In Larnaca, everyone will find something to their liking. It offers vacationers unforgettable sea excursions on pleasure boats and boats, acquaintance with local attractions. If you value a relaxing family vacation, you can spend more time on the local sandy beaches, where nothing and no one interferes with the unity with the sea waves and the sun. Admirers of noisy and active pastime become regulars at bars, restaurants and nightclubs in Larnaca. The city embankment is actually a huge promenade. While walking, you can look into a cafe or tavern, the menu of which offers delicious fresh seafood dishes – as they say, in the heat of the heat.
Larnaca also attracts tourists by the fact that the rest here, in comparison with other Cypriot resorts, is relatively inexpensive and allows you to save money. Couples with small children and elderly spouses often come here, because the sea here is shallow, with a uniform sandy bottom. In the tourist area of the city, which is very convenient, most of its hotels are located, and it itself is located to the east of it on the coast of a sandy bay. Although Larnaca’s beaches are not among the best in the world, thousands of tourists visit them every year, and this suggests that they are still very popular.
In ancient times, on the site of present-day Larnaca, there was a city that, according to local legend, founded by a direct descendant of the biblical Noah, namely his grandson Kittim. The ancient settlement was named after him. At the same time, it became the birthplace of Zeno, the famous philosopher who founded the school of Stoicism.
After some time, Saint Lazarus settled in these parts, known for the fact that on the fourth day after his death he was resurrected by Jesus Christ. This New Testament character lived here for a long time. Then he died. On the headstone of his grave was written: “Lazarus, friend of Christ.” According to one version, the famous resort owes its current name to this particular attraction: Larnaca means “tomb” in translation. The grave of Lazarus as such has not survived to this day. A temple was erected on it together, where the relics of the saint are carefully preserved.
Larnaca market in 1880
The first buildings on the territory of modern Larnaca were attributed by archaeologists to the 13th century BC. Two centuries later, the Achaean Greeks, who captured the city, gave it their name – Kition. In the 9th century BC. e. it was captured by the Phoenicians, and in 333 BC. e. it was annexed to the Macedonian Empire. Ptolemy became the new masters of the city in 1312 BC. Somewhat later, he passed to the Roman Empire. And when, during the Third Crusade, the Kingdom of Cyprus was proclaimed, Kition received a new name – Alykes, which translates as “Salt Lakes”.
In the 8th century BC, the Assyrians set foot on its land, capturing many of the island’s city-states, including Alykes. Then they were driven out of here by the Egyptians, who, in turn, were then driven back by the Persians. As for the Phoenicians, they did not even leave Cyprus. They, like the hero of the famous “Wedding in Malinovka”, knew how to get along with all the authorities. At the same time, they continued to engage in their own industries: they smelted copper, developed art and traded with nearby regions.
The fifth century BC was marked by the Greco-Persian wars. The enemy forced the Cypriots to go against Hellas. One of the episodes of these wars is associated with the famous Greek general Cimon, who besieged Kition in 449 BC. e. In one of the battles, he was mortally wounded. Sensing the end, he ordered his soldiers to retreat so that the enemy would not know about his death. On this occasion, the ancient Greek historian Phanodemus wrote that the Athenians returned from the campaign led by Cimon, “30 days before that died.”
Streets of Larnaca in 1878
Despite the fact that the military confrontation between the Persians and the Greeks ended in victory for the latter, Cyprus remained under Persian rule. Then in 58 BC. e. the sunny island became part of the Roman Empire for four long centuries. The Romans gave the city a new name, already in their own way – Citium.
The beginning of our era was marked by the emergence of the Christian religion in these parts, and the city of Citium played a rather significant role in this. From ancient sources, we learn that Lazarus, who was friends with Christ himself, was forced to flee from Judea and moved to this city. A few years later, the Apostles Barnabas and Paul arrived in Cyprus and ordained the future saint to the rank of Bishop of Kitia.
Under the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Cyprus in 1571-1878, Larnaca meant much more to the island than later to the British who replaced the Turks. It was under the latter that Larnaca expanded significantly, becoming the largest seaport on the island. Moreover, under the Ottomans, it became the trade and diplomatic center of Cyprus. As for the British, they invested heavily in the development of Famagusta and Limassol. The former Kition lost their significance under them, turning into a provincial town.
