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Capo d'Orlando sailing guide - Explore Sicily & the Aeolian islands

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An introduction to Capo d’Orlando

Located on the northern coast of Sicily, Capo d'Orlando is a former fishing village that has transformed into a popular tourist resort over the last couple of decades, mainly thanks to its spectacular coastline and beautiful beaches. 

Capo d'Orlando sits between the towns of Milazzo and Cefalu on the northern coast of Sicily, some 140 km east of Palermo. Arriving here, you will be greeted by a charming little town positioned by a long sandy beach that stretches for 2 km along the city's shoreline. 

The beach is the principal attraction in the town, where you will find the majority of the town's hotels, restaurants and shops. At the northern end of the beach, you will find a lighthouse at the point of Capo d'Orlando, perched above the cliffs. 

Why should you choose Capo d'Orlando for your sailing holiday?

Mainly a tourist and commercial town, Capo d'Orlando offers its visitors a chance to enjoy the beautiful town beach or visit some cultural attractions (Villa Piccolo museum, Bastione Castle) and archaeological landmarks (Bagnoli Baths). As the sun sets, take a walk barefoot on the soft sand of Capo d'Orlando beach and enjoy the spectacular views of the Sicilian coast and the Aeolian Islands.

Choosing Capo d'Orlando as your sailing base will enable you to explore the northern coast of Sicily towards Palermo and sail north towards the stunning volcanic Aeolian Archipelago.

What weather conditions to expect in Capo d'Orlando

Beautiful sunset on the Sicilian coast

Sitting on the Sicilian coast, Capo d'Orlando enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate, similar to the rest of Sicily. Winters are mild with more precipitation, while summers in Capo d'Orlando are hot and dry, with temperatures regularly exceeding 30 °C. More than 200 dry days each year makes it a perfect destination for an active vacation. Spring or autumn vacations are best reserved for those looking to avoid the crowds and the blistering heat with temperatures sitting around 20°C and plenty of sunshine. If you are looking to enjoy water activities, visiting in August offers the highest sea temperature, around 27 °C. 

Best time to sail in Capo d'Orlando

Sailing in Capo d'Orlando is possible throughout the entire year, except for winter. The warm Mediterranean climate and favourable wind conditions on the northern coast of Sicily ensure that sailing in Capo d'Orlando can be done safely from early spring all through the end of autumn. If you wish to enjoy the pristine sea and stunning beaches, then visiting during the summer is preferred. Additionally, the prevailing northwestern winds blowing along the coast are ideal for sailing during the summer, with the wind strength around 20 to 25 knots from June to August.

Parts of Capo d’Orlando

As a former fishing village that transformed into a tourist resort, Capo d'Orlando focuses on the coast and its main beach with numerous hotels, cafes and restaurants occupying the beachfront. 

A rocky ridge dominates the town to the north, which houses the Capo d'Orlando Lighthouse, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and offering beautiful vistas.

You will also find a port for both fishing and tourist boats alike that connects with the Aeolian islands during the summer and a well-equipped marina for all visiting sailing enthusiasts. 

There is approximately 14 km of beaches emerging among the rocky shoreline in Capo d'Orlando, offering plenty of opportunities to enjoy the summer activities like swimming, snorkelling or windsurfing. 

The main cultural attractions like the Villa Piccolo and the Bastione Castle are located away from the coast, towards the town centre. The main archaeological attraction in town is Bagnoli Roman baths, located not far from the San Gregorio beach and the Capo d'Orlando marina.

Marinas around Capo d’Orlando

View of the Capo d'Orlando marina

Capo d'Orlando Marina 

Capo d'Orlando Marina is located east of the town centre, near the San Gregorio beach. This large marina, offering 553 berths for boats up to 45 m in length and a maximum berth of 4 m, is one of the top destinations among sailing enthusiasts visiting the northern coast of Sicily. The marina is also used as a charter base for sailing the nearby Aeolian Islands.

