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Boy walking up stairs on a street in Cefalù, Sicily.

10 Tips for Visiting Cefalù (Sicily) with Kids – From a Mom in Italy

Have you added Cefalù to your family’s Sicily itinerary?

Maybe you’re already in Sicily and you’ve climbed Mount Etna, explored Greek ruins, seen a puppet show in Palermo, and gorged on chocolate in Modica… and now you’re ready for some beach time!

This seaside town on the northern coast of Sicily is well worth a visit – for the beach and its other kid-friendly sites and activities. 

Our 10 tips will help make your time in Cefalù with kids memorable, fun, and stress-free!

Map of Where to Go in Cefalù with Kids

Climb Up to Cefalù’s Castle in the Morning or Evening

Boy walking in Cefalu, Sicily's archaelogical park ruins
In the archaelogical area (below the castle)

The climb up to the Rocca di Cefalù is challenging, but kids can do it! 

However, it’s important to avoid the hot hours of the day.  Temperatures in Sicily can soar in the summer heat, and Cefalù is no exception.

La Rocca (the castle/fortress) is set in a natural park, and it’s not open 24 hours/day.  Be sure to check the current hours (posted at the entrance).

Other helpful tips for climbing up to the castle ruins:

  • Make sure you use the toilet at the base of the climb.
  • Bring snacks and water with you.
  • Be sure to explore the archaeological ruins (ancient ruins of cisterns, church, oven, Temple of Diana) and see the viewpoint at the cross.  This area was actually the highlight of the climb for my kids.
  • Be patient and turn back if it’s not fun anymore!

Castle Logistics:  Walk up the stairs from Piazza Garibaldi to find your way to the park entrance.  Currently open 8:00am – 5:00pm (sign at the entrance), with the last entrance at 3:30pm.  Pay for the entrance at the machine (small bills or credit card).

Good To Know:  There are some steep drop-offs and low walls – so keep a close eye on your little ones.

Helpful Tip:  If you’re traveling with a baby or infant, either leave one adult with your little one down below or bring baby up in a carrier (but be careful with the heat!).

Go Early to Get a Good Spot at the Beach

Boys playing in the sand on an empty beach in Cefalù, Sicily.

Cefalù’s Mediterranean Sea beach is wide and there’s quite a bit of space, it’s a very popular destination (especially in the summer).  If you’ve got children with you, make sure you get a spot close to the water, so you don’t lose track of them.

Helpful Tip:  Avoid the race for a place on the beach and pay for a beach umbrella and lounge chair(s).  You’ll appreciate the shade and having your own ‘spot’ at the beach.

Visit the Medieval Laundry House

Boys exploring the medieval laundry house in Cefalù, Sicily, Italy.

Do your kids complain about helping with laundry (or even getting dirty clothes into the hamper)?  If so, be sure to bring them down the stairs into Cefalù’s medieval washhouse.  Have them put their hands in the chilly water of the Cefalino river (which flows underground but was uncovered before the 1600s) and imagine doing their laundry there! 

Make a Stop at One of Cefalù’s Playgrounds

Boys playing on a spinning toy at a playground in Cefalù, Italy.  There are more toys in the background.
Upper playground in Cefalù

Cefalù has a couple of small playgrounds:

  • Upper Playground – On Via Giacomo Matteotti, between Via Roma (aka SS113) and Via Carrettieri.  Swings, spring toy, small climbing toy, fun spinning toy.  Small fountain.  Shade, benches.  Best for younger children but my 5-year-old and 8-year-old had a blast on the spinning toy.
  • Beach Playground – In Piazza Cristoforo Colombo.  Best for small children.  Padded ground, swing, and a few toys for babies and toddlers.  No shade.

Bring Your Kids Inside the Cefalù Cathedral

Piazza del Duomo in Cefalù, Italy.

Cefalu’s Duomo was ordered to be constructed by the Norman king, Roger II.

While in a storm near Naples, he vowed to build a temple to God if he survived.  He ended up in Cefalù and in 1131, construction on the cathedral began.

The Cefalù Duomo is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Arab Norman Palermo and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale. 

Kids love the Duomo’s sparkling mosaics and stained-glass windows.

Helpful Tip:  Learn about mosaics before you see the cathedral – either from a video, or in person at the TAMO Museum in Ravenna

Good To Know:  The mosaics are like those inside the Palatine Chapel in Palermo and the Monreale Cathedral.  If you’re planning on seeing either or both of those, don’t feel bad about skipping the inside of the Cefalù Cathedral.

Stop to See the Male Mona Lisa

Painting of the Unknown Soldier in the Mandralisca Museum in Cefalù, Sicily.

Step into the small but mighty Mandralisco Museum (Museo Mandralisca) inside the Mandralisca family home.  The star of the museum is Antonello da Messina’s ‘Portrait of an Unknown Sailor,’ which many say rival the Mona Lisa. 

Pull up a photo of the Mona Lisa and have your children compare the two. 

Is the sailor mocking you?  Move around the room and notice how his eyes follow you.  My youngest son believes ‘he has a secret.’

Our boys loved other parts of the museum too, including the interesting ancient coin collection.

Good To Know:  There are toilets on the 2nd floor.

Find Locations from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023). 

Indiana Jones fans will delight in knowing that Harrison Ford and crew were in Cefalù in 2021 filming scenes for the 5th Indiana Jones movie – Dial of Destiny.

YouTube video

You can see some of the filming locations here.

Fun Fact:  Cefalù was also the filming location for the Italian movie Cinema Paradiso (1988). 

Keep Meals Simple

Rather than spending your time in restaurants, grab picnic supplies at the grocery store and eat at the beach or up in the Rocca di Cefalù park.

There are also a ton of street food establishments along the water and in the historic center.

If your kids love arancini, stop by Sfrigola on Corso Ruggero.  Moderna Panetteria on Via Roma (SS113) has a selection of sweet pastries, as well as savory quick bites (like arancini).

Know Where to Find Baby & Kid Supplies

You can find baby supplies (diapers, diaper cream, baby wipes, baby food, formula, etc. at the larger grocery stores (like Decò on Via Vazzana, 3) and the multiple pharmacies in town.  Primigi (Via Giglio, 4/a) and OVS Kids (Via Vazzana) both have children’s clothing.

Think About Staying for Awhile

Boy looking at Cefalù from above while on the hike up to the castle.  You can see the roofs of the buildings and the sea.

While Cefalù can easily be visited on a day trip (even with kids), you could also stretch out your visit and spend a few days in the town, or even make it your base.  Rent an apartment, stock up at the grocery store (best option is the Decò on Via Vazzana, 3), and make a little home in the friendly beach town. 

Because Cefalù is popular with families, you’ll surely find some buddies for your kids – at the beach or at one of the playgrounds.

Good To Know:  If you decide to use Cefalù as a base for exploring the island and you’ve got a rental car, be aware that parking in Cefalù can be difficult and there’s usually a lot of traffic coming in and going out of town.

I hope these tips help you make the best of your family stay in Cefalù!

You may also want to read
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Packing List for Italy with a Baby or Toddler
Italy with Teens

Cefalù with Kids FAQ

Is Cefalù stroller friendly? 

I wouldn’t call Cefalù stroller friendly – there are a lot of hills, stairs, and of course, sand at the beach.  However, you could make it work (say you have a baby that needs to nap in the stroller) by choosing your route carefully.

Can we visit the Aeolian Islands from Cefalù?

If you’d like to take your family to the Aeolian Islands off the north coast of Sicily, you’ll need to catch the hydrofoil from Milazzo, close to Messina (about a 90-minute drive from Cefalù).