On the Italian island of Sicily, one of the most popular towns is Taormina. The town sits 250m above sea level on the natural terrace of Mount Tauro, overlooking the Ionian Sea. Having benefited from both Greek and Roman influence, the town has an eclectic mix of ancient monuments including an amphitheatre and several palazzos. Nowadays, visitors flock here for picturesque beaches with crystal-clear waters, an easy-going local lifestyle and gastronomy featuring fresh seafood and vino alla mandorla (almond wine).
Hostels in Taormina are usually in the heart of the historic centre or beside the beach overlooking the small island of Isola Bella. Choose a place that hosts pasta parties to get a true taste of Sicilian home cooking while drinking in the views from a rooftop terrace. Most hostels also have a communal lounge area with a TV. Taormina hostels often have private rooms as well as shared dorms, including female-only options.
Corso Umberto is the main street in Taormina, weaving from the Porta Messina gateway at one end of the old town through to the Porta Catania at the other. The pedestrianised route is lined with boutique shops and restaurants with the town’s main square, Piazza IX Aprile, in the middle. Join the locals for their daily passeggiata (evening stroll) along the cobblestone paths, or wander down to Taormina Mare where you can sit at a beach bar with a refreshing granita (frozen dessert).
The Teatro Greco (Greek Theatre) still hosts shows 2,000 years after it was built. Many visitors also come for the breathtaking views over the coast and Mount Etna. Get a closer look at Europe’s highest active volcano, 3,350m above sea level, with a trip to the dramatic landscape of Etna National Park. Or you can head out to sea to the Aeolian Islands, a remote archipelago ideal for swimming and meandering through white-washed villages.
Taormina is easy to walk around, but you may want to jump on the cable car for travelling between the historic centre and the beach. If arriving by air, you’ll land at either Catania Fontanarossa Airport, 55km from Taormina, or Falcone Borsellino Airport in Sicily’s capital, Palermo. Direct buses run from Catania airport to Taormina town centre (1.5 hours), or you can get a train to Taormina from Palermo airport (Punta Raisi station) in just over 5 hours. You can use the local buses to travel around the island to places like Catania and Messina.