In a country which is synonymous with mythology and historical sites – Larnaca can lay claim to being one of the oldest cities in Cyprus. This coastal resort can trace its origins back over 6,000 years with many nods to its past around the resort.
Today it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Cyprus thanks to its incredible coastline, vibrant atmosphere and some of the best diving spots Europe has to offer. It is a real blend of culture and charm with the ancient churches and monuments complimented with the modern day feel of the bars and restaurants dotted across Larnaca.
A delightful destination bathed in sunshine throughout the year, Larnaca is the place to discover on your next holiday.
A taste of history
Cyprus is a country characterised by its mythology and historical sites and Larnaca epitomises this. As one of the oldest parts of the island, Larnaca has remnants from as far back as the 13th century. There are reminders of the Mycenaean and Byzantine age when the rule of Cyprus was passed between conquerors such as the Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Romans and a host of others.
As its status as one of the most historical cities in Cyprus, Larnaca has a number of landmarks that are well worth a visit. The Choirokoitia Neolithic Settlement is a beautifully preserved pre-historic site which dates back to 7,000 BC. The settlement, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an unassuming farmhouse with evidence of how people lived thousands of years ago.
Another of Larnaca’s 13th century BC monuments is the Ancient Kition home to some of the city’s iconic temples. Among them is the Phoenician Temple of Astarte – believed to be the home of goddess Astarte. The Hala Sultan Tekke is thought to be one of the holiest Islamic places and is a regular pilgrimage site for Muslims. It also provides magnificent views over Larnaca’s Salt Lake, which is often populated with thousands of flamingos.
Alongside its mythical past, Larnaca is also a major hotspot for divers. The famous Wreck of the Zenobia is regularly ranked among the best diving spots in the world and is an absolute must for beginners and professionals alike. The ro-ro ferry capsized and sank close to Larnaca in 1980 and inadvertently became a diver’s dream with schools all over the city offering excursions to this unique site.
For those looking to simply relax, Larnaca boasts an amazing stretch of sandy shoreline. Spend your days soaking up the Mediterranean sunshine on the famous beaches of McKenzie, Alaminos, Castella or Ellinas to name just a few.
Alternatively, you can grab a bite to eat and watch the world go by at one of the excellent restaurants by the marina. In Larnaca, we can guarantee your 2017 Cyprus holiday goes off with a bang.
Why go to Larnaca?
Larnaca is that little something different you have been looking for in a holiday but still retains those old favourites - beautiful beaches, family-friendly resorts (as well as excellent spots for couples to chill out), a wealth of restaurants and bars and, of course, glorious weather. However, it’s impossible to resist exploring the unique culture and history that this corner of the Mediterranean has to offer.
With direct flights available from the UK to Larnaca, you could be experiencing this amazing place in no time at all.
A few short miles from Larnaca is the Choirokoitia Neolithic Settlement - a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site which can trace its history back to 7,000 BC. It is believed to be one of the earliest human settlements in Cyprus and visitors can wander around the walkways and peek into the homes of these pre-historic dwellers. The belongings of some of the Choirokoitia are housed at the Cyprus Museum in the capital of Nicosia.
Moving further out of Larnaca is an 11th century church said to be “built by angels”. Panagia Angeloktisti is set among the Kiti village close to the town of Perivolia and inside features an incredible mosaic depicting the classic ‘Madonna and Child’. The beautiful piece of artwork was only found in 1952 but historians believe that it was originally created in the 6th century.
It is not just historical sites Larnaca has to offer but also natural wonders. The city surrounds the magnificent Salt Lake which spreads over thousands of acres and, despite its seemingly inhospitable environment; it is home to a huge collection of flamingos. These colourful birds migrate here in their droves every year, creating a beautiful spectacle. The Salt Lake is also close to the holy site of Hala Sultan Tekke, a place of annual pilgrimage for Muslims.
High up above Larnaca, overlooking the bay below, is the Stavrovouni Monastery a Greek Orthodox Monastery dedicated to the Holy Cross. It is believed to have been founded by Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, in the 4th century. If this doesn’t take your fancy you can stroll around Larnaca’s yachting marina which has a number of cafes, bars and restaurants.
As a city which is understood to be the oldest in Cyprus, Larnaca’s attractions provide a nod to its rich history. While many holidaymakers come here to enjoy the beaches and warm waters of the Mediterranean there are so many places to explore where you can get an idea of the origins of this ancient city.
Larnaca has a host of diving schools running regular trips to this magnificent ship. Each company caters to everyone from professionals to beginners; making scuba diving an absolute must when you visit Larnaca.
This part of Cyprus is all about exploration. Grab your hiking boots and walk through the hills discovering forests, monasteries and take in magnificent views across the bay. If you want a real challenge you can walk the E4 trail which links Larnaca and Paphos – a route for the truly dedicated.
For a slightly alternative look at Cyprus, you can book a boat trip from the marina. Set sail around the beautiful coastline saying ‘ahoy’ to fellow seafarers and bask in the warm sunshine. You could really push the boat out and hire a yacht complete with full crew and sail around the entire country.
