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Traveling Italian

Posted On July 15, 2023 By Louis

Best Things to Do in Cefalu

Cefalù is a stunning town on the northern coast of Sicily, nestled between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Madonie Mountains. It is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily, picturesque streets and rich history. 

The town's beaches are some of the cleanest and most beautiful in Sicily, and they offer something for everyone, from families with young children to couples looking for a romantic getaway.

The Greeks founded Cefalu in the 4th century BC, and it has been inhabited by various cultures over the centuries, including the Romans, Arabs, and Normans. This rich history is evident in the town's architecture, which is a mix of different styles.

There are so many things to do in Catania, here are the top ones:

Explore the Cathedral of Cefalù

The Cathedral started being created in 1131 and eventually finished in 1240 in a Norman style of architecture with a large parvis said to have earth from Jerusalem that was believed to cause rapid mummification of corpses. Adding to its remarkable architecture in 1472 a grand portico was added between the two towers. Inside you can see Mosaic decorations along with art & figures of the Blessed Virgin Mary, archangels and much more. It has a fortress look that you can see from miles away in the skyline and has become a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Take a hike up the Rocca di Cefalu

Starting at Salita Saraceni is the 30-45 minutes climb of the mountain La Rocca. The height is 270 metres and has breathtaking views of the city and ocean. In summer it can get quite hot so I recommend going early in the morning to be shaded going up and then down. You can spend a few hours up there as there are more trails to the Castello di Cefalù that were used to withstand attacks or on the way the Temple of Diana one of the oldest structures in Sicily from the 5th century BC. Also, bare in mind that it is a city park so there is a 5 euro entrance fee and make sure to bring cash as they do not take large notes. During the summer season, it is open from 8 am-8 pm.

Visit the Sanctuary of Gibilmanna

A short drive away south in the small village of Gibilmanna is the Christian shrine Sanctuary of Gibilmanna sitting at 800m in altitude. It was commissioned around 590 but then left in ruins in the 9th century when the Arabs conquered the area. Eventually, after the Norman conquest, developments rebegan and in 1623 it was finished. From the old church, the new church was given four religious artworks: an image of the Madonna and Child, a Byzantine-style fresco, a statue of the Virgin, and a Crucifix. The sanctuary's external architectural style is similar to that of the Cefalù cathedral, with a blend of Romanesque and Gothic elements. Make sure to cover your shoulders when visiting or you won't be allowed in.

Visit & Hike the Madonie Mountains

The Madonie Mountains are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are home to a variety of stunning landscapes, including forests, mountains, and lakes. Pizzo Carbonara is the highest peak in the Madonie Mountains 1979m high, and the hike to the summit is challenging but rewarding. It is 8km and will take around 4.5 hours there and back. The views from the top are simply breathtaking, and you can see for miles in every direction. If you're not up for a challenging hike, you can also book a half-day hike in the Madonie National Park. Strongly consider hiking boots snacks and a windproof jacket due to the height.

Visit the Water Park in Cefalu

About 20 minutes west of Cefulu is the huge water park Acqua Verde. This place is brilliant to take the kids, suitable for adults and even has a dedicated baby zone. To have fun at the park includes wave pools, slides, whirlpools and a canyon river. You will be able to visit the food court for an ice cream and a snack. Once you are ready to relax there is an onsite spa or loungers with umbrellas to watch the kids. The park is open from June to September however the start/ end date differs every year so make sure to check out their website. Entry starts from €6 but also varies depending on the month and how long you want to stay.

Relax on the beautiful beaches of Cefalu

If you are in Cefalù during the summer, be sure to visit the beaches. Cefalù Beach is a sandy beach with clear blue waters, and there are many others scattered around the town. Caldura Beach is arguably the nicest beach, with turquoise waters, pebbles, and reefs for snorkeling. You can rent umbrellas and chairs to relax on the beach and gaze out at the Tyrrhenian Sea. To get there type in Torre Caldura. If you are visiting a pebbly beach, be sure to bring sandals or special swimming sandals.

Eat at the top restaurants in Cefalu

Cefalu has many of the best restaurants in Sicily including 7 Michelin reviewed places around town or just outside. There is Cortile Pepe a modern Sicilian-style restaurant, Qualia which is traditional cuisine with a contemporary twist, and a personal favourite is Palazzacio. This is a 30-minute drive from Cefalu but so worth it as Michelin awarded it the Bib Gourmand which basically means it has fantastic food at a great price. I made a guide to some of the leading food venues in Cefalu here. Make sure to book in advance by calling or going on their website.

Here are some planning tips for your trip to Cefalù

  • The sun can be very strong in Cefalù in the summer, so it is important to protect yourself. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, and consider bringing factor 50 sunscreen from home.
  • Be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes if you plan on doing a lot of walking in Cefalù. Hiking shoes if you have space in your luggage would be useful for the Rocca Di Cefula hike.
  • A local tour guide can provide you with deeper insights into Cefalù's history that you would not be able to find on your own.
  • If you are visiting Cefalù in the summer, it is best to visit the outside attractions early in the morning or later in the evening, as the heat can be very intense in the afternoon.

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