Porticciolo Sant'Agata

Porticciolo Sant'Agata is located in Sant'Agata di Militello, west of the town of Capo d'Orlando. The marina offers 80 berths for vessels up to 45 m in length. It is well protected from the elements due to a long breakwater. Visitors can enjoy modern facilities, including free WiFi, with power and water connections at each berth.

Portorosa Marina 

Portorosa Marina is the largest marina in Sicily, located in the Gulf of Patti, at the eastern end of the north coast of Sicily. This modern marina provides extensive amenities and is a part of a large resort. The marina is indented and offers excellent protection from the elements. There are 650 berths situated on a 4000 m long dock.

Best spots to cast an anchor around Capo d'Orlando

Beuatiful anchorage spots on Sicily

San Gregorio beach

Located not far from the Capo d'Orlando Marina, this anchorage offers adequate protection from all but the northern winds. Here you will find good holding in a sandy seabed with depths around 7 m. There are several restaurants and bars near the beach of San Gregorio, ideal for sampling local cuisine.

Aeolian islands

The nearby archipelago, volcanic in origin, offers several secure anchorages across multiple islands. Popular tourist destinations like the islands of Vulcano, Lipari, Panarea and Salina are full of secure anchorages, often crowded with all kinds of boats during the summer. Ensure you manage to find a spot as the breathtaking natural surroundings and the pristine sea will be worth it.  

How much will a charter in Capo d'Orlando cost you?

Capo d'Orlando weekly charter prices depend on several factors, but the average price does not differ much from those in the rest of Sicily and Italy. Several key factors can significantly influence the final price, so think thoroughly before making your decisions. Things like the boat type, time of year, and additional services, can alter the price depending on your needs and demands. Chartering outside the peak tourist season in the middle of summer will be far less expensive, and there is a bigger chance of finding a deal or discount. The type of boat you plan to charter also influences the final price, as catamarans and motorboats are generally more expensive than basic sailboats. Also, there is an option of hiring a local skipper or an additional crew, which will cost you about 150 € extra per person per day. 

Starting prices for chartering a sailboat that can accommodate up to 8 people at the beginning of June is between 2,000 € and 2,500 €. The price will increase if you wish to charter the boat later in the peak tourist season (July and August). Catamarans can be chartered for around 5,000 €, while motorboats will cost you around 20,000 € for a weekly charter during the summer.

How to reach Capo d’Orlando

Flying is the fastest way to reach Sicily

By plane

The fastest way to reach Capo d'Orlando is by flying to Palermo, to the "Falcone Borsellino" airport some 120 km away. Alternatively, you can fly to the "Vincenzo Bellini" airport about 190 km away in Catania Fontanarossa. Several domestic flights connect with the rest of Italy and several international flights from other European countries, mainly during the summer.

By car or bus

Capo d'Orlando is about 70 km from the centre of Messina and over 120 km from Palermo, making it easy to reach by car or bus. Several daily bus lines connect Capo d'Orlando with either Messina or Palermo. If you wish to rent a car and drive yourself, follow the E90 state road that goes along the northern coast of Sicily, and you can't miss Capo d'Orlando.

Capo d’Orlando itinerary options

Capo d'Orlando is one of the towns on the north coast of Sicily (like Furnari and Milazzo) that serve as a perfect starting point for sailing the Aeolian islands or visiting the historic coastal towns like Palermo. This charming tourist resort houses one of the most modern marinas in Sicily and an abundance of water-based activities and popular nightclubs, restaurants, and hotels. 

Option 1 - Aeolian islands

Stunning view of Lipari island
  • Total sail distance: 85 NM
  • Things to see and do: Sail north from Capo d'Orlando towards the stunning Aeolian Islands, a collection of volcanic islands emerging from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Two active volcanoes - Stromboli and Vulcano, heavily influenced the islands' landscape, transforming it into a unique microcosmos consisting of volcanic rocks, fertile lands and thermal waters.
  • This route is perfect for: The unique volcanic landscape found on these islands will attract almost anybody, including families with children. Groups of friends and couples can enjoy the trendy hotspots that have emerged on the islands during the last couple of decades.  
  • Best time of year for sailing: Summer is the perfect time to visit If you wish to enjoy the water-based activities and beaches, although it can get quite crowded due to the recent popularity of the area. If you are not too fond of crowds, then a visit outside the high tourist season is the best solution. 

