Taormina is a medieval town where you will find fascinating historical monuments and stunning natural areas. Also, due to its privileged location on the east coast of Sicily, during your stay you can plan an excursion to one of the nearby towns and incorporate it into your itinerary of the best things to do in Taormina.
There are several excursions from Taormina, but it all depends on your tastes and needs. For example, you can travel to Catania for a gastronomic experience or take a trip to Savoca and Forza D'Agrò in search of some of the locations of the film Il Padrino. You also have the option of travelling to Mount Etna or the Aeolian archipelago, among other destinations, which I will tell you about in a moment.
1. Discover Mount Etna from Taormina: walk through the lava caves, lunch and wine tasting
During your stay you cannot miss the opportunity to visit Mount Etna. Join one of the best day trips from Taormina to this historic active volcano and discover its amazing natural scenery, gastronomy and wine culture.
Forest and lava caves
Once on Mount Etna, you will follow your professional guide on a hike through the small mountains surrounding the volcano. You will also explore some of the region's craters and lava fields. All of them produced by ancient eruptions.
You will then walk through the ancient pine forests of Mount Etna and take the experience to the maximum by exploring the natural lava caves underground. This way, you will get an amazing scenic contrast. All this, while the guide tells you the history of the place.
Lunch and wine tasting
Before continuing with the excursion, you will stop at one of the restaurants of the region to taste a traditional Sicilian lunch (appetizer, pasta and a delicious dessert). In addition, you will taste some local wines and learn about the wine culture of Etna.
The tour of Mount Etna from Taormina continues with a visit to the Alcantara Gorge. This is an area naturally excavated by the lava flow from past eruptions, which lies below the cliffs and will give you breathtaking views.
Details of interest
- Price: the average price for this activity is 98€ per person.
- Duration: the activity usually lasts 10 hours (Approx.)
- Means of transport: minibus or van.
- Advantages of this option: the excursion includes a professional guide and all the safety equipment (helmet, walking stick, gloves) necessary for the hiking route.
- Disadvantages of this option: this activity is not suitable for pregnant women or people with limited mobility.
2. Visit Catania from Taormina and discover its gastronomic culture
If you're a foodie and you've already taken some of the best cooking classes in Taormina then you'll want to explore other options. To do so, you can take a trip to the old port of Catania, approximately 54 minutes away by car, and discover new flavours and aromas.
When you arrive in Catania you will start a walking tour of the streets, where you will find several gastronomic options. Some of them are:
- Il Gambero Pazzo, a restaurant specialising in fish and seafood.
- A Putia Do Calabrisi, with Italian, Sicilian and Mediterranean food.
- Trattoria U Fucularu, where the main dish is usually pasta (linguine ai frutti di mare, pasta alla Norma, etc).
- Pasticceria Ficarra Luigi, with marzipan, tiramisu, cannolis, homemade biscuits, marzipan fruit, brioche (sweet bread), sheep's milk ricotta, among others.
You should also visit the picturesque La Pescheria fish market with some of Catania's best street food. You'll find dozens of stalls with fresh fish and seafood ready to eat. You will have the opportunity to try grilled and dehydrated vegetables such as aubergines, artichokes, courgettes and more.
- Price: the average price of the excursion starts at €60 per person.
- Duration: the activity usually lasts approximately 6 hours.
- Means of transport: private car or vans.
- Advantages of this option: you will be able to discover the gastronomic culture of an important Sicilian town just a few minutes from Taormina.
- Disadvantages of this option: this activity usually includes a limited number of tastings.
3. See the iconic locations of the film Il Padrino in Savoca and Forza D'Agrò from Taormina
From Taormina it is possible to visit Savoca and Forza D'Agrò, where you will not only find amazing natural landscapes. You can also visit the places chosen by the film director Francis Ford Coppola in 1971 for the filming of Il Padrino.
You will depart from Taormina in a 39 minutes drive with a local guide. You will arrive in Savoca, where you will make your first stop. You will stroll through the historic centre of this town in search of:
- Palazzo Trimarchi, in piazza Fossiaque. This was the setting for the famous Bar Vitelli in the film.
- The Church of San Nicolò, the site of Michael Corleone's wedding.
Next, you will travel 28 minutes by car to Forza D'Aro. This is another small Sicilian town with approximately 889 inhabitants, beautiful natural landscapes, Mediterranean views and historical monuments. There, you will visit the Chiesa SS. Annunziata, which is the baroque church where the fictional character Don Vito Corleone was born.
After exploring Forza D'Aro, you will return to the car to start your way back to the city. You will then be able to continue with the best tours of Taormina on your itinerary.
- Price: this experience usually costs 94€ per person.
- Duration: 5 hours (approx.)
- Means of transport: private car.
- Advantages of this option: you will see some of the main locations used for the film Il Padrino.
- Disadvantages of this option: the activity does not include lunch or drinks, so you will have to cover these costs yourself.
4. Be part of a sea and land excursion from Taormina to the Aeolian archipelago
During your stay in Taormina, take part in an excursion to the Aeolian archipelago, where the island of Panarea and Stromboli are located. You will discover beautiful natural landscapes, walk on black sand, dive into the water and, if you are lucky, watch a small eruption.
For this activity, you will travel about one hour by coach with a local guide to the port of Milazzo. There, you will board a motorboat that will take you to the island of Panarea, where you will have free time to explore: sample the island's gastronomy in a restaurant, buy souvenirs in the local shops, swim and gaze at the sea.
You will then board the motorboat to proceed to the volcanic island of Stromboli. You can walk through the streets of the village and stroll along the beach, which is notable for its black sand and lava. You will also take a ride on the boat while you eat some snacks and watch the sunset.
This one-day adventure usually ends at the door of your hotel. This way, you can rest for a while before continuing with other activities in the city, or you can take the transfer service to Taormina airport to return home.
- Price: the average price of the excursion is 75€ per person.
- Duration: the activity usually lasts 1 day (including transfer time to and from the airport).
- Means of transport: coach and speedboat.
- Advantages of this option: you will live an experience by land and sea on two important islands of the Aeolian archipelago from Taormina.
- Disadvantages of this option: you may miss a small eruption of the Stromboli volcano, as this event occurs unexpectedly.
5. Explore the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento from Taormina and see some of Sicily's historic sites
The Valley of the Temples is another must-see destination if you're an archaeological enthusiast. Therefore, you should dedicate 1 day of your stay in Taormina to an excursion to this historic site, located on the outskirts of the town of Agrigento.
You should go to the Taormina bus terminal , Via Pirandello, as this is where this activity usually departs from. There, you will connect with your assigned driver-guide, board a bus and embark on a route of approximately three hours.
You will arrive at the Archaeological Park of the Valley of the Temples and, together with a local guide, you will start touring the temples erected in this region. Such is the case of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Temple of Concord, the Temple of Hephaestus, the Temple of Herakles, the Temple of Demeter, among others.
You will then continue the excursion to Piazza Armerina, for which you will travel 1 hour and 30 minutes. There, you will find the Roman villa of Casale, whose history dates back to the 4th century A.D. You can see a series of mosaics with mythological, Homeric and hunting scenes, among other themes. All of them were made by North African craftsmen.
- Price: the excursion has an average cost of 60€ per person.
- Duration: the established time for this activity is 12 hours (Approx.).
- Means of transport: bus.
- Advantages of this option: you will get to know some of the archaeological treasures of ancient Greece.
- Disadvantages of this option: usually this type of excursion does not include any type of food or drink, so you will have to pay for these expenses on your own.
6. Join a guided tour of Monti Peloritani and Montalbano Elicona from Taormina
A trip to Monti Peloritani and Montalbano Elicona from Taormina will allow you to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery. Join a guided tour of these villages in the province of Messina in the region of Sicily and discover their history. You will return to the city after sunset, to continue your itinerary of things to do in Taormina by night.
You will travel by bus in the north-eastern direction of Sicily from Taormina city centre, travelling approximately one hour to the first stop at Monti Peloritani. There, accompanied by your guide, you will walk along the 1400 metres high mountain range and see the beautiful landscape of the place.
You will have unique panoramic views of the Ionian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the Peloritani forest, the town of Calabria, Messina, Etna and the Aeolian Islands.
To continue with the activity, you will have to get on the bus to Montalbano Elicona (less than 3 hours).
In this small medieval village you will find some interesting tourist destinations:
- Basilica Minore di Santa Maria Assunta and San Nicolò Vescovo, considered the main Catholic place of worship in the town.
- Castello Di Montalbano Elicona, a monument that preserves an important part of the history of the village.
- Medieval Museum, where you can admire a series of costumes (replicas) used during the Middle Ages.
- Price: the excursion has an approximate cost of 65€ per person.
- Duration: 10 hours (approx.)
- Means of transport: bus or minivan.
- Advantages of this option: you will explore two towns in the province of Messina in the region of Sicily and enjoy beautiful landscapes and historical monuments.
- Disadvantages of this option: meals and drinks are not usually included in this activity.
7. Spend a full day touring the city of Syracuse and Noto from Taormina
Among the unmissable destinations to visit from Taormina is the city of Syracuse, noted for its characteristic Greek ruins. Also, just a few minutes away is the town of Noto Antica, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Sicilian city of Syracuse
You will travel from Taormina by car to the Sicilian city of Syracuse, a journey of about 1 hour and 30 minutes. There, together with your driver-guide, you will visit the ancient Greek ruins of the city.
Among the ruins you will see are the following:
- Neapolis, this is an archaeological park that preserves important archaeological sites (The Ear of Dionysus, The Tomb of Archimedes, among others).
- The Greco Theatre, a monumental Greco-Roman amphitheatre located in the Archaeological Park of Neapolis and whose history dates back to the 5th century BC.
City of Noto Antica
After finishing the tour in Syracuse, the excursion continues to the city of Noto Antica (approximately 50 minutes by car). This city is basically an open-air archaeological museum, which will take you back to the past, as it preserves a series of ruins that are more than 300 years old.
- Price: the cost of the excursion starts at 95€ per person.
- Duration: the activity generally lasts 10 hours.
- Means of transport: private car or bus (depending on the number of people taking part in the excursion).
- Advantages of this option: you will visit a large number of archaeological ruins of great historical importance.
- Disadvantages of this option: the activity is not usually suitable for people with limited mobility, in wheelchairs or pushchairs.
Duration of excursions from Taormina
Excursions from Taormina usually last from half a day (about 6 hours) to a full day (about 12 hours). Everything will depend on the distance between the city and the place selected for the activity.
Moreover, you should take into consideration that some destinations offer excursions with different activities, which conditions the duration of the excursion.
Such is the case of Mount Etna, where you can embark on a 6-hour cycling route or enjoy a 10-hour experience that includes lunch, wine tasting, a walk through the woods, lava caves and the Alcantara Gorge.
Which towns should I not miss on a trip from Taormina?
From the medieval town of Taormina it is possible to visit a number of Sicilian villages of great scenic beauty and historical importance. Some of them are:
- Mount Etna: a natural park where the active volcano Etna is located.
- Catania: this is a picturesque port located at the foot of Mount Etna.
- Siracuso and Noto: which are remarkable for their ancient ruins.
- The Aeolian archipelago: where you will find the island of Panarea, a small archipelago with water activities. Also, the island of Stromboli, which stands out for its black sand beach and active volcano.