Taormina (from Giardini Naxos) cruises

The port of Giardini Naxos is on Sicily’s east coast faces across to the Italian mainland and features on certain Mediterranean cruises. It is one of the most scenic parts of the island, just a few miles from Mount Etna. Having erupted more than 130 times, Etna is Europe’s largest and highest volcano, as well as one of its most active. Being so close, it’s an ideal opportunity to venture into the stark hills and plains around Etna, seeing the ancient lava flows and visiting the two Silvestri Craters formed by eruption in 1892. You could even stop into the San Michele winery on its slopes, to try the Murdo wine it produces.

Taormina’s Cultural Heritage

The Greeks founded Taormina in the fourth century BC and it later flourished under Roman rule. After the Normans conquered it a thousand years ago, it was lost to foreign visitors until the 18th century. DH Lawrence lived here between 1920 and 1923, and a string of celebrity fans have since been drawn to its undoubted charms.

Chic and compact, Taormina is ideal for exploring. Its pedestrianised Corso Umberto is the main street, from which picturesque lanes extend, revealing numerous shops, bars and restaurants. Scenic walks lead up into the hills or down to the coast. Its main draw is, of course, the Teatro Greco, the ancient Greek amphitheatre with stunning views over the shore and across to Mount Etna.

Discover Taormina

You could stay within Giardini Naxos itself, with its beaches and boutiques. Beyond Giardini Naxos and indeed Taormina, you could venture through orange and lemon groves on a wider Sicily discovery. Film enthusiasts, for instance, could step into real-life sets, as they take a tour to locations used in The Godfather trilogy. 

Up on the northeastern corner of the island, Messina is the closest point to the mainland, where you’ll find a smattering of fountains and Norman churches including the Duomo, with an astronomical clock tower. You may also be drawn to Catania, Sicily’s second city, rebuilt after an earthquake from Etna’s lava. The result is a series of photogenic baroque piazzas and churches, adorned with three ancient amphitheatres, as well as the city’s bustling fish market.

Excursions

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

  • Sicilian Panorama

    Discover the contrasting scenery of Sicily on a leisurely panoramic drive.

    Sicilian Panorama

    Heading towards Zafferana, your drive will take you south along the motorway. You’ll pass through the village of Santa Venerina, where the scenery gradually grows more forbidding.

    Situated on the eastern outskirts of the Mount Etna region, the small village of Zafferana Etnea boasts some wild and beautiful scenery. Your drive will take you to the remains of the lava flows of 1992, for a brief photo stop. Enjoy a panoramic view of the slopes of Mount Etna (weather permitting). This active volcano is the largest in Europe. At 10,723 feet high, with a cone measuring 25 miles wide, it has erupted over 130 times.

    Afterwards, you’ll continue to a local hotel for some welcome refreshments, before taking the return drive back to the pier.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. The drive from Messina to Zafferana is approximately 45 min each way, traffic permitting. Views of Mount Etna and surrounding areas are dependent on local weather conditions. This tour only takes in the outskirts of the Mount Etna slopes and does not visit the summit of Mount Etna.

    Tour code

    GN1_006

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    3½ hours

  • Giardini Naxos Private Tour by Car – Full Day

    Explore at your own pace with a private vehicle, driver and English-speaking guide at your service.

    Giardini Naxos Private Tour by Car – Full Day

    This exclusive private tour is designed to give you the freedom to customise your time ashore so you can discover the most interesting sights in the comfort and privacy of your own vehicle.

    With your private vehicle, and the personal attention of your driver and English-speaking guide, you’ll have the flexibility and independence to design your itinerary ashore according to your own interests, and take in the sights at your own pace. See the famous sights, or go beyond to create your own special and memorable day ashore.


