Whether you are planning a beach holiday with the family or a long weekend escape, you’re in the right place to find out everything you need to know about the things to do in Larnaca, Cyprus.
Larnaca, also spelled Larnaka is one port-city in southern Cyprus and also one of the two airports on the island. Many tourists arrive in Larnaca but head quickly to their other destinations on the island. However, spending a couple of days in Larnaca is a good idea as the city has plenty of things to do. It can also serve as a base to explore Cyprus, or at least the eastern half.
I had heard that Cyprus was expensive but I didn’t have that impression in Larnaca at all. Anything from food, public transport, entrance tickets, or beach amenities was very affordable.
Besides, people are very helpful. Every person I talked to starting from the airport was willing to answer a question and even added a few extra tips.
One more thing, about the weather in Larnaca. While the sun shines most of the year, July and August are really hot, too hot for my taste. December and January are rainy, but I would consider any other month to visit Larnaca.
The breeze can be tricky, the sun is very strong this far south so you should use sunscreen at all times and keep yourself hydrated.
Things to do in Larnaca
People usually see Larnaca, or Cyprus for that matter, as a beach only destination. And while that’s obviously the main reason to visit an island, there’s a lot of history waiting to be discovered in Cyprus.
Read on to find the best things to do in Larnaca, Cyprus,
Saint Lazarus Church and the Byzantine Museum
Agios Lazaros, by its Greek name, is a beautiful example of Byzantine Architecture.
Emperor Leo VI ‘The Wise’ had the church built in the 9th century over the grave of St. Lazarus. After Jesus resurrected Lazarus, he had to flee Judea. He came to Cyprus where he lived for 30 more years and became Bishop of Kition (the name of Larnaca at the time). The church was restored in the 17th century but many of the original features were preserved. Pay attention to the gold-covered iconostasis, it is an exquisite woodcarving work.
Under the sanctuary, there’s a staircase leading down to the empty Tomb of Lazarus. His remains were transferred to Constantinopole and then to Marseille.
The church is free to visit Monday to Saturday from 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM. On Sundays, the opening hours are from 6:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 3:30 to 6:30 PM.
During the winter (November to February) the closing time is at 5:30 PM every day, and there’s also a lunch break from 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM.
The Byzantine Museum is in the same courtyard, holding a collection of religious artifacts and icons.
The entrance fee for the museum is only 1€. The museum is closed on Sunday, and also on Wednesday and Saturday afternoon.
Finikoudes is the promenade by the beach in Larnaca, lined with palm trees. It has the blue Mediterranean on one side and the hotels, restaurants, and bars on the other.
The promenade is the place to go for a morning run, an evening stroll or just to sit on a terrace with a cold coffee and take in the view. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the restaurants in this part of Larnaka but it’s a great area to stay in.
The Beaches of Larnaca
Right in front of the promenade is Finikoudes beach, one of the most popular in Larnaca.
But don’t think that’s the only beach. There’s a string of beautiful beaches, a few of them awarded with Blue Flags on both sides of Finikoudes Beach. They have all the necessary facilities, including water sports centers.
The price to rent a sunbed or an umbrella is 2.5€.
The Medieval Castle of Larnaca was built at the end of the 14th century to protect the port of Larnaca expanding the existing Byzantine fortifications.
It became a prison later on, and nowadays it serves as a Museum. The courtyard is now a small open-air theater.
You can’t miss the castle, as it is right by the sea, dividing the Finikoudes promenade from Piale Pasha Street.
The Museum is open every day except Public Holidays and the entrance fee is 2.50€
The opening hours are 8:00 AM to 7:30 PM during the summer and 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM from September to April. On Saturday and Sunday, the visiting hours are 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM.
Piale Pasha Street
The strip between Larnaca Castle and Mackenzie Beach is about 5km long, perfect for walks or cycling on the dedicated paths, right by the sea. It also has quite a few great fish or traditional taverns where you can have a great lunch.
The Salt Lake and the Pink Flamingos
The Salt Lake to the west of Larnaka is about 6km from the city center. The place was a gulf, used as a natural port but sedimentation gradually worked to isolate the lake.
Every winter, the lakes fill with seawater that penetrates the sediments, then in the summer, it evaporates. The salt remaining after this yearly process was a valuable commodity that Cyprus had to offer until recently.
The Salt Lake of Larnaca is also the place where about 10000 flamingos spend the winter. Unfortunately, they had already left when I visited in April. You can see them from November to March.
You can walk or rent a bike from the beach and cycle through Patticheio Park to the Salt Lake. Of course, if you can drive on the wrong (left) side of the road, you can always rent a car and explore Cyprus beyond Larnaca.
Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque
Umm Haram (by her Turkish name Hala Sultan) was part of the close circle of Prophet Mohamed. During the first Arab invasion in Cyprus, Umm Haram and her husband were part of the invaders. Once on the island, she fell off her donkey and died on the spot. They buried her in a prehistoric tomb, by the Salt Lake in 649 AD.
Many years later, the Ottomans identified her grave and gradually built a complex around it. The square Mosque with its large dome, the mausoleum, and the minaret are in a garden. There are also separate living quarters for men and women, as well as a cemetery close by.
Hala Sultan Tekke is free to visit and it’s one of the most important pilgrimage sites of Islam.
The mosque is open every day from 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM in the summer months. From September to April it closes earlier, at 5:30 PM.
You would think that this is a Roman Aqueduct, but the truth is the Ottoman governor ordered the building of an aqueduct in 1745. It’s still unclear if an older Aqueduct stood there before.
The Kamares (meaning arches) is close to the Salt Lake on the road from Larnaca to Limassol. It’s worth a detour for a few photos of the Kamares.
At the end of Finikoudes, you’ll find a yacht marina. I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy walking in a Marina, preferably toward sunset when the light is softer. There are usually some good photos involved.
In front of the Marina is a large square where you can rest and admire the boats.
A Sunset Cruise
Another thing I like to do when I get the chance is to take a mini-cruise to see the city from the sea. In Larnaca, I chose a sunset cruise which I loved. You get to see the whole beach and promenade and went very close to the airport. With the sun setting behind the city, it was pretty spectacular.
A Food Tour
I will write a separate post about the food, but I will say that a food tour in Larnaca is time (and money) well-spent. It does blend it all influences of its geographic position, and especially Greek food and Turkish specialties are present.
Cyprus is a warm country and spending the hot hours after lunch napping is a common thing. Most shops remain closed after lunch and open again later in the afternoon. While I’m not one to take naps during the day, I have to admit that retiring somewhere away from the sun, maybe with a chilled drink is a good idea to pass those hours.
Where to stay in Larnaca
Mikes Kanarium City Hotel – I liked very much staying in the area close to St. Lazarus, so Mikes Kanarium Hotel is my top choice.
Les Palmiers Beach Hotel is right by the sea and has good family room options.
Radisson Blu Hotel, Larnaca – if you prefer 5* stays, you’ll probably choose the Radisson Blu in Larnaca.
Disclosure: Some of the above may be affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. However, I only recommend companies, activities, or products that I use myself.
That’s about it, I hope I covered most of it. Are you planning a trip to Cyprus? Tell me all about it in the comments below and let me know if you have any questions.