10 things to do and see in Taormina

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Taormina during your holiday or a weekend

10 things to do and see in Taormina
10 things to do and see in Taormina

Taormina is one of the most famous resorts of Sicily thanks to its charming seaside location, its beautiful landscapes, and its historical, cultural and archaeological heritage.

The beautiful Sicilian town has seduced poets and writers, has attracted famous travellers, has welcomed world-famous celebrities. Visitors come  from all over the world in this “corner of paradise on the earth” (Goethe, Italian Journey 1787), to see its greek-roman theater, to take a walk through its medieval streets, to admire its breathtaking landscapes, to enjoy its excellent gastronomy, to relax on its wonderful beaches.
Moreover, as said the French writer Guy de Maupassant, in Taormina “everythings seems to be created to seduce the eyes, the mind and the imagination.” Who have been in Taormina knows it’s true. On this page we suggest you  10 things to see and do in Taormina.

If you are looking for a hotel in Taormina,  we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 80 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Greek theatre in Taormina

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The Greek Theater is the most famous monument of Taormina, and the second largest theatre of the island (after the one of Syracuse). It was built by the Greeks (III century BC) who chose the scenic promontory as spectacular setting for their dramatic and musical performances.

The Greek theatre in Taormina
The Greek theatre in Taormina

The theatre in the second century AD was modified by the Romans, who transformed the scene and the orchestra in an arena where took place the fight between gladiators and hunting shows

From the top of the large auditorium, made by the steps carved into the rock that follow the natural concavity of the hill,  you can enjoy a magnificent panorama of the Calabrian coast with Mount Etna in the background. Suspended between sea and sky, this wonderful architectural work with perfect acoustics, hosts since many years concerts and cultural events. The most important is the Taormina Arte, the International Festival of the Arts, known and appreciated for its full calendar of music, theatre, dance and cinema.

Where: Via del Teatro Greco
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: everyday 9 am – 7 pm
Tickets: Full € 8,00 – Reduced 4,00

Villa Comunale in Taormina

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Villa Comunale is a lovely and peaceful oasis in the city center. It’s rich of  floral and arboreal beauties.

Villa Comunale in Taormina
Villa Comunale in Taormina

The beautiful public gardens named after the Duke of Cesaró, were originally a private park created by lady Florence Trevelyan Cacciola, a Scottish noblewoman who lived in Taormina in 1884 who  married the mayor. Built as a typical English garden, the park was filled with a great variety of flowers and plants from all over the world but also of singular buildings with exotic style used by Lady Florence for bird watching. The most characteristic building is the so called “The Beehives”, a  pavilion that seems like, as the name implies, a beehive. Ideal for walking and enjoying the fresh, the Villa Comunale gardens also offer a wonderful view of Mount Etna and the coastline.

Where: Via Bagnoli Croce
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: Summer 9 am to 12 am
Winter 9 am – 8 pm
Tickets: Free entrance

Palazzo Corvaja in Taormina

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Palazzo Corvaja  is characterized by different architectural styles, which are a sign of the different dominations  over the centuries. This palace is  located in the center of Taormina, in the square that once was the ancient Roman forum and before the agora of the Greek Tauromenion .

Palazzo Corvaja in Taormina
Palazzo Corvaja in Taormina

The original nucleus of the palace was the cubic tower built by the Arabs for military purposes between 902 and 1079. Then it were added the left side wing and the staircase. During the early XV century was built  the right side wing to house the assemblies of the Sicilian Parliament.

The battlements of the tower are Arabian style,  the mullioned windows and the portal have  Catalan-Gothic elements . The room where the Parliament used to meet, instead, has Norman style. It was the residence of the noble family of the Corvaja from 1538 to 1945, but later the Palace had a long period of decay and neglect. Restored thanks to the City will, the beautiful complex is now the seat of the Azienda Autonoma di Soggiorno e Turismo and in the halls of the first floor it houses an interesting museum of arts and popular traditions of Sicily.

Where: Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: The Ethno-anthropological museum is open to the public every day, except Monday, from 9:00  am to 1:00 pm and 4:00 to 8:00 pm
Tickets: € 2,60

Cathedral of Taormina

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The Cathedral dedicated to Saint Nicola, with its austere stone façade, the crenelation and the huge bell tower that make it looks like a fortress, is situated in the charming Piazza del Duomo.

Cathedral of Taormina
Cathedral of Taormina

It was built around 1400 and  it had  several renovations, as you can see  by the main portal of 1636 and the two side portals dating back to the XV century (the one on the left side) and XVI century (the one on the right side). The interior has a Latin cross with three naves and three apses. Six monolithic columns (three on each side), in pink marble surmounted by decorated capitals, support the central nave. The external façade is decorated by a small rose window and two single-light windows. In front of the Cathedral you can admire the XVII century baroque fountain built on circular terraces surrounded by four pretty fountains.

Where: Piazza Duomo
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: everyday 9 am – 8 pm
Tickets: free entrance

Corso Umberto I in Taormina

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Corso Umberto I is the main street of Taormina. This ancient road cross the old town centre and on the north side there is  Porta Messina and on the  south side  Porta Catania.

