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Stay in Taormina or just daytrip?

Our original plan was to stay 2 nights in Taormina. But everyone says its crowded and expensive. From the photos I've seen it looks quiet and beautiful in the evening. Maybe worth the money? The Cinque Terre is insane during the day but wonderful in the evening. Same with Florence.
The same thing?

Posted by
16769 posts

I only day-tripped to Taormina. It was madness in the daytime during June 2015, but I'm certainly prepared to believe it's very different at night. I can't comment on hotel costs. I'd suggest that you explore hotel rates on booking.com--and it certainly won't hurt to do that--but I'm not sure how realistic those numbers will be right now, unless you're prepared to make a reservation at this point. You may also see a high percentage of hotels flagged as unavailable when they just haven't set up rates for the fall or next year.

Posted by
13 posts

Taormina seems to get poor reviews, but I really enjoyed it! It was our first stop on our trip to Sicily and we spent four nights there. It is a beautiful place so , of course, lots of people go there!

Posted by
2311 posts

Loved our time in Sicily but Taormina, not so much. Very crowded, commercial, expensive, mediocre food. We got off the beaten path and still shared it with thousands of our newest friends. At night it was a bit less congested, but not by much. When we look back at our time in Sicily Taormina ranks last on our list of places we enjoyed. We really like Siracusa and even Palermo, as gritty as it is, held more for us.

Posted by
1932 posts

I concur with Marsh's take on Taormina. We were there in 2014 on a gourmet guided tour with an Italian Chef. Our local guide lives in Taormina so it made the area even more meaningful. We spent 2 wonderful nights. We were planning to revisit Sicily this September for 28 days. Our flights were canceled. That said, our plan was to do a day trip this time from Acireale. Hopefully we can return to this amazing island. Taormina is exquisite.

Edited to add: Like Alan, our favorite town was Siracusa. We stayed 5 nights on the island of Ortigia. It was our plan to revisit this September and stay at the same BnB. Sigh...

Posted by
116 posts

I was in Taormina as a day trip from a cruise and I loved it. Was there in late September and did not find it overly crowded (This was about 12years ago). After group visit to the Theatre we were let loose for about four hours. I enjoyed the best limoncello gelato ever ouside the theatre and strolled down to the English Garden which was beautiful and empty, then lunch, a lovely fritto misto de Mari, such a nice change from the cruise cuisine! I had planned to go and buy some beautiful marzipan fruits but shops had closed for the early afternoon break and the bus back would leave before they reopened. Have always wanted to go back and spend at least two nights. Could stay at the beach town at the bottom of the hill and take the bus or taxi up to the town?

Posted by
8573 posts

I spent a few nights in Taormina and enjoyed it. It depends on when you go regarding crowds. I went at the beginning of last May and it wasnt too bad.

One suggestions.....for granita go to the Bam Bar.

Posted by
1932 posts

Ray, I will also recommend our favorite casual restaurant in Taormina. Our chef guide took us to Da Christina for the best Arancini we've had (so far). My favorite was the Eggplant version. Devine. I just read online that they are offering an Arancino Cooking Class. rosticceriadachristina.com

Posted by
6148 posts

I think one night is enough because it's so small and compact (and a totally outlier in terms of cost compared to other Sicilian towns). I went on a long day trip prior to heading to the airport in the late evening, and that was enough. If I had stayed an overnight, it would have been just fine too (but no more than that).

Posted by
1803 posts

We were in Taormina for 3 nights in 2015. On our first partial day, we visited the public gardens and walked up the hill to a little church with a gorgeous view. The next day we took an excursion to Mt. Etna, which we enjoyed. We were gone most of the day but didn't notice any crowding when returned.

Our final day was Liberation Day, which was a Saturday and it was crazy crowded. Many Sicilians from the countryside visit big cities on this holiday, so it was like a full-day passeggiata, with everyone wandering up and down the street, greeting friends, having huge lunches. We visited the amphitheater early that day, then escaped via funicular to Mazzara Beach (which was almost empty) and visited Isola Bella. That night we attended an Italian Opera performance in a theater on the main square. A tenor, a soprano and a pianist performed 10 arias from various operas. At intermission, prosecco was served on the lovely rooftop terrace. At the conclusion, there was a singalong to Funiculi Funicula. Wonderful experience. And by evening, most of the crowds were gone.

So we had a busy, enjoyable stay in Taormina. There's lots to see and do there. I guess it depends on your travel style. If you are in a place like Taormina or Palermo or Ortigia, you may find some crowding but also lots of options for food, activities, etc. A place like Acireale, in contrast, was empty and peaceful but frankly a bit boring.

Posted by
4959 posts

Ray, the town is mostly laid out along a hillside with a long main street between two town gates. It was perfect for an evening stroll, gelato in hand, looking out at the lights and sea. Yes, Its worth staying overnight versus day trip.

Posted by
5641 posts

Stay there as the twisty, turning drive up there takes time. It has beautiful views and is much better at night. But we didn't like the vibe there at all and it is the only place in Sicily we didn't love. It did not feel like the rest of Sicily even remotely. They also need to limit the cruise ships! Tickey tacky souvenirs were for sale in Taormina that we did not see elsewhere.
But we're glad we saw it even if I got food poisoning on our last night at a top restaurant and had to delay our flight back to US for two days after seeing a doctor.

