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City Guide of Larnaca

By April 2, 2018 No Comments

Beautifully compact, easily accessible and truly authentic, Larnaka is Cyprus’ oldest soul; the longest continually inhabited region of the island, with a history that dates back 10,000 years, and the most centrally positioned, offering easy access to other regions.

And whilst it is rich in the ancient culture of hundreds of years of contrasting civilizations and architecture, Larnaka is also a thriving and modern European city that offers the best of all worlds. A characteristic feature of the region is that tourists will find that there is no distinction between resort and town; locals and visitors alike can enjoy the same daily experience of a charming and diverse Mediterranean city. From stretches of varied coastline, a mix of traditional and cosmopolitan establishments and fascinating monuments, Larnaka seamlessly blends its two ‘faces’.

The coastal city of Larnaka

The defining features of Larnaka city include the bustling promenade of Foinikoudes – which is lined with mature palm trees and flanked by beach, eateries and entertainment – and its joining sea walkway of Piale Pasha, which passes by quaint old neighbourhoods and fresh fish taverns. The parallel shopping centre with its tradtiional architecture puts everything at your fingertips, whilst the famous Salt Lake that fills with flocks of vibrant pink flamingos in the winter months attracts visitors for its natural beauty and ecological value. Larnaka town is also significant for both Christians and Moslems. The most revered monuments of the two are included in the main attractions of the city: the Church of Agios Lazaros, the patron saint of the town who Jesus resurrected and held dear as a friend; and the mosque of Hala Sultan – an important place of pilgrimage for Moslems that is flanked by the Salt Lake.

Thriving rural villages

Larnaka city stretches out to rural villages with some of the larger suburbs, constituting small towns in their own right, and active in the cultural offerings of the region with their own annual festivals, museums, monuments and tourist attractions.

Mountainous Larnaka

Further still, the mountainous areas of Larnaka trail up the Troodos range, which is dotted with charming villages with narrow streets, where traditions and skilled handicrafts are still practiced. Of the most famous is the handmade lace embroidery of Lefkara and its delicate filigree silver, whilst villages like Kato Drys and Odou are also pretty and tranquil.

Once you fall in love with Larnaka, you will discover for yourself why both flamingos and visitors always return to their favourite Mediterranean region!

Larnaka Coasts & Beaches
Embraced by the sapphire waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus is surrounded by coast, and as one of the main coastal regions, Larnaka is home to miles of sand, sea and a host of associated leisure and sporting facilities that further enhance its beautiful coastline. A large number of the region’s beaches are holders of various quality awards, including the prestigious EU Blue Flag that recognises the highest standards in cleanliness, water quality, safety and services, whilst there are also disabled facilities available at the main beaches.

With such a beautiful and diverse coastline, all that is left for you to do is select a beach… and enjoy it.

Foinikoudes Beach – Blue Flag – Larnaka’s most famous promenade

Larnaka’s most famous promenade of Foinikoudes Beach is a 600-metre long stretch that combines coast, entertainment and culture along its palm-tree lined length. The sands are fine and varying shades of brown and beige, and the seawaters are calm and shallow, flanked by the marina with its pier and fishing harbour on the one end, and a second pier and the Medieval Fort at the other. Facilities on the beach include toilets, showers, changing rooms, sun beds, umbrellas, dustbins, recycling bins and beach bar, whilst the strip is also lined with cafes, bars, restaurants, kiosks, hotels and entertainment establishments, as well as benches and abundant greenery. The town’s main shopping centre runs parallel. Lifeguards with lifesaving equipment and first aid services are stationed at the beach from June – October, 10:30-18:00. The beach also offers disabled access, including a special wheelchair at the lifeguard tower to help disabled persons enter the sea with assistance from the lifeguards. Various forms of marine life are sometimes visible in the deeper waters, including sea bass, sea bream, parrot fish, grey mullet, crabs and octopus, whilst these can be better seen by taking a cruise or fishing trip from the pier. Diving expeditions are also available from the pier. The beach is home to various water sports, and also hosts major sporting tournaments on its sands, as well as concerts on its Seafront Stage and two main squares – one with fountain and benches. As such, it attracts all crowds, and is particularly popular with families both in the day and evening. Access is easy by foot, bike, bus or car, with several municipal and private car parks servicing the general area, and there are many entry points with paths and paving leading to the beach and the establishments lining it.

Mckenzie Beach – Blue Flag – A top hotspot on the island

Located near to the site of Larnaka’s old airport, the highly popular Mckenzie Beach is a 1 km long strip with fine sands of varying shades of brown and beige, calm, clear and shallow seawaters, and abundant greenery. Facilities on the beach include toilets, showers, changing rooms, sun beds, umbrellas, dustbins and a host of cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs that line the strip, including some of the island’s top nightspots. Lifeguards with lifesaving equipment and first aid services are stationed at the beach from June – October, 10:30-18:00. Due to the beach’s location, it is ideal for plane spotting, whilst there is also a wide array of water sports on offer along the strip, children’s playground, and outdoor exercise equipment. Concerts are held on the seafront stage throughout the year, whilst art fairs and stalls are also held along the strip. The main visitor attractions of Larnaka Salt Lake and the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque are nearby. Various forms of marine life are sometimes visible in the deeper waters, including sea bass, sea bream, parrotfish, grey mullet, crabs and octopus. The beach attracts both families and younger crowds during the day, whilst at night it is a premium destination for clubbing. Access to the beach is easy and safe by foot, bike, bus or car, with a large municipal car park servicing the beach, and many entry points with paths and paving leading to the beach and the establishments lining it. The beach also offers disabled access.

