If you love history and ruins, then the Greek temple at Segesta in Sicily is a must-see on your tour of Sicily. In a breathtakingly beautiful setting, this ancient Greek temple and amphitheatre are superb examples and don’t fail to impress. Read this post for all the information you need to know about how to visit the archaeological site and temple of Segesta.
- Segesta was one of the major cities of the Elymians, one of the three indigenous peoples of Sicily.
- By the time Segesta reached the peak of its wealth and power in the 5th century BC, it controlled one of the most important mints in the region and featured an enormous market that attracted traders from all over Europe.
- Segesta was culturally Greek and allied to Athens during the fifth century BC.
- The Doric temple was initially constructed at the foot of Mount Barbaro around 417 BC, at the time when Sicily was drawn into international conflicts between Athens, Sparta, and Carthage. The Temple of Segesta represents the city at the end of its zenith.
- The temple was never finished. This is known because the 36 Doric columns are of a rough finish because they were not “fluted”. There is also no roof, although scholars are undecided as to whether this was deliberate.
- The original city of Segesta was at the top of Mount Barbaro, where the amphitheatre is also located.
Getting to Segesta
There is very limited public transport to Segesta and we advise that you check online prior to making plans.
There is a bus to Segesta from Via Balsamo near Palermo’s train station. This service runs Monday to Saturday from April to October. Buses only run on Monday from November to March.
Buses do not run on Sundays or public holidays (of which there are many, check them out here.)
If you are staying in Palermo or Trapani the optimum way to visit is by day tour.
When To Go
Segesta opening times are;
- 27 March to 30 Sept – 9am to 7pm
- 1 to 31 October – 9am to 6pm
- 1 Nov to 28 Feb – 9am to 5pm
- 1 to 26 March – 9am to 6pm
- Last admission is one hour before closing.
Parking at Segesta
It is no longer possible to park at the foot of the temple. This is because the Parco Archeologico di Segesta who run the site, recognise that vehicle fumes so close to the ruins will have a long-term effect on their sustainability.
You will be directed to the official ‘park and ride’ for Segesta as you leave the autostrada. From here, you can catch a shuttle bus to the main entrance. The sign says it is 12km away, but they missed the decimal point…it is actually 1.2km away! The buses leave every 15 minutes or so.
To park and take the shuttle cost €5 for a car, €7 for a motorhome and €3 for a motorbike. This covers you for the whole day. You can also stay overnight in your motorhome for €12.
The best time to get there is about 8.45am to catch the first shuttle at 9am. Doing this will give you a few precious minutes of peace when you arrive at the temple.
Do not be tempted to park along the road or anywhere other than here…you will most likely be fined and moved on.
How To Visit Segesta
The bus will deposit you at the main entrance where you will queue for another ticket. The cost of entry is €6, €3 for concessions (the only concession is EU citizens under 25).
You start from here with a short (5 minutes) uphill walk to the temple. You can no longer walk into the temple as you were able to ten years ago. However, you can walk all the way round as you marvel at how the ancient Greeks were able to construct such a sublime and beautiful building.
We spent at least an hour admiring the architecture, taking photos and soaking up the peaceful atmosphere. We also had the added bonus of amazing spring wild flowers, which just added to the glorious environment.
From here, you head back to the ticket office, over the fairly new road and head up towards the Segesta amphitheatre at the top of Mount Barbaro. It is entirely possible to take the path up ( a brisk 20 minute walk) through wildflowers and grasses and with spectacular views of the temple.
You can also catch a small shuttle bus for an additional €0.50, which takes around 5 minutes. We took the shuttle up and walked down; we are so glad that we walked one way as the views are…well, I’m running out of superlatives here but they’re pretty damn good!
Segesta is a magical place and our favourite ancient Greek site in Sicily. Segesta is a magical place and our favourite ancient Greek site in Sicily.
The setting between lush green rolling hills, with far distant views to the sea and mountains is perfection. The surrounding fields, with their exact rows of silver green olive trees and vines are archetypal Italian and just add to the atmosphere of the site.
The architecture of both temple and amphitheatre is breathtaking. The temple is particularly interesting due to its unfinished nature and complexity. It is amazing that it has survived as intact as it is given that until just a few years ago, visitors were able to walk inside and around the columns.
Other archaeological sites and places of interest in Sicily;
- Valley of the Temples, Agrigento
- Temples of Selinunte, Marinella di Selinunte
- The Greek Theatre at Taormina
- Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina
- Erice, Trapani
Check out our Sicilian road trip itinerary for the the perfect way to see this eclectic island.