Corso Umberto I in Taormina
Corso Umberto I in Taormina

In this street there are a lot of shops, fashion boutiques and gift shops, delis and cafés, and it’s a lively pedestrian street where each day will take a walk  thousands of visitors from around the world . Besides being an elegant shopping street, the Corso is rich of architectural and artistic treasures from different eras. There are many picturesque streets that open up here and there on either side, in which you can, if necessary, “run away” from the crowd; there are three squares bordering the path (Piazza IX Aprile, Piazza Duomo and Piazza Vittorio Emanuele) in which to get lost among beautiful landscapes, medieval churches and ancient ruins.

Where: city centre
How to get there: by feet

Piazza IX Aprile in Taormina

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Piazza IX Aprile is a panoramic terrace on the sea, a delicious meeting place, and the city centre. It’s  the most famous square in Taormina with its many open-air cafés, its religious and historical buildings, and the tourists enchanted by the spectacular view of the bay and Mount Etna.

Piazza IX Aprile in Taormina
Piazza IX Aprile in Taormina

In the square you’ll admire the baroque church of St. Joseph (XVII century), the Gothic church of Sant’Agostino and the Clock Tower, or Porta di Mezzo. The tower was destroyed during the French invasion and rebuilt in 1679 and on that occasion the clock  was placed on it. Originally the square was dedicated to St. Augustine, but on  April 9, 1860 was spread the news that Garibaldi was just arrived in Marsala to set Sicily free from Bourbons. Even if the news was false (Garibaldi would have come just a month after) the citizens of Taormina still wanted to remember that date dedicating to it the most beautiful square.

Palazzo di Santo Stefano in Taormina

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The palace of the Dukes of Santo Stefano (XIII century) is considered a masterpiece of Gothic – Sicilian style with a mixture of Arab and Norman elements.

Palazzo di Santo Stefano in Taormina
Palazzo di Santo Stefano in Taormina

The huge structure looks like a  fortress and it was  the residence of Spuches, a noble family of Spanish origin, the Dukes of Santo Stefano di Brifa and Galati. You can notice some arab elements such as  the decorative diamond shape strip and the mullioned windows with arches. Norman elements can be noticed into the  squared  tower with crenellations. There is also a lovely garden that still has  the well to collect rainwater. Purchased in the 60s by the city of Taormina, the Palace now houses the Mazzullo Foundation, with a permanent exhibition of the works of sculpture and graphic artist from Messina.

Where: Via del Ghetto I (close to  Porta Catania)
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: 9.30 am 12.30 pm and 3 – 6 pm
Tickets: free entrance

Isola Bella in Taormina

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Isola Bella is a large island with a rich vegetation and linked to the mainland by a thin strip of sand, which sometimes, with  the sequence of the tides, can be covered by crystal-clear waters of the bay.

Isola Bella in Taormina
Isola Bella in Taormina

This island is  located in the charming bay after the promontory of St. Andrew, at the south of Taormina. Nature reserve since 1998, the beautiful “Pearl of the Mediterranean”, celebrated by Goethe, Byron, Dillon and many others, is divided into small terraces connected by stairs and walkways in the Mediterranean vegetation and fascinating exotic shrubs. Donated by Ferdinand I of Bourbon to the city of Taormina in 1806, the island was declared in 1984 an asset  of great historical and artistic interest.

How to get there: The beach of Isola Bella can be reached from Taormina with the cable – car : Taormina – Mazzaro
When – Hours: The island can be visited  every day, except Monday, from 9am until one hour before sunset . Groups of 15 people at time
Tickets: € 4

Things to eat in Taormina

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Taormina ‘s cuisine is made of contrasts of flavours and brave combinations because  the several dominations rule also in the culinary arts.

Things to eat in Taormina
Things to eat in Taormina

In traditional dishes, characterized by  intense flavour and spices, you can find Arab, Spanish, French and Norman influences. There are the famous rice balls, dishes made with cod, ‘mpanata di pesce spada  (rustic pie stuffed). The fish is the star of the table: tuna, mackerel, anchovies but especially grilled swordfish seasoned with “sammurigghiu”, ie vinaigrette of olive oil, oregano, salt, garlic, pepper and lemon juice. Don’t forget the desserts: a triumph of sugar, cinnamon, honey, pistachios, almonds, ricotta cheese. Ingredients used in the preparation of delicious cannoli, the famous cassata, the marzipan fruits, the colourful marzipan sweets with fruit shapes. There are also excellent sorbets and granitas. Fruit, coffee, almond, the granita is still made by hand and it’s a Sicilian specialty. In summer, people use  to have breakfast with granita ca panna e ca brioscia (granite with cream and brioche). We suggest you to have this sweet experience that will make your day!

Where to sleep in Taormina

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The small Taormina is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world.

Where to sleep in Taormina
Where to sleep in Taormina

From every nation, every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists come to Sicily to visit the small pearl. Taormina  has an excellent accommodation service: there are about 80 hotels, to which we have to add the accommodations in neighbouring areas. During high season (spring, summer and early autumn) it can be difficult to find a cheap room. We suggest you to book in advance. As for prices:  the cost of  room in a hotel or B&B with 3 stars in the city center starts from 45 EUR per night.

If you are looking for a hotel in Taormina,  we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 80 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com