Visit Giardini Naxos
Giardini Naxos is a town and seaside resort to the north of Catania and a few kilometres south of Taormina, on the east coast of Sicily. It is in a very impressive position, with Mount Etna behind the town.
Explore Giardini Naxos
Italy This Way comment: although Giardini Naxos has a long sandy beach it would not be our choice of resort for an extended visit but is useful as a beach to visit if you are staying in Taormina and hotel and restaurant prices here are much cheaper than in Taormina.
It is very easy to explore Giardini Naxos, as it has a road next to the beach, a second road parallel to this a few yards behind the shops and houses, and very little else...of course it is the seafront promenade that is of most interest to visitors, and where you will find most of the cafes, hotels and shops.
Most of the activity is towards the southern part of the town although the promenade continues quite a long way to the north.
There are several lidos where you can spend your time at the beach in Giardini Naxos, with sun-loungers, parasols and a bar all close to hand, and the resort is very popular in summer, with the promenade and restaurants busy until late into the night. There is also an area of beach that is free to access.
At the south-east end of the beach there is the Museum and Archaeological Area of Naxos, where you can see the vestiges of the very first Greek Colony to be settled on Sicily: Naxos was founded in 734 BC and has ben occupied constantly since, although it was captured by Hippocrates in 494 BC and destroyed by Dionysius in in 404 BC and has always remained quite small since that time.
Unfortunately there are few remains and these were largely covered by weeds when we visited, but we hope that more will be made of this site in the future. There is also a small museum exhibiting artefacts from the site.
You can also see parts of a rather austere castle at the southern end of the beach, the Castello di Schiso.
The current castle was built in the 16th century to defend the region against attacks by marauding Barbary pirates, although an earlier castle stood in the same location from the 13th century onwards, and the ironwork balconies were added in the 19th century.
The Castello di Schiso is not open to the public (although it is ocasionally open so perhaps will have re-opened when you visit). Elsewhere in Giardini Naxos you can see the Vignazza Tower, which also formed part of these 16th century defences.
You will certainly want to visit Taormina during your visit: it is one of our favourite towns in Sicily, as we explain in our Taormina guide.
To the north of Giardini Naxos at Mazzaro and Isola Bella there is a small beach and you can visit the beautiful Isola Bella nature reserve, and on the hill behind Taormina you can visit the pretty village of Castelmola.
There is a local tourist bus that operated to all these places from Giardini Naxos which is more relaxing than trying to explore by car.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.