For many people coming to Larnaca there is one thing on their mind – visiting the Wreck of the Zenobia. The capsized ro-ro ferry is a legend in this corner of the Mediterranean and is among the best diving sites in the world. The Swedish vessel sunk on her maiden voyage in 1980 and has since become a hotspot for wreck divers.
Larnaca holidays will invariably include a day or two spent on Phinikoudes beach. Named after the small palm trees planted in 1922, the city centre beach has blossomed into one of the most popular on Cyprus’ southern coast. It is a beach with plenty to do from the range of watersports, volleyball and children’s play park to the shops, bars and restaurants lining the promenade towards the marina where tourists watch the world go by.
Despite its location, Phinikoudes remains a fairly low key affair so you don’t have to battle for sunbeds or the perfect spot to soak up the Mediterranean weather.
Further down the coast is McKenzie Beach, one of the best-known in Larnaca Bay. Located a short drive south of the city centre, McKenzie is a busy white sand stretch of shoreline perfect for couples and families alike. However, the main reason people come to this beach is for arguably the best diving site in Europe – the Wreck of the Zenobia. Classes are taken out daily to explore this incredible underwater sight and create an unforgettable holiday experience.
There are numerous beaches dotted around Larnaca making them ideal stop off points if you are exploring Cyprus by road. Castella Beach is close to a small yacht marina and blessed with calm waters; Alaminos Beach is a quiet resort and a favourite among surfers thanks to its livelier sea conditions; and Lenios Beach is great for relaxing in the sun.
Larnaca and its surrounding areas have all the beaches you could wish for.
As a resort which looks out on to the Mediterranean Sea it goes without saying that Larnaca is blessed with some incredible beaches. From the busy shores of the city centre to the quiet bliss of the secluded coves of the nearby villages – Larnaca offers some excellent chill out spots for every type of holidaymaker.
Situated in the heart of the city is Kira Giorgena Tavern, a classic Cypriot taverna serving a range of fish and meat dishes in traditional styles. Grab a classic sharing platter known as a meze (selection of hot and cold appetisers), try souvaki, tuck into kleftiko or enjoy a hearty stifado stew for a true Cypriot experience.
Try the varied menu at Ta Kalifouthkia Tavern which puts its own twist on classic dishes such as souvlakia burger combining two types of meat. Zephyros Beach Tavern has some of the most stunning views and best seafood menus in the entire city. You can sample the latest catch of the day while looking out on to the bustling Larnaca harbour.
Of course, if you’re looking for something a little different you can take your pick from the huge amount of international restaurants across the city. Enjoy classic Italian cuisine at Casa Mia, step into the award-winning Japanese restaurant Nippon Bistro, and sink your teeth into succulent beef at the elegant Hobos Steak House.
There is so much choice available, it makes every night a culinary adventure.
Larnaca offers a host of world food options with everything from Italian to American cuisine but you must try the range of delicious Cypriot food. The city boasts excellent restaurants where you can find exquisite local cuisine.
As the sun sets, Larnaca’s Finikoudes Promenade comes to life. Overlooking the popular beach there are a number of bars and clubs each with their own distinct vibe. The Meeting Pub is exactly as its name suggests and is a great place to have a quiet drink with friends at the start of your evening before heading out.
Beer aficionados will love The Brewery on the Finikoudes Promenade. Boasting a range of local and international brews and an exciting menu of Asian cuisine, it is a little treat you wouldn’t necessarily come to expect when visiting Cyprus. Sticking to the seafront and if you’re looking to kick start the evening then Club Deep is the place to be. World-renowned DJs pump out the very best chart, RnB, house and old school tracks every night of the week.
Heading towards the city centre (known as Laiki Geitovnia) there are more bars and clubs for you to choose from. If you’re looking for a clubbing holiday atmosphere then head to the Geometry Club – a trendy nightspot with a ceiling made from hundreds of crystal prisms. You can also kick back in The Agrino Pub on the Oroklini strip, the oldest pub in Larnaca, or the famous Skylight Pub with its nightly live music.
During the day you can relax in one of the many beach bars such as Ammos at McKenzie Beach which has an amazing cocktail list and a chilled out vibe. And you simply can’t leave Larnaca without visiting the legendary Seagull Bar, also on McKenzie Beach.
While it may not have the raucous reputation as Ayia Napa in the north of the country, Larnaca can hold its own when it comes to nightlife. Catering to every taste you can have a night to remember on Cyprus’ southern coast.
However, if you are looking for a more authentic Cypriot experience then Zenon Kitieos Street is the place to be. This is the main shopping area in Larnaca with stalls lining this busy street. Purchase anything from jewellery and clothing to souvenirs and groceries and don’t forget to stop by the bustling fruit and vegetable market.
Larnaca doesn’t scrimp when it comes to designer outlets either with the likes of Diesel, DKNY and Dolce and Gabanna all setting up shop across the city. You can also grab any essentials you’ve forgotten and maybe some presents for friends and family back home at Pissarides – the largest and relatively inexpensive department store in Larnaca.
Away from the souvenir shops of the seafront, Larnaca has a huge selection of shops and boutiques to indulge in a spot of retail therapy. You may double take when you see the famous Marks & Spencer sign but there are two of the British company’s outlets here offering that little bit of home comfort.