Agrigento it is undoubtedly the most popular tourist destination in all of Sicily, but this is almost exclusively due to the magnificent Valley of the Temples. I have to be honest, the archaeological excavations are so crazy, so decadent and dilapidated is what is around (and my heart really cries just to write it down!). In the Agrigento area the illegal building of the 80s gave its best, disfiguring the coast and the hinterland but I really hope that the new generations will be able to reverse the course very soon, because it would be really a shame if it were not like this! That said, apart from the Valley of the Temples (which alone is worth a trip to Sicily), there are several interesting things in the surrounding area as well, in addition to the beaches, little known even by the Sicilians themselves. I forgot, for the Montalbano fans, it is in this area that there are many of the places filmed by the TV series, mainly between Agrigento and Porto Empedocle (the barracks is instead the town hall of Scicli).
What to see in Agrigento
The Valley of the Temples
You cannot hide behind your finger, you come to Agrigento only to visit the Valley of the Temples. What remains ofancient Akragas it represents the most fascinating Greek ruins in Sicily and the whole of Italy; Akragas was one of the richest and most powerful cities in Sicily and it is easy to understand by seeing the extent, quality and quantity of the temples that are found only in the sacred area (which corresponds precisely to the current Valley of the Temples). One of the things that fascinated me the most, in addition to the objective beauty of the temples, is the fact that this area was populated and used for several centuries both before and after the Greek period and the necropolis bear witness to it. that are found along the entire Via Sacra. The temples that you visit represent in fact the "religious" area of the ancient Greek city, while the "political" area was further north, where now there is modern Agrigento. The most impressive temple is undoubtedly the Temple of Concord, the most intact, located in the Eastern area. Dating back to 430 BC, it is located in the middle of the sacred way and is the symbol of the Valley of the Temples. Next to it there is also one beautiful bronze sculpture of Mitoraj, the Fallen Icarus. I will not describe the various temples because you will find all the info in the printed guides, but my advice is to participate in a private guided tour with an official guide / archaeologist. I participated in a 2h guided tour with an archaeologist and it was really interesting to understand the whole history of the site and fully appreciate the place and the temples that are visited.
In addition to the Valley of the Temples, the area also includes the Kolymbetra Garden (managed by the FAI, with a separate ticket of 5 euros), a garden located in a sort of canyon behind the Tempio dei Dioscuri, on the western end of the site. There are cacti, banana, pistachio and pomegranate trees and it can represent the only cool and shady moment when visiting the Valley of the Temples (especially if you go there in summer). Outside the area there is also the archaeological Museum and I must admit it didn't drive me crazy. It is a museum with an old and dated layout, full of poorly explained pieces. The only thing that may be worth going for is the remains of the Temple of Jupiter, with 3 heads that really make you understand how immense this temple was. The temple of Jupiter was the largest Doric temple that ever existed but unfortunately it was never completed.
Book your 2h guided tour of the Valley of the Temples here
Practical information on the Valley of the Temples
- Opening Hours: from 8:30 to 20 (but always check the times on the website first). In summer, the temples of Juno, Concordia and Ercole are also open in the evening. You can always find all the info on the site.
- Valley of the Temples entrances: the Valley of the Temples has 2 entrances (both with the ticket office), one in the lower part in the Sant'Anna district (via Caduti di Marzabotto) at Porta V (here the exact point), and one in the upper part, near the Temple of Juno (here the exact point). Next to the entrances there are parking lots; the cost is 5 euros.
- Cost of the ticket of the Valley of the Temples: there are different types of tickets. The single ticket costs 12 euros (only for the Valley of the Temples), or the combined ticket Valley of the Temples + Archaeological Museum (15 euros) or Valley of the Temples + Garden of the Kolymbetra (17 euros). Find all the info on the site (tickets can also be bought online with a small surcharge). At the ticket office you can also buy tickets for guided tours.
- How long does it take to visit the Valley of the Temples: I would say to calculate at least 3h to see only the archaeological area without running.
- Practical advice: the Valley of the Temples is the most popular place in all of Sicily and buses full of tourists arrive from all parts of the world. Especially if you go there in the summer, I recommend you go early in the morning, at the opening, or in the evening, to avoid the crowds. It is also essential to bring water (and a hat in summer) because there is very little shade and you walk a lot. However, near the Temple of Concord there is a bar / restaurant where you can buy food and drinks.
- Where to eat in the Valley of the Temples: if you don't want to eat inside the site, I recommend the excellent one Il Re di Girgenti restaurant (see below in the Where to Eat section). It is located about 1 km from the entrance near the Temple of Juno and has a beautiful terrace from which you can see the temples. To be booked at least in advance!