    This excursion will operate by private car. Private cars are ordered per vehicle (not per person) and will accommodate up to 2 passengers. Only one person in the party needs to book the vehicle. The price shown is the total cost for the vehicle, driver, and English-speaking guide. Entrance fees for attractions, meals, refreshments and gratuities are not included. In many destinations, the number of vehicles available is extremely limited, so passengers are encouraged to secure their private vehicle reservation as early as possible. Tour price includes sightseeing within the city limits, touring outside the city is available at an additional cost.

    Tour code

    GN1_701

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    Duration

    8 hours

  • Castlemola and Taormina

    Visit one of Sicily's most enchanting villages Castelmola and afterwards enjoy free time in Taormina.

    Castlemola and Taormina

    Castelmola was founded by the Sicels in the 8th century BC and is strategically located near Taormina with splendid panoramic views. The focal point of the tiny village is the attractive Piazzetta del Duomo with its fine, intricate paving.

    From Castelmola, you'll proceed to Taormina where you'll have some free time to browse the main street of the village. The beauty of Taormina has been documented by writers for centuries, and the town is one of Sicily's most impressive resorts. Incredible views, ancient ruins, and an abundance of quaint shops and boutiques make this cliff-side town utterly irresistible. Many of its narrow cobblestone streets are closed to traffic, making the main part of Taormina accessible only on foot.

    Spend some time taking in the stunning view of the Bay of Naxos and don't miss the Greco-Roman theatre (at your own expense) that ranks among the most impressive landmarks in all of Italy.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. Strenuous uphill walking is required and there are steps and uneven ground to negotiate. Flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. To reach the village of Castelmola, an uphill walk is required with approximately 80 steps. Entrance fee at the Greco-Roman theatre is not included.

    Tour code

    GN1_001

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    • Family

      Especially suitable for families

    Duration

    4 hours

  • Godfathers Footsteps

    This tour introduces you to many of the sights synonymous with the ‘Godfather’ film series based on the Sicilian mafia.

    Godfathers Footsteps

    Take a drive along the motorway to Roccalumera where the scenery soon changes to small roads flanked with villas, flowering gardens and picturesque villages. You’ll arrive in the town of Savoca, one of the most attractive and lesser known places in Sicily.

    In a private house in the village of Bar Vitelli, you’ll see a collection of local artisans' tools and photographs taken when Francis Ford Coppola shot scenes for ‘The Godfather II’.

    After a typical Sicilian refreshment, you’ll embark on a walking tour passing two 15th and 16th century churches. From here, you can enjoy wonderful views over the valley.

    Your next stop will be at Forza d'Agro, a charming little village overlooking the Arab-Norman castle of Capo Sant'Alessio. In 1990, Al Pacino and Sophia Coppola shot scenes here for the film, ‘The Godfather III’. Take circular steps up to the Gothic-Catalan portal to the Church of S. Agostino also known as Triade. You’ll also have chance to see the Baroque Chiesa Madre.

    See the many interesting sights and locations relating to the Godfather films, while enjoying beautiful and charming Sicilian panoramas.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. The walking tour will cover uneven terrain, gravel paths, inclines and 30 steps. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.

    Tour code

    GN1_004

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    4½ hours

  • Wine Tasting At Barone di Villagrande

    Experience a taste of Sicily and the wonderful wines from the Etna region.

    Wine Tasting At Barone di Villagrande

    Leaving the port you'll head deep into the Sicilian Country and taste real and genuine Sicilian food and wines at Barone di Villagrande Estate. The Barone di Villagrande Farm rests on the slopes of Mt.Etna and has belonged to the Nicolosi family since ancient times. A decree issued by Emperor Charles VI conferred privileges and title to the Nicolosi family in recognition of their dedication to viticulture. The farm lies 650 metres above sea level, in a natural, south facing amphitheatre. The volcanic soils and the typical mountain climate create a unique condition allowing the production of wines with moderate alcoholic content but rich in fixed acidity and extracts. The red wines are stylish and firm, while the whites are long and structured and have a delicate aroma.

    The ancient wine cellars have maintained the romantic appeal and stark contrast, by placing modern durmast barrels set alongside old fashioned wooden casks.

