Why Visit Taormina:
Taormina has been one of Sicily's top travel destinations since it became part of the European Grand Tour in the 19th century and Sicily's first resort.
Taormina has remnants of the Greeks and Romans, a fine medieval quarter and castle ruins, and modern shops and restaurants. Perched on the side of Monte Tauro, the town offers fantastic views of the coast and Mount Etna volcano. Below the town are excellent beaches where you can swim in the clear sea water. Although Taormina can be visited all year, spring and fall are the best times. July and August are hot and crowded.
Taormina is 200 meters above sea level on Monte Tauro on Sicily's east coast. It's 48km south of Messina, Sicily's closest city to the mainland. Mount Etna volcano is about a 45 minute drive southwest of Taormina and farther south is Catania, one of Sicily's largest cities.
Taormina is on the train line between Messina and Catania and can be reached by train directly from Rome. The station, Taormina-Giardini, is 2km below the center served by shuttle buses. Regular buses run from Palermo, Catania, the airport, and Messina arriving in the center of town. The closest airport, Fontanarossa in Catania, is an hour drive and has flights to some Italian and European cities (Italy Airports Map). A car ferry runs from the mainland to Messina, then take the A18 along the coast about 30 minutes. Driving in the center is limited. There are two large parking lots on the outskirts.
The luxury hotel El Jebel is right in the center of town. More top rated hotels in the center are the 4-star Villa Carlotta in a garden setting overlooking the sea and Hotel Villa Angela in a park setting with views of Mount Etna and the bay. A less expensive option right in the historic center is the 2-star Hotel Victoria. My friends recommend Atahotel Capotaormina below the center with a private beach. The 4-star Panoramic Hotel is right on the waterfront near Isola Bella. On Venere, you'll find more Taormina hotels with guest ratings and reviews, hotel photos, descriptions, and map for 2 to 5 star hotels. There's also a small youth hostel, Ulisse, with sea views at Via S Francesco di Paola 9.
Taormina has many excellent restaurants in all price ranges. It's a great place for seafood and outdoor dining, often with views. Near the duomo, Casa Grugno serves cuisine that's a mix of modern and traditional in a medieval Gothic-Catalan residence. Ristorante da Lorenzo, Via Roma 12, serves seafood on a terrace overlooking the sea. Traditional Sicilian food is served at Ristorante la Griglia, Corso Umberto 54, on an outside terrace during nice weather. An inexpensive choice is Porta Messina, next to the city walls at Largo Giove Serapide 4.
Taormina's center, especially Corso Umberto, is a good place for shopping. There are many shops selling high quality items, mostly from Sicily, although you'll find designer fashions and jewelry from mainland Italy, too. There are shops for fashion, jewelry, crafts, mosaics ceramics, puppets, porcelain dolls, and other souvenirs.
Taormina Festivals and Events:
Taormina Arte festival runs from June through August. Plays, concerts, and a film festival are held outdoors in the Greek Theater during summer. Madonna della Rocca is celebrated the second weekend of September with a religious procession and feast. Taormina has one of the best Carnival celebrations in Sicily. In May there's a traditional costume and Sicilian cart fair.
Taormina's top attractions include the Greek theater, medieval quarter, shopping and beaches. See Taormina Top Sights and Attractions for details about what to see and do in and near Taormina.