What to see in Cyprus
Tourist attractions Larnaca
On the southern coast of Cyprus sits Larnaca, one of the most popular travel destinations on the island. Offering an irresistible combination of sun-drenched beaches, local culture and historic sights, a vacation to Larnaca is the perfect chance to experience the natural beauty and diversity of Cyprus. Home to the island’s largest airport, this port city is usually the first stop for vacationers in search of a laid-back escape. It’s also within easy reach of the lively nightlife of Ayia Napa as well as a smorgasbord of fascinating Greek, Roman and Byzantine-era ruins and monuments. Founded over 3000 years ago, Larnaca was settled by the Myceneans, Phonecians, Venetians and Ottomans over the following centuries, changing its name countless times and experiencing an ebb and flow of prosperity and relative desertion throughout its history.
Of course, a trip to Larnaca is sure to centre around the region's beautiful Blue Flag beaches, of which there are many to choose from. Despite being the third-largest city in the country, exceptional natural beauty is always within easy reach if you travel to Larnaca. From its enormous Salt Lake to the wild forests of Rizoeliás, there are plenty of opportunities to escape into nature if that’s your thing. Leoforos Athinon is the main artery of Larnaca, connecting the marina in the north with the medieval fort in the south along the seafront. It’s here you’ll find a concentration of hotels, restaurants and bars, with more than enough choice to keep you satisfied every evening during your trip. Inland, you’ll find a number of interesting museums, plenty of shops and the more urban face of modern Larnaca.
As one of the largest cities in Cyprus, you’ll find everything you need if you choose a vacation in Larnaca. This part of the island enjoys year-round sunshine, with mild and relatively dry winters, so any time of year is the best time to travel to Larnaca, although late spring and early autumn are ideal for beach-lovers.
Things to do in Larnaca
Whilst it might be tempting to spend your stay in Larnaca perched on the beach with a good book, there are a few sights that will coax even the most devout sun worshippers from their loungers! One such sight is Agios Lazaros Cathedral, one of the best things to see in Larnaca. This 9th-century church has served as a landmark in the city throughout its turbulent and complex history. Many civilizations have left their mark on this important building, and its facade is evidence of Byzantine, Gothic, Baroque and Rococo influences. The interior is sumptuous and Greek Orthodox in style and the Cathedral is said to be the final resting place of St. Lazarus.
For a deeper dive into the history of Larnaca, head to the northern part of the city. Here, you’ll find the site of the ancient city of Kition, which dates back to the Bronze Age. This was the centre of the city which pre-dated modern-day Larnaca and is a fascinating visit for anyone with an interest in this period of history. Although much of the ruins are no longer fully intact, what does remain is well preserved and explained in enough detail to get a picture of the civilizations that once thrived here.
To get a feel for the cultures of Larnaca, be sure to pay a visit to the old neighbourhood of Skala, located just south of the medieval fort on the waterfront. Home to an array of craft shops and traditional eateries, this is one of the most charming parts of the city and is the best place to go for authentic Turkish cuisine away from the tourist hot spots. Home to whitewashed buildings with characteristic blue shutters, it's the picture-postcard image of Mediterranean life and a must-visit if you take a trip to Larnaca!
If you’re staying in Larnaca for more than a few days, be sure to stretch your legs with a walk to the famous salt lake. If you make it to the far side of the lake, you’ll encounter the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque, one of the most important Muslim sites in Cyprus. Surrounded by cypress trees and boasting a beautiful situation on the banks of the salt lake, this traditional mosque is home to the tomb of Umm Haram, said to be one of the earliest followers of the Prophet Mohammed. It continues to serve as a place of active worship today and is a reminder of the rich spiritual heritage of Cyprus.
If you’re into more active pursuits, there are plenty of watersports to choose from if you travel to Larnaca. But, scuba diving enthusiasts are in for a real treat! Just off the coast of Larnaca city lies the haunting shipwreck of MS Zenobia, which sunk here during her maiden voyage in 1980. Considered one of the top wreck-diving sites in the world, guided diving excursions are easy to arrange, with different routes depending on your level of diving experience. Alternatively, boat cruises also visit the site of the wreck.