5km (3 miles) S of Taormina, 47km (29 miles) N of Catania, 54km (34 miles) S of Messina

If you're seeking a holiday by the beach and prefer to enjoy Taormina only on day trips, then Giardini-Naxos is your best choice, and here you can walk straight from your hotel room to the sands, lying off the long main street, Lungomare, running parallel to the sea.

The beach here opens onto the bay, lying between Capo (Cape) Taormina in the northwest and Capo Schisò in the south. Its point formed by an ancient lava flow from Mount Etna, Capo Schisò was the natural landfall for mariners rounding the toe of Italy on their way from eastern Mediterranean ports.

Over the years, beach development at Giardini-Naxos has been so great that the resort now competes with Taormina for visitors, although it lacks the older resort's medieval charm. (As a local said, "Taormina has the class, we have the sands.") Indeed, all the trappings of tourism are evident in this once-tranquil fishing village, with its many sports facilities and amusement parks, discotheques, souvenir shops, hotels, trattorie, and beachside bars, making it a lively place. Giardini-Naxos caters mainly to package-tour operators from the north of Europe, and much of the resort continues to function during the winter, although the wind can be cold.

Even if you're staying in Taormina, you should set aside some time to visit the archaeological park, the site of the first Greek colony in Sicily dating back to 735 B.C..