One day in Taormina, Sicily: the best things to see, do, eat
One day in Taormina Sicily: travel guide with the best things to see in Taormina in a day, Taormina best restaurants and travel tips for one perfect day in the gem of Eastern Sicily.
Taormina is a wonderful small town in the east coast of Sicily and one of the most famous in the island.
Blessed with a wonderful position with sweeping views of Mount Etna and the blue Mediterranean, as well as important archaeological ruins of unrivaled beauty, Taormina welcomes large numbers of tourists every year, attracted by its landmarks and its reputation and glamorous shopping town.
Indeed, Taormina is a bit of all of this wrapped up into a gorgeous parcel.
Toarmina is wonderful and the town itself can be visited in one day or also be chosen as a base to for visiting beautiful locations in eastern Sicily such as Siracusa, Mount Etna and the Alcantara Gorges (see the end of this article for recommended day trips).
In this article, I will share the best things to see and one with one day in Taormina and, at the end, excursions in the area you may enjoy if you have more time.
The best things to see in Taormina in one day at a glance
The best things to see in Taormina are:
- The ancient theater
- The Public gardens (Giardini Municipali)
- Corso Umberto
- Piazza XXi Aprile
- Isola Bella
Taormina is a small town and you will easily find your way around it.
The main thing to know about its geography is that Taormina develops on slope, which means the top and the bottom of the town are rather far from each other, making some planning necessary.
The connection between the two parts of the city is guaranteed by a fun gondola ride and traditional taxis.
The best way to see the two parts of Taormina is to plan the morning in one of them and the afternoon in the other, in whatever order you prefer.
Below you will find my recommended itinerary for one day in Taormina, which follows our own experience.
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One day in Taormina: morning
Taormina has a jaw dropping beautiful ancient theater, usually referred to as ‘Teatro Greco’ (Lit. Greek Theatre).
I believe any Taormina itinerary should start from here as it is just too special not to be at the center of your experience.
The theater is Greek in Origin but has been later modified by the Romans so nowadays has elements that come from both civilizations.
The location of the cavea, leaning against a natural slope, is Greek, while the scene that still stands at the back of the stage is from Roman times.
The theater is incredible for anyone who love history but very special also for those who do not, thanks to its unique location, simply breathtaking.
The cavea, the area where the audience sits, looks towards the sea and offers incredible view of the Mediterranean and, in the distance, of Mount Etna!
Ticket can be bough on the day at the theater entrance, info leaflets and panels are available at the site entrance.
The ancient theater is just off Corso Umbero, Taormina’s main street.
The Corso is lovely and full of restaurants and shops: it connects one side of the town to the other and opens onto several pretty squares, often equipped with cafes or even just benches to sit and rest.
Many side streets depart from Corso Umberto climbing up or down toweards other parts of the town: in both cases, the streets make the most of the slope Taormina is built on, with steps and flowers decorated sometimes steep passageway.
Corso Umbreto is the best place in Taormina for shopping too.
Piazza XXI Aprile
At the end of Corso Umbero you find lovely Piazza XXI Aprile, splending on two accounts: the lovely church that dominates the piazza and the stunning views towards the sea.
The piazza is a must-see place in Taormina and a popular one: don’t be surprised if you find street performers here, singing traditional and not-so-traditional Italian songs, hoping for a tip!
Another wonderful places to catch a view in Taormina are the lovely Public Gardens.
They are a little downhill from the main corso yet only a few minutes away from it and they have lovely terraces looking towards the sea and Mount Etna.
These gardens are lovely for a stroll and also pleasant for kids: they do not have an equipped playground however, they do have several areas for them to run around.
For adults, the most beautiful part of the park is the terrace, which you can enjoy from one of the many benches facing the view
One day in Taormina: Lunch
Taormina is full of lunch places and if you only have one meal in the town, one we loved was called Tiramisu, which we found great both for fish and meat.
If you prefer a lighter snack for lunch, then we found you cannot go wrong with arancini, a Sicilian specialty you cannot miss: those from Rosticceria Da Cristina are legendary!
Whatever you do for lunch, we recommend you leave a little space for a special treat after lunch: a freshly filled cannolo from nearby Pasticceria D’Amore.
One day in Taormina: afternoon
I recommend spending the second part of the day in the lower part of Taormina and see the beautiful Isola Bella.
Isola bella is a peculiar small island just in front of Taormina, connected to the mainland by a thin strip of sand, periodically covered by the local tide.
The island is beautiful to see and unique: it is a nature conservation area and hosts some species of animals (lizards, birds) that are peculiar to this stretch of land.
The island can be visited in groups of max 15 people per shift but even if you don’t, it is scenic to see and the beach in front a cool spot for swimming or sunbathing.
Isola Bella is down the Taormina hill but is it connected to the rest of the town by cable car. The ride is short and scenic and a very handy way to negotiate this otherwise steep and long slope!
One day in Taormina: evening
The hilltop location of Taormina is special any time of the day but it is magical in the evening, when the landscape lights up against the backdrop of the night sky.
To make the most of it, we recommend you go again towards Corso Umberto and pick a restaurant with a view in this area.
Andreas restaurant near the theater is excellent and Ristorante al Duomo, at the other end of the town, is wonderful too.
Best day trips from Taormina
Full day Etna, wine and Alcantara canyons tour
Half day Mount Etna morning trek
Mount Etna 5 hour food and wine tasting tour
Full day guided tour to Siracusa
Where to stay in Taormina: best Taormina hotels and apartments
Mon Repos Avenir – self catering apartments with pool and scenic views over Isola Bella (we stayed here with the kids, lovely!)
Hotel Villa Taormina, 4 star hotel with gorgeous patio areas and helpful staff in a great location
Hotel Villa Belvedere, lovely 4 star hotel, pet friendly!
Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, 5 star hotel in the perfect location in the heart of Taormina, boasting incredible views, pools, spa and restaurant on site
NH Collection Taormina, 5 star hotel with outdoor pool, spa and fitness centre
How to get to Taormina
Taormina is well connected to Messina, Catania and Siracusa by train.
The train station is at the bottom of the hill and there are regular shuttle buses connecting the station to the town. Tickets, at the time of writing, were sold on the bus upon boarding.
Local taxis also guarantee the connection and good hotels offer a pickup service.
You can walk up from the station to the town center via the main road + steps climbing up the hill however, it is steep and tiring so if you have bags with you or little kids, opt for transport or it may prove too hard!
I hope you enjoyed this quick guide to our favorite way to spend a day in Taormina, Sicily. Safe travel planning!