Larnaca, whose attractions annually attract millions of tourists – it’s not just a measured beach vacation and rare trips out of the hotel for excursions. You can take a fascinating trip to Cyprus on your own. You should start with a tour of the key points of the resort city. Then you can go to the outskirts of Larnaca, to the nearest towns and villages.
Main attractions in Larnaca
The most popular attractions in Larnaca are the fort and the medieval castle, the promenade with lots of entertainment, the marina, the church of St.. Lazarus and the aqueduct.
There is an interesting route for lovers of outdoor activities, as well as for those who prefer a cultural program.
Larnaca Medieval Castle and Fort
Larnaca Castle was built by the Byzantines to protect the southern coast of Cyprus and the port city from invaders and was used as a prison during the British colonial rule. When Cyprus gained its independence, Fort Larnaca became a museum and the courtyard housed an open-air theater.
In its present state the castle is of interest as an ancient architectural monument. Inside there is a collection of early Christian and Byzantine art from the 11th to 16th centuries. The eastern part of the castle contains tombstones from the 15th to 18th centuries and medieval artillery pieces.
The cargo ferry Zenobia sank in Larnaca Bay in 1980 on its maiden voyage to Syria. So that the huge ship did not interfere with other ships, it was towed 1.5 km from the shore, where it remains to this day. In calm weather, the silhouette of the ferry through the waters of the Mediterranean Sea can be seen even from an airplane.
The ship Zenobia is a popular location for divers. During the dives, you can see more than 100 trucks with cargo (beef with only bones left of it, LEGO toys, army equipment, building materials, etc.) carried by the ferry. You should not swim close to trucks that are secured on chains, as. The latter are gradually becoming less and less durable.
The inner compartments can only be viewed by trained divers. Advanced Open Water Diver certification and a minimum of 30 dives are required. Decompression dives (e.g., into the engine room or into the second hold through the vents) are allowed for divers of IANTD Advanced Nitrox / TDI Deco Procedures level.
The Ancient City of Kition
On the territory of Larnaca there are ruins of an ancient city-state. Since its founding in the thirteenth century, Kition has been permanently inhabited. The city is even mentioned in the Bible as Kitim. According to one version, the settlement on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea was founded by Noah’s great-grandson.
The archaeopark displays items of everyday life and worship used by the ancient Greeks, Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Assyrians. Ruins of tombs and stone tombs have been preserved.
There could have been many more, but many of the finds were removed from the island in the late 19th century. Some of them are in the British Museum in London, but most disappeared into private collections.
Church of St. Lazarus
The temple has been rebuilt several times, at various times being both a Benedictine monastery and a mosque, changing hands, while the remains of Lazarus have been preserved in its foundation all this time. It was not until the 1970s that they were discovered. Now the relics of St. John the Baptist were found. Lazarus is displayed for worship in the center of the temple.
The Church of St. Lazarus is open to visitors any day. On Sundays there are free guided tours in Russian. Women are allowed to enter the temple with their heads uncovered, but they must wear closed clothing (long skirts, sweaters with sleeves). The men should not be in shorts, but in pants.
Church of Agia Phaneromeni
The church of Agia Faneromeni was built in the twentieth century on the site of an ancient Byzantine temple. But it is not the architecture that attracts pilgrims, but the ancient tomb, dating from the 13th century B.C., carved in solid rock. This place was a secret refuge for Christians at a time when they were persecuted and persecuted. Later the cave was considered a shrine and became a place of pilgrimage.
Almost unattended by tourists, but an interesting museum located near the excavations of ancient Kition. The exposition includes 2 paired sarcophagi, dating from the VI-Vth century BC, with anthropomorphic lids, copies of the stele of Sargon and the statue of Artemis.
Most of the items now on display in the museum were found in ancient settlements founded before the period of navigation.
Based on excavations, scientists have found that Cyprus became an island after an earthquake, and before that it was adjacent to the territory of Syria.
Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque
The mosque was erected at the site of the death of Umm Haram, one of the disciples of the Prophet Muhammad. The architectural complex of Hala Sultan Tekke includes not only the mausoleum and mosque, but also a shelter for pilgrims, a cemetery and the “Pasha’s Garden” with fountains. Nearby you can see the ruins of a large ancient Greek settlement and admire the salt lake.
The Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque is now inactive (services are held only twice a year, on major holidays), but as a historical and architectural monument the complex is open all year round. You have to take your shoes off when you enter it. Women should have their knees, shoulders, and head covered. If the clothes are not suitable for visiting the mosque, you can take a free scarf or a long loose skirt at the entrance.
