Messina is the port city through which most people enter Sicily—by train or car ferry—but there's little to stick around to see

Why Messina?

Though Messina—Sicily's primary port and third largest city—is where all trains and most cars enter Sicily by ferry, it doesn't offer many attractions aside from succulent swordfish dinners—thanks to disasters ranging from the mythological to the all-too-real: earthquakes and World War II bombs.

However, unless you fly or take a ferry direct to Palermo or Catania, Messina will be your introduction to Sicily.

The city is proud of local son Antonella da Messina (1430-79), an early Renaissance master and southern Italy's greatest artist, who studied in northern Europe and introduced to Italy the Flemish innovation of painting with oils. (The Museo Regionale keeps a Madonna by the master, along with a pair of Carvaggio paintings.)

Since you'll likely be passing through Messina, here's a bit of history (Messina dates back to the myths of Homer, making its past far more interesting than its present), the best sights in town, how to get in and out—plus where to stay and where to eat in case you're stuck in town for a spell.

Tips & links


Messina tourist information office:
Piazza della Repubblica 44
tel. +39-090-672-944

The tourist office is to your right as you exit the train station. It's open Monday to Thursday 8am to 1:30pm and 3 to 6pm, Friday and Saturday 8am to 1:30pm.

How long to spend in Messina

Honestly, Messina is not a place to linger. Nothing wrong with it, but Sicily has so many far more interesting palces to offer. However, there are a few sights with which you can kill 2–3 hours of time if you're stuck waiting for a transportation connection.

How to get to Messina

Messina is in the very northeast corner of Sicily, just across the Straits of Messina from Reggio di Calabria —the city at the tip of mainland Italy's "toe."

Messina is 237km (142 miles) east of Palermo, 469km (281 miles) south of Naples, and 683km (410 miles) southeast of Rome. Within Sicily, Messina is 165km (102 miles) east of Cefalù, 97km (60 miles) north of Catania, and 235km (146 miles) east of Palermo.

  • How to get to Messina by Train: There are 5 trains daily from Rome (8–9 hr.) that pass through Naples (6 hr.). Within Sicily there are 12–15 trains daily from Palermo (3–4.5 hr.); 14–16 trains daily from Cefalù (2.5–3.5 hr.); and hourly trains from Taormina (35–65 min.). Messina's stazione centrale train station (tel. 090-714-935) is handily connected to the ferry docks.

    How to get to Messina by Bus: There are 12 runs (5 on Sunday) from Taormina (60–105 min.); hourly from Catania (90 min.); and 6 runs (3 on Sunday) from Palermo (3 hr. 15 min). There's also an 8pm bus from Rome that arrives at 4:30am. Messina has SAIS bus offices (tel. 090-771-914) at Piazza della Repubblica no. 6 and no. 46.

    How to get to Messina by Car: Take the A20/SS113 east from Palermo, Cefalù, or Milazzo; the A18 north from Taormina. From the mainland, take the A3 south toward Reggio di Calabria, and get off at Villa San Giovanni for the car ferries across the strait (see above).

Hotels in Messina
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Messina tourist information office:
Piazza della Repubblica 44
tel. +39-090-672-944

Hotels in Messina

Useful links

Train tix

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