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People walking along the waterfront in Ortigia, Siracusa, Sicily.

10 Fabulous (& Realistic) Day Trips from Taormina

I love hanging out in Taormina as much as anyone.  Who doesn’t like the colorful, lively resort town? 

Highlights include visiting the Teatro Greco (Greek Theater), shopping along Corso Umberto, lounging at the Isola Bella pebbly beach, and having an evening aperitivo in town.

If you’ve got itchy feet and are looking for a day trip from Taormina, check out my list below for some of your best options.

Based on my experience traveling in Sicily for work and leisure, I’m keeping the day trips to 2 hours driving (each way) or less. 

You may also want to check out
Taormina – Planning Your Visit
Where to Stay in Taormina – Areas, Recs, and Tips
Taormina in Winter
One Day in Taormina with Kids

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Types of Day Trips from Taormina

Sicilian cart apprentice explains cart painting to young boy in workshop in Ragusa, Sicily.
My son learning about Sicilian carts in Ragusa Ibla
  • Beach – Hang out at a public (free) beach or relax at a beach club (private/paid).
  • Kids – The focus of the destination is for children.
  • Relaxing – Wander the streets, have a leisurely lunch, see how Italians live their daily lives.  There may be ‘things to see’ in the destination, but I think it’s a great place to slow down and soak up la vita bella (the beautiful life).
  • Shopping – Shop ‘til you drop!
  • Sightseeing – See the sites, do the activities, stay busy and moving in this destination!  But, that doesn’t mean you can’t stop and grab an aperitivo or just hang out.
  • Sporty – Get moving!  Hike, walk, swim, or cycle in this destination.
  • Views – Beautiful vistas await from this destination or on the journey to/from Taormina.
  • Wine – Vino is a focus of this destination.

Taormina Day Trip Transportation Options

You’ll need a car for these Taormina day trips, or you can use a tour operator.  I don’t recommend using public transport in Sicily – I have but I think it’s easier to travel in Sicily with your own two wheels. 

The one exception on the list is Castelmola.  You can easily reach it on foot, or by taxi or bus from Taormina. 

Before you take off, be sure to read about
Driving in Sicily
Renting a Car in Sicily
Renting a Car in Catania

10 Fabulous (and Realistic) Day Trips from Taormina

DESTINATIONDRIVING TIMETYPE OF TRIPNOTES
Castelmola15 minRelaxing, ViewsAlso easy to visit on foot or with public transport
Mount Etna1 hr 15 minSporty, Views, Kids 
Syracuse & Ortigia1 hr 30 minSightseeing, Kids 
Alcantara Gorge30 minSporty, Relaxing 
Catania50 minShopping, Sightseeing 
Val di Noto towns2 hrSightseeing, Kids, WineTop picks are Ragusa, Scicli, Modica
Caltagirone1 hr 30 minShopping, Relaxing 
Villa Romana del Casale2 hrSightseeingIn Piazza Armerina
Marzamemi1 hr 50 minBeach, Relaxing 
Savoca & Forzà d’Agrò20 – 30 minSightseeingSee locations from The Godfather film

Castelmola

People sitting in Piazza Sant'Antonio in Castelmola, Sicily.

Just up the road from Taormina, the small village of Castelmola is perched dramatically on a hill and is a perfect place to spend a relaxing day (or even half day) near Taormina. 

Castelmola is one of the Borghi Più Belli d’Italia (Most Beautiful Villages in Italy), and you’ll find small shops, outdoor restaurants and cafés, and incredible viste waiting for you.

Don’t miss a chance to try the local almond wine, and make sure to find your favorite belvedere (beautiful view). 

You can walk, drive, or take a taxi or bus up to Castelmola.  If it’s not too hot, I like and recommend the walk – part of it’s on stairs and you’ll enjoy the views if you stop every once in a while and turn around.

Check Out our Guide to Castelmola

Mount Etna

Our guide telling us about the crater in front of us

If you ask my kids what their favorite thing about Sicily is, they’ll tell you “walking on Mount Etna.”  And I agree, it is pretty spectacular to be walking on an active volcano.

You can see Mount Etna from Taormina (when we last visited, you could even see the lava at night), so it’s beckoning you!

I’ve visited on my own and on guided tours, and the guided tours really make a difference at Mt. Etna.  You’re able to access special places (like caves), stop at viewpoints you probably wouldn’t find on your own, and learn about the volcano from an expert!

