A phoenix-like city
A weird bell-tower
Standing guard on the Strait

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Gateway to Sicily

Messina may well be your first sight of Sicily, and – from your MSC holiday cruise ship – it’s a fine one, the glittering town spread up the hillside beyond its sickle-shaped Mediterranean harbour.

On a shore excursion you can discover Messina’s most important monument, the Duomo, which epitomizes the city’s phoenix-like ability to re-create itself from the ashes of its last disaster. It’s the reconstruction of a twelfth-century cathedral erected by Roger II, one of a series of great Norman churches of Sicily that include the sumptuous cathedrals of Palermo and Cefalù. The Duomo’s detached campanile, or bell tower, claims to be the largest astronomical clock in the world, and puts on its best show at noon every day, when a bronze lion (Messina’s ancient emblem) unleashes a mighty roar over the city that can be quite alarming if you’re not expecting it!

Just back from the Duomo, the truncated section of the twelfth-century Chiesa Annunziata dei Catalani squats below pavement level, and is Messina’s only surviving example of Arab/Norman church-building. 

When you are cruising the Mediterranean Sea with MSC Cruises, the most obvious excursion from Messina is to the almost too charming hill town of Taormina, spectacularly located on a rocky bluff between the Ionian Sea and the soaring peak of Mount Etna, whose summit with its bleak lava wilderness is one of the most memorable landscapes Italy has to offer. 

Once the beloved retreat of poets and writers, Taormina is now the most illustrious resort on the entire island, captivating its visitors with its famous ancient theatre, grand hotels and engaging small-town charm.

Must see places in Messina

Discover our excursions

5 results found




    Thanks to its strategic coastal location near Mount Peloritani, the Sicilian city and region of Messina boasts a rich heritage of 19th-century forts and old military roads that were once used to defend Sicily and the Strait of Messina. This tour gives you a chance to explore the beautiful landscape, folk traditions, historical roads and strongholds in the comfort of a modern off-road vehicle. The first stop is at San Rizzo wooded hill where your off-road adventures will start. A little further along the road lies Forte Campone, a 19th-century fort where you will stop to taste typical pastries and fortified wine. Next on the list is the Dinnamare vantage point, offering lovely views the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas. Before returning to the port, you will stop at the Museum of Popular Music of Mount Peloritani, in the village of Gesso, to admire the musical instruments of the Sicilian tradition. Please note: participants must be at least 8 years of age, provided that they can be properly seated and wearing a seatbelt. The safari leader will provide information only in English during the trip. Comfortable shoes and casual clothing recommended. This tour is not suitable for pregnant women, for guests with walking difficulties or with back or neck problems.
    • Tasting included

    • Best seller

    • Limited seats

    • Active excursions recommended only for guests in good physical health

      Difficulty Level

    • Duration
      4 h

    • Adults95Price per person

    • Children69Price per person




    The Greek, Zancle, founded Messina in 730 B.C.; earthquakes systematically destroyed the city, in particular by the eruptions of 1783 and 1908. Our tour departs by bus from the port to reach Ganzirri, a small fishing village situated near the Pantano Grande and Pantano Piccolo lakes, which are rich in marine nutrients. You will continue to Capo Peloro, the nearest point to the coast of Calabria. Enjoy a panoramic tour of Messina, admiring Piazza Cairoli, the Court House, the University and the Cristo Re Church, which dominates Messina’s harbour and the strait. We will stop for photos before continuing our tour past the San Francesco Church, the Government Hall, the Fountain of Neptune and the main street, “Viale della Libertá”. Visit the Cathedral and the Cathedral Treasure to admire the famous Golden Mantle (Manta d’Oro), a special cloth that covers the picture of the Madonna and Child and which is studded with precious stones. Please note: conservative attire recommended for visiting sites of religious importance. In case of religious celebrations, the visit to the Cathedral will be limited to the exterior of the site. Guests using a wheelchair are advised that they must be accompanied by a paying helper to provide assistance with getting on and off the coach and that wheelchairs must be collapsible/foldable since the coach has neither a ramp nor a lift. Guests using a wheelchair who would like to participate in this tour are requested to contact the Shore Excursions’ Desk promptly once they are on board so that arrangements can be made.
    • Wheelchair and disabled-friendly tour – Wheelchair guests must be accompanied by their own helper to get on/off the coach. Wheelchairs must be foldable as the coach is not provided with ramps or lifts. Once onboard, please contact Excursions Desk staff promptly so they can help make arrangements.

