Spectacularly perched on the side of a mountain, Taormina is Sicily's most popular summer destination, a chic resort town beloved of holidaying high-rollers and visiting celebs. And while it is unashamedly touristy and has a main street lined with high-end designer shops, the town remains an achingly beautiful spot with gorgeous medieval churches, a stunning Greek theatre and sweeping views over the Gulf of Naxos and Mt Etna.
Founded in the 4th century BC, it enjoyed great prosperity under the Greek ruler Gelon II and later under the Romans, but fell into quiet obscurity after being conquered by the Normans in 1087. Its modern reincarnation as a tourist destination dates to the 18th century, when it was discovered by northern Europeans on the Grand Tour. Goethe was an early fan, as was DH Lawrence, who lived here between 1920 and 1923, and over the years it has seduced a whole army of writers, artists, aristocrats and royals.
Note that it gets extremely busy in July and August and virtually shuts down between November and Easter. The best time to visit is either side of high season, April to May or September to October.
Taormina destination guides
Messina Shore Excursion: Private Day Trip to Taormina and Mt Etna
While you’re in port in Messina, take a full-day private shore excursion to Taormina and Mt Etna. Take in scenic views as your private driver takes you along the fabulous Sicilian coast. Explore one of the world's most active volcanoes at your leisure -- the majestic and fascinating Mt Etna.
Taormina Shore Excursion: Acireale, Catania and Cyclops Riviera Trip
Enjoy a full-day private shore excursion from the Taormina port to Sicily’s beautiful Cyclops Riviera, encompassing the fishing villages of Catania and Acireale.