Taormina is certainly the most beautiful place in Sicily and the most visited destination, especially in the summer months. There are a lot of things to do in Taormina itself, but also plenty around it, making it the perfect base for all the activities in Sicily’s north and east coast.
Taormina’s appeal lies not only in its quaint pedestrian streets and charming cafes but also in its splendid location, on the side of a hill, Mount Tauro, and with expansive views over the coast below.
The town has a privileged location with direct line of sight to Mount Etna volcano and pristine beaches below. The protected slopes of the mountain have created a sort of micro-climate and made Taormina a pleasant destination year-round.
While Taormina has always been desired by all the civilizations that stepped foot in Sicily, its tourism appeal started in the 18th century, when wealthy young Europeans on their Grand Tours started to arrive in the peaceful town and reported back home.
German writer Goethe can be credited with putting it on the map for many in 1787, and in 1860 Otto Geleng’s watercolor paintings continued to spread the myth that such a place existed.
Already in the 20th century, Taormina attracted writers and artists, the most famous among which were DH Lawrence and Truman Capote, and the Film Festival brought celebrities of international cache such as Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.
- The history of Taormina
- Best things to do in Taormina
- Stroll along Corso Umberto
- The Ancient Greek theatre of Taormina
- The Roman Odeon
- The Corvaja Palace
- St. Pancras Church and Greek Sanctuary of Isis and Serapis
- The Duomo, Cathedral of San Niccolo
- Church of San Giuseppe
- Church of San’Agostino
- Torre dell’Orlogio
- Sunset aperitivo
- Chiesa Madonna della Roca
- Taormina Castle
- Isola Bella
- Villa Comunale, Hallington Siculo
- Sail along the coast
- Taormina cable car
- Learn to cook specialty Sicilian dishes
- Go on a food tour
- Buy marzipan
- Godfather filming locations tour
- Visit Castelmola and have a shot in a penis glass
- Take a day trip to Etna
- Where to eat in Taormina
- Best Hotels in Taormina
The history of Taormina
What makes the town such an interesting destination is precisely its past and one cannot visit Taormina without at least understanding a bit how it was formed and its importance from Antiquity until today.
Many of Taormina’s things to do are brought to you by this rich past with several cultures and civilizations leaving an imprint in this small part of the island.
Modern day Taormina is located where the ancient Greek city was built in the 4th century BC, above Naxos, an important Greek enclave of the time. For Ancient Greece, Taormina was the first colony in Sicily.
In the years that followed Greek arrival, and until the Romans set foot in Sicily, in the middle of the 3rd century, Taormina was in constant fight with Syracuse which dominated the city on several occasions.
With the Romans, Taormina remained an independent ally until it sided with the wrong Roman Emperor, was conquered by Augustus in 21 BC and had all its inhabitants expelled. In the same location, the Roman Empire continued to expand the city and build several landmarks.
The Roman city thrived and, later on, became the capital of Bizantine Sicily after Syracuse fell to Arab control and it eventually regained importance under the Normans.
In present-day Taormina you can see signs and remains of pretty much every period in the city’s history, making a day of sightseeing around Taormina feel like a journey in time through the last 2,500 years.
Best things to do in Taormina
Taormina is the gem of Sicily and, possibly, its most famous place to visit. For such a small town that cannot be called a city, the points of interest are many and there are a lot of things to do in Taormina.
While the list is long, what I enjoyed the most was to simply sit at a bar or cafe and people watch. It felt like a real vacation. You won’t have trouble finding many opportunities to do the same. Taormina is best enjoyed slowly.
Below is a list of the best things to do in Taormina. However, if you want to cover the main sights with the help and insight of a guide, here are the best walking tours of Taormina I would recommend:
- Private half day walking tour (2, 3 or 4h long) for you and your family/friends only can be booked here. You can tailor it to your liking.
