Top 10 Things to Do in Taormina, Sicily


Beautiful Taormina
Beautiful Taormina | Source


Taormina is located on the east coast of Sicily about halfway between Messina and Catania on the Ionian Sea. The town itself is perched on a hill about 250 meters above the sea and this provides for some incredibly scenic views from almost anywhere in Taormina. It also has the dubious distinction of sitting practically in the shadow of Mt. Etna, Europe’s largest and most active volcano.

Taormina is often characterized as overly touristy and during the peak season it can get crowded, especially when the cruise ships are in port. While many folks may feel that Taormina can be done quickly in one day, I think a couple of days is more appropriate to cover not only Taormina, but some of the surrounding sites as well. Undoubtedly, Taormina is one of the most picturesque locations in all of Italy and can rival the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre for sheer natural beauty. If you’re planning on a couple of days in Taormina, this guide will help you to cover all of the must see sites and a few more for the more adventurous souls.

Open my heart and you will see,

Graved inside of it, "Italy."

— Robert Browning

Greco Teatro

Greco Teatro
Greco Teatro | Source

Greco Teatro

Taormina’s Greco Roman Theater is probably the most visited and photographed site is all of Sicily and for good reason. The site is simply spectacular. Perched on a hill overlooking the Ionian Sea, and with a perfect view of Mount Etna looming in the distance, it makes for an absolutely beautiful setting. The ancient theatre is built mostly of brick, which would indicate that it is of Roman origins, but its layout follows what is considered to be a Greek design so it is sometimes referred to as the Greco Roman Theatre. Most likely the theatre was of Greek origins and then rebuilt on its present site by the Romans. No matter its origin, the theatre is a must see on any visit to Taormina.

Because of its remarkable preservation the theatre is still used today for concerts and theatre performances. If you happen to be in Taormina during a performance look into attending a show here for an unforgettable experience.

Greco Teatro, Taormina
Greco Teatro, Taormina | Source


Located on the top of a hill above Taormina is the quaint village of Castelmola. Considered one of the most beautiful towns in all of Italy its precarious setting high above Taormina provides for an amazing view of Taormina, the beaches of Giardini Naxos, and Mount Etna.

The Duomo of Castelmola, also known as the church of San Niccolo’ di Bari, is worth a visit and has a balcony which affords some great views. The remains of the castle itself are not much, but it is worth the few extra steps to climb to the ruins of the castle if for no other reason than the view. The village is a great spot for a mid day lunch break and some shopping.

Getting to Castelmola can be done with a short taxi ride or you can take the bus. The bus station is a ten minute walk from the center of Taormina and the bus trip takes about fifteen minutes. For the adventurous souls out there you can walk/hike up to Castelmola. Plan on at least an hour each way and possibly more depending on your physical condition.

View from Castelmola

The view from Castelmola looking down on Taormina.
The view from Castelmola looking down on Taormina. | Source
Isola Bella
Isola Bella | Source


Take the cable car down to the shore from Taormina then head to the right up the short hill. Isola Bella is just over the hill about a 5 minute walk from the cable car. Buy your return ticket before heading to the beach to avoid waiting in line when you want to head back up to Taormina.

Isola Bella

This tiny island is located in a small bay on the coast just below Taormina. The island is connected to the mainland by a small and narrow path that depending on the tide may be submerged. The island itself was actually private property up until 1990 when the owners went bankrupt and auctioned the island, which was bought by the Region of Sicily. Since then it has been designated as a nature reserve and is home to numerous species of birds and lizards. The island also has a very small beach area that seems to be very popular with sun bathers. There is a larger beach area on the mainland side and folks seem to come and go from the island with relative ease.

To get to Isola Bella from Taormina you will have to take the cable car down to the coast. From here it is a short walk to the beach at Isola Bella. Please be forewarned that the beach here is not sand but pebbles so bring the necessary footwear.

Isola Bella

Isola Bella
Isola Bella | Source
Alcantara Gorge
Alcantara Gorge | Source


Be sure to bring your bathing suit, water shoes and a towel. The water is advertised as being very cold but we found it refreshing.

