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Agrigento has every right to be a bit self satisfied and pleased with itself. On its outskirts is one of the best-preserved architectural legacies of ancient Greece. The beautifully serene Doric temples in the ruins of Akragras, a prosperous Greek colony that experienced its golden age in around 450BC, are said to rival the Acropolis in Athens. Which is quite a claim from a small city in Sicily. Aside from the city's other charms, Akragas itself deserves more than a day's explorations, so most visitors will need to track down one of the best places to stay in Agrigento.
Roman occupation from around 210BC changed the look of the city somewhat, but during the 7th Century everyone upped sticks and moved just up the hill to the site of the modern city.
Modern Agrigento isn't the prettiest of cities. Heavily bombed during WWII, it was rebuilt in a rather hasty and brutal way in the post-war years, and the beauty of the Valley of Temples is slightly overshadowed by concrete tower blocks. But if you look past these you'll find that Agrigento actually has quite a charming medieval old town, complete with some very nice places to stay and a pleasant buzz of an evening. The main street is lined with boutiques, bars and trattorias, off which there are rows of attractive palazzi.
What Not To Miss
The Valley of the Temples, as the Akragas site is called, is Sicily's biggest tourist draw. Once the largest city in the Mediterranean, beautiful Akragas was also known as a good place to let one's hair down.
There are two zones to the site, to the east and west of the entrance:
- To the east is the Temple of Concord, one of the oldest and most impressive in the site, the 6th Century Temple of Hercules and the Temple of Juno.
- To the west is the Temple of Jupiter, which has some particularly interesting statues, and, if it had have been finished, would have been the largest Doric temple ever built. You can also find the Temple of Dioscure, as well as a sanctuary garden with more than 300 labelled species of plant.
If ancient Akragas proves just too hot - there's little shade beyond a few olive trees - then visit Agrigento's 11th Century cathedral, the Monastero di Santo Spirito and Our Lady of the Greeks church.
Lastly, a visit to the Archaeological Museum will help put everything in context. The museum is opposite the Roman Quarter, which also has some mosaics worth spending some time with.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Agrigento are both slightly out of town, but one is perfectly located if you want to be right up close to the ancient temples.
- Baglio della Luna is a historic Sicilian house just outside Agrigento and just 800 metres from the beach. The views over the Valley of the Temples are sublime, the restaurant has an excellent reputation and the gardens are lush and lovely.
- The Villa Athena is right in amongst the temples within the Akragas site. As well as Doric views, the Villa Athena also offers five star elegance, exceptional local cuisine and beautiful green gardens.
For An Apartment Or Villa
- If you think a self-catering option would best suit your needs then check out the wide variety available online with our partner, booking.com.
- Though temperate year round, Agrigento's obviously nicest in the summer - with the average temperature reaching 26°C in July and August.
- This is however peak season, so it may be fairly busy and accommodation will be more expensive. Therefore, maybe a visit between April and June or mid-September to October is your best bet.
- Visitors can fly into Palermo Airport (about 180km away), served by direct flights with Easyjet from Gatwick, Ryanair from Stansted, and British Airways from Heathrow. These all take around 3 hours. Alternatively you can fly to Catania - it's about 160km away.
- From Palermo, hop on the Autolinee Prestia e Comandè bus to the train station for €6. You can then take the train to Agrigento at a cost around €9.
- If you're planning to hire a car to get around, we recommend you check out the prices with our online partner, Rentalcars.
Still not sure which to book?
Best Hotels in Agrigento
Villa Athena from £272Agrigento
A stunning Five Star villa set in a UNESCO heritage sight dotted with Doric temples. Modern Sicilian interiors are creamy and elegant. Four poster beds, hot tubs, private balconies, fantastic restaurant, swimming pool, and oh so luscious gardens. A spectacular choice for foodies and couples.Learning - The hotel sits in the Unesco World Heritage Site of the Valley of Temples,Views - Stunning views of the temples around and the infinite gardens.Garden - Stunning landscaped gardens.Foodies - Fantastic Sicilian cuisine.Recommended by - Small Luxury Hotels
Baglio della Luna 23 rooms from £96Agrigento
A fantastic little four star option just outside Agrigento and only 800 metres from the beach. An historic Sicilian house surrounded by sprawling terraces, luscious green gardens, and fantastic views over the Valley of Temples. Traditional and charming rooms, and a restaurant renowned far and wide.Views - Perfect views from the verandah restaurant over the Valley of Temples.Foodies - The restaurant is renowned for its culinary flair.Exclusive use - Excellent Sicilian wines.Sailing - Can be booked nearby.Recommended by - Fodors