The island of Sicily sits perfectly positioned off the toe of Italy. The island of Sicily is famed for its rugged beauty and is hugely proud of its rich heritage and culture. One of the most famous towns on the island of Sicily is Taormina. With this handy guide to Taormina, you can explore the best things to do, where to stay, and what to eat.
- Guide to Taormina
- Things to do in Taormina
- Best Hotels in Taormina
- Best Restaurants in Taormina
- Bars in Taormina
- Best Beaches in Taormina
- Best Time To Visit Taormina
- Getting around Taormina
- How to get to Taormina
Background to Taormina
On my first visit to the island of Sicily when I was 13 years old, we stayed in Taormina where every single night we would watch rivulets of lava from Mount Etna run down its side.
We joked about what we would do if it were to erupt like its neighbor and former active volcano in Naples, Mount Vesuvius. My mother was heavily pregnant with my sister at the time, so our plans had some sort of seriousness to them amidst the joking.
Upon visiting Sicily earlier this year, I was surprised to find Mount Etna ringed with snow in May. Only for the snow to vanish a few days later and plumes of smoke to start billowing from its funnel.
It felt like a familiar scene that decades earlier had been a point of conversation for most of our stay in Taormina. It’s hard not to visit Taormina and not be hugely impressed (and a little intimidated) by the very active volcano of Mount Etna. It looms in the distance and adds to the backdrop of one of Sicily’s most incredible towns.
Guide to Taormina
Things to do in Taormina
Taormina is one of those places that encourages you to slow down, look around and take in the scenery. The town of Taormina soars high over the crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea (and from certain points, the tip of Italy appears in the distance).
Throughout this guide to Taormina, you’ll discover that the best thing to do is to explore the quaint town and main street, dip your toes into the nearby beaches, and stumble over ancient ruins.
Villa Comunale di Taormina
The magnificent city park of Taormina is best explored in the early evening as the sun descends behind Mount Etna. Stroll around one of the most beautiful parks that takes in views of the coastline, stunning Mt. Etna and the town of Taormina in the far distance.
Villa Comunale di Taormina is exquisitely planned with pinewoods, bougainvillea, and a number of pavilions, as well as war memorials of World War 1 & 2.
The pavilions known as ‘Beehives‘ were created in the late 19th century by Englishwoman Florence Trevelyan who lived in the area after marrying a local Taormina resident and created the pavilions and further creation of the park after the death of her young son.
Walking along Corso Umberto
The main street of Taormina is a long esplanade that is largely pedestrianized. Ambling along the incredible walkway of Corso Umberto is one of the top things to do in Taormina and an absolute highlight.
With seemingly endless stores of high-end and luxury goods, sitting alongside pastry shops and gift stores, you can easily spend hours shopping.
Splintering off the sides of Corso Umberto is a maze of side streets that contain more restaurants, bars, and stores. You can easily spend days navigating the backstreets of Taormina and uncovering more gems.
Teatro Antico di Taormina
Taormina has a long and varied history that dates back to Ancient Roman times. One of the relics left behind and in impeccable condition is the Teatro Antico di Taormina. Visiting the Ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina is an unmissable experience not only for its fascinating history but also for the unparalleled views across the region.
Dating from the 3rd Century BC, the Teatro Antico di Taormina was used to host performances, speeches, and gatherings of people over the centuries. Nowadays it’s a well-preserved amphitheater that also plays host to concerts and the Taormina Film Festival.
Entry to the Teatro Antico di Taormina is from 9 am and varies depending on the time of the year. Last entry during the summer months is at 7 pm. Whereas in Spring access is closed at 5 pm.
The entry ticket is priced at €13.50 per adult.
Best Hotels in Taormina
There are many areas to base your stay in Taormina in. Over the years I’ve spent a mixture of time either based in the town of Taormina or down by the sea.
The introduction of the cable car in Taormina is a welcome addition to the town and accessing the beaches down below. In this part of your guide to Taormina, uncover whether you want to be based by the beaches of Taormina or up in the town.
Taormina Hotels on the Beach
Villa Sant’Andrea, A Belmond Hotel, Taormina Mare
Located on the edge of Mazzaro Beach, the 5-Star Villa Sant’Andrea is one of the most luxuriant Taormina hotels on the beach that oozes class and refinement. Being a part of the Belmond Family, you can expect 5-Star service and the most exquisite of stays. The hotel has its own private section at the end of Mazzaro beach. The views from the balconies across Mazzaro Beach are jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Hotel Villino Gallodoro
During my last stay in Taormina, we based ourselves in the delightful Hotel Villino Gallodoro. A 2-Star hotel of Hotel Villino Gallodoro offers some of the most incredible views that looked over Mazzaro Beach and Villa Sant’Andrea in the background.