Alcantara Gorge

The Alcantara Gorge is something that I highly recommend. As it’s about a 40 minute bus ride from Taormina you should probably dedicate at least a half a day for a visit here. Located on the north side of Mount Etna, the Gorge was formed thousands of years ago when a lava flow from the volcano was cooled quickly by the flow of the Alcantara River. This quick cooling resulted in the lava forming columns through which the river eroded a channel, eventually resulting in the gorge that you see today.

There is a beautiful path that you can walk that follows the top of the gorge and you get some great views looking down into the gorge from this vantage point. You can also take an elevator down to the river where there is a small beach where you can swim, sunbathe, and walk the shallow river if you like. For the more adventurous, you can do some river trekking with a guide and the appropriate equipment can be rented here if you like.

A visit to the Alcantara Gorge is a great break from the crowds of Taormina. The site has facilities including a restaurant and the bus stop is right at the front gate to the Gorge site.

Alcantara Gorge

Alcantara Gorge
Alcantara Gorge | Source
The Public Gardens
The Public Gardens | Source

Public Gardens

Many visitors either bypass the public gardens or are simply not aware that they are here. I found the gardens to be a beautiful shady respite from the crowded Corso Umberto. Also known as the Trevelyan Gardens, this English-style garden has a panoramic walkway that faces the sea and Mount Etna. Numerous flower beds, bushes, trees and finely trimmed hedges adorn the garden and make for a pleasant walk or a great spot to just sit and admire the view.

The garden also contains a few old artillery pieces from WWII, a play area for children and a few cottages and towers. A small terrace area is also found here and is used for small outdoor concerts or gatherings. If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of Taormina head to the public gardens for a little rest and relaxation.

Public Gardens



Be sure to take a drink from one of the horse fountains. Do you see them in the photo below?

Piazza Duomo

This beautiful piazza is located at the western end of the Corso Umberto in the old section of Taormina and is the site of the Church of San Nicola, otherwise known as the Duomo of Taormina. The church was built around 1400 AD and was constructed over the site of an older church.

At the center of the piazza is a Baroque fountain that contains a centaur (from Greek mythology – part human, part horse), which is the symbol of Taormina. This small but beautiful piazza is the perfect place to relax and unwind for a spell.

Piazza Duomo

Piazza Duomo
Piazza Duomo | Source

Shop & Stroll the Corso Umberto

The Corso Umberto is the main pedestrian street through Taormina and is hard to miss. For the shoppers out there this is the place to be. The Corso Umberto is lined with numerous high end shops as well as gelato shops, produce vendors, café’s, souvenir and jewelry shops. No matter what you are looking for it’s a sure bet that you can find it somewhere along the Corso Umberto. At night the street comes alive with music and entertainment and can resemble a party atmosphere. It all makes for a fun and lively place to be.

Like the surface of the moon!
Like the surface of the moon! | Source


Be sure to bring warm clothing and sturdy shoes. The footing is loose, broken lava, so watch your step especially going downhill.

Mount Etna

When visiting Taormina, Mount Etna looks so close you’d think you could reach out and touch it. One of the things that helps make Taormina such a beautiful and picturesque place is the fact that you can get a great view of Mount Etna from pretty much anywhere in Taormina. Taking pictures and looking at Mount Etna is wonderful, but making a visit to Europe’s largest Volcano is an amazing adventure.

There are numerous tours available from Taormina that will pick you up and take to you the Sapienza Refuge area, which is 1910 meters up the mountain. This is the only one of the five refuge areas that is accessible by public transportation. Because of this it is the most popular of the five hubs for accessing Mount Etna. The refuge areas all have basic overnight accommodations and restaurants if you're looking to spend a night on the mountain.

From the Sapienza area you have a few options available to you. There are numerous trails from here where you can hike and explore the area. Or, you can take the cable car farther up the mountain to some of the more recent eruption sites. If you want to go still higher there are four-wheel drive buses that will take you as high as is permissible given the status of the mountain. Keep in mind that Mount Etna is not only Europe’s largest volcano but it is also it’s most active. Another consideration to keep in mind when planning a visit to Mount Etna is the cost. The cable car and four-wheel drive buses are very expensive so make sure you are prepared for the cost as well as the elements when making your visit. Even at the Sapienza Refuge area the weather can be extremely cold and windy so come prepared.

