Last Updated on March 29, 2023 by Soumya
Are you planning to visit the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily? Wondering which Agrigento temples are the best? Keen to check out the grandest Greek temples in Sicily? Worry not. We have just the perfect travel guide for you.
The Valley of Temples in Agrigento, locally known as Valle dei Templi, is an archaeological site that has some of the grandest Greek temples in Sicily. No doubt, the Temple Valley is one of the best places to visit in Sicily.
Agrigento’s Greek ruins are located on the southwestern coast of the island and easily done as a day trip from Palermo or Catania. But you can always stay in Agrigento old town (that’s what we did) and visit the temples from there. Whatever, you choose the majestic Greek temples of Agrigento will not cease to impress you.
In this ultimate travel guide, I will be talking about all the wonderful things to do in the Valley of the Temples, how to get there, where to stay, and how to buy your tickets. If you are still unsure about adding the Valley of Temples to your Sicily itinerary, then I’m sure all your confusions will disappear after reading this guide.
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Planning your Valley of Temples trip last minute?
If you are booking your trip to Valley of Temples last minute, don’t worry. We have you covered. Here are some of the best tours and hotels in the area.
Top Experiences and Tours at Agrigento Valley of the Temples
- Valley of the Temples entrance ticket (most popular!)
- Guided tour of Valley of the Temples + skip-the-line tickets (highly-rated)
- E-Scooter tour of the Temple Valley (easy and sustainable way of seeing the temples)
- From Catania: Valley of Temples + Scala dei Turchi
- From Palermo: Valley of Temples + Villa Romana
Top Hotels near the Valley of the Temples
About Agrigento Valley of the Temples
- Agrigento’s Valley of Temples in Sicily is a massive archaeological park consisting of 7 Doric temples and many smaller Greek ruins that date to 500 BCE. It was included in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites in 1997.
- The ancient Greek town in Agrigento was once a powerful economic and political center of Magna Grecia, owing to its strategic location on the Sicilian coast. The town was called Akragas.
- The Greek temples of Agrigento are colossal and second in scale only to the ones that I have seen in Athens.
- The Valley of Temples is a misnomer for the entire setup. Instead of a valley, the temples are located on a ridge that overlooks the pretty Sicilian countryside. You can also see the modern town of Agrigento from here.
- There are some great things to do in Agrigento town such as strolling through the atmospheric lanes of the old city, visiting ornate churches, and tasting original pistachio couscous. So, don’t just leave after seeing the Greek temples. Visit the city, instead.
What to see at the Valley of the Temples?
Temple of Concordia
The temple of Concordia is one of the best-preserved temples in Agrigento. It is considered a masterpiece among all ancient Greek shrines in the world. Built in the 5th century BCE by the Greeks, the Temple of Concordia was converted to a Christian church in the 6th century CE and hence, was never destroyed.
The temple consists of Doric columns, 6 each in the front and rear and 13 on each side. An interesting feature of this temple is the presence of stairs that lead all the way to the roof. You are not allowed to climb but you can take a sneak peek.
Right outside the temple is a huge but fallen statue of Icarus. This was part of an exhibition of Polish artist Igor Mitoraj in 2011 and is the only remnant of it.
Temple of Heracles
The temple of Heracles is said to be the oldest Greek temple in the valley. Once upon a time, it was home to an impressive statue of Heracles or Hercules.
Most of the temple is in ruins today. Only 8 columns have been restored but they are enough to give us an idea of the size and scale of the structure.
Temple of Juno
The temple of Juno was built sometime in the middle of the 5th century BCE. It is similar in size to the temple of Concordia and both are often referred to as twins. It was once dedicated to Hera, Greek Goddess of Women and Family, or Roman Juno.
Only the Doric columns and a bit of a stone relief survive today. It is fascinating to capture the silhouette of this temple against the golden rays of the sun.
Temple of the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux)
This temple, dedicated to the Dioscuri twins of Castor and Pollux, is regarded as the symbol of Agrigento. The Dioscuri shrine is actually the most common image of Italy’s Valley of Temples that you will ever see, after the Temple of Concordia, of course.
Today, you can see four columns assembled together as a modern reconstruction of the ancient temple. Look carefully to see remains of white stucco on the columns. The temples, with stucco all over them, would have made a pretty sight in their heyday.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
The Temple of Olympian Zeus was supposed to be the biggest one in Agrigento’s Valley of Temples. However, it was never completed because of the Punic wars.
Each column of the Zeus Temple is believed to have been 55 feet tall. Well, that’s huge!
You can also see a replica of a telamon (column carved in the shape of a man) lying at the temple site. The original telamon is at the archaeological museum in the valley. The Telamon is only 25 ft – less than half the size of the columns. You can now imagine what a beast the temple of Olympian Zeus was going to be.
