1. THE BEACHES:
There are several Beaches in Larnaca including Beach hotels with Private Beaches. I stayed at the Palm Beach Hotel and I must say the view and Beach experience was fantastic. I was also at the Sandy Beach Hotel and loved it there as well.
Larnaca’s beaches are packed from about May to September when locals and tourists alike flock to the water to cool off. Finikoudes Beach is strung out along the main promenade and although conveniently located, is rather uninspiring and is a bit of a sardine-squeeze in peak holiday season. Mackenzie Beach (two kilometers south from the center) is much nicer and generally has more room to throw down your towel. If you’ve got your own transport though, it’s much better to head slightly south to Cape Kiti Beach (15 kilometers south of Larnaca) or Perivolia Beach (one kilometer south of Cape Kiti Beach), which rarely attract more than a handful of sunbathers and are gorgeously situated in secluded coves.
2. AGOIS LAZAROS:
After Lazarus rose from the dead, he lived here in Larnaca (then known as Kition) for another 30 years and was ordained as Bishop of Kition. When he finally died – this time for good – he was buried here, where the stately Agios Lazaros (Church of St. Lazarus) now stands. The church was built in the 9th century by Emperor Leo VI and was faithfully restored in the 17th century. Check out the incredibly ornate iconostasis for an excellent example of Baroque woodcarving.
The church has four domes over the nave, and the roof is supported on four sets of double columns. The pulpit is uniquely placed in one of these columns and is lavishly decorated in gilt. In another column is a silver icon from 1659, with a picture of St. Lazarus. There are also impressive paintings of the Virgin and Child and St. George and the Dragon. Beside the iconostasis, a staircase leads down into the Tomb of Lazarus (though remains found there in AD 890 – which may, or may not be of Lazarus himself – were moved to Constantinople and later to Marseille.
Across the courtyard from the church is the Byzantine Museum, which holds a collection of religious icons and relics.
Address: Agiou LAZAROS (Larnaca Main Square)
The serenely beautiful Hala Sultan Tekke sits on the western side of Larnaca’s Salt Lake, three kilometers west of central Larnaca. An important place of pilgrimage for Muslims, this mosque honors the prophet Muhammad’s wet-nurse, Umm Haram, who is said to have died at this site after falling from her donkey, and a shrine was dedicated over her tomb in AD 645. The present mosque building was built by the Ottomans and dates to 1816.
4. SALT LAKE:
Larnaca’s Salt Lake is a nature reserve and in spring, large flocks of flamingos and ducks can be easily seen. Dung summer, the waters evaporate completely, leaving a crusty white layer of shimmering salt in their place. The area is ringed by a walking trail, which also leads to the Hala Sultan Tekke and makes a lovely afternoon stroll. Due to Larnaca’s rather chaotic public transport system, it’s easiest to get to the lake and the mosque by your own transport.
5. KAMARES AQUEDUCT:
Built in 1746, this impressive aqueduct on the outskirts of town provided Larnaca’s water supply until the 1930s. Once part of a complicated water engineering system that used a combination of tunnels as well to deliver water into the town, it was constructed under orders of the local Ottoman governor and styled on typical Roman era aqueducts. Today, the still sturdy 33 arches rambling across the green fields are an impressive sight.
Come during the evening when the arches are lit up, or during the day, when sheep are grazed in the fields between the arches. You can get to the arches by hopping on any city bus that’s heading in the direction of the K Cineplex.
Address: Old Larnaca-Limassol Road
6. LARNACA FORT:
Larnaca fort was built in 1625 by the Ottomans to defend the city. It was used more often as a prison, especially when the island was taken over by the British in 1878. The fort is right on the shoreline and visitors can walk around it via the sea wall. Inside the fort has archaeological exhibits from the site of Kition, cannons, suits of armour, lace from nearby Lefkara and many other items of local interest. In the summer the fort is occasionally the venue for concerts and other special events organised by Larnaca Municipal Cultural Centre.
7. STAVROVOUNI MONASTERY:
High on a mountain off the road from Larnaca to Nicosia stands the monastery of Stavrovouni which means Mountain of the Cross.
This is the oldest recorded monastery in Cyprus, having been an important religious centre since the 4th century. St Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, was returning from the Holy Land where she is reputed to have discovered the remains of the three crosses of the crucifixion. She decided to take them back with her to Constantinople but was shipwrecked off the coast of Cyprus. She saw it as a sign and left one of the crosses with the monks at Stavrovouni.
The monastery is in a spectacular position and the view from the top is breathtaking. On a very clear day Lebanon is visible from the summit. Be aware that entrance to the monastery is restricted to men only.