- Segway tour of Taormina for those who want to go fast and furious. There are private and group options. You don’t need experience. This is helpful as Taormina can be steep and spread out, so the segway tour covers places that are a bit farther away. Book it here.
- Shorter (1.5h) group walking tour of Taormina for those who prefer the no-frills option. Book it here.
- Sunset group walking tour of Taormina which ends at a rooftop terrace for sunset. The terrace is right above the main square and has sea views. This is a good option in the hot summer months for those who want to chill by the pool during the day. Book it here.
Stroll along Corso Umberto
Do as locals and Italians do and simply go on a stroll along pedestrian Corso Umberto street. The street crosses the city from end to end, from the Catania Gate to the Messina Gate, and is entirely car free.
Shops selling local marzipan sweets, souvenirs, granita, cannoli and clothes line the street on either side and there are even artisans still making traditional ceramic vases and items that are typical of Sicily and some galleries with local artists.
Right and left, look for the narrow streets that go up or down hill and which hide pretty stores.
The Ancient Greek theatre of Taormina
Taormina’s Ancient Greek Theatre is one of the most beautiful in the island, and there are many Greek and Roman ruins in Sicily!
It is located up on a hill, not far from Corso Umberto, making it a really easy to get to tourist attraction, unlike most of the other ancient ruins in Sicily, most of which are outside of the cities and require your own transportation and a bit more planning.
Taormina’s theatre is unique because of its size, second only to that in Syracuse, and the degree of preservation of some of its elements like the theatre itself (behind the stage) and the back of the seats.
Additionally, although it is called the Greek Theatre, the structure seems to date from Roman times and this is most likely because the current theatre was rebuilt after a Greek one.
Here are four ways to make the most of your visit to the Ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina:
- Get the audio guide. There are signs and explanations around the theatre but the audio guide also provides background information and makes the visit more interesting
- I highly recommend joining a group a walking tour of Taormina with a visit to the theatre which you can book here.
- The best way to visit is on a private walking tour which you can book here. I always prefer private tours because you can tailor them to what you like most and start/end when you like. And you can ask as many questions as you want to the guide
- In the summer months there are performances, operas, concerts and more. More information about the calendar of events here. You may ask your hotel to help you buy tickets to the shows.
Make sure to visit the souvenir shop because you can take the nicest pictures of the theatre and of the city and the coast below from there. At sunset, it all has an orange hue that makes for nice photos, but the theatre will be half in the shade.
The Roman Odeon
The Odeon used to be a smaller covered theatre for performances in Roman times and has been partially preserved after excavations in the 1890s which uncovered parts of it.
It is located above the Corvaja Palace, sandwiched between all the residential buildings around it and the Church of St. Caterina which shared its foundation. While it is not open and you can’t walk into the archeological site, you can see it through the fence around it.
The Corvaja Palace
This medieval 15th century palace is located right at the beginning of Corso Umberto and today houses the Tourist Information office, although don’t expect to find much information there.
I went in to get a map and advice on some tours and all they could give me was a leaflet from one of the companies and they had no knowledge on when the tours ran.
Even if the office is not helpful to tourists, the fact that it is open gives you the opportunity to walk into the Palace and see its magnificent architecture which made me think of some of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter buildings because its facade was designed following the Catalan Gothic style.
The Corvaja Palace was built to house the Parliament of Sicily meetings and you can observe several styles within the building. Arab and Norman influences are obvious in the square tower, said to be built by the Arabs to mimic the Kasbah.
There are occasional temporary exhibitions in the rooms on the ground floor and several puppets on display inside the tourism office worth a look.
St. Pancras Church and Greek Sanctuary of Isis and Serapis
This smaller church located by the Ashbee Hotel is generally closed to the public.
The church was built on the site of an ancient Greek sanctuary dedicated to two deities. It was built between the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC and inscriptions found onsite indicate it was dedicated to Egyptian deities, Isis and Serapis.
The ruins are open and can be seen from around the perimeter.
