Arguably one of the most underrated cities in Cyprus; Limassol is a haven of culture and unique character. Second only to the capital Nicosia in terms of size, it is all about exploration in this coastal city.
A city known for its intriguing past as much as its modern day prosperity, it is a place of refreshing contrasts. Weave through the winding cobbled streets of the Old Town with its abundance of shuttered houses and quaint boutiques or wander down to the fashionable marina area to catch a glimpse of Limassol in the 21st century.
Unlike other popular destinations in Cyprus, Limassol offers a much more cosmopolitan vibe. It offers that city break atmosphere but is also complimented with a host of glorious beaches. Whether you feel like just enjoying a couple of days or staying a little bit longer, you can find the holiday you want here.
There is so much to discover in Limassol.
Yesteryear meets modern day
Limassol’s growth as a tourist destination in the past 30 years has seen it become a city transformed. Basking in the magnificent backdrop of the Troodos Mountains it is a place that manages to combine the traditional with modern day effortlessly. From designer shops and cocktail bars to castles and medieval architecture – Limassol is a one of a kind destination.
The city is wrapped around Limassol Castle; a relic from the reign of the Ottoman Empire. While it is believed to date back to the 4th-7th century it was demolished by the Ottomans in 1567 only to be rebuilt in 1590. It is also believed to be where Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria of Navarre in 1191 before crowning her the Queen of England.
Limassol Castle forms part of the old town and this bustling hub is a meeting point for holidaymakers and locals alike. Take in the atmosphere of the Municipal Market with stalls selling everything from fruit and vegetables, clothing and spices. The old town follows down to the former fishing harbour which has been transformed into the trendier parts of the city.
The fashionable marina area is a playground for the rich and famous. A wealth of high end shops and fine dining restaurants populate the area while the multitude of super yachts slowly floats into shore. Here you’ll find luxury hotels and spacious villas with incredible views of the Mediterranean Sea, a real treat for anyone looking to push the boat out.
If that wasn’t enough, Limassol has the longest coastline of all the Cypriot cities. The majority of beaches are just a short walk from the city centre and range from the relaxed coves of Flo Cafe Beach to the popular spots of Governor’s Beach. Each has its own charm and provides the perfect place to relax.
Why go to Limassol?
Limassol is one of the most interesting cities in Cyprus. It offers something a little different compared to its near neighbours. It is not just a beach break destination and it is not just a place to enjoy a long weekend exploring a city. Wander around discovering the history of this incredible place and then treat yourself to a meal at the ultra modern marina – in Limassol you can have the best of both worlds.
The city is accessible via Larnaca International Airport with transfers taking around 45 minutes. There are regular flights from the UK to Larnaca meaning you can start your Limassol adventure after a short coach ride.
There is no better place to start when exploring Limassol than with its numerous historical sites. The main focus is the unassuming Castle of Limassol and while it may be slightly understated in stature, it has a prominent place in the history of the city. While there are disputes as to how long the castle has been here, reports point to 1228 when Frederick the Second of Germany used to house prisoners here.
The original structure was demolished by members of the Ottoman Empire in 1567 only to rebuild it in 1590. Visitors can take a tour of the iconic building, learning about all the legends including Richard the Lionheart marrying Berengaria of Navarre in 1191 before he crowned her the Queen of England.
A little to the east of Limassol is another of Cyprus’ important historical sites – Amathus. Known as one of the most ancient royal cities the country has to offer, it is believed to be one of the resting points for the cult of Aphrodite.
While this archaeological site is not as well preserved as neighbouring Kourion, it plays a major role in Greek and Cypriot mythology. Be sure to visit the Temple of Aphrodite and the tombs which can be traced back to the Graeco-Phoenician period of the Iron Age.
Speaking of Kourion, hidden away in the small town of Episkopi, a short drive from Limassol it is arguably the most famous attractions in Cyprus. Kourion was a major ancient city in the Kingdom of Cyprus being occupied between 4500-3800 BCE and even today it has remained beautifully preserved.
