Must-See Guide for One Day in Taormina

View from the tarrace of the historic garden of Taormina
Posted on 2023-05-12

    Taormina has become a favorite destination for the world’s elite, a must-see small town nestled on the eastern coast of Sicily. Thanks to its charming narrow streets, stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea, and rich history dating back to the ancient Greeks, in fact, the city is a not-to-be-missed destination in every Gran Tour of Sicily.

    The town is divided into two parts: Taormina, the city’s higher section, the main historical area. Here the best-renowned attractions and the most stylish hotels and restaurants are located. Taormina Mare, instead, at sea level, is home to a beautiful pebbly beach.

    The two parts are connected by a cable car during summer and by a winding road that offers breathtaking sea views over the Mediterranean.


    What to do in one day at Taormina

    Your Taormina itinerary for one day will certainly start with a stroll along the Corso Umberto with your private guide.

    Corso Umberto is the main street lined with elegant boutiques and cafes. Your guided tour will undoubtedly start with a visit to the ancient Greek Theatre, one of the most important archaeological sites in eastern Sicily, characterized by a stunning backdrop of Mount Etna.

    Continue exploring the town’s historic churches and palaces, including the beautiful Palazzo Corvaja.

    Time to enjoy lunch at one of the town’s excellent restaurants, savoring the local specialties like pasta alla Norma or swordfish with caponata. Then try some shopping on Corso Umberto and take the time to enjoy an ice cream break.

    End your day with a relaxing walk in the town’s public gardens, Parco Trevelyan, to enjoy the stunning views of the sea and the city before savoring the best fine dining at one of the Michelin-starred restaurants in Taormina.

    One day tour in the historical center of Taormina
    Period building in the historical center of Taormina

    The Greek Theater of Taormina

    You cannot miss a guided tour of the Greek Theater, one of the most iconic landmarks in Taormina. This ancient theater was built in the third century B.C. and still stands today. The theater is known for its stunning views of Mount Etna and the sea. During summer, it is also a popular venue for unique concerts and special events.

    Palazzo Corvaja

    Palazzo Corvaja is a magnificent architectural gem dating back to the 13th century. The palazzo’s distinctive blend of Gothic, Norman, and Arabic design elements makes it one of the city’s landmarks. Today, the palazzo houses the Museum of Arts and Crafts, showcasing Sicily’s traditional handicrafts.

    Church of Santa Caterina

    Another must-see historical building in Taormina is the Church of Santa. This is a stunning Baroque church in the heart of the town. The church was built on the ruins of a small Roman theater, which in turn had been built on an even more primitive Greek temple dedicated to Aphrodite!

    Church of San Pancrazio

    San Pancrazio is patron of Taormina. The Church to him dedicated was first constructed between the 6th and 9th centuries and incorporated the ruins of a pre-existing Greek temple. In the 1600s, the building was enlarged and decorated in the Baroque style, reflecting the prevailing taste of the time.

    The Naumachia

    During your walk in Taormina’s center, look at the Naumachia. A sizeable Roman construction was built in the second century A.D. near the ancient Forum in Taormina, Sicily. It consisted of a brick retaining wall and served as a water cistern with 18 large and small niches that probably contained fountains and statues of gods and heroes.

    Piazza IX Aprile

    As Taormina’s most sophisticated gathering spot, Piazza IX Aprile boasts a vibrant atmosphere, with open-air bars and local artists capturing portraits and landscapes on canvas. The balcony overlooking the square offers a breathtaking panoramic view, encompassing the majestic Mount Etna, the stunning Naxos Bay, and the ancient ruins of Taormina’s theater.

    Taormina Belvedere Piazza IX Aprile
    Piazza IX Aprile in Taormina

    Cloisters of San Domenico

    Once a functioning monastery, the San Domenico Palace is today a luxury hotel. The 40 monks’ cells were converted into guest rooms, and the building was expanded, but the two original cloisters remain.

    This is the moment to take a break at the bar of the hotel, located in the main cloister, which now serves as a stunning oasis of tranquility in the heart of Taormina.

    Piazza Duomo

    The imposing Duomo building defines Piazza Duomo. This building, unlike typical churches, resembles a fortress with a magnificent rose window made of fine Syracuse stone. Additionally, the Baroque fountain named “Quattro Fontane” was constructed in front of the cathedral in 1635. Its name, meaning “Four fountains,” derives from the four small columns and seahorses decorating the fountain.

