Geography Trips for Schools to Sicily, Italy
Boasting an array of intriguing geographical landscapes, Sicily is a budding geographer’s dream. As the smoking hulk of Mount Etna dominates the skyline, visitors are invited to get up close to its raw red crater and explore its impressive lava flows, volcanic rocks and parasitic cones.
Alternatively, swap volcanoes for rivers and head to the coast. While the Alcantara River cuts through an ancient lava flow, producing an almighty gorge within superb basalt columns, Giardini Naxos’ coastal area offers an excellent case study of coastal management and settlement/tourism study options. Combine your chosen visits with a trip to past classical civilisation sites, such as Siracusa, and you’re sure to have a memorable tour.
“One of the best school trips I have been on, an amazing experience.”
“Excellent 5 days covering everything we intended to, with great value for money as activities chosen were perfect for our budget.”
“As the students are still talking about the trip two weeks on, I would say this was a huge success, well planned and flexible when needed.”
Once you’ve been to Sicily it’s easy to see why it is such a popular destination for budding geographers. We are pleased to report that 100% of geography teachers who have taken a Geography Trip here would recommend it to a fellow teacher and when asked how well it matched their teaching objectives they gave it an average rating of 4.7 out of 5. Truly a fantastic destination for witnessing geography outside of the classroom.
Did you know?
At their closest points, mainland Italy and Sicily are separated by just 2 miles.
Our quick, online quote form allows our specialists to provide you with a bespoke quotation for a trip tailor-made to your group’s individual requirements.
Sicily Fact File
All ages and stages of secondary education
Catania Fontanarossa Airport and Palermo Airport
Flight duration from UK:
Approx. 3 hours
Best time to visit:
Visiting from April to October means more chance of reaching the summit of Mount Etna
Coastal Systems & Landscapes
Globalisation & Global Systems
River Systems & Landscapes
Rocks, Weathering & Soil
Weather & Climate
Sicily Geography Recommended Visits
As well as being the perfect place to see volcanic landscapes in all their glory, Sicily offers some great geographical experiences which help students to further their understanding of other topics taught in the classroom, such as river and coastal landscapes. Undoubtedly, a visit to Mount Etna is definitely the reason for most teachers choosing Sicily. However, there is plenty more to see whilst you are there. Here are just a few of our recommend visits on Sicily:
Mount Etna SUD
Travel first across the lower flanks of the Etna volcanic system in your own private coach. Then take a cable car ride and a sturdy 4x4 truck journey to view the volcano's extensive and recent lava flows, whilst getting up close and personal to the active crater area! En route, it is also possible to take an easy walk up to either Cratere Silvestre Superiore or Cratere Silvestre Inferiore to see parasitic cones, a wide range of volcanic rocks and landforms and to appreciate Etna's very extensive volcanic system. The potential threats from a major eruption of lava flows and/or ashfall are clear to appreciate, seeing just how close human activities are located all around Etna's massif and down to the Ionian Sea's shores.
Geography Study Handbooks
Mount Etna SUD
Begin your adventure by travelling across the lower flanks of the Etna volcanic system in your own private coach. Then take a cable car ride and a sturdy 4x4 jeep journey to view the volcano's extensive and recent lava flows, whilst getting up close and personal to the active crater area!
En route, it’s also possible to take an easy walk up to either Cratere Silvestre Superiore or Cratere Silvestre Inferiore to see parasitic cones and a wide range of volcanic rocks and landforms, as well as appreciate Etna's extensive volcanic system. The potential threats from a major eruption of lava flows and/or ashfall are clear to appreciate, seeing just how close human activities are located all around Etna's massif and down to the Ionian sea's shores.
Mount Etna NORD
It’s worth knowing that Etna NORD can be an additional or alternative visit to Etna SUD. While the experiences of the two locations are quite different, both are equally exhilarating and complement one another perfectly.
On Etna NORD you can explore the very fresh and raw volcanic landscapes formed by the 2002 lava flows. There are many craters and fissures to be seen, as well former roads, forests and a ski resort which were overwhelmed by the lavas. A moderate walk can take your through the fascinations and intrigues of this lava flow area. Lava bombs are still seen; stuck in the charred branches of trees, providing an appreciation of the power of such volcanic projectiles! Volcanic rocks are encountered in great variety of type and form, as well as massive bombs, lava tubes and everything in between, with a colour range just as impressive.
To include a viewing of ‘The Perfect Eruption’ on the morning of your visit, Linguaglossa provides a perfect background to what will be experienced later whilst on-site. This day offers the opportunity to truly understand what is meant by ‘living in a hazardous environment’.
