5 Tips For A Trip To Taormina, Italy

Written by on October 18, 2017 in Featured - No comments

Perched on the side of a mountain ridge, the picturesque hilltop town of Taormina is fast becoming a popular holiday destination. This stunning town in Sicily is an Instagrammer’s dream, with its historic towns, ancient theatre and the magnificent Mount Etna just around the corner – this Sicilian town has something to offer for everyone.

For adventurous souls, hike up Europe’s largest active volcano or mountain bike your way; for cultural minds, visit the Ancient Greek Theatre (built in the third century) and Palazzo Corvaja; for beach bums, head to Isola Bella and the beautiful Sicilian coastline.

Here are some tips and tricks on what to do and how to get around Taormina:

Don’t Rent a Car

Depending on what you want to do, there is little reason to rent a car in Taormina. Sure, you’ll have the freedom to go where your heart desires but the reality is that the roads are narrow and steep, with very limited parking. It only takes 15-20 minutes to walk from one side to the other – plus it’s the best way to explore and find your own hidden gems! There’s even a very convenient cable car that runs from the town to the beach.

If you do want to explore the surrounding areas of Taormina, or prefer getting to places a bit quicker, opt to rent a vespa. There are plenty of rental companies in the town, just be sure to shop around and compare prices as they can vary largely between companies.

There’s something quite exhilarating, beautiful and oh-so-Italian about exploring the countryside on two wheels. Gently cruise on the winding mountain roads, past olive groves to reach stunning coastlines. But do have your wits about you on the roads – Italian drivers are notorious for their less-than-considerate driving.

Don’t visit in the winter

Aside from the weather, most of the tourism in Taormina actually shuts down between November to March. Instead, try and visit in the shoulder months of April – May, or September – October, this way you will avoid the heaving crowds.

However, skiing on Mount Etna is available through the winter months – there are two main resorts: Etna Sud and Etna Nord.

Check out the view

There are many attractions that you must see in Taormina – do expect large crowds at the key ones though. It’s best to hit up attractions early in the morning (from 8am), and also spend some time just exploring the medieval town on foot – admiring the architecture, finding hidden gems and spotting grooves amongst the cobble-stoned streets that were once formed by Caesar’s chariots.

Some key attractions that you shouldn’t miss in Taormina:

The Ancient Greco-Roman Theatre

Built in the 3rd Century, this theatre is surprisingly still intact and is fully functioning as an outdoor stage to this day. With its gorgeous Greek pillars and columns, the Romans once held gladiator battles at this theatre. Today, you can go to see ballets, operas and concerts – and most recently in September 2017, the Dalai Lama gave a speech there!

Mount Etna

Europe’s – and one of the world’s – largest active volcano is a must see whilst you’re in Taormina. This spectacular work of nature is just awe-inspiring and unmissable – literally and figuratively. Choose from a wide variety of tours to explore this amazing natural beauty from hiking and mountain biking, to jeep tours, cable cars and more.  

Isola Bella

A stunning pebble beach – known as the Pearl of the Ionian Sea – reachable by a 5-minute cable car from the town. There’s a teeny islet of the same name, which houses a small natural museum; the path to which is visible only when the tide is low.  

Villa Comunale di Taormina

This beautiful public garden is extensive and offers a wonderful afternoon for a relaxing stroll admiring the botanical garden. Once owned by Lady Florence Trevelyan, a British aristocrat and keen gardener who was exiled for her affair with Edward VII, this unique garden contains winding paths lined with exotic plants, colourful geckos, eye-catching architectural structures and many other gems.

Perched on a cliff-side, the gardens also offer awe-inspiring views of the ancient theatre, Mount Etna and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the perfect place for escaping the busy crowds of Taormina!

EAT ALL THE FOOD

In order to fully immerse yourself in the local culture, you need to indulge in the local food! Feel free to explore the town yourself and stumble upon a hidden traditional restaurant – here are some key places to visit, and a must-try local specialty:

Cena con vista parte 2, Etna che sovrasta Taormina 🌋 #Taormina #Etna #cena #panorama

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Al Saraceno

Looking to have dinner with a view? You can’t get much better than Al Saraceno. Reported as one of the most beautiful restaurants in the world, Al Saraceno offers a unique alfresco dining experience overlooking Mount Etna. Time your dinner with the sunset (obviously) and watch as the sky transitions in colour, finally settling on a black that’s delicately lit up by the twinkling lights of the town beneath.

Expect delicious Sicilian specialties – particularly pizzas and the freshest seafood – and local wines.

Do be aware that there is a bit of a climb from Taormina, so for those with mobility issues, try and organize a taxi beforehand.

Bambar

Serving the best granita in town – a must try if you haven’t already! Granita is a delicious iced treat, made with crushed fruit and gently frozen into a crushed ice/snow consistency. A bit like a snow cone, but less of the sugary syrup, more of the tasty and healthy fresh fruit.

Bambar offers a wide variety of flavours – many of which are seasonal so be aware that not all flavours will be available all the time, but I’m sure you’ll find a suitable alternative from their extensive menu.

Expect classics – strawberry, lemon and orange – and the less-expected – nutella, coffee and pistachio. Granitas are €3.50 each and payment is taken in cash only.

Where to Stay

Accommodation is so important – choose wisely and carefully. There are plenty of different types of accommodation in Taormina to suit most budgets. For luxury and convenience, hotels are an obvious choice – these range from the ultra luxurious boutique hotels to more budget hotels that ticks all the essential boxes.

For something unique and utterly luxurious, try the eco-friendly – and bio-friendly – country boutique hotel Monaci delle Terre Nere. Located on the foothills of Mount Etna, this hotel contains 12 differently styled suites. All rooms come without a TV or phone – time to switch off and relax amongst the 16 hectares of olive groves and vineyards, eat the most delicious food whilst admiring the panoramic views of Mount Etna and the Mediterranean Sea.

#spring #siciliangarden #sicilianvilla

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If you want a special experience of Taormina, without the price tag of a boutique hotel, try staying in a local Sicilian home. You’ll get a more enriching experience of the local culture by living like a local, with more privacy and that home-away-from-home feeling.

Alternatively, for those on the super budget-conscious scale – and solo travellers –couchsurfing is a fun and cheap alternative. You’ll get an even more immersive experience living with a local, who will surely be more than happy to recommend some hidden Sicilian gems to visit.

Have you been to Taormina? Do you have any favourite sites or useful tips?

 

Villa Comunale photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Terry Feuerborn

 

About the Author

Diana Edelman is an avid traveler who recently spent four years living as an expat. Most notably, Diana spent nearly three years in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she worked with Save Elephant Foundation to raise awareness about the realities of elephant tourism. Currently based in Las Vegas, Diana works in many industries as a publicist, social media expert, content creator and journalist. The founder of Vegans, Baby, you can normally find her hanging out at vegan restaurants around town, exploring the beauty of the desert southwest or camped out at a coffee shop banging on a keyboard. The co-founder of the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective, Diana has spoken at conferences about travel blogging and responsible tourism.

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