I don’t think we could have loved Taormina any more. Everything about this insanely charming town is so special and unique, as you’ll read in this Taormina travel guide. In our opinion, it’s a perfect vacation spot that you can’t pass up in Italy. It offers a great mix of culture, incredible food & wine, stunning architecture, beautiful scenery and of course, lots of fun. The city is lively, warm, and very welcoming. The streets are straight out of a painting and there is always something new to discover. One of the best pieces of advice we received from a local was to get lost wandering the charming streets here. That’s exactly what we did and what we also recommend you do as well! The best hidden gems are always found this way, aren’t they?
Where to Stay
Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo – We had an amazing stay at this beautiful property and are so glad that we chose to stay here. It’s well known for its panoramic terrace which overlooks all of Taormina, Mt. Etna (volcano), and beyond! We personally loved going to the terrace during sunset for aperitivo, there was something so special about it. So cool that we could watch Mt. Etna erupting while sipping on an Etna Spritz (their signature cocktail). One other nice thing about staying here is that they also provide a free shuttle and access to the beach club at Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea which is super convenient. The staff was wonderful and the rooms were beautiful with so much character.
Where to Eat
Osteria Santa Domenica – Whatever you do, don’t miss this spot! We met the owner, Gianluca, who is absolutely amazing and so kind. We took a cooking class with him which became a highlight of our time in Taormina – SO much fun. Highly, highly recommend both the class and his restaurant. The class focuses on traditional dishes while his fine dining restaurant has modernized them. The food was incredible and he and his family were just the best. Osteria Santa Domenica also offers the best wine selection we found in the area – go, go, go!
Osteria da Rita dal 1991 – Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to eat here during our trip because it was closed for a couple of days. We heard that they have some of the best food around so this will be our first stop when we’re back in Taormina! It was at the top of our list so be sure to try it for us!
Trattoria Da Nino – This spot is a local favorite. It’s a little off the beaten path but still close to the main part of town. It was a beautiful walk and SO worth it. We loved their local wine selection. Don’t leave without ordering the arrabiata – it’s seriously AMAZING! We also ordered the caprese, seafood ravioli, and cherry panna cotta – all incredible! We loved this special spot.
Pizzeria Villa Zuccaro – FANTASTIC pizza with a great patio and vibe. This is a must if you’re in the mood for pizza! Make sure to go to the pizzeria as opposed to the restaurant (there are 2 and we personally loved the vibe of the pizzeria best!)
Ristorante Baronessa – Beautiful upscale restaurant with fantastic ocean and town center views. It’s a wonderful sunset spot as well!
Rosticceria Da Cristina – The BEST arancinis in town – the best I’ve ever had in my life for that matter – they’re huge and delicious! I got one with ragù and Andrew got one with pistachio, speck, and cheese. What I would do to be back eating one again…
Granduca – Great view of the ocean. We heard this was a nice spot but didn’t have the time to check it out!
Malvasia – This was recommended to us by a local. We ordered pasta al limoné topped with pistachios and fresh seafood. I loved that this was a totally different kind of limoné than what we found while visiting the Amalfi coast. So cool to see how each region is so different, especially when it comes to food!
Bar Timeo – Amazing sunset spot with a view overlooking Taormina. They have great drinks – we especially loved their Etna Spritz. The vibe is very romantic and a bit upscale.
Bar at Four Seasons San Domenico Palace – Amazing view as well – check it out for aperitivo! The hotel completed renovations in 2021.
Daiquiri Lounge – Super fun spot to grab a light bite and drinks. They have a nice lounge area and really cool steps (with seating) that overlooks a piazza and church. Highly recommend it.
Franco Wine Bar – Cute little wine bar!
Bar Turrisi – About 15 minutes away from town but we heard it’s a great place to grab a drink – and laugh! You’ll see why when you visit… A friend of ours who recommended many of the places in Taormina also recommended this. We wished we had time to make it over here!
Cafes and Gelato
Bam Bar – They have the best granita (semi-frozen dessert) in town (and arguably Italy)! I got mandola (almond) with a little bit of coffee and it was DELICIOUS! Andrew got fragola (strawberry) with cream and loved it as well. Traditionally, granita is eaten for breakfast or as an afternoon snack with fresh, melt-in-your-mouth, brioche. HEAVEN!!!
Caffè Wunderbar – Great ocean view and delicious granitas! Fun during the day and at night.
Pasticceria Minotauro – Has some of the most beautiful and delicious desserts here. I also learned how to make cannoli in their pastry kitchen and it was incredible! It’s a long-standing family pasticceria with the most incredible selection – A MUST-TRY!
Laboratorio Pasticceria Roberto – You can find some of the best cannoli here!
Gelatomania – This is our favorite gelato spot in town! 100/10 recommend – pistachio, almond, and hazelnut were delish!
What to Do
Explore All the Streets and Alleyways – Corso Umberto is the main street but there are so many other areas to check out!