The Duomo, Cathedral of San Niccolo
The Duomo is a 13th century fortress-like structure with the most sober and simple of brick facades split into three sections as was common of the time. It made me think of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table with the square top.
Inside the Duomo, the decoration is a bit elaborate with the use of several colorful marbles and large columns. Look out for the Baroque fountain in front of the Duomo with mythological figures which has become the emblem of the city.
Church of San Giuseppe
The Baroque Church of San Giuseppe is one of two churches in Piazza 9 Aprile and sits slightly elevated on the natural slope of the city, up a double staircase which made me think of the churches in Pondicherry.
The facade is simple, sand-colored, suffering from wear and tear and the constant beating of the sun and sea breeze and has three portals.
Despite its unassuming facade, inside you will marvel at the pastel baby blue, yellow and white walls covered in intricate stucco designs as well as the multi-colored marble altar.
The church was built in 1650 to the Confraternity of the Souls in Purgatory and some references to them are visible everywhere. It also has a square bell tower with a pointy roof.
Church of San’Agostino
Larger than the Church of San Giuseppe, the Church of San’Agostino is a 15th century church presiding over Piazza 9 Aprile. Originally erected for Saint Sebastian who is said to have liberated the city from the plague, it was then acquired by Augustinian friars and turned into a convent.
The church was changed dramatically in the 18th century and is today a library and archive open to the public. You can go in and admire the building and the inside architecture which is impressive.
Goethe said in 1787 of Taormina, “We could not tear ourselves away until after sunset. To watch this landscape so remarkable in every aspect, slowly sinking into darkness, was an incredibly beautiful sight”.
Pay him homage by enjoying a drink with the same view.
Sicilians know how best to do aperitivo. Unlike in Spain, where we enjoy it pre-lunch, Sicilians enjoy aperitivo pre-dinner, as the sun sets, and alongside a huge spread of snacks. You order a drink and snacks come complimentary.
The best place to enjoy sunset cocktails in Taormina is the terrace at the Belmond Grand Timeo, located right by the Theatre.
The expansive Literary Terrace and Bar at this historical and fabulous hotel has the best views in town. Taormina to the right, the beach of Giardini Naxos below and Mount Etna right ahead. Service is excellent, as the hotel is the most luxurious on the island and has hosted every celebrity to visit Sicily. Truman Capote lived here for two years.
Pick one of the signature cocktails, we loved the Belmond Negroni, and expect a few canapes especially designed by the chef daily, local almonds and olives, chips, crackers and other snacks.
You should plan to enjoy the sunset slowly, over a couple of drinks, and starting early, so you are hungry enough for dinner, which I also suggest to enjoy at Timeo Restaurant which is located on the same terrace and has the same fantastic views. Or opt for their 8-table Otto Geleng, which has its own private terrace with the same views.
If you prefer to make the most of the balmy afternoon light, join a walking tour of Taormina which ends with aperitivo on a rooftop terrace bar in town. Book the tour here. Or enjoy a more casual drink at Wunderbar, an institution in town, despite its touristy look and prime location.
Chiesa Madonna della Roca
This small church built on the side of the rock at the top of Mount Tauro commands the best views of Taormina and Giardini Naxos below. You can walk up to it from Taormina via the stairs. The climb takes 20-30min up.
Insider tip: The church is not open to visitors but you can see its nice paintings on the 3rd Sunday of the month when it opens for mass service at 8am. The church can also be reached by car.
A few steps higher up from the Chiesa Madonna della Rocca you can find Taormina’s Castle which is also closed off for visitors but has a similar view from slightly higher up.
The Norman castle looks like a fortification of the time and while it was renovated in the early 2000s it has not been open for years.
Not to be confused with the island of the same name in Lago Maggiore, Isola Bella in Sicily is, effectively, a rocky island that is now connected to the beach thanks to a British aristocrat who also gave it its name.
