Cruise Port Atlas | Taormina (Sicily), Italy Day Trips | Attractions

Taormina (Sicily), Italy Day Trips | Attractions

Tender dock: Naxos Giardini

With limited time in port, planning is the best way to make the most of your time. Should you strike out on your own? Should you hire a local guide? Or should you book a shore excursion offered by the cruise line or an international tour company? Below we have listed the attractions and activities that many other cruisers have enjoyed. This information should help you plan.

The advantage to cruise line tours is that they are timed for your visit and give you flexibility to change your mind after your trip begins. The advantage of using a large international firm is that tours are often less expensive than cruise sponsored tours. The advantage to using a local tour company or guide is that prices can be significantly lower or you may be able to get a customized trip just to see the attractions that interest you most.

Cruise lines that visit Taormina / Naxos Giardini: Star Clippers, Voyages to Antiquity, Windstar, Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal, Paul Gauguin, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club, Holland America

Key Attractions: Greek Theater, Isola Bella Park, Giardini-Naxos Beaches, Recanati Beach, Mazzeo Beach, Letojanni Beach, Spisone Beach, Mount Etna, Catania, Acireale, Messina

The Greek Theatre in Taormina

Taormina and the Greek Theater

Port to Taormina - 8 KM, 15 minutes

Taormina is 650 feet above the Ionian Sea, with commanding views the bay of Giardini Naxo and Mount Etna. The most popular attraction in the town is the Greek Theater, likely of Roman origin, but designed using Greek rather than Roman forms. Its location makes it a popular place for performances to this day. The town has long been popular for tourists because of the stunning views from all around. Shopping, eating and quaffing are the most popular activities though there are other historic buildings including the Romanesque Duomo. Walking around Taormina can be difficult and there are numerous step stairways for access to different levels of the town.

Photo of Greek Theater by KurtK9

Greek Theater   Sea and Etna Views   Many Restaurants with Great Views  

Uneven surfaces and hills    Somewhat Wheelchair Accessible

Beach at Isola Bella ParkLocal Beaches and Isola Bella Park

Port to Isola Bella Park - 5.5 KM, 8 minutes
Port to Giardini Naxos Beach - 1 KM, 2 minutes

At the end of the peninsula that extends into the Ionian Sea from the Taormina promontory is Isola Bella Park, named for the small island just off the coast. On the mainland is a popular beach (pebbles). Between the port at Giardini Naxos and Taormina is the largest beach in the area with excellent swimming because it is inside the bay. Many areas are open to the public, though some are developed lidos with fees. South of Giardini Naxos is another large beach at Recanati. Just to the north of Taormina are beaches at Mazzeo (large and fairly quiet), Letojanni (very developed), and Spisone (small with limited facilities).

Sun, Fun and Spas   Plants from all over the world   Sea and Garden views   Flowers and Walking  

Strenuous Walking    No Wheelchair Accessibility

Photo of Isola Bella by Herandar

Mount Etna CraterMount Etna

Port to Mount Etna Park entrance - 30 KM, 33 minutes

Mount Etna is one of the great natural wonders of the world and is continuously active. Most eruptions occur near the summit, but there are also flank eruptions. Though this sounds ominous and property destruction has been considerable over the centuries, deaths are very uncommon from volcanic activity. The most popular activities on the volcano are tours of the craters, hiking, and visiting waterfalls and towns on the mountainsides. Often steam, and less commonly lava, can be seen from the area.

Incredible views of the volcano   Steaming Volcano   Incredible lava formations and scenes of destruction   Unique Plants on the Volcano soil  

Difficult walking    Not Wheelchair Accessible

Photo of Mount Etna Crater by Nikater

Catania Church of Santa Maria


Port to Catania - 46 KM, 40 minutes

Catania has a long and storied history dominated by the infrequent eruptions of Mount Etna, which towers behind the port and has completely destroyed the city twice. Much of the city was destroyed during the last major eruption in 1669, followed by a devastating earthquake in 1693. During the first half of the 18th century the city rebuilt itself in the baroque style inspired by the vision of architect Giovanni Battista Vaccarini.

The work of this period is the reason that Catania's historic center was designated by UNESCO. The colors of the city are the black-gray of the volcanic stone and the white of the marble used on its major monuments. The cathedral (Duomo) displays elements of the city's history including the 1669 eruption in a fresco and the facade is considered one of Vaccarini's masterworks. Other baroque buildings include many churches and homes of the ruling class of that earlier time. The Ursino Castle is the one older structure that offers visitors a view into the distant past.

Baroque Churches and Homes   World Heritage Site   Mount Etna's destruction  

Uneven surfaces and hills    Somewhat Wheelchair Accessible

Photo of Catania's Church of St. Mary by Pequod76

Acireale CathedralAcireale

Port to Acireale - 35 KM, 33 minutes

Like Catania, Acireale was nearly completely destroyed by the eruptions and earthquake of the late 17th century and was rebuilt in a Sicilian baroque style. The most famous attraction in the city is the Duomo on the city's main square (right), which was not destroyed in the earthquake, but has been renovated significantly so that it blends Gothic, Baroque and other styles. Also on the square is St. Peters Basilica, built in the Baroque style. Several beautiful palazzos in the city are popular attractions, along with beautiful parks.

Churches and baroque palazzo   History of Volcanic destruction   Parks  

Flat Walking    Not Wheelchair Accessible

Photo of Acireale Cathedral by sailko

Messina Cathedral


Port to Messina - 55 KM, 40 minutes

Because of its strategic location at the straits of Messina, the city has an important history that begins with the arrival of Greeks in the 8th century BCE. The Cathedral has been rebuilt twice during the 20th century. Nonetheless, it contains many of the original and historic elements. Two other churches in Messina are worth mentioning: the Norman Church of Annunziata dei Catalani, with clear elements of Arab influence, and the gothic Santa Maria degli Alemanni from the 13th century. There are several Renaissance fountains in the city. The municipal museum offers works by Caravaggio and by Antonello of Messina, who greatly influenced other Italian renaissance painters. The view across the straits is another attraction.

Churches and Fountains   The Straits  

Flat Walking    Not Wheelchair Accessible

Photo of Messina Cathedral by Pinodario

Interests Key:

Art Architecture Beach Children Wild Animals Local Cuisine Flora Gardens-Parks Geology

Diving UNESCO Views Wine Dance Music Shopping History Hiking

Walking & Wheelchair Accessibility:

No Walking Easy Walking Normal Walking Difficult Walking Accessible Limited Not Accessible