Things to do in Taormina

Things to do in  Taormina

Greek history, Italian soul

Location, location, location. The ancient Greeks—and, later, the Romans—had an eye for prime real estate, which is why the historic resort town of Taormina occupies one of the most spectacular mountaintop perches in Sicily. Soak up the dolce vita vibe while strolling along Corso Umberto I and marvel at the Greek Theater, still stunning almost two millennia after it was built. Excursions to the panoramic village of Castelmola, Mount Etna’s volcanic peak and surrounding wineries, and Isola Bella along the coast also top Taormina’s to-do list.

Top 15 attractions in Taormina

Isola Bella

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The Italian name of Isola Bella contains both a truth and a misnomer: though worthy of being called beautiful, this tiny rocky outcrop along Sicily’s coast near Taormina is not actually an island. Located off the Lido Mazzaro beach on the Mediterranean Sea, Isola Bella is connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of sand that is often covered with water at high tide. The picturesque point was gifted to Taormina in 1806 by the King of Sicily and later purchased by the Scottish Lady Florence Trevelyan—her villa still sits on the highest point—until being taken over by the region of Sicily and made a nature reserve in 1990.More

Mt. Etna (Monte Etna)

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Set on the eastern coast of Sicily, Mt. Etna (Monte Etna) is among Europe’s tallest (and the world’s most active) volcanoes. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013, the volcano has shaped Sicilian history and continues to impact life on the island today. Visitors can explore the mountain’s smoldering volcanic craters and lava fields.More

Taormina Piazza Duomo

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Taormina is best known for its 2nd-century Greek Theatre, but this Sicilian city perched high above the eastern coastline of Sicily has a number of impressive historic attractions. One of the most important is the Cathedral (Duomo), set on a pretty square of the same name (Piazza del Duomo) along the main Corso Umberto I thoroughfare.More

Corso Umberto I

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Get a feel for the Sicilian town of Taormina by strolling down its main street, Corso Umberto I, which is crowded with locals shopping and socializing. Begin at the medieval Porta Messina city gate, stop to take in the view over the water from Piazza IX Aprile, and end in Piazza Duomo, home to the city’s historic cathedral and fountain.More

Taormina Greek Theatre (Teatro Greco)

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One of Taormina’s most spectacular sights is its 2nd-century Greek Theatre (Teatro Greco), which, despite its name, is actually an ancient Roman amphitheater built in the Greek style. Sitting high above the coast, the theater has beautiful views over Taormina, the Sicilian coastline, and Mount Etna.More

Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi)

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Italy is rich with ancient Roman ruins, but Sicily’s Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) is unique. Here, some of the some of the best-preserved ancient Greek ruins on earth dot the hillside outside of what was once the Greek city of Akragas, dating from when this area was part of Magna Graecia in the fifth century BC.More

Piazza IX Aprile

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With its black-and-white marble checkerboard paving, ornate 17th-century facade of the Chiesa di San Giuseppe, and spectacular view over the Mediterranean Sea, Piazza IX Aprile is Taormina’s loveliest square. Take a break from strolling the main Corso Umberto I thoroughfare to bask in its quintessentially Italian atmosphere.More

Castelmola

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A tiny coastal town in Sicily, Castelmola offers panoramic views over the Mediterranean Sea and Mt. Etna. Neighboring Taormina is 670 feet above sea level while Castelmola is higher up at 1,700 feet above sea level. Adventurous travelers hike uphill from Taormina to Castelmola to see its churches, visit a 13th century castle, and to taste local almond wine.More

Villa Romana del Casale

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Just outside the town of Piazza Armerina in southern Sicily, the ruins of Villa Romana del Casale are home to the world’s largest collection of ancient Roman mosaics. These incredible designs date from the fourth century and were stunningly preserved by a 12th-century landslide before being unearthed in the 19th century.More

Corvaja Palace (Palazzo Corvaja)

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One of the most striking palaces in Taormina, Palazzo Corvaja is testament to Sicily's long history of successive invasions with its mix of Arab, Norman, and Spanish styles. This palace is an architectural highlight of the old town and houses the Sicilian Museum of Popular Art and Traditions, for a deep dive into the island’s culture and history.More

Taormina Cathedral (Duomo) and Piazza del Duomo

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Taormina is best known for its 2nd-century Greek Theatre, but this Sicilian city perched high above the eastern coastline of Sicily has a number of impressive historic attractions. One of the most important is the Cathedral (Duomo), set on a pretty square of the same name (Piazza del Duomo) along the main Corso Umberto I thoroughfare.More

Santa Caterina Church (Chiesa di Santa Caterina)

