As you travel along the Sicilian coast, specifically on the eastern side, you will find the town of Taormina. This town was built on a mountain that rises about 200 metres above sea level, in the area of Mount Taurus and close to Mount Etna, which is home to a well-known volcano of the region with the same name.
If you want to visit Taormina, but you only have one day to do so, don't worry. The city concentrates most of its activities in its historic centre, so you can easily visit religious sites such as the Cathedral or historic sites such as the Greek Theatre. Here is a one-day itinerary with all the things to do in Taormina that I consider essential.
1. Walk through the heart of Taormina: Corso Umberto I
Corso Umberto I is considered the busiest area of Taormina, as it is the central artery of the city. Here you will find a lively life, thanks to the fashion shops, ceramic sales, restaurants and bars that line the streets.
This pedestrian street crosses the entire city from Porta Messina in the northern area to Porta Catania in the southern area. In this way, it connects with the different alleys of Taormina. Moreover, along your walk along Corso Umberto you will be able to see and do several activities. Some of them are:
Visiting the fortifications of the city
When walking along Corso Umberto you cannot fail to stop and admire its system of fortifications made up of three gates:
- Porta Messina, which represents the entrance or the beginning of the route. This is the façade of an ancient fortress built by the Arabs to protect the city.
- The Clock Tower or Porta di Mezzo, which is a building with a history dating back to 1808, located halfway between Porta Messina and Porta Catania.
- Porta Catania, which represents the limit of the street on the southern side and was built in about 1440.
Shopping for ceramics and other products
In and around Corso Umberto you will find several shops of local manufacturers, which offer various items and souvenirs made of ceramics. This material is used to produce various objects with such peculiar designs and colours that they have gained international fame.
Taste the local gastronomy
Corso Umberto is made up of dozens of restaurants, pastry shops and bars, where you can try some local and Mediterranean preparations. Also, Sicilian desserts, delicious coffee, cocktails and a variety of wines. All this, at your own pace.
Moreover, if you wish to have a closer experience with Italian gastronomy, in the restaurants of Corso Umberto you have the opportunity to participate in one of the best cooking classes in Taormina. You will learn how to prepare various sweet and savoury dishes.
2. Visit the Cathedral of Taormina and appreciate its medieval architecture
At the end of your walk along Corso Umberto you can head to Taormina Cathedral, which is approximately 180 metres away, a 3-minute walk. This is a religious precinct dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Bari, which accumulates historical value and, at the same time, boasts a modest but significant architectural composition.
During the walk you will have the opportunity to contemplate some architectural elements on the stone façade. For example:
- The ogival-shaped windows, which date back to the Gothic art of the 15th century.
- The 22 bas-reliefs corresponding to St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Nicholas, St. Pancratius, King David and other evangelists and apostles.
- A Renaissance-style rose window on the main façade and two others on the sides.
- The monumental door, which underwent a process of reconstruction of the original door.
Once inside Taormina Cathedral, you will notice the Latin cross structure, with three naves and three apses. Note the front of the majestic altar, which has a sculpture representing the Last Supper of Christ. You will also see some paintings and sculptures from different periods (Byzantine, Renaissance and Baroque).
- Price: Admission to this religious site is free.
- Opening hours: from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.
- Location: Piazza Duomo, 98039 Taormina.
3. Enjoy the view of the Gulf of Taormina from Piazza IX Aprile
If you walk for about 5 minutes or 290 metres from the Cathedral of Taormina, you will reach Piazza IX Aprile, a place of historical value that captures the attention of those who walk through the area. You can get a beautiful panoramic view of the Gulf of Taormina no matter what time of day you make the walk.
While you are enjoying the view and taking pictures, notice the black and white monochrome checkered tiles. You can also learn about the history of the square, named after the date on which Garibaldi' s arrival in Marsala was announced, with the aim of liberating the population from the Bourbons.
On the other sides of the square, you will see other emblematic landmarks of the city. Such is the case of the Clock Tower and various churches. However, the invitation is for you to venture out and try an aperitif or a drink on the surrounding terraces. Afterwards, you can continue discovering the city on your own or through the best tours of Taormina.
General information about Taormina
- Price: admission is free.
- Opening hours: any time of the day.
- Location: 98039, Taormina.
4. See the historic chapel Chiesa Madonna della Rocca
About 800 metres or 16 minutes walk from the square above, you will arrive at the historic chapel Chiesa Madonna della Rocca, a peculiar religious space that venerates the Madonna della Rocca.
When you arrive at the place, the first thing you will notice is its relief, as it is located on top of the mountain, so the way to visit it is uphill. Also noteworthy is the chapel's roof, which is simply the rock itself, as this Catholic enclosure was built by perforating the stone itself.
On the other hand, the chapel has a small courtyard on the edge of the cliff, which allows it to offer panoramic views of the sea and the city. Thus, you will be able to see the bay and well-known places in Taormina such as the Greek Theatre.
Also, in this grotto you will be able to get away from the noise of the city and have a moment of reflection and contemplation of the surroundings. In fact, you can include this activity among the things to do in Taormina at night and enjoy the reinforced concrete cross, which is on the east side of the cliff and which is illuminated every day after sunset.
General information about Taormina
- Price: entrance is free of charge.
- Opening hours: from 8.30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Location: 98039 Taormina.