The structure suffered great damage during the war with the Carthaginians and then subsequently, due to earthquakes. What remains of the temple today is only a pile of jumbled stones.
Agrigento is also home to late-ancient and early-medieval Christian necropolises spread between the Temples of Juno and Heracles. These date to somewhere between 3rd – 6th centuries CE.
You’ll find 3 kinds of tombs at the Valley of Temples – a communal catacomb, tombs engraved into Greek walls, and hundreds of smaller burial pits.
The only 20th century building in the temple valley, Villa Aurea is a pretty Mediterranean bungalow that housed Sir Alexander Hardcastle, an English man who devoted a big chunk of his life and wealth to archaeological excavations in Agrigento.
The garden of the villa is a highlight because it is over the remains of an early Christian necropolis. You can still see some tombs here and exotic plant and animal species in their midst.
If you love rustic Sicilian gardens (and I am not referring to the well-manicured Renaissance gardens of Italy here), you’ll enjoy a visit to the Kolymbethra Garden located inside the archaeological park. Note that the park has a separate entrance fee. You can book your Kolymbethra Garden tickets here.
The garden is full of olive and almond groves that provide some respite from the harsh Sicilian sun. However, what interested me was the fact that this garden is like an oasis in an extremely arid landscape. All around, you can just see tall Greek temples with no trees in sight. And suddenly, this green oasis pops out of nowhere! Did it look the same 2500 years ago? Did the Greeks decide to build their temples here so that they could be close to some green vegetation? One cannot help but wonder!
The garden also has an underground chamber called the hypogeum that is filled with hidden caves and tunnels. You can book a guided tour of the Hypogeum and Kolymbethra Garden here.
Pietro Griffo Archaeological Museum
Visit Agrigento’s Regional Archaeological Museum or “Pietro Griffo” to see beautiful Greek pottery and the original Telamon, a replica of which you saw at the temple of Olympian Zeus.
The museum is divided into 12 rooms and contains 5000+ artifacts from the excavations at the Valley of Temples. Highlights include the original Telamon statue, the vase collection, and intriguing Roman sarcophagi.
The Ekklesiasterion looks like an amphitheater though much smaller than a Roman one. It was used for public meetings and was the place where rules were made. The presence of Ekklesiasterion, a non-religious building among the temple ruins, points to the existence of an active public life in ancient Akragas. You’ll find the Ekklesiasterion near the Archaeological Museum.
Walking trail of the Valley of the Temples
Best time to visit the Valley of Temples
The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are the best time to visit the Valley of Temples in Sicily. It can get really hot here during summer. The heat can tire you out and there isn’t much shade around. Remember to carry your glasses, sunscreen, a hat, and sufficient water.
Valley of Temples entrance gates
There are two entrance gates for the Valley of the Temples. First gate (Google Maps) is on the eastern side of the park, near the Temple of Juno, and second, is the gate on the western side called the Porta V (Google Maps). The Temple of Juno entrance is at a higher altitude than the Porta V entrance (this is going to be very important while deciding which gate you want to enter/exit from).
Agrigento Valley of the Temples Tickets
Depending on your interests, you can choose to visit only the Valley of the Temples or combine the Greek ruins with a visit to the museum or Kolymbetra Gardens. There are several versions of tickets available.
- Archaeological Park: €10
- Archaeological Park + Museum: €13.50
- Kolymbetra Gardens + Archaeological Park: €15
- Free entry to the archaeological park on 1st Sunday of every month
You can buy your tickets at any of the entrance gates mentioned above or get your skip-the-line tickets here. Once you book your Valley of the Temples tickets online, you’ll receive a voucher that you can exchange for a ticket at the Temple of Juno ticket office. I highly recommend getting a skip-the-line ticket if you are planning to visit the temple valley after 9:00am. Queues can get long after that.
Things to know before buying tickets for the Valley of the Temples
You can buy your tickets at the ticket offices either at the Temple of Juno (Eastern Entrance) or Porta V (Western Entrance). You can also buy them online here. Once you get your online vouchers, redeem them for real tickets at the Juno entrance.
Be sure to keep your tickets safe even after you enter the archaeological park because you’ll need them to exit the park.
You can buy an audio guide for €5 at the ticket office at the entrance. Remember that you’ll need to leave an ID as deposit.
For an in-depth understanding of the Doric temples and their history, join this highly recommended guided tour that also includes skip-the-line entrance to the Temples Valley.
In my opinion, Agrigento’s Greek temples are good value for money. For just €10, you get to see these impressive temples which is not usually the case in other archaeological parks that are also UNESCO sites.
Agrigento Temples opening hours
The Valley of Temples archaeological park is open from 8:30am – 8:00pm every day. Last entry is one hour before closing.