This designated UNESCO World Heritage Site provides magnificent views over the Mediterranean and also holds regular concerts in its amazing open-air theatre. Don’t forget to check out the Nymphaeum, the Fountain House and the House of the Gladiators.
If you’re looking for something a little different from historical sites and don’t fancy marinas then why not visit Limassol Zoo? With over 300 types of animals including lions, bears, tigers, monkeys, birds of prey and everything in between, there is plenty to see and do making it the perfect family attraction.
Limassol is proud of its history and, while it may be a poignant sign of the changing face of Cyprus, there are reminders of the city’s creation at every turn. The contrast between the old and new is stark with the popular Old Town, a hive of shuttered houses and market stalls; while the nearby ultra chic marina is filled with luxury yachts, wine bars and coffee shops.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to Limassol without checking out the marina. This once quiet fishing harbour has been transformed into the cosmopolitan front of the city with a host of trendy bars, restaurants and cafes. However, from here you can get involved with a multitude of watersports such as water-skiing, windsurfing and scuba diving. There are also a host of cruises that depart from here travelling around the rest of Cyprus.
Like its neighbour Greece, Cyprus is mad about football and Limassol has three clubs which call the city home – AEL Limassol, Aris Limassol FC and Apollon FC. AEL are the most successful with 6 league titles to their name while Apollon FC have also won Cyprus’ top division 3 times.
All teams play at the Tsirion Stadium in the heart of the city, purchase a ticket and experience a matchday experience unlike any other you’ll find in Europe.
Whether you are on a family holiday or a couples’ retreat, there are plenty of things to do while staying in Limassol. Cool off in the heat of the day by taking a trip to the city’s best-loved attraction – Fasouri Watermania. This popular waterpark is perfect for all ages with dedicated children’s areas such as Paddle Boats and the Elephant Slide to exhilarating rides such as Black Holes Extreme and Probowl.
Take a little venture to the east of the city and you’ll find Governor’s Beach, a sunkissed spot named after a former British governor who spent his time sunbathing here. Accessible via a shuttle bus from the centre of Limassol, it is a really popular place during the height of summer. Lie back and soak up some rays and later on stop by the quaint villages such as Pentakomo.
Speaking of beaches having links to former governors, Lady’s Mile Beach located south of Limassol takes its name after a governor’s horse which would regularly gallop up this 7 kilometre stretch of shoreline. The mare is long gone but what remains is a chilled-out beach perfect for walks and paddling in the Mediterranean, there is also a collection of cafes, bars and restaurants to help you relax.
If you want something a little different then do as the locals do and head to Button Beach. It may seem like you’re at a normal beach, but it has somewhat of an interesting history. It sits next to a lake and the oddly named Holy Monastery of St Nicholas of the Cats built in 327 AD. This peculiar title originates from the monastery breeding cats to rid the area of snakes. Don’t worry, the cats did their job and the beach is snake-free.
Opt for something little quieter in the west of Limassol with Melanda Beach, a relaxed cove with calm waters lapping up on the shore. Alternatively, there is Avdimou Beach another chilled out option for couples and families alike.
In a country which is blessed with an amazing coastline, it is actually Limassol that can claim to have the long stretch of sandy shores. If you’re looking for a day at the beach, you certainly won’t be disappointed with the golden sands which Limassol has to offer. From the popular tourist hotspots to secluded coves – this corner of Cyprus has it all.
If you’re looking to try Cypriot food for the first time then there is no better option than a meze. At Meze Taverna Restuatant on Agiou Andreou 209 you can try a little bit of everything. Try recipes that have been passed from generation to generation; from fish caught fresh to succulent meat and veggie dishes.
Anotera Tavern on June 16th 1943 Street is one of Limassol’s most popular Cypriot restaurants. This family run establishment has all the local cuisine you could imagine complimented, of course, with delicious Cypriot wine. Other favourites include Itilo (12 Amarthundos Street), Shiambelos Restaurant (1 Yialousas Street) and Ousia (24 Irenes Street & Jamiou Street).
