The island of Cyprus is a destination that continues to grow in popularity year after year, thanks to spots like Larnaca. Although it is a resort city much like other seaside getaways in Cyprus, what makes Larnaca so special is its relaxed, easygoing feel. Rather than being overwhelmed with a forest of high-rise apartments, the city still feels mostly untouched by the demands of modern tourism. All of that makes it an essential place to visit when you’re in Cyprus.
What’s nice about Larnaca is that it won’t take you all that long to experience its main sights. Even spending just one day there should be enough to cover the best places to visit in Larnaca. Any extra time you have there can be spent guilt-free at the beach or treating yourself with food and drinks. So, to help you make the most of your time sightseeing, we’ve put together this Larnaca itinerary which will show you exactly what to do in Larnaca in 1 day.
Best Time to Visit Larnaca
Like any destination you hope to visit, working out the best timing for your vacation to Larnaca is incredibly important. The time of year you go determines all sorts of things, especially with a popular beach destination in the Mediterranean. It not only affects what kind of weather you can expect in Cyprus, but also how busy it is and what kind of rates you can expect for hotels and flights.
Now, even though Cyprus is a popular summer destination, it’s not the ideal time to visit. From June through August the weather will be quite hot, the town and beaches will be full of tourists, and accommodation will be at its most expensive.
Instead, the best time to visit Larnaca is either side of summer, in either April and May or late September and October. At this time of year you’ll have more enjoyable weather and there’ll be fewer tourists. Winter can also be an option for your visit, so long as you don’t want to spend any time at the beach. During this time, from December to March, you’ll find places to stay at low season rates and will be able to go sightseeing in the cool, occasionally windy weather.
How to Get Around Larnaca
For the most part, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting around when visiting Larnaca. While it is one of Cyprus’ larger cities and sprawls a bit, most of the main attractions are found right in or near the city center. This means that you can get most places comfortably on foot and even some of the further attractions can be reached on foot as well if necessary.
That being said, attractions like the Kamares Aqueduct and Hala Sultan Tekke are both well beyond the city center. You therefore have two options if you want to visit these outer places during your visit. One is to rent a car for your visit, making sightseeing and getting around Cyprus in general much easier. Otherwise you can rely on the local bus network, with a single ticket costing €1.50.
If you’re arriving by air you’ll want to know how to get from Larnaca International Airport into the city. You can either collect a rental car at the airport or take one of the various bus lines that operate between the airport and Larnaca Central Bus Station. The trip costs €1.50.
Where to Stay in Larnaca
Even though the city isn’t that small, working out where to stay in Larnaca shouldn’t be difficult. Many of the city’s tourist attractions, bars, and restaurants are located in the same part of the Larnaca city center. Therefore, the best places to stay in Larnaca are those located comfortably near Finikoudes beach. The last thing you want is to have a long walk or bus ride just to reach the city’s main sights or to go out for dinner and drinks. Another area worth considering though is Kastella Beach or Mackenzie, down south from Finikoudes.
If you’re looking to surround yourself in luxury and refinement, stay at the Ciao Stelio Deluxe Hotel. This modern four star hotel is just off the beach in Mackenzie and features spacious rooms with sea views, a restaurant, and a fitness center.
For a nice mix of comfort and affordability, Les Palmiers Beach Boutique Hotel & Luxury Apartments is a great choice for your visit. This trendy beachfront hotel offers rooms and apartments that overlook Finikoudes and options for self-catering for your time there.
Larnaca isn’t really a place for budget accommodation, but one of the best options is Welcome House. This private guesthouse in Skala is not too central, but its dorms and rooms are extremely affordable, and it has breakfast included.
For more accommodation options in Larnaca check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect 1-Day Larnaca Itinerary
While Larnaca is best known as a place to unwind by the beach with a drink in hand, there are still some cultural attractions worth exploring. Allow a day for sightseeing and you’ll be able to experience most of the best things to do in Larnaca that explore this historic side to the city. It’s really only by going about seeing what this coastal city has to offer that you’ll get to discover the best of Larnaca.
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With you now covered should something bad happen, you can focus on the core part of our Larnaca travel itinerary. Here you’ll find all the great places you can look forward to visiting as you explore Larnaca in 1 day.
Church of Saint Lazarus
Easily the most important and popular attraction in all of Larnaca is the Church of Saint Lazarus. This is after all where Lazarus, the saint who rose from the dead, is said to have been buried when he actually died. The Church of Saint Lazarus is also an important historical landmark, dating from the 9th century. Thanks to restoration work in the 17th century, it’s incredibly well-preserved and is quite stunning inside with its golden iconostasis. Within the church grounds you’ll find a small museum, with religious icons and relics on display.
Old Turkish Quarter
From there you can explore the surrounding neighborhood of Skala, aka. the Old Turkish Quarter. While considerably smaller than the more modern downtown area, Skala will show you what Cyprus traditionally looked like. This part of the city has been quite rundown for the last few decades, but the old-fashioned, white-washed houses are starting to see some restoration.
While you’ll find many ceramic shops in the backstreets of Skala, one of the main attractions is the Djami Kebir Mosque, at the quarter’s northern end. This pretty mosque surrounded by palm trees is possibly the first Ottoman mosque in Cyprus and was converted from a Catholic church in the 16th century.
While also located in Skala, Larnaca Castle is one landmark that deserves its own introduction. Just across the road from the Djami Kebir Mosque and sitting right on the city’s waterfront, Larnaca Castle is a sight that’s hard to miss. This seaside fortress has defended the harbor of Larnaca since 1625 when it was built by the Ottomans. During the British rule of Cyprus, it was transformed into a prison, but today acts as the city’s Medieval Museum. The museum displays of black-and-white photos and artifacts is quite modest, but the views from the castle fortifications definitely make a visit worthwhile.
Running north from Larnaca Castle is Finikoudes Beach, the main city beach of Larnaca. Backed by a promenade and palm trees, this flat wide beach is quite the classic Mediterranean sight. With only a day here you probably won’t have much time for the beach. Stay longer though and you can spend more time bouncing between the beach and the bars and cafes on the promenade. At any rate, make sure to return later in the day for some drinks, and maybe dinner at one of the many bars and restaurants that sit along the promenade.
At the northern end of the city center lies the open-air ruins of Ancient Kition. These ancient ruins are what remains of Kition, a city built by the Greeks in the 13th century B.C. in present-day Larnaca. On a visit to the archaeological site you can learn a little about this period in the island’s history, and see the outlines of various buildings. The most important remains are the stone remains of the Temple of Aphrodite – Astarte, although there are also ruins of homes, tombs, and a necropolis.
Hala Sultan Tekke
Heading away from the center of Larnaca, make your way to the far side of Larnaca Salt Lake near the airport. There, on the banks of the lake, you’ll find the Hala Sultan Tekke, an important Muslim mosque. It’s said that within this monastery complex lies the tomb of Umm Haram, a companion to the prophet Muhammad. A shrine dedicated to her has made this mosque a place of pilgrimage for many Muslims. Although the current mosque dates only from 1816, it’s quite an impressive sight and there is also a mausoleum, minaret, and cemetery to be seen within the complex.
West of the city center lies the last historic landmark in Larnaca for the day, the Kamares Aqueduct. This massive aqueduct was built by the Ottomans in 1747 to provide Larnaca with fresh water and still stands proudly to this day. Standing in a green field, there are around 33 arches of this impressive structure intact, making for quite a sight indeed.
Have More Than 24 Hours in Larnaca?
Just because you’ve made your way around most of the main sights in Larnaca doesn’t mean you can’t spend longer in the city. With more than 24 hours in Larnaca you can choose to either take it easy at the beach and bars, or get out and explore more of Cyprus. If the latter sounds more appealing, here are just a few of your options for places to visit that are easily accessible when staying in Larnaca.
From Larnaca, the most obvious place to visit is the divided capital city of Nicosia. With parts of its Old Town both in the Republic of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus, you’re able to see the two sides of this island in one place. Venturing through the massive Venetian walls that surround the Old Town, wander its maze of narrow streets taking in the mix of modern and colonial buildings and cafe culture.
Sooner or later you’ll bump into the Green Line, the makeshift border that carves through Nicosia. Take this as a prompt to cross the border at the Ledra Street Border Crossing and see the Turkish side in Northern Cyprus. While there, make sure to find your way through the bazaar and visit the Büyük Han, a beautiful caravanserai. Having explored to your satisfaction, return across the border and find the Cyprus Museum, a well-regarded archaeological museum full of the island’s history.
2. Pano Lefkara
Another of the popular Larnaca day trips is to visit the quaint hinterland village of Pano Lefkara. While Lefkara is best known as the heart of Cyprus’ lace trade, a visit there is about so much more than just visiting lace shops. The village is full of grand mansions and traditional homes lining its narrow cobblestone streets, offering a very different atmosphere to that of Larnaca.
You could simply spend your time just wandering around aimlessly and it would be a day well spent. You should though find your way through the meandering lanes and alleys to the Lefkara Local Museum. There you’ll learn about the village’s detailed history and what local life was like there. Another important local sight to see is the Church of Archangelos Michael just outside the village, which features icon paintings from the 12th century.
3. Cape Greco
One last option for places to visit from Larnaca is Cape Greco out on the island’s east coast. Located just past the party town of Ayia Napa, this peninsula is known for its jagged cliffs that are peppered with sea caves, and the crystal clear water below them. Once you reach the cape, there are walking trails that take you through Cape Greco National Forest Park and bring you to its signature coastline.
Along the coastline of Cape Greco are various landmarks that break up the fantastic views of the water below. Taking the eastern trail you’ll pass the cute little Ayioi Anargiroi Church, then the Kamara Tou Koraka Stone Arch and the stunning Blue Lagoon. And while there is the Cape Greco Lighthouse all the way out on the peninsula, it really is the Cape Greco Sea Caves that are the main attraction here. On your way back to Larnaca, you may want to stop in at Ayia Napa to see the gorgeous Venetian Monastery of Ayia Napa.
As you can see, 1 day in Larnaca is all you really need to see the main tourist attractions around town. Any time you have left over can then go towards relaxing and having fun by the beach.