Larnaca is one of the main tourist centers in Cyprus. A lot of important landmarks are located here: the town of ancient Kition, the Church of Saint Lazarus and the Larnaca castle are only few of them. City cultural scene is also exciting and full of exhibitions, concerts and other events. What else to do in Larnaca? You can visit the Owl Museum, famous Lefkara village or the horse farm, take a look at one of the oldest olive trees on the island or enjoy summer vacation on one of the 7 city beaches.
Larnaca is the third largest city in Cyprus after Nicosia and Limassol. In ancient times this area in the south-east part of the island was called Kition, the town that was founded, as the legend puts it, by Noah's grandson. Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism, was born here.
Since the 9th century BC Kition belonged to the Phoenicians, and in 333 BC it became a part of the Macedonian Empire. In 312 BC the city was given to Ptolemies, and later – to Romans. After the Kingdom of Cyprus had been announced by Crusaders, Kition was renamed as Alikes (which means «salty lakes»). In 1570 Alikes was occupied by the Ottoman Empire.
The modern name of the city, Larnaca, probably refers to the great number of ancient sarcophagus («larnaces» in Greek) discovered here during the archaeological excavations.
The Larnaca Castle is a Medieval Ottoman fortress, located in the south of Finikoudes promenade. The castle was founded by Europeans in the 14th century, when Lusignans were running the country, and later rebuilt by Turks, who used it to protect the city harbor.
After Britain had come to power in 1878 and up to 1948 the castle was used as a police office and a jail, where death penalties were enforced. When the police office opened on the other side of the street, the castle finally became a historical museum, where archaeological finds, arms and household items discovered during the archaeological excavations of Kition, are exhibited. Various cultural events are held at the castle today. There is also an observation deck overlooking the city on the top of the castle. Entrance fee is charged by the museum. It is open from Monday through Friday.
The Larnaka District Archeological Museum is located at Kalogairon square, almost in the center of the city. The museum features archaeological finds and historical objects, shown in chronological order and illustrating the development of the region.
The first hall is dedicated to the objects from prehistoric times between the Neolithic era and the middle of the Bronze Age; the second shows the historical development of the region in the Bronze and the Iron Ages, the third features art objects from the Geometric, the Archaic and the Classical Periods, and the last, fourth hall of the museum shows what was created at the end of the ancient world. Admission fee is charged. Sunday is a day-off.
The Kition Archaeological Museum is an open-air cultural site at the ruins of the ancient town with the remain of ancient temples, defensive walls, a sanctuaries of Astarte and Melkart, metal workshops and other buildings. Entrance fee is charged, and the museum is closed on weekends.
The Church of Saint Lazarus is an Orthodox church named after Lazarus of Bethany, who was, according to the New Testament, raised from the dead by Jesus. Lazarus' second tomb is believed to be located under the church.
A stone covered portico of Gothic style was added to the church between the 13th and the 16th centuries, when Cyprus was under the Lusignans rule. Ottomans reconstructed the church to use it as a mosque and destroyed the bell tower (it was reconstructed in 1857).
In the second half of the 19th century, during the reconstruction, a marble tomb with human remains was discovered at the church. They were recognized as Saint Lazarus' hallows.
There is small museum with Byzantine icons, crosses and other religious items at the church.
The Mousio Theasis museum complex is located in Larnaca city center. It is a modern multi-purpose space where cultural events, concerts, exhibitions and workshops take place.
The Owl Museum is also located on the territory of the Mousio Theasis. Here visitors can see more than 6000 statues of owls made from different materials. The Byzantine Museum is also worth visiting, especially for those who are interested in major ancient and Biblical events.
The Municipal Museum of Natural History in Larnaca (Leoforos Grigori Afxentiou) occupies a small one-storied building on the territory of the city garden. The collection is formed of the samples of local insects and reptiles, animals and birds. There is also an exhibition called «A typical Cypriot patio» and a hall with endemic plants at the museum. Admission fee is charged, and the museum is closed on Sundays.
Lefkara is one the most famous villages in Cyprus. It is located in the south of the Troodos Mountains, between Larnaca and Limassol. Locals have been creating unique embroidery for many centuries, and laces produced here even have their own name — «lefkaritika». The secret of crocheting is passed on from generation to generation. Lefkaritika is so special mostly because it combines tradition geometric ornaments and old Venetian technique.
The village is also famous for its filigree silver handicrafts made by braiding thin silver wires. Visitors can walk along scenic narrow streets of the village and take a look at old buildings made of white limestone.
