Top 15 Things to do in Taormina, Sicily

Top 15 Things to do in Taormina, Sicily

Taormina is one of the most luxurious tourist destinations on the Ionian coast of Sicily.

This stunning resort town sits atop a mountain about 200 meters above sea level, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding gulf and nearby hills dotted with grand manor villas and lush Mediterranean gardens.

Whether you want to relax in one of Taormina’s luxurious hotels or explore the historic center and surrounding areas, this town has something for everyone.

We included the visit to Taormina on the penultimate day of an itinerant journey that had led us to discover the most beautiful places in south-eastern Sicily.

In this article, we’ll share our top recommendations for places to see and the top 15 things to do in Taormina (and surroundings) in one day, as well as helpful tips for getting there and where to stay.


Virgin and Child mosaic (Church of San Giuseppe)


Table of Contents


Where to stay in Taormina

Taormina is a popular tourist destination with a wide range of accommodation options to choose from, including hotels of all standards, bed and breakfast options, luxurious villas, and apartments with stunning views of the gulf.

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds and prefer a more peaceful setting, you may want to consider staying in the surrounding area.

Moreover, keep in mind that accommodations in the center of town tend to be more expensive, so you may be able to save some money by staying in a nearby location.

To find the best accommodation options in Taormina, check out the following link for a list of available offers and availability.



Things to do in Taormina, the historic center

One of the great things about visiting the historic center of Taormina is that it’s easily accessible on foot.

Thanks to the layout of the city and the limited traffic, you can easily explore all the sights and sounds of this charming town.

Many of the must-see attractions, including Corso Umberto I, the main street, are within easy walking distance of each other, making it easy to take in the rich history and culture of the area at your own pace.


1- Corso Umberto

For many visitors, their journey through Taormina begins at Porta Messina, the ancient arch-shaped entrance to the city.

From there, you can take a stroll down Corso Umberto, the main pedestrianized street that runs through the heart of the historic center.

This street, which was once a roman consular road, connects Porta Messina and Porta Catania and is lined with an array of restaurants, bars, and shops selling everything from local gastronomic specialties to souvenirs.

As you wander through the city, be sure to take a moment to stop and appreciate the vibrant colors and fragrant scents of the fruit and vegetable markets.

The tantalizing aromas of lemons, grapes, and citrus fruits will surely captivate your senses.


Fruit and vegetables in a shop in Corso Umberto


You’ll be struck by the abundance of colorful flowers that adorn the balconies with their wrought iron balustrades.

Bougainvillea, geraniums, and lantanas add pops of color to the streets, creating a truly picturesque atmosphere.

If you’re looking to escape the crowds of tourists, take a stroll down one of the narrow, gently sloping alleys, known as “Salita” that branch off from the main road.

These intimate corners are often filled with charming details, like large glazed terracotta amphorae with bright colors and elaborate decorations.

Corso Umberto is also a great place to stop for a chat with the locals or enjoy a coffee at one of the many cafes.



If you have limited time, we suggest taking the Mount Etna & Taormina Excursion.

This full-day, guided tour will show you the best of what this region of Sicily has to offer, freeing you from the hassle of trip planning.



2- Corvaja Palace

Located just a short distance from Porta Messina, you’ll find the dominant Palazzo Corvaja, a building built between the 11th and 15th centuries.

The original core of the manor was represented by a cubic-shaped tower built by the Arabs between 902 and 1079.

Today, the palazzo features a 15th-century façade with mullioned windows and can be accessed through an arched portal from Largo Santa Caterina.

For centuries, until the second world war, it served as the residence of the noble Corvaja family and played host to the Sicilian parliament during the reign of Queen Bianca of Navarre.

Today, it houses the tourist information office of Taormina and the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions.


3- Church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria

Next to the Palazzo Corvaja there is the Church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, a 17th-century structure built on the site of an ancient temple.

With its ochre yellow baroque façade and ornate portal adorned with Corinthian-style columns and capitals, the church is a beautiful example of baroque architecture.

