The ancient town of Larnaca is a popular starting point for travel around the beautiful island of Cyprus. The main international airport is here and Larnaca flights set down tourists keen to explore the many sunny beaches that surround the resort. This is the hub for Cypriot summer holidays: excellent weather, warm clear seas, sandy beaches and palm trees. The watersports are also good, and the area is popular with divers and snorkellers, especially around the harbour where the wreck of the Zenobia sits.
Most holidaymakers visiting Cyprus arrive from flights to Larnaca and head straight to the main beach resorts. But to do so is to miss much in this old city. While the modern day town has spread a long way, with plenty of hotels and restaurants sprawling from the beach, the old city centre remains in good condition. The Byzantine Church of St Lazarus is in the town’s centre and dates to the 9th century. After visiting, take a stroll along the seafront promenade, which is one of the most attractive in the country, lined with palm trees.
Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate — the sun shines year-round, summers are long and dry and winters are mild.Temperatures are high in summer, reaching the 30s (Celsius) in July and August, but the sea breezes cool the coastal areas. Winter temperatures can be in the teens and 20s but rarely drop below 10 degrees. Winter is colder in the Troodos Mountains and brings some snow — it is possible to ski in the mountains in the morning and sunbathe on the beach in the afternoon.
When to fly to Larnaca
The peak season is summer, especially June, July, and August.
Spring and autumn are great times to catch a flight to Larnaca when it is warm enough to swim but not uncomfortably hot.
There's not really an off season in Larnaca, but November to March is the rainy season. Don't be alarmed by the words "rainy season" - the average is eight or nine days per month.
Getting around Larnaca
Buses crisscross Larnaca and are the cheapest way to get around. There are plenty of taxis, which are fairly inexpensive, but you’ll save even more money using shared taxis between towns. Shared taxis can fit four to seven passengers and are fast and comfortable, especially if you’re going to other towns like Paphos, Nicosia and Limassol. Private taxis run for 24 hours and can be hailed or called ahead. The law requires taxis to run the meter.
Larnaca insider information
- Larnaca is home to the church of St Lazarus, but another site is also supposed to owe its legacy to him.The great salt lake, lying to the west of the town, is the second largest in the country and is a white crust of salt from March through to November. Supposedly, the lake appeared when the saint was walking through some vineyards and asked the owner if he could eat a few grapes. The old lady refused, saying that her vines had not produced a single grape that year. Lazarus replied, “may your vines be dry and be a salt lake forever more” and so it was…
- The lake is also home to a huge migration of flamingos. If you visit between December and March you are likely to spot some of the 10,000-strong flock.
- Cyprus is an old island and Larnaca one of its oldest towns. As well as Christian churches dating from as early as the ninth century, there are ancient Muslim mosques. The mosque of Hala Sultan Tekke is situated on the shores of the salt lake and dates from around 647AD. Hala Sultan was Mohammed’s wet nurse, and the mosque named after her is situated near her grave.
- The beach in the town is not the best that Cyprus has to offer, but it’s easy to reach other beaches nearby. The bustling holiday town of Ayia Napa is just a short bus ride away (or moped ride for the brave). There is a string of beaches extending for 25km (15 miles) along the coast. So if you don’t find one you like straight away, just keep on exploring…
- If you have transport, it is also worth exploring some of the nearby villages. Less full of tourists than Larnaca itself, towns such as Lefkara or the small villages in the Troodos Mountains are all easily accessible in a day.