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16 Epic Things To Do In Ragusa Sicily – The Ultimate Travel Guide

Last Updated on February 8, 2023 by Soumya

Traveling to Ragusa in Sicily and wondering what to do? Looking for the best places to visit in Ragusa? Keen to find out what are the best Ragusa attractions that you could add to your Sicily itinerary?

Here’s just the perfect Ragusa travel guide that will answer all your questions and some more.

A part of Italy’s lesser-known UNESCO site called Val di Noto, the city of Ragusa is one of the best places to visit in Sicily. You’ll be surprised to know that Ragusa, along with 7 other towns in Southeast Sicily, were utterly devastated during the 1693 earthquake. They rose out of the ashes like the phoenix – a resurrection process that gave birth to a unique architectural form called Sicilian Baroque.

Quite clearly, one of the best things to do in Ragusa, Sicily is to walk through its charming old town and spot stunning Baroque facades and impressive balconies. Duomo di San Giorgio is a highlight and so are the umpteen number of other churches that dot the historic town. If you are a foodie, you’ll love the gastronomic delights of Ragusa as well as make some nice day trips to nearby towns for their culinary specialties. Inspector Montalbano fans will have a ball because of all the filming locations that you’ll see here.

No doubt, there are tons of attractions in Ragusa and you’ll need at least a couple of days to see them all. Here’s our comprehensive Ragusa travel guide that will give you a list of what to see in Ragusa, where to stay, best places to eat, and lots of insider tips.

Planning your Ragusa trip last minute?

If you are booking your trip to Ragusa last minute, don’t worry. We have you covered. Here are some of the best tours and hotels in Ragusa, Sicily.

Top Experiences and Tours in/to Ragusa, Sicily

Best Sicily Tours that include Ragusa

Top Hotels in Ragusa, Sicily

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Traveling to Ragusa Sicily? Check out the best things to do in Ragusa Italy that totally need to go into your Ragusa bucket list. #Ragusa #Sicily #Italy
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About Ragusa, Sicily

  • Ragusa is a beautiful, hilltop town in Southern Sicily that is also part of the UNESCO heritage ensemble called the Late Baroque Towns of Val di Noto.
  • Ragusa is one of the 8 Val di Noto towns that were completely destroyed in the devastating earthquake of 1693. These towns were completely resurrected from the debris. A unique architectural form took birth in the process. It was called Sicilian Baroque and the towns were recognized as the Late Baroque Towns of Val di Noto.
  • The town is divided into 2 parts – Ragusa Ibla (the historic old town) and Ragusa Superiore (the new upper town). Ragusa Ibla is chockfull of stunning Baroque monuments including the impressive Cathedral of San Giorgio and the marvelous Church of San Giuseppe.
  • Ibla and Superiore are separated by a deep ravine. The walk from Upper Town to Ragusa Ibla is rewarded with stunning views of the lower town. Even though, it requires climbing 340 steps up and down, the hike is totally worth it.
  • An interesting thing to do in Ragusa is to watch a passeggiata, a popular Italian tradition that is particularly prevalent in Sicily.

Best things to do in Ragusa, Sicily

Take a walking tour of Ragusa Ibla

Sicilian Baroque balconies in Ragusa Sicily
Wrought iron balconies with Baroque flourishes in Ragusa Ibla.

The most fun thing to do in Ragusa is to take a walk through the old town of Ragusa Ibla. The historic center is filled with striking Baroque buildings, quaint homes with pleasing balconies, and picturesque old alleys. Have a look at several pictures of Ragusa here to see what the charming, old town looks like.

On your walking tour of Ragusa, you’ll walk through Ragusa’s narrow lanes and learn a lot about how the town came to be the birthplace of Sicilian Baroque. This unique style developed during the reconstruction of the city after the massive earthquake of 1693. It incorporates rich ornamentation of traditional Baroque architecture while adding a lot of Sicilian elements such as masks and angels in the mix.