Above the portal, you’ll find a niche containing a statue of the saint, and a small bell tower sits in the upper left corner of the building.


Corso Umberto


4- Roman Odeon

Located just behind the Church of Santa Caterina is the Roman Odeon, a small theater dating back to the 2nd century AD.

It was here that theatrical performances and musical auditions took place.

Built from clay bricks and leaning against a Hellenistic-era building that was likely dedicated to Aphrodite, the Odeon remained hidden for centuries until it was rediscovered in the late 19th century.

If you’re interested in ancient history and the architecture of the period, a visit to the Roman Odeon is definitely a must-see when you’re in Taormina.


5- Greek Theatre

Just across from the Palazzo Corvaja there is Via Teatro Greco, which, as the name suggests, leads to one of the most iconic landmarks in Taormina: the ancient Greek theatre.

Built during the Hellenistic period (3rd century BC) and later renovated by the Romans, this horseshoe-shaped theatre was once used for gladiator combat shows.


The Greek Theatre (© Freysteinn G. Jonsson)


As you sit in the ancient Greek theater, you’ll be treated to one of the most famous views in Sicily: the stunning bay of Schisò with Mount Etna in the background.

This breathtaking vista is visible through a crack in the stage, adding to the overall atmosphere of the theater.

The cavea, or seating area, is made up of nine wedges of steps and is topped by a double portico on columns.

It was built into the natural concavity of a hillock, making it a truly unique and awe-inspiring place to visit.


6- Naumachia of Taormina

If you’re exploring the historic center of Taormina through Corso Umberto, be sure to make a detour to see the Naumachia, a 122-meter-long, 5-meter-high red brick retaining wall from the Roman era.

The name “Naumachia,” literally meaning “naval battle,” was given to it by Dutch scholar Jacques-Philippe D’Orville in his posthumous work “Sicula” in 1764.

It is believed that the structure was actually used as a gymnasium for the physical education of young people.

Built in the 2nd century AD, the Naumachia was only uncovered in 1943.

On its façade, you’ll find 18 niches in the shape of an apse interspersed with smaller rectangular niches.

It is thought that the larger niches contained fountains, while the smaller ones held statues of gods or war heroes.


Ceramics and paintings for sale


7- Villa Comunale public garden

Just a short distance from the Naumachia is the Villa Comunale of Taormina, a beautiful English garden that is the perfect spot to relax on a hot summer day.

Originally the park of the home of English noblewoman Lady Florence Trevelyan, cousin of Queen Victoria, the Villa Comunale features a number of interesting “victorian follies,” or bizarre constructions, that are characteristic of English gardens.

Unlike Italian or French gardens, which tend to be more formal and geometric, English gardens are known for their natural and artificial elements that flow seamlessly together.


8- Piazza IX Aprile

Nestled along Corso Umberto I, roughly halfway between Porta Messina and Porta Catania, you’ll find Piazza IX Aprile, a square that serves as a terrace overlooking the sea.

With its cacti and olive trees and a railing that provides a stunning panoramic view, it’s a great spot to take a break and relax.

You’ll find benches along the sides of the square, inviting you to sit and take in the unique surroundings.


Artist in piazza IX Aprile


Piazza IX Aprile is paved with light and dark stone tiles that give it a checkerboard appearance.

Here, you’ll often find artists setting up their easels and painting the most iconic views of Taormina.

On the left side of the square stands the former Gothic Church of Sant’Agostino, built in 1448.

Its elegant bell tower, in the shape of a crenellated tower, is incorporated into the façade.

Today, the interior of the church houses the Municipal Library and a multipurpose room.


Church of San Giuseppe


On the opposite side of Piazza IX Aprile, you’ll find the Church of San Giuseppe, which is perched on a hill and offers a stunning view from its balcony.

In our opinion, Piazza IX Aprile with its beautiful buildings and breathtaking views is one of the must-see places in Taormina.


9- The Cathedral of St. Nicholas

It was built in the 13th century on the remains of an ancient religious building and has undergone several renovations over the years.

