One of Sicily's most significant cities, Messina, is known for its long history and the nearby Strait of Messina.
On Ferryhopper, you can find useful information about must-see places in Messina, the best beaches, local delicacies, and ferries to and from its port. Check out all available ferry routes and book your tickets to Messina at no extra cost!
Below, you can discover:
A panoramic view of Messina's historic center
Messina ferry port
The port of Messina is one of the most important commercial and tourist ports in the Mediterranean. It has a strategic location and serves as the gateway to Sicily, with over 10 million passengers passing through each year.
The port’s history dates back to Greek mythology, when Ulysses sought refuge there after escaping the monsters Scylla and Charybdis.
The port of Messina is about 600 m from the train station, close to the city center. The port area offers a wide range of services, including restaurants, bars, private parking, car rentals, and a gas station. The Duomo and the lovely city fountains, Messina’s well-known landmarks, are just a short distance from the port.
Ferries from Messina port: schedules and tickets
There are several ferry connections from Messina to the ports of Villa San Giovanni and Salerno, as well as to the Aeolian Islands. The Caronte & Tourist ferry company operates the routes to main Italy, while Liberty Lines operates the routes to the Aeolian Islands.
The Messina - Villa San Giovanni route serves the port of Villa San Giovanni in Calabria 7 days a week. There are numerous departures each day and the crossings only take 20 minutes.
All year, you can also travel from Messina to the port of Salerno. The Messina - Salerno ferries typically run once daily, with night departures and crossings lasting 9 hours.
Lipari, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, and Vulcano are the Aeolian Islands connected to the port of Messina. Some ferry connections are available all year, while others are only available during summer.
Here's some more information on the Messina - Aeolian Islands routes:
- Messina - Lipari ferry: depending on the time of year, there are up to 5 crossings per day from Messina to Lipari. The crossing times vary between 1 hour 25 minutes and 3 hours 35 minutes.
- Messina - Salina ferry: the Messina - Salina ferry route operates all year to the island's two ports (Santa Marina and Rinella). Depending on the port of arrival, there are usually up to 5 ferry connections per day and the ferry duration ranges from 2 hours and 20 minutes to 3 hours.
- Messina - Panarea ferry: Messina - Panarea ferry routes are seasonal (from June to mid-September), with 1-2 direct ferry connections lasting approximately 2 hours.
- Messina - Stromboli ferry: there are up to 2 crossings per day on the Messina - Stromboli ferry route from June to September. Ferries only take 1 hour and 25 minutes to arrive at Stromboli's port.
- Messina - Vulcano ferry: the Messina - Vulcano ferry route operates every month of the year, with 1-3 daily crossings. The ferry ride lasts between 1 hour 30 minutes and 1 hour 45 minutes.
How to get to Messina port?
You can get to the port of Messina by car, tram or on foot.
If you are in Sicily and want to get to the port by car, take the motorway to Messina and then to the port area.
The port offers both guarded and unguarded parking lots for a fee. Although free parking is limited, we recommend you try the Piazza Antonello area, which is close to the port.
The historic center of Messina is only 10 minutes away from the ferry docks, so if you are in the area, you can easily reach the port on foot.
Messina is also crossed by a tramway that runs through the city for about 7 km and stops near the port.
Messina's port as seen from the ferry
Vacation in Messina
Messina is a great place to spend a few days on vacation as well as a starting point for trips to the Italian peninsula or the Aeolian Islands.
After the devastating earthquake of 1908, the city was entirely rebuilt, but the majority of its historic center has managed to preserve its original beauty.
Mountains, nature reserves and medieval towns are just a few of the province of Messina's undiscovered gems.
Spend 1-2 days in the city or visit Messina in a day, but don't forget to try the famous Messina street food!
How to get to Messina
You can get to Messina by ferry, car, train, or bus.
The ferry is the best way to get to Messina. In fact, the Sicilian town is connected to the ports of Villa San Giovanni and Salerno, as well as the Aeolian Islands.
If you are already in Sicily and traveling from Palermo, take the A20 highway for about 2 hours to reach Messina. Regional trains to Messina run from the Sicilian capital as well as other towns such as Milazzo, Cefalù, Taormina, and Syracuse.
Messina is 1 hour and 20 minutes away from Catania and Sais buses also go there. Keep in mind that Catania-Fontanarossa is the closest airport in Sicily to Messina if you are flying in from outside of Italy.
The imposing dome of the Shrine of Christ the King overlooking the port of Messina
What to do in Messina
If you think there isn't much to do or see in Messina, you'd better think again!
Before taking the ferry from the port, you should visit the city's historic center, which is home to the majority of the attractions. Get lost in Messina's alleys, admire the beautiful forts, the churches, and visit its museums.
Additionally, Messina's coastline has beautiful beaches, but its hilly area is also stunning. Traveling through lakes, nature reserves and perched villages, you will come across unexpected locations and fall in love with the sunsets over the Strait of Messina.
Beaches in Messina
Messina and its province have a stunning coastline that includes several Blue Flag beaches. However, you have to travel a few kilometers outside of town to get to the best of them.
Here are 5 beaches in Messina and its surroundings that you should not miss:
- Capo Peloro beach: loved by Messinians, this beach is formed by a long stretch of land that extends from the Peloritani Mountains to the sea. A 232-meter-high iron pylon and its lighthouse make it simple to spot the beach. It has two sides, the Ionian side, which is great for surfing, and the Tyrrhenian side, which has a small beach. Both sides have fine sand.
- Capo Alì beach: about 25 km from Messina, it has a long pebbled coastline and is one of the most beautiful beaches. Its waters are pristine and the seabed is ideal for diving. The beach is not far from the center of Al Terme and is accessible via a dirt road. There are no facilities, so it's best for those looking for a quiet spot to unwind.