The beach and the rock both have the same name and are probably the most famous and poshest beach in the eastern part of Sicily, mostly thanks to their close proximity to popular Taormina.
Technically, the rock and beach are part of the municipality of Mazzaro, and not Taormina, and were bought by Florence Trevelyan in 1890 to be her home. The aristocrat was exiled by Queen Victoria when she got too close to her son, and future heir to the throne, Edward VII.
Florence loved animals and plants and was also the owner of the beautiful public garden in Taormina. On Isola Bella she planted many exotic species and took care of the birds. In 1990, the island was acquired by the government and turned into a nature reserve.
Today, the pebbly beach is public and you can enjoy it anytime. The house where she lived has been turned into a museum and can also be visited.
Villa Comunale, Hallington Siculo
The public park that Florence Trevelyan built was Halington Siculo, now renamed Villa Comunale, or public gardens, and is located halfway down from Taormina’s center to the beach, spanning lovely views of Giardini Naxos and the coast below.
The park was a private property belonging to the Englishwoman and her husband, the mayor of Taormina at the time, and she used it to observe birds.
You can visit to take a break from the city, while being just a few minutes from Corso Umberto. If you just walk down from the Greek Theater, you will eventually find it. It is very close to the entrance to the Eurostars Hotel. I ended up here every morning after breakfast at Bam Bar which is near.
The Garden is shaded and has lots of trees and flowers of Mediterranean and tropical origin, and a verandah that runs the edge of the park and has stunning views and benches to sit on. There are statues and memorials too, including a torpedo from WWII, as well as a small pond and a construction that seems to blend into nature.
The constructions on the gardens were designed by Florence and are made of a mesh of superimposed terraces constructed in various materials and of Oriental inspiration. Some use bricks, other volcanic rock, or even wood.
Sail along the coast
One of the nicest things to do in Taormina is taking to the seas and joining a sailing trip along the coast. From here, you have a vantage point from where to enjoy Taormina’s hillside location and the flatter coast of Giardini Naxos.
Most of the sailing tours include Isola Bella, as almost every visitor to Sicily wants to sail around it. You will be able to see the many birds flying around the island. You also get to jump in the water for a refreshing swim. And I say refreshing because the waters around Taormina are always pretty cold.
Book a 2-hour tour of the coast with a stop to swim and a visit to Isola Bella here. The tour starts at Giardini Naxos port. If you are looking to snorkel, then this tour will take you to two places and will also provide you with snorkeling equipment.
Taormina cable car
One of the nicest and easiest things to do in Taormina is to take the short cable car down to the beach at Mazzaro. The cable car is a short ride only but will give you great views and it only costs a couple of euros.
Learn to cook specialty Sicilian dishes
You can’t go to Sicily and not have a foodgasm. I put on three kilos in 12 days and found myself eating and drinking all day long, starting with a big breakfast and continuing with morning snacks, a big lunch with wine, afternoon snacks, aperitivo and then a big dinner with more wine.
Italy has great food but Sicily has its own cuisine that has been influenced by its proximity to Africa and by the centuries of rule by many other cultures, from the Spanish to the Arabs.
One of the best things to do in Taormina is to go on a market tour followed by a cooking class where you learn how to prepare some of the typical Sicilian dishes.
Contrary to other cuisines which use ingredients hard to find elsewhere, Sicilian ingredients are widely available so you can repeat them back home.
Go on a market visit to shop for your ingredients (including a fishmonger) followed by a cooking class at a restaurant. Book the 6-hour tour here. You will also learn to make pasta from scratch.
Go on a food tour
Continue the foodgasm with a 3.5h food tour. In this tour you will get to sample the famous Sicilian dishes such as arancini (stuffed rice balls that make for the best snack ever), cannoli, volcanic wines, cheeses and salami, etc.
If you want the tour to run in the evening, this one stops at three places, one for starters, one for mains and one for desserts, with wine and liquors at all three.
