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Rocca di Cefalù: The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide (2024)

Rocca di Cefalù: The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide (2024)

La Rocca di Cefalù (The Rock of Cefalu) is a magnificent attraction in Sicily. By exploring paths on the rock, you’ll visit various archaeological sites and the ruins of Castello di Cefalù (Castle of Cefalu). In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting La Rocca di Cefalù and Castello di Cefalù. This will include practical tips about how to get there from Palermo and also details about parking in Cefalù.

Read our guides about Scala dei Turchi, Capo Bianco and Tonnara di Scopello

About La Rocca di Cefalù

La Rocca di Cefalù is a limestone outcrop, which is around 270 metres high. Because of its outstanding geological features and excellent flora and fauna, the protected natural space is recognised by the European Union as a Site of Community Importance. Additionally, Rocca di Cefalù’s historical and archaeological value means it’s protected by the Department for Cultural and Environmental Heritage of the province of Palermo.

The site has likely been occupied since the prehistoric era when people used caves as dwellings. Thereafter, the rock was likely always part of the city’s fortification and defence system. One of the buildings on-site, the Temple of Diana, is thought to date back to the 8–9th century BC!

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Despite trading hands multiple times due to various battles over the years, it’s well-established that the Normans had control during the 12–13th centuries. During this time, Castello di Cefalù, in particular, was strengthened. Certainly, much of what we see today of Castello di Cefalù is thanks to the Normans. Although, it’s thought that the origins of Castello di Cefalù, date back to the Byzantine and Hellenistic-Roman periods.

The Greek Myth of Daphnis

There is also a famous story connecting Rocca di Cefalù and the Greek Myth of Daphnis. As legend has it, the Sicilian shepherd Daphnis (who was believed to invent pastoral singing) was tricked into cheating on his wife (nymph Echemeide). Because of this, Echemeide’s mother (Juno) blinded him. Daphnis eventually killed himself by jumping off a cliff. In an act of pity, Daphnis’ father Hermes, then transformed Daphnis into a cliff, where his soul would remain alive in the rock at Cefalù.

Now you a little about the history and myths of Rocca di Cefalù. So, where exactly will you find Rocca di Cefalù in Sicily?

La Rocca di Cefalù with Castello di Cefalù, near Palermo

Where Is Rocca di Cefalù?

Rocca di Cefalù is located on the north coast of Sicily in Cefalù, near the capital city of Palermo. To help you get your bearings, feel free to click on the image below to access an interactive map on Google Maps. Specifically, Rocca di Cefalù and Castello di Cefalù are located in a protected area called Parco dello Rocca di Cefalù AKA Parco dello Rocca (Park of the Rock).

La Rocca di Cefalù with Castello di Cefalù, near Palermo

Visiting Rocca di Cefalù

To visit Rocca di Cefalù and Castello di Cefalù, you’ll need to get to the site’s entrance located here in Cefalù. We’ll talk more about parking in Cefalù below. Personally, though, Beck and I found street-side parking next to Cefalù Beach. We then walked through the gorgeous town of Cefalù, stopping at a cafe, near the foot of the rock, en route. It was around a 10 minute walk to get from the Cefalù Beach street-side parking area to Rocca di Cefalù (ignoring our coffee stop).

Below, we’ll look at opening hours and entrance fees.

Rocca di Cefalù Opening Hours

You’ll find the timetables for accessing Rocca di Cefalù differs depending on the time of year you visit. As you can see below, the opening hours are extended during the peak season.

  • April–October: 8am–8pm (last admission 7pm)
  • November–March: 9am–4pm (last admission 3pm)

Rocca di Cefalù Entrance Fee

The cost for entering Rocca di Cefalù is €5 per person. For children aged 6–14 years and for adults over 65 years, the price is reduced to €2.50 per person. You’ll find card payment is accepted. At the entrance, you’ll find a small cafe bar. Also, at the entrance, you’ll find the path that leads you to Castello di Cefalù.

Rocca di Cefalù Hike to Castello di Cefalù

From the entrance, you’ll follow a well-defined path to Castello di Cefalù, which sits atop Rocca di Cefalù. Given the number of side trails and varied time taken to explore the various archaeological sites, the hike doesn’t have a specified distance or duration. But, roughly speaking, to cover most of the paths, to see most of the sites, you’re looking at an approx. 3–4km walk, with around 250 metres of elevation gain, taking 2–3 hours. Along the way, you’ll find information boards at each of the major fortifications and attractions.

Early on, after leaving the entrance, you’ll pass by the Defensive Bastion, which is the first fortified entrance of the rock. This is where you’ll get your first taste of the immense medieval walls of the fortress. You’ll also enjoy your first sweeping views of Cefalù.

After parking near Cefalù Beach, Dan explores Rocca di Cefalù and Castello di Cefalù

Soon after, you’ll arrive at a trail intersection, which is where the circular route begins. Personally, we continued straight, choosing the path to the right. By doing so, you’ll head straight to Castello di Cefalù via a steep and windy path. At Castello di Cefalù, you’ll enjoy more magnificent views of Cefalù, whilst there are many fascinating ruins and forts to explore.

After parking near Cefalù Beach, Dan explores Castello di Cefalù
After parking near Cefalù Beach, Beck explores Castello di Cefalù

Once you’ve scoped out Castello di Cefalù, it’s time to continue to some of the other main attractions. These include the Temple of Diana and the Church of St. Anna.

The Temple of Diana

The Temple of Diana is a megalithic building, likely dating back to the 8–9th century BC. But, archaeologists believe that its origins could go as far back as the 14th century BC, owing to the cistern that was found there! It may have been part of a church, but its entrance is also aligned with the Equinoxes, suggesting its sacred function. Amazingly, it’s possible to explore inside the ruins.

