Home » Sicily’s Alcantara Gorge and River Park

Sicily is the land of boundless beauty, flavors, landscapes, and adventures. From the volcanic peak of Mt. Etna to the Valley of the Temples to the white cliffs of the Turkish Steps, this island truly has it all. For the adventure-seekers, today we’ll be exploring the Alcantara Gorge on the eastern side of the island.


Alcantara River Park and Gorge

Between the major cities of Messina and Catania, and just 30 minutes from Taormina, lies the Alcantara River Park and Gorge. The river itself runs from Mt. Nebrodi to the Ionian Sea.

How the Canyons Formed

In a different environment, this would be an ordinary river, but what makes it interesting is the fact that at some point the river’s natural flow was blocked by lava from Mt. Etna. Without getting too scientific, it ended up forming columns and crystallizing, and over time, the river eroded these columns creating spectacular gorges and ravines.

Or, if you’re a sucker for romance then you might prefer the version that claims the canyons were created by Vulcan, god of fire. Legend has it that he heated the river water where Venus would bathe and when their love ceased to exist, Vulcan punished her by cooling the water.

Either way, the result is a spectacular example of Mother Nature.


The Park

The official name of the Alcantara Gorge is the Gole Alcantara Parco Botanico e Geologico. There are buses as well as private tour companies that will take you from the aforementioned cities for either half-day or full-day tours. If you have a rental car then you can, of course, go on your own.

Activities in the Park

Once you get to the park there are various options depending on the season and your interests. Activities range from bike tours, trekking, body rafting, canyoning, or even a bus tour. Equipment like wetsuits and helmets are available to rent at the park but it is advisable to bring water shoes in addition to hiking shoes, dress very comfortably, and pack a change of clothes as well.

Visitors are stunned by the natural beauty of the carved cliffs, the crystal clear circular ponds, and the waterfalls. There is even a beach area that is popular with locals on hot summer days. Overall, you should find that the park is not overrun with tourists since it is a bit off the beaten path.

Within the park, there is also a splash park as well as cafes, restaurants, and even hotel accommodations.

For complete details, visit the official website in English.