Kastella Beach Larnaka – Blue Flag – A unique, award-winning strip

Located by Larnaka’s Psarolimano Fishing Shelter, the award-winning Kastella Beach is a 600-metre long strip with fine sands of varying shades of brown and beige, calm, clear and shallow seawaters, and touches of greenery. There are several services and facilities at the beach, including toilets, showers, changing rooms, sun beds, luxury double loungers, umbrellas, beach bar and dustbins. Lifeguards with lifesaving equipment and first aid services are stationed at the beach from June – October, 10:30-18:00. Various forms of marine life are sometimes visible in the deeper waters, including sea bass, sea bream, parrotfish, grey mullet, crabs and octopus, whilst the fresh catch of the fishing shelter next door is served at the fish taverns on the harbour. The area of the beach is also surrounded by many traditional fish taverns, restaurants, bars, ice-cream parlours and kiosks, and attracts both families and younger crowds. Access to the beach is easy and safe by foot, bike, bus or car, with a bus stop a few metres along the road and a cycle path running parallel. There are car-parking facilities opposite the beach at the municipal car park, and also at the neighbouring fishing shelter. The beach also offers disabled access.

Yanathes Beach – Blue Flag – A green beach with an environmentally-friendly ethos

Yanathes Beach in the Larnaka sub-district of Voroklini is a 300-metre long strip of fine sands with varying shades of brown and beige, calm, clear and shallow seawaters, and local plants and greenery. It was given the status of eco-beach in 2014. Facilities on the beach include toilets, showers, changing rooms, sun beds, umbrellas, dustbins, recycling bins and environmentally-friendly signage. Lifeguards with lifesaving equipment and first aid services are stationed at the beach from June – October, 10:30-18:00. Various forms of marine life are visible in the deeper waters and in the reefs of the wider area that are popular for diving, including sea bass, sea bream, parrotfish, grey mullet, crabs and octopus. There are also various water sports available along the coast, as well as food and drink options, making it a good choice for families and younger crowds. Access to the beach is easy by foot, bike, bus or car, with car parking facilities, as well as facilities for parking bikes. The beach also offers disabled access.

CTO Pyla Beach – Something for all the family

Located in the Larnaka district of Pyla, along Dekeleia Road, the CTO beach of Pyla offers a complete day out for all the family, thanks to a host of facilities and the amenities of the surrounding area. Set amidst an expanse of greenery, the sands are fine grey and the clean waters are calm and shallow, making the beach popular with all, including families with small children. Facilities include toilets, showers, changing rooms, sun beds, umbrellas, a children’s playground, beach volleyball and beach tennis courts, beach bars and water sports. Beach tennis tournaments are held on the sands, and beachgoers can watch the regular summer events – and sometimes participate in them. There are also a variety of restaurants, bars, cafes, kiosks, convenience stores and accommodation along Dekeleia Road. Lifeguards with lifesaving equipment and first aid services are stationed at the beach from June – October, 10:30-18:00. Access is easy by foot, bike, bus or car, with car-parking facilities. The beach also offers disabled access.

Faros Beach, Pervolia-Larnaka – Blue Flag – A picturesque village coast

The famous Faros (Lighthouse) Beach of the Larnaka village of Pervolia is a 500-metre strip of fine sands of varying shades of beige, calm, shallow seawaters and ample trees and greenery. It is located just south of Pervolia at Cape Kiti. Facilities on the beach include toilets, showers, changing rooms, sun beds, umbrellas, dustbins, recycling bins and a children’s playground. Lifeguards with lifesaving equipment and first aid services are stationed at the beach from June 15 – September 30, 10:00-18:00. The beach offers disabled access. Various forms of marine life are visible in the deeper waters, including sea bass, sea bream, parrotfish, grey mullet, crabs and octopus. The beach also incorporates a protected seaweed area. There are also various water sports available along the coast and a small volley ball court, as well as food and drink options, making it a good choice for both families and younger crowds. The lighthouse itself is picturesque, and a famous monument of the area. Access is easy by foot, bike, bus or car, with car parking facilities, cycling trails and walking trails. The beach also offers disabled access.

Reccommended Villages
Athienou
Well-known for its village bread

Choirokoitia
Home to a significant Neolithic settlement

Coastal Villages
Charming seaside communities

Kiti
The epicentre of Cyprus’ kitesurfing

Lefkara
Known globally for its lace

Livadia
Famous for its traditional basketry

Pervolia
Favoured for its long coastline

Pyla
Unique mixed community village

Villages of Orini (mountainous)
Beautiful and green

Voroklini (Oroklini)
Elevated coastal village

Zygi
Cyprus’ famous fishing village

Larnaka Cultural Walk
A stroll around Larnaka to take in all the essential landmarks is the perfect year-round activity, and with the option of three defined walks, you can visit a wide range of sites and learn all about the town’s history and customs…at your own leisure and pace!