You’ll see some amazing mansions in Ragusa adorned by cast iron balconies held up by quirky masks and winged cherubs. On your walking tour, be sure to check out some of the best places in Ragusa such as the San Giorgio Cathedral and more places that we talk about below.

Step into the majestic Duomo di San Giorgio

San Giorgio Cathedral in Ragusa
The magnificent Duomo di San Giorgio in Ragusa, Sicily.

Ragusa is full of majestic churches & cathedrals. One of the most fascinating ones is the Cathedral of Saint George.

Locally known as the Duomo di San Giorgio, this beautiful Baroque church is an architectural masterpiece. It was constructed in the 18th century and is located in the heart of the old town and is a typical example of Sicilian Baroque.

The stunning Baroque facade of the cathedral is slightly convex. It features 3 orders with a bell tower on the top. Located atop a flight of stairs, the facade showcases images of Saint George’s (patron saint of Ragusa Ibla) martyrdom and statues of several other saints. Inside, the church has 3 naves and beautiful stained glass windows.

The church is open from 10:00am – 12:30pm & 4:00pm – 6:30pm, Monday – Sunday and is free to enter. In the piazza outside the cathedral, you’ll find quaint cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a good meal and experience the famous La Passeggiata, Italy’s tradition of evening walks and catching up.

Marvel at the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista

Church of San Giovanni de Batista
Ragusa Cathedral or the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista.

The Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista is also known as the Ragusa Cathedral. Like every other church in Ragusa (or anywhere else in Val di Noto), the Ragusa Cathedral was built on the remains of ancient Roman Catholic church that stood here before the earthquake of 1693. But unlike others, the Ragusa Cathedral is located in Superiore instead of Ibla.

Ragusa Cathedral sports a typical Sicilian Baroque facade and an impressive interior with a multitude of art work. You can enter it for free every day between 10:00am – 12:30pm and 4:00pm – 6:00pm.

Enjoy the views from the Church of Santa Maria delle Scale

Perhaps another most visited attraction in Ragusa is the Church of Santa Maria delle Scale.

The church is a popular Ragusa highlight because of two reasons. First, it still retains the original Gothic bell-tower and an old terracotta image of Virgin Mary from before the earthquake days. Second, the church’s location on the top of the 340 steps that connect Ibla with Superiore makes it perfect place to witness stunning views of Ragusa Ibla. If you want to get the best photos of Ragusa, the Church of Santa Maria delle Scale is where you should be heading to.

See the beautiful church of San Giuseppe

Church of San Giuseppe
San Giuseppe Church in Ragusa

The Church of San Giuseppe is one of the most elegant churches in Ragusa. With a richly-sculpted Baroque facade, this church features statues of the saints of the Benedictine Order.

Highlights of the church include a beautiful fresco over the vault that depicts the Glory of St. Benedict. Be sure to notice the oval interior of the church which was meant to cloister nuns while they observed the mass. The church is covered in this highly-rated Ragusa walking tour in case you are looking for a good one.

Relax in Giardino Ibleo

Car exhibition at Ibleo Garden
Vintage car exhibition at the Ibleo Garden.

Looking for a green space to relax after an overdose of Baroque? Head to the Ibleo Garden.

Located on the eastern side of Ragusa, this 19th-century garden is perfect to sit down and relax, especially if you are unable to bear the scathing afternoon sun of Sicily. The Ibleo Garden is a tranquil park filled with a large variety of plants and ample space for kids to run around.

There’s always something happening here. For example when we went, there was an ongoing exhibition of vintage cars.

Undoubtedly, the garden is a great place for Ragusa’s residents to hang out after a day’s work. Late afternoon is a good time to visit because that is when the place is full of locals and you get to experience the true vibe of Ragusa.

The garden is usually open from 10:00am in the morning to 10:00pm in the evening.

Explore the culinary scene of Ragusa

Risotto in Ragusa Ibla
A good, old plate of risotto in Ragusa Ibla.

I love Southern Italian food and food tastings are one of my favorite things to do in Sicily.

