What is the Valley of the Temples?
The Valley of the Temples, located close to Agrigento, Sicily, is one of the biggest highlights of the island. This UNESCO site is home to an incredible collection of ancient Greek temples and ruins, offering a glimpse into the golden age of the Greeks in Sicily. Make your way through the well-preserved area, surrounded by open valleys and stunning landscapes, and take in all the historical sights – a truly incredible experience.
The eight enormous temples lie scattered around the valley. They’ve mind-blowingly stood here for over 2,500 years, overlooking the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. This area, including various others along the coastline of southern Italy, was once a colony of the city-states of ancient Greece.
Agrigento was then Akragas and a thriving location during the 4th and 5th centuries BC. Now, the extensive ruins of the temples remain a testament to this time in history. They are known as some of the best-preserved examples of this style outside Greece itself.
Things to do at the Valley of the Temples
There are 2, 3, or 4 different sites to explore at the Valley of the Temples in Sicily, each with its unique attractions. The extensive grounds are split up into an Eastern and Western zone. Connected by dusty pathways, they allow you to move easily from one to the other.
A notable feature is the old outer wall surrounding the area, adding a sense of historical beauty and charm. In the middle, you’ll also find a lovely cafe with a terrace where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or indulge in delicious pastries.
The Eastern Zone
The Eastern zone of the Valley of the Temples contains the most complete and well-preserved ruins, perched high on the arid landscape. The Temple of Hercules (the oldest temple on site) and the beautiful Temple of Concordia are two of the few Doric (Greek) temples in the world that still stand up straight. They’re dedicated to Heracles, the Greek god of strength, and Concordia, the goddess of harmony. Incredibly, the temples’ exteriors remain almost fully intact.
While you make your way across the grounds and take in all the stunning examples of ancient Greek art and architecture, you can only imagine what this area of Sicily looked like back then. Make sure to bring your camera, as you’ll want to snap some pictures here!
The Western Zone
The western area of the temple complex is home to the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, which is considered the greatest Doric temple of the West. This building was one of the largest Greek temples in the world and one of the most important religious sites. Meander around the remnants, taking in all the different angles of the building, and watch as it stands highlighted in the sun.
Please note: These are ancient remnants, and though it’s tempting to admire the buildings from up close, stick to the routes and paths to preserve the archaeological site.
On this side of the Agrigento Valley of the Temples, you’ll also find the Temple of Castor and Pollux and a small sanctuary dedicated to the goddesses Demeter and Persephone. If you’re lucky, you might also spot some local goats roaming between the timeworn buildings and surrounding olive trees.
Museum and Kolymbetra Garden
If you’re looking to dive even more into this interesting period, you can visit the Regional Archaeology Museum and a few other ruins. The museum is on the main road between the Valley of the Temples and Agrigento (here’s the location). It’s about a 20-minute walk from the park’s cafe to get there. The temples are located slightly further south of the park and are best accessed by car.
On the premises, there’s also a villa with a small beautiful garden where you can escape the heat. Take some time to freshen up here before continuing to explore the impressive Agrigento temples.
Entrance Fee & Opening Times
To enter the park, there are several options you can choose from, depending on what attractions you’d like to see. Entry costs 10 EUR (10,80 USD), 5 EUR for EU travelers between 18-25 years old, and children under 18 of all nationalities can enter for free.
If you’d like to visit the museum or the Kolymbetra Garden, you can purchase a combined ticket:
- Valley of the Temples + Museum costs 13,50 EUR (14.60 USD) and 7 EUR for EU nationals between 18-25.
- Valley of the Temples + the garden costs 16 EUR (17.30 USD) and 10 EUR for EU nationals between 18-25.
Tickets for the Valley of the Temples, Sicily, can be bought at either the western or eastern entrance with cash or card. You can also purchase a fast-lane ticket online, which allows you to skip the line when you arrive. The park is open every day from 8.30 AM – 8 PM. During the summer months, the park hours extend till 11 PM on weekdays and midnight on the weekends.
Best Time to Visit
Southern Italy is known to get pretty hot weather during the summer. Because of this, we recommend visiting the archaeological site during the springtime like us! During these shoulder seasons (May and September), the weather is slightly milder. Additionally, you get to explore the temple grounds more leisurely without big tourist crowds.
If you’re traveling through Sicily during the summer, the best time to visit the Valley of the Temples is in the morning. During this time, the grounds are covered in the best light, highlighting the temples nicely and creating beautiful scenery for photography.
Hotels near the Valley of the Temples, Sicily
The Valley of the Temples lies just three kilometers from the Sicilian town of Agrigento, which is a great location to base yourself on the island.
However, visiting the archeological park on a day trip from other locations, such as Palermo, Cefalu, or Ragusa, is also possible. No matter where you decide to stay, there are lots of accommodation options to choose from.
How to get to the Valley of the Temples in Sicily
As it lies only a stone’s throw away from the town of Agrigento, the Valley of the Temples is really easy to get to. The archaeological park has two entrances, one on the eastern side and one on the western. Both make a great starting point for your visit.
If you’re traveling from Agrigento, you can easily get to the park by bus, which departs every 30 minutes from the town’s train station. Bus number 1 stops at the museum and at the western entrance. Tickets cost 1.70 EUR (1.83 USD) and can be purchased on board or at one of the kiosks at the station.
If you’re visiting from outside Agrigento, you can travel to the town by train, driving through the beautiful Sicilian countryside. It takes about 2 hours from Palermo to get there, and trains leave frequently.
Tip: If you’re up for it, you can also walk to the Valley of the Temples from Agrigento. It’s only 3 kilometers to get to the eastern entrance. However, just remember that in the summertime, it gets incredibly hot during the day. If you decide to go on foot, leave early in the morning.
From Agrigento, it’s only a quick 6-minute drive to get to the Valley of the Temples. There are two parking lots at both entrances, and we recommend following the route on Google Maps. The parking fee is 2 EUR for the first hour, 1 EUR for the next, and then 0.50 EUR for every hour after that. Make sure to bring enough small change with you to pay. You can expect to spend about 2-3 hours exploring the valley.
If you don’t have your own transportation, or you’d like to learn more about the Valley of the Temples, you can choose to join an organized tour. There are several (guided) day trips that take you to the valley from locations such as Palermo or Catania. Relax, as everything is already taken care of, and dive a little deeper into the rich history of Sicily, Italy.
Tips for Visiting the Agrigento Temples
The Valley of the Temples is a must-see on any Sicily road trip, full of incredible sights and historic architecture. Here are some tips to make your trip to this site unforgettable:
- Visit the Agrigento temples during the morning or late afternoon when the grounds are slightly cooler. The site gets very hot during the peak sunshine hours (12 – 3 PM).
- Bring lots of water with you in a refillable water bottle. The park has several drinking water fountains, so you can easily fill them up while you explore the grounds. This is also a great way of traveling more sustainably.
- Take breaks while you roam across the grounds. The archeological site is quite large, and there’s really not much shade in either zone. Take your time to go slow and look up the shade under a few trees or at the park’s cafe.
- Wear a hat and bring your sunscreen, too!