What to see around Agrigento
Farm Cultural Park a Favara
Favara is a small town on the outskirts of Agrigento that would have nothing special to justify a visit. The historic center would also be nice, but the town is definitely run down and many houses are really dilapidated. Since 2010, however, there is a valid reason and it is called Farm Cultural Park. This artistic project stems from the personal need of Florinda and Andrea to raise their daughters in a stimulating and creative context and is mainly developed in 7 communicating courtyards in the center of Favara. The intent is to slowly recover the entire historic center of Favara and transform the town into the second tourist attraction in the province of Agrigento after the Valley of the Temples. Today some renovated buildings that are located between these 7 courtyards host exhibitions and exhibitions (both permanent and temporary) and many artists have come here to contribute to the cause. The cultural center is very nice and interesting and inside it also includes a bar, a pizzeria and a hostel.
Scala dei Turchi and Torre Salsa beach
Among the things to see in Agrigento and its surroundings, of course, there is the famous one Scala dei Turchi is a milky white cliff that rises above the sea, about 15 km north of Agrigento. When I was there it was closed (to protect it from further damage caused by people), but you can see very well from above, in one of the viewpoints along the way. In this regard, I recommend that you stop at this view point, and not in the ones you see reported earlier (where there are also several paid parking lots). Unfortunately, as I said before, this stretch of coast has been quite marred by unauthorized buildings, the coastal road is strewn with concrete (ugly houses by the way) so, if you want to go to the sea, I suggest you go further north, in the beautiful Torre Salsa beach (protected by a WWF Nature Reserve) or in the one on the mouth of the Platani river (which is always a nature reserve).
Birthplace of Pirandello
Not far from the Valley of the Temples there is Birthplace of Pirandello, where the writer spent part of his childhood and where he returned in the summer as long as the house remained the property of the family. Today it is a house-museum with photographs, some furniture, letters and monuscripts, and near the house a driveway leads to a funerary block that houses the urn with Pirandello's ashes. The entrance ticket costs 5 euros.
Talking about the surroundings is a bit risky, but I couldn't not enter the Andromeda Theater among the things to see in the surroundings of Agrigento, where by 'surroundings' we mean the 70 km up to Santo Stefano Quisquina. From Agrigento we proceed towards the interior of Sicily for about 1h and 30 'to reach this very special theater at 1000 meters above sea level. The Andromeda Theater is an open-air theater that born from the creativity of the sculptor and farmer Lorenzo Reina who built it in 30 years to combine his two great passions: art and nature. The view of nature is the setting for this theater which has 108 stone seats which, seen from above, represent the points of the constellation of Andromeda. All around the theater there are other works by the artist and a small museum. During the summer the theater hosts various performances but can be visited all year round by agreeing the visit first by writing a message on the official Facebook page. The cost of the ticket is 10 euros.
My advice is to go there only in summer, when you are sure that the weather is good; I was there in October and I couldn't see it because, right on the mountain, there was the classic Fantozzi cloud with rain and fog #maiunagioia.
Where to sleep in Agrigento
- The Terraces of Pirandello: this b & b is located near the center of Agrigento and has nice accommodations with patio or balcony overlooking the Valley of the Temples and the sea, a shared lounge and a garden. There is also free public parking right nearby. The breakfast served on the terrace is also excellent. See prices and availability.
- Villa La Lumia B&B Suites & Apartments: if you are looking for a higher-end structure, you can opt for this beautiful B&B which is located in an elegant nineteenth-century building, in the middle of the green, just outside Agrigento, about 1 km from the Valley of the Temples. Fantastic view over the valley of the temples and excellent breakfast. See prices and availability.
Where to eat in Agrigento
- King of the Girgenti: excellent restaurant with panoramic terrace located less than 1km from the eastern entrance of the Valley of the Temples. The furniture is refined as well as the kitchen. Really good and beautiful!
- Exit8: excellent fish restaurant in the center of Agrigento. The place is very nice and the service is really attentive. All the dishes are delicious at very fair costs (take the macco di fave with prawns .. see photos below, simply divine!).
- Oceanomare: restaurant on the sea, in San Leone, very nice and well-kept, perfect for an aperitif at sunset (even if it is right on the beach, it is open all year round).
- Kalos: refined and elegant restaurant in the center of Agrigento, next to Sal8. Mainly fish cuisine.
- Trattoria del Pescatore: well known and very popular restaurant on the Agrigento seafront. Nice place to eat fresh fish (but not only). Book well in advance!
FAQ - Quick questions and answers
You might also be interested in these other articles I wrote about Sicily:
- What to see in Catania and surroundings
- What to see in Modica and surroundings
- Western Sicily: 3 days between Marsala, Mazara, Selinunte, Segesta and Gibellina
- What to see in Palermo in 3 days
- What to see around Palermo
- Where to eat in Palermo
- Favignana: the beaches, where to sleep and where to eat
- Marettimo: how to reach it, what to see and where to sleep
- Levanzo: how to reach it, what to see and where to sleep
- 10 beautiful farmhouses with swimming pool in Sicily