Geography Study Handbooks
Mount Etna NORD
This Study Unit (SU) comes in a full version or an abridged version for those who have already taken the Etna SUD day. The SU provides the context for the visit. Maps, diagrams and photographs describe and explain the nature of the area with reference to plate tectonics and specific types of volcanic activity. Examples of previous eruptions are described.
Should you decide to include it, there are tasks to complete when viewing "The Perfect Eruption" in Linguaglossa. On-site tasks include photographs of volcanic features that will be encountered on the lava flow walk; these can be discussed, labelled and annotated in-the-field. Additional information and tasks are provided on various monitoring techniques presently used on Etna as well as several types of mitigation methods, all of which can be evaluated.
This is the hub island of the Aeolian archipelago and has the largest resident population of around 12,000 people. Many Aeolian ferry routes run to and via Lipari. Being central, Lipari offers spectacular volcanic vistas out towards the other islands in the volcanic group, especially towards Vulcano from Pianoconte. Throw in the island's varied geology, including pumice, obsidian and old fumarole areas, and it becomes a very worthwhile island to visit.
The town of Lipari itself is a fascination of traditional Mediterranean Italian architecture with narrow lanes and three bustling harbours, all with an ‘away from it all’ feel. After time in Lipari town, groups can consider the impacts of tourism and/or the impressive gentrification of the Marina Corta. A journey around the island reveals the extensive, but now abandoned, pumice quarries and outcrops of obsidian and offers the opportunity to take a walk amidst an area of old fumaroles, where yellows, golds, reds and maroons are both eye and mind-catching.
Geography Study Handbooks
There are 3 Study Units (SUs) available; your School Tour Coordinator will advise you on the most appropriate ones depending on the amount of time to be spent on the island and the interests of the group. The SUs are titled "Introduction", "Rocks" and "Tourism". The "Introduction" broadly outlines the phases of Lipari's geological development. Also included in "Introduction" is a set of tasks to be completed whilst overlooking Marina Corta, evaluating aspects of gentrification. "Rocks" provides a map of the rock study sites around Lipari. For each rock location, information is provided about the rock as well as its economic value (all in "interactive ways. In "Tourism", the geographical benefits of Lipari are first identified. This is followed by some in-the-field tasks in the town that consider a model of tourism with the reality of Lipari; how is Lipari faring? The positive and negative aspects of tourism are also considered.
Vulcano is Sicily's closest Aeolian Island and is easily reached by boat or fast catamaran. Groups can take a guided trek up Gran Cratere. At the wide summit area, you can witness active, sulphurous, brilliant yellow fumaroles and see huge volcanic bombs at the crater rim – making it a truly impressive location!
Gran Cratare is a ‘recent’ volcanic cone, sitting in a huge caldera. On the climb, monitoring equipment is seen, reminding everyone of the need to be ever vigilant. Gran Cratere is also excellent for illustrating vegetation succession and ecosystems in a lithosere. Returning to the little town on Vulcano, some relaxation time can be taken either in the shops/cafés or in the natural, gloopy, warm mud puddle, where bathing is a special delight.
Geography Study Handbooks
This Study Unit (SU) sets the scene for why this area is volcanic in relation to plate tectonics. Vulcano specific volcanic features too are described and explained. The bulk of the study unit provides accompaniment to the walk up Gran Cratare; much information as well as observational and thinking tasks are provided relating to the volcanic phenomena seen as well as the changing vegetation en route. Identifying, describing, labelling, measuring are example tasks. A concluding task either for on-site or when back in the hotel is a role play as members of an imagined Vulcano Civil Defence Committee.
Panarea is a rather exclusive Aeolian island. Its properties are very smart and highly expensive and the total absence of cars creates a very tranquil, cosy atmosphere. Panarea most usually forms part of a day (e.g. on the way to Stromboli) and thus short and longer activity options are available for time here.
If time is brief, enjoy San Pietro's little harbour area and its quaint cafés, as well as looking towards the islet of Bottaro and trying to spot the boiling waters – a result of the vigorous hydrothermal activity present on the seafloor.
With more time available, it’s possible to take a gentle stroll through San Pietro, across a small beach to the headland of Punta Milazzese, with its impressive prehistoric village. En route, observations of rock weathering (physical and biological), vegetation adaptations, coastal processes and an evaluation of second home ownership can be made. Excellent geographical locational factors can be identified, as well as offering the opportunity to muse over life and then on Panarea. Ask your students to consider, was it really all that different?