Near the Temple of Diana, you’ll find the Church of St. Anna.

After parking in Cefalù, Dan explores La Rocca di Cefalù and Castello di Cefalù, near Palermo
The Temple of Diana

Church of St.Anna

The Church of St. Anna (Chiesa di S Anna) falls in an archaeological complex, which also features warehouses, houses, ovens and a cistern. It’s believed the area was originally built and used during the Middle Ages, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, around the 6th–8th centuries AD. But, the church, and visible ruins seen today, are approx. dated between the 11th and 16th centuries.

Other than exploring this fascinating archaeological site, we recommend following a side trail, which explores the North West Boundary Wall. Along this path, you’ll enjoy more stellar views of the coastline. At the end of the short trail, you’ll arrive at a viewpoint, which provides fantastic views of Castello di Cefalù and the cliffs of Rocca di Cefalù.

Before returning to the entrance, you’ll also pass the Great Cistern, dating back to the Byzantine era (6th–9th century BC).

How to Get to Cefalù

The easiest and quickest way to get to Rocca di Cefalù is to drive to Cefalù. Personally, Beck and I picked up our car hire from Catania International Airport. For an automatic car, we only paid around €7 ($7USD) per day!

Car Hire

If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.

To find out more about renting a car with Discover Cars, read our Discover Cars review and Discover Cars Insurance review.

The Distance Between Cefalù and Other Cities in Sicily

Many people will visit Rocca di Cefalù from Palermo. When it comes to driving time and distance between Cefalù and Palermo, you’re looking at an approx. 70km drive, taking 1.25–1.5 hours. Of course, you may be visiting Cefalù from another city in Sicily. Below, you’ll find the distance between Cefalù and other major cities in Sicily.

  • Agrigento to Cefalù: 145km (2–2.5 hours)
  • Trapani to Cefalù: 175km (2.25–2.75 hours drive)
  • Catania to Cefalù: 180km (2.5–3 hours)
  • Taormina to Cefalù: 210km (2.5–3 hours)

Palermo to Cefalù and Monreale Tour

Cefalù Beach

The Palermo to Cefalù and Monreale Half-Day Tour on Get Your Guide is a popular option. During this tour, you’ll get to spend time at the beach!

Getting From Palermo to Cefalù

Many people travelling to Sicily will stay in the capital city of Palermo. From Palermo, it’s quite straightforward to get to Cefalù. Of course, driving to Cefalù yourself is self-explanatory. We’ll cover parking options in Cefalù below.

Otherwise, it’s fairly simple to get from Palermo to Cefalù using public transport. You can catch an approx. 45-minute train from Palermo Centrale to Cefalù. We recommend using Trainline to reliably book train tickets in advance and to also check departure frequency, times and prices.

Booking Trains


Trainline is one of the best online platforms for booking trains. By using Trainline, you can easily find the best available prices and times for your journey. We always use Trainline to book our train journeys in the UK and in Europe.

Once you get to Cefalù, you can simply walk to Rocca di Cefalù, which is only around 650 metres away.

Cefalù Parking

If you’re driving to Cefalù, it’s worth knowing about parking before you go. Basically, Cefalù is a bit of a nightmare when it comes to parking. Especially during the peak season, you’ll find limited spaces to park. We highly recommend heading to Cefalù Beach, where you’ll find reasonably-priced street-side parking here for around €1/hour. In fact, any street-side parking along Lungomare Giuseppe Giardina is usually €1/hour.

If there isn’t any street-side parking, you may need to settle for a private parking space. The Cefalù Beach Car Park is a large car park, which costs around €5 for half-day parking or €8 for full-day parking.

Accommodation in Cefalù

Cefalù is one of the most popular places in Sicily for visitors and locals alike to spend their holidays. Despite being a relatively small town, Cefalù has plenty in the way of accommodation. Below, we’ve handpicked the best budget, mid-range and luxury Cefalù Beach hotels and similar accommodation options.


If you’re planning on visiting the north coast of Sicily, we highly recommend visiting La Rocca di Cefalù and Castello di Cefalù. Other than the fascinating historical and archaeological sites, you’ll enjoy a fantastic natural and geological attraction. Indeed, La Rocca di Cefalù and Castello di Cefalù are must-see places during a trip to Cefalù.

What to Wear and Pack

These are our gear essentials for hiking at La Rocca di Cefalù.

Osprey Skarab 30
Osprey Skarab 30

The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.

Osprey Ultralight Raincover
Osprey Ultralight Raincover

A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.

GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle

The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.

BUFF Original Ecostretch
BUFF Original Ecostretch

The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.

Sony Cybershot RX100 VII
Sony Cybershot RX100 VII

Capture epic photos and videos with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII. This is hands-down the best compact camera. We love using this simple point-and-shoot camera when we’re hiking as it’s lightweight and durable.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Bonus Tips and Things to Do

  • The best time to visit: given Rocca di Cefalù and Castello di Cefalù are popular sites to visit, we recommend visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
  • Day trip from Palermo: if you’re thinking of visiting Cefalù on a day trip, it’s best to do so from Palermo. You’re looking at an extremely long day trip if visiting from Catania, Messina or Trapani.
  • Explore more of Cefalù: after exploring this site, you should definitely wander the charming streets of Cefalù. Certainly, you should visit the pretty old port of Cefalù (Vecchio Molo) and Cefalù Beach.

Do you have any questions about La Rocca di Cefalù? Please let us know in the comments below.

Daniel Piggott

Dan is a travel blogger, physiotherapist, hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

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