Taormina is a medieval city of incalculable historical value that is a must stop for the masses who travel to Sicily every year. And it is not surprising because, the inherited wealth having been the capital of Sicily, is observed in every corner.
The lights, the cleaning of the streets, the flowers … clearly the city council is concerned that Taormina look perfect before the watchful eye of the thousands of tourists who travel to Italy to visit it.
After all the golden years in Greek, Roman and Byzantine times, with the Arab conquest the city was reduced to ruins and condemned to oblivion.
It did not reappear until the XIX century, when Von Goethe began to describe the beauty of the Greek theater and its surroundings. The painter Otto Gèleng made diverse works where represented a theater of Greek time with a snowy volcano in eruption in the background. These, captivated the European aristocracy, who eager by curiosity began to visit the city, being the pioneers of what we know today as “modern tourism.”
This European high class conditioned a luxury tourism that began in the second half of the 19th century to the present. You can see this by finding the big 5-stars hotels like the Villa Sant’ Andrea, the San Domenico Palace, or the most historic and famous of all: the Grand Hotel Timeo.
Top things to do in Taormina in one day
Taormina, despite being located on the coast, rises 200 meters above sea level, on Mount Taurus. Prepare to climb stairs and ramps as the slope is pronounced.
In this article we will tell you the things that you have to do in Taormina in one day.
WALK YOUR MAIN ARTERY CORSO UMBERTO
The first thing you have to do in Taormina is to enjoy a stroll through its center. This way you will discover that this city takes care of every detail. The streets are perfectly decorated. It has nothing to do with the chaos of Palermo.
You will discover that many of the streets are decorated with colorful ceramics.
The main street, Corso Umberto, runs in no more than 15 minutes. This street is crossed by Porta Catania and Porta Messina; doors that belonged to the old wall of the city.
However, although the distance between one door and another is not significant, decorative details and the noise of the city will make you want to visit the center slowly.
DUOMO DI TAORMINA
If you walk from Porta Catania to Porta Messina the first thing you will find is the Duomo di Taormina. The cathedral dedicated to San Nicolò di Bari is vast and with an aspect more of a fort than of church. The main attraction is the baroque fountain in his square.
The most characteristic of the source are the four small independent fountains that surround the main bathtub crowned by a centaur. These four fountains are filled with water by the mouths of four seahorses. That is why this source has the name Quattro Fontane.
PIAZZA IX APRILE
The next thing you will find if you continue along Corso Umberto will be Piazza IX Aprile, which has a spectacular view of the sea in front of the Chiesa di San Giuseppe. As it is said, in this square where the most expensive cafes in all of Sicily are served.
Teatro ANTICO DI TAORMINA
Arriving at Porta Messina we find the main tourist attraction of Taormina, the Teatro Antico di Taormina.
The theater is impressive but the fact that Taormina is such a tourist city will be a big disadvantage.
In our case we visited it early in the morning. However, before the doors opened, we were already 10 people queuing up. To make matters worse, when we entered the interior of the theater, they were dismantling a stage of some possible concert they did the night before. Nowadays the theater is used to give concerts of classical and modern music as well as to celebrate the film festival.
Either way, we loved sitting on the steps looking out onto the stage with the sea and Etna in the background. Can you imagine being able to see the volcano erupting in the background, in the middle of a performance?
The entrance fee is € 10 and the opening hours are between 9:00 and 19:00 and despite the touristic nature of the place, your visit is undoubtedly a must-do in Taormina in one day.
In fact it is possibly the Greek theater with the best views you can see.
THE TAORMINA BEACH – ISOLA BELLA
When arriving at Porta Messina we have two options to visit the next most visited tourist attraction of Taormina, Isola Bella; A small island that communicates with the coast when the tide is low. This island hides a luxurious residence with swimming pool that throughout the history have enjoyed several notable people.
As I mentioned earlier, although Taormina is on the coast it rises 200 meters above sea level. To get to Isola Bella you can walk up a steep slope in which it will take about an hour.
Another option is to take a funicular with a one-way ticket for a price of € 3. We opted for the funicular and in a moment we were in the blue waters of the bay of Mazzaró.
The historic residence that is located within beautiful Isola built on the small island is now a museum house that can be accessed by paying the visit. We did not enter, since it was about to close and we had gone in the late afternoon.
Honestly, the beach of Taomina was disappointing by the context. Literally you could not even walk because of the amount of people there were. To be that late it was incredible how many sunshades and hammocks were still mounted. Asian masseurs were entertaining to offer you foot and back massages. All this added to the soaring music of the beach bars clouded the incredible natural environment in which Isola Bella sits.
Isola Bella became the fashionable summer resort in the early 20th century, especially for tourists from Northern Europe. They will approach to Sicily to meet the lustrous Isola Bella, famous for its artistic value. From my point of view the natural landscape of Isola Bella is forgotten because of this agglomeration.
THE BEST VIEWS OF TAORMINA
However, for us the best of Taormina was the views from the Madonna della Rocca Sanctuary. We completed this via crucis twice. One after returning from Isola Bella and the other in the morning very early to see the sunrise. The path is easy, since it is all stairs, but the unevenness makes it quite tired. In less than half an hour you can have the best views of Taormina in front of you.
Unlike the rest of Taormina, there was hardly anyone here. In fact we liked it so much that we inevitably had to go back there to watch the sunrise the next morning.
From there you can not only see the medieval city, but behind you have an incredible showcase of the Volcano Etna.
Taormina is also one of the places chosen to stay for those who want to take a trip to Etna. We discarded climbing this volcano to go to Stromboli thinking that it would have more activity, but in the end it turned out to be the opposite. In fact, in March of 2017 there was a big explosion and several people who were on top of Etna were injured.
Taormina at night
The truth is that we like more the city at night. Many of the tourists who spend the day here, they go to other cheaper places to stay at night .
The lighting of the streets was very charming. Candles, lights, lanterns. Without a doubt, Taormina is an ideal destination for couples.
WHERE TO EAT in TAORMINA
One of the best places where you can eat in Taormina is the Pizzeria Villa Zuccaro. This restaurant won the prize for the second best pizza in the world.
The first, curiously, was won by a Spaniard, so we can say that in Villa Zuccaro they make the best pizzas in Italy. We dined on the terrace at the light of a candle. The pizzas were delicious, but the truth is that all the food in Sicily was incredibly good. We thought the price was not bad.
HOW TO GET TO TAORMINA
Access to Taormina by car is impossible. The center is pedestrian, so you have several options:
- The first consists of parking the car in the giant parking of Porta Catania, which costs € 16 a day.
- Another option would be to park the car on the beach and from there take the funicular or the bus that takes you to Toormina.
accommodation in TAORMINA
There are many things to do for free in Taormina. However, if you intend to stay be ready because there are no cheap hotels in Taormina.
After searching a lot, we found this accommodation that was not badly priced and that although it was a little away from the center in a short time you would reach Corso Umberto.
Best TIME TO VISIT TAORMINA
In this case, we are not going to talk about the climate in Taormina, but rather about tourism and vacations. I advise you to avoid the summer months (June, July, August) as well as festivities (Easter, etc.) if you do not want your visit to be ruined by the amount of tourists visiting Taormina.
MAP OF TAORMINA
Here you have a map with all the tourist attractions and points of interest of Taormina.
Although it is a very touristy place I think that Taormina should be visited at least once in a lifetime since the Greek Amphitheater is one of those masterpieces of the past that are unique in the world.