Prolonging Summer in Taormina, Sicily

taormina sicily things to do

After a week of bliss in June 2022 hopping between seaside towns in Italy’s ‘heel of the boot’ Puglia (read more about our trip to Puglia here), these two cups were eager to spend more time exploring the country’s southern coastline. Thankfully, two of our friends had planned their wedding in the beautiful hilltop town of Taormina, giving us the perfect excuse to circle back and spend a few days in late September experiencing all that Sicily has to offer. Taormina served as the perfect backdrop for a destination wedding with a blend of European sophistication and laid-back holiday vibes. We revelled in the last of the 2022 European summer sun and felt incredibly lucky to be a part of our friends’ special day. It really was a weekend we will never forget.

Before arriving, we had read that Taormina is one of the more ‘touristy’ holiday destinations in Sicily and it’s easy to see why. With shopfronts along the main thoroughfare sporting quintessential Sicilian goods and breathtaking views of Isola Bella down below this place has been drawing crowds for centuries and will likely continue for years to come.

Prices were slightly higher for food and drinks compared to Puglia (expect to pay 2.50-3 euros for a coffee on the main street and 20+ euros for a main of seafood or grilled meat), but we were pleasantly surprised to find fewer ‘tourist traps’ than in some of Italy’s larger cities such as Florence or Rome. See below a list of some of our local restaurant and café recommendations:

Where to eat and drink in Taormina

  • Casa Niclodi: This was actually the reception venue for our friends’ wedding however anyone can book a table here for dinner. We loved sitting outside in the fabulous courtyard with a wine in hand and working our way through the multitude of dishes that just kept on coming! While the staff may work on Sicilian time (don’t expect anything to arrive quickly) it doesn’t really seem to matter when you’re in such a spectacular location.
  • Sicilian wine bar: This unassuming wine bar is located down a side alley just off the main drag and kicks on late into the night. Perfect for an after dinner aperitivo (or sinking a few post wedding beers)
  • Bam bar: Somewhat of an institution according to online recommendations. Bam bar is famous for its granita amongst other traditional Sicilian sweets. The real draw card however is the beautifully decorated yellow and orange tiles lining the outside of the building which make for a nice backdrop if you’re lucky enough to secure a table outside.
  • Antica Risticceria Da Cristina 1980: As mentioned above prices in Taormina are slightly higher than some other regions of southern Italy. Being on the road for five months has made us appreciate places that serve up good grub at affordable prices and this place is one of them. Literally a 30 second walk from bam bar, here you can get tasty arancini balls (our favourites were the pistachio and Bolognese ones) and other typical dishes including eggplant lasagne for somewhere between 2.50-5 euros each.  
  • Laboratio Pasticceria Roberto Chemi: While there are plenty of small patisseries to choose from along the main street we stumbled across this little pasticceria and had some of the best cannoli we’ve had to date. It’s always a good sign when the server insists on making the cannoli fresh and refuses to serve you if you can’t promise that you’ll eat it straight away (otherwise it’ll go soggy!)
  • Café de Duomo: Just off the main square Café de Duomo was our go to for a quick coffee to start the day. While it definitely wasn’t the best coffee we’ve ever had, it was at least consistent and reasonably priced compared to other cafes along the main street.
  • Ristorante Myle e I Suoi Sapori: Just across the road from Bam Bar we enjoyed simple Sicilian cuisine at reasonable prices (mains ranging from 12-15 euros). While we visited for a laid back meal in the middle of the day, we expect the vibes would be better later in the day as the sun goes down and the city comes to life.

What to do in Taormina?

We were impressed with the way Taormina seems to cater to a range of travellers. If you’re into shopping there are plenty of places along the main strip (and probably even more down some of the smaller side alleys) to seek out boutique Italian clothing and homewares. For those who are in need of some rest and relaxation you could very easily spend your days lazing by the beach and sipping aperitivos in some of the local bars (catch the cable car down to the beach from Taormina for 6.50 euros return). If you’re keen for a little more exploration and adventure however the area is home to some beautiful hikes – these include hiking to the top of the Mount Etna or Castelmola (another small hilltop town visible from the fringes of Taormina’s old town)

While we didn’t get around to any hiking during our 3 day stay we did enjoy a couple of hours out on the water exploring the protected natural site of Isola Bella and her surrounds. This was organised through a local restaurant La Pizzichella and cost us 25 euros per person for approximately 2 hours. Be wared however it was pretty choppy on the day we ventured out so its not for the faint hearted.

Other attractions in the town which are worth a visit are the Greek Amphitheatre (tickets cost 10 euros to enter) and the Villa Comunale di Taormina (Taormina Gardens) which are a nice oasis in the middle of the city, boasting beautiful views of the coastline below and best of all entry to the gardens is free!

When to visit Taormina?

We visited Taormina at the end of September which turned out to be an excellent time of year to make the most of cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. During the day however the main street can still get busy depending on how many cruise ships have docked in Catania that day.

How to get to Taormina

If travelling to Taormina directly the easiest way is to fly into Catania airport and catch a public bus which takes approximately an hour and a half to the Taormina bus terminal. Tickets cost ~6.5 euros per person at the time of writing. Alternatively, you can opt for a taxi directly from Catania airport however prepare to pay a premium (80-120 euros depending on the time of day/year). There are also airports in Palermo, Trapani, and Comiso from which you can travel between cities by bus (see Interbus website for more details).

Where to stay in Taormina?

When staying in Taormina, you can choose to stay either close to the old town on the hill (recommended option), or closer to the beach at the bottom of the hill. Depending on what time of year you visit, your preference for either may change. Want to check out hotels and accommodation in Taormina? Click here or take a look below. We didn’t stay at these places below, but they were on our potential list and are in a great location:

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Comments (2):

  1. Diane

    October 4, 2022 at 2:53 am

    Sicily is a must see on our next trip to Italy!!!


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