As the plane slowly descends, you are watching from the window the blue waters of the Mediterranean…. The plane continues to descend further and the next minute; touchdown! Arriving at the gate, you hear the message from the pilot, Welcome to Larnaka International airport!
Wondering what to see and do in Larnaka?
You might have a short layover or probably some engagement brought you here and you realized you’ve got so much extra time!
Or say, you are planning of staying here on your next trip?
Oh, worry no more as there is so much you can do! Here are my top suggestions on how you can spend your day in Larnaka.
Kition (Greek: Κίτιον, Kítion), also known by its Latin name Citium, was a city-kingdom on the southern coast of Cyprus (in present-day Larnaka). It was established in the 13th century BC.
A drive from Nicosia (Lefkosia) to Larnaka is about 35 minutes. The international airport (LCA) was diverted here from Nicosia following the Turkish invasion in 1974.
Larnaka is famous for the salt lake where thousands of flamingos stopover between November to March. This is just off the road from the airport.
On the same lake stands a very important mosque also an ancient monument – Hala Sultan Tekke or the Mosque of Umm Haram. This is the 3rd holiest place for Muslims in the world.
From Nicosia, the nearest coast or beach is Larnaka. So I’ve been visiting here almost every week and return to Nicosia on the same day. Here’s how I usually spend my time here…
1. Stroll along the marina and Finikoudes promenade.
Finikoudes is a popular and touristy beach area, named after small palm trees that were planted way back the 1920s. It runs about half a kilometer long, fine gray sand and calm waters.
My friend and I started our walks from the marina, then head to the beach area. On the opposite side are restaurants and pubs. As of this time (Mid April) tourist traffic is less but wait once summer kicks off after easter holidays. The weather was pleasant, sunny with a cool breeze yet it was a little bit chilly for a beach dip.
We had lunch in one of the restaurants- tuck inn-. We ordered vegetarian noodles, grilled fish and greek salad. The menu is varied from the Mediterranean to Asian fusion dishes. Food and service were just satisfactory so don’t expect too much. We fulfilled our hungry tummy but more importantly, it was a well-spent day. Then suddenly gray clouds started to form and the rain was coming. Our afternoon was cut short but we had a nice time. Beach stroll is always therapy.
2. Shopping and Dinner at Finikoudes
There’s a wide array of shopping outlets with easy access from Finikoudes beach. There are a lot of shopping options, souvenirs, and specialty shops, also restaurants and cafes. If you want to go through every block you may need about a day. So here is another retail therapy!
And of course, this therapy makes you tired and hungry…so would you like to sit on a nice spot and enjoy a good dinner? Finikoudes looks better at night time.
And I say, it gets better in the evening.
3. Visit Larnaka Castle and Museum
At the end of the Finikoudes strip is the Larnaka Castle and museum – believed to be built by Ottoman Turks around the 18th century. From other written sources, it dates back later part of the 13th century during the reign of King James I of Cyprus.
Entering the castle, you will see several cannons used to protect the harbor. On the ground floor, there was an execution area for prisoners and medieval tombstones.
The museum is on the 2nd floor – presenting architecture, antiquities and decorative pieces as early as 4th-7th century AD.
And the rooftop…cannons and a superb view of Finikoudes.
Entry: 2.50 EUR ticket
Hours: Mon-Fri 0800-1930; Sat-Sun 0930-1930
Outside the castle are several spots to relax – sit on the bench with a frappe and people watching perhaps. Walks to the quay are very romantic and at the railing, you will see love padlocks. Couple goals indeed!
4. Enjoy Events along Finikoudes!
From time to time there are events held along the promenade.
Europe day was held last 10th and 11th of May with a food festival.
Kataklysmos (May 14-19) is a week-long event to celebrate the flood festival. There is a fair along the beachfront, food and bazaars, programs, children rides and a lot more.
We watched a concert of Sakis Rouvas, a very famous Greek recording artist; last 27th of July staged at the beach area.
To know what’s coming up? Check out Larnaka events!
5. Go to the beach!
Makenzy (Mackenzie) beach! Further down from Finikoudes maybe a 30-minute walk and more frequented by locals; calm, shallow waters and grey sand.
This was named after a Scottish man who set up a restaurant/bar after WW II (CyprusIsland.Net).
This is the closest beach from the airport and you will see planes arriving at different intervals. You will be amazed how many flights are coming all across Europe and the middle east as well. We usually play a guessing game of the airline. As you land Larnaka airport (LCA) just look down from the plane window and this is the beach! Facilities, restaurants, and water activities are available.
Sunbeds for 2 at EUR 7.50.
Finikoudes and Makenzy beaches both have a BLUE FLAG status (pure water, clean coast, safety and access for all) status, well maintained by Larnaka municipality with lifeguard services.
Cyprus beaches are one of the cleanest in Europe. This year 2019; 65 beaches were awarded Blue flag status.
There are just tons of activities at the beach, especially during summer. For me, I am thinking of joining SUP (stand up paddle) for sea yoga. Umm, just thinking about it! Lol!
6. Visit the Church of St. Lazarus
A 9th-century church that belongs to Cyprus Orthodox Church, named after Lazarus from Bethany.
Built in early 10th century and one of the significant Byzantine monuments in Cyprus.
It was believed that he was buried here and there is an underground, sacred tomb.
A Byzantine museum exhibits, icons, books, and artifacts; with a 1 Euro entrance fee.
Opening Times – Summer: Mon, Tue, Thur, & Fri 8:30–13:00 and 16:00–18:30. Wednesday, Saturday 8:30–13:00; Winter: from 15:00 tо 17:30.
To get inside the church make sure you are wearing decent attire, or you can wear wrap around provided by the church.
Church timings – Summer 8:00–12:30 and 15:30–18:30; Winter : 8:00–12:30 and 14:30–17:30.
More information about the church, you can find it on their website.
And lastly, just chill and enjoy your time in one of the quaint cafes at the heart of Larnaka town, just accessible from Finikoudes.
Larnaka Marina, Finikoudes and the town are just walking distances.
To Makenzy beach, walking may take 20 to 30 minutes. But in the summertime, the heat may slow you down. Be sure to bring with you bottles of water or you make stops to cafes.
To explore other areas in the city, take a look at the bus route and timetable.
Where to Stay?
If you are planning to visit now till end of March 2020, browse the tour section of this site – FREE AND EASY CYPRUS -for amazing deals on hotel rates from 3 to 5 stars.
There’ still many things for you to see and do in Larnaka. Here is a helpful link; Larnaka Region for further information – where to stay, places to be and activities.
So, let me guess do you have something planned on your mind now if you spend a day in Larnaka?
What do you think about this vibrant city?
See you soon in Cyprus!