If you’re visiting Sicily I feel like it should be a law that you HAVE to visit Taormina. It’s really that amazing of a place.
Taormina is a charming resort town on the eastern coast of Sicily that boasts unforgettable views of both the sea and Mount Etna, as well as historic sights and, of course, incredible food.
We left our trip to Sicily wishing we spent even more time in this city, as it has so many great streets for strolling, seafood for eating, and la dolce vita for living.
If you’re planning a trip to this dreamy Sicilian city keep in mind these 7 things to do while you’re there.
P.S. There’s a Google Map at the end of the post with all the spots marked.
1. Feel the History at the Greek Theater
There are a lot of well-preserved ancient sights in Sicily, and one of the most impressive is this ancient theater. What makes it so special?
The Greek Theater in Taormina dates back to the third century BC and is nestled on the city’s cliffs, creating a beautiful sea backdrop for performances.
The Romans later built upon the Greek scene here, and it’s still used today for concerts. It’s right in the downtown area, so it’s very easy to get to as you wander the city.
2. Eat Granita for Breakfast
If you’re traveling to Sicily I’m sure you’re excited about eating traditional foods. You might have fresh squeezed orange juice, almonds, calamari, and pistachios on your mind. And when it comes to dessert you’re probably thinking about cannoli.
But you can’t miss out on granita, a sweet, cold treat that comes in various flavors and is traditionally eaten with a fluffy brioche.
Sometimes granita is more grainy, and sometimes it’s more creamy, but it’s always delicious. You can get it all over the city, but my recommendation is to order a coffee flavored one with whipped cream at Piazza IX Aprile where you can watch the cruise ships out on the sea.
I seriously never got tired of these views in Taormina!
3. Shop Along Corso Umberto
I really don’t travel anywhere without getting a bit of shopping in, and you shouldn’t miss this fun street full of (mostly) traditional wares.
Corso Umberto runs through Taormina’s old town and has shops selling Sicilian style pottery, local foodstuffs, hand-embroidered linens, and other items that make for great souvenirs.
You can also shop for the ‘Made in China’ type stuff like Godfather t-shirts, shot glasses, and magnets if that’s what you’re looking for. Or you could grab something from a trendy boutique. There’s something for everyone on this shopping street.
4. Ride the Cable Car Down to Isola Bella
Let me tell you a bit more about how Taormina is set up. The city sits along the side of a mountain, Monte Tauro, which gives you those amazing views. The city wasn’t really made with cars in mind, so it’s full of small, windy one way roads with no sidewalks.
Side note: Driving in Sicily is kinda scary. If you’re renting a car go as small as you can so you don’t have trouble navigating the teeny roads (they’re basically alleys). And know that everyone is an aggressive driver.
That means that the best way to get down from the mountain to the beaches and the literal “beautiful island” of Isola Bella below is by taking the Taormina Cable Car.
It gives you more pretty views and is the safest way to get to the Mazzarò beach area. The cable car is well-priced and runs often so it’s easy to fit into your plans.
5. Take a Cooking Class
I wasn’t going to make it through this list without mentioning food more than once! And taking a cooking class was one of the best decisions we made while in Taormina.
After eating a meal at Red & White Osteria, the owner, Gianluca, told us about his cooking class.
The day starts with a granita breakfast, then you walk to the local market to pick up fresh ingredients. Gianluca explains what he looks for in the fresh fish and produce to make sure he’s getting the absolute best for the restaurant. Then you head back to the restaurant kitchen to make your 3 course meal with the chef. And the finale? Eating your creations!
We signed up then and there.
And I am not lying when I say that our handmade macaroni pasta was the best I’ve ever had!
See here for more information on the Red & White Osteria Cooking Class (see anyone familiar on this page?).
6. Enjoy Sicilian Wine with a View
There are plenty of places to find a good view in Taormina. You really can’t avoid them as you walk around. As you’re strolling on Corso Umberto you’ll see side streets with little restaurants that have terraces and views of the sea.
I enjoyed my glass above at our hotel, Eurostars Monte Tauro.
Sicilians pride themselves on their excellent wines, and we developed a penchant for the local Cusumano wines. Of course they tasted wonderful, but they have the added twist of using glass stoppers instead of corks on their bottles, which is just cool.
7. Take a Tour
If you’re wanting to branch out and see other things in Sicily, Taormina makes for a great jumping off point.
There’s really something for everyone based on your interests. Here are some possible tour options:
- Climb Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe
- Go on a Godfather tour, and visit some real filming locations for the movie
- Visit the Valley of the Temples and Villa Romana del Casale, more amazing Greek and Roman ruins in Sicily
- Spend the day island-hopping the Aeloian archipelago, a UNESCO heritage site
At this point you probably understand why we had such a great time and why we wish we spent more time in Taormina.
What’s not to love? Amazing food and wine, even more amazing views, historical spots, and a great feel for Sicilian culture.
The Google Map below has all the locations that were mentioned in the post marked to help you plan your visit.
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