Known as the pearl of the Mediterranean, Taormina is a well loved Italian destination for tourists to flock to each year. Located on the east coast of the idyllic island of Sicily, Taormina is perched high above the sea to provide breathtaking views of Mount Etna. Not only can you see one of Italy’s three active volcanoes while visiting this small town, you can also experience the beautiful architecture and rustic cuisine they offer. It’s no wonder thousands of tourists arrive at the town’s shores each year. If you are wanting to experience the wonder of one of Sicily’s most popular destinations for yourself, let our guide to Taormina provide everything you need to know before you visit.
Table of Contents:
- Where is Taormina?
- When is the Best Time to Visit Taormina?
- How to Get to Taormina?
- Top 3 Best Things to Do in Taormina
- What Are the Best Hotels in Taormina?
- Is Taormina Featured in Any Movies or TV Shows?
Where is Taormina?
Taormina is located in Sicily, a beautiful Italian island in the Mediterranean. Perched on rocky terrain, overlooking the Ionian Sea, the town is situated on the east coast of the Italian island. Boasting breathtaking views of Sicily’s active volcano, Mount Etna, this picturesque town really has something for everyone.
When is the Best Time to Visit Taormina?
- Between June and August – peak tourist season, so be prepared for queuing.
- April to June – can be relatively warm but crowds are thinner.
- September to March – out of season, so may not have the sunshine but the views are still incredible to experience.
The best time to visit Taormina is between June and September, if you are needing a well earned summer family vacation. However this is peak tourist season. If you are looking to create your own dolce vita and crave the warm Mediterranean sun, without the crowds, book your trip for either side of these months. So between April and June, or September to October. This way you can still enjoy Sicily’s weather without the long queues at tourist attractions.
How to Get to Taormina?
Taormina is a relatively easy town to reach on the popular Italian island of Sicily. With well connected public transport, you can be drinking un caffè, overlooking the historic
sites in just over an hour and a half from landing at the airport.
The nearest airport to fly into Taormina from the UK, USA or any European country is Catania Fontanarossa. From there you can then use the public bus service to reach the town, as there is often a service running throughout the day and early evening. Be sure to double check the timetables before you depart, to ensure you don’t miss the last transfer.
Are There Direct Flights to Taormina From London?
Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to Taormina, Sicily from London. However, you can fly direct from London to Catania-Fontanarossa Airport, which is the nearest airport. From here you can look to reach the picturesque town by bus, taxi or hiring a car. If you hire a car, check with your accommodation reservation before booking, as many central lines are pedestrianised. The journey from the airport to the town of Taormina is around 1 hour.
The flight time is typically around 3 hours, but this can vary depending on the airline and the specific route. Several airlines offer direct flights from London to Sicily’s Catania airport, including:
Top 3 Best Things to Do in Taormina
3 of the best things to do and experience while in Taormina include:
- Visiting the Valley of the Temples: the Ancient Ruins in the Valley of the Temples are some of the finest preserved, historic structures outside of Greece. When visiting be prepared for the heat and ensure you take a hat and sunscreen as there is limited shade when walking around!
- Take a Trip to Isola Bella Island: This is a small island located just off the coast of Taormina. It’s a nature reserve and has a beautiful beach that’s perfect for swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing. The beach itself is made of lots of little rocks, so from our experience, we’d recommend wearing swimming shoes to help protect your feet.
- Guided Tour of Mount Etna: Take a guided tour to visit the stunning Mount Etna, Sicily’s active volcano that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The experience is a must do when on the island. If you don’t fancy a huge hike, we’d recommend booking the cable cart too. And one final tip, when we took part in climbing Mount Etna ourselves, we realised how cold it can get, so be prepared and take a few layers if you plan to make it to the top!
- Visit the The Ancient Theatre of Taormina: Built in the 3rd century BC. It is one of the oldest Greek theatres in Sicily and one of the best preserved. It still hosts live performances. Artists like Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Elton John and Sting have all performed here.
