Sicily’s best-known coastal resort
Ask anyone who’s holidayed in Sicily whether they’ve visited Taormina and the chances are they will have done. The fact is this jewel of a town attracts more tourists than anywhere else on the island. Staying here is not everyone’s cup of tea – exploring some of the lesser-known corners of Sicily can be far more rewarding – but there’s no denying that there are plenty of reasons to visit. After all, this is a town where dazzling blue seas and the dramatic outline of Mount Etna form the backdrop to achingly pretty medieval buildings and piazzas, and a maze of winding streets fringed with shops, bars and restaurants. Quite simply, Taormina provides one heart-stopping view after another.
Celebrities in Taormina
You won’t be the first to discover Taormina’s myriad charms. Favoured by the European elite and featuring on the Grand Tour, Taormina has long been a top choice for many. Once word spread to the gilded world of Hollywood, big hitting celebrities including Ingmar Bergmann, Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor and Woody Allen all stayed in town.
Sightseeing in Taormina
Start with a stroll up Corso Umberto I, Taormina’s principal street, where Palazzo Corvaja provides instant insight into the town’s history. Pick out the Arab, Norman and Gothic architectural elements, and check out the wing added in the 15th century by the Spanish. Part of the building now houses the Sicilian Museum of Art and Popular Traditions.
Continue on to Piazza IX Aprile for the best views in town. Even without the views, the piazza is very beautiful, home to the baroque church of San Giuseppe and a balustraded clock tower. Taormina’s 13th century Duomo sits at the far end of Corso Umberto I.
Taormina’s best known attraction is undoubtedly the Teatro Greco where performances of works by the Greek masters – Aeschylus, Euripides and Aristophanes – were first hosted in the 3rd Century BC. Today the theatre is the dramatic setting for an eclectic range of events, including concerts, fashion events and film festivals.
Save your energy for a climb to the Chiesa Madonna della Rocca, a hideaway church perched high on the hillside away from the busy town centre. Follow the ‘salita Castello’, pausing to catch your breath and admire the view and Biblical sculptures along the way.
The Villa Comunale, home to Taormina’s public gardens, is another way to escape the crowds. The gardens were built in the 19th century by Lady Florence Trevelyan, and today provide a cool shady space crisscrossed by pathways dotted with Victorian follies, through lush magnolia, hibiscus and bougainvillea.
Top views in Taormina
There’s no question that the town’s location, perched high on a rocky promontory, gives it a distinct advantage in the beauty stakes! Get ready for eye-popping views of Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea from Piazza IX April and spectacular views at the Villa Comunale and the Teatro Greco.
Best beaches in Taormina
The most popular beach in the area is along the shore line of Giardini Naxos, to the south of Taormina. Choose the free public section, or a lido area with paid for facilities, on the largely sandy beach and enjoy the good selection of local bars and restaurants.
Pebbly Mazzarò beach is also popular and again, there’s a choice of free areas or bathing lidos. The cable car from Taormina descends directly down to the beach.
When it comes to the beauty stakes, Isola Bella wins hands down. The islet is linked to the mainland by a narrow strip of pebble beach which is under water at high tide.
Should I stay in Taormina?
Expect to pay a premium for staying in Taormina – hotel and villa prices are inevitably higher, particularly if you want your own pool. If you have a car, getting in to town is easy so you can save considerably by staying in a villa or apartment just outside Taormina such as Casa dei Sogni which is set between Taormina and Acireale.
You’ll also get a more authentic experience staying in one of the smaller towns or villages close to Taormina. At the tiny fishing port at Pozzillo, the pace of life couldn’t contrast more to that of Taormina. Stay in Terrazza sul Mare, a 2-bedroom villa with steps down to the sea.
Activities and things to do in Taormina
Take advantage of an excellent selection of activities and things to do in Taormina and just outside the town. Take a half-day pasta or pizza-making course and learn how to roll out the lightest pasta dough and crispiest of pizzas! Choose from a selection of boat or sailing trips to explore the Bay of Taormina or venture up on to the slopes of Mount Etna for some wine tasting.
When’s the best time to go?
Taormina’s popularity means that the town centre and its beaches are at their busiest in July and August. If possible, try to plan your trip for May or September when things are a little quieter but you’ll still get the best of the sunshine.