On our last trip, we drove to Catania and met up with a guide from Etna Est for a private tour.  It was the best way to visit Mount Etna with kids, and I also saw clients loving the guided tours when I worked as an active travel guide in Sicily.

However, if you want to visit independently, it’s totally possible and fun.  There’s plenty of parking in the Rifugio Sapienza area. 

Helpful Tip:  Make sure you have a good pair of shoes for visiting Mount Etna.  You may want to read about the Best Shoes for Italy and Kids Shoes for Italy.

Read about
Visiting Mount Etna with Kids

Siracusa & Ortigia

Building with plants on balconies in Ortigia in Sicily.

If you’ll be in Eastern Sicily, a visit to Siracusa (aka Syracuse) and Ortigia is a must.  Stroll the historic city center, relax on a bench by the water, visit the market (get there early!), and dine on delicious local seafood. 

While you could easily spend a week in Siracusa, I find that even a day trip is lovely. 

Alcantara Gorge

The Gole Alcantara Botanical and Geological Park (aka Alcantara Gorge) is one of the most popular natural sites in Sicily, especially for Sicilians. 

The Alcantara Gorge is a dramatic setting – a canyon set in between high basalt walls that were formed from eruptions of neighboring Mount Etna. 

Good To Know:  Like many sites you see on social media, the reality is often different from the photo.  Expect large crowds at the Gorge, especially during the hot summer months of July and August, when vacationers seek the cool water of the Alcantara River.

Catania

Missing big city life?  Then hop in your car and head to Catania for a dose of historic buildings, boutique and international shops, and lively markets. 

Val di Noto Baroque Towns

The Val di Noto is home to the UNESCO World Heritage ‘Late Baroque Towns of Ragusa, Scicli, Modica, Catania, Caltagirone, Catania, Palazzolo Acreide, and Militello Val di Catania. 

For your Taormina day trip, make a full day of visiting:

  • Modica – chocolate lovers unite!; head to Antica Dolceria Bonajuto to sample the unique cioccolato (I recommend the ginger and the sea salt); wander the narrow lanes of the center (upper part) of town
  • Scicli – see the city of the caves (no, I’m not talking about Matera!); get gelato and stroll Via Penna
  • Ragusa (Ibla) – learn about the tradition of Sicilian cart-making; have a coffee or aperitivo in Piazza Duomo

Helpful Tip:  If you’re ok with driving back to Taormina in the dark, make your visit to Ragusa Ibla in the evening for dinner and a stroll – it’s a magical place at night!

Good To Know:  Want to throw some beach time in?  Skip one of the towns and instead head to the beach at Marina di Ragusa or Sampieri.

Learn more about
Visiting Modica and Modica with Kids
Visiting Scicli

Ragusa with Kids

Caltagirone

Close up of ceramic steps in Caltagirone, Sicily.

While Caltagirone is part of the group of Val di Noto Baroque towns mentioned above, I feel it warrants its own day trip.  If you love art or ceramics, you can easily pass hours strolling through town, browsing the shops, or purchasing goodies to bring back home for gifts (or for yourself!). 

You could join a ceramics class (excellent option for kids too), and be sure to find the ceramic steps.

You’ll drive through beautiful Sicilian countryside on your way from Taormina to Caltagirone.

Villa Romana del Casale (Piazza Armerina)

History and architecture lovers shouldn’t miss a day trip to Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina.  One of the best-preserved sites of mosaics you’ll ever see, Villa Romana del Casale was… a Roman villa. 

While it’s possible to drive to the villa andn see it on your own, the site comes to life when the history, stories, and facts are delivered by a guide.

Marzamemi

Restaurant in main square of Marzamemi in southern Sicily.

This delightful little (former) fishing village is a bit of a drive from Taormina, but it’s got a lot of character, color, and a beautiful beach out front.  Dine on freshly-caught fish from nearby, have aperitivo in the main piazza, or go on a romantic stroll along the water.

I always leave Marzamemi with a smile (and a suntan).

Read more about Visiting Marzamemi

Savoca & Forzà d’Agrò

If you or someone in your group is a Godfather fan (hi dad!), visiting the nearby villages that were filming locations for The Godfather film is a must.

Familiar with the film and want to try to find the locations on your own?  With a bit of internet sleuthing, you’ll find them and can go on a bit of a scavenger hunt on your day trip.

Or, take the easy route and book a guided Godfather tour of the sets.

Either way, this day trip – you’ll never fuggedaboutit.

Map of Taormina Day Trips

Guided Tours of the 10 Fabulous Taormina Day Trips

Want to kick up your feet and have someone else do the driving (and parking, and getting gas, and paying tolls…)?

You can book a private guided tour with Uncovered Sicily, which I’ve used and been very happy with.  The company runs guided tours all over the island and you can . 

Or, book a group tour to one of the Taormina day trip destinations.  For example:

DESTINATIONTOUR OPTION(S)
Mount EtnaFrom Taormina: Etna Upper Craters Day Tour
Siracusa & OrtigiaFrom Taormina: Guided Tour of Siracusa and Noto
Alcantara GorgeFrom Taormina: Etna and Alcantara Gorge
Savoca & Forzà d’AgròFrom Taormina: Godfather Film Locations

Questionable Day Trips from Taormina

beach in Cefalu, Sicily, Italy
Cefalù

Cefalù – 2.5-hour drive with no traffic.  If you’ll be spending time in Palermo, day trip from there – you can even visit easily from Palermo by train.  Read our guides to Visiting Cefalù and Cefalù with Kids.

Aeolian Islands – Too far for a day trip.  First you’d need to drive to Milazzo, take a ferry or hydrofoil to one of the islands… and then do the same thing on the way back.  You’ll spend most of your day traveling.  While it is technically possible, I would never send someone on a day trip to the Aeolian Islands.  If you want to visit, make time in your Sicily itinerary for at least two nights.

Agrigento – 2.5-hour drive with no traffic.  Also, if you’re visiting any time between June and September, I’d recommend visiting Agrigento early in the morning so you can avoid the heat and some of the crowds.  That’s tough to do with a 2.5-hour drive to get there!

Palermo – 3-hour drive with no traffic.  Save your gas (and driving skills) and choose a Taormina day trip closer to the town.  Read our guide to Palermo with Kids.

Best Taormina Day Trips with Kids

My boys investigating Mt. Etna

My top day trip for kids from Taormina is a guided Mount Etna tour. It’s an excellent day trip for kids of all ages, from little kids to teens. Heads Up:  Summer days on Etna are extremely hot, and not pleasant for kids (or even adults, really).

Otherwise, with older kids, I’d make the longer drive to the Val di Noto towns or Siracusa & Ortigia.

Tips for Taking a Day Trip from Taormina

  • Read about Where to Stay in Taormina and try to book a hotel near one of the main parking garages.
  • Avoid taking a day trip on major holidays like New Year’s Day, Ferragosto, or Easter.  Taormina and other Sicilian destinations will see a major increase in visitors, and you’ll need to deal with parking and traffic.  It’s easier to stay in Taormina on these days.
  • If you’re visiting somewhere with an entrance (like Villa Romana del Casale), be sure to check opening dates and times so you don’t arrive to a closed site!
  • If you’re visiting Sicily in the summer, make sure your car has air-conditioning.
  • Don’t want to deal with driving, parking, getting gas, or ZTLs?  Book a group or private tour.

Day Trips from Taormina FAQ

Should I take a day trip from Taormina to the Aeolian Islands?

The Aeolian Islands (including the major islands of Lipari, Salina, Stromboli, Vulcano, Panarea) are not an ideal destination for a day trip.  It’s best to spend at least two nights (and especially a night if you want to see Stromboli erupting in the evening!).

Can I take a day trip to Palermo from Taormina? 

Taormina to Palermo is a three hour drive, and that’s without any traffic.  It’s best to stick closer to eastern Sicily for your Taormina day trip.

Can I visit Mt. Etna with a baby?

If you’re looking to do a Mt. Etna tour with your family, you can bring your baby (if it’s not a hot summer day) and spend time around Rifugio Sapienza if you don’t want to do any big hikes.  There are little walks you can do on the craters, and if baby needs to sleep, you can push the stroller on the pavement.  But again, avoid visiting Etna with a baby (or small child) in hot weather. 

Should I visit the Taormina Greek Theatre on a day trip?

The ancient theater in Taormina is in Taormina, so you can see it as a part of your Taormina itinerary.

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