Taormina Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Taormina gay guide to hotels & where to stay, things to do, restaurants, bars, and local gay life.
The Gay Travel Experience: Taormina, Italy
Taormina’s gay scene may be small in comparison to other Sicilian cities, but that isn’t stopping increasing numbers of LGBT travelers from visiting.
Especially after the second season of The White Lotus, everyone is making a point to visit—myself included! I tacked on a couple of days in Taormina before exploring the Aeolian Islands.
Interestingly, Taormina has a bit of gay history, quoted as a highly frequented destination among gay tourists in the 1920s. Now, over 100 years later, gay travel here is picking back up.
Taormina has long been a luxurious destination on Sicily’s east coast, especially popular for its stunning cliffside views. Spending a day on the beach was wonderful and walking through the city’s center was so charming. It’s quite a unique place, and I’d definitely go back.
As Taormina gay locals will tell you, pretty much everything is gay-friendly. I was honestly surprised at how accepting Sicily is for gay travelers—not only in Taormina but in other cities like Palermo and Catania.
In this guide, I’ll help you get the most out of Taormina and share essential info about where to stay, things to do, the local gay scene, and more.
Gay Taormina: Hotels & Where to Stay
You’ll find a ton of accommodations just to the east of Taormina’s town center. Most of these are perched up along a series of cliffs and offer unbeatable views. But, depending on how far up the mountainside they’re located, can be strenuous to walk from.
I stayed in this area and found the steps to be manageable, but I definitely broke a sweat trekking back up from the city center. Local taxis are an option, but you’ll need to call them and give them your location the old-fashioned way.
Many vacation rentals in Taormina are along the mountainside too. Don’t pass up a look at what’s available, especially given they could be comparatively cheaper than B&B’s with a similar feel.
San Domenico Palace Four Seasons
The San Domenico Palace Four Seasons is undoubtedly Taormina’s ritziest, most luxurious hotel. And after being the set of so many scenes in the second season of The White Lotus, the hotel’s popularity has skyrocketed.
Prices here are steep, and they have expectedly reached new heights considering the hotel’s recent international notoriety. If you can afford a minimum of a few thousand euros per night, staying here is the obvious choice.
The property is breathtaking, full of stunning gardens and terraces overlooking the seaside and the famous Isola Bella. It’s also located right in the center of town.
Room options range from simple guest rooms to incredible suites with private plunge pools and terraces!
Seeing a part of the San Domenico Palace without actually staying at the hotel is possible, but it’s not easy.
You won’t be able to simply walk in (although there’s never any hurt in trying your luck). Reservations for the bar and restaurant book up over a month in advance, meaning you’ll really need to plan ahead!
Maison Blanche Luxury B&B
I stayed at Maison Blanche Luxury B&B with my partner Michael and loved every second of it.
With a huge private terrace attached to our room, we had so much space to relax. The views were spectacular! I also appreciated the memory foam bed and strong air conditioning.
Our host was friendly, helpful, and got us situated quickly. She helped us get our luggage up to our room, provided us with some essential info about Taormina, and welcomed us with a glass of prosecco.
Breakfast at Maison Blanche was also a highlight. Our host and her cook greeted us each morning in the dining room bringing us coffee, fruit, eggs, and sweets in what felt like an instant.
La Plage Resort
La Plage Resort is a waterfront bungalow-style accommodation I discovered while spending the day at the beach. The resort is connected to a beach club, bar, and restaurant that’s directly adjacent to the popular Isola Bella. You can’t get a hotel any closer than this!
I love how the villas are situated with gates surrounding the individual private areas. Guest rooms are surrounded by grass, pretty landscaping, and gorgeous views.
Taormina Gay Travel Experiences
Villa Comunale is one of the top places to visit in Taormina. It’s a stunning local park with gorgeous views that I couldn’t get enough of. You can also see the San Domenico Palace Four Seasons Hotel from here.
