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Where to go in Paralimni and Protaras: landmarks, tourist attractions and local cuisine
Paralimni and Protaras
Landmarks, Tourist Attractions and Local Cuisine
Evgenia Bravo
Author: Evgenia Bravo

Paralimni is situated at the south-east coastline of Cyprus, just in a few kilometers from the sea. After Famagusta had become a part of the part of Cyprus occupied by Turkey, it appeared to be the center of the Greek part of the district.

The word «Paralimni» can be translated from Greek as «by the lake», and in fact the first settlement here was really built by the lake, which is now drained. Sometimes the hole, where the lake used to be, fills up with water during rainy winter months.

Protaras is a popular resort famous for its sandy beaches located not far from Paralimni. It may be a good idea to visit both places in one trip, because together they have all components of a perfect vacation: clean and equipped beaches, historical landmarks, museums, restaurants, bars and cafes. By the way, Ayia Napa and the Cape Greco are easily accessible by car or by bus from Paralimni.

Cultural sites in Paralimni

The traditional Cypriot house built in the 19th century is located in the heart of the Old Town in Paralimni. The town council renovated the house in 2010, willing to preserve its exterior and interior, and today guests of the city can take a look at various household items, working tools and textile objects: plates and dishes, leavened doughs, hand mills, embroidered cloths, a weaver's loom, a sewing-machine, wooden furniture, traditional clothes and many other historical exhibits. Pottery jars and tin buckets are kept at the yard, and a dray-cart, a yoke and plough can be found in the shed.

The traditional Cypriot house is open on weekdays from 7 am until 3 pm. Free excursions for groups are offered.

Prophet Elias Church is located on the hill in the center of Protaras (about 6 kilometers from Paralimni). The church was built in the 14th century in the place where prophet Elias once lived, according to the Holy Bible. The church is open 24/7, but it can be difficult to make all the way up to it. There is a belief that one should count stairs walking up to the church and on the way back and then subtract the second number from the first to learn the number of one's sins.

Another thing visitors of the church usually do is wrapping the strip with one's secret wish round a branch of the wish tree growing on the hill. And do not forget to take a picture of Protaras from this scenic spot.

On the Patron Saint's Day (the 20th of July) an annual fair is held next to the church.

There are two St George's Churches in Paralimni: the old one was built in the times of Ottoman occupation, in the middle of the 19th century, and the new was finished in 1965. These two churches are located in the same square, along with the third one — the Church of Virgin Mary (that is sometimes referred to as the St Anna's Church). It was built in the 13th century. Inside the church visitors can see old wall-paintings, and small porcelain dishes that were ingrained in the walls in the 18th century.

The Agioi Saranta is a cave chapel not far from Protaras, in 5 kilometers from the Prophet Elias Church. To find the chapel look for a small dome — the whole room is under the ground. Name of the chapel refers to the story of Forty Martyrs of Sebaste — Christian Roman soldiers who were martyred in 320. On the 9th of March a ceremonial service is held at the chapel to honor the memory of the soldiers.

St. Nicholas Church in Protaras was built in the harbour due to the efforts of local fishermen and sailor-scouts in 2007. The location of the church makes it a lighthouse for fishermen's boats coming home in the evening. Walls of the church are white, and the dome and windows are painted blue. Inside all the walls are covered with wall-paintings. Church services are regularly held here.

Tourist attractions in Paralimni

There are more than 10 clean equipped (and mostly sandy) beached in the Protaras area. Holiday-makers can enjoy clean water, sunshades and sunbeds, restrooms, showers and other services. Restaurants and cafes are always somewhere near to a beach. 7 of 10 Protaras beaches are marked with the «Blue Flag» — an international sign of high water quality and safety.

The Louma beach is located not far from the main street of Protaras; it overlooks the fishermen's harbour and St. Nicholas church. There is a parking lot, changing stalls, showers, restrooms and a hotel next to the beach. Water sports equipment rental is also open for the visitors, and life guards are present at the beach during the daytime in summer.

The Pernera is a small cozy beach with a hotel next to it. The Fig Tree is the biggest and the most popular beach in Protaras, surrounded by clubs, bars, restaurants and cafes.

Diving fans should visit the Green Bay if they are going to spend some time in Protaras. Protected water makes this place a perfect spot for beginners. Remains of the ancient amphoras were put on the sea floor of the bay on purpose.

There are several diving centers in Protaras — namely the Windmills, the Dragon Divers, the DGR Scuba Diving, the Poisedon and Just Scuba — that offer lessons for beginners and professionals and tours to beautiful diving spots.