Marzipan is one of the most typical Sicilian sweets and you may even find it at your hotel’s breakfast (our breakfast in Syracuse had it). In Sicily, marzipan making has been turned into an art and the small pieces made with almond and sugar look exactly like real fruits.
While you will find marzipans for sale in many bakeries, cake shops and the like, Pasticceria Minotauro makes a huge range of fruits in colorful shapes and with a glossy, shiny stroke. You can pick the ones you like and make your own tray.
They also sell all the other traditional Sicilian sweets, from almond cookies and nougat to meringues, candied fruits and other tempting sweets. Make sure to stock on almond liquor before living Taormina, you will need it for the marzipan.
If you plan to travel home and bring them as souvenirs know that marzipan will last you a few months and does not need to be refrigerated. That will tell you how much sugar there is in them!
Godfather filming locations tour
A lot of famous movies and TV series have and are still being shot in Sicily but perhaps the most famous of all is The Godfather, with several scenes shot onsite on the island, especially in the second movie in the trilogy.
Contrary to what you may expect, the movie was not shot in Corleone, which is the name of the real town where the mafia family comes from but between Savoca and Forza d’Agro, two hilltop villages very near Taormina and which make for a nice 2-3hour tour.
If you are a movie buff and real expert on The Godfather you could go there on your own and might be able to recognise and remember the scenes, the towns are unchanged, but it pays to go on a tour so that the guide tells you all about the movie, the Mafia and the little towns.
I went on a private tour which lasted 3h with a stop for lunch at a simple pizzeria in Forza d’Agro and it was one of the most interesting and fun things we did in Taormina, despite not technically being in the town itself.
Here are the best Godfather tours:
- Group tour from Taormina or Catania can be booked here, it does not include any drinks or food but you will stop for a snack at Bar Vitelli, I recommend the cakes or granita
- Group tour from Taormina, Giardini Naxos or surroundings with lunch (pasta and wine) can be booked here.
- The Private Godfather tour I took can be booked here. The guide will stop when you like, you can have a drink/snack at Bar Vitelli and add a good lunch or dinner after the tour. You can ask the guide anything about life in Sicily, the Mafia today or the movie
Visit Castelmola and have a shot in a penis glass
Castelmola is a small picturesque town right above Taormina which has incredible views of the stunning cost below and the hills along this side of Sicily. The town is a short ride from Taormina and the tourist hop on-hop off bus goes there, or you could take the scenic walk up but beware it is pretty steep.
The town is quaint and its hilltop location breathtaking, and requiring a lot of steep walking. A few things to look out for include the remains of the Norman Castle which are open to visitors, right on top of the village, as well as the church which has direct views of Mount Etna volcano.
And for a bit of a laugh, there is a bar entirely dedicated to penises called Turrisi. The decor is made of various artifacts and carvings in phallic shapes and even the menu comes in a purple penish shape. Order an almond liqueur, typical of Castelmola, and you will be sipping it from a tiny penis shot glass.
Turrisi has been in operation since 1947 and was encouraged by the bohemian and open mindedness of the time when Sicily was an artist’s haven. Each of the items on display has been carved specifically for it and you won’t find it elsewhere. Don’t miss the handle for the doors to the small balconies, or the large table in the first floor.
Take a day trip to Etna
No doubt Mount Etna is on any visitor to Sicily’s list of things to do and if you are visiting Taormina you are perfectly positioned for an excursion to see the world’s most active stratovolcano.
While the volcano lies about 45min drive away, it is one of the best things to do when in Taormina.
The best thing about Etna volcano is that it is one of the easiest volcanoes to get to the top of and that contrary to other active volcanoes around the world, you can get really close to the lava and the craters with minimal physical exertion. In fact, you can be taken all the way up to close to 3,000m above sea level, just 300m below the top.