What Are the Best Hotels in Taormina?
There are many hotels and B&Bs in Taormina, ranging from budget-friendly to luxury. Some popular options from previous experience include:
- Grand Hotel San Pietro – A 5 star hotel, set amongst luscious gardens overlooking the Ionian Sea. Situated 1.1km from the centre of Taormina (about a 10 minute walk), this hotel is popular with guests for the scenery, cleanliness and free shuttle that can take you to Taominas old town.
- San Domenico Palace, A Four Seasons Hotel – An iconic 5 star hotel, recently used to film season two of The White Lotus, the San Domenico Palace truly goes above and beyond. What makes it a guest favourite is the accommodating staff who care about you having the best experience, while also feeling safe. The grounds and gates are highly guarded, making you feel at ease.
- Panoramic Hotel Taormina – This understated 4 star hotel boasts incredible views over the Mediterranean, which is why it’s easy to see its a guest favourite. Located on the coast, the hotel is a stone’s throw away from the beach and you can even see Isola Bella island from your room’s balcony, the hotel bar or pool.
The Best Restaurants in Taormina
For a gastronomic holiday experience, Taormina has five Michelin starred restaurants to choose from including Otto Geleng Restaurant (Via Teatro Greco, 59, 98039 Taormina), Principe Cerami (Piazza San Domenico 5, Taormina, 98039) and the two Michelin Star rated St. George Restaurant by Heinz Beck (Viale S. Pancrazio, 46, 98039 Taormina.)
For a more ‘normal’ dining experience, here are five of the best restaurants in Taormina
- Ristorante Trattoria da Nino (Via Cavour, 31, 98039)
- Ristorante La Capinera (Via Pirandello, 14, 98039 Taormina)
- Ristorante La Cucina di Mamma Teresa (Via Naumachie, 21, 98039 Taormina)
- Trattoria Tiramisù (Viale Pirandello, 23, 98039 Taormina)
- La Caravella Restaurant (Via Pirandello, 25, 98039 Taormina)
Best restaurant for a romantic dinner in Taormina:
La Capinera with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. Some of their most popular dishes include spaghetti alla bottarga, a pasta dish made with sardines, bottarga (salted and cured roe), and olive oil; and pasta con le sarde, a pasta dish made with sardines, fennel, and pine nuts. (https://www.pietrodagostino.it/la-capinera/)
The best restaurant for seafood
La Caravella Restaurant is known for its fresh Sicilian seafood. Some of their most popular dishes include spaghetti allo scoglio, a pasta dish made with seafood, tomato sauce, and white wine; and frittura di mare, a fried seafood platter. (https://www.lidolacaravella.com/)
Ristorante La Cucina di Mamma Teresa with a family-run restaurant that offers a variety of vegetarian options. Some of their most popular dishes include pasta con le melanzane, a pasta dish made with eggplant, ricotta, and tomato sauce; and pasta al pomodoro, a simple pasta dish made with tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil.
Is Taormina Featured in Any Movies or TV Shows?
Yes, Taormina in Sicily has been featured in several movies and TV shows. Here are some notable examples which you can watch before you visit, to get a taste of the surroundings:
- The Godfather: Part III (1990) – This famous movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola features a scene filmed in Taormina’s Ancient Theatre.
- The Big Blue (1988) – The Big Blue is a French movie directed by Luc Besson features several scenes filmed in and around Taormina, including Isola Bella.
- Inspector Montalbano (1999-2021) – This popular Italian TV series, based on the novels of Andrea Camilleri, features several episodes filmed in Taormina and the surrounding area.
- The White Lotus (2022) – One of the most popular TV shows of 2022, The White Lotus uses Taormina as a backdrop in many scenes, thanks to filming at the San Domenico Palace.
This idyllic town is a popular choice with TV and film directors, thanks to its stunning scenery and rich cultural heritage. Be sure to recreate your favourite scenes when you visit the Italian island of Sicily.
Experience Italy’s Dolce Vita
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