Cefalu is a picturesque town located in the northern part of Sicily. It is primarily known for its atmospheric old town and the characteristic rock "La Rocca", at the foot of which Cefalu is located. This hill is also one of the nicest viewing terraces. We can admire the panorama of Cefalu from it, and the trail leading to the top is one of the most popular hiking routes in the area.
Cefalu's history dates back to the 5th century BC. Today it is one of the most popular Sicilian resorts chosen by tourists. This is influenced by the town's unique buildings, charming landscapes, and a long sandy beach, which, unfortunately, in high season is even besieged by tourists. Cefalu is located about 70 kilometers from the capital of Sicily -. Palermo. If you are visiting the northwestern part of Sicily, this town is definitely worth a visit. We touring Sicily in Cefalù spent 2 days. I consider this time sufficient to see its beauty.
This hill is one of the most popular attractions in the city and is also the symbol of Cefalu. "La Rocca" is about 270 meters high, and the summit is an ideal place to enjoy the panorama of the city and the sea. "La Rocca" is a popular place among people who enjoy trekking and hiking. Along the way you can admire the ruins of fortifications and the remains of the temple of Diana, in addition to unique flora and fauna. The route to the summit takes about an hour and is not easy to climb. When planning such a trip, be sure to wear appropriate footwear, and in high temperatures you will need headgear, sunscreen and water. It is also important to follow the designated trail. Some roads can be steep. Weather conditions are also worth considering when planning a trip to the summit. La Rocca is a must-visit place while in Cefalù. A visit to the top of the hill towering over the town will certainly provide an unforgettable experience.
The beginning of the path to the mountain is marked on Google maps as "Rocca di Cefalu."
The cathedral is, right behind "La Rocca," the city's second most iconic attraction. The history of this building was started by King Roger II of Sicily, when he found himself on the beach and, while saving himself from a storm, promised God that if he survived he would build a cathedral. It is one of the most beautiful churches in the Cefalu area. In 2015 it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Various architectural styles were used in the creation of the building, such as elements of Arabic architecture, as well as Byzantine. The cathedral is on a Latin cross plan with a nave and two side aisles. Worth mentioning are the numerous mosaics that decorate the interior of the church.
This is the only museum in the city of Cefalu. It houses archaeological and numismatic collections, as well as a photo gallery. Among the most popular works are: San Giovanni Battista, Incredulità di San Tommaso, Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco, as well as the Crucifixion from the 15th century. The museum also includes a library. There one can find numerous works showing culture and science in Sicily in the 19th century. The library includes about 7,000 volumes. A normal ticket to the museum costs €6, and a reduced ticket costs €4 (applies to children groups of up to 10 people and children aged 11-15) or €2 (applies to school groups and children aged 6-10).
This is one of the more popular attractions that will especially appeal to history buffs. Lavatoio Medievale A medieval laundry, accessed by a winding staircase, and the site itself is crowded with tourists. The water from the local Cefalino River flows into the estuary, and after a while it flows directly into the sea. In front of the laundry, an inscription can be seen: "Qui scorre Cefalino, più salubre di qualunque altro fiume, più puro dell'argento, più freddo della neve" which means: "Here flows the Cefalino, the healthiest river of any other, purer than silver and colder than snow".
Stone gate overlooking the sea
Right at the entrance to the small pier in Cefalu is an old stone gate overlooking the sea. It is well worth a visit to take souvenir photos, especially at sunset.
Walk to the port of Cefalu
On the other side of the hill "La Rocca" is the harbor. It is worth going there, as the route is right by the sea, and it takes about 20 minutes of walking to reach the port from the old town. During the walk we can enjoy the magnificent views.
What else is worth seeing?
While in Cefalù it's worth going to a small pier right next to the old town and visiting the Bastion di Capo Marchiafava, a section of the defensive wall that once provided protection against attacks. It is also worth a trip to the hill "La Rocca" to admire the remains of the Temple of Diana (Temple of Diana) located there. About 45 kilometers from Cefalù are the Madonie Mountains, which are an ideal base for those who enjoy hiking and trekking. In the area you will also find the Madonie Regional Natural Park, an area full of unique flora and fauna. If you are traveling with children be sure to visit Acqua Verde, which is one of the largest water parks in the area. There is also a spa area.