Mount Etna

Mount Etna
Mount Etna | Source
Granita anyone!
Granita anyone! | Source


To be honest it wasn’t until just before we were to leave for Italy that I came across the BamBar. Apparently this place is somewhat of a local legend in Taormina. Famous for their Granita, which is a semi-frozen dessert that originated in Sicily, the establishment has been visited by numerous high-profile celebrities over the years. The owner, who may very well also be your server, will be glad to show you the long list of celebrities who have graced his little bar. It was clear to us that he is not only proud of his famous cliental but also of his world famous Granita.

Located off of the main street in a small piazza with outdoor seating, it’s a great place to relax for a few minutes while enjoying one of Taormina’s famous desserts. The BamBar's Granita is consistently ranked among the best in all of Sicily. It comes in numerous flavors and can be served with or without cream. I had the peach and it was wonderful.


The BamBar
The BamBar | Source
Piazza IX Aprile -St. Augustine's Church
Piazza IX Aprile -St. Augustine's Church | Source

Piazza IX Aprile

It would seem that Piazza IX Aprile (Square of the 9th April) is the epicenter of Taormina. This beautiful piazza with is black and white pavers seems to draw everyone in Taormina at sunset for a great photo opportunity. From here you have an unobstructed view of Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea. Standing guard to the piazza are two churches, St. Augustine’s and the Church of St. Joseph. At the western end of the piazza is the Porta Di Mezzo, which takes visitors under the Clock Tower and into the oldest part of Taormina.

The Piazza IX Aprile makes for a great meeting place and with its many benches is a perfect spot to sit and people watch or simply stare off into the stunning view. You may even be lucky enough to catch a wedding ceremony coming out of the Church. At night the square comes alive as musicians and artists fill the piazza with music and color.

Church of St.Joseph

Piazza IX Aprile - Church of St. Joseph
Piazza IX Aprile - Church of St. Joseph | Source

If you find yourself planning a visit to Taormina, I hope you found this guide helpful. My opinion of Taormina is that it is certainly worth more than a day to fully enjoy all that the area has to offer. It is also possibly the most beautiful place that you will visit in Sicily. Enjoy your stay.

Ciao for now.

show route and directions
A markerTaormina, Sicily -
Taormina, Province of Messina, Italy
[get directions]

B markerMount Etna -
Mt Etna, Parco Dell'Etna, 95019 Zafferana Etnea, Province of Catania, Italy
[get directions]

© 2012 Bill De Giulio

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Comments 28 comments

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 19 months ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi Mary. Taormina is beautiful but I'm not sure kids will appreciate how amazing this place is. We loved the history and the ancient Greek Teatro.

aesta1 profile image

aesta1 19 months ago from Ontario, Canada

We were in Taormina as we wanted to have some beach time but it was still too cold. Good we discovered the beautiful town but our kids did not like the deserted beach so we went on.

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 20 months ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi BlackSpaniel1. Thank you. We spent a week touring Sicily and loved every minute of it. Taormina in particular is one of the most beautiful spots in all of Italy.

Blackspaniel1 profile image

Blackspaniel1 20 months ago

Sicily is definitely on the wish list for the future. Beautiful images.

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi Mimi. Thank you for stopping by, so glad you enjoyed the article. You will love Taormina, it really is a beautiful place. Don't be afraid to venture outside of the town as there is much to see and it's all amazing. Thanks again for the visit and have a wonderful trip. Ciao :)

Mimi 'In love with Italy', London 2 years ago

Hello Bill,

We're going to Taormina in a couple of weeks time...I really enjoyed reading your wonderful informative account of this beautiful place and have jotted down places to visit - thank you.

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi Martie. Thanks for stopping by, glad you enjoyed Sicily. There certainly is a lot of history there. Would love to get to South Africa someday. Happy Holidays.

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

I appreciate hubs like this - wonderful virtual tours of places I will never see in real life. Sicily seems to meet the expectations of a keen historian. Thanks, bdegiulio :)

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi Chantele. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. Hopefully you get to Italy some day soon. Ciao.

daisydayz profile image

daisydayz 4 years ago from Cardiff

Wow looks like an amazing place. I have never visited Italy before so would really love to one day

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi Mary. It is a beautiful place. If you get the opportunity, go.

