When we flew out to Marina di Ragusa in Sicily over the winter we had absolutely no idea what we would find, what the weather would be like or what we would find to do there!
Now, having spent four months at Marina di Ragusa over winter, we can honestly say that from what we’ve seen it’s one of the best places in Europe to overwinter on board your sailboat – and a really charming town to visit if you’re planning on coming to Sicily over the winter months.
For anyone thinking of booking into Marina di Ragusa for a winter, here is our experience of this incredible community based marina and an amazing winter friendly town for anyone wanting a little winter break.
The Town Of Marina di Ragusa
Although Marina di Ragusa isn’t one of Sicily’s prettiest towns, it does have a lot of local charm. The main square is always alive, even in the winter months, with the usual old men chatting and children playing on their bikes and scooters.
A lot of the restaurants and cafes stay open and are always welcoming and friendly, and the fact the town is next to a lovely stretch of beach makes it a great choice for surfers and summer sun seekers.
Where To Stay In Marina di Ragusa
There are some great accommodation options in Marina di Ragusa, most of them a little cheaper than in neighbouring towns.
For a little luxury try Maison De Trazegnies, offering beachfront accommodation in beautiful surroundings. The poolside area will make it hard for you leave! You can find out more and check their prices here.
This very trendy and instagrammable apartment is in the perfect location, just a stones throw from Marina di Ragusa’s main square. After your long lie in you can head straight for the pretty coffee shops for your morning fix! Find out more information and check their prices here.
This pretty place comes with a charming little terrace for you to enjoy your sundowners on, and is a great choice if you want to be a little more self contained, with it’s large living space and well equipped kitchen. You can find out more information and check prices here.
Where To Eat
One of the things that makes Marina di Ragusa a great winter option is the fact that a lot of bars and restaurants stay open during the winter months. This is a proper working town, not just a tourist resort.
La Masseria is a great choice for mid range eating, with home made Sicilian food and a great atmosphere. It’s good for vegetarians too with more options than usual!
Sicilis is the perfect budget option, with tasty, simple food at a great price!
If you’re living in the marina then at some point you’re going to have to get take away pizza from Amalapizza. They really are amazing, though I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you make of the chip pizza!
What To Do In And Around Marina di Ragusa
Head To The Beach
Yes, even over winter the beach at Marina di Ragusa is beautiful. This long stretch of sand leading into the ocean is perfect for relaxing on, running along or even doing activities such as yoga or volleyball on. It’s also a great place to take the kids on a sunny day to let them run off some energy!
Take A Walk Through The Nature Reserve
The Marina di Ragusa nature reserve is the perfect place to spend a morning or afternoon. During the winter months we were here we enjoyed several picnics on the little beach at the end of the nature reserve and the walk through the area is lovely. If you’re into bird watching then this is a great place to bring the binoculars.
Visit The Torre Cabrera
The Torre Cabrera is a 16th-century tower in Marina di Ragusa. You’ll probably walk past it a lot on your wanders around the town, and once you’ve had a look you can head to one of the many cafes and restaurants opening out onto the town square for a coffee or beer in the sunshine!
Day Trips From Marina di Ragusa
We were lucky enough to have friends come out to visit and all hired cars, so we were able to see a lot more of this beautiful country. Even without a car it’s perfectly possible to use Marina di Ragusa as a base to explore Sicily from. Some of our top spots are listed below.
This is one of the closest tourist destinations to Marina di Ragusa and was one of our favourite places. Ragusa Ibla is a beautiful old town with cobbled streets, pretty building and divine coffee shops. You can find out all about it here.
While you’re here you have to visit the beautiful Syracusa. This old town is full of beautiful architecture and fascinating history. Make sure you visit the main square in the old town, and the impressive ruins in Syracuse’s Archaeological Park.
Valley Of The Temples
This is one of the top tourist attracts in Sicily and we can see why. You could easily spend several days wondering these impressive ruins and you’ll want to make sure you come here at least once over your winter in Marina di Ragusa. The Valley of the Temples is quite a long drive away, but totally worth it.
The Turkish Steps
If you’ve made it all the way to the Valley of the Temples then you must tag on a little extra and visit The Turkish Steps. This is a beautiful natural site where the white cliffs join the sea in stunning formations. Come here at sunset for a really romantic experience.
Marina di Ragusa – The Actual Marina
First of all, let’s talk facilities. After all, if you’re going to be here for the whole winter then you’ll want to know what to expect.