Hotel Villino Gallodoro has an adjoining restaurant, and the bedrooms have been recently updated. Waking each morning and stepping out onto the balcony and admiring the stellar view was truly an out-of-body experience.
If you are looking for one of the loveliest Taormina hotels on the beach that won’t break the bank, then look no further than Hotel Villino Gallodoro.
With one of the best locations for any of the Taormina Hotels on the list, Valentina Taormina is located in the heart of the historic center of Taormina.
Less than a 5-minute walk from the Ancient Theatre of Taormina, Valentina Taormina offers a series of apartments that are stunningly designed.
Grand Hotel Timeo, A Belmond Hotel, Taormina
One of the most famous hotels in Taormina, Grand Hotel Timeo‘s location beside the Ancient Theatre of Taormina is unparalleled. As you approach the hotel you’ll be met with a series of concierges that will take care of your every need.
The hotel’s grounds are beautifully manicured lawns, with an outdoor swimming pool that begs to be swam in. The rooms are tastefully decorated in a style that is sophisticated yet simple.
Best Restaurants in Taormina
You’ll be spoilt for choice with the sheer amount of restaurants in Taormina. I’ve enjoyed some really excellent meals, and some equally terrible meals when visiting Taormina. Below are some of the places that I’ve really enjoyed and keep adding to my list of places to experience at least once during a visit to Taormina.
Ristorante Rosmarino Taormina | Via Bagnoli Croci, 88/B, 98039 Taormina
Located just beside the Villa Comunale di Taormina, Ristorante Rosmarino Taormina is my newest and favorite restaurant. We luckily squeezed into the last table available for the evening in June and it was such a treat.
Starting with ‘Ricotta Clouds‘ – deep-fried deliciousness served on a bed of leaves. I enjoyed a deboned chicken thigh served with a citrus dressing, and joined by delicious roasted potatoes. B had pasta with pork ragu and it was to die for.
Make sure to reserve a table in advance.
Adduma | Vico Giordano Bruno, 2, 98039 Taormina
After a week of solid pasta and pizza, we needed a break. After enjoying some truly superb cocktails in Chapeau! (See below for more information), we took a few steps across the pathway to Adduma and enjoyed a meat and fish dinner.
We started with fried fish selection, before enjoying a tuna steak and brisket. The wine list was extensive and the cocktails looked sublime.
Trattoria Tutti Cca | Via Fratelli Ingegnere, 12, 98039 Taormina
Hidden up a little sidestreet that adjoins an art gallery, we enjoyed dining in Trattoria Tutti Cca so much we returned the following night. The setting is really quite something special and the food was quite tasty.
- Tischi Toschi Taormina // Vico Cuscona-Paladini, 98039, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy
Bars in Taormina
Chapeau! Cocktail Bar | Piazza Carmine, 10, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy
Like most of the gems in Taormina, Chapeau! is hidden away up a small side street and serves some of the best cocktails we tried in Taormina. With each drink order, you’ll receive a selection of bar snacks (huzzah!) and the cocktails were decently priced.
Located on the top floor of Hotel Continental, Skybar Taormina enjoys spectacular views across the town and Mt Etna and is one of the most popular cocktail bars in Taormina. We personally thought the cocktails were much better in Chapeau!, a few steps away.
Bam Bar | Via di Giovanni, 45, 98039 Taormina
One of the most popular places to eat and experience a true Sicilian breakfast staple is Bam Bar. Granita is a Sicilian slushy ice that is typically eaten with a Brioche bun. It comes in a variety of flavors and is a fantastic and delicious way to cool down or enjoy your breakfast.
Bam Bar in Taormina is a must for experiencing a multitude of flavors – pistachio, mulberry, lemon, blood orange etc. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!
Best Beaches in Taormina
A quick journey on the cable car from the town of Taormina will leave you at the foot of some of the nicest beaches in the region. One of the most popular things to do in Taormina is to spend a day lounging at the beach. And thankfully Taormina has a solid choice of beaches – for more read my guide on the best beaches in Taormina.
The infamous Isola Bella in Taormina is a short walk from the cable car and is one of the loveliest beaches and settings in all of Sicily. A bold statement, but I’ll stand by it.
The horseshoe bay in which Isola Bella sits is backed with restaurants and views over the small island that is only accessible at various times throughout the day.
Popular for all the right reasons, Isola Bella is a large stone beach that makes it worthwhile purchasing a sun lounger for the day from the many beach clubs on this stretch.
A smaller, but equally popular beach is Mazzaro Beach which is directly opposite the cable car access point.
With various beach bars and sun loungers for rent, you have your choices of a small section of the beach that is free, whereas the majority is taken up by two beach bars – Lido Delfino & Lido La Pigna.
The beaches of Taormina are worth visiting especially when the weather is sunny and warm.
Best Time To Visit Taormina
The weather in Taormina is beautiful in April & May, with mild almost summer-like temperatures. The sea remains chilly, but in May you can expect to lay out on the beaches of Taormina.