Lush landscaping and gardens line all the park’s paths. And in addition to the expansive vistas of the Mediterranean Sea, I loved Villa Comunale’s oriental-inspired architectural elements, which were historically used for bird watching.
A visit to Taormina isn’t complete without a visit to this famous park. Go in the early morning or late afternoon for the best lighting and more comfortable temperatures.
Stroll Down Corso Umberto
Corso Umberto is Taormina’s central pedestrian-only street where you’ll find all the city’s shops, bars, and delicious restaurants. Walking the whole length of this street is a must!
Isola Bella & Taormina Beaches
Isola Bella and the adjacent beaches have become even more popular after being a filming location for The White Lotus. It’s a tiny island connected to the mainland by a narrow sand bar.
The sand bar and the beaches it connects to are all public areas. Many people plop down right here along the path toward Isola Bella, despite how little room there actually is.
Beach clubs adjacent to Isola Bella are much more comfortable. A lounge chair, towel, and an optional umbrella are well worth the 25 euros per person for the day!
I chose the club connected to La Plage Resort and highly recommend it. You can order from their walk-up beach bar, or have any food or drinks brought over to your chairs.
Keep in mind that Taormina’s beaches are best visited in the morning and early afternoon. After 3 PM, the shadow of the mountainside begins covering the area.
You can also tour more of Isola Bella by entering Naxos Archeological Park. However, there is a strict dress code, which is inconvenient for tourists dressed for the beach. It’s probably better to do this as a separate excursion.
Taormina’s coastline is made of cobbles. There are lots of rocks in the shallow surrounding water too, so bring a pair of water shoes.
To get to Isola Bella from central Taormina, you’ll want to take the city’s cable car. It’s an easy, cheap, and scenic ride. I’ll give all the specifics in this guide’s travel tips section.
Kayak Around Isola Bella
I saw a small bunch of people kayaking while wading in the water around Isola Bella. If I had more time in Taormina, I definitely would have booked a kayak tour around Isola Bella.
The water in the area is super tranquil, which makes for some pleasant and easy kayaking. It’s also magnificently clear.
Tours also take you to Taormina’s Blue Grotto, where you’ll see some stunning glowing water from inside the cave.
Don’t feel like kayaking on vacation? The most popular alternative is booking a spot on a luxurious Isola Bella boat tour.
Aeolian Islands Day Trips
If you have the luxury of spending more than a couple of days in Taormina, I’d consider a day trip to see some of Sicily’s stunning Aeolian Islands.
Vulcano and Lipari day trips from Taormina are fantastic. I loved exploring Vulcano and got the chance to experience some of this volcanic island’s stunning natural features.
I bathed in natural hot sulfur pools and swam at Spiaggia delle Acque Calde, the local beach where bubbles and hot water burst out from under the seafloor.
Lipari was particularly scenic, especially the views from Lipari Castle. The adjacent Co-Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew is stunning, too.
Stromboli and Panarea day trips from Taormina will give you the chance to see an active volcano actually erupt a bit. Seeing the dense steam spew out of the top of Stromboli was magical.
Panarea was one of my favorite islands for its gorgeous white buildings and fairytale-like streets. I sort of felt like I was on a Greek island!
Restaurants in Taormina
Caffè Wunderbar is a relaxing outdoor gay-friendly restaurant in the very center of Taormina, adjacent to the popular Piazza IX Aprile and Church of San Giuseppe.
You can get some of the best views of the seaside here. Try to get a table next to the railings if you can.
I appreciated the fast service, the friendly staff, and the delicious drinks. We even met some other Taormina gay travelers here!
I recommend stopping by for an aperitivo at least! They give out plenty of snacks along with your cocktails.
Bistro du Monde
Bistro du Monde was the perfect dinner restaurant to have a meal with my partner Michael on the night we arrived. Their tables are tucked along a popular pedestrian street in the center of town.
Seafood dishes are the restaurant’s specialty, but there are dishes of all types available.
Osteria da Rita
Osteria da Rita is a tremendously popular restaurant in Taormina, located right next to Bistro du Monde. They serve specialty Sicilian dishes among other traditional Italian cuisine. The vibe is relatively casual, the portions are big, and the food is delicious.
This restaurant gets busy and will surely have a wait during prime dinnertime hours. If you don’t want to wait, plan for a later dinner, or stop by during aperitivo time.
Adduma is another highly rated restaurant I recommend in Taormina’s center. The vibe here is on the intimate side, with outdoor seating in a quiet area that you reach via a staircase of the main street of Corso Umberto.
The food here was so rich and flavorful. Grilled meats and fish are their specialty, but the pasta on their menu is also divine!
Taormina Gay Bars & Nightlife
As you might expect for a smaller vacation-oriented destination, Taormina doesn’t have any official gay bars. However, there are a few specific gay-friendly bars and restaurants where you’ll find a few gay locals or other travelers.
Ape Nera is a fun gay-welcoming bar and restaurant according to a gay local I talked to. They’re a chic spot directly on Corso Umberto where you can get your favorite classic cocktails.
Q Lounge Bar is sometimes frequented by gay travelers. While the crowd is definitely mixed, I did get the impression that some of the other people sitting here were gay tourists.
Connect with other gay travelers! → Join wolfyy’s Gay Travel Talk Facebook group.
Taormina Gay Travel Tips
Protect Your Feet at the Beach
Beaches in Taormina consist of large cobbles. Walking on them barefoot can be uncomfortable if you’re not used to it. Also, once you’re in the water, there are areas full of jagged rocks that will be difficult to traverse without something on your feet.
Wear Your Sexy Swimwear
Beaches in Taormina have an open-minded vibe, so there’s no reason not to put on your sexiest gay swimsuit (that’ll hopefully attract some attention)!
If you want some style ideas and inspiration, check out these popular gay swimwear brands.
There’s also a Sundek shop along Corso Umberto, which is my go-to store for bold swim brief designs whenever I’m in Italy. I picked up an awesome pair of swim briefs.
Taking the Taormina Cable Car
Taormina’s cable car is the fastest and most convenient way to reach local beaches, including Isola Bella. It runs frequently throughout the day and a round-trip ride costs only 6 euro!
Renting & Visiting Taormina by Car
Alternatively, you can reach Taormina by bus from Catania with companies like Etna Transporti and Interbus.
Before renting your car, you’ll want to remember a few things. First, don’t choose a large vehicle—they make navigating more difficult and often barely fit into parking garages.
Second, most vehicle options are manual. if you need an automatic, I’d suggest booking well in advance. Lastly, bring some change or small bills for toll roads throughout Sicily.
Taxis & Getting Around Taormina
As mentioned earlier in this guide’s hotels section, walking up to accommodations perched along Taormina’s cliffsides from the town center will involve a ton of stairs. I’ll bet you that there will be at least one instance when you won’t feel like making this trek home.
Local taxis can be found just outside of both Porta Catania and Porta Messina, the gates that are on either end of Corso Umberto. This makes getting a ride back to your hotel easy.
For a ride going toward town, you’ll need to call the local taxi service number—taxi applications like Uber don’t really work in Taormina. You can ask your host or concierge for the best number to call. Also, be prepared to try to explain your pickup location!
If you do choose to take the stairs, note that map applications do not know where they are. But once you reach the steepest parts of the journey, they’re easy to spot.
Summer Temperatures Soar
The combination of intense summer heat and humidity in Taormina is no joke! Daytime high temperatures around 90 degrees F (33 degrees Celsius) are common during July and August. And if there’s one of those ever more common heat waves, it can get even hotter.
I’d definitely recommend fellow gay travelers bring a sweat handkerchief (I always have one to combat sweating through shirts), and lightweight breathable clothing.
Or, explore some of the best beaches in Europe along the coast of Italy’s island of Sardinia!
For more inspiration, explore wolfyy’s full collection of gay travel guides.