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Syracuse's beautiful architecture is a constant reminder that in its heyday this city was the largest in the ancient world. Ancient Greek ruins make a spectacular backdrop for orange groves; medieval lanes run between Baroque piazzas, part of a post-earthquake, post-invasion building program, amongst which you'll find many of the best places to stay in Syracuse.

Highlights of Syracuse

Most of Syracuse's main sights are in the centre of the old town, which is on Ortigia Island, with the main archaeological sites about 25 minutes walk away. This island was the first place settled by the Corinthians when they landed, and it still has a very different feel to the rest of the city - packed with beautifully restored Baroque buildings, fine hotels (some of the best places to stay in Syracuse) and excellent restaurants, and you're only ever moments from a wonderful sea view. The Syracuse of the mainland was heavily bombed during WW2, so its architecture is much more modern.

Once you've visited the cathedral, converted from an Athenian Temple - you can still see the Doric columns on the flanks - and the basilica, with its famous painting by Caravaggio, it's also worth stopping off at the smaller Sanctuary Madonna della Lacrime, famous for its mass produced Madonna statue which shed tears in 1954.

Wherever you're walking you're bound to come across the Fonte Arethusa, the city's ancient water supply. This is where Napoleon was said to have refilled his supplies before the Battle of the Nile. Its origins have a more romantic edge, it's said to be a nymph, Arethusa, who's feeling the advances of a river-God towards the sea. There are some lovely fountains along the route of this spring - which again, you'll probably not be able to miss!

The market is another sight you'll probably run into. If you want to take your stand against the mafia, buy Libera Terra products - these are the ones grown on land reclaimed from the mafia.

Ancient Syracuse

Outside the town are the main Greek and Roman ruins, an outstanding collection which includes a vast necropolis of five thousand tombs, the foundations of a Byzantine palace and the core buildings from ancient Syracuse. Which was described by Cicero as 'the greatest Greek city, and the most beautiful of all'.

Amongst these ruins it's also worth finding the 'ruined' quarry, which has a vast chamber with chisel-marked walls - this is where the stones for this beautiful city, built several times over, were sweated out.

Best Places to stay in Syracuse

  • If you're looking for simple beachside elegance, Hotel Gutkowski is one of the best places to stay in Syracuse. As well as admiring the sea from the rooftop terrace, you can also admire the rooftops of the whole peninsula.
  • If you'd prefer to stay at a B&B, L'Approdo delle Sirene is an excellent option. With just eight rooms, right by the harbour, this is a great spot for families and great value as well.

Still undecided? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Syracuse, or contact, one of our friendly gurus for advice. Alternatively take a look at all our recommendations for Sicily.

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The best hotels in Syracuse

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  • Hotel Gutkowski


    Beachy minimalism on Ortigia's peninsula with fabulous sea views from the terrace. White washed walls, dashes of sea blue, black and white chequered floors, and elegant beds. A great value choice for families or romantic breaks by the sea.

    26 rooms from $84
    Views  -  Wonderful seaviews or over the rooftops of Ortigia
    Value chic
    Roof terrace
    Sailing  -  Up the Ciane river in a gozzo (traditional sailing boat).
    Recommended by  -  I Escape, Frommers, CN Traveller
  • L'Approdo delle Sirene


    Lovely beachy B&B on the seafront in Ortigia. Breezy cream rooms with splashes of colour, some with private balconies. Excellent roof top terrace overlooking the harbour. Great value, family friendly and excellent food.

    8 rooms from $95
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Sights nearby  -  Unesco-listed Baroque towns.
    Cooking classes  -  Check for timings.
    Sailing  -  Can be booked nearby.
    Recommended by  -  I Escape, Frommers
  • Henry's House

    Syracuse (Ortigia)

    This unique property is located on the architecturally famous island of Ortygia. All rooms are decorated in a bohemian style with wrought iron beds, fabulous antique furniture, art work and sea views. A typical Italian breakfast can be enjoyed on the sun terrace. Local caf├ęs are walking distance.

    12 rooms from $128
    Sights nearby  -  The hotel is walking distance from the architectural Castello Maniace
    Sailing  -  Can be booked nearby.
    Full of character
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
  • Siracusa Resort

    Syracusa, Sicily

    Stylish small resort with the only private beach in Syracuse. Eleven rooms, one suite and three apartments for the more independent minded. Chic interiors with natural elements: exposed stone work, white washed walls and fine fabrics. A grown up beach retreat a stone's throw from Ortigia.

    11 rooms from $179
    Outstanding location  -  Arrive by boat to really appreciate the fabulous location
    Views  -  Lovely views over to the island of Ortigia and the Med.
    On the beach  -  The only resort in Syracuse with a private beach
    Restrictions on children  -  Adults only property. Over 14s are accepted.
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