Head of the seaside town of Cefalù with its cobbled streets that are lined with craft shops and a wide sandy beach. Discover Mount Etna or have dinner in the Madonie Mountains to immerse yourself into the island of Sicily.
Holidays in Cefalù give you a microcosm of the best of Italy. Whatever attracts you to Sicily, or even the beautiful country itself, you’ll find it in this coastal town whose character greatly overcomes its modest size. Whether you’re looking for modern metropolitan culture, to explore absorbing historical heritage or simply to settle in for long sun drenched days on luxurious beaches living the true la dolce vita, Cefalù has it all.
Situated on Sicily’s Tyrrhenian coast a short way east of Palermo and in the shade of the large headland La Rocca, Cefalù holidays offer something for families, couples and adventurers. From the imposingly grand Cathedral to the ancient Roman Baths there is no shortage of sightseeing opportunities, while families with younger children will love the long golden sandy beach. Couples will adore a leisurely romantic stroll through the cobblestone streets or walk to the top of La Rocca to take in an idyllic sunset before heading back into town and dinner at one of Cefalù’s many fine restaurants.
While many rightly flock to Cefalù to see the famous Cathedral, there are numerous smaller churches dotted around the old town that are also well worth a look. You’re likely to find these attractions much quieter that the main Cathedral. Among the best of these are the Chiesa dell’Immacolatella, dating to 1661, with its majestic central Madonna statue and well preserved frescoes, and the Santa Oliva, which boasts a rustic volcanic tuff portal.
For the adventurous, The Abbey of Thelema is an unusual alternative attraction. In the 1920s this now abandoned building was home to a commune and “magical school” founded by the English occultist Aleister Crowley. It hides a sordid yet fascinating history.
Much of the ancient city of Cefalù that once stood on the site is now gone, but there are still fascinating traces of its existence to be found if you know where to look. At the summit of the promontory are the remains of an ancient Saracenic fortress and the Tempio di Diana, and you can still see the foundations of the city walls that could date back to as early as 396 BC.
Cefalù’s iconic cathedral is its most popular sightseeing destination and the highlight of any trip to the city. It’s easy to see why: the Duomo di Cefalù is a stunning example of Norman architecture that has stood since Sicily’s conqueror Roger II built it in 1131 as a tribute to the Holy Saviour after he escaped to the city’s beach from a storm. The Duomo’s duo of majestic towers dominate the view of the city, even from street level – the length of the two closest streets were specifically designed to be overlooked by the towers, a reminder to everyone who walked them of their presence. The interior, with its intricate mosaics, is just as spectacular.
The closest airport to Cefalù is Palermo (PMO), which is about 1 hour 30 minutes from Cefalù. Direct flights to Palermo are available from London Gatwick and take approximately 2 hours 50 minutes.
Thanks to its southerly location, Sicily enjoys mild temperatures all year round. Spring and autumn are both lovely times to visit, with temperatures in the high teens and early 20s (although up in the hills and on the slopes of Mount Etna it can be significantly cooler). In summer, you can expect temperatures in the high 20s – perfect for spending time on the island's beautiful beaches.
At the current time, British citizens do not require a visa to visit Italy.
You don’t have to leave a tip in Italy – most Italians don’t tip for restaurant meals, bar drinks, taxi rides or hair and beauty treatments. However if you do leave a tip, you might receive quicker service.
Listen to our Learn Italian podcast, where we cover everything from basic to intermediate phrases.