Geography Study Handbooks
This Study Unit (SU) provides some background information on the island (physical and human) through text, photo and map. Around the immediate area of San Pietro's harbour, activities relating to the offshore islets and the hydrothermal vents are provided. On the walk to the prehistoric village, activities include observing and understanding biological weathering and exfoliation, the specific features of prickly pear cacti found here and the pros and cons of second home ownership on the island. There are on-site tasks to be completed at the prehistoric village including an evaluation of lifestyles then and now.
Lying excitingly on the Eurasian/African plate boundary, Sicily is abound with opportunities to appreciate the varied nature of lively volcanic landscapes. The ultimate Aeolian Island destination, however, has to be Stromboli; a volcanic island that has been in continuous eruption for over 2,000 years. Stromboli is the island furthest north in the archipelago and is well worth the trip. Whilst only the fittest can ascend to the high crater area, a moderate guided trek can readily be taken midway up the volcano's flanks to overview the huge, and often active, Sciara del Fuoco (Stream of Fire). An ascent to the high crater area is a very demanding climb and can only be taken under professional guide leadership and only on days when deemed safe to do so.
Alternatively, if itinerary time is tight, an evening cruise-by is an option, which offers an opportunity to view Stromboli's rosy glow.
Geography Study Handbooks
This Study Unit (SU) first outlines the nature of the island and the way in which Strombolian eruptions occur. A recent history of eruptions is provided to emphasise the liveliness of Stromboli and the dangers it poses to people. The bulk of the SU provides activities to complete on the trek e.g. prepared fieldsketches to label, tables to complete, thoughts and impressions to note down, aspects of vegetation succession and ecological zones/adaptations to discuss. Concluding activities cover monitoring and mitigation techniques specific to Stromboli.
Sicily provides a wide range of varied geographical gems, not all of them volcanic! The deep, 150m long Alcantara River Gorge is a brilliant ‘hidden’ example. Formed by river processes, this particular section cuts through part of an ancient Etna lava flow and contains vertical gorge walls of magnificent dark grey columnar basalt (with classic hexagonal jointing). A spectacular view towards the gorge's mouth can first be taken in from a high viewpoint. The descent into the gorge itself is then either by staircase or by lift. The Alcantara River here is in its upper/torrent stage and illustrates all typical river processes and forms of an upper course.
However, the option to paddle towards the gorge mouth, to feel the smoothness of the water washed basalt columns, is great fun – real ‘hands-on’ geography!
Geography Study Handbooks
This Study Unit (SU) provides the background to how the Alcantara Gorge developed and explains how basalt columns form in cooling lava. On-site activities include observational and recording tasks relating to both the columnar basalt and aspects of the river in its upper course, some of which can be quantified and the results easily displayed on the provided diagram frameworks. Flash floods are considered and the factors that encourage such a hazard in this type of upland environment.
The beautiful resort of Giardini Naxos is home to a host of hotels, bars, pizzerias and souvenir shops all strung along the beach. While its long stretches of sand and Naxos Bay are great for relaxing and catching some sun, they’re excellent for studying coastal erosion, settlement studies and tourism. Groups can easily spend a whole day here enjoying everything this sun-baked jewel has to offer.
Geography Study Handbooks
Giardini Naxos: Coastal Management
This Study Unit (SU) first displays information about the nature of the Bay of Naxos, explaining the changing direction of longshore drift throughout the year. The theory and impact of some of the first techniques of beach protection are exemplified with the negative outcomes being explored. By contrast, solutions put in place very recently are described with their positive outcomes able to be evaluated.
Giardini Naxos: Settlement Study
This Study Unit (SU) first provides some basic background information to the settlement. The first on-site activity is based around a large prepared fieldsketch, looking from the old breakwater towards the settlement; many tasks are provided to accompany the fieldsketch in order to guide the pupils to look, see, record and understand aspects of both physical and human geography. This is followed by a ground floor landuse survey, its aim to identify the tourist/local services present and their relative importance.
Giardini Naxos: Tourism
This Study Unit (SU) first involves the pupils in identifying the geographical advantages of the settlement for tourism growth before a consideration of the Butler Model of resort development is made (i.e. social, economic and environmental changes that come as a resort develops and thrives/declines). Then the settlement is explored for evidence the present situation with regards to Giardini Naxos's tourism "health". Another visual Model of a Typical Mediterranean Resort is also provided for comparison with Giardini Naxos. Finally, the advantages and disadvantages of the tourism industry are identified and evaluated.
