Cefalu, Sicily Guide

Seaside Town with a Stunning Cathedral

Less than an hour from Palermo, Cefalu is one of Sicily’s top seaside towns. Cefalu’s top draw is its Norman cathedral with stunning mosaics inside, part of the UNESCO World Heritage site that also includes 7 Arab-Norman monuments in Palermo and the cathedral in Monreale. Its historic center sits between a sandy beach and a huge rocky cliff topped with trees, a castle, and temple ruins.

cefalu cathedral
Cefalu Cathedral and Piazza by James Martin

Plan Your Visit to Cefalu

Trains leave for Cefalu from Palermo Centrale about once an hour. From the train station, it’s a short walk to Cefalu’s center and about a 15 minute walk to the cathedral. From Palermo airport you can arrange a transfer directly to Cefalu, or take the airport bus to Palermo’s train station and then the train.

If you want to stay a in seaside town, Cefalu is a good choice. Here’s a selection of top places to stay. There are also many vacation apartments for those who want to stay longer.

  • Ossuna Bay is a boutique hotel in the historic center near the beach.
  • Palazzo Raho is in the historic center near the cathedral .
  • Agrodolce B&B, is in the historic center, a short walk to the beach.
  • Cortile Umberto I is just outside the historic center, a short walk from the train station. Rooms have a kitchen and some have a balcony or terrace.

Where to Eat There are restaurants and cafes, many with outside seating, in all price ranges serving everything from sandwiches and pizza to seafood and Sicilian specialties. We enjoyed a great lunch at Tinchite’ Taverna on Via XXV Novembre.

Cefalu Cathedral Tower, street, and cliffs

What to See and Do in Cefalu

Cefalu’s main street in the old town is lined with shops, bars, and places to eat. Smaller streets lead off it, some heading down to the sea. It’s a delightful place to wander and just enjoy the ambiance.

  • Cefalu’s Cathedral sits above the large main square, Piazza del Duomo, with cliffs rising behind it. Construction of the cathedral started in 1131 by Roger II and it was finally consecrated in 1267. The apse and choir are richly decorated with Byzantine mosaics, primarily created from 1145 to 1166. The mosaic figure of Christ the Pantocrator, similar to the one in Monreale’s cathedral, is the main focal point. 14 huge pink granite columns and 2 marble columns supporting the triumphal arch are topped with decorated capitals. Admission is free. See cathedral opening times
cefalu cathedral mosaics
Mosaic of Christ Pantocrator in Cefalu Cathedral by James Martin
  • Next to the cathedral is the cloister, which you can visit for a fee (see cathedral link above for opening times and price). There’s not a lot left to see in the cloister but there are some interesting column capitals.
  • Off Vittorio Emanuele, the street that runs closest to the sea, you can see the medieval laundry basins of the lavatoio, wash house.
  • Mandralisca Museum is a small museum in Palazzo Mandralisca with an interesting collection of paintings, archaeological finds, coins, shells, stuffed birds and animals, and a library. Currently it’s open daily from 9:00 – 19:00, with longer hours in July and August and shorter hours on some holidays. Check updated opening times on the museum website.
  • Hiking trails lead up to the ruins of the Temple of Diana and a castle that’s open to visitors, perched on the cliffs above town. From the top you’ll be rewarded with great views of the town and the sea.
  • Cefalu has a large, sandy beach where you can sunbathe or swim in the sea in nice weather.
cefalu beach
Beach at Cefalui in October

Cefalu and Sicily Books

cefalu cliffs
Cliffs rising above Cefalu

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Cefalu, Sicily Guide originally appeared on MarthasItaly.com , updated: Dec 26, 2018.