Welcome to Sicily curly40!
Best is subjective!
Although agents would recommend booking a crossing in advance, you would appreciate the flexibility if you didn't.
Milazzo is the preferred port with the most frequent service.
There are several public transport options from Taormina to the ports in Milazzo (ferries and hydrofoils) or Messina (hydrofoils).
You could take Interbus from Taormina to Messina, and then you would take the Ustica Lines hydrofoil from Messina to the Aeolian Islands.
Messina’s bus station is located at P.zza della Repubblica, 6 (P.zza Stazione FS). The port is located about 400m from the front entrance of Messina Centrale. Walk right as you exit the station and you would see the port.
If you prefer to depart from Milazzo, you could take Giuntabus Trasporti or Giuntabus from Messina to Milazzo, where you would then take the Ustica Lines hydrofoil service, or you would take a Siremar ferry or hydrofoil.
You could also take the train from Messina to Milazzo.
AST buses run from Milazzo’s train station to Milazzo’s port every day of the week but Sundays. Take a taxi from Milazzo's train station to Milazzo's port on a Sunday.
You could also take Interbus from Taormina to the Taormina-Giardini train station located below Taormina, and then take the train from Taormina to Milazzo, and the AST bus from Milazzo to Milazzo’s port.
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