Teatro Antico di Taormina – You can’t miss this when you come to Taormina. The spectacular ancient Greek theater that is located at the top of town. It dates back to the third century BC. The history, architecture, and views were stunning. Definitely check this out closer to sunset if possible!
Isola Bella – Isola Bella is a small island that’s so close to the beach that it connects when the tide is low. It’s so beautiful and a really cool spot to check out.
Mazzarò Beach – We went to a beach club here and really enjoyed laying out. It’s a really cute small bay!
Cooking Class – Osteria Santa Domenica – This topped our entire Taormina list! As I mentioned earlier, Gianluca (the owner of Osteria Santa Domenica) who leads the class is wonderful. He made this experience memorable, fun, immersive, and informative. He takes you on a tour around the city (detailed in the itinerary below) where you grab all of the ingredients you will be cooking with from a local market. After the class you get to enjoy the dishes you made with some delicious local wine. A dream day! I have a video on it here!
Cooking Class – Cooking Lab – We took another cooking class here and learned so much from Chef Pietro D’Agostino, owner of the Michelin Star Restaurant, Kisté. He also owns another Michelin Star Restaurant in Taormina near the beach called La Capinera. It was such a treat to learn from him and to cook alongside him. His approach to flavors and food is so creative and quite literally a work of art. He focuses on regional specialities and sources the highest quality, organic ingredients.
Hike Mt. Etna – This is something we would have loved to do and would definitely plan for next time! Even from afar Mt. Etna is spectacular. It’s the most active volcano in Europe and hiking it would be awesome! If you’re looking into tours I would ask the concierge for recommendations.
Check Out the Wineries/Try the Local Wine! – We especially loved the local wine in Taormina. It truly tasted different and we learned it had everything to do with the soil that’s rich in volcanic nutrients from the very active Mt. Etna. This makes it more unique and complex, much like the produce in this region. So cool!
Piazza IX Aprile – Located in the middle of town, this is a great place to soak it all in and enjoy! It’s great for sight-seeing, relaxing, appreciating architecture, and grabbing a bite/drink. You can’t miss the stunning Chiesa Di San Giuseppe. This is also a prime photo spot with a spectacular view.
Villa Comunale di Taormina – Beautiful gardens, architecture, and ocean views.
Mercato Comunale – Great local market where you can find some of the freshest and most delicious produce, meat, cheese, and seafood.
Walk Along the Roman Naumachia di Taormina – Super peaceful area to walk along with tons of history.
Odeon – This is a smaller and free amphitheater in town that’s not as well known as Teatro Antico di Taormina. It still hosts small events and gatherings. It was buried and resurfaced in 1892.
Spa at Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo – We decided to take one night off from exploring and our relaxing couples massage was EXACTLY what we needed towards the end of our trip! Ended the night with room service – I was craving fries lol
Day 1 (Get all the touristy places out of the way early – it’s going to be a LONG day!)
- Check into hotel
- Lunch at Pizzeria Villa Zuccaro
- Have a cannoli at Laboratorio Pasticceria Roberto
- Explore streets and alleyways of Taormina
- Check out Villa Comunale di Taormina
- Aperitivo and sunset at Bar Timeo (Belmond)
- Dinner at Trattoria Da Nino
- Gelato at Gelatomania
- Cooking Class at Osteria Santa Domenica with the amazing Gianluca
- Walk along the Roman Naumachie (part of cooking class)
- Piazza IX Aprile (part of cooking class)
- Have granita at Caffè Wunderbar (part of cooking class)
- See Odeon (part of cooking class)
- Check out Mercato Comunale (part of cooking class)
- Pasticceria Minotauro (part of cooking class)
- Lunch at Osteria Santa Domenica (part of cooking class)
- Pool at hotel
- Aperitivo and sunset at Four Seasons San Domenico Palace bar
- Dinner at Ristorante Baronessa
- Breakfast at Bam Bar
- Spa/massage at hotel
- Small bite at Rosticceria Da Cristina (Get their arancini!)
- Head to Mazzarò Beach
- Check out Isola Bella
- Go to Teatro Antico di Taormina and watch the sunset
- Dinner at Osteria da Rita dal 1991
- Drinks at Daiquiri Lounge
Notes & Tips
I want to highlight how special the food is here. Not only because of the great restaurants in town but also because of the location in which the local ingredients are grown. Much like the wine mentioned above, the soil is rich in volcanic nutrients which plays a huge role in the flavor of the local produce. This region is known for their incredible blood oranges, eggplants, almonds, pistachios, and olives to name a few. The eggplant here is COMPLETELY different from anything we had ever seen or tasted before. Long story short, we HIGHLY recommend checking Taormina out! If we had more time in Sicily we would have definitely checked out Syracuse, even if only for a day trip. It’s packed with ancient history, ruins, and culture. Seeing Ortigia island, which is a popular attraction in Syracuse, is definitely on our bucket list!
You can check out all my other Italy recs here!