Each walk takes in a different aspect of the city and the three together combine to collectively capture everything you would want to see when visiting Larnaka, complete with informative placards describing the site or area of interest.

Walk A – Seafront & Town Centre – takes in statues and dedications, the old quarter, places of worship for Greek Orthodox, Armenians and Muslims, and old buildings, amongst other attractions.

Walk B – Archaeology & Museums – will take you back in time and share the city’s past traditions and its oldest buildings.

Walk C – Culture and Nature – will show you the area surrounding the Salt Lake where you can see the migrating flamingos, all the way to the city’s ancient aqueducts that stand proudly as a reminder of more primitive times.

The walks are free and all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes, the informative leaflet (which includes a map), and a good pair of eyes to see the walk’s logo on the pavement to guide you in the right direction… happy walking!

Historic Mosques

Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque
Kebir (Buyuk) Tzami Mosque
Tuzla Mosque
Zuhuri Mosque

Historic Churches

Agios Antonios of Kelia
Important Byzantine church in Kelia

Agios Georgios Arperas Chapel
Built by a Dragoman in 1745

Agios Georgios Makris Chapel
Miniature piece of late Byzantine architecture

Agios Ioannis (St. John’s – the old Bishopric)
Historic church with a unique bell tower

Agios Lazaros (Saint Lazarus)
One of Cyprus’ most important surviving Byzantine monuments

Agios Minas Convent
15th century convent in Vavla Village

Angeloktisti Church
Rare early Byzantine monument still surviving

Church of the Savior (Metropolitan Church of Larnaka)
Founded in 1460 and the seat of the Bishopric of Kition

Church of Virgin Mary of Chrysopolitissa
Stone-built church of the ‘golden town’

Franciscan Convent of Terra Santa
The church of Larnaka’s Latin community

Panagia Faneromeni
Church believed to have magical properties

Panagia Stazousa
Medieval Monastery of early Gothic architecture

Royal Chapel of Agia Aikaterini (St. Catherine)
Surviving from the Frankish Period

Russian Orthodox Church of Semistrelnaya
Russian Orthodox church in Alethriko Village

St. Joseph’s Convent
Founded by four French missionary nuns

Stavrovouni Monastery
Founded by St. Helena on a rocky peak

The Church of Saints Constantine and Helen
Built by Saint Helen herself on a bridge in Tochni village

Larnaka Salt Lake
Larnaka Salt Lake is the second largest salt-lake in Cyprus and measures 2.2 square kilometres. In 1997 it was declared a protected area under Cypriot Law for the Prote­ction and Management of Nature and Wildlife and under the European Ha­bitats Directive. It is a significant Ramsar and Natura 2000 site – one of the most significant biotopes in Europe – and one of the most important habitats in Europe for waterfowl.

Located southwest of Larnaka town and east of the villages of Meneou and Dromolaxia, the Salt Lake – known locally as ‘Alyki’ – is actually one of four lakes in Larnaka. Together, with Lake Orphani, Lake Soros and Airport Lake, the lakes collectively cover a total area of 1761 hectares.

During the winter, the lake fills with water and is home to migrating birds, including thousands of flamingos that stay between November and March, along with wild ducks and other water or shore fowl that find refuge here on their migratory journeys. The most basic element of the food chain in the lakes’ ecosystem is the small brine shrimp Artemia (Artemia salina), which the other life greatly relies on. When flamingos and other water birds are unable to find the shrimp, they desert the salt lakes and continue their journey by travelling to Lake Akrotiri in Lemesos or south towards Africa.

Winding through the lake area is a designated, linear nature trail that is 4 km in length, and leads all the way up to the old aqueduct of Kamares. The various flora of trees, shrubs and flowers is signposted with information along the way, and there are also periodic benches, making the path popular for walkers and joggers.

Archaeological finds show that the Salt Lake area and that of the nearby mosque have been inhabited since the Late Bronze Age (2nd century BC). In prehistoric times the Salt Lake was a harbour that served the town, unearthed near where the Hala Sultan Tekkesi mosque stands today. The town was one of the large urban and commercial centres of Cyprus in the Late Bronze Age (1650-1050BC). When the town was abandoned, the estuary silted up and the natural harbour was destroyed.

According to legend, the lake’s saltiness stems from Agios Lazaros (Saint Lazarus) request of an old woman for food and drink. She refused, claiming her vines had dried up, to which Lazarus replied ‘may your vines be dry and be a salt lake forever more’. A more scientific explanation is that the salt water penetrates the porous rock between the lake and the sea, making the water very salty.

Throughout the Middle Ages, salt was so plentiful that it became one of the primary export commodities of Cyprus. Its harvesting and selling were strictly controlled and taxed. Salt was last harvested in 1986.

The walks start every Wednesday at 10:00 am from the CTO Information Office, Tel: 24654322 and every Friday at 10:00 a.m. from Larnaca Fort,
Tel: 24304576.

– Courtesy of the CTO

Download the map here