From the outside, it looks like a fortress with a tower-shaped apse, and its façade features a finely decorated 17th-century portal.

Inside, the church has three naves supported by columns.

In front of the church, you’ll find a baroque fountain from 1635 with the statue of a bipedal centauressa, one of the symbols of Taormina.


St. Nicholas Cathedral


All Your Booking Needs in One Place

Are you in hurry? Don’t waste any more time and book all the necessary things for your trip in Taormina:


Things to do in Taormina, the beaches

10- Isola Bella

If you’re looking to spend your vacation relaxing on the beach, Isola Bella is certainly one of the most popular options in Taormina. To get there, simply take the cable car to the terminus and cross the street, then head down the stairs.

The beach is made up of pebbles and is located right in front of the Isola Bella islet, which is connected to the mainland by an isthmus that appears and disappears with the tides.

To avoid discomfort while walking on the cobblestones, we recommend bringing special rock shoes.


Isola Bella beach (© Lyle Wilkinson)


11- Mazzarò Beach

The beach of Mazzarò instead develops slightly further north, always along Via Nazionale.

Both beaches have both aided sections and free areas.

If you’re in search of a sandy beach, continue a few hundred meters beyond Mazzarò to the Lido di Spisone.



Once you are in this area we recommend you to take the fabulous Taormina Boat Excursion:

marvel at Mount Etna, discover the beauty of sea caves like the Blue Grotto, watch dolphins swim by, and take a dip in the clear waters along the eastern coast of Sicily.

All at a reasonable price.




Things to do in Taormina, the surroundings

12- Mount Etna

For adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts, a visit to Mount Etna is a must while in Taormina.

This active volcano, standing tall at over 3,329 meters, is located on the eastern coast of Sicily and is the tallest active volcano in Europe.

With its near-constant activity and breathtaking views, Mount Etna is a popular destination for tourists.

Hike its slopes, witness an eruption, and take in the unique volcanic landscape for a truly unforgettable experience during your stay in Taormina.

If you’re planning a visit to Mount Etna during your stay in Taormina, there are two options to consider.

Firstly, you can book a one-day excursion performed by a local tour operator.

These tours typically include transportation, a guide, and necessary equipment for the ascent to the crater. For these reasons we highly recommend them.



Secondly, you can drive there yourself, which takes around an hour from Taormina.


13- Etna wineries

For wine lovers, a visit to an Etna winery should definitely be on the itinerary during a trip to Taormina.

These wineries, located on the slopes of Mount Etna, offer some of the most unique and sought-after wines in the world.

The volcanic soil and challenging climate of the region impart complex and intriguing flavors to the wines produced there.

Red wines made from the Nerello Mascalese grape and white wines made from the Carricante grape are among the specialties.

Many wineries welcome visitors with tastings and tours of their facilities, providing a chance to sample the delicious wines and learn about the winemaking process.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit an Etna winery and discover the exceptional wines of this region during your time in Taormina.



14- Giardini Naxos

Located near Capo Schisò, the ancient Greek colony of Naxos is said to have been founded in 734 BC by Chalcidian settlers from the island of Euboea (Evia) and it probably represents the first Greek colony in Sicily.

Some scholars believe that the name “Naxos” derives from the Nassi, suggesting that some inhabitants of the Aegean island of Naxos also participated in the expedition.

The current town of Giardini Naxos (named after the ancient colony following a 1978 regional law proposal by a local association) is located along the seafront and is known for its charming atmosphere.

To learn more about the secrets of this stretch of coast, consider joining a mini boat cruise, during which you can take a dip in the water or even snorkel (with the appropriate equipment) to see the stunning underwater sights.

The cruise includes an aperitif with snacks and a glass of Prosecco wine. It lasts about two hours. The escort speaks English.




If you’re interested in the cultural history of Naxos, be sure to visit the Museum and archaeological area at the entrance of the port.

There you can learn about the history of the ancient colony from prehistory to the Byzantine era.