Day 1: Capo d'Orlando

Start your journey early and make your way straight north from Capo d'Orlando towards the Aeolian archipelago and the small island of Alicudi. The distance between Alicudi and Capo d'Orlando is about 30 NM, the perfect distance for a day of relaxed sailing on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Day 2: Alicudi island

The most remote and the smallest of the Aeolian islands, Alicudi is an isolated oasis with a rugged charm and relaxed atmosphere. There are less than one hundred permanent residents on this island, perfect for everyone who wishes to escape the crowds and enjoy peace and quiet. Arriving at the island's tiny port on the eastern shore, Alicudi Porto, you will find one jetty for ferries, a couple of general stores and a singular hotel with a restaurant. The time on this small island is best spent hiking the now dormant volcano.

Day 3: Filicudi island

Set sail from Alicudi east towards Filicudi, yet another Aeolian island that offers stunning natural surroundings. Another place best suited for hiking and exploring, the island offers an extensive network of hiking trails scattered across the island. Visit the western shore of the island and visit the stunning Grotta del Bue Marino, a massive sea cave. Capo Graziano, on the island's eastern coast, is the main port and houses the remains of a prehistoric village dating back almost 2,000 years. 

Day 4: Salina island

Located east of Filicudi and just northwest of Lipari is Salina, known for its lush vegetation. The three of the highest peaks in the area are on Salina, making it another ideal hiking destination offering stunning views of the surrounding area. If you are looking for a place to dock, head towards Santa Marina Salina on the eastern coast, where you will find a marina and several seafood restaurants and waterfront cafes.  

Day 5: Lipari island

Continue your sailing journey south towards Lipari, the most populated island in the Aeolian archipelago. You will find almost half of the island population concentrated on the eastern coast, in Lipari town. There are plenty of vineyards on Lipari, producing some quality wines, so make sure to have a taste. If you wish to learn more about the whole Aeolian archipelago, The Aeolian Museum in Lipari Town houses artefacts from the islands throughout the ages. 

Day 6: Vulcano island

As you approach Vulcano island, it becomes pretty obvious how it got its name. Crowned by the steaming peaks of an active volcano, the island offers a harsh, barren landscape highlighted by the black sand beaches. Vulcano is known for the therapeutic qualities of the mud and the natural hot springs, inviting visitors to try this natural remedy. Be sure to visit Fossa di Vulcano, a fascinating dormant crater encrusted with vivid red and yellow crystals. Additionally, if you want to know more about the island, you should visit the volcano museum. If you are looking for an anchoring spot, go to Porto di Ponente which offers good protection from eastern winds.

Day 7: Capo d'Orlando

As you leave Volcano island, set sail southwest towards your starting base - Capo d'Orlando. Depending on your remaining time, you could sail directly south towards Tindari and explore the monastery, and the Greek theatre remains there.  

Option 2 - The Sicilian coast towards Palermo

Sailing the coast of Sicily
  • Total sail distance: 120 NM
  • Things to see and do: Sail west along the northern coast of Sicily towards the city of Palermo, stopping at several spots along the way. Picturesque coastal towns and a stunning coastline will follow you on this route, offering plenty of opportunities to enjoy the culture and history of Sicily. 
  • This route is perfect for: Groups of friends and families will enjoy the attractions and beaches that await you on this journey. Sailing beginners will appreciate the sense of security sailing along close to the coast.  
  • Best time of year for sailing: The combination of a warm Mediterranean climate with a route that sticks close to the coastline means you can sail this route for most of the year. However, if you wish to enjoy swimming and other water-based activities, then summer is the best time for this route.  

