You can’t plan a visit to the south coast of Cyprus without investigating all the things to do in Larnaca – beyond the seafront of Finikoudes. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a beach lover, or an adventurer seeking unforgettable experiences, Larnaca has something special for everyone. Read on to discover the lesser-known attractions of this city built on ancient ruins.
A waft of sea air, sand inexplicably in all of your clothes, and a stomach full of mezze? You must be in Cyprus. The seafront city of Larnaca is the island nation at its most beautiful. Here, keen shoppers, sun worshippers and foodies all amalgamate on the Finikoudes promenade, where you’ll find boutiques, coffee shops and bars. But there’s so much more to explore here. Read on for Culture Trip’s run-down of what to do in Larnaca.
Find peace at Kastella Beach
The location of Kastella Beach, wedged between two other popular beaches, works in its favour, as it tends to be quieter here than at its neighbours. The sand here is golden and the water blue, calm, clear and shallow, making it an excellent option for families. Just back from the beach is a strip of traditional fish tavernas – we love To Varelli for its Greek-style food and live music.
Spot wildlife at Larnaca Salt Lake
The second-largest salt lake in Cyprus, the best time to visit Larnaca Salt Lake is during the winter. This is when it fills with water and attracts migrating birds, including thousands of flamingos, which turn the lake into a sea of pink between November and March every year. Whatever time of year you visit, there’s a 4km (2mi) nature trail around the lake to enjoy.
Scuba dive to the MS Zenobia wreck
As well as being the best diving site in Cyprus, the MS Zenobia wreck is also one of the best places to scuba dive in the world. The ferry capsized and sank in 1980 on its maiden voyage, and divers can start to it at 16m (50ft) below the surface. Visibility continues to 40m (130ft) down. Warm waters attract varied marine life to the wreck, too, so expect to see grouper, barracuda, tuna, turtles and triggerfish.
No trip to Cyprus is complete without dining on a plate of freshly made souvlaki – and what better place to taste the skewered meat wrap than at the aptly named Souvlaki restaurant? Here, the Cyprus version of the classic Greek dish is available with a pork, chicken or sheftalies (traditional Cypriot sausage) filling, and it’s served with french fries, salad, a Cyprus pita, tzatziki and tahini. Yum.
Shop at Emira Pottery
Ask anyone who’s been to Larnaca what they recommend doing while there, and it’s likely they will rave about Emira Pottery. Michael, the owner, started studying ceramic art in 1969 and opened his own store in Cyprus in 1987. As well as a showroom, where you can pick out some of his wares to take home for yourself, you can also have the opportunity to watch him hone his craft and even have a go at throwing clay yourself.
Take a boat trip with Deep Blue Yacht
If you are going to splash out on anything on your trip to Cyprus, make it a luxe boat tour with Deep Blue Yacht. Be sure to pack your swimmers, too, as you’ll stop for a few dips in the brilliant-blue water along the way, exploring parts of Cyprus you can only get to by boat.
See the view from Stavrovouni Monastery
Perched on a rocky peak high above Larnaca, Stavrovouni Monastery is a must-visit for history buffs. It dates back to the 4th century and was founded by St Helena, who left a relic of the Holy Cross at the monastery. Despite its female founder, women are not permitted to enter the monastery, and men have to follow a dress code in order to gain access – but the view from the top of the hill is worth the drive up.
Learn about the Medieval Castle of Larnaka
Plonked at the end of the Finikoudes promenade, Larnaca Castle was originally built during the Middle Ages but came into its present form during Ottoman rule. The imposing castle is thought to have been built to protect the town, but, at the end of the Ottoman era, the British turned it into a prison. Now, there’s a small museum inside that’s worth a visit to learn more about the castle’s storied history.
Test your aim at Larnaca Olympic Shooting Range
When travelling, it’s always a good idea to throw yourself out of your comfort zone. A trip to the Larnaca Olympic Shooting Range will do just that. Here, you can try your hand at Olympic skeet (where two machines throw clay to shoot), Olympic trap (where three targets are thrown from a possible 15 traps), Olympic D-trap (where you use a shotgun), sporting clays and compak sporting (both variations of clay pigeon shooting).
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