
Image courtesy: Sephirot17 via Canva Pro

Do you know that Sicily has a white cliff by the sea that is just 20 mins away from the Agrigento city center? The cliffs are called Scala dei Turchi or the Stair of the Turks.

Made of calcium walls that glisten in the Sicilian sun, the Stair of the Turks are a spectacular sight. They look like a giant white staircase that leads to the sea. The stairs are so beautiful that they remind me of Pamukkale travertines in Turkey and the White Cliffs of Dover in England (only a short getaway from London).

Join this highly-rated boat tour and enjoy the beauty of Agrigento’s coast on the trip. You’ll see the Stair of the Turks, take a refreshing dip in the sea, and unearth some beautiful but lesser-known Sicilian beaches. → Click here to book your Stair of the Turk boat tour now.

Even though I could not visit the Stair of the Turks on my last Agrigento trip, I plan to include them on my next Sicily itinerary. Be sure to think of the white stairs when planning your visit to Agrigento because they are different and less crowded.

Go off-roading in Agrigento

I had no idea that one could go off-roading in Agrigento. Well, technically not in the Agrigento town but in the Agrigento province between the communes of Ribera and Sciacca.

Yes, you can go off-roading in Agrigento on this adventurous ATV tour where you’ll experience the beauty of both the sea and the mountains. This ATV tour takes you through the Sicilian coast, woodlands, and riversides. You’ll see stunning canyons, spot wild horses, and admire breathtaking views. No doubt, the tour has all 5-star ratings. Check out all reviews here.

Interactive map for Agrigento attractions

Interactive map of Agrigento attractions
Click on the map above to access directions to all attractions in Agrigento.

Where to stay in Agrigento?

If you are looking for the best hotel in Agrigento and budget is not a constraint, then check out Hotel Villa Athena – a 5-star hotel that offers amazing views of the Greek temples from its terrace and rooms. Located within the Valley of the Temples, the hotel is housed in an 18th-century villa and features an outdoor pool and a wellness center. Guests love Villa Athena for its mind-blowing location. Couples absolutely love it.  Check out reviews of Hotel Villa Athena here.

Hotel Villa Athena in Agrigento
Hotel Villa Athena in Agrigento is housed in an 18th-century mansion.

Looking for a comfortable stay at half the price? Have a look at this quaint guesthouse located in the heart of Agrigento city. The rooms at Casa Tita are neat and comfortable and the breakfast is a treat. The best part is that Casa Tita is at walking distance from all Agrigento attractions and you can always take the bus to the Valley of Temples.

B&B Villa San Marco is a rustic stay that is close to the temples. It offers stunning temple views plus an immersion into the region’s biodiversity in the B&B’s own garden.

If you are looking for a quirky, unusual stay in Agrigento, try the Monastic Guest House in the historic center. Like we talked earlier, you’ll be treated to breakfast prepared by nuns which will include pistachio and almond sweets, the recipes of which are still a closely guarded secret.

Practical information for visiting Agrigento

Best time to visit Agrigento, Sicily

Spring is my favorite time to visit anywhere in Sicily and that holds true for Agrigento as well. Sicily in spring is pretty warm and not cold unlike the northern parts of Italy. So, spring makes for the best time to be exploring open archaeological sites like the one at Agrigento.

Summer, on the other hand, can be hot and tiring. July – August are the warmest and the driest months but they are also the most crowded ones. If you wish to avoid the crowd while exploring the ruins in comfortable temperatures, opt for March – May. Even June should be okay.

How to get to Agrigento, Sicily?

Agrigento Central Station
Agrigento Central Station.

Getting to Agrigento in Sicily does not have to be very difficult. You can fly to the airports at Catania or Palermo and then drive down to Agrigento after renting a car. Catania Airport is closer of the two. You can also hire a private car to pick you up from Palermo or Catania and drop you in Agrigento.

If you want to use public transport, then you can take the train or ride a bus to get to Agrigento from any of the bigger cities in Sicily. Check for train and bus tickets on OMIO website here.

My husband and I traveled to Agrigento from Ragusa. We took the bus from Ragusa to Gela (AST bus) and then another bus from Gela to Agrigento (Licata bus). Both bus journeys lasted between 90 – 120 minutes. There are Trenitalia trains between Ragusa and Gela too. Check for train options on OMIO here. In case you are traveling to Agrigento from Val di Noto, then this is what you should be doing.

OMIO is my favorite journey planner in Europe because it has all the information I need to book trains, buses, and ferries within Europe. Plus, all the information is available in English which makes planning a breeze.

How to get around Agrigento, Sicily?

Author in Agrigento city center
My favorite way of exploring Agrigento is by walking.

My favorite way of getting around the old town of Agrigento was by walking. There are a lot of stairs to climb up and down, so walking is the best and sometimes the only way to sightsee. However, this turns out to be a bit of a problem if your hotel is up the stairs and you have a lot of luggage.

In order to get to the Valley of Temples from Agrigento city center, you can take a city bus (Bus 1, 2, or 3) from Piazzale Rosselli. All of them pass by the Temple Valley. However, the best option is to take Bus 2/ and get off at the entrance of Temple of Juno (Giunone), explore the archaeological park while walking downhill, and take Bus 1 from the lower exit. Check out bus routes and schedules here.

You can buy bus tickets from the kiosks at Piazzale Rosselli or on the bus. Be sure to get them validated once you board the bus. Getting a full-day ticket turns out to be the cheaper if you are planning for at least 3 bus trips during the day.

Agrigento Travel FAQ

Is Agrigento worth visiting?

Yes, Agrigento in Sicily is absolutely worth visiting. It is home to the UNESCO-listed Valley of Temples – an ancient city full of Hellenistic shrines dating back to the 6th century BC. Additionally, Agrigento also has an atmospheric old town, unique culinary delights, and easy access to the sea and the Stair of the Turks.

What is Agrigento Sicily known for?

Agrigento Sicily is known for its impressive Doric temples from the 6th century BC that are part of the UNESCO site called the Valley of the Temples. It is special because the original monuments from Hellenistic times are well-preserved without being damaged/modified by subsequent civilizations, which isn’t usually the case elsewhere.

How many days do you need in Agrigento?

You need at least one day in Agrigento to see the Valley of Temples, check out the Archaeological Museum, and spend some time at the beach. If you wish to do more such as explore the old town and do some adventure activities, plan to spend a couple of days in Agrigento.

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Traveling to Agrigento Sicily? Check out the best things to do in Agrigento including Valley of Temples, beach, food, and the old town of Agrigento. #Agrigento #Sicily #Italy

Soumya is an acclaimed travel writer who has traveled to 30+ countries and lived in 8 while pursuing her passion for history and culture. Her writings have been published in BBC Travel, Architectural Digest, National Herald, and many more. She loves exploring world heritage sites and has a deep affinity for everything ancient, especially the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica!

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