Giardini Naxos is a seaside resort strung along a wide bay below the famous mountainside resort Taormina on the eastern coast of Sicily. Its setting is picturesque, and although the little town is not particularly elegant or exciting, it’s a cheery place in the tourist season, with superb views of Taormina and the Sicilian hills. An archaeological park gives the town some cultural interest.
Most of what Giardini Naxos has to offer can be seen by taking a stroll along the long seafront road. Here you can book a boat trip, relax on the sand, rent your own boat, admire the views, swim or enjoy a meal at one of the many sea-view restaurants. Look out for a couple of Roman granite columns, which were discovered in the sea nearby. Most of the tourist businesses are at the southern end of the town, where you’ll find a cluster of hotels and Giardini Naxos’s widest stretch of beach. Here you’ll find a choice of nicely-presented beach establishments where you can rent sunbeds or eat at the attached restaurants and bars. Before choosing your preferred lido, compare their atmosphere and offerings as well as their prices; some are smarter than others, and they may offer different features such as a little children’s playground. There is also plenty of free-access beach along the waterfront, though most of the beach is narrow and not necessarily as clean as the private areas.
It takes some time to follow paths through the site, and the ruins are not terribly dramatic compared with Sicily’s more famous Greek sites. But the atmosphere and the green, rural surroundings, make this a pleasant place to wander and evoke the past. The sight of Etna rising above lemon trees, pines, grass and ruined walls is a dramatic one. Information boards around the site try to make some sense of the visible ruins but really the best thing to do is stroll and absorb the general atmosphere. Low ruined walls still define the layout of ancient thoroughfares and houses, and visitors can walk down a ‘street’. The most substantial ruins are stretches of the city wall, with imposing stone gateways still in place.
Giardini Naxos travel and transport
Giardini Naxos is on the eastern coast of Sicily, very close to Taormina. The most convenient airport is Catania. There are direct buses from the airport (also stopping in central Catania, with the final destination of Taormina). Services are run by Etna Trasporti/Interbus and are approximately hourly, with the journey taking an hour and fifteen minutes. There are several stops in Giardini Naxos, so check with your accommodation which stop you should request. Fares are cheap and timetables can be seen on the Interbus website (see links panel on the right). When staying in the resort you can use the same bus service or additional local Interbus services to reach Taormina, twenty minutes away.
Taormina and Giardini Naxos share a railway station, called Taormina-Giardini, on a line which runs down the coast of Sicily from Messina to Siracusa. The station is at the northern end of the long-strung out resort of Giardini Naxos and is a long walk from the tourist hub; again, if you’re staying in town it’s best to check with your hotel how far away it is and whether you should catch a bus or taxi with your luggage.
As well as the public bus services, there is also an open-top tourist bus which connects the resort with Taormina and Mazzaro, around the headland, and Castelmola up in the hills. This is an enjoyable way to travel and although it’s expensive, you can get reasonable value from a 24-hour ticket if you plan your time well.
ve site which was was used as farmland and not excavated properly until relatively recently, with excavations still under way.
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