We did have a great time, kind of hard not to in such a beautiful place.

Thanks so much for the nice comments and the vote.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

You can rest assured if I ever get to Italy I will head to Taormina and print out this hub to take with me! So much good information and fabulous pictures. What a wonderful trip you had.

Voted up, awesome, and interesting.

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi Alicia. Thank you, Taormina is certainly one of the most beautiful sites in all of Italy. Hopefully you get there someday soon. It is the perfect place to take lots of photos.

Thanks for the read and comment. Have a great day.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Your photos and descriptions are so beautiful, Bill. I would love to visit Taormina and take lots of photos!

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi Glimmer Twin. I think I would go back also, maybe someday. And yes, there are lots of craft and pottery shops also that sell beautiful pieces. It's a beautiful place. Thanks so much for the read and comments. Have a great day.

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi Suzie. I'm looking forward to your move to Italy, maybe you'll get over to Sicily. Would like to hear your take on this area. Taormina really is in a beautiful setting overlooking the sea and with Mt. Etna nearby. We enjoyed our stay there.

Really appreciate the nice comments and support. And of course the vote, share, etc. Have a great day.

Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

Awesome and useful hub! Taormina is glorious. I especially loved all of the painted plates and have one on my kitchen wall. I'd love to go back some time.

Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi Bill,

What a wonderful article on Taromina - It is truly stunning and your dead right, it needs more than a day trip when possible to see the very best it has to offer! You have done an excellent job as always, giving great local information with super pics and tips! I can't wait to visit when I'am next over. You have a great way of bringing a place to life and this is another beautiful example. Voted everything and more and shared this engaging hub I love!!!

Thanks so much for the link my good friend - appreciate greatly :-)

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi Jenny. Thanks for stopping by. You'll get there someday. It's definitely worth it.

jennyjenny profile image

jennyjenny 4 years ago from Somewhere in Michigan

What fabulous views! Oh, if only I could hop on a plane this moment! Thank you for sharing! :)

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi Bill. I feel very fortunate to been to the places that we have visited over the last few years. It has become somewhat of an addiction for me.

Speaking of jealous, I am somewhat envious of where you live out there in the great Pacific Northwest. It's like being on vacation every day!

Thank you for the continued support. Have a great weekend.

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi Joe. Luckily we have always been blessed with good weather on our trips to Italy. I wonder if my sentiments would be different if the weather were not so good?

I would love to read your account with the heavy rain. Give it a shot when you get a chance. It sure did pour when you were there based on your pictures, wow.

Thanks for the read and comments. Have a nice day.

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi Carol. I pretty much live for these trips. This one was wonderful but very tiring. We managed to do a lot more than I thought we would get to. As always I appreciate your support and the sharing. Have a great day.

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts Author

Hi Margaret. Thank you for the nice comments. Hopefully you get to Italy some day soon. It's a wonderful place to visit. Thank you for the votes, etc.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Bill, you and your family have seen some amazing places. I am slightly jealous....but I'll get over it. :) Well done! You really need to think about being a travel agent or writing for a travel magazine!

Joseph Hollick profile image

Joseph Hollick 4 years ago from Hamilton, ON Canada

I really enjoyed this hub as we visited Taromina two years ago when our cruise ship docked in Catania.

However our experience of Sicily, Taromina and Mount Etna was very different because we were caught in a heavy rainfall.

Our pictures of Taromina are very unique as it shows a different side of the city. Here is a link to a few photos which I took there:

Your hub is inspiring me to try to do a similar hub but with the heavy rain aspect in mind! Hopefully I can find time to do it soon.

Cheers, Joe

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

I love the travelogs through Italy and it does make me want to get on the next plane. You did a wonderful job describing and gorgeous pictures. I always enjoy reading and dreaming. Thanks for sharing..and I am doing the same as well as Up+++++

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mperrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

Another fabulous hub on Italy. So many interesting things to see there. I've bookmarked your hubs so that I'll have them for reference if I ever get to go to Italy. Voted up, useful, interesting and beautiful. Great pictures!

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    Bill De Giulio (bdegiulio)961 Followers
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    Traveling has always been one of my passions and I look forward to visiting every corner of this amazing world.

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