However, history, as usual, has put everything in its place. When Turkish troops occupied Northern Cyprus in 1974, Famagusta ended up in the occupied territory. The fate of the international airport of Nicosia, divided into two parts, was also unenviable. It stopped working because it ended up in the UN buffer zone, which separated the conflicting parties. Thanks to these events (there is a silver lining?) Larnaca began to regain its former positions. A year later, a modern air harbor was built on the site of the old and abandoned city airport. The seaport, which has now become the second most important in the country, received a new impetus for development. And, of course, the tourist and resort potential of Larnaca began to unfold.
Climate and weather
The Mediterranean climate affects the local weather in the best way: twenty to thirty days are cloudy here every year.
If your goal is to spend a vacation on local beaches, then the best period to visit Larnaca is from May to October. True, in August, a rather sultry weather sets in, and in September-October it rains from time to time, which, however, does not particularly affect the mood and comfort of vacationers.
If you are planning to come to Larnaca from December to February, then do not forget to bring a sweatshirt and a light jacket with you. You will need them for your evening walks.
Spring comes into its own at the end of February and immediately begins a violent flowering of local vegetation, which continues until May. The beauty of nature in these months cannot be described in words, not to mention the fact that the rich smell of flowers can easily make your head spin. This time of year is great for excursions and walks in Larnaca. As one tourist wrote on a social network, “there is so much fresh air that you can breathe it for a year ahead and then you feel healthy even in a smog-stricken city.”
Local beaches stretch along the coast for as much as 25 kilometers. The sand on them is by no means snow-white, but gray, mixed with shell rock. At first, many tourists are saddened by this circumstance, but when they see that most of the beaches have a developed infrastructure and are kept in exemplary condition, they immediately change from anger to mercy. Moreover, almost all Larnaca beaches have been awarded the “Blue Flag” of the European Union. This award is an official confirmation that the ecology of the beach area, including seawater, is at the highest level. The beaches of Larnaca are equipped with changing cabins, sun loungers are given to vacationers. There are also opportunities for water sports. There are cafes and restaurants nearby, where, tired of sun and sea baths, you can eat deliciously, appreciating the island cuisine.
The largest beach in Larnaca is Dhekelia. Its coverage is very heterogeneous, sand alternates with pebbles, and in some places it expands and then narrows. Accordingly, in different parts of it, there is a different degree of grooming. The beach is actually the road from the resort to the British military base of the same name. All the main hotels in Larnaca are concentrated along the recreation area – it is not for nothing that this area is called a kind of “epicenter” of the entire hotel infrastructure of Cyprus. Apart from elite four- and five-star hotels, you can also find economy-class hotels here. Tourists who prefer active holidays can easily rent basketball, volleyball or mini-football courts.
Not far from Larnaca airport is Mackenzie Beach, which stretches for about a kilometer. The sand is soft here, vacationers can use the cabanas. Other amenities include sun loungers, umbrellas and toilets. Lifeguards are constantly on the beach, so if necessary, first aid will be provided to everyone in need. If you love water sports, then on Mackenzie you can devote your free time to windsurfing. As a “bonus”, vacationers get the opportunity to admire planes taking off or landing and, of course, take pictures of them with their gadgets from the most unusual angles.
The 500-meter Finikoudes Beach stretches along the coastal boulevard in the heart of Larnaca. It is closely adjacent to the famous palm-tree promenade, which provides additional advantages: resting by the coast is perfectly combined with a pleasant walk. After the promenade, you can relax in one of the taverns or in a restaurant – these establishments are literally lined up here, you can choose any that you like. By the way, next to the beach you will find the office of the local tourism organization (CTO), whose staff can ask any question. And you will also be given a map of tourist routes, various brochures, booklets and other educational literature specially published for tourists.
For fans of water sports, the Yanates beach is suitable. In the adjacent part of the sea, the water hides a rare beauty of reefs, which every diver can fully enjoy. In addition, this beach offers facilities for sports activities such as parasailing, windsurfing and water skiing. Along the perimeter of this recreation area, you will see many hotels – for every taste and budget.
And if you, on the contrary, prefer a quiet, calm and measured rest, then you have a direct road to Faros beach, located three kilometers southwest of Salt Lake. The already mentioned Larnaca airport is located, by the way, in the same area. On this beach, you are provided not only with a comfortable, but also a safe holiday thanks to the shallow water, including with small children. Passive pastime can be combined with active: there is a volleyball court. If you want to arrange a small excursion for yourself, you can visit the nearest village of Pervolia, which is only one and a half kilometers away.
Castella beach is also famous for its developed infrastructure, despite its small size (only 400 meters). It is located near the fishing village of Psarolimano. At a distance, as they say, at arm’s length there are fish taverns, minimarkets and shops with delicious refreshing ice cream, which is very useful on a hot day. The water here is clean and a large wave of tourists does not disturb. This whole idyll is located just 15 minutes walk from the center of Larnaca.