Beaches in Cefalu
Directly connected to the city is a large, sandy city beach, which guarantees unforgettable views of the hill "La Rocca". Next to it is a promenade, ideal for evening strolls. The beach is ideal for everyone - young, old, and families with children. However, it has a drawback: in high season it gets very crowded. The photos below are from our trip in late June. At first glance, you can see the crowds of beachgoers. I don't even want to think about what the beach looks like in August, when Italians are on vacation....
Porto Vecchio beach
Just off the small pier, adjacent to the buildings, is the Porto Vecchio beach. It is practically connected to the city beach.
Behind the harbor, a 30-minute walk from the old town is the small, pebbly Kalura beach. The beach is reached by a rather steep staircase, which starts on the left from the hotel's entrance gate. The beach is intimate and has its own unique charm. It is my firm favorite! However, it is also popular with beachgoers in high season.
The location of the beach can be found below:
The weather in Cefalu is typical of the rest of Sicily. It is hot in summer, with temperatures of over 30°. On top of that, it is very humid, making the perceived temperature even higher. During our June stay, the thermometer showed 33°, but it was so steamy that the temperature was 39° in the Catania A few days earlier it seemed much more pleasant! In the autumn months, it begins to rain more often, although it can continue to be warm and pleasant in November.
The local dishes we can try in Cefalu are mostly typical Sicilian flavors. Here we can find, among others: arancini (balls filled with rice and filling, deep-fried), brioche con gelato (ice cream in a bun), and pasta con la sarde (pasta with sardines). Local Sicilian products include pachino tomatoes and Caciocavallo cheese. Worth mentioning is the local delicacy of pizza sfincione. Sicilian desserts consist mainly of ricotta or pistachios. An already iconic delicacy is pistachio semifreddo. Let's not forget the granita, which will refresh us on a hot day!
We wrote about what to eat while in Sicily in detail in our separate article.
How to get to Cefalu?
The most convenient and cheapest way to fly to Sicily is with a low-cost airline to Palermo, Trapani or Catania (airports in Sicily We described in a separate post). However, I assume that you are already on the island.
The easiest way to get to Cefalu will be by rental car, or by train. The train station is practically in the center, less than a 10-minute walk from the old town. You can get here, for example, by direct train from Palermo in less than an hour. The cost of such a one-way ticket is €6.20 (regional train) or €9 (intercity).
If you want to stay in Sicily for a longer period of time, it is worth considering coming here in your own car. Choosing this option, you should first cover the route to the chosen port city (e.g. Naples, Genoa, Livorno) and then take the ferry. In addition to the ferry fare, be sure to mention the fees for highways, parking lots and vignettes. Along the way, visit numerous European cities such as Brno, Vienna, Bologna, Florence i Rome. But this is already an option for longer vacations 🙂
During our recent June trip to Sicily, we visited quite a few cities: Catania, Modica, Castellammare del Golfo, Trapani, Palermo and Cefalu. The most expensive in terms of accommodation was, unfortunately, precisely in Cefalu. So when planning a stay in this city, it is worth booking a hotel in advance. We paid €70 per night in the old town in June, and finding an apartment in such a budget was a challenge. Most of the apartments on the bookings oscillated in amounts of 100-120€ upwards.
Below is a map of accommodation in Cefalu on booking:
Information on parking
Important note for those traveling by car. The old town is zoned ZTL (Zona Trafica Limitada), so there is no entry. This should be kept in mind when booking accommodation. This prohibition must not be broken, as there is a €100+ fine for entering such a zone! Our hotel offered a paid parking space in a closed parking lot for €15 per day. There is a large public parking lot near the beach, also for the same amount, which you can use if your hotel does not offer one. RVs are prohibited in the parking lot.
Below you will find the location of the parking lot: