By Bus -- AST buses (tel. 840-000323) runs a daily service from the central railway station in Catania (leaving at 8:15am, and departing Etna at 4:30pm) at a cost of 5.90€ return, making the climb up from the south side in 2 hours.
By Car -- By car, the ascent to the summit can be approached from the northern side, leading up to the ski area at Piana Provenzana , or southern side, arriving at the base camp at Rifugio Sapienza (tel. 095-915321) at 1,900m (6,233 ft.).
By Cablecar-- From Rifugio Sapienza, you will be whisked up to 2,504m (8,215 ft.) in a cablecar run by the Funivia dell'Etna (tel. 095-914141; open 9am-5:30pm and on Monday evenings from 5:30pm for sunset hiking) up to Montagnola (2,500m/8,200 ft.) and from there you can board an all-terrain vehicle with a mountain guide to take you to the highest point possible at 3,323m (10,902 ft.). The combined cost for cablecar and bus excursion is 51€, or 27€ for cablecar passage only. The 2-hour guided excursions run from March to November, with the buses operating as ski transport in the winter months. Note: Climbs to the summit can be suspended without warning due to inclement weather.
Warning: Always get the latest report from the tourist office before setting out for a trip to Mount Etna. Adventurers have been killed by a surprise “belch” (volcanic explosion). Mount Etna remains one of the world’s most active volcanoes, with sporadic gas, steam, lava, and ash emissions from its summit.
Etna is easy to reach by car from Taormina. The fastest way is to take the E45 autostrada south to the Acireale exit. From here, follow the brown etna signs west to Nicolosi, passing through several smaller towns along the way. From Nicolosi, keep following the etna signs up the hill toward Rifugio Sapienza (1,923m/6,307 ft.), the starting point for all expeditions to the crater. The faux-Alpine hamlet here has tourist services and cheap and ample parking, and is the base station of the Funivia del Etna cable car (tel. 095-914-141; daily 9am–4:15pm/3:45 in winter), which takes you to the Torre del Filosofo (Philosopher's Tower) station at 2,900m (9,514 ft.). You can also hike up to the station, but it’s a strenuous climb and takes about 5 hours. The final ascent to the authorized crater areas at about 3,000m (9,843 ft., as close to the summit as visitors are allowed) is via Star Wars-ish off-road vehicles over a scrabbly terrain of ash and dead ladybugs (dead ladybugs are everywhere on Mount Etna). Conditions at the crater zone are thrilling, but the high winds, exposure, and potential sense of vertigo are not for the faint of heart.
The round-trip cost of getting to the top of Etna, including the cable car ride, the off-road vans, and the requisite authorized guide at the crater zone, is about 55 €. Etna is not a complicated excursion to do on your own, but if you'd prefer to go with a tour, Taormina is chock-full of agencies that organize Etna day trips.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.