Marina di Ragusa marina is extremely well protected by high harbour walls. We sat out some 70+ knt wind storms here and no boats were damaged (though there was a little rocking of course!) During the storm we saw the marinaros out and about, checking lines and making sure everyone was safe and happy. It was reassuring to know that if we’d left the boat it would still be well looked after.
There are great facilities at Marina di Ragusa, which is probably one of the reasons so many sailors come here to rest for the winter. Here are some things you’ll want to know before you come…
- The docks have water and electricity – ours were free, or included in the price of our stay.
- The ‘slime lines’ were in good condition and washed regularly. The pontoons were also well maintained.
- Security is good, with manned gated car access and a gate to buzz through to reach the pontoons.
- There is parking along the marina road.
- A 10 minute walk away you have the main reception area where they can arrange gas refills and will collect post for you.
- There is a communal space that’s free to book out whenever you like, which has free wifi access, a projector screen and sofas. I’ll talk more about this space later on!
- There is also a laundry room and several nice coffee shops that sell morning pastries and breads. There are bars along the waterfront that stay open year round.
- There are clean toilets and showers.
- There is a chandlery on site that was closed for the winter while we were there – we’ve heard it’s pretty expensive. Luckily there is another chandlery just a two minute walk away which was well stocked and happy to order in any items not in stock within a reasonable time frame. There is also a hardware store in town.
- We couldn’t fault the marina staff. They were friendly, helpful and polite at all times.
- There is one large supermarket (EuroSpar) and two discount supermarkets (ARD and MD), a market every Tuesday with fresh fish, meats and veggies. There is a butcher in the square and several bakeries throughout the town.
Obviously this depends a lot on the size of your boat, but we found Marina di Ragusa to be extremely competitive. In fact, it was one of the cheapest places to moor our boat for the winter in the whole of the Med (for a marina with decent facilities that allowed liveaboards). You can contact them for a competitive quote and see what they can offer you.
Probably the biggest selling point for Marina di Ragusa and the reason people return year after year is it’s community.
There were two evening happy hours at the local bar Stellar Bar, where the owners put on free food for the liveaboards at the marina and everyone would meet together for catch ups and (slightly inebriated) foolishness!
The community also put on various meet ups, courses and activities. While we were there there was weekly volleyball, a kids movie afternoon, someone led a course in celestial navigation and someone else led a talk on medical care aboard. There were Christmas and New Years parties, jumble sales, yoga classes and cookery courses. I even ran tutoring for the liveaboard kids. It honestly was just amazing, and the perfect way to pass the winter on board.
Every morning there was a VHF radio broadcast detailing all sorts of going on. Things like daily weather reports, social activities, items for sale, medical needs or any problems people had or needed help with.
The Weather In Marina di Ragusa Over Winter
Like all winters in the Med, the weather here is variable. We had amazing weather the majority of the time – we were only wearing jumpers during the day in January, though the locals were all wrapped up! That being said, we did also have a fair few days of rains or storms, and the nights were of course a lot colder.
Great Transport Links
Catania Airport is only 1 ½ hours away and easily reached by bus from near the marina. It’s also easy to hire cars from nearby if you want to explore more of Sicily.
Ragusa town is a short drive away and has everything you could possibly need – a massive hardware store, clothes shops, grocery stores, Lidl, etc. Near Catania you’ll find an Ikea and also a decathlon and other main stream clothes shops. The liveaboards often arrange trips further afield and those with cars offer lifts to those without!
One of the biggest downsides (for us) was the yard. Although it was well maintained and professional from what we saw, it was also expensive and you aren’t allowed to ANY work on the boat yourself. Not even change an anode.
As with all yards there were differing experiences. Some people had found the quality of work great and others had experienced real problems.
The biggest problem we found was not being allowed to work on your own boat or live there while on the hard. Many cruisers went to Tunisia at the start of the season to sort their boats out for the summer season but it’s a shame the marina hasn’t capitalised on this. With an excellent yard this really would be a dream location for liveaboards and we would have returned year after year.
Get On Your Bike
The toilet and shower facilities are quite a long way away from the boats. They are outside of the gated pontoon area, beside the main bins. Most liveaboards found that having a bike was a useful way to overcome this!
As you can see, we don’t have many bad things to say about Marina di Ragusa, and if they had a decent yard where we could do some of our own work on our slightly decrepit old boat then we would happily return here winter after winter! Let us know your experiences below!