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level

    • Duration
      3:30 h

    • Adults45Price per person

    • Children32Price per person




    After leaving the port, a bus transfer will take you to Taormina, one of the jewels of Sicily. A pleasant walk takes you to the renowned ancient Greco-Roman theatre, first built by the Greeks before being re-built by the Romans. Enjoy the wonderful view before continuing to Corvaia Palace (external visit); an historic XV century building that formerly housed the Sicilian Parliament. We will also admire the small Roman theatre or “Odeon” (external visit) of Taormina and the St. Nicholas Cathedral. Free time for shopping. Please note: in case of religious celebrations, the visit to the Cathedral will be limited to the exterior of the site. Conservative attire recommended for visiting sites of religious importance. On holidays, shops may be closed.
    • Shopping

    • Best seller

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level

    • Duration
      5 h

    • Adults55Price per person

    • Children39Price per person

  • ETNA



    Departing from the port of Messina, an approx. 1.5-hour coach ride will take you to Mount Etna, Europe’s highest volcano reaching almost 3,300 m above sea level, on a route that will also pass through Zafferana Etnea, a town situated on the volcano’s southern flank that affords lovely views of the mountain and the sea. Once at the Rifugio Sapienza cable car station, which was buried twice in the course of eruptions over the years, at an elevation of 1,900 metres, you will then be taken to visit the famous Silvestri craters amid an otherworldly lava landscape of outstanding natural beauty. Breathtaking views of the city of Catania below also present themselves to visitors, a perfect vista for a snapshot. Your adventurous volcano tour ends with your return to the port and your ship. Please note: this tour is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair. In case of bad weather conditions, have the program of the tour with an alternative routing reconfirmed onboard. It is advisable to wear a windcheater and comfortable shoes.
    • Best seller

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level

    • Duration
      4 h

    • Adults55Price per person

    • Children39Price per person




    An enjoyable 1-hour coach transfer from Messina begins this tour to Tindari, a small coastal town of Greek origin that is rich in art and history. It is particularly known for the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna, a site you will visit to view the statue of the Madonna. A romantic local legend has it that Tindari’s lagoon was created after a woman accidentally dropped her baby into the ocean upon being startled by the black colour of the statue, whereupon the Madonna is said to have made the land rise to save the child. A visit to a Greek archaeological site is next, with a chance to step back in time and get a unique insight into early Grecian life. There will be time for you do some shopping in Tindari before you return to Messina and your ship. Please note: conservative attire recommended for visiting sites of religious importance. On holidays, shops may be closed.
    • Shopping

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level

    • Duration
      4 h

    • Adults52Price per person

    • Children39Price per person

The excursions in the programme above are intended to provide MSC Cruises guests with an idea of the different tours which can be arranged in each port of call; this programme is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise. 
Shore excursions programmes and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.
Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.


Port of Messina

This section contains information on how to reach the port.

Cruise Terminal:

Via Vittorio Emanuele, 2

Reach the port by

  • Car

    Travelling on the motorway from Palermo (A20) or Catania (A18), take the Messina Boccetta exit and follow the signs for Messina Port, driving along Viale Boccetta and Via Vittorio Emanuele II.

    Parking Information

    • Valet service 
    • Reach the luggage drop off zone of the cruise terminal where you'll find the staff of the parking
    Book your parking with MSC


    Car 8 € 75,00
    Suv 8 € 75,00
    Minivan 8 € 75,00
  • Train

    Messina train station is located in Piazza della Repubblica, which is within walking distance of the cruise terminal.
  • Plane

    Catania Airport (approximately 1 hour 50 minutes from Messina) is served by Società Autolinee SAIS buses from Piazza della Repubblica. Reggio Calabria Airport is served by Ustica Lines hydrofoils and ATAM shuttle buses (approximately 1 hour by hydrofoil from Messina).


History, gastronomy and fashion
History, gastronomy and fashion

A cruise to Italy is an emotional roller coaster. Rome is a tremendous city quite unlike any other, and in terms of historical sights outstrips everywhere else in the country by some way.
Liguria, the small coastal province along the north-west coast, has long been known as the “Italian Riviera” and is accordingly crowded with sun-seekers for much of the summer.
In Veneto the main focus of interest is, of course, Venice: a unique city, and every bit as beautiful as its reputation would suggest. Tuscany in central Italy represents perhaps the most commonly perceived image of the country, with its classic rolling countryside and the art-packed towns of Florence and Pisa.

The south proper begins with the region of Campania. Its capital, Naples, is a unique, unforgettable city, the spiritual heart of the Italian south. Puglia, the “heel” of Italy, has underrated pleasures, too, notably the landscape of its Gargano peninsula and the souk-like qualities of its capital, Bari.

As for Sicily, the island is really a place apart, with a wide mixture of attractions ranging from some of the finest preserved Hellenistic treasures in Europe, to a couple of Italy’s most appealing Mediterranean beach resorts in Taormina and Cefalù, not to mention some gorgeous upland scenery.