Like many other places in Sicily, Ragusa also has some unique delicacies to offer. For example, Ragusa is home to Ragusano, a semi-hard cheese whose origin dates back to the 1500s. The ‘mpante, a savory pie filled with meat, potatoes, seafood, and cheese, is another popular dish to try. And how can I forget about sccacia, a traditional stuffed flatbread that can be filled with anything ranging from cheese to sausages.

You can explore Ragusa’s culinary scene by eating at one or more of the many wonderful restaurants that dot the city. Some of the most popular places to eat in Ragusa are Trattoria da Luigi and Trattoria Al Casareccio.

If you are a foodie and an Inspector Montalbano fan, then you’ll love A’ Rusticana – a traditional Sicilian restaurant where the famous TV series was shot. We had our first lunch in Ragusa at A’ Rusticana and totally loved it. Their seafood is drool-worthy. Since this place is super popular, you many need to book ahead in order to secure your place.

Montalbano's message for A' Rusticana
Luca Zingaretti or Inspector Montalbano’s message for A’ Rusticana.

If you are more of a guided tour person, try this 4-course private dining experience at a local’s home where you can taste authentic Sicilian recipes that have been handed down over generations.

Join a local cooking class

Want to learn how to cook Sicilian food? Sign up for this amazing private cooking class with an expert home cook. You’ll learn how to make 3 authentic Italian dishes including a starter and a pasta, followed by a dessert. An immersive foodie experience doesn’t get better than this!

Enjoy a passeggiata at the historic center

Passeggiata in Italy
The passeggiata begins in the historic center at late afternoon every day.

You cannot miss a passeggiata when in Sicily. Passeggiata is a traditional Italian evening walk/gathering where everyone catches up with everyone else. Every evening, after work and before dinner, locals (usually nicely dressed for the occasion) head to the downtown area and catch up friends and indulge in gossip. Weekends are more vibrant and active. Everyone from the newest babies to the oldest nonne are out on the streets to show and watch.

Ragusa is particularly known for its daily passeggiata ritual. As soon as evening sets in, people come out of their homes/workplaces and start walking towards the historic center (the piazza around Duomo di San Giorgio). The atmosphere in Ibleo Garden is also very lively where people can be seen enjoying their late afternoon passeggiata. If you can, try to experience a weekend passeggiata in Ragusa – those are the best.

Enjoy splendid views of Ragusa Ibla

Stunning views of Ragusa Ibla at night
Stunning views of Ragusa Ibla at night.

Because the city of Ragusa is located on 2 hills separated by a deep ravine, there are ample views to be enjoyed here.

Perhaps the most iconic as well as the most photographed view is that of Ragusa Ibla from the 340 steps that you need to climb down from when walking to Ibla from Superiore. It is common for travelers to stay in Superiore just to make this hike to Ragusa Ibla so that they can enjoy the stunning vistas.

Two other places where you can see breathtaking landscapes are at the Church of Santa Maria delle Scale and the Ibleo Garden.

Best things to do near Ragusa Sicily

Visit the majestic Donnafugata Castle

Donnafugata Castle
The beautiful Donnafugata Castle with an irresistible history.

Apart from the many incredible things to do in Ragusa, Sicily, there are several wonderful places to visit near Ragusa. One of my favorites is the majestic Donnafugata Castle.

When I first stepped into the Donnafugata Castle, I had no clue about its historical significance in Sicily. It was just a pit stop for me on my way to Commissioner Montalbano’s house. Of course, the castle is also an important stop on Montalbano tours. But as I walked through its amazing state rooms, checked out its beautiful gardens, and made my way up to the terrace, I realized what a beauty the Donnafugata Castle was!

Located just 10 miles from Ragusa, the Donnafugata Castle dates back to the 14th century and has a quirky history behind it. The name literally translates to “the woman who escaped”. One theory suggests that the castle was named after Bianca di Navarra, the queen who tried to escape from the clutches of a Spanish overlord.

Some of the highlights at the castle include the Music Room which is filled with trompe-l’œil paintings (something I talk about extensively in my post on Villa Oplontis near Pompeii ruins) and the Hall of Mirrors. There are more than 100 rooms in the castle along with a charming garden where royalty used to spend their free time. The castle itself is a masterpiece, built out of white stone in a classical Neo-Gothic style that stands out from the typical Baroque architecture of Val di Noto.