- Santa Teresa di Riva beach: about a half-hour drive from Messina, it is wide and well-equipped. On one side, there is a walking promenade, as well as bike paths and several bars. It has a beautiful blue sea and a dark-sand beach. This beach is easily reachable by train from Messina.
- Roccalumera beach: this wide and popular beach is only a half-hour drive from Messina. There are beaches, accommodation options and a large promenade in the area. Because of its proximity to town, it is an excellent choice for families with children. Near the beach, there is an ancient Saracen tower.
- San Saba beach: it is a wild and evocative location at the foot of the homonymous village that is especially popular with naturists. On one side, it has fine white sand, turquoise waters, and its famous sand mountains that overlook the sea. Although the beach is free, there are some facilities nearby.
The crystal-clear waters of the beach San Saba in Messina
Sightseeing in Messina
While many of Messina's landmarks were destroyed in the devastating earthquake of the previous century, some significant monuments have survived. Ancient buildings, churches and fountains can be found in the historic center, along with other works of art and culture.
Here are some of the must-see attractions in Messina:
- The Cathedral of Messina, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Sicily
- The Fountain of Orion (in Piazza del Duomo) and the Fountain of Neptune (located near the port)
- The golden statue of Madonna della Lettera, which can be seen up close by entering the San Salvatore military zone with the necessary permits
- The Church of the Catalans, built on the remains of an Arab temple and mosque
- The Church of Santa Maria Alemanna, the highest expression of Gothic art in the Mediterranean
- The Coppedè Palaces, a series of buildings with an unusual and eclectic architectural style
- The Regional Museum of Messina, which preserves some masterpieces by Caravaggio
- The Shrine of Christ the King, a beautiful monumental building in neo-baroque style
- The Sanctuary of Montalto, which stands on the hill of Caperrina and dominates all of Messina
- The Viale San Martino, a street full of shops
- The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III, with its beautiful glass dome
Nightlife in Messina
Messina has a lively atmosphere both in summer and winter. Night entertainment is certainly not lacking in this university town.
The most populated areas are the seafront, the port and Piazza Carducci, where you can find bars, clubs and restaurants.
From the sea to Piazza del Duomo, the principal streets of the city are Via Garibaldi and Via I Settembre. There are numerous wine bars, lounge bars and traditional restaurants in the city's center, which is along the coast.
There are also street-food banquets where you can enjoy excellent arancini and focaccia at any time of day or night.
Food in Messina
One of Sicily's oldest culinary traditions is from Messina. Most of the dishes in the local cuisine are fish-based, and there are also almond cakes, ice cream and rotisserie specialties. Messina is also known for its DOC wines, which include Faro, Malvasia, and Mamertino.
Do not leave Messina without trying the following:
- arancini (deep-fried rice balls)
- pidone (fried calzone)
- focaccia messinese (traditional flatbread from Messina)
- swordfish or sword alla ghiotta (with tomatoes, olives and capers)
- stuffed olives of Messina (with pecorino cheese, capers and pickled vegetables)
- torciglioni (fried or baked brioche dough, filled with sweet ricotta cream)
- brioche with ice cream
A delicious brioche with ice cream served in a bar in Messina
Trips around Messina
If you are staying in Messina for a few days, you should also explore its surroundings.
Here are our favorites:
- Milazzo: this town near Messina offers art, history and nature. Visit its fortified citadel and the stunning Capo Milazzo promontory!
- Savoca: listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, this medieval village also served as the setting for the film The Godfather.
- Graniti: this hilltop village, located inland, exactly in the Alcantara river park area, is an open-air museum thanks to its beautiful murals that color the entire village.
- Lake Ganzirri: located just 9 km from Messina, it is a true oasis of peace to walk and unwind.
A beautiful sunset over Lake Ganzirri
Tips for your holidays in Messina
Here are 3 tips for your trip to Messina:
- Eating an arancino while crossing the Strait of Messina has become a tradition for both tourists and locals. The arancini served on the Caronte and Tourist ferries are some of the best ever!
- If you enjoy water sports, you should know that there are several surfing and diving spots along the coast of Messina.
- If you're in Messina during the low season, don't miss the Kite Festival in Capo Peloro, a beautiful event for both young and old!
Useful information about Messina
Messina is a large city with a variety of services and points of interest.
You can begin your historic center tour at Piazza del Duomo and walk to the main points of interest. We recommend taking a stroll through the narrow streets surrounding Piazza Cairoli to pick up some souvenirs.
If you plan to stay in Messina for a few days, you will find a variety of reasonably priced accommodations both in the center and near the seafront.
Important phone numbers for your stay in Messina
Here are some numbers that could prove useful during your stay in Messina:
- University General Hospital "G. Martino": +390902212672
- Medical guard (Via Garibaldi): +3909045077
- Port authority of the Strait: +390906013211
- Sais bus company: +39090771914
- Municipal Police: +390907723814 / 817
- European emergency phone number: 112
Transportation in Messina
Given the size of Messina, the best modes of transportation are buses and trams. Since its implementation in 2003, tram line 28 has been running through the city for about 8 km, from the Gazzi district to the Annunziata stop.
Of course, you can wander around Messina's historic center on foot, get lost in its narrow streets and take in the most well-known sights.
The car, on the other hand, allows you to travel longer distances and easily reach the city's outskirts. There are very few free parking spaces in Messina's center, but you can park in some guarded parking lots.
The beautiful Cathedral of Messina with the fountain of Orion
Where to book ferry tickets to Messina online
On Ferryhopper, you can book your ferry tickets to and from the port of Messina at the best price. Discover all the available routes on our Map of ferries and get ready for an unforgettable trip!