Italy is rich with ancient Roman ruins, but Sicily’s Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) is unique. Here, some of the some of the best-preserved ancient Greek ruins on earth dot the hillside outside of what was once the Greek city of Akragas, dating from when this area was part of Magna Graecia in the fifth century BC.
The Greeks built several Doric temples on a ridge just outside their ancient city, now Agrigento, and the remains of seven of those impressive temples are now protected as part of the Archaeological Park of the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inside this vast 3,200-acre (1,295-hectare) site, you can view the largely intact remains of the Temple of Juno Lacinia and the Temple of Concordia, both constructed in the fifth century BC, and five other Doric-style temples built between the fifth and sixth centuries BC. The park also includes an archaeological museum and a structure that archaeologists believe was once a war memorial to Roman soldiers.
The best way to visit is on a private tour that includes transportation from Agrigento. Because the archaeological site covers such a large area, joining a walking tour led by an expert guide guarantees that you won’t miss any important ruins. You must purchase a ticket to enter the park, and lines at the ticket office can be especially long in summer, so consider booking a tour that includes skip-the-line tickets.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Valley of the Temples is a must-see for archaeology and ancient history buffs.
- Entry to the Valley of the Temples is ticketed; book skip-the-line tickets in advance to avoid waiting around.
- Kids enjoy exploring the park, but to maximize their experience consider booking a private tour with a local guide who offers family-friendly tours.
- The park is outdoors, so be sure to bring a hat and sunscreen in summer, and always wear comfortable shoes.
- The Valley of the Temples is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The Valley of the Temples archaeological park is located in the olive-tree–covered hills outside Agrigento. You can easily visit on a day trip from Taormina, Catania, Syracuse, or Palermo.
When to Get There
The Valley of the Temples archaeological site is almost entirely open air, so it’s best visited on mild days. In summer, arrive in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat of midday. Valley of the Temples tours also run on summer evenings, so you can enjoy the temples dramatically lit.
Visiting the Villa Romana del Casale
Not far from the Valley of the Temples, Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina is an ancient Roman hunting lodge and thermal baths decorated with the largest collection of Roman mosaics in the world. Consider visiting both of these sights on a single combined tour.