The Mini-Guide to Cefalù, Sicily

by Bianca @ Italian Fix

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cefalu sicily marina view

Sicily’s age-old jewel is tucked away between craggy mountains and a charming coast: Cefalù.

This teeny-tiny town is just about an hour out from Palermo by train, and a hydrofoil hop away from the Aeolian Islands.

If you could imagine the ultra-tranquil Italian seaside vacay spot, Cefalù would be it.

This is where Italians come to soak up the sun, swim for hours on end and remember what easy-peasy life looks like –– a toned down version which is heaps less glam than Taormina.

Curious about Cefalù and if you should go? Keep reading.

Why visit Cefalù?

cefalu sicily streets

While there are tons of little beach resort spots along Italy’s coast, Cefalù is unique due to its storied past and architecture: a fab fusion of medieval Arab-Norman influences.

The main attraction is its gorgeous mosaic-ed cathedral built by one of Sicily’s Norman rulers, Roger II. Mingled with reigns of the Byzantine empire, Arabs, the Spanish and Italians, it’s a truly picturesque coastal village. Here’s the best part: it’s totally pedestrianized, so it’s small enough to walk everywhere on foot.

The strolling is super-duper scenic, and the pace of Cefalù drips as slow as honey — which happens to also be the chosen hue for its stone buildings.

Winding your way through medieval streets and the lungomare, the seafront promenade, is next-level charm that Sicily keeps serving up.

Whether you want to add on a spot in between stops at Palermo, Taormina, and the Aeolian Islands or need an excuse to unwind by the beach at a truly glacial pace –– Cefalù is where you’ll find that serenity.

What should you do in Cefalù?

cefalu sicily boats

Pro tip: if we were packing for a trip to Cefalù, we’d pack extra swimsuits.

The coastline of Cefalù is a mighty fine stretch of sand. A patch of it, with a striped umbrella, your fave book and a half melted lemon granita might be just what you didn’t know you needed.

Warm, azure water with craggy rocks and dramatic mountains for your backdrop. Sand you just can’t wait to sink your tippy-toes into. Sun-dazed hours where you’re dipping in and out of the sea. Salt in your hair. Sunset aperitivo in your linen pants, to cap the day.

That’s all you should *really* be doing in Cefalù, and it’s really the main reason to visit in the high season –– when it’s peak beachy vibes.

June to mid-September is the best time to visit Cefalù if you want that 99.99% guarantee of great weather.

In the low season –– fall and spring –– it’s still lovely to stay, but it will be quiet and you might not catch sunny days on repeat.

When you’re not floating in the Tyrrhenian Sea, here are more things to do in Cefalù:

  • Stroll for hours. Walk down narrow, cobbled streets, pop into the shops and make new friends with the locals.
  • Climb up the mountain top, La Rocca. The view is so worth it (and you can reward yourself with granita later). See if you can spot the Aeolian Islands!
  • Hike to the Temple of Diana. Channel your inner Greek goddess. Pack a lil’ picnic and take in views of the Duomo, the city and the coast among the ruins of this temple-turned-fortress.
  • Bust out your best movie buff. See if you can spot scenes from the iconic film Cinema Paradiso, which was filmed in Cefalù.
  • Eat all the Sicilian classics! Arancini (fried rice balls), schiacciata (flatbread) or sfincione, Cefalù’s version of focaccia.

What are good-to-know tips for Cefalù?


This is where our insider intel comes in –– here’s what most guides might not tell you about visiting this coastal spot.

  • The hotels are so-so. There aren’t tons of fab hotels or a great “destination” one here, but Airbnb is a good alternative if nothing looks extra exciting to you.
  • Try to stay along the beach or in the historical center. Don’t park yourself too far away from the city center –– the beauty of staying in Cefalù is being able to walk everywhere!
  • If you don’t have a car, take the train. You can easily get to Cefalù via flying into Palermo and then taking a bus or a 50-minute train. When in doubt, choose the train.

If cruising through timeless towns like Cefalù in Sicily sounds like the vacay you’ve been meaning to book…

But the planning and organizing all feels overwhelming ––

Join us on one of our Sicily 2020 tours:

May 20 – 28

September 30 – October 8

We stay in Palermo, the Aeolian Islands, Syracuse, and Taormina.

All you have to do is show up –– we have everything planned out from you.

From your private airport pickup to the extra-comfy hotel bed and dinner resos with our fave Sicilian chefs.

It’s our most-requested tour, and there’s still a spot at our sunset aperitivo table open for you.

===> Click here to join us.


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