Posted by
42 posts

We've been to Sicily twice, once on a RS tour and back again once on our own. We opted for three nights each in Taormina and Ortigia. If you can only go to one town in Sicily, make it Taormina. Sure, if you are only interested in strolling down the main pedestrian street you will only need a day. However, if you want to explore the area, there's the mountain town of Castelmola. Hike there or take the bus, it's worth a few hours. Visit the Turrisi bar and cafe, where Almond wine originated; it is otherwise unique and a landmark in itself. Don't miss the Roman arena and the fantastic oceanview vistas. Yes, Taormina gets crowded but if you stay overnight the crowds dissipate and you get a real feeling for this little town. My recommendation is two nights. We stayed at an airbnb right next to the pedestrian walkway; our friends stayed there the next year and loved it. My feeling is if you're going all the way to Sicily you should take the time to see all there is there before moving on. We also loved Ortigia, btw, but Taormina has a charm all its own that remains in my memory more than 5 years later.

Posted by
281 posts

We appreciate ALL of the posts here. I gotta say, on our first visit here, we're at least gonna stay one night in Taormina. With 2 weeks we have plans to stay in obviously Palermo, Syracuse, & Agrigento. Still to be decided Ragusa or Taormina or both. Not enough time.

Posted by
5641 posts

Remember that two nights equals one day for sightseeing.

Posted by
8573 posts

I will second the suggestion of Da Christina for arrancini. Perfetto. There are a few tables to sit just across the narrow street. It is really a take out place but the arrancini are amazing. It can be a llittle hard to find.

And don't forget to visit the Teatro Antico.

Posted by
47 posts

Two nights is a reasonable time to spend in this scenic town. Like all popular places the magic hours are late and early. We found a B and B at the far end of the main pedestrian street (no climbing steps to get to the hotel but steps inside the old home). Great terrace on top floor for breakfast and relaxing. It did have a shared bathroom and under 100 euros. A typical RS accommodation. On our two stays in Taormina we even did laundry during the time when it is the busiest. The big gardens/park is a wonderful place to lose the crowds with overlooks to Mt. Etna and the sea. Oops, lost my train of thought. Fun to see the neighborhood by the laundromat and bought fruit and bread locally. Sicily is a wonderful place to spend two weeks traveling on your own. Rent a car for time outside the big cities. Sicilians are very helpful, especially outside Palermo. Getting lost is actually fun. Agrigento is only worth 2 nights. You see the ruins in one day. Stay a few days in an inland town and drive some of the country and towns away from the tourist areas. We went to all the Roman and Greek ruins and it got to be repetitive and you missed the local people and foods.

Posted by
1932 posts

@Frank ll, great to hear you are also a fan of Da Christina. Our guide goes there whenever she's in town. It is tucked away "off the beaten path." When we were there it was in the evening for a "snack." Our group stood outside and ate our Arancini. We all thought we had died and gone to heaven! Of course we are so disappointed that our Sept. trip was canceled.

Posted by
379 posts

To visitors of Taormina,
Here is a tip, right near the Porta Catania there is the Chiesa del Carmine, an old church that has now been repurposed as an exhibition center. Last summer, there was a beautiful exhibit of traditional Sicilian carts held there. It was sponsored by MUSCA, Museum of the Sicilian Carts. I believe that it has held the cart exhibit there on several occasions. They were stunning, true works of art. As you stroll towards the Porta Catania check to see what exhibit is being held there and if the carts are on display it is very worth a visit.

Posted by
127 posts

My wife and I stayed one night in Taormina in Aug 2019. It was worth one night for us, and it was also worth the cost to stay right in the city at Casa Turrisi B&B. During our stay we did a half-day "Godfather" tour as my wife liked the movies; though I am no fan, the tour was excellent.
I posted the trip details here on the forum: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/italy-2019-sicily-sorrento-amalfi-pompeii-rome-orvieto-tuscany-siena-florence-cinque-terre-milan
And the Godfather tour information here on the forum: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/sicily-godfather-private-tour-marco-is-an-outstanding-prestelli-tour-guide

Posted by
999 posts

In October 2018 my husband and I spent 3 weeks in Sicily & loved it all. We spent 3 nights in Taormina, staying on the main drag, Corso Umberto, and greatly enjoyed it. Yes, it is much more touristy than other places in Sicily as lots of cruise ship guests come for the day but we still enjoyed it. We have visited the Cinque Terre 4x and have always stayed in Vernazza which I know is full of people during the day but lovely in the evenings. Such is Taormina.

We had a car for our entire Sicily trip (got rid of it at Palermo airport before visiting Palermo for 3 nights) and in Taormina parked it at the big garage near Porta Catania and it was an easy walk to our hotel. As other posters stated above, besides the main sight in Taormina, the Greek-Roman Theater, don't miss the lovely public gardens & stop for a granita con brioche at Bam Bar.

We drove (can take the bus) up to the cute town of Castelmola with lovely views of Mt Etna and Taormina. In Castelmola don't miss Bar Turrisi & their almond vino along with the decor:) We were told The sanctuary of Madonna della Rocca, which is off the road to Castelmola, was not accessible due to some rock slides.

Took the bus down to Isola Bella as the funicular was not working. We visited the villa here but it is nothing special. It is a nice place for a swim as the water is very clear but lots of small rocks so bring water shoes. In Taormina we enjoyed lots of people watching on Corso Umberto with a spritz in hand:) You will love Sicily!! P.S. We were surprised at how much we enjoyed Palermo!

Posted by
15 posts

Stay the two nights.
Get tickets for the Taormina Opera House. No, you won't see top tier opera stars there, but the show is well worth the time and cost.
Drive over to Mount Etna and enjoy the views. There should be a honey truck there, great tasting honey for sale.
Visit Teatro Antico di Taormina, the ancient Greco-­Roman theater.
Isola Bella is "just across the street". I did not visit there, wished I did.

It is a beautiful town to stroll around in the day and night.

Posted by
5641 posts

We enjoyed taking the funicular down to Isola Bella area. The other passengers were locals going to work or returning home. But, honestly, Taormina is my least favorite place in all of Italy!