    Palazzo dei Duchi di Santo Stefano

    This impressive structure is a remarkable Sicilian Gothic example that has undergone several transformations over the centuries, including damage from the 1908 earthquake and World War II bombings. Now, it serves as a venue to showcase the works of the artist Giuseppe Mazzullo who produced sculptures in various styles and materials throughout his career.

    Excursions from Taormina

    If you want to stay in Taormina for more than one day and choose one of the luxury hotels in town, it will be easy to explore the area with some daily excursions.

    You can take tours to a variety of destinations within a short distance—for example, the nearby charming town of Castelmola, the city of Catania, Mount Etna, Messina, and even Syracuse.

    Etna is Europe’s highest active volcano and a UNESCO Heritage Site. You can take a guided tour to explore its volcanic landscapes, enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, and learn about the area’s fascinating history and geology. For the adventurous, we can organize an off-road tour, visit the several boutique wineries at its foothills or organize exclusive picnics in the forest or on the lava floor.

    If you enjoy being active, do not miss the stunning wild nature of the Alcantara Gorges and the cold waters running through its canyon.

    History lovers will appreciate having a chauffeured transfer a bit further to the South to visit Syracuse and the most antique area of this city, Ortygia.

    For nature lovers, we recommend visiting Isola Bella, a beautiful nature reserve featuring a small island connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of sand, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and picturesque rocky shores.

    You can finally relax and unwind in the picturesque village of Giardini Naxos or at the beach of Taormina Mare.

    View from Taormina over the surroundings
    View from Taormina

    Experiences in Taormina and its Surroundings

    Taormina and its surroundings offer a variety of alternatives to enjoy the local atmosphere according to your preferences.

    Gourmet travelers will appreciate a unique cooking experience with one of the Michelin-starred chefs of the region. This is an occasion not only to reveal some behind-the-scenes secrets of a renowned chef but also to get familiar with the fresh local ingredients.

    For a more traditional and immersive culinary experience, head to the Alcantara Gorges area. First, explore this natural wonder: a natural canyon carved out over thousands of years by volcanic activity and the flow of the Alcantara River, with impressive rock formations, crystal-clear waterfalls, and refreshing natural pools. Then, spend a few hours in the nearby ancient village in the company of local “mammas” – mothers who are passionate about preserving traditional cuisine. These hospitable ladies offer a home cooking project, where they prepare delicious local dishes using only fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from the area.

    Fans of The Godfather trilogy should experience a unique cinematic tour by visiting Michael Corleone’s house from the first film and the charming village of Savoca, where several iconic scenes were shot. You will catch a glimpse of the captivating world of The Godfather and walk in the footsteps of your favorite characters.

    Finally, relax and experience blissful moments of tranquility and beauty, enjoying the view over Mount Etna and the bay of Taormina from the arts and crafts historical garden, a private garden with its stunning blend of Mediterranean and English flora featuring exotic trees, colorful flowers, and fragrant herbs.

    The garden surrounds a historic villa famous for its dining room, the only interior still in existence designed in 1910 by Sir Frank Brangwyn, a Royal Academician, and hidden away for over a hundred years because it addressed, in the Art Nouveau decoration of the murals, a topic that is still controversial and debated today, homogenous parenthood.

    If you are looking for more ideas for your exploration of the region, you can browse our portfolio of luxury tours in Sicily.

    Historic Garden in Taormina
    Historic garden in Taormina

    Shopping in Taormina

    Corso Umberto is a place for those looking to indulge in luxury shopping.

    This charming street is lined with high-end boutiques and shops selling everything from designer clothing to handmade artisanal goods.

    You can shop antique ceramics from private families and jewelry of all kinds, vintage prints, Sicilian landscaping, maps, as well as tablecloths, and embroidery.

    You will also find the Sicilian handmade ceramic from Caltagirone, Palermo, and Sciacca, the traditional Moors’ head pottery, and various souvenirs made of lava stone from the nearby Mount Etna.

    Shopping in Taormina

    About Doriana Briguglio

    L'Isolabella - Managing Director & Founder
    Founder of L'Isolabella, Doriana has more than 20 years of experience in creating luxury travels, lifestyle experiences, and events. Constantly on the move, she divides her time between offices in Sicily and Malta or travelling around the globe. Always poised between her volcanic creativity and an equally natural tendency towards idleness, you can easily catch her with both a pen in her hand jotting down crazy ideas or with a glass, chatting about vineyards, vines, and wines. She is a professional sommelier, a member of AIS - Associazione Italiana Sommelier and WSET certified.

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