Larnaca - Cyprus

'Touzla Mosque  (11th Century). Larnaca. Cyprus' - Cyprus
'Touzla Mosque (11th Century). Larnaca. Cyprus' Kirill__M / Shutterstock

Larnaca is a fascinating port city located on the breathtaking southern coast of Cyprus. Established by Greek settlers during the 14th century B.C., the community thrived during the Hellenistic period and became a center for shipping and the copper trade. Later ruled by the Persians, Romans, Venetians, Ottomans and British, the metropolitan area has become the island’s third largest city. Many of these cultural influences are evident in the resort community today. Home to the island’s busiest airport, Larnaca is one of Cyprus' four international gateways.

The palm tree-lined main esplanade serves as a backdrop for the picturesque waterfront. Visitors will find numerous seaside restaurants and cafés along this popular gathering spot. The main square houses trendy boutiques, and the Old Turkish Quarter is a labyrinth of pedestrian friendly streets. You will discover whitewashed houses and shops that sell antiques, religious icons, ceramics and other local handicrafts.

Begin the trip into Larnaca’s past by visiting the elegant mansion that houses the collection of the Pierides Archaeological Foundation. Because of its long and storied past, there are numerous archeological sites in and around the city. Larnaca is built upon the ruins of the primordial city-state Kition. Approximately one mile northwest of the city center, you can cross a bridge that spans the Area II excavation site and see remnants of this historic civilization. The Archeological Museum contains a reconstructed Neolithic tomb and Roman artifacts as well as relics from ancient Kition. Larnaca is home to the Church of Saint Lazarus, which legend holds was constructed over the second tomb of the man Jesus raised from the dead. The 9th century house of worship is a mixture of Baroque, Byzantine, Gothic and Rococo architectural elements. Situated in the church’s courtyard is a museum that explores the resort's Byzantine period. Visitors can view the city from the minaret of the 16th century Grand Mosque. Lanarca’s waterfront fort and medieval museum provide a glimpse into the city’s early history and wonderful views of the coast from its parapets. The fortress courtyard provides a unique venue for concerts during the summer.

Guests can enjoy the sun-drenched beaches and the temperate Mediterranean Sea. In addition to swimming, parasailing and boating, you can dive on the wreck of MS Zenobia, which sank on her maiden voyage. Situated just 10 minutes off the coast, the 12-ton sunken vessel is considered one of the world’s best shipwreck diving sites. You can also visit the wreckage while aboard a miniature submarine. The Natural History Museum provides insights into island’s fossils, minerals and the native flora and fauna.

The city has mild winters and hot summers, which are ideal for experiencing the festivals held throughout the year. You can sample local favorites, such as fasolaki, sheftalia and souvla, while enjoying a relaxing meal at a seaside café. Embracing the leisurely pace of dining enhances the pleasure of meals in Larnaca. Wonderful weather, numerous recreational opportunities and good food along with the city’s well-known seaside resorts make Larnaca a wonderful holiday destination.

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Hotels and apartments in Larnaca