Larnaca is not only a resort town, but also one of the main tourist centers of Cyprus. It boasts a significant number of attractions, the acquaintance with which we begin with the Larnaca Castle, or the castle of Larnaca. This is a medieval Turkish fortress, which can be seen on the south side of Finikoudes Boulevard. Initially, this place was a fortress, founded in the XIV century by Europeans, in the era when the feudal Lusignan family ruled here. Later, when Cyprus was captured by the Ottoman Empire, the Turks rebuilt it in their own way and adapted it to guard the harbor. The British, who ousted the Ottomans in 1878, set up a police station and prison cells here. According to some reports, death sentences were even carried out here. After 1948, when law enforcement officers moved to a new building, a history museum was opened in Larnaca Castle. The collections include archaeological finds, weapons, pottery and household utensils. All these unique artifacts were brought to the surface during the excavations of ancient Kition. The observation deck of the museum offers a magnificent panorama of the city and the coast. In addition, various cultural events are often organized here, which will be interesting to every tourist.
Another Larnaca museum – archaeological – is located in the heart of the city. In his collection, moreover, in chronological order, there are many artifacts that are directly related to the historical past not only of the settlement itself, but also of the surrounding areas. As the name of the museum implies, all the exhibits presented here were mined by archaeologists. In one of the rooms, for example, objects from prehistoric times are collected, from the Neolithic era to the middle of the Bronze Age. You will be introduced to the development of the Larnaca region in the second half of the Bronze Age and in the Iron Age in the next room.
We have mentioned Kition more than once, but have not yet answered the question, what was it like, this ancient city? However, instead of us it will be done by … he himself, or rather, his excavations. Having visited their place, you can see the surviving fragments of the Phoenician temple dedicated to the goddess of fertility Astarte, fortifications and workshops for smelting copper ore. There are also several tombs, family tombs and a number of other ancient sites invaluable in terms of history, architecture and archeology. Where they were found, a kind of open-air museum was founded.
Once in Larnaca, you cannot ignore the Church of St. Lazarus. According to legend, it was built right over the tomb of the resurrected biblical character. It was he, as we said above, who was appointed in the 9th century by the apostles Paul and Barnabas as the first bishop of Kition. In the 70s of the last century, a fire broke out in the temple. When it was being restored after a riot of fire, a marble sarcophagus with the remains of an unknown person was discovered. Subsequently, it was recognized that these are the relics of Lazarus himself. One of the halls in the backyard of the religious building was taken as a museum. It features a collection of Byzantine icons, a collection of crosses and other church relics.
In the vicinity of the temple, there are Larnaca workshops, where curious tourists can watch the work of local craftsmen. Some make candles, others – earthenware and wooden products, and the third, fourth and fifth, respectively, paint icons, bake bread, photograph. For those who show interest in the secrets of their skills, the craftsmen will readily organize an impromptu master class, during which they will share their skills and abilities.
Another museum complex, it is called Mousio Theasis, is located in the heart of the resort. On its territory is the Byzantine Museum, where you will see images of various biblical scenes, from the creation of the world to the resurrection of Christ. The unique Owl Museum, which is also located here, will certainly be of interest to visitors. Of course, these birds of prey are not here, but their statues made from a variety of materials will be presented to the attention of visitors. There are a total of such statues – just imagine! – about 6 thousand copies. In addition, the museum hosts a variety of cultural events, concerts and exhibitions are organized, as well as master classes.
While walking in the City Garden, be sure to check out the Natural History Museum, housed in a small one-story building on its territory. He will certainly appeal to true connoisseurs of wildlife. The collection includes specimens of local animals, birds and reptiles, as well as shells, corals and even fossils. Here you can see a significant collection of endemic plants, as well as a courtyard recreated especially for visitors in a typical Cypriot style.
Not far from Larnaca airport is one of the most important shrines of the entire Muslim world – the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque. It was built on the shores of the Salt Lake right above the grave of Umm Haram, a woman from a very noble Arab family. The mosque is part of a large architectural ensemble, consisting of a mausoleum, a minaret, a monastery, a hotel where pilgrims stay, as well as service premises. Not far from the cult building are the ruins of an ancient settlement, which are also worth a visit.
