Cefalu is a charming small town near Palermo in Sicily, Italy. The picturesque town attracts a lot of tourists with its beautiful beach and amazing attractions. Many tourists who come to Palermo also enjoy a day trip to Cefalu and many of them end up staying for more days here because of a wonderful relaxing environment. Life in Cefalu is a bit slower than the major cities but it can get busy during summer.
The coastal line and the town above and the hills make the whole area an ideal place for photographers. The two-tower cathedral assures its presence from a distance and the look of the town from the seaside is much more amazing. Similarly, the panoramic views from top of the hill are also magnificent. In short, you are never short of beautiful views while in Cefalu.
Cefalu has been a fishing port since ancient times and gradually turned into a hot tourist spot in Sicily. It is a first-class choice for a day trip even if you are in Taormina or in Palermo. The city was named as “Kephaloídion” by the Greeks who were the earlier settlers here. The name later changed to Cephaloedium. During the Arab rule over Sicily, this town was called as Gaflufi and after that the name changed to Cefalu.
How to reach Cefalu in Italy
If you are in Palermo or Taormina, Cefalu is easily reachable by both train and car. You can always check the train timings before starting your journey as the timings vary in different seasons, but you are still going to get another one if you miss one. The Cefalu train station is just 10 minutes-walk from the beach.
11 Wonderful Attractions in Cefalu Italy
Duomo of Cefalu Italy
You can see this double-towered cathedral from a distance and it clearly stands out in the landscape of the town. The Duomo is situated in the heart of the city center and is highly admired by everyone. Not only the exterior attracts many, but the interior is also magnificently decorated. The Byzantine mosaics and the wonderful columns are going to attract your attention instantly.
The square around the Cefalu cathedral is pretty amazing too, and you are going to find a huge variety of restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlors here. The tables in the center of the plaza are irresistible and you will love to sit and enjoy the atmosphere.
La Rocca de Cefalu Italy
La Rocca is the mountaintop of the town and is one of the most famous spots in Cefalu for the best panoramic views. You need to climb up to La Rocca by lots of stairs to capture the best moments and scenery. On your way up, you will see the ruins of a Norman Castle and the remains of Tempio di Diana. Climbing up is not easy in the summer heat but the views from the top are worth the effort. From the top, you can see up to the coast of Palermo towards the west.
Tempio di Diana
Tempio di Diana will be among the first things that you will encounter while climbing up to the La Rocca. The little brown signs will guide you towards the remains of this old temple. The hiking will take some effort so always better to wear good shoes. This Roman temple is dedicated to the goddess of water and moon “Diana” and was built around the 4th century BC. The temple remains are a famous spot for beautiful views over the sparkling sea in a less crowdy environment.
Norman Castle of Cefalu Italy
While Climbing to La Rocca you will also meet the ruins of this old Norman Castle. It was originally built on top of the hill to protect the town from any possible attacks. Hence, you get panoramic views of the whole surroundings around Cefalu from here.
Museo Mandralisca in Cefalu Italy
Museo Mandralisca is home to the famous artwork that was collected by Baron Enrico do Mandralisca. He was a passionate art collected in the 19th century and collected a stunning variety of Greek ceramics, ancient coins, Arab poetry, statues, and many other objects. The museum is located conveniently near the old fishermen’s houses in the Old Harbor of Cefalu. The museum is open every day from 9 am to 11 pm and there is an entrée fee.
It can take up to one hour to visit the Museo Mandralisca. You will be amazed by the famous artwork by Antonello da Messina which is called “The Portrait of an Unknown Man”. This amazing painting that dates back to 1465 is believed to be one of the masterpieces of Italian Renaissance. Interestingly, this painting is also known as “The Male Mona Lisa” due to the unique smile of the man.
Another important artwork in the museum is from Francesco Tenuta Bevelacqua from the early 19th century. This is a detailed painting of the Cefalu and its surroundings which proves that the town was always a mesmerizing place. Similarly, the artwork “The Women with the Masculine Face” also attracts a lot of visitors.
The beach in Cefalu is itself a wonderful attraction of the town which attracts many tourists because of its fame and beauty. The magnificent curved beach around the walls of the town with its golden sands is a purely amazing place to relax and swim. This beach is considered as one of the most popular beaches in Sicily, so it gets very busy in summers. If you are not a solo traveler and want to get space in Summer, you will need to beat the race of reaching there early. Otherwise, you will get no public place and you will have to pay for the sun loungers and umbrella. Honestly, you will need them as the heat in summer is harsh and you will not be able to enjoy the beach without them.
The water is calm and wonderful for swimming; water temperature stays comfortable for swimming by the end of October. The wonderful crowd, the colorful umbrellas scattered all over the beach area and beautiful water attracts everyone and you cannot resist this beach.
Old Harbor in Cefalu Italy
Old Harbor in Cefalu is one of the most picturesque places in town; The old fishermen’s houses at one side and the beautiful coast and waves on the other side. Cefalu was an important fishing port since the ancient times. The amazing fishing environment and the old boats are still part of the culture which comes to life in the old harbor area. You can also see many locals bathing in the sea that is along the fishermen’s houses. The mix of white and blue colored boats parked at the shore are going to mesmerize you. There are some wonderful seafood restaurants at the spot where you can enjoy mouthwatering seafood dishes along with the traditional and romantic vibes of the harbor.
FIUME CEFALINO “MEDIEVAL LAUNDRY”
The ancient fishermen town also has a medieval laundry system which is located in Via Vittorio Emanuele. The laundry might not seem medieval if you have visited the villages of India as some of them still use the same kind of techniques even today. Anyway, this laundry in Cefalu is attributed to the Medieval times but the actual built era is not known yet.
The special thing about this laundry is that it is carved directly in a volcanic stone and you will need to go down to reach it by using a staircase. The laundry is very well preserved through the time and lots of restoration works have been done to maintain the significance of this attraction.
Santuario Gibilmanna is one of the six Benedictine monasteries that were commissioned around the 6th century by Pope Gregory the Great. This monastery in Cefalu was built by the Pope with his own money. The monastery has a very famous 11th century Byzantine fresco which is called “Madonna with Child”.
Strolling around Cefalu Italy
When you are in Cefalu, strolling itself is one of the major attractions of the town. The old architecture around the narrow alleyways is amazingly charming. The shops, cafes and small restaurants are wonderful places to sit and relax while watching the hustle bustle around. The seaside and the coastal area are superb places to spend some romantic time. You will also see some photographers strolling around and taking pictures of the town and the atmosphere from different angles.
Aeolian Islands are a volcanic archipelago near the Cefalu in Sicily and are also a superb place to visit but they can only be seen by hydrofoil boats in summers. You can book your tours from the Cefalu and can visit these magnificently beautiful islands. You can enjoy both the islands and the speedy hydrofoil rides and record some best moments of your life. These volcanic islands are also known has Lipari Islands because Lipari is the largest one from the 8 of them. The name Aeolian refers to the god of winds “Aeolus”.
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