During the summer months of June – August, the temperature climbs, the beaches get busy and the town of Taormina is at its peak. Expect long hot summer days and soaring temperatures.
In September and October, the weather remains glorious and temperatures are still in the mid-20s celsius/80s Fahrenheit.
The winter months in Taormina are mild and often Mount Etna is covered in a thick layer of snow as the temperatures plummet closer to the summit.
When planning your trip to Italy, check out the packing list for Italy to help with essential items for your vacation to Taormina.
Guide to Taormina – Getting Around
The main street of Taormina is paved and no vehicles are allowed in the town (except for early mornings when deliveries occur).
Taormina Cable Car
The addition of the Taormina Cable Car has provided access to the beaches (Mazzaro Taormina Funivia) below and vice versa.
During the year it operates from 8 am until 23 pm (dependent on the season and it’s best to check the timetable for accuracy). The Taormina Cable Car is fairly frequent and operates every 15 minutes and costs €3 per ride.
If you are planning on staying down at the beach, you should consider purchasing a weekly pass to save on costs.
Taxis in Taormina
Taxis in Taormina appear to operate on a flat rate of €15 to go anywhere in the vicinity. We traveled 2 minutes with suitcases from Taormina Train Station to our hotel and were charged €15. Always make sure to ask the price before you get into the taxi so you don’t end up with a large and nasty bill.
Bus to Taormina Beach
If traveling by cable car or taxi doesn’t sound appealing to you, consider the local bus that takes 10 minutes from Taormina Bus Terminal to Isola Bella. Departing every hour, you can take the InterBus for €1.90 each way to the beaches of Taormina. Check the local bus timetable for a more detailed and up-to-date version.
The Etna bus operator also has a hop on – hop off service that tours the area and local sights, which also has stops in Mazzaro beach. If you are visiting the town on a short visit and want to hit all the tourist attractions, this is a great option to explore the area.
How to get to Taormina
There are a range of ways of getting to Taormina, be it plane, train or automobile. In this final section of the guide to Taormina you’ll discover how to get from the airport in Catania to Taormina and how to catch either a bus or train.
The closest airport to Taormina is Catania–Fontanarossa Airport. Several low-cost airlines such as Ryanair, Tui, and Easy Jet operate daily services from April through to October. Flights also connect via Rome and other larger Italian cities.
The airport is a rather large regional airport, and inside the departures of Catania Airport, you’ll find stores selling locally produced Sicilian goods and lots of delicious snacks from the region.
The cheapest and easiest way to get from Catania to Taormina is to take the local bus. The bus from Catania to Taormina takes 1 hour and 25 minutes and costs €7 for a single journey. The operator of the bus is Interbus (Blue Bus).
If arriving at Catania Airport you can purchase tickets outside the arrivals terminal, and they will advise you of where to wait. There is a more up-to-date bus schedule at the ticket office for the Catania-Taormina bus route.
The bus journey has several stops along the way including Catania Train Station & Centro and Naxos if Taormina is not your final destination.
The bus from Catania to Taormina ends in the Taormina Bus Terminal and it is a short 10-minute walk uphill to the main center of Taormina. If returning to Catania, this is where you can catch your return bus back to the airport.
If arriving at Catania Airport, there is a train station a 10-minute walk from the arrivals terminal called Catania Fontanrossa Airport Station. There is a shuttle bus that navigates between the train station and the airport, which you can take for €1.
The train from Catania Airport Fontanrossa departs once an hour. There are more frequent buses that depart from the airport to Catania city center and the journey to the Catania train station takes less than 20 minutes.
Once you arrive at Catania Train Station (Stazione di Catania Centrale) you can purchase tickets either at the train station or online via Omio.
Catania Train Station is one of the largest stations in this part of Sicily and connects the island with Palermo and Syracuse. The train journey from Catania Centrale to Taormina Giardini takes around 50 minutes and costs €5.
Once you arrive at Taormina Giardini Train Station, you will need to take a taxi (€15 regardless of this distance – but double check with driver) or a local bus up to the town.
You can also walk 3 KM to the Taormina Cable Car and then catch the cable car up to the town. Depending on your luggage and tiredness levels, this could either be refreshing or a nightmare walk. There are also large sections of the road that have no pavement.
Taormina Giardini Train Station is unfortunately located nowhere near the town of Taormina, so you will need to take an additional mode of transport to get to your final destination.
If the hassle of trying to get from the Catania to Taormina is too taxing, consider arranging a private transfer. Welcome Pickups are a superb service that offers private transfers across the world and takes the stress out of your journey.
If you’ve found this guide to Taormina helpful, consider checking out some of my other posts related to Italy. If you’ve been wondering if Venice is worth visiting, or whether you need reasons to visit Italy, then check out those posts.