Between Larnaca and Limassol, on the southern slopes of Troodos, lies one of the most famous villages of the island – Lefkara. It gained fame thanks to its inhabitants, who have been engaged in embroidery and lace weaving for many centuries. The products made by them have become so widely known not only on the island, but also far beyond its borders, that they even received their own name – “lefkaritika”. The originality of the weaving technique is that it combines traditional geometric patterns and Venetian techniques. In addition, the village has many ancient churches with Christian shrines. There are more than eighteen large and small churches in it.
At 39 kilometers from Larnaca, there is another attraction that you should not pass by – the Stavrovouni Monastery, founded in 327 by Empress Elena. The monastery has become a repository of priceless Christian relics: an ancient cypress cross with a silver frame contains a particle of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. The relic crowns the right side of the iconostasis of the Life-giving Cross, brought, as the old legend says, by St. Helena from Jerusalem. To what has been said, we add that the monastery is for men, which means that the fair sex is not allowed on its territory.
Recreation and entertainment
There are about a dozen diving centers in Larnaca, which is quite a lot for a small town. Divers have a unique opportunity to see with their own eyes the ocean freight ferry Zenobia, sunk four decades ago. During this time, it, having turned into a giant artificial reef, has become the main underwater attraction not only of this resort, but of the whole of Cyprus. In addition, the ferry has become a “hostel” for numerous underwater flora and fauna. It attracts divers with its holds and decks, where mainline trucks are located. The sunken tractors, resting in the water column, are literally mesmerizing with their appearance. Every year, about 45 thousand divers come to Larnaca to see this unforgettable sight.
The largest amusement park in Cyprus “Lucky Star” is located on the outskirts of Larnaca. Despite the not very large territory, everyone will find something to do in it. The park, in addition to adult and children’s karting and water activities, has about 30 attractions. Among them are roller coasters, the Trambolino rope trail, a children’s railway, swing roundabouts and antique cars moving along the monorail. There is also an indoor pavilion, where fans of football (there is a field for the game), billiards and even fans of slot machines come with pleasure. However, most of the tourists come here for go-karting. And this is despite the fact that its level is designed mainly for inexperienced beginners. For adult riders, there is a long and wide track, and for the younger generation, a training track, where you can ride cars and children’s motorcycles. And also in the park you can fight in “Sea Battle”. The game resembles karting, but with the difference that you will have to “fight” in special boats on the water.
Another entertainment park in Larnaca is Camel-park. In addition to a large number of playgrounds, a swimming pool and children’s attractions, there is a real camel farm here. Do not pass by the huge Bedouin tent, which can simultaneously accommodate up to 50 people. The original layout of Noah’s Ark, installed in the center of the entertainment complex, looks mesmerizing. In the vast paddock, broken around, you can see a variety of animals that seem to transport us to the time of the biblical Noah: a duck with little ducklings, donkeys, cats, turkeys, chickens and other representatives of the animal world, whom he saved from the flood.
The entertainment center Wow Action Park is also a real expanse for kids, where children 4-12 years old will find a lot of interesting and exciting fun – slide down the slides, jump on trampolines, try their hand at rock climbing or go through the game obstacle course. Parents at this time will not be bored either. While waiting for their children, they can look into the adjacent restaurant with a veranda, where they will be offered main courses and a wide selection of desserts and drinks. They can also watch TV or use the free access to the worldwide network.
Not far from the Leoforos Grigori Afxentiou promenade is the Larnaca City Park, which is a nice hideaway in the summer heat. There are many paths for both walking and cycling. There is also a recreation area equipped with gazebos and benches. Well, children, of course, will want to visit a small zoo located on its territory. This park houses the Dive In diving center, where experienced instructors give diving lessons. Experienced athletes will be immediately organized a trip to popular underwater attractions. By the way, boat trips in Larnaca are organized by the Larnaka Napa Sea Cruises center. Here you can not only book a promenade along the coast, but also a cruise for several days.
Experienced and amateur athletes are invited by the Larnaka Tennis Club. Everyone who wants to spend their time on its high-quality court is pleasant and useful. But fans of quiet hunting, that is, fishing, are invited to try their luck on the suburban waters, among which the most popular are such lakes as Aradippu, Achna Dam and Lympia Dam.
If your vacation falls at the end of January, do not miss the Orange Festival in Larnaca. This is quite an interesting event, accompanied by unforgettable entertainment. If you plan to relax at the resort in early summer, you have every chance to get to the Kataklysmos holiday, which is usually held in early June. Children especially like it, and above all with its main ritual – dousing with water. Mass festivities within the framework of the Cataclysm usually take place on local beaches. So stock up on some squirt and go to the coast!