In summers, they have special opening hours when the archaeological park is open till 11:00pm on weekdays and till midnight on weekends and public holidays. Last admission is an hour before closing time.
In the evenings, around 8:00pm, the Greek temples are lit up and present an ethereal sight. You can sign up for a special sunset and night tour on the official website here.
Pietro Griffo Archaeological Museum is open from 9:00am – 7:00pm, every day.
How to get to the Agrigento Valley of the Temples in Sicily?
The Valley of Temples in Sicily is easily reachable by bus from Agrigento (this is the mode of transport that we used). You can also drive to get here or join a tour from Agrigento or any other nearby city. The Temple Valley is an essential stop on many Italian road trips, after all.
If you are planning to spend more than one day in Catania, Palermo, or Selinunte, then you can easily do day trips to the Temple Valley from any of these towns. Guided tours are highly preferred. Scroll down to find some tour recommendations.
Take Bus Line 2/ from Piazza Rosselli in Agrigento town and get off at the Temple of Juno entrance gate. Enter the archaeological park here, explore the temples while walking downhill, and exit at the Porta V gate on the western side of the park. Take Bus Line 1 from Porta V gate and get off at Piazza Rosselli. Find bus schedules and routes on Agrigento’s public transport website here.
By Taxi or Rental Car
You can hire a taxi or rent a car to get to the Valley of the Temples from Agrigento. The taxi should not cost you more than €15. Get onto Via Francesco Crispi and then onto Strada Provinciale 4 until you arrive at the Temple of Juno entrance gate. Parking is available at the entrance.
The only negative thing about getting your own car is that you’ll have to walk from one gate to the other to see the temples and then walk back again to pick up the car. If you wish to avoid walking back, use the shuttle bus that runs up and down the hill. It will ferry you for a mere €3. Or, you can do the highly-recommended e-scooter tour so that you can explore the ruins sustainably and not tire yourself either.
Tours are a smart way to get to the archaeological area of the Valley of the Temples especially if you’re not staying close by. For instance, tours are the best if you are planning a temples day trip from Palermo or Catania. You’ll not only save time and headache on commute but also learn more about the history from expert local guides.
Here are some guided tours/day trips that are all-time favorites with travelers.
- Guided tour from Palermo includes the Valley of Temples and Villa Romana del Casale, a luxury Roman villa with stunning mosaics.
- Tour from Catania includes the Agrigento temples and the iconic Scala dei Turchi, a beautiful white beach with calcite steps near Agrigento.
- Guided tour from Taormina includes the Temple Valley and Villa Romana del Casale.
Where to stay in Agrigento?
If you are visiting Agrigento only for the Greek temples, I highly recommend staying near the archaeological park. That will help you save time on commuting.
Some hotels even have rooms that give you stunning views of the temples. Here are my top recommendations for hotels near the Valley of the Temples.
- Hotel Villa Athena: A luxury hotel right in the middle of the archaeological park, Hotel Villa Athena is housed in an 18th-century mansion and features gorgeous rooms that overlook the Greek ruins. → Check out reviews for Villa Athena here.
- B&B Villa San Marco: This rustic accommodation features a huge garden and a swimming pool. The hospitality is too good, and the rooms have views to die for – temples and huge expanses of farmland. → Pictures and reviews of Villa San Marco here.
If you are planning to stay in Agrigento Old Town like we did, then have a look at my Agrigento travel guide for more accommodation options.
Travel FAQ for visiting Valley of Temples in Sicily
Yes, Valley of the Temples in Sicily is absolutely worth visiting for its UNESCO-listed, towering Greek temples dating to the 6th century BCE, an early Christian necropolis dating to the 3rd century CE, and a rustic Sicilian Garden called the Garden of Kolymbethra.
The best way to get to the Valley of the Temples from Agrigento is by bus. Take Bus 2/ and get off at the Juno entrance in the east, explore the archaeological site while walking downhill, and take Bus 1 from Porta V entrance in the west back to Agrigento.
The Valley of Temples in Agrigento is a historic site with the most magnificent collection of Greek temples from the times of Magna Grecia. These iconic shrines make the temple valley a famous UNESCO world heritage site.
There are seven major temples and several smaller ruins in Agrigento. Some of the most remarkable temples are those of Concordia, Juno, Heracles, and Dioscuri.
It costs €10 to enter the archaeological site of the Valley of the Temples in Sicily, Italy. If you wish to visit the museum along with the ruins, the tickets cost €13.50.
No, the Valley of the Temples is not free to enter. You need to pay an admission fee of €10 to explore the Greek ruins.
The Agrigento temples are more than 2500 years old. They were built in the 6th century BC when Agrigento was a Greek colony named Akragas.