With a stunning location overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the Cypriot town of Larnaca is one of the top seaside destinations in southern Europe. As the third largest city in Cyprus, Larnaca offers a diverse and delightful leisure and entertainment offer that suits all traveller types, from families with young children to couples on a romantic getaway or anyone looking to escape the daily grind. Don't miss this chance to experience something different on your next holiday!
Like most of Cyprus, Larnaca is stepped in history. Greeks, Phoenicians and Persians inhabited the city at different points in time, and many traces of their culture, history and architecture are still visible today. Churches, shrines, fortresses and archaeological remains exist side by side with fancy hotels and restaurants, and strolling through the charming alleys of the Old Town will make visitors feel as if they had stepped back in time, only to find themselves back in a modern and thriving seaside town once they approach the glitzy waterfront.
Despite being home to the country's largest airport and being considered the gateway to Cyprus, visitors often head straight for beach resorts and skip Larnaca altogether, which means that the city is something of a hidden gem and remains largely undiscovered by many tourists. However, those who decide to spend some time exploring the city are rewarded with excellent infrastructure and first-class leisure and entertainment on offer.
Once in the city, there is never a shortage of things to see and do. Larnaca is renowned for its mild weather and is a top winter-sun destination, being home to several Blue Flag beaches that are ideal for swimming, practising water sports or simply relaxing with a good book and a side of mezes. The seaside promenade goes on for miles, joining the charming fishing harbour with the flashy marina and offering plenty of opportunities to sample local and international cuisine at the many bars and restaurants that line the waterfront. Culture lovers will enjoy exploring the city's museums, which cover everything from natural history to Byzantine and medieval treasures. Last but not least, the city has a busy calendar of events whose key highlights are the dazzling Carnival Parades and the wonderful display of colours during the Flower Festival.
Things to do
Picture-perfect beaches, traditional architecture, plenty of places to wine and dine and an exciting nightlife are some of the things that travellers can expect to encounter during a holiday in Larnaca.
A typical walking tour of the Old Town would include a visit to the medieval castle, St Lazarus Church, and the ruins of ancient Kition before continuing with a stop at the pottery and glassware museum at Pierides Foundation. Visitors can then continue with a leisurely walk along Finikoudes Promenade, the Marina and the pier. Boat and fishing trips can be organised at the Marina itself or via the tourist information office -- they are tons of fun and offer great views of the city and the bay.
For Beach Lovers
Sun seekers and beach lovers are in luck: Larnaca and the surrounding areas are home to some of the best beaches on the southern coast of Cyprus. McKenzie and Finikoudes are the most popular city beaches due to their proximity to the town centre, their Blue Flag status and the wide range of amenities and services available. Further east and near the fishing harbour is Kastela, another Blue Flag and family-friendly beach that is usually less crowded and quieter even during the summer months.
Wining and Dining
Gastronomy is an important part of Cypriot culture, so finding a place to eat out will never be a problem. Visitors can choose to dine at traditional tavernas serving Mediterranean dishes (with To Kazani and Siedariko being among the best restaurants in Larnaca), sample a Middle Eastern-inspired meze dinner at restaurants like Maqam al Sultan or Cafe Aman or enjoy an alfresco meal at one of the many seafood and fish taverns located along the waterfront.
Sports and Nature
The city's seaside location is perfect for water sports enthusiasts and holidaymakers looking to keep fit and active. The outdoor activities available suit all adrenaline levels and include kite surfing, windsurfing, SUP, jet skiing and wakeboarding as well as more mellow options like renting a pedalo boat or canoeing. The Zenobia shipwreck is a must-see for divers, whereas the Salt Lake offers an opportunity to get close to nature without having to travel far and is the perfect setting for a sunset walk.
Exploring the Local Nightlife
The waterfront is a prime clubbing spot, as this area is home to famous nightlife venues like Geometry or Club Deep. Those who prefer a quiet night out will be spoilt for choice with the dozens of cocktail bars, Irish pubs, wine bars and trendy cafes located along Ermou street and towards McKenzie beach. The city is also home to a few select live music venues (that play everything from traditional Greek and Cypriot tunes to modern pop, rock and blues songs) such as Mousikes Diadromes or more intimate spaces like Mohito Live located a 10-minute walk from the waterfront.
Calendar of events
This Cypriot town has a busy calendar of special events pretty much all year round. Below we have listed four celebrations that are particularly interesting for holidaymakers.
- Carnival. The Carnival is one of the biggest and most eagerly awaited events in this Cypriot town. Usually held in March, this celebration consists of street parades, religious processions and fancy-dress parties. Visitors are always welcome to join the crowds and partake in the festive spirit of this event.
- Flower Festival. Also known as Anthestiria, this event celebrates the arrival of spring and the symbolic rebirth of Nature, and it traditionally takes place in May. During the festival, the promenade along Finikoudes beach fills itself with eye-catching flower parades, live music and folk dancing.
- The Flood Festival. The Flood Festival (known as Kataklismos in Greek) is a unique celebration that is only held in Cyprus. The festival has religious origins and is centred around water-based activities such as swimming, kayaking and windsurfing competitions. For a few days in late May and early June, the waterfront area becomes a hub of cultural and leisure activities with daily concerts and traditional food and craft vendors.
- Larnaca Summer Festival. This event takes place every year during the month of July, filling the streets with live music, theatre, poetry readings, open-air movie screenings and other art performances. The festival is celebrated in several venues across the city, including the amphitheatre and the medieval castle.