Larnaca cuisine and restaurants
In Larnaca, as in any resort town, there are many gastronomic establishments, the menu of which will appeal not only to budget travelers, but also to the most discerning gourmets. Those who prefer simple home cooking will not go hungry either. One of the establishments that deserves attention is the Monte Carlo restaurant. It is located near the medieval fort and specializes in the preparation of Cypriot national cuisine. The fact that this establishment is popular with the local population confirms that they cook tasty, high-quality and serve at the highest level here.
But in the restaurant The Med Bar & Grill you can taste the most popular dishes of not only Cypriot, but also the cuisine of other nations of the world. The huge selection of treats that this establishment can delight you with complements the original design, pleasing to the eye and, as one tourist wrote in the reviews, “to increase appetite.”
Among the popular establishments in Larnaca, we also highlight Varashiotis Seafood – a restaurant offering visitors a large selection of dishes, of course, seafood. The fish is cooked here according to proven author’s recipes. A glass of excellent homemade wine, which can be ordered here, can be a good addition to your meal. In the evenings, especially in high season, the restaurant is often overcrowded, so if you want to relax here, then make sure to book a table in advance.
The most popular public transport in Larnaca is the bus. The cost of a ticket for the city and suburbs varies within 1.5 euros. The price for night flights is slightly higher: 2.5 euros. You can save a little on the trip if you buy a pass for the whole day. It will cost a passenger 5 EUR. A similar pass, but for the whole week, will cost 20 euros. Please be aware, however, that unlimited tickets do not apply to night routes.
You can, of course, take a taxi. However, this type of transport in the Cypriot resort is quite expensive. The average cost of the trip is 3.5 €, for luggage you will have to pay in the range of 1-1.5 euros, the cost of a kilometer of the way is 0.7 € and more. At night and on holidays, tariffs skyrocket by as much as 30-50%. Logically, every taxi should have a meter. But do not blindly trust the drivers, and see for yourself the correctness of his work and testimony.
Many vacationers in Larnaca can afford to rent a car. The idea, of course, is not a bad one. You ride around, explore the sights and the beach area, and at the same time do not depend on either the route or the schedule. Just do not forget that in Cyprus the traffic is left-hand. Any violations of traffic rules are punishable by severe fines under local law. Even such seemingly “little things” as an unfastened seat belt or chatter while driving on a mobile phone.
Communication and Internet
Once in a distant country, each of us, and this is quite natural, would like to stay in touch with our relatives. How can this be done in Larnaca? In principle, there is nothing complicated. Such mobile companies as PrimeTel, CYTA (Vodafone) and MTN offer their services to vacationers. The coverage area of each of them is approximately the same.
There is expensive mobile Internet in Cyprus. For some 500 megabytes, mobile operators are asking for as much as 15 euros. True, if you’re lucky, you will get on a profitable promotion, when for the named amount the user will be allocated as much as 1.5 gigabytes. Tariffs and offers change regularly, so the latest information about them is on the websites of these mobile operators.
Free Wi-Fi is already available at the local airport. Within the boundaries of Larnaca, there are special applications to help tourists find available connection points. Of course, you need to know the password, you can’t do without it. But open access is provided in many cafes and restaurants. Internet access in the category of shareware services is provided in a significant part of local hotels.
Hotels and Accommodation
The vast majority of hotels are located in the tourist area of the city. Travelers who are used to saving money are especially pleased that these are basically inexpensive apartments and hotels without a “star” status. Another advantage: many of them are located within walking distance from the sea, that is, on the first line.
During peak season, accommodation in a budget hotel in Larnaca costs at least 37 EUR, usually not exceeding 45 EUR per night. For 50-60 euros you can rent a room in a three-star hotel.
If you like to relax, as they say, with increased comfort, there is not much to choose from. There are not so many 4-5 star hotels in Larnaca, they can be counted on one hand. A standard room in hotels of this class costs from 130-140 euros. The “coolest” rooms and suites with all-inclusive service level will cost guests 430-540 euros.
This is the summer price tag. In winter, prices are much more democratic. So, the cost of budget accommodation during this period decreases to 19-30 €, accommodation in a three-star hotel will cost 38-40 €, and in a five-star hotel you can find a room for only 90 €. Well, if it is of principle for you to live in a suite, do not rely on a reduction in prices even in the off-season.
How to get there
Since Larnaca is located on an island, the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to get to this resort was and still is by plane. In the immediate vicinity of the city is Larnaca International Airport – the largest international airport in Cyprus.