The renowned giant of German literature, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said "To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything." We couldn't agree more! Sicily has everything to offer- its rich in history, the beaches are incredible and the food and wine is delicious. The hilltop town of Taormina is serious linen territory, so naturally its our number one place to visit in Sicily.
How to Get There
Catania is the closest airport to Taormina, which is approximately a 55 minute drive away. It's a fairly easy drive on the motorway so you can either hire a car or let the locals do the work and catch a bus or train straight from the airport. Trenitalia has trains running hourly from Catania airport to Taormina for under 20 Euros. The sightseeing along the coast isn't bad either! The Etna Transporti Interbus also has a direct service from the airport that takes you into Taormina for less than 10 Euros but this does take at least 1.5hrs as it makes a number of stops along the way.
Part of the Belmond group of luxury hotels, this is right up there with one of the best. Set in the heart of Taormina with incredible ocean views, we would move mountains to stay here!!
Also part of the Belmond group of hotels and right on Mazzaro Beach with private beach access. Once you check in, you'll never want to leave...If you can't stay here, at the very least we strongly encourage you to enjoy an Aperitif- the cocktails are delicious and they are accompanied by an exquisite platter of pre dinner snacks.
Super Cheap & Cheerful
This is a basic hotel but a brilliant location right near Mazzaro and Isola Bella beach. Rooms vary in size depending on what you're after and breakfast is served every morning on the terrace. It's also a very short walk to the funicular up to the old town of Taormina. It's a great alternative if you're on a budget.
If you want to really Linen The Dream, on your first morning in Taormina we recommend having breakfast at your hotel and then going for a swim at Mazzaro Beach. Nothing like starting the day with some sun and salt! Mazzaro Beach is absolutely beautiful and if you ask us, it epitomises everything we imagined Taormina to be. If you're sun conscious, you can hire beach chairs and umbrellas for around 15- 20 Euros per person. This might sound like a lot but it gives you the chance to bags a spot and you can come and go throughout the day. We spent a lot of our time at Lido La Pigna. The benefit of these sun beds is that there's also table service so you can eat breakfast or lunch by the beach as well as orders cocktails and wine til your heart's content.
If you're itching to see the sights and really get a feel for this beautiful hilltop town, you can catch the funicular from Taormina Mare up to the centre of town. We would recommend either buying a weekly pass so that you can travel up and back at no added cost. There's often a queue to get tickets, particularly at night so it's much easier if you buy your pass and make sure it covers you for your time in Taormina. Once you get to the top, wander the streets, check out all the shops and take your time.
If you've got room for a light snack, you must try Granita- it's a Sicilian breakfast tradition (feel free to try it day or night) consisting of flavoured ice and is often paired with brioche. The best place to try this is called Bam Bar!
Address: Via Giovanni di Giovanni, 45, 98039 Taormina
A perfect spot for lunch is I Giardini di babilonia. They have a beautiful courtyard where you can sit and just enjoy the service. It is a slightly more upmarket experience but you can order a couple of things to share and limit yourself to a glass of wine if you don't want to splurge. It's location is also slightly off the beaten track, which is perfect because it doesn't attract the many hundreds of tourists who tend to flock to Taormina during summer.
After lunch, go for a walk to the Ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina, built in the third century BCE. It's considered one of the most important sights to visit in Taormina and there are beautiful views towards the Calabrian and Ionian Coasts as well as the spectacular cone of Etna.
Address: Via del Teatro Greco, 1, 98039 Taormina
Aperitif: You can't get much better than an Aperitif at Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea. They have a beautiful outdoor bar near the pool that offers delicious cocktails, which are accompanied with even more impressive savoury snacks. The setting is magical and the service impeccable.
Dinner: While you are in Taormina Mare, a short walk just along from the Hotel is an authentic restaurant called Ristorante Il Gabbiano. You can sit on the terrace which overlooks Isola Bella beach and just enjoy the view before the sun sets.
Address: Via Nazionale, 115, 98039 Taormina
Once you've had breakfast, this morning it's time to wander along to Isola Bella beach. This is a beautiful pebble beach with plenty of sun beds and umbrellas to hire. These are slightly more pricey compared to Mazzaro Beach but its really the best way to find yourself a spot and relax for a few hours.
Lunch: For lunch or a light snack, there are a couple of cafes on the beach. They are by no beans flash but the food is delicious and you can order anything from arancini balls, to pizzas and paninis. You can also take drinks to your sun bed!
After lunch, head back to Mazzaro beach where you can arrange a small boat to take you to the nearby Blue Grotto. There are a number of companies that offer different prices and deals depending on the size of your group, so the best way is to either just ask them as they are dotted around the beach or ask your hotel to make a booking for you. This is always a fun way to spend the afternoon, particularly if you're travelling with family or friends.
Aperitif: Catch the funicular back up to the centre of Taormina to a lovely outdoor bar called Timoleone Cafe. Bar tables are dotted along a series of steps and there's always someone playing jazz music. Try their Mojito- it's delicious!
Address: Via Timoleone, 6, 98039 Taormina
Dinner: For dinner, we recommend Red & White Hostaria. The food here is delicious and the wait staff are thoroughly entertaining. Our favourite dishes here are the eggplant parmigiana and the mussels.
Full day: You can't visit Sicily and not see Mt Etna- Europe's largest active volcano. You can jump on a guided tour bus which will take you to Etna’s base station at Rifugio Sapienza. From here you are generally given a few hours to trek around the foothills of Mount Etna. The drive is only about an hour from Taormina, so you can also hire a car and travel at your own leisure if you prefer it.
We suggest that you speak to your hotel about the best tours that are provided but we would recommend looking at Viator for all day trips and tours operating around the area.
Dinner: After a long day, it's time for the best pizza in Taormina. You will find this at a lovely old Italian establishment called Granduca, which is located in the centre of the hilltop town. If you can make a reservation to sit outside on the terrace, there are spectacular views but this is a very popular restaurant so it isn't always possible. The pizza here is delicious but there are plenty of other options if pizza isn't your thing.
Address: Corso Umberto I, 172, 98039 Taormina
That's it from us at Linen The Dream! Make the most of your time in Taormina, it truly is a beautiful place to visit time and time again. We'll have more Sicily recommendations coming to our website very soon!