Day 1: Capo d'Orlando

Set sail from Capo d'Orlando marina and slowly but surely make your way west along the coast of Sicily. Sailing this route, you will be met by a combination of charming coastal towns and long stretches of sandy beaches, perfect for a relaxed summer holiday. Feel free to cast your anchor at any point and dive into the inviting Tyrrhenian Sea.  

Day 2: Tusa

Your first stop will be at Castel di Tusa, a tiny village famous for its tuna-fishing and delicious products. The village is a part of the town of Tusa, a charming town that preserves the appearance of a typical medieval city with a classic layout made by narrow streets and charming sacred buildings. Tusa offers an abundance of landmarks for you to visit, including several churches, the Roman Thermal Baths, and the "La Fiumara d'Arte "- an artistic route going through the old town centre where one can discover the works of arts made by local artists.

Day 3: Cefalu

Arriving at the town of Cefalu, the first thing you will notice is the position of the town itself, perched between the sea and a large cliff. Like Capo d'Orlando, Cefalu was initially a small fishing village that transformed into a vibrant tourist resort over the last couple of decades. Adjacent to the harbour, you will find a charming and trendy sandy beach, beautifully contrasted by the tall medieval houses. Cefalu is known for its heritage and many churches, none more famous than the 12th century Cefalu Cathedral. On the other hand, the newer part of town is filled with tourist attractions and quality restaurants, making Cefalu the perfect place to sample famous Sicilian cuisine.

The charming coastal town of Cefalu

Day 4: Termini Imerese

The town of Termini Imerese sits about halfway between Cefalu and Palermo, wedged between the sea and the steeply-rising slopes of Monte San Calogero. Carthaginians founded the town, but it was the Romans that put this town on the map. Due to the nearby hot springs, this Roman colony expanded into a large and prosperous city with a great spa. There is a legend that says Hercules used the healing waters of the Thermae Himerenses ("Hot Springs of Himera") to get in shape.

The town is divided into two parts: Termini Bassa (Lower Termini) and Termini Alta (Upper Termini), with almost all of the town's historical attractions located in Termini Alta. Among the attractions to visit are the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, the Himera archaeological area, the staircase in Via Roma and the Cornelius Roman aqueduct. 

Termini also has a friendly and secure port, which has a ferry connection to the city of Salerno on the Italian mainland. 

Day 5: Bagheria

Located on a cape just east of Palermo, Bagheria is a historic and exciting town famous for its incredible historical villas and stunning eighteenth-century buildings. Just 13 km from Palermo, Bagheria is a resort for wealthy Palermitans, an ideal destination to explore classical Sicilian architecture.

However, the main attraction in Bagheria is its waterfront, full of stunning beaches and inviting coves. Combined with an abundance of restaurants and taverns, offering authentic and fresh local dishes, Bagheria is the perfect stop to absorb the Sicilian lifestyle fully.

Day 6: Sant'Agata di Militello

Making your way back towards Capo d'Orlando, be sure to stop at the charming medieval town of Sant'Agata di Militello where you can explore both the cultural and natural heritage of the area. 

The two most important landmarks to visit here are the 17th century Gallego Castle and the Church of Madonna del Carmelo. Additionally, the Nebrodi Anthropological Museum displays over 400 objects and findings from the 25 nearby villages of Nebrodi.

To fully appreciate the beauty of Sicilian nature, take an excursion to the nearby Nebrodi Regional Park, created to protect the largest green area in Sicily, which offers four designated areas full of rare flora and fauna species.

Day 7: Capo d'Orlando

As Sant'Agata di Militello is only a short sail away from Capo d'Orlando, you can spend your last day on this route any way you wish. Enjoy the beaches on this stretch of coast or return early to Capo d'Orlando to have enough time to explore this small tourist resort.

Let us help you plan the perfect sailing trip

Provide your travel details, receive free offer and enjoy your holiday!