The Garden Kamara Museum is located in Kato Drys village not far from Larnaca. Lefkaritika laces, Cypriots' work tools and household items are exhibited here.
The Stavrovouni Monastery, where a piece of the Holy Cross is kept, is located 39 kilometers from Larnaca. The monastery was founded in 327 AD by Saint Helena, Saint Constantine's mother, who had brought the piece of the Holy Cross from Jerusalem to Cyprus.
Women are not allowed to enter the Stavrovouni Monastery. For men admission is free.
Larnaca workshops occupy the area next to the Church of Saint Lazarus in the old part of the city. Here tourists can watch handymen while they are making candles, pottery, icons, photographs and even bread. For an additional fee some of the craftspeople will be happy to share secrets of their work with visitors.
Larnaca attractions for children and adults
The Drapia horse farm is located between Larnaca and Limassol, at the edge of the Kalvasos village. 9 race horses, including several ponies, live here. Children from 12 years old and adults can ride a horse in orange and olive groves, while even 8-years old children can take a riding lesson. Those who already have riding experience are welcomed at the farm to try new riding styles, for example «western riding». If you want to spend more than one day at the farm, it is possible to stay in a traditional stone house with 1 bedroom and 2 bedrooms apartments, a swimming pool, a kitchen, a balcony and all the necessary technical equipment.
The Golden Donkeys farm is located in Skarinou village not far from Larnaca. This traditional farm has become home for several dozens of donkeys. One of the oldest olive trees on the island, the estimated age of which is about 1000 years, grows on the territory of the farm. There is also a botanical garden with pomegranate, olive and apple trees, oregano, marjoram and other herbs and plants here.
Visitors of the Golden Donkeys farm can not only meet local donkeys, but also explore the Donkeys Museum and the Wax Figures Museum, take a look and the furniture and interior of the traditional Cypriot house, buy donkey milk production at the gift shop and attend cultural events held at the open-air theater (in summer). There is also a restaurant at the farm.
Zenobia Swedish trailer ferry sank at the harbor of Larnaca in 1980. The remains of the vessel are still present at the coastal water, creating an artificial reef that attracts such fish as striped grouper, wolffish, yellowtail kingfish, barracoota, Parrotfish and other. Zenobia is a perfect diving spot and a popular tourist attraction: a special boat with glass bottom shuttles between the sunken ferry and the Larnaca city port.
The K Cineplex cinema in Larnaca is located at Peloponnisou Street. New movies and cartoons are displayed here. The cinema also holds ready-made kid's birthday parties: invitations in Greek and English are available online on the official website.
The Apothikes is a bar and an art gallery in Larnaca, located at Agios Lazaros St. 81 — 83. The permanent exhibition is dedicated to the Cypriot art and features works by local artists. Temporary exhibitions, cultural and festive events and movie nights are also regularly held at the gallery. There are also rooms for lectures and workshops here. Trictrac competitions and live music concerts usually take place at the bar.
Being a large city located on the seashore, every summer Larnaca attracts a lot of tourists who want to spend time on the beach. There are 7 beaches on the territory of Larnaca, most of which are marked by the Blue Flag, an international sign of high water quality, safety and cleanness of the sand. There are sunbeds, changing stalls, water sports facilities and other services at most of the city beaches.
The Mckenzie Beach is located not far from the airport. The sea, sand and planes are a wonderful subject of a holiday photograph a lot of people come here to take. The beach is 1 kilometer long, with soft sand. Changing stalls, restrooms, sunbeds and sunshades are provided. Beach rescue team is present at the beach during the day. Holiday-makers can also try windsurfing and have lunch in one of restaurants and cafes next to the beach.
The Faros Beach, located at the Pervolia village, is named after the lighthouse. This small beach is a good choice for families traveling with kids: the safe swimming area is marked with special barriers, and life guards work at the beach every day from 11 am to 5 pm throughout the season. There is a bar with drinks and appetizers and water sports equipment rental at the beach.
The 500-meters long Foinikoudes Beach spreads along the seashore promenade in the Larnaca city center. The beach is easily accessible by foot, as well as the Kastella city beach in 15 minutes walk from the downtown. Both beaches are great with their soft gray sand and warm water and all the necessary facilities.
The Yanathes beach is located in the Voroklini village. One can get there by car, by public transport or by bike.
The Dasaki and СTO beaches are located in Pyla village. The last regularly holds beach sports competitions.