Piazza Sant’Antonino in Castelmola(©


15- Castemola

Nestled at an altitude of 1700 meters, Castelmola is a village built around the ruins of a Norman castle.

It is known as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and is easily accessible from Taormina by bus, with a journey time of about 15 minutes.

Upon arrival, head to Piazza Sant’Antonino, a mosaic-paved square that offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy a drink, we recommend taking a seat at the outdoor tables of the historic Caffè San Giorgio, where you can try the famous almond wine.

As you stroll through the narrow alleys of Castelmola, you’ll find souvenir shops, lace and embroidery craft shops, bars, and restaurants.

Be sure to visit Piazza del Duomo, a cozy square paved with white and dark stone tiles that gives it a classic checkerboard appearance.

In addition to the Mother Church, the square is home to commercial establishments such as the Turrisi Bar.


Guided tours in Taormina and surroundings

From different cities of Sicily it is possible to take part in day trips to Taormina and neighboring countries.

Leafing through the catalogs of specialized magazines I found a couple really interesting.

The first starts from Messina. In addition to Taormina includes a visit to the medieval village of Castelmola, from which you can admire splendid views of Mount Etna.

After exploring the historic center of Taormina you can extend the tour with a visit to the famous Greek Theater, or with lunch in a typical restaurant of the city.

The excursion lasts about seven hours and the guide speaks English.



The second starts from Catania. In addition to the historic center of Taormina, the excursion includes a two-hour navigation along the coast.

During the tour the boat will stop near Isola Bella.

Participants have the chance to bathe in the beautiful turquoise waters and relax on board with a snack of fresh fruit.



How to get there

With own vehicle

Located halfway between the provincial capitals of Messina and Catania, Taormina is easily accessible by car via the A18 motorway (recommended, even if it requires a little toll) and SS114 state road.

These two routes run parallel to each other for long stretches.

Just note that traffic is not allowed in the town center, so you’ll need to park in one of the public paid lots located near the village.

The closest ones to the historic center are Porta Catania and Porta Pasquale, which are just a few hundred meters from the town’s most popular attractions.

If you don’t have your own means of transportation, then we recommend renting one, like we did.

As always, we relied on DiscoverCars.

It is a price comparison website between various companies, easily consultable online.

For us, it’s a guarantee.


By bus

The bus in our opinion is one of the most practical ways to reach Taormina from Catania and Messina. The companies that provide the service are Interbus and Etna Trasporti.

From Catania:

We had set up the logistics base in Catania.

From the bus station in via Archimede, buses regularly depart for the terminal in via Pirandello in Taormina, which is located in close proximity to Porta Messina.

For those arriving via plane, there is a convenient stop at Fontanarossa airport.

The transfer from Catania to Taormina takes just over an hour and there are numerous rides available throughout the day.

From Messina:

From Messina instead there are fewer trips with respect to Catania and are operated by the company Interbus.

The terminus is located in Piazza della Repubblica.


By train

The Taormina – Giardini train station is located along the Messina – Syracuse railway line and rises about four kilometers from Porta Messina.

Then, to reach the city center you can take the bus of the Interbus company or a taxi.


The Cable Car

If you’re visiting Taormina and want to experience both the historic center and the beautiful beaches, the cable car is the perfect option for you.

In just a few minutes, it will transport you from Porta Messina in the heart of the city to Mazzarò and Isola Bella beaches.

With frequent departures throughout the day and evening, the cable car is a convenient way to see the best of both worlds.

Plus, with a vertical drop of 170.50 meters, the ride itself is a thrilling experience.


Photo credits:

the photo of Piazza Sant’Antonino in Castelmola was given to us by the portal;

the cover photos is by Maria Bobrova;

the photo of Isola Bella beach is by Lyle Wilkinson;

the Greek Theatre from above is by Freysteinn G. Jonsson;

All downloaded from

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Un android developer a tempo perso, una polacca innamorata dell'Italia e un appassionato di geografia prestato all'informatica.

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