What to do in Larnaca – attractions, monuments, events
Larnaca is the third largest city in Cyprus and one of the most important tourists destinations on the island.
Rich in historic heritage that reflects the tumultuous history of Cyprus, the benefits also from the scenic costal location in the Larnaca Bay.
Turquoise, warm waters of the Mediterranean in the Larnaca Bay.
Situated on the south eastern coast of Cyprus, Larnaca is served by island’s largest international airport, which caters primarily for the tourist traffic.
Find a few suggestions, below, on what not to miss on in Larnaca during your Cyprus holiday.
Cyprus is known for its spectacular coast line and many beaches of excellent quality. Larnaca Bay, apart from warm, sheltered waters offers a wide selection of beaches, to suit different needs and tastes.
Mackenzie Beach, a Blue Flag beach in Cyprus.
Finikoudes is the most central beach of Larnaca, separated from the very city centre by a busy, palm tree lined promenade. Due to the central location and accessibility it easily get crowded during the peak season. For a little bit more laid back, calmer atmosphere, head 2 km south of the city centre, to the Mackenzie Beach. Flat, clean and accessible, Mackenzie Beach is a preferred location for families with children who can play safely in the shallow waters. The beach is well developed, with sunbeds and parasols for rent, showers and a variety of bars, restaurants and eateries.
Those who have their own means of transportations (hire car is always a plus in Cyprus) and don’t mind travelling a little bit further, will find two very pleasant beaches – Perivolia Beach and Kiti Beach - approximately 15 km south of Larnaca.
Monuments and historic sites in Larnaca
Amongst Larnaca’s must-sees, the Church of Saint Lazarus is probably the most popular one and justly so.
Built in the 9th century, in the place where Lazarus is believe to be buried, the church is a beautiful example of the Byzantine architecture, a mix of rustic stern walls, Baroque woodcarving, lavish gilt ornamenting and Orthodox iconography.
Next to the church, the Byzantine Museum hold an interesting collection of artefacts from the church, icons and relics.
Not as old, not less impressive though, is the Kamares Aqueduct. Built in the mid-18th century and inspired on the traditional Roman architecture, the aqueduct supplied water to the town until not a long time ago.
The 33 arches of the aqueduct are illuminated, offering an unusual view at night.
About 2 miles west of Larnaka city centre, spread the famous Salt Lake, one of the most characteristic landmarks of the area. The lake, or rather the complex of lakes with the total area of over 2 km2 is home to many species of water birds, amongst them flamingos.
Flamingos, a frequent sight in Larnaca.
On the opposite site of the lake, across from Larnaca, Hala Sultan Tekke mosque dominates the landscape. The mosque complex, comprising the mosque itself, a mausoleum, a minaret and a cemetery, was constructed during the Ottoman administration of Cyprus, in the 18th century.
Considered one of the most important places of worship for Muslims in the world, the mosque is also a popular tourist site.
Those interested in the most ancient history of Cyprus, will find in Larnaca area several archaeological sites and museums, of which the Kition site is by far the most important.
The ancient city-kingdom of Kition dates back to the 13th century BC to the Greek and later to the Phoenician civilization. Relatively well preserved ruins and historical reconstruction of the defensive walls, the sewage system, the houses and the temples shed some light on the past lives and changing circumstances of the city.
Larnaca harbour and marina
Although with no significant historic value, the harbour area of Larnaca is a place worth a visit. Quaint and slightly aside from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, the harbour offers a beautiful scenario for a walk or a romantic dinner at sunset.
During the day the harbour offers a variety of activities, amongst them diving trips or glass-bottom boat trips.
Several festivals and cultural events are held in Larnaca throughout the year, to the great enjoyment of the locals and tourists alike.
On 6th of January, a very curious religious celebration takes place in major harbours of the island, including the one of Larnaca. A priest leading the procession of school children blesses the sea, throwing into the water a cross, which has to be quickly retrieved by divers, in order to guarantee prosperity and good luck for the year.
Much like in many other places in the world, Carnival is a joyous and colourful time of the year in Larnaca, with street parades, costume balls, concerts and performances planned for the period of 10 days. Carnival on Cyprus is officially ended by the celebration of Green Monday (or Clean Monday), the first day of the Lent in the Orthodox church. Although from the religious point of view Green Monday invites to reflection, confession and repentance, the profane tradition has families and friends get together during picnics and seafood based festive dinners.
Read more about Cyprus holidays here.
Classical music fans will enjoy visiting Cyprus in April, when the Larnaca Festival of Classical Music is held, attracting renowned orchestras, choirs and ensemble from all over the world.
The most important Larnaca festival, and with a very different vibe, is the Flood Festival, Kataklysmos. This both religious and popular feast refers to the Biblical flood which destroyed most of the life on Earth in order to give birth to a new and better world.
The festival consists of many water-based activities, such as boat races and swimming competitions. Even if you are just a bystander, expect to be ‘purified’ by having water thrown at you by strangers. Folk dance and singing performance are an important part of Kataklysmos, as well as handcraft bazaars and street food stalls. The Flood Festival is held 50 days after the Orthodox Easter.
Related article: Weather in Cyprus.