Italy

Travel Guide: Taormina, Sicily

Taormina is a gorgeous town on the east coast of Sicily set on the hill side with magnificent views over the sea and Mount Etna. The town itself is bustling in the summer months with adorable little streets that curve around the hills, filled with cafes, restaurants and shops with Sicilian goodies as well as some trendy boutiques. The people are so warm and vibrant making you feel so happy and comfortable. There are so many activities to do as well outside of Taormina which will keep you entertained when you’re not relaxing at one of the stunning beaches or exploring the town.

Where to Stay?

Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo

The most fantastically located hotel in Taormina is the Timeo. Perched right in the centre of town next to the Greek theatre, Timeo has the most phenomenal views over the town, the sea and a perfect view of Mount Etna. The hotel itself has a variety of different styles of rooms, I stayed in their “annex” which is right next-door to the main hotel. It has duplex rooms with two floors, a bedroom that overlooks the living room with huge windows and 2 bathrooms. This was perfect for my boyfriend and I as we could have loads of space and be super comfortable. We were there with a group of friends, we all had this type of room and loved it! The food in the hotel is the best thing I’ve ever had but I’ll talk about that more in where to eat. Along with this the service was great, everyone was willing to go out of their way to organise and facilitate anything you needed, even finding someone to fix my friends leather suitcase strap which broke on the flight over!

www.belmond.com/grand-hotel-timeo-taormina/

Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea

This is the sister hotel of the Timeo, which is set on the beach a short 5 min shuttle drive down the hill. It is very similar in style to the Timeo with a slightly more laid back vibe, set in lush gardens slightly raised from a little bay where they have a beach with beds. The sea is crystal clear with a little rock that pops out. If you swim out, you can dive and jump of the top. It’s great fun for families that want a calmer out of town feeling to their trip. The restaurant is lovely for a big lunch with great food and lovely waiters.

www.belmond.com/villasantandrea

Where to Eat?

Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo

I highly recommend having dinner here in their main restaurant. The views are unbeatable especially at night. The best way to do it is to arrive shortly before sunset and have an aperitivo on the terrace, then make your way to the restaurant. (Be sure to book a table outside right at the front of the terrace so you have unobstructed views). Everything on the menu was delicious, even the Spaghetti Pomodoro was mouth-watering.

Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea

For lunch this is great, set underneath gorgeous floral trees with a view across the bay and incredible food it is not one to miss. Try their sea food which is super fresh and very tasty.

Monaci delle Terre Nerre

This doubles up as a hotel with really trendy design rooms, but we experienced it a little differently. The Timeo organised us a great day out and one of the things they did is set up a gorgeous lunch and wine tasting here. The food was a buffet of delicious salads, and your preferred choice of meat/fish. The views are so pretty and the hotel itself is gorgeous. Definitely a day none of us will forget!

Apart from the above for dinner we ended up either asking for recommendations from the hotel or strolling around and choosing a little restaurant. There are so many and you are sure to have great food at all of them.

Where to Beach:

Boat day

The best way to see the Sicilian coast is definitely by boat. There are endless coves with crystal clear sea perfect for diving into and spending a whole day or leisurely afternoon splashing around. You can also take the boats further afield and go to one of the many volcanic islands popped about and see their unique coastlines too. Highly recommend this one. The hotel can organise lunch on the boat or in different bays.

Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea

As we were only here for a few days we didn’t get to try out any other beaches apart from this one. But it was divine. The sea was beautiful, the scenery was great, and to get here we tried out the gondola that takes you from town down to across the road from the hotel. It was a bit difficult to find the gondola to take us down but once we did it was super easy and quick! At the end of the long beach day we decided to take the free shuttle back up to the hotel which was very easy to use also.

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There is an endless amount of beaches that I have read about or been told about that you can see there too, so for those ones you can send me an email and I’ll be happy to recommend a few more!

Where to Shop?

The town is filled with tiny stores lined down the little cobbled streets. Many are for the tourists with typical Sicilian sweets, ice cream and souvenirs. My favourite of these are the stores that sell aprons, towels and makeup bags (which I have actually been using to put my underwear in when I travel) where the women then stich in front of you whatever you would like on the front of them, either your name or a phrase.

They do this in a really fun way and I ended up going to the same store 3 or four times over my four day stay! Loved it. If your into unique bowls for fruit and veg or any type of ceramics really, then this will be your heaven. Here you will find endless shops filled with incredibly unique ceramics that would be gorgeous in any home. Fashion wise there was one boutique I liked in particular called List.

It had loads of different brands and many unique pieces that I actually hadn’t seen before which was great.

Best Activities?

Mount Etna

We took a “hike” up Mount Etna which is about an hour and a half’s drive from Taormina. Funny story actually, one of our friends organised this one and didn’t think to ask what the proper attire for it was. So we all turn up in shorts, t shirts and trainers. Whilst on the gondola up to the point where you start the hike we were sitting with a guy who is a hike guide and he started laughing at all of us, asking where we were going dressed this way. He was in full hiking gear, pants and long sleeved jumper with a jacket on top. He told us it got very cold right at the top and that we wouldn’t be able to go all the way up. We ended up getting on a four by four bus that looked a bit like a quadbike with a bus on top of it which took us up to a crater near the top but not all the way up. Moral of the story, organise it properly if you intend to hike all the way to the top!!! Nonetheless we had a great day full of laughs and we got some insane photos.

Wine Tasting

After our “exhausting hike” our driver took us to Monaci delle Terre Nerre for lunch and wine tasting. The hotel is a 19th century villa on 40 acres of farm situated at the feet of Mount Etna. We had a lovely guy telling us all about wine from the Etna region and the differences between the north, south, east and west (I like to think I’m a connoisseur). Whilst being informative it was also enjoyable, and I found quite a few wines that I really enjoyed.

Greek Theatre

Just above the Timeo is a huge Greek theatre where they host many shows, while we were there it was Anastasia (do you remember her?!?! She was my favourite singer when I was young). It is also just beautiful and amazing that it is still standing and is still in use.

You can also do:

Boat day
Isola Bella
Alcantara Gorge
Buy Honey on the way to/from Mount Etna (Apparently it’s really good)

When to go?

April – October

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I have some friends that joined us in Taormina that did a road trip through the south of Sicily, so if you want those tips too just send me an email!