Mount Etna can be explored on your own, independently, using the cable car + 4×4 bus drive to 2,900m or on a tour. If you want to go all the way to the top you will need to do so with a guide. These are the options for Mount Etna:
- Drive up Mount Etna to 1,800m above sea level by car (free if you go on your own)
- Reach 2,500m above sea level by cable car (35 euro)
- Hike around the 2 craters of Mount Etna at 2,900m above sea level by cable car + bus + guide (65 euros)
- Hike Mount Etna to the top to 3,300m above sea level on a guided tour (45 + 65 euro)
If you are staying in Taormina but don’t have a car, there are several tour options which will take you Mount Etna.
I wrote all about the mountain here but below is a summary of the best Mount Etna tours from Taormina which you can easily book with Get Your Guide (and cancel up to 24h before the tour starts). Note that most of the tours which include the hike to the top mention the “Upper craters”:
- Sunset ascent of the volcano where you can actually see the sun setting and then go for dinner with the rest of the group. This tour includes all equipment so you don’t have to pack your own shoes and jacket as well as the cable car and 4×4 trip to 2,900m. They also pick you up from your hotel and include lunch and dinner. Definitely my top pick if you just want to hike Etna
- This is a semi-DIY tour of the volcano for those who don’t want commitment. You get transport to 1,800m and then you can choose if you want to take the cable car and all to the top or not. The price for this is not included so you need to pay extra, and then you get taken back after lunch. So it is basically transportation only (which is why it is so cheap). However, bear in mind that there is not much else to do in the area so you might spend a lot of time being idle, unless you want to chill around, take photos and hike around the area at 1,800m on your own.
- This one is the regular tour with all included, same as the previous but with the price of the cable car added (no price arbitrage, the difference in price between the two is the cost of the cable car ticket). Equipment rental and meals are not included either. Meet up point is the bus station at Taormina.
- To make a day of it, choose this tour which includes the ascent to 2,900m and then also lunch and Alcantara Gorges. Bear in mind the entry ticket to Alcantara Gorges is not included and neither is lunch. Meet up point is the bus station at Taormina. This is a good choice if you want to visit Etna and also the gorge which is stunning.
- If you want to hike Mount Etna to the top, here is one of the few tours providing that. Note that the tour price is just the cost of the guide, cable car and 4×4 bus to the top are not included, as aren’t any meals and drinks but you will get trekking shoes. This tour starts at the Sapienza Refuge already so you need to get your own transportation to the mountain.
Where to eat in Taormina
There are hundreds if not thousands of restaurants in Taormina but here are a few suggestions on where to eat.
- St. George at The Ashbee Hotel has a Michelin star and serves fine dining European food in a polished environment, they also have more affordable lunch menus. Read the reviews here.
- For an intimate fine dining experience, book one of only eight tables for two that open every night at Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo’s Otto Geleng, the painter that convinced the owners to open the first hotel in Taormina to guests. Read the reviews here.
- Bam Bar is the place to sample granita, and I literally mean sample as you can try more than one flavor. The quaint yellow and blue tiled bar is famous, and not just among tourists but among locals. Come early (they open at 7am), even in the summer months when Taormina is packed, and you will be having breakfast with fellow Sicilians reading the newspaper. Different granita flavors are made throughout the day so you can come twice and try different ones: coffee, chocolate and the famous almond granita in the early morning evolve into fruity ones later in the day. You can mix two flavors in the same glass and top it with fresh cream. Get a brioche for the ultimate authentic Sicilian breakfast. The brioche are made across the street in a bakery, you can even smell them. Read the reviews here.
- Pasticceria Etna is a cute, simple and old-fashioned cafe, bakery and cake shop in Corso Umberto with a handful of tables outside right on the street that make for the perfect people-watching stop. They sell all the sweet classics like cannoli, pastries and cakes as well as drinks. Read the reviews here.
- Wunderbar Caffe is an institution in town and despite its tourist-trap look (perfect location by the sea in Piazza 9 Aprile) it is a long-established family-run cafe and bar that attracted many a celebrity in Taormina, from Liz Taylor and Richard Burton to Ernest Hemmingway. Come for aperitivo and snatch a table by the ledge for the perfect sea views. The spread with drinks at aperitivo is very generous. Read the reviews here.
