The mountain has an eerie volcanic landscape, with solidifed "rivers" of lava. It is used for skiing in winter, so be prepared for the cold at this altitude, even in summer. Even in good weather in summer, sometimes the top of the mountain is covered in cloud, especially during the afternoon, obscuring the wonderful views.
One bus a day runs to and from Catania Nicolosi, to Rifugio Sapienza about 1400m below the summit on the south side, giving you enough time for a trip up the mountain and a wander. The bus leaves at 8.15 am from outside Catania train station. The bus stops at stop number 15 which is next to the area served by local buses. Tickets for the bus are sold on board. The bus is a white coach with AMT written down the side. The return bus leaves Rifugio Sapienza at 4.30 pm.
By tour bus
Many agencies in Taormina offer organised trips to and around the mountain.
Tours can also be arranged by contacting: the Parco Regionale dell'Etna, Via Etnea 107, Nicolosi, tel: +39 095 914588.
There are 2 ways to get around on Mount Etna:
1) From Rifugio Sapienza (Etna south) during good weather, you can pay for a trip on a 4-wheel-drive vehicle + cable car (60€ A/R but they have agreements with some close hotels) about 800m nearer the top. In bad weather, you can walk if you are experienced and prepared for freezing weather.
The cable car runs from Rifugio Sapienza (1900m) to 2500m. its about 30E return. There is also a path just behind the cable car station if you want to walk . It takes around 2 hours to walk up from 1900 to 2500m. From the top cable car station you can then go in a 4x4 (33E). You can also walk up beyond the cable car station but stick to well trodden paths.
2) From Piano Provenzana (Etna north) by walking to arrive on the summit Crater. This is a beautiful tour because it's possible to admire forests and lava sceneries.
There are lots of souvenir shops around Rifugio Sapienza.
There are several cafes / restaurants around Rifugio Sapienza.
You can buy many hot chocolates to warm up your bones. Also on colder months, as you go up Mt. Etna you will find several shops and there you can buy the drink, "Fuoco dell'Etna" which is a liqueur which will definitely keep you warm as you hike up. It will get very cold.
You can sleep in Rifugio Sapienza itself.
The public bus leaves at 16.30. It returns to Catania.