(Last Updated On: December 30, 2022)

The lovely town of Cefalù on Sicily’s northern coast is an easy day trip from Palermo – only forty-five minutes away by train. But if you have time, it is really worth spending a night or two there. 

It’s a beautiful place to relax, to explore the old town at leisure, bask on a golden sandy beach, climb the Rocca for breathtaking views and enjoy fantastic Sicilian cuisine. 

So, whether you opt for a simple day trip or a relaxing stay, here are the best things to do in Cefalù.

Wander The Cobblestone Streets Of Cefalù’s Old Town 

One of the most pleasurable things to do in any old Italian city is to simply wander the streets and discover little gems along the way, and Cefalu is no exception. 

In Cefalu, start off along Via Vittorio Emanuele or Corso Ruggero and then simply wander off into the back streets. The town is not large; you won’t get lost. There are plenty of cute souvenir shops, bars, cafes and ice cream shops to discover as you explore.

The Duomo 

The exterior of the Duomo in Cefalu
The Duomo in Cefalu

Set in the heart of the old town, one of Cefalù’s main tourist attractions is the town’s impressive Duomo. Built between 1131 and 1240, this impressive two-towered Norman cathedral dominates the rooftops of the historic centre. 

Inside the church are stunning mosaics created by Byzantine artists during the 12th century. 

According to legend, King Roger II of Sicily built this cathedral to thank God after surviving a terrible storm at sea and washing up on the shores of Cefalù.

The Piazza del Duomo 

As its name suggests, the Piazza del Duomo is located in front of the Duomo. It has a nice collection of bars and cafes and is an excellent spot for enjoying a drink, an aperitivo and some people-watching. 

Lavatoio Cefalù

The Historic Rectangular Stone Pools of Lavatoio Cefalù.
The Rectangular Stone Pools of Lavatoio Cefalù.

As you wander down Via Vittorio Emmanuele, keep an eye out for the wide staircase situated a few metres below street level, which leads to the rectangular stone pools of Lavatoio Cefalù. 

This public washhouse built over the River Cefalino has been used from medieval times up until the 20th century. 

It is a fascinating insight into how Sicilians once used to bathe and wash their clothes. 

Church of Saint Stephen Protomartyr 

The baroque facade of Saint Stephen Protomartyr with staircase and trees.
Church of Saint Stephen Protomartyr

Saint Stephen Protomartyr, also known as the church of Purgatory, is a pretty Baroque church in the centre of Cefalu. It looks out onto a small square filled with greenery and flowers.

Enjoy The Beach Life 

Sunloungers and parasols on Cefalu Beach
Cefalu Beach

The half-mile long sandy beach with a backdrop of cliffs is what attracts many visitors to Cefalù.

Don’t expect a quiet beach, though; it will be packed with sun worshippers, especially in the summer months. 

For those who plan out their towel on the stretch of free beach, you will need to get to the beach early to secure your spot. 

There are several lidos on the beach where, for a fixed price, you are able to rent sun loungers and an umbrella for a day. Prices vary throughout the year but can be up to €35 per day in high season!! 

Hike Up La Rocca 

The massive crag, known as the Rocca, towers above the Duomo and the old town centre. 

It’s a steep forty-five minute climb to the top of the hill (bring a bottle of water and avoid climbing in the middle of the day, especially in summer), but it’s well worth the effort. 

Admittedly, it’s not easy in the summer heat, but with spectacular coastline views out towards Palermo in the west and Capo d’Orlando in the east, it’s more than worth the effort.

Near the top, you’ll reach the ruins of the ‘Tempio di Diana’ (temple of Diana), an ancient megalithic stone structure modernised in the 5th century BC in the classical Greek style. 

Around the summit of the Rocca are superb views and various bits of old fortifications, including a stretch of battlements.

But some of the best views are actually from the walls by the big cross about halfway up. 

The view of Cefalu From The Big Cross On La Rocca
Looking Down On Cefalu From The Big Cross On La Rocca

To get to the entrance of Parco de la Rocca, go up the stairs on the narrow Via Giuseppe Fiore, just off Piazza Garibaldi. 

Opening hours are from 8 am – 5 pm from April to October and 9 am – 4 pm from November to March. If you arrive late, they won’t allow you to climb. 

Note there is a five euro fee to enter. 

The Old Harbour 

The old harbour is an interesting and picturesque spot on the edge of the old town. 

Recommended Restaurants In Cefalù

Like most touristy towns, the best restaurants are found off the main strip. 

I had a fabulous meal at the Masquenada restaurant.

And check out this list of Michelin Restaurants in the area for a special treat. 

Not sure what to eat, see this post for the very best of Sicilian food and wine.

 How To Get To Cefalù 

The closest airport to Cefalù is Palermo. 

It’s easy to get to Cefalu from Palermo by train. The journey time is around 45 minutes, and trains depart roughly hourly. Sit on the left side of the train to enjoy the coastal views. 

The train station is within walking distance of Cefalù’s historic centre and beaches. 

To reach the old town, head right as you leave the station until you get to Via Matteotti. Then turn left and just walk straight down this street, which turns into Corso Ruggero, the main artery of the historic centre.

Alternatively, it’s a lovely coastal drive. But be warned, traffic getting in and around Palermo can be a nightmare, as can finding parking in Cefalu, especially in the busy summer months. 

Or completely bypass Palermo, and take a private transfer from Palermo airport. 

Time Limited? 

If you don’t have the luxury of time, consider at least making a day trip. Visiting Cefalu is very easy to do independently, but check this out if you prefer to do a day tour. 

Where To Stay In Cefalù

There is accommodation to suit all budgets. I usually book with Booking.com or Agoda. If you plan to bring a car, check with the hotel or guest house regarding parking. 

Where To Go Next After Cefalu? 

There are so many beautiful places to visit in Sicily. Have a look at these posts for some inspiration. 




Ortigia Island

Agrigento and The Valley of Temples


Sicilian Itinerary

Sicilian Food and Wine

Linguaglossa, the Circumetnea train and Mount Etna

Kapuhala Farmstay

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