Sicily's most famous and long-established tourist resort, with a picturesque setting, wonderful views and ancient ruins

One of Italy's most historic holiday resorts, Taormina is a picturesque small town perched on a slope high above the Ionian Sea on the eastern coast of Sicily. A popular and fashionable destination for well over a century, Taormina's hotels and restaurants are very experienced at welcoming foreign tourists. Many of these are fairly expensive, including some fabulous luxury options. However, visitors don't have to spend a fortune to enjoy the town's principal attractions - the views, the scenery, the atmosphere.

Close to the site of one of the earliest colonies founded by the Ancient Greeks in Sicily, Taormina became a thriving Greek and then Roman town. The size and elegance of the town cathedral and many of its buildings are evidence of Taormina's moderate prosperity over the centuries. By the end of the 19th century this picturesque and ancient town was already on the tourist trail, with famous visitors including Oscar Wilde, Richard Wagner and Tsar Nicholas II. Over the last decades travellers have come for the views, the ancient ruins, the seaside, the town's film festival, an outdoor theatre season, the fine hotels and more. A classy honeymoon destination or a cheap and cheerful excursion from a cruise ship, Taormina has a lot to offer all kinds of visitor. As a consequence, of course, this small town is sometimes so crowded it can feel like a victim of its own success.

Accommodation is cheaper out of season, and the little town is less packed, too. March, April and May are good months to enjoy sunshine, the flowers and relatively-uncrowded streets and restaurants. Autumn in Sicily can feature heavy rainstorms, but also plenty of sunshine. On the negative side, out of season you may find hotel swimming pools emptied, building works underway around town, and little buzz in the nightlife.
Taormina is the one destination in Sicily, and probably the one Italian destination south of the Amalfi Coast, where tourism is really well-established and dominates the entire character of the town. So for less experienced travellers, non-Europeans, and newcomers to Italy, it is a manageable and reassuring place to stay. English is widely spoken, but the town still values its traditions and you'll enjoy Sicilian food and a fair amount of Italian atmosphere. If you are a seasoned Italy traveller and looking for authentic Sicily, Taormina is still worth visiting, though you'd probably prefer to combine it with other, less-touristy spots.