Museum of Lava
Located in the vicinity of Etna SUD, the Museum of Lava expo offers many varied exhibits, a 3D cinema and an explosive ‘live’ volcanic eruption. Students will be able to explore global geology and volcanism, including the benefits and the risks they pose, whilst a viewing of the 2012 eruption ‘The Perfect Eruption’ is also possible here.
A splendid art city woven into the heart of Sicily, Piazza Armerina is full of charm. Visit Villa del Casale, a feast for the eyes and famed for its well-preserved, high quality Roman mosaics. Built in 4th century AD, the Villa is now one of Sicily’s most popular tourist spots.
This city, on the southern Sicilian coast, is the site of the ancient Greek city of Auragas. The area is known as the Valley of the Temples because so many Greek temples are preserved here.
Taormina is one of Sicily's most famous settlements, perched high above the coastline. Stroll along its perfectly preserved medieval streets and visit the Greek Amphitheatre, a World Heritage Site which offers magnificent views towards Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea. Gift and craft shops and cafés come aplenty in this bustling and most attractive ‘honey-pot’ town.
Traditional Pizzeria Evening
Visit a traditional pizzeria where the Pizzaiolo Chef prepares your pizzas in the authentic Italian way, hand pressing the dough before cooking in a wood fired pizza oven. This is a perfect chance to enjoy a delicious evening meal whilst soaking up some Sicilian culture.
Bespoke Geography Trip Student and Teacher Resources
Our multi award-winning study handbooks comprise a student handbook and its corresponding teacher guide made up of destination specific study units, all of which are in full colour and contain a mixture of maps, diagrams and text. The student handbook offers a variety of pre- and post-visit activities as well as interactive on-site tasks.
How does it work?
The study handbooks comprise a Student Handbook and its corresponding Teacher Guide, made up of destination-specific study units, all of which are in full colour and contain a mixture of maps, diagrams and text. The student handbook offers a variety of pre and post-visit activities, information and interactive on-site tasks.
Our Study Handbooks are bespoke to each tour and only contain study units which are appropriate to the group's particular itinerary, learning objectives and the age/stage of the pupils, as well as the all-important balance between educational and leisure activities wished for the tour.
Sicily Study Handbook Ratings
Usefulness of Teacher Resource:
Usefulness of Student Guide:
Study Units available:
- Alcantara Gorge
- Mojo Crater
- Mount Etna SUD
- Mount Etna NORD
- Vulcano (Full or abridged version available)
- Giardini-Naxos: Settlement Study
- Giardini-Naxos: Coastal Resort Tourist Evaluation
- Giardini-Naxos: Coastal Management
- Aci Castello
- Tourist Questionnaires (available in a number of languages)
- Volcanic Terms Glossary
Sample PagesGet in Touch
Sicily Sample Itineraries
Your bespoke itinerary will include the appropriate balance of educational visits and leisure excursions to fill your chosen duration and meet your aims and objectives. Your dedicated School Tour Coordinator will offer advice and recommendations, with the sole aim of creating the perfect itinerary for your group. But just to get you inspired, we have outlined the itineraries created for two of our clients below.
Dates: 28th April - 3rd May
Passengers: 82 students and 10 adults
Accommodation: Kings House Hotel
Board Basis: Full Board
Overview of visits:Alcantara Gorge, Giardini Naxos, Vulcano, Mount Etna Sud, Silvestri Craters, Piano Provenzana, Panarea, Stromboli
After touching down in Sicily, the group board their coach and depart for Alcantara Gorge where they enjoy a hot lunch in the restaurant. They then split up into smaller groups to view the 3D introductory film show, followed by time at the viewing platform and down at the river level. They also have the option to visit the ‘Farmer’s Market’ shop to taste and buy typical Sicilian food products!
They then make their way to Giardini Naxos for free time to explore the town and visit the ice cream parlour, later checking in to their hotel for a relaxing evening.View the full day-by-day itinerary
Today the coach departs for Milazzo where the group take the ferry to Vulcano. After meeting their Alpine Guides, they begin their Gran Cratere trek where they eventually reach the crater rim and learn about the geography of the area. As a reward, the group relax in the naturally heated mud puddles. They then spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure before returning to the hotel.
The day begins with a visit to Mount Etna Sud, where they enjoy a cable car and 4x4 truck ride! Once at the summit, the Alpine Guides take the group around the crater rim and explain some of the volcanic features of Mount Etna, leaving some free time to visit the Belvedere viewpoint before heading back down.
Afterwards, the group split into smaller groups to watch the 7D cinema show, whilst others enjoy a spot of souvenir shopping. They all then spend time visiting the Silvestri craters, before departing for Piano Provenzana to view the 2002 devastation and explore the lava fields.