    Arriving at Barone di Villagrande farm, the owners will show you the old cellar and will introduce you the range of the wines produced in the wine farm accompanied by a delicious refreshment of typical Sicilian products.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. There will be approximately 45 minutes’ walking over uneven and inclined terrain and there are around 28 steps to negotiate at the wine cellar. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended. Travel time from Giardini Naxos to the Estate is around 45 minutes.

    Tour code

    GN1_003

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    4½ hours

  • Taormina Transfer

    An ideal option for those who would prefer to explore the delights of Taormina independently.

    Taormina Transfer

    You’ll have approximately 2 hours in the charming hillside town of Taormina to explore, shop for souvenirs or just sit in one of the many street cafés and watch the world go by.

    Due to large vehicle restrictions, your coach will stop in the underground parking area, where you’ll take the lifts and steps to street level and the Square of Porta Catania.

    This tour is unguided, so please pay close attention to the pick-up point and time, as coaches cannot be held for latecomers. Entrance fees to the Greek-Roman Theatre are not included.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. Passengers are advised that although the walking is optional, the terrain is mostly cobbled and uneven around the town. Lifts must be used from the parking area to access the town centre. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Taormina is a popular destination, which can be very crowded in peak season. If queues form for the use of the lift, then the return to the parking area will be via 140 steps.

    Tour code

    GN1_005

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    Duration

    4 hours

  • Giardini Naxos Private Tour by Car – Half Day

    Explore at your own pace with a private vehicle, driver and English-speaking guide at your service.

    Giardini Naxos Private Tour by Car – Half Day

    This exclusive private tour is designed to give you the freedom to customise your time ashore so you can discover the most interesting sights in the comfort and privacy of your own vehicle.

    With your private vehicle, and the personal attention of your driver and English-speaking guide, you’ll have the flexibility and independence to design your itinerary ashore according to your own interests, and take in the sights at your own pace. See the famous sights, or go beyond to create your own special and memorable day ashore.


    This excursion will operate by private car. Private cars are ordered per vehicle (not per person) and will accommodate up to 2 passengers. Only one person in the party needs to book the vehicle. The price shown is the total cost for the vehicle, driver, and English-speaking guide. Entrance fees for attractions, meals, refreshments and gratuities are not included. In many destinations, the number of vehicles available is extremely limited, so passengers are encouraged to secure their private vehicle reservation as early as possible. Tour price includes sightseeing within the city limits, touring outside the city is available at an additional cost.

    Tour code

    GN1_700

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    Duration

    4 hours

  • Mount Etna

    Sicily’s most famous and dramatic landmark, Mount Etna: this violent yet majestic volcano is bound to leave a lasting impression.

    Mount Etna

    Take a southbound drive along the highway through a fertile paradise of vineyards and citrus groves. As you pass through the villages of Santa Venerina and Zafferana Etnea, you’ll have views of the beautiful Sicilian coast. See the city of Catania, which was overwhelmed by an eruption almost 300 years ago. The scenery gradually grows more forbidding as you approach the Sapienza Refuge.

    Considered to be a very active volcano, Mount Etna has erupted more than 130 times. It is the largest and highest volcano in Europe, at more than 10,000 feet. You’ll stop at the Silvestri Craters to take in the dramatic scenery and see the ancient lava flows. Take a walk to see evidence of Mount Etna’s more recent eruptions in 2001.

    You’ll have a short while to explore this amazing location independently. Take photos of the foreboding scenery, shop for souvenirs of your visit or relax in the small café.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. The journey time from Giardini Naxos to Etna is approximately 1 hour. Due to time limitations, comfort breaks will not be made during the drive. Free time at the volcano will be approximately 1 hour. The ground around the Crater is uneven, covered shoes are recommended. Passengers wishing to use the restroom at the café are expected to make a purchase, so please take local currency.

    Tour code

    GN1_002

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    Duration

    4 hours