Taormina is a medieval city of a priceless historical value and one of the best places to visit in Sicily. And it is not surprising after finding in every corner the inherited wealth of being one of the old capitals of Sicily.
The lights, the cleaning of the streets, the flowers … clearly the city council cares about the look of Taormina before the watchful eyes of thousands of tourists who travel to the city every season.
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 the famous poet and writer Von Goethe started to describe the beauty of the Greek theater and all the wondrous surroundings. The painter Otto Gèleng made diverse works where was represented the Greek theater with a snowy volcano in eruption at the background. This, captivated the European aristocracy, who dragged by curiosity began to visit the city, turning into the pioneers of what we know today as “modern tourism.”
This European high class conditioned a luxury tourism that started from the second half of the 19th century to the present. It is still easy to find this luxury influence nowadays in Taormina, especially in big 5-stars hotels as 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, even though it is located along the coast, rises 200 meters above sea level, on Mount Taurus. Prepare to climb stairs and ramps as the slope is very steep!
In this article we will show you the best plans to do in Taormina in one day.
WALK the MAIN ARTERY CORSO UMBERTO
The first thing you have to do in Taormina is to enjoy a stroll through the center. This way you will discover that this city cares about every small detail. The streets are perfectly decorated. It has nothing to do with the chaos and dirty alleys 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 city wall.
However, although the distance between one door and another is not significant, decorative details and the hustle of the street will take you a while, especially in the evening and night.
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 austere, and it looks more as a fort than a church. The main attraction is the baroque fountain in the square.
The most characteristic feature of the fountain 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 fountain was named 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 is where the most expensive cafes are served in all Sicily.
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 touristy city might have some drawbacks.
In our case we visited it early in the morning. However, before the doors opened, there we were already 10 people queuing up. On top of that, when we entered the interior of the theater, they were dismantling the stage of a concert from the previous night. Nowadays the theater is used to play 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 seeing 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 in the world.
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 where several remarkable people lived throughout history.
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 all of a sudden we were in the blue waters of the bay of Mazzaró.
The historic residence that is located within the beautiful Isola built on the small island is now a museum house that can be entered by paying the visit. We did not enter, since it was about to close and it was too late.
Honestly, the beach of Taomina was disappointing by the context. Literally you could not even walk because of the amount of people.. To be that late it was incredible how many beach umbrellas and hammocks were still mounted. Asian massagers were everywhere offering you foot and back massages. All this added to the loud music of the beach bars spoil 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. Visitors still approach to Sicily to meet the lustrous Isola Bella, famous for its artistic value. From our 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 based on steps, but the steepness can make it quite exhausting. Disregarding the steps it is absolutely worth it, In less than half an hour you can have the best views of Taormina in front of you.
Unlike the rest of Taormina, this location was very quiet. In fact we liked it so much that we inevitably had to go back there to enjoy and photograph 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 took climbing this volcano out of our route since we were going to Stromboli considering it is usually more active, but in the end it turned out to be the opposite. In fact, in March of 2017 there was a big explosion and even several people who were on the summit of Etna were injured.
Taormina at night
The truth is that we prefer Taormina at night. Many of the tourists who spend the day here, go to cheaper accommodation in the outskirts of Taormina at night.
The lighting of the streets was very charming. Candles, lights, lanterns. Without a doubt, Taormina at night is an ideal romantic destination.
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, as there is a pedestrian center. 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 a long search, 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 to be bothered by the mass of tourists visiting Taormina.
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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.