The Undersea Adventure is an underwater walking center in Protaras located next to the Agia Triada harbour. All visitors have to do is put on a special helmet that allows to breathe under water. Nice underwater walk usually leaves a wonderful memory of holding fish in hands. In summer it is better to reserve this experience in advance.

The Protaras Aquarium is located at Cavo Greco Avenue 19 (a commuter bus shuffles there from Paralimni and Ayia Napa). More than 1000 sea creatures, including piranhas, skids, turtles, crocodiles, pomfrets and cichlids live here. There is also an exotic birds park with parrots, bobwhites and turtledoves at the Aquarium. Kid's birthday parties and other festive events are held here. Frequent visitors can choose an animal to look after during the year.

The Moonshine horse ranch is located in Protaras, not far from the Cape Greco. Individual tourists and groups can participate in hacking.

The XS Watersports center is located at the Protaras Beach. Here one can rent a parasail to fly above the beach and the sea, ride water skis and waverunners, try canoeing or water safari and play numerous water games. Both children and adults will be entertained at the center.

Boat tours start from Penera village located at the seashore on the road between Paralimni and Protaras. The Ayia Trias cruise company offers boats with sunbeds on the deck, a bar, a cafe, restrooms and (most importantly) free diving sets. Water sport equipment is also available.

The Gass Quad Safaris company organizes quad tours in Paralimni area. Each tour begins with a short lecture and safety training and continues with safari in the company of the guide. A few stops on the way are used to have a rest, eat and swim.

The Askott Pottery workshop in Paralimni is located at 260 Protaras Road. Pottery workshops for children and adults are held here. There is also a gift shop with hand-made objects at the pottery.

Seeking for more adventures in Protaras? You can attend the Escape Room quest and try to get out of the locked room in one hour. Three plots are available: «Cold war bunker», «Prison cell» and «Zombies' lab».

Restaurants in Paralimni

The Kanati Tavern is located in the center of the city at 21 Makarios III. It is a traditional Cypriot restaurant which offers meze sets, fresh salads, halloumi, kleftiko, seafood and other food and dishes. Kostas and Maria, who own the place, spend every day at the Tavern to greet guests.

The La Cultura Del Gusto restaurant located in Perenera serves Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. The owner greets guests and tries to find time to take or bring orders to make atmosphere more warm and friendly. Kitchen is divided from the hall by a glass wall, so visitors can watch their meals being prepared. Salads, steaks, fish and seafood, traditional Italian desserts are on the menu. The wine list is also available.

The Grecian Park Hotel located at 81, Konnos Street in Protaras houses several interesting restaurants and cafes. For example, there is a Japanese restaurant and sushi bar UMI on the terrace of the 4th floor (the place is open from the beginning of February until the end of November). The Ravioli's Italian restaurant serves traditional pastas and pizzas, the Antaeus regularly holds live music concerts, and the Charisma cafe is known for its breakfasts and lunches. There are also a few bars at the hotel.

The Mojito Bar and Grill restaurant and bar is located at 18 Aphrodite Street in Pernera. More than 10 types of breakfast, salads, steaks, Cypriot, Italian and Mexican dishes and burgers are offered at the restaurant, while the bar is responsible for refreshments, wine and cocktails.

The Steens restaurant is located in Protaras at 327 Cavo Grecko Avenue. Big portions of home-made style meat, fish, appetizers, salads and garnishings are served here.

Japanese, Cypriot and vegetarian dishes are on the menu at the Hippicampus restaurant in the center of Protaras (18 Protaras Street). Meat and seafood are mostly grilled here. There is a children's playground on the territory of the restaurant.

The Corner restaurant is located at Protaras street 26. Mediterranean cuisine (salads, carpaccio, steaks, pastas and seafood meals) is offered here. Cooks are visible to the guests, so that they could watch their lunch or dinner being prepared.

The Yianna Marie Mediterranean and Greek restaurant is also located in Protaras (Lefkolas 21). Unlike many other cafes at the resort, it is open all year round, not only in summer. Fish and meat meze, desserts and Greek coffee are served here.

The Sizzlers Steak is a traditional Cypriot restaurant in Protaras located at 7 Ifestou Street. Appetizers and salads, steaks, musaka, pork tenderloin medallions, pancakes and other dishes are on the menu. Visitors can also try local wine here.

The Vangelis restaurant is located at Constantinoupoleos street in Paralimni. It has been in business since 1948, and now the fifth generation of the same family runs everything here. Some of the traditional Cypriot dishes served at the restaurant are slightly upgraded by the cooks.