- Tischi Toschi used to have a Michelin star and still conserves the family feeling, the great and generous portions and the casual and welcoming atmosphere in a small alley down from Corso Umberto. Read the reviews here.
- Ristorante Al Duomo makes for a romantic dinner spot with views over the Duomo and a lovely terrace in the summer months. Traditional Sicilian food, friendly staff and a view from the first floor. Read the reviews here.
Best Hotels in Taormina
There are a lot of hotels in Taormina and it is pretty hard to distinguish the best from afar. I know because I struggled.
Picking the right place matters because the city is not very big and parking is really tough. The streets are steep, and most of the tourist attractions are located at the top, so it pays to be close to the center.
Some hotels advertise their location in town only to be far away and some appear to be luxurious when they are not. To ease the pain of researching, here are the best hotels in Taormina.
Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo
Without a doubt the best hotel in Taormina, and also its first, is the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, located right in town next to the Ancient Greek Theater of Taormina.
The hotel is housed in a former private villa with incredible views of the coast below, and has expansive green grounds on several levels down to the Villa Comunale park. There is a pool, a spa and two restaurants, small eight-table fine dining Otto Geleng, and the larger open air, and also refined Timeo Restaurant.
Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo is no doubt the address in Taormina. Evenings are filled with music and aperitivo in the open air Literary Terrace overlooking Mount Etna, just like when Truman Capote used to stay there, and the hotel rooms all have stunning views.
Service is excellent and the elegance of Europe’s high society fills the air.
Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea
If you want to stay down to the beach, Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea is the best place to be. The beautiful private villa was expanded and converted into a luxury hotel that turned 100 in 2019. Expect classic rooms most of which have verandas, balconies or terraces onto the Mazzaro bay and beach below.
The open air restaurant faces the sea and the terrace under the shaded trees is the best place for an evening aperitivo or a lazy lunch. The pebble beach is private and for the exclusive use of Belmond’s guests.
There are sun loungers, umbrellas and, for those looking for extra privacy, beach cabanas. The spa is full fledged and there is also a gym. All guests have the opportunity to join one of three complimentary daily boat tours along the coast.
The hotel offers shuttle service to the sister property in town that runs every 15-20min and serves to get around.
The Ashbee Hotel
The Ashbee is a luxury boutique hotel with just 24 rooms not far from one of the two gates to the city and thus, from Corso Umberto. Located in a gated palatial property with gardens, this is a slightly more modern luxury hotel to the other traditional formulas, although still preserves the classic wallpaper and marble style of Taormina’s mansions.
The hotel’s fine dining St. George restaurant has a Michelin star and offers slightly more affordable lunch menus. The infinity pool with views over the northern coast of Taormina is impressive.
NH Collection Taormina
The NH Collection Hotel in Taormina is a very well-located and practical 4-star hotel with nice views. The fact that you can easily drive all the way to the door, and that they offer valet parking was a major selling point for us.
It is also very well located, literally two minutes from Corso Umberto and the sights. The rooms face the city below and the sea and have small balconies which you can open. The decor is modern and new and the interior design very pleasant. However, they are on the small side so book a larger room.
The pool is a great place for a break and there is a rather large rooftop bar and restaurant with nice 270 degree views. Service is great and the staff are really helpful.
San Domenico Palace
San Domenico Palace is located a bit farther from the main city center, lower on the hillside, although still just a 10min walk.
The historic hotel is a converted monastery from the 16th century whose cloister has been preserved, and is perched on the side of the cliff.
The hotel has nice coastal views and a classic take on the decor with touches of European aristocracy, and has been fully refurbished in 2019. The hotel’s main drawcard was the restaurant which has a Michelin star (one of only in Taormina) and sea views.