La Scala dei Turchi, or the Turkish Steps, is a sloping staircase of white rock leading to the ocean near Agrigento in Southern Sicily. Surrounded by two beautiful beaches, the terraced cliff is one of the most remarkable sights in Sicily and, along with the magnificent Valley of the Temples, draws tourists to the south of the island.
La Scala dei Turchi is a must visit in Sicily and, for those of you planning a trip to La Scala dei Turchi, we’ve written this guide on how to get there, what to expect, and details on when is the best time to go.
What is La Scala dei Turchi (Turkish Steps)?
La Scala dei Turchi is a stunning white rock formation located on the south coast of the island of Sicily in the Meditteranean. Also known as the Stair of the Turks or the Turkish Steps, Scala dei Turchi is a terraced white rock staircase that stretches over the coast below.
Scala dei Turchi is a very popular destination for visitors who want to see the terraced white stone steps that have naturally formed on the cliffside. The steps are the second most popular tourist site in Agrigento, after the Valley of the Temples.
The cliffs were named due to Saracen and Barbary pirates who anchored their boats in the bay and the fact that the cliffs resemble a staircase. The area was a natural landing area for the invaders as the steps provided access up the cliffs.
The steps have always been very popular with locals and tourists who came to relax in the sun, swim and jump off the steps into the sea. In recent years a new rule has been implemented meaning visitors are not allowed to walk on the steps due to a conservation effort.
How were the Scala dei Turchi formed?
The rock on the steps is a Marl, clay and silt mix similar to limestone that over time eroded and led to the natural steps that we see today at the site.
Map of La Scala dei Turchi
We’ve included this map of all the main points of interest at La Scala dei Turchi, including where we parked and the easiest access route to the beach.
How to Use This Google Map: Click on the grey star at the top of the map and this map will be added to your Google Maps account. You can then view it on your phone or computer in Google Maps by clicking on the menu button, going to “Your Places” and selecting this map. We use these maps all the time as you can set out your itinerary ahead of time and quickly reference the saved maps.
How to get to the Scala dei Turchi?
The easiest way to get to the Scala dei Turchi is by car. The steps are located between Realmonte and Porto Empedocle and is a short drive from the town of Agrigento on the south coast of Sicily. Many visitors will want to visit the Scala dei Turchi during their time in Agrigento visiting the Valley of the Temples.
Once you arrive at the Scala dei Turchi it is a steep walk down the cliffside to the beach – don’t worry, it’s not a difficult descent and their is a choice between steps and a sloping path. We found the best route is located directly across the road from the paid parking lot.
This way there are steps directly down to the beach and it passes through two awesome bars with great views of the sea if you want to stop and have a drink.
As you descend towards the beach the Turkish steps are located to the right a little further down the beach. There is a small beach bar and lido with changing rooms and a lifeguard station at the base of the steps.
Parking at the Scala dei Turchi
While it’s possible to find parking (most is pay and display) along the side of the street that runs above the Turkish Steps it can be very difficult to get a spot as it fills up early. Alternatively, there are a number of private car parks located close to the entrance down to the beach. We recommend using one of these as it’s easier to get a space and park compared to the street parking.
The best parking we found was located directly across the road from the two main entrances down to the beach. Parking is a flat €5 per car and there are also showers available for a fee after returning from the beach. We’ve marked this parking lot on the map above.
Can you walk on the Turkish Steps?
In a word, no. The steps were added for UNESCO World Heritage status consideration in 2007 but had already suffered from years of overuse. After repeated warnings, the steps were seized by Italian prosecutors in 2020 in order to protect the beautiful rocks from overuse and damage.
Although it’s not possible to walk on the steps it is possible to walk along the beach to see them. There is also a really nice viewpoint from the road above the steps themselves.
The appearance of the steps has improved massively since the new rules were introduced and it’s wonderful to see them returning to their former beauty.
Despite the repeated signs and fencing warning people not to go don’t further (or face prosecution), it’s still pretty common to see a few groups heading out onto the rocks.
Is it worth going to the Turkish Steps?
Although it’s not possible to go onto the steps themselves we still highly recommend visiting them. The steps are magnificent and the beach that runs up to the base of the steps was one of our favourite beaches in Sicily – we spent some lovely afternoons and evenings there watching the sunset.
The view of the steps from the viewpoint along the road above is also beautiful and we recommend visiting here for the epic sunset.
There are also two beach bars (an informal one at the base of the steps and the larger Lounge Beach Scala dei Turchi) where you can relax with a cool drink and take in the sun. Overall the area is really beautiful and definitely worth a few hours.
What’s the best time to go?
We found that late afternoon was the best time to visit the steps. The crowds tended to be smaller and it avoids the hottest part of the day. Sunset is also a beautiful time to experience the steps when the iconic pink and yellow Sicilian sun lights up the steps.
Taking a swim as the sun went down behind the steps is one of our favorite memories from our road trip through Sicily.
La Scala dei Turchi tip: It’s also worth checking the tide times for Agrigento as the steps look more impressive at high tide when the water is high and calmer on the cliffside. You can check the tide times before you go here.
The Scala dei Turchi opening hours
While the beach is public and is open 24/7, the access points to the beach have limited hours. The access stairs we used open at 7am and close around an hour after sundown. This appeared to be the case with the other access routes too. The viewing area above the cliffs is accessible 24/7.
Final tip: Leave no trace
Our last tip for visiting La Scala dei Turchi is to leave no trace and don’t take any souvenirs from the beach or cliffs. The Italian government is trying to restore the cliffs to their original beauty after years of overuse. Visitors have inadvertently and intentionally damaged the rocks in the past, either with shoes from climbing or by etching their names on the rock. Please respect this beautiful natural area and leave it the way you found it!