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Testament to Taormina’s many layers of history, the Church of Santa Caterina di Alessandria has a wedding-cake-like baroque interior from the 17th century built atop an ancient crypt and Greek and Roman ruins, including those of the Roman Odeon. Archaeology and art enthusiasts alike will delight in this small but captivating church.More

Alcantara Gorges (Gole dell'Alcantara)

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Following the path of an ancient Mt. Etna lava flow, Sicily’s Alcantara River carved intricate ravines and underground passages through the volcanic rock. The resulting Alcantara Gorges (Gole dell'Alcantara) are part of the Alcantara River Park, popular with travelers drawn to the beautiful rock formations and the refreshing river water, especially in summer.More
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Taormina Cable Car (Funivia)

Taormina Cable Car (Funivia)

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The Sicilian coastal town of Taormina sits high above the sea and beaches. The Funivia, or cable car in Italian, connects the town to the beaches at Mazzaro below. The 5-minute cable car ride is a quick and scenic way to travel from the hotels or restaurants of Taormina down to the seafront.More

Villa Comunale

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For a respite from the heat and crowds of Taormina, retreat to the lush confines of the 19th-century English-style gardens of the Parco Duca di Cesarò, also known as the Villa Comunale. Unwind surrounded by colorful tropical plants and flowers, explore the tower and gazebo, and take in the view over the sea from the terrace balustrade.More

Top activities in Taormina

Mount Etna Half-Day Tour - Small Groups From Taormina
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Mount Etna Day Trip from Taormina

Mount Etna Day Trip from Taormina

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Etna Countryside Food and Wine Lovers Tour (Small Group)
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Siracusa - Ortigia & Noto Tour

Siracusa - Ortigia & Noto Tour

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Full-Day Etna Jeep Tour from Taormina Including Lunch
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Italian Opera in Taormina

Italian Opera in Taormina

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All about Taormina

When to visit

With its alchemy of cultural sites and pretty beaches, Taormina is a top summer destination in Sicily. The city is lively in peak season, but also uncomfortably crowded—especially when cruise ship groups pour in. To skip the crowds, visit in spring or fall when the island’s balmy temperatures are ideal for sightseeing and relaxing on the beach. The city’s annual highlight is the star-studded Taormina Film Festival in June, while performances at the Greek Theater are held June–September.

Getting around

Taormina has a compact historic center that’s largely closed to non-residential traffic and small enough to cross on foot, but be prepared for steep climbs and steps on this mountain perch. A gondola connects the old town to the Mazzarò beach area along the waterfront below; the popular Isola Bella beach is a short walk from the station. Taormina-Giardini Naxos train station is below the old town, with regular connections between the station and historic center via the local Interbus.

Traveler tips

Taormina can be overrun in summer, so it takes some planning to avoid the crowds. Visit the old town early in the morning before the cruise ship groups arrive, then head to the hills with a hike to Castelmola or bask on the beach at Isola Bella. If you’re not an early bird, flip the schedule and take a leisurely morning to go hiking or sunbathing, then tour the historic center in the late afternoon.

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People Also Ask

Is Taormina worth visiting?

Yes, Taormina is one of Sicily’s most beautiful towns, with a hilltop perch overlooking the coastline and a well-preserved second-century Greek theater. Visit the old town, stopping to admire the cathedral and browse the shops along cobblestoned Corso Umberto I. Then take the cable car to Isola Bella beach below.

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Is Taormina very touristy?

Yes, as one of the top tourist destinations in all of Sicily, Taormina bursts with visitors from spring through fall. Most are day-trippers, so plan to overnight in town to enjoy the quiet, atmospheric evenings after most tourists have left.

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Which is better: Palermo or Taormina?

Two of Sicily’s most popular destinations, Palermo and Taormina are very different, so it’s hard to say which is better. Palermo is the largest city on the island, known for its architecture and street markets. Taormina is a small hill town where tourists outnumber locals, famous for its ancient theater and sweeping views.

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Why is Taormina so popular?

With its panoramic clifftop setting, easy access to beaches, well-preserved ancient ruins, and a lively historic center packed with shops and restaurants, Taormina is one of the most attractive towns in Sicily. It’s also less than an hour by car from Catania, which is home to a major airport and train station.

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How many days do you need in Taormina?

Taormina is quite small, so you can see the top sights in a few hours. Spending a full day allows you to visit Isola Bella or Castelmola in the afternoon. Or, make Taormina your base for three days to fit in jaunts to Mt. Etna and other sights on Sicily’s eastern coast.

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What is Taormina, Italy known for?

The most famous sight in Taormina by far is its well-preserved Greek-Roman theater, dating back to the second century. But the city also has a captivating historic center with unparalleled sea views, a pristine coastline just below the historic center, and easy access to the volcanic craters of Mt. Etna.

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