A Mediterranean climate and shores, drop your jaw UNESCO World Heritage archaeological sites and dance ‘til you drop night (and day) life is all it takes. Indeed, the triumphant formula that makes Cyprus a hot spot par excellence with everyone from well-to-do Brits to youthful Israelis on holiday prior to obligatory military service is hard to resist. Larnaca embraces most of what makes the island of 1 million plus people so special.
Life in the third-most populous city in the country radiates from a dynamic seaside promenade that lines some of the best Blue Flag sand in the Mediterranean region. That alone constitutes success as a tourist dynamo but away from the water and beach the city unfurls one jewel after another. The labyrinthine old Turkish quarter is awash with furtive, gritty charm and marketplace sensorial delights. Classic cafés and restaurants seem to effortlessly combine traditional and contemporary and evince a seductive rustic elegance.
This, in a sense, is what defines Larnaca and helps explain why the city of 72,000 people has become Cyprus’ dominant expat haven. When the human traffic starts to grate, get your feet out of the sand and flee to star landmarks like the Ruins of Ancient Kitium, village of Lefkara, Pieridis Museum of Antiquities and Mosque of Umm Haram.
Larnaca’s Top 10
10. Phinikoudes Beach is a Blue Flag beach and one of the most famous in Cyprus.
5. McKenzie Beach is a favourite local hangout.
9. Larnaca Grand Mosque (Buyuk Camii) dates back to the 16th century.
4. Lefkara is a traditional village and hub of lace and silverware.
8. Church of Lazarus is one of the primary symbols of the city.
3. Larnaca Promenade is the dominant hive of activity in town.
7. Mosque of Umm Haram marks the burial site of the Prophet Muhammad’s wet nurse.
2. Larnaca Medieval Museum preserves a vital period of Cypriot history.
6. Pieridis Museum of Antiquities is a first-rate archaeological depot.
1. Ruins of Ancient Kitium contain Achaean temples that hail from the 13th century BC.
- Larnaca Fort – This important landmark dates back to the 1600s and provides a stunning setting to the harbour.
- Church of St. Lazarus – One of Larnaca’s oldest and most beautiful churches, this Orthodox Church dates back to the 800s and is built on Lazarus’s sepulchre.
- Hala Sultan Tekke – An important Muslim Shrine built along the sides of the salt lake and the fourth most holy place in the world for Muslims.
- Grand Mosque – An important spiritual landmark in Larnaca built in the 1500s.
- Ancient Kition – Dating back to the 13th century BC and colonized by Mycenaeans, the ruins of the city is buried under Larnaca.
Larnaca Art & Culture
- Municipal Cultural Centre – With both an indoor theatre and open amphitheatre, it attracts many wonderful events to Larnaca.
- Larnaca District Archaeological Museum – Home to an interesting collection of artefacts from the Neolithic Age to the time of the Romans.
- Pierdes Museum – Boasts an amazing collection of Cypriot antiques.
- Larnaca Mediaeval Museum – Built in the early 1600s and used as a prison by the British during their first years of rule.
- Municipal Museum of Natural History – Located within the local public gardens and home to many species of the flora and fauna.
- Oro Fino Jewellery – Greek and Italian designs, featuring everything from zircons to diamonds and semi-precious to precious stones in a variety of settings.
- Zenon Kitieos Street – The main shopping area in Larnaca features a busy street lined with small shops that offer great choices for shopping, dining and entertainment.
- Sunday Open-Air Market – Offers a wealth of goodies and crafts at bargain-basement prices, including fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers.
- Dimiourgia – The place to find great knick-knacks and wonderful treasures to take home.
- Marks & Spencer – Catering to high-end clientele and for travellers who suitcases the airline may have misplaced.
Gay & Lesbian Larnaca
- Secrets Freedom Club – Welcoming, trendy place with a large dance floor.
- The Palm Beach Hotel and Bungalow – A gay-friendly, five-star facility.
- Larnaca Ink Tattoo Studio – A local Larnaca business that is open to all.
- Ammos Beach Bar – Features a mixed crowd and especially lively on Fridays and Saturdays.
- Tochni & Kalavasos Villages – A cosy and friendly place.
- Larnaca Salt Lake – A delightful place where flocks of pink flamingos nest during the winter months of November through March.
- Mackenzie Beach – Boasting a promenade lined with palm trees and restaurants, it is a favourite with the local crowd.
- Lefkara – A picturesque country village renowned for its lace and silverware and a visit by Leonardo da Vinci.
- Troodos Mountains – Located in the centre of the island with the highest mountain soaring over 1,952 meters.
- Castle Buffavento – Built as part of a chain of castles to defend Larnaca against the Arab raids.
- Enjoy an exciting football game between local teams in the GSZ Stadium.
- Watch local sports, such as basketball, tennis, volleyball, at the Larnaca Stadium.
- Explore the local area with a safari trek on quad bikes.
- Scuba dive amongst the wrecks of Zenobia from Larnaca.
- Train for a triathlon in Cyprus, as places for swimming, biking and running are numerous.
The conditions for water sports in Larnaca, most notably for avid and neophyte divers, are as good as they come in the Mediterranean region.
The annual Festival of the Flood takes place 50 days after Orthodox Easter and is a linchpin of Cypriot cultural pride. Larnaca’s version, held on the seafront promenade and beyond, is the most famous on the island.
Side trips along the coast of southeast Cyprus reveal astonishing scenery and a tidy ensemble of enchanting, sun-baked villages.
When To Go
A telltale Mediterranean climate is why so many find holiday succor in Cyprus. Larnaca is no exception, with low precipitation levels, hot summers and mild winters.
Temperatures from June to September run anywhere from 68°F (20°C) to 91°F (33°C). The weather from December to February is not entirely unpleasant, with conditions in the 45.5°F (7.5°C) to 65°F (19°C) range and some modest rain showers.
The most amenable compromise, of course, is to visit in the months of April, May, October and November, when temperatures crest at a manageable 82.5°F (28°C) and dip as low as 53.5°F (12°C).
Larnaca International Airport is tops in Cyprus and in the top 100 in Europe in terms of total annual passengers. The allure of idyllic seaside beach time is obviously powerful: close to 6 million people pass through the terminal every year.
The hub serves a wide variety of minor and major destinations, from Belgrade to Tel Aviv, London to Luxembourg, Paris to Moscow.
While Larnaca is easy to navigate on foot, taxis provide a basic and cardinal service. Drivers can be stubborn about meters, however, but do insist it be put to good use.
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