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A charming port city on the south coast of Cyprus, Larnaca is a great destination for a laid-back beach holiday, but that’s not all it has to offer. There’s history in the ancient churches and mosques, an evocative glimpse of bygone days in the bohemian old Turkish quarter, and archaeology buffs will find the ruins of the 13th century city-kingdom of Kition fascinating.
Finikoudes Beach, in the city centre, has a palm-tree lined promenade with an array of lively bars, cafes and restaurants. A few minutes further down the coast are the family-friendly Kastela and Mackenzie beaches.
Larnaca is an excellent diving spot, with warm waters, high visibility, and some easily accessible shipwrecks.
History and culture
The 9th-century Byzantine Church of St Lazarus was built over the tomb of Lazarus, the man whom Jesus was said to have resurrected four days after his death and who later lived in Larnaca. At the end of the Finikoudes promenade is Larnaca Medieval Castle – you can climb the ramparts for coastal views, and the courtyard often hosts concerts.
Behind it is Djami Kebir Mosque, built originally as a church in the 16th century and boasting an impressive minaret. Hala Suttan Tekke Mosque, a serene Muslim shrine on the banks of Larnaca Salt Lake, is believed to have prehistoric origins and is one of the world’s most important places of worship for Muslims. The lake is also great for birdwatching and is home to flocks of flamingos from November to March.
The atmospheric old Turkish quarter, Skala, has quaint, crumbling cottages, now occupied by ceramic workshops. The archaeological remains of the ancient city-kingdom of Kition features ruins dating back to Phoenician times.
There's more to Cyprus than just gorgeous beaches and a lively nightlife. Step away from the resorts and you'll discover wineries, hiking trails and, up north, a seemingly different world.Read moreabout 9 things you probably didn't know you can do in Cyprus
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