A couple of hundred years ago, when the first holiday-makers crossed the Stretto di Messina between Sicily and mainland Italy in search of a relaxing new escape, the town of Taormina fast became the darling destination of European socialites. As the word spread, this inspirational town became a muse to writers and artists from Oscar Wilde to Gustav Klimt - here in the present day, it has now earned a reputation for being one of the most popular towns in Sicily.
With its historical sights, coastal proximity and the awe-inspiring silhouette of Mount Etna smoking serenely against the sky, there are a range of things to do in Taormina to suit all manner of tastes.
Sicily’s history is made up of a rich tapestry of cultural influences. The Ancient Greeks, Byzantines and Romans have all left their architectural mark on the town as have the Arab, Norman and European conquerors. Winding, romantic streets are lined with picturesque, restored buildings, mansions and churches – Taormina is a window to Sicily's past.
The diamond in the crown of Taormina's historical sights, the Teatro Greco is an ancient amphitheatre, perched on the hill with a breath-taking, panoramic view out over the sparkling sea, the bay of Naxos and the towering Mount Etna. Constructed in the third century BC, it is built from bricks of Taormina stone and is one of the largest of its kind in Sicily. It is thought that in Roman times the theatre was extended, though the seats still bear Greek inscriptions.
During the summer, one of the many festivals in Taormina takes place here, showcasing a variety of film, theatre, dance and music productions – all set against the backdrop of that glorious view.
Corso Umberto I
The medieval streets of Taormina sprawl out in a spider-web from the main thoroughfare, Corso Umberto I. This vibrant, pedestrianised street stretches from the Piazza Corvaja to the Piazza del Duomo and comes alive of an evening with musicians, street performers and people sitting, chatting, drinking and watching the world go by. Sophisticated boutiques and jewellery stores line the main drag whilst myriad cafes, bars and restaurants wait in the winding lanes, begging to be explored.
The Piazza Duomo
This famous square is one of the top Taormina attractions. The Duomo is a beautiful cathedral which dates back to the 13th century, although it was reconstructed in both the 15th and 16th centuries and boasts a Renaissance entrance and a Gothic influenced interior. Dedicated to St Nicholas, it overlooks the striking Baroque stone fountain in the centre of the square, decorated with mythological creatures.
Excursions to the beautiful beaches of this region are amongst the most popular day trips from Taormina. This coastal region offers stunning sea vistas where limestone cliffs plunge into cobalt waters – ideal for indulging in activities such as water-skiing, jet skiing, pedal boating and scuba diving.
Travel by cable car to explore the pebble beaches at Mazzaro – these are the closest to the town and play host to Isola Bella, a quirky rocky islet with coves and grottoes ideal for snorkelling. Further south you will find Giardini-Naxos and its sweeping crescents of sand which are popular with sunbathers and swimmers.
Any Taormina guide is guaranteed to mention the mighty image of Mount Etna. Believed by the Ancient Greeks to be the home of Herphaistos, god of fire, vast areas of Etna’s landscape are coated in solidified lava.
Additionally, it is the highest mountain in Sicily and offers a range of activities for outdoors enthusiasts. During the winter months there are skiing opportunities and the warmer seasons are ideal for long hikes through forests teeming with flora and fauna.
If you have a good level of fitness, challenge yourself to a guided climb. Book yourself this adventure with one of the numerous tour operators in Taormina.
We are happy to provide advice on excursions from Taormina prior to and during your stay.
Eating and drinking is one of the great pleasures of Sicily and the range of quality restaurants in Taormina is one of the biggest draws to the city. Expect fresh seafood, Sicilian wine and it simply wouldn’t be Italy without mouth-watering pizza.
Da Cristina is something of an institution where you can grab authentic pizza by the slice as well as arancini and panini at excellent prices. For an atmospheric dinner, choose the terrace at Al Saraceno and enjoy views of Mount Etna spitting lava whilst you enjoy rustic Sicilian cuisine.
The range of self-catered accommodation in and around Taormina allows you to enjoy the highlights of the town and the surrounding region whilst taking advantage of having your own space. From rural retreats to luxury homes with private pools, our range of Taormina villas provide additional space for groups or families. Additionally, our apartments offer excellent access to a variety of attractions such as the beach or the medieval old town.
See individual properties for more details on their unique facilities and features or alternatively contact us for assistance or more information.
Taormina tourist information
The quickest way to reach Taormina is to fly to the closest airport on Sicily – Catania Fontanarossa International. Flights arrive from international destinations as well as frequently from Milan and Rome. You can get a bus from Catania to Taormina city centre – they leave six times a day and the drive takes about an hour.
Taormina enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate. Although the town experiences a surge of popularity in the hottest, summer months of July and August, consider also visiting in spring or autumn. From the beginning of March the countryside is filled with blooming flowers and easing into and out of the cold season, snow-capped Mount Etna is a sight to behold.
The main tourist information office in Taormina is located at the Palazzo Corvaja and is open six days a week Monday to Saturday. Drop in here for information on festivals, summer events and excursions. You can also pick up a map of Taormina here too. For more information on the other regions of Sicily see our travel guide section.