How to Spend One Day in Taormina

How to Spend One Day in Taormina

‘So pretty that it hurts to look at it’. That’s how the writer Ernest Hemingway described Taormina. [EM1] And when you arrive in this handsome hilltop town on Sicily’s east coast, you instantly see he was right. Taormina sits in the shadow of Mount Etna, yet it still shines bright enough to steal the spotlight from that vast volcano. Musing on the town’s beauty, Hemingway also described a leisurely life ‘under the orange trees, jasmine matted on the walls, and the moon making all the shadows blue-black’. Sounds perfectly picturesque if you ask us. But how to spend one day in Taormina (once you can tear your eyes away from the painfully pretty scenery)? From charming streets and beautiful beaches to world-class wineries, here are our tips for a memorable trip to a destination that’s the definition of la dolce vita.


  1. Morning
  2. Late-Morning
  3. Afternoon
  4. Evening



Taormina is a beautiful place to get your bearings, so spend some time wandering the sun-kissed cobbles beneath balconies blooming with bougainvillea. Ready for breakfast? There’s a typically Sicilian speciality you might like to try, which is particularly refreshing on a sultry summer morning. Granita is a semi-frozen drink made from juice or water, sugar and fresh fruit or flavouring. Think of it as a Sicilian slushy; similar to sorbet but more slurpable. It’s typically paired with a brioche col tuppo; an Italian take on a brioche roll that you can also find filled with gelato.



After a memorable first meal of the day, make your way to the Teatro Antico di Taormina. This Greco-Roman theatre was built in the third century, an ancient amphitheatre carved from the cliff between the blue hues of the sea and the sky. And it has, hands-down, some of the best views in town, towards the captivating cone of Mount Etna and Italy’s Calabrian coast beyond. The theatre is still in use today, hosting concerts and other events in the summer months. To visit during the day, we recommend arriving early to beat the crowds (and the heat). Ancient wonder ticked off your list, head to the Corso Umberto I. Taormina’s main street is a bustling stretch of bars and cafes, as well as boutiques selling art, ceramics and Sicilian souvenirs. It’s touristy but not tacky – just like the town itself – and a charming place to pick up mementos to remember your one day in Taormina.



As one of Sicily’s best-loved resorts, you know the beaches around Taormina are going to be something special. To stick close to town in your quest for sand and sea, take the cable car down the cliff. This funicular brings you to Isola Bella beach, a slender strip of shingle leading to the tiny islet of Isola Bella, also known as ‘The Pearl of the Ionian Sea’. It’s an idyllic spot, but small, so it can quickly become crowded. As an alternative, consider Mazzarò Bay (an enchanting stretch of pebbles) or Mermaid Bay (a tranquil spot for swimming). All are accessible via the same cable car, which connects the town to the scenic shoreline. For something more strenuous than sun-worshipping, consider a half-day tour of Mount Etna; the largest active volcano in Europe and a landmark that looms large over Taormina. Many tours include an opportunity to hike through the other-worldly landscape of craters and old lava flows, getting up close and personal with one of Italy’s most famous peaks. The slopes of Etna are also a surprising home for more than 150 wineries making the most of the flavour-boosting altitude and fertile soil. Book a degustation with one of the mountain’s talented winemakers to taste their tailor-made delights while toasting the volcanic views. For more unmissable vistas, take a stroll to the Villa Communale. These serene public gardens serve up spectacular views of the coast and Mount Etna, with palm-shaded spots to sit and flower-lined paths that are often blissfully uncrowded. The gardens are open until 6pm, so stop by late in the day to pause and reflect on your Sicilian sojourn.



If there’s one thing Italian towns do well, it’s pretty piazzas (public squares). With bars and restaurants perfectly positioned for people watching, Piazza IX Aprille is the ideal place to wind down as your one day in Taormina draws to a close. When deciding on a spot for dinner, Taormina has four Michelin-starred restaurants showcasing contemporary Sicilian cooking, as well as traditional trattorie for more informal dining. As you’d expect from a coastal town, many local specialities centre around fresh seafood caught nearby. Try pasta con le sarde (a simple pasta dish with sardines) or involtini di pesce spada (baked swordfish rolls) for a taste of the Mediterranean – all exquisitely paired with one of Etna’s fine wines.