The Aphrodite Trail and Salt Lake
The Aphrodite Trail is a 4 km long nature trail, most of which runs along the shores of the Salt Lake. In the middle of the trail is an observation deck where you can rest and take beautiful pictures, and at the end of the trail is a picturesque old aqueduct. The trail is part of the long “Aphrodite’s Way” hiking route.
Salt Lake is the main natural attraction that tourists can observe along the way. In winter, the reservoir is filled with water, and on the shore you can see pink flamingos, black swans, herons. In summer, the lake dries up completely, leaving only a thick crust of salt on the surface. Walking on the lake should be careful: under the layer of salt there is still silt, which can fall through.
The Kyriazis Medical Museum in Larnaca is located in an old mansion. A large part of the exhibit is the private collection of Marios Kyriazis, a fourth-generation MD.
A few interesting exhibits:
- original vials in which the monks mixed medicinal herbs and recipes;
- a trainer for developing arm muscles, used in physiotherapy at the end of the 19th century;
- phallic-shaped objects, which in ancient times were used to treat “female hysteria;
- oil that was extracted from the Salt Lake in Larnaca and used to treat wounds;
- tonsil extractor, ultrasound machine, and other medical supplies from the Victorian era.
The hydraulic structure is more than 10.5 km long and connects modern Larnaca with what it was more than 200 years ago. Tourists are amazed by the elegance and engineering precision of the construction. In the evenings the aqueduct is illuminated, which makes it even more impressive.
What you can see on your own in Larnaca
Most of the local attractions can be visited on their own. Tourists enjoy strolling along the promenade and city park, relaxing on the beaches.
Those interested in Cyprus’ historical past explore the collections of museums, and believers visit religious shrines.
On one side of a kilometer-long landscaped embankment stretches beaches with fine dark sand, on the other side of a busy road, and along the way you can meet the sights.
Finikudes starts from Europe Square and ends with Larnaca Fort. Not far from it there is a port, where tourists are offered boat trips. About halfway down the road on the city side you will see the church tower, the Church of St. Lazarus.
In the center of Larnaca is the Mouseio Theasis complex, which includes the Museum of Owls, the Byzantine Museum. The first exhibits a private collection of more than 6,000 owls made of various materials. The Byzantine Museum displays paintings depicting the period from the creation of the world to the resurrection of Christ. The Mouseio Theasis also hosts temporary exhibitions, cultural events, and workshops.
Church of Panagia Chrysopolitissa
The ruins of a medieval Christian church were discovered during excavations conducted in the mid-20th century. After the restoration work was completed, the ancient monument was opened to the public. Tourists can stroll under the arched vaults, view the mosaics with runes and touch the shrines. For convenience, there are special footbridges over the ruins.
Local municipal park
The park is located at the intersection of Afxentiou, Kiouppis and Pierides streets. Its territory is landscaped: there are pedestrian and bicycle paths, benches, playgrounds. In the park is a theater, the city library and the Museum of Natural History, whose collection includes a collection of antique tableware, statues and paintings, local flora and fauna.
Art Gallery and Europe Square
The Museum of Modern Art is located on Europe Square, next to the monument to the philosopher Zeno. The collection is small and includes paintings by local artists and sculptures. It will be of interest to those who are interested in the history and culture of Cyprus.
The second most popular beach in Larnaca after Finicudes has a long coastline and a gentle entrance to the sea. The sand here is of volcanic origin. It looks unaesthetic, but thanks to the minerals it contains, it has a health-promoting effect.
Every 10-20 minutes planes fly over the beach at low altitude, heading to Larnaca International Airport. Tourists admire this spectacle and take spectacular photos.
In the port of Larnaca will be interesting even for those who are not going on the high seas. It is enough just to stroll along the lively promenade and listen to the speech in different languages of the world, breathe the salty sea air and take pictures against the background of snow-white yachts. It is worth trying the seafood dishes in the coastal cafes. If after a lunch break you want more active entertainment than hiking, the piers offer tourists octopus fishing and diving.
Interesting places around Larnaca for independent visits
Larnaca is visited by most tourists vacationing in Cyprus. Those who have already had time to see all the local attractions, it is worth going out of town. For example, near Larnaca there is a traditional village of Pirga and Stavrovouni Church – the oldest monastery in Cyprus, the archaeological sites of Tenta and Choirokoitia. And for those who want to have fun, you should go to Ayia Napa with its vibrant nightlife and a large water park.
