Cefalù Has It All: Medieval Architecture, Sandy Beaches, and Coastal City Charm

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Don’t mind us, we’re just planning an impulse vacation.

Cefalù: it’s not only fun to say (pronounced “chef-a-loo”), but it might also be one of the most beautiful places in Italy. Located in the northern region of Sicily, Cefalù is known around the world for its architecture but it also has all of the charms of coastal Italy: unbeatable sunrises and sunsets, sprawling beaches, and laid-back energy.

The most well-known sight in Cefalù might be the Duomo, or Normal cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century. The fortress contains Byzantine mosaics that are worth a trip in themselves. You can dig into the local archeology at the Mandralisca Museum. Head to Monreale for more architectural wonders, specifically a 12th-century cloister. If you’re looking for a little bit of a hike, head back to the Duomo and check out Rocca. It’s a steep climb, but at the top of the hill you’ll find the ruins of a Tempio di Diana (“Temple of Diana”), or so locals say. Truth aside, it’s a great look at a 5th-century BC stone structure.


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Related: Is This Italy's Most Beautiful City?

Once you’re done taking in the history, head to the beaches––there are plenty of them. Although, expect it to get busy during peak summer months (July and August) and for lots of restaurant and hotel build-up in the area. In other words, access to some stretches of sand may come with a fee. Here are some beaches to kickstart your planning: Mazzaforno, Settefrati, Caldura, Capo Playa, and the Lampare and Marina beaches of Tusa.


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In town, there are plenty of alleys, streets, and a harbors to explore. Make sure and stop by the Osterio Magno, the remaining pieces of a 13th-century palace. Head to the fish markets to mingle with the locals.


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If you have more than a weekend to spend in the area, you’re in luck. Cefalù is perfectly located for visiting the Monti Madonie mountains (great for skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer), Palermo for those looking for more hustle and bustle, the volcanic islands of Aeolian, or the hills of Castelbuono.


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If you need any more incentive to visit Cefalù, spend about two minutes Google-searching the destination. That should do the trick.

Related: How to Do Italy's Amalfi Coast Right


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