Do a Commissioner Montalabano tour

Montalbano House in Punta Secca
The famous Montalbano House in Punta Secca.

Since we were visiting the Donnafugata Castle, you can guess that we were on our way to tick a Ragusa highlight – a Commissario Montalbano Tour.

My husband is a big fan of the Montalbano series. Therefore, we planned our Sicily itinerary in a way so that we could include a half-day tour of Montalbano locations. That included the Donnafugata Castle, the Commissioner’s home, and the Punta Secca beach where he was seen spending many thinking hours, and his office in Scicli. This private tour on Viator takes you to all the above filming locations of Montalbano and includes hotel pickup.

For the uninitiated, Commissario Montalbano is a famous Italian detective series shot extensively in Sicily. The series is based in the imaginary Sicilian town of Vigata where Inspector Montalbano solves countless murder mysteries. For Montalbano fans, Southern Sicily is a true pilgrimage.

Head to the Punta Secca beach

Punta Secca Beach
The gorgeous beach of Punta Secca.

Montalbano’s house is located on the charming Punta Secca beach which is a must-have on every Ragusa travel bucket list. It is a beautiful golden sand beach with azure blue waters that is very inviting.

If you have watched Montalbano, you’ll remember that the inspector swam in the sea right in front of his house. Spiaggia di Montalbano or the stretch of Punta Secca beach by the Montalbano house is that very place. Even if you are not up for a swin (the water can be cold except for in summer), I highly recommend spending a few minutes at the beach, just soaking in all the beauty.

Head to Modica for some Aztec chocolate

Modica, another charming town among the 8 Baroque towns of the Val di Noto ensemble, is not very far from Ragusa. Located just 30 mins by car from Ragusa city center, Modica makes for an interesting day trip.

There are many wonderful things to do in Modica and a lot that you can achieve in one day. You can marvel at the town’s Baroque architecture and check out some impressive churches such as the Cathedral of San Giorgio and the Church of San Pietro.

But most importantly, you have to taste some ancient Aztec chocolate in Modica. Yes, Modica is famous for being home to Cioccolato di Modica that was introduced here by the Spanish and is still made the Aztec way. The best place to try Modica chocolate is Antica Dolceria Bonajuto. There is also a Chocolate Museum in Modica where you can catch up with the unique history of chocolate in Sicily.

View of Modica
The city of Modica offers some great tourist attractions.

Visit other Val di Noto towns

Apart from Ragusa and Modica, there are 6 other Val di Noto towns where you can enjoy Sicilian Baroque architecture. I did another pretty town called Scicli. Noto and Catania are popular tourist destinations whereas Caltagirone, Palazzolo, and Militello Val di Catania are hidden gems.

All the 8 towns were almost completely destroyed after the devastating earthquake of 1693. Then began the rebuilding of these towns in a distinctive architectural style that came to be called Sicilian Baroque.

Head to the Irminio River Nature Reserve

If you are looking for quick nature getaway from Ragusa, head to the Irminio River Nature Reserve located to the southwest of Ragusa. Walk along the palm and agave trees, check out the area’s rich biodiversity, spot migratory birds, relax, and rewind.

Interactive map of the attractions of Ragusa Sicily

Map of Ragusa
Click on the map above and get access to directions for all Ragusa attractions.

Where to stay in Ragusa, Sicily?

Balcony in Ragusa Sicily
The city of Ragusa is filled with boutique hotels and traditional palazzos that you can stay in for a day or more.

When visiting Ragusa, you can either stay in Ragusa Ibla or in Ragusa Superiore. Ragusa Ibla is the historic center, is touristy, and has a medieval feel to it. Ragusa Superiore, on the other hand, is the newer town, has better public transport and rewards you with panoramic views of Ibla. If you wish to get the old town vibe and stay in the heart of city, then it is a good idea to stay in Ragusa Ibla. If you plan to use public transport frequently for your day trips, staying in Superiore is a good idea.