It is more convenient to travel in Cyprus by car. You can rent a vehicle at the offices of MRC, EuroCar, RentalCars, DiscoverCars, LCH. Book a car in advance.
The best car routes that start from Larnaca:
- Journey through the colorful Cypriot villages (such as Pano Lefkara, Lasagna, Fikardou, Agros, Pedoulas) through the Troodos Mountains. Along the route is the highest point of Cyprus – Mount Olympus. It is not possible to climb to the top (there are military base radars), but you can make a stop at the beautiful Caledonian waterfall. The end point is Limassol.
- A trip to Northern Cyprus. The Turkish part of Cyprus is different from the Greek part. In 1 day you can see only the nearest to the border settlements. If you have time, it is worth driving to the Cape of St. Andrew, stopping in the cities for overnight stays.
- The route along the beaches of South Cyprus. Most tourists come to Cyprus for a relaxing beach holiday. The best beaches are concentrated in the resort of Ayia Napa, which is an hour’s drive from Larnaca, and not far from it. On the way along the coast you can relax on the secluded Faros beach, walk along the shore of quaint Sandy Bay and near the caves in Konnos Bay.
Where to go with a child in Larnaca
Larnaca is suitable for families with children. There is something to do at the resort for parents with toddlers, school-age children and teenagers.
The best places for entertainment:
- Lucky Star Park;
- Wow Action Park;
- Underwater World Park, which teaches diving to visitors over the age of 8;
- windsurf-kite station “Vulcan”.
Children of all ages will be interested to visit the camel safari, create their own masterpiece in the pottery workshop, watch the mooring of snow-white yachts.
It is worth setting aside a whole day to visit a family outdoor activity park. Camel Park has many attractions for children, there are green areas for walking, a contact zoo, swimming pools.
The main attraction is the camel safari. Animals are used to the attention of people, so they behave quietly. You can hand feed them with carob fruit and pet them. For younger visitors there is a safer attraction – riding ponies and donkeys.
In the Noah’s Ark mini zoo, visitors can watch ostriches, kangaroos, llamas, deer, birds, and sea turtles. Nearby is a small historical exhibition about the life and culture of the ancient inhabitants of Cyprus.
On hot days, visitors are attracted by the entertainment complex with swimming pools – a large swimming pool for adults and a frog pool for children. Around them are placed sun loungers with umbrellas, swings, slides and trampolines. Rest in the water area can be included in the ticket price or paid separately.
In a small pottery workshop you can observe the potter’s work, buy handmade items and even create a masterpiece yourself under the responsive guidance of the owner of the shop. It’s best to come to Emira Pottery early in your vacation so that your cup or jug has time to be fired in the right conditions. You can take a slightly damp product and finish drying it at home.
Wow Action Park
For a visit to the amusement park Wow Action should be allocated at least 2-3 hours. Here pre-schoolers and primary school children can get enough of slides and swings, wander the mazes, jump on trampolines. Animators keep an eye on the little visitors, so parents can relax in the cafe. The menu includes several salads, light snacks, non-alcoholic cocktails, yogurts, tea and coffee.
Entertainment in Larnaca
The beaches of the resort have long been centers of active recreation. Tourists are not only sunbathing, but also windsurfing, diving, flying on paragliders, take walks on the sea. Along the coast, there are many sports fields and play areas for children. In the evening there are nightclubs, open-air festivals and concerts.
Cherry Beach Bar
The Mackenzie Beach Bar offers refreshing cocktails and light snacks during the day, and acts as a nightclub at night. Cherry Beach Bar features DJs and local musicians.
Earth Spa Wellness Center
At the spa in Larnaca you can sign up for a full body wellness massage, bamboo stick massage, individual and group pilates, visit the hammam, enjoy soothing organic tea.
There are special packages for couples, groups of friends, etc.
In Larnaca, near the Kamares Aqueduct and the K Cineplex movie theater, there is one of the largest supermarkets in Cyprus. The area of the store is 4 square kilometers. The hypermarket has a huge selection of food and everyday products.
Apothiki 79 Gallery Bar
It is a colorful cafe, art gallery and library. This art space hosts film screenings, exhibitions, literary evenings and other cultural events, but mostly in Greek. Tourists can drink coffee or taste the local wine in an interesting setting.
Excursions and their prices in Larnaca
Most sightseeing tours of Larnaca and the surrounding area last 4-6 hours. There are longer day trips to the mountains, picturesque Cypriot villages and the holy places of the coast of Cyprus. The cost of tours – from 35 to 160 euros. You can book a ticket on the aggregator sites, tour operators. Locals offer tours right on the waterfront and at the hotels.