Away from the traditional food, Limassol has some excellent international restaurants. Head to Al Borgo Pizzeria on E. Palikaridis 5 and tuck into their unique take on the classic pizza. Blending influences from Italy and Cyprus, they have managed to make some truly innovative creations. Another favourite among Italian food lovers is Restaurant Vivaldi at the Four Seasons Hotel. From its chic decor to its extensive menu this place simply oozes class.
Try delicious Asian dishes at Moon’s Vietnamese Kitchen at Pissouri Village where the chefs can even teach you how to prepare this scrumptious fare. You can also tuck into decadent French cuisines at La Maison Fleurie (18 Christaki Kranou Street) – the very best you’ll find in Limassol.
Variety is the spice of life when it comes to cuisine in Limassol. The city has a huge range of restaurants, cafes and bars serving everything from traditional Cypriot fare, to international specialities. There is one thing for certain when you arrive in Limassol – you won’t be stuck for options at meal times.
Reserve a table at Marina Beach Bar, one of the most exclusive bars in the area, and enjoy cocktails on the lawn and its own private beach. You can also tuck into dishes from its menu and experience its unique dining service.
As night falls, head to the achingly cool Marina Roof Bar and grab a couple of drinks as you watch the sunset over the horizon. If you really want to push the boat out then The Yacht Club is the utmost in elegance and ambience with unparalleled food options and a wine list to die for.
If you’re looking for something a little less informal then head along the seafront and you’ll find numerous pubs and bars. Woodman Sports Pub & Restaurant is a favourite among British holidaymakers for its welcoming atmosphere and live sport throughout the day while Welcome Inn Irish Bar is a great place to start every evening.
One of the most popular haunts for tourists and locals alike is Rumours Bar. Playing all the very latest chart music, it is ideal if you’re planning a big night out or just a few quiet drinks. Other hotspots include Gioia Bar, a must if you love RnB and House music, or Waves Beach Bar, one of Limassol’s more upmarket establishments.
For those not wanting the night to end, they can head to one of Limassol’s many clubs. Basement is dedicated to RnB and dance, while The Auld Triangle Disco has everything from 60’s classic to modern day hits and Sesto Senso provides something for everyone.
However, if you want something completely different, but in-keeping with the region, head to Replay and experience a nightclub with nothing for Greek music – it’s like no other night you’ve ever experienced.
A city as cosmopolitan as Limassol it is no surprise that it can boast a thriving nightlife. If you’re looking for an evening with a touch of class then the marina is the place to be. Here you’ll find a range of restaurants, cafes and bars all complimented with a pleasant atmosphere and a great view over the harbour.
Splash the cash with a visit to Oro Vitchenza – one of the finest jewellery shops in Cyprus. Take your pick from handcrafted watches and other jewellery giving yourself, or a loved one, a cherished memento of your time in Limassol. If you’re somewhere a little more affordable then Mythos Bead Shop has a huge range of jewellery and handicraft which make for delightful souvenirs.
There are also a host of household names across the city with Debenhams and Carrefour having outlets here while Jumbo is Cyprus’ version of Toys R Us. However, if you want an authentic slice of day-to-day shopping in Limassol then head to the one of the many markets held across the city during the week.
There is a farmer’s market held every Saturday on Panagioti Diomidous Street while the Limassol Municipal Market in the Old Town has been going since 1917 and is an absolute must for anyone visiting the city. You can find everything from fruit and vegetables to handmade gifts here.
Walk from the old town to the stylish marina area and at every turn you’ll find a charming boutique here, a market stall there, Limassol is a haven for anyone looking for a spot of holiday retail therapy. The main shopping areas are around Markarious III Ave, Anexartisias and Agiou Andreou streets ranging from well-known department stores to souvenir shops.