We stayed closer to Ragusa Superiore for two nights and absolutely enjoyed our stay at Locanda La Meridiana, a charming hotel housed in a traditional building, complete with Sicilian balconies and shutter windows. Their breakfast was amazing with eggs, ham, cheese, and homemade jams. →Find more about Locanda La Meridiana here.

Other great hotels in the upper town are Villa Boscarino, an old-style mansion with a beautiful garden, and Bella Giulia featuring modern rooms and friendly staff.

Ragusa Ibla has several boutique properties that would interest history and architecture enthusiasts. A couple of properties that caught my eye were the San Giorgio Palace, a boutique hotel that boasts of stunning views, and AD 1768 Boutique Hotel, a palazzo from the 18th century that features beautiful ceiling paintings and a terrace.

Practical information for visiting Ragusa, Sicily

Best time to visit Ragusa

The best time to visit Ragusa, Italy is from April to August, in short the spring and summer months. The weather is warm and dry, making it the perfect time to walk around and explore.

Winters, on the other hand, can be rainy even though not as cold as the rest of Europe. That said, winter is also low season for Ragusa. So, if you don’t mind a bit of chill and rain, you can plan your trip to Ragusa in winter.

How to get to Ragusa?

Comiso Airport is the closest airport to Ragusa. Ryanair flies to Comiso from Rome, Milan, Bergamo, and a few other big cities. From the Comiso Airport, you can hire a taxi or rent a car and get to Ragusa in under 30 mins. Have a look at the Comiso Airport website here to find which cities are connected to Comiso.

If you are looking for a bigger airport to fly into, Catania Airport (services many destinations around the world) is the closest. Find all airlines that fly to Catania here. From Catania Airport, you can take a taxi or rent a car and get to Ragusa in 1.5 hours. Book a private transfer from Ragusa to Catania here.

From Catania, you can also take the bus to Ragusa. Book your bus ride from Catania to Ragusa or back on OMIO here.

Ragusa streets
The colorful streets of Ragusa.

How to get around Ragusa?

I highly recommend exploring the historic center of Ragusa Ibla on foot so that you can pause and appreciate the abundance of Baroque architecture all around you. A walking tour like this one is a great way to see the best of Ragusa Ibla.

A word of caution: Ragusa is hilly and a walking tour here is not as easy as the one in Naples which is mostly flat. However, with a good pair of walking shoes, a bottle of water, and medium fitness levels, you should be good to go.

If you are planning for day trips to Modica, Scicli, or the ruins of Agrigento, hire a taxi or use the public transport. Regional trains run from Ragusa to Scicli and to Agrigento. Book your train tickets on OMIO website here.

Ragusa, Sicily Travel FAQ

Is Ragusa Sicily worth visiting?

Yes, Ragusa Sicily is absolutely worth visiting. It is one of the 8 UNESCO heritage towns included in the Val di Noto ensemble and is exemplary of a unique form of Baroque architecture that took birth here – the Sicilian Baroque.

What is Ragusa known for?

Ragusa is known for being the birthplace of Sicilian Baroque – a unique architectural style that retains the ornate sculpting of European Baroque but incorporates several local Sicilian elements such as grotesque masks and winged cherubs. The majestic Sicilian Baroque facades of Ragusa are utterly fascinating.

What is the difference between Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla?

Ragusa usually refers to the newer, more modern town that is located on the upper fringes of the city. In contrast, Ragusa Ibla is the lower and historic old town that can be reached by a flight of 340 stairs from the upper town. The two Ragusas are separated by a deep ravine called Valle dei Ponti.

How long to stay in Ragusa?

You should plan to stay at least 2 days in Ragusa so that you can spend the first day exploring Ragusa Ibla and its historic lanes and the second day in doing some essential day trips to the beaches and other Baroque towns around.

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Traveling to Ragusa Sicily? Check out the best things to do in Ragusa Italy that totally need to go into your Ragusa bucket list. #Ragusa #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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