5. Visit Palazzo Corvaja and see the Arab influence of its structure
When you leave the chapel, you will have to walk about 20 minutes or 850 metres to reach Palazzo Corvaja. This is another place built in stone, very similar to a fortification. Here you can learn more about the history of Taormina, especially with regard to its Arab influence.
Once you enter the palace, you will see architectural samples of historical importance. Such is the case of:
- The Arabic arched windows and doors, arranged in the inner courtyard of the monument.
- A 14th century tower, which although it has been rebuilt over the centuries to add secondary spaces, still retains the imprint of Moorish architecture.
Also, during your visit to this 9th-century building, you will see some exhibitions of paintings and multimedia content, as the site is currently used as an art gallery and museum.
- Price: admission is free.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm and from 4.00 pm to 8.00 pm.
- Location: Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, Taormina.
6. Make a stop at the Greek Theatre of Taormina
Leaving the Corvaja palace behind, just walk for 6 minutes or about 450 metres to reach the Greek Theatre of Taormina. It is an ancient building (3rd century BC), used for different activities throughout history. Nowadays, it is a main stage for artistic and cultural performances.
During the tour, you will see the orchestra area, a space where the instrumentalists were located in Greek times and which later became the wrestling arena in Roman times. You will also see the stalls, which have a rock structure and once had a capacity for 5,000 people.
As you progress, you will see the stage, which only conserves the columns of its original construction. When you reach the top of the hill where the theatre is located, you can enjoy the panoramic view it offers.
You will catch a glimpse of several beaches of other nearby towns and the bay of Naxos, with the volcano Etna in the background, so take the opportunity to take the pictures you want.
General information about Naxos
- Price: from 10 euros and free admission on the first Sunday of every month.
- Opening hours: from 9:00 a.m. all year round. Closing time can vary from 16:00 to 19:00, depending on the month.
- Location: Via del Teatro Greco, 1, 98039 Taormina.
7. Breathe fresh air and relax in the Villa Comunale Gardens
When you have finished exploring the theatre, walk 650 metres or about 8 minutes to reach the public gardens of the Villa Comunale, also known as Trevelyan Park. This is an extensive structure of land, which was planned on the model of an English garden, with paths full of vegetation, fountains and statues.
Here, you can walk around at your own pace and take a break. You can stroll along the intertwining paths and observe the various bronze sculptures.
You can also admire the manyexotic flowers**, Mediterranean plants** and water fountains, which further embellish this natural site. Furthermore, towards the cliff edge, you will see the long road built to delimit the park and a great panoramic view of the bay and Mount Etna.
- Price: entrance is free of charge.
- Opening hours: from 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. in winter and until midnight in summer.
- Location: Via Bagnoli Croci, 98039 Taormina.
8. See the sea and the city from above on the Taormina - Mazzarò cable car
In case you want to delight yourself with a bird's eye view of the sea and the city, then you can choose to take the Taormina - Mazzaró cable car ride. This is a means of transport that connects the historic centre with Mazzaró.
Since the funicular is used as a means of public and tourist transport, you can get on one every 15 minutes, so you won't have to wait too long to get from one end to the other. Besides, you should know that the cable car ride is only 2 minutes long, so you can follow the itinerary without major delays.
When you get to Mazzaró, you can take a walk along the beach, enjoy the sunsetand sunbathe, in case you visit in the morning or at midday. Everything will depend on your preferences and priorities. You can also do water activities and enjoy the local gastronomy.
- Price: the entrance fee starts at €3.
- Opening hours: from 8:00 to 24:00 hours from Tuesday to Sunday and from 9:00 hours on Mondays. Opening times may vary according to the season.
- Location: Via Luigi Pirandello, 22, Taormina.
9. Take a trip to Isola Bella Beach and enjoy the Mediterranean coast
If you want to have direct contact with the sea, get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and soak up the sun, then you should add one of the excursions from Taormina to Isola Bella beach to your itinerary .
This is an easily accessible destination. Just hop on the funicular and walk about 600 metres from Mazzaró station. You can also reach it by car, an 8-minute drive along the SS 114 Orientale Sicula.
On this getaway you can lie on the sand and dive into the waters of the Ionian Sea for a swim to renew your energy. You will also have the opportunity to take part in water activities such as paddle surfing. Just connect with a board rental service and an instructor, who will guide you on how to use them.
On this beach you can also try the gastronomic dishes of Taormina. There are a number of restaurants in the surrounding area, or, if you have the opportunity, you can visit the Isola Bella regional naturalistic museum and learn about various plant species.
General information about Taormina
- Price: entrance to the beach is free.
- Opening hours: You can go at any time of the day.
- Location: Isola Bella, Taormina.
How to get around Taormina in 1 day?
Taormina is really a small town with no large-scale public transport systems. However, getting around the streets will not be difficult during your stay, as the attractions are quite close to each other.
The best option is definitely to get around Taormina on foot. However, you will find some public transport options for getting around the city.
Some of them are:
- Bus: you will find some bus lines with specific routes, which will take you comfortably to the main beaches of the city.
- Funicular: this means of transport will give you a panoramic ride and will allow you to access the town of Mazzaró and, therefore, Isola Bella beach.
Means of transport to visit the surroundings of Taormina
If you wish to take advantage of your stay in the medieval town to visit some of the more remote areas of the city, or to travel to Taormina Airport in comfort and safety, there are some public services available: bus and train.
You only need to go to the bus station or the Interbus train terminal on Via Luigi Pirandello. This way, you could visit Taormina in one day and continue your journey to other nearby destinations.