As the final day, the group depart for Milazzo and take a boat trip to Panarea and Stromboli. Sailing along the Bay of Calajunco and past the Zimmari’s beach, they arrive at Panarea for free time to explore the island in golf buggies! The boat trip then continues on to Stromboli where they enjoy free time until sunset, later viewing Stromboli’s active lava flows, ‘the sciara del fuoco’. After returning to the hotel to check out, they board their early morning flight back to the UK.
After returning to the hotel to check out, they board their early morning flight back to the UK.
Dates: 4th – 8th April
Accommodation: Hotel Solemar
Board Basis: Full Board
Overview of visits: Vulcano, Alcantara Gorge, Castelmola, Taormina, Mount Etna, Castiglione di Sicilia, Francavilla di Sicilia and Linguaglossa.
The group made their way to Gatwick airport for their afternoon flight to Catania Airport, arriving in Sicily that evening. Upon arrival the group met their coach driver and made the transfer to the hotel where they were warmly greeted with an evening meal.View the full day-by-day itinerary
It was an early start to the day with breakfast and collection of packed lunches before departure for a visit to Vulcano, where they would trek up the Gran Cratere. The group boarded the ferry at Milazzo and made the short hop over to Vulcano where they were greeted by their guide for the day and began their trek. The group followed the main road out of town, where there is a signed trail to the crater. After a moderate ascent of an hour-and-a-half, the students reached the wide crater rim where they saw inside the crater and got to view its smoke holes and hissing fissures that are covered with a layer of bright yellow sulphur. The guide led the group along the panoramic rim around the crater, offering views that extended over all of the Aeolian Islands and to Sicily. Once back at sea level, the group took a relaxing dip in the Mud Puddles. With a water temperature of around 32ͦc, the students entered the pools, encased themselves in the mud and baked in the sun before showering. Once everyone was relaxed and rejuvenated, they boarded the return ferry back to Milazzo and returned back to the hotel for their evening meal. The students spent the remainder of the evening at a local ice cream parlour; sampling every flavour they could!
The group got a slightly later start to the day today and made their way to the Alcantara Gorge. This impressive gorge cuts down through an ancient Etna lava flow and reveals fantastic basalt columns. The group took a walk along the botanical and geological paths, taking in the spectacular viewing points of the gorge. After the walk was complete, the group had free time to visit the 'Framer's Market' shop where they sampled and purchased some local produce. The traditional town of Castelmola was the group's next stop, where they looked out for evidence of the impact of globalisation. It was then onto Taormina where the group arrived at a pizzeria for a pizza making lunch, before exploring Taormina further with many choosing to visit the Greek Ampitheatre with its astounding backdrop of Giardini Naxos Bay and Mount Etna. On returning to the hotel, the group had free time to relax, socialise and freshen up before their evening meal.
After breakfast, the group departed for Mount Etna. Upon arrival, the group took the cable car up to 2500m over the old lava flows and cinder cones before boarding 4x4 trucks which took them up to the summit through snow lined tracks. An alpine guide walked the group to the best vantage point of the crater explaining the volcano's history; all the while rumbles were felt underfoot; clearly demonstrated to the volcano's activity. After the descent, the group made a stop at Piano dell'Acqua to explore the vast lava fields that were created by the 1992 eruption. A little weary from a full day, the group returned to the hotel to freshen up before heading out to a local pizzeria to sample an authentic Sicilian pizza.
Departure day for the group but not before morning visits to Castiglione di Sicilia, Francavilla di Sicilia and Linguaglossa for independent study. After lunch it was time for the group to leave Sicily and they departed for Catania airport for their flight back to the UK.
We have a number of hotels in Sicily which are perfectly suited to school groups. Here are just two of our favourites:
This charming hotel built on an unspoilt stretch of coast has an excellent location enjoying views of the castle of St Alessio.
“As a returning school, the hotel were very welcoming and accommodating.”
The hotel has 28 comfortable rooms spread over 3 floors, all of which have air conditioning, satellite television, telephone and private bathroom facilities. Students are accommodated in double, triple or family rooms. Groups can take advantage of the warm Mediterranean sea on the hotel's private beach.
Scroll to Top ↑
We Also Recommend
From the dramatic Italian coastline to the grandeur of Mount Vesuvius a diversity of topics can be covered in one trip including volcanic landscapes, hazardous environments and tourism.
Combine a trip to Sicily with a few days on the Italian mainland in spectacular Sorrento. Visit the mighty Mount Vesuvius and the preserved towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum.