Larnaca Mini Guide
Larnaca is surrounded by all the best qualities that Cyprus has to offer – sparkling sea, palm-lined promenades and ancient historical ruins. Situated on the east coast of Cyprus, the seaside city of Larnaca is the island's third largest with a population of about 80,000 people. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back some 6,000 years, and many of its old temples and ruins have been beautifully preserved. They include the ancient site of Hala Sultan Tekke where the aunt of the Islamic prophet Muhammad is said to be buried.
Many Muslims make the pilgrimage each year to see this tranquil building standing next to the Larnaca salt lake which is decorated by flocks of pink flamingos during the winter. However, you are certain to need a car if you want to get there as it is fairly out of the way and taxis charge steep rates in Cyprus.
Despite its rich history, the centre of Larnaca is lively and modern following the improvement of the Finikoudes seafront promenade and the impressive Larnaca marina which is one of the main ways to get into Cyprus from the sea. There are even more improvements in Larnaca planned to maintain its place as a top European summer holiday destination. Among them is the intention to build a PGA golf course at Tersefanou village which would include a leisure complex, retail village and health spa. Work is also underway on a new terminal at Larnaca International Airport to bring more visitors to the area who are drawn to its mix of quiet charm and sparkling glamour.
As Larnaca is a popular tourist destination you will find that most places you go to and people you meet will be able to understand some English and most of the signs are in English also. However if you fancy learning some Greek while you are there then give Learn4Good Larnaca a try, they are a small private institute who specialise in teaching Modern Greek at all levels.
Deep-sea diving enthusiasts will certainly like Larnaca which has been internationally recognised for the world famous Zenobia shipwreck, while the neighbouring Cape Greco is home to a mass of interconnected caves which hold a huge amount of marine life. A series of deaths in the last few years meant that diving was banned for a while but after protestations from the dive companies, diving has resumed but with stricter controls. Everywhere in Larnaca is within a short distance of a wide variety of bars, restaurants, shops and nightclubs. Entertainment is never far away and the municipality regularly organises cultural events such as the flood festival Kataklysmos, held at the beginning of the summer months.
Getting to Larnaca could not be easier as it has the huge advantage of having its own international airport which welcomes flights from all over the world including many low cost European carriers. Easyjet and Ryanair both serve Larnaca from all over Europe with routes to Gatwick, Bristol, Stansted, Amsterdam, Milan and Munich all popular. If you are arriving from another part of Cyprus the motorways are good and the signposts are frequent and easy to follow.
If you want to explore your surroundings a good direction to head in is east towards Ayia Napa
and the Larnaca-Dhekelia Road. This is the main 'strip' for high quality hotels, nightclubs and bars.
Larnaca is one of the oldest cities in the world with traces dating back 3,000 years. It is famed from the Bible too and St Lazarus, raised from the dead by Jesus, was appointed bishop there when the city was called Kition. Hire a car and you can visit the church dedicated to him in which bones, rumoured to be his, were found.
Elsewhere in the city, visit the Salt Lake and the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque that sits beside it. This is the fourth holiest site in Islam, for there Mohammed’s maternal aunt died in a riding accident.