Sicily: Palermo to Catania by train and bike

What's the best way to get from Palermo, in the north-west of Sicily, to Catania on the island's eastern coast?

There's the coastal rail route, running along the north and east coasts with a change of trains at Messina.

And there's the inland rail route, which runs through the middle of Sicily, via Dittaino.

How to get from Palermo in north-western Sicily to Catania on the east coast
How to get from Palermo in north-western Sicily to Catania on the east coast

The coastal route by train from Palermo to Catania

This is a gloriously scenic railway, huggging the coast almost all the way.

Trains run roughly hourly (but at odd intervals —check timetables locally) from Palermo heading east to Messina, passing Cefalù (well worth a stop if you have time) on the way.  Most trains run direct to Messina; one or two trains require a change at Sant' Agata Di Militello.

This leg of the journey takes around 3 hours, and tickets cost from €15.50.

At Messina, change for a train running down the east coast of Sicily, with views across the Strait of Messina to the Spanish mainland looking east (left-hand side of the train) and up to Mt Etna looking west (right-hand side of the train).

Trains run on this route roughly hourly (again, at odd intervals — check timetables locally). The journey time is around 2 hours on Regional trains (costing from €9.20), or about 1 hour 20 minutes on the twice-daily InterCity trains (tickets from €9.90). 

If you have an Interrail or Eurail pass, the Regional trains are included; for the InterCity trains you'll need to make a seat reservation for which a €3 supplement is payable.