The Wow Action Park at 6 Pavlou Liasides is an entertainment center where children from 4 to 12 years old can jump on trampolines, roll down slides, try climbing and complete an obstacle course. There is also a restaurant with free Wi-Fi access where parents can wait while their children are playing. Drinks, meals and desserts are on the menu.
The Larnaca Olympic Shooting Range is located 10-15 minutes drive from the city center. All equipment for professional and amateur shooters is provided. Shooting competitions and lessons for beginners are held here. There is a restaurant and a hotel next to the shooting range.
Visitors of the Rock N Bowl bowling (Larnaca Dhekeleia Road 7081 Pyla) can not only reserve all the 15 lanes to organize a tournament, arrange a kid's birthday party or gather with friends to watch sports and entertaining programs on a big screen: there is also a children's playground, trampolines, pool tables, video games and other attractions for the whole family at the club.
The Nemo diving center at 8, Thermidos Street is a place for both professionals and beginners. Diving test helps to overcome the fear if there is any. Instructors do their best to prove diving to be safe and exciting activity. More experienced divers can explore the sunken Zenobia ferry and its current habitants (fish), visit Cyclops' caves and other spots not far from the city.
Where to eat in Larnaca
Cyprus is famous all over the world for its traditional cuisine: in particular, meat and fish meals and meze, brilliant selections of small dishes, offered anywhere on the island, including Larnaca. If you are looking where to eat in Larnaca, you may find the information below helpful.
The Tasties Cafe is located in Lefkara, a famous village not far from Larnaca where unique silver handicrafts and embroidery are produced. It serves Greek, Mediterranean and even African cuisine, home-made wine and an apple pie with ice-cream, as well as sandwiches and hamburgers for those who do not want to experiment. Live piano music is performed here in the evenings.
The Kalamaki Bar Greek restaurant (Leoforos Athinon 52) is a place where you can get a large portion of coal-roasted meal with a good view on the sea. Here visitors can try Souvlaki (two pork and two chicken brochettes, two kebabs, fried potatoes, sliced lemon and sauce), gyros and other Greek dishes and desserts, one of which, Mahalebi, is often served as a compliment from the Chef.
The Old Market St. Is a restaurant and a bar in the Old Town of Larnaca (51 Kleanthi Kalogera). In the evenings the bar, famous for a large choice of unusual cocktails, becomes one of the main city attractions, so it is better to reserve a table in advance. Appetizers, delicatessen, cocktails and classical drinks are served here. The place can be noisy. If the evening had a good start at the Old Market St., you can continue it at the Ammos Beach night club with its daily concerts and parties.
The Maqam Al Sultan is a Lebanese restaurant located next to the Larnaca castle. Fresh vegetables, poultry, beef and lamb meat, fish and traditional meze sets are on the menu. There is also a hookah lounge with a view on the embankment at the restaurant.
The Art Cafe 1900 includes the bar on the ground floor and the restaurant on the first floor. Beer lovers will enjoy this place, decorated with lots of photographs, pictures, posters, decorative dishware and other elements of design. The restaurant serves Cypriot cuisine: meze, tahini, stifado, seafood, chicken in tomato sauce, stuffed vegetables and vegetarian meals. The address of the cafe is Stasinou Street, 6.
The Aldente is an Italian restaurant located at the Finikoudes promenade in Larnaca. A lot of dishes here are prepared at the wood-fired oven. Italian salads, main meals (different pizzas and pastas, risotto) and desserts (cream puffs, lemon pies etc) are on the menu.
The Cambanella's restaurant at Amochostou 2 offers steaks, including exotic ones: for example, a Malagasy steak with green allspice. Such toppings as fried potatoes, rice or vegetables are available. The owner of the restaurant is always pleased to recommend the guests which wine to choose.
The Landhaus is a Mediterranean cuisine restaurant in Larnaca. Here visitors can try seafood meals, salads, meze and desserts (for example, a yogurt cheesecake). German beer and various wines are also on the menu. Some of the tables are located outdoors on the open terrace. The address of the restaurant is Kritis & Ellispontou 1.
The Aquarium Bar Cafe is located on the old ship in the port. Unsurprisingly it offers seafood and fish meals such as calamaris, royal shrimps, mussels, salmon, egg rolled fish, dorado etc. Visitors can also order a hookah. Live music concerts are held at the cafe in the evenings.
The Tudor Inn Bar is a small hotel bar at Lala Mustapha Pasha 28a Street, where jazz music concerts are sometimes held. Here you can order beer, served with popcorn and carrots, pies, burgers, halloumi and other dishes. There is an inner yard at the bar.