***Update***: You can now download this itinerary as a GPS-guided app by clicking here!
Larnaca is the third biggest city in Cyprus, a beautiful island I had the pleasure of exploring last year. Ah, memories!
I wrote a lot about Cyprus but I realized I didn’t give enough space to Larnaca, where I spent part of my first and last day on the island, since I landed and left from there. It’s a great city for stopovers – there are enough things to do in order to spend a full day (or more) there and easily make it the first or last stop of your tour.
Here are the main things to do in Larnaca, please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section!
1. Ayios Lazaros Church
“Ayios” means “Saint” – get used to this, because you will find this word many times throughout the island! This orthodox church was the first thing I visited in Cyprus, and I found it very interesting. I don’t know where you’re from, but in Italy we have very opulent catholic churches full of statues, gold, frescos and sculpted marbles. This is different – walls are in simple stone, the church is relatively small, and there’s a beautiful golden iconostasis. Downstairs you can visit St Lazaros’ tomb.
Ayios Lazaros Church was built in the 9th century and is one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture in Cyprus.
2. The Old Town
The first thing I did when I reached Larnaca was getting lost in the old town. No seriously, I got lost and couldn’t get out! That’s why I would go back without a doubt, that’s not an experience you can have every day!
But if you don’t want to get lost like me, you can join a free walking tour, how cool is that? On Wednesday at 10am the tour starts at the Cyprus Tourism Board office, while on Fridays at 10am tours start from the Larnaca Fortress.
3. Foinikoudes (the sea promenade)
Larnaca is on the sea so it’s obvious that you have to take a walk on the promenade – Foinikoudes – and enjoy the views and the breeze. And go to the beach too! This is where many hotels and clubs are, so you can find many tourists in this very lively and colorful area.
4. The Larnaca Fort and Museum
The Larnaca Fort is on the promenade, so it’s very easy to locate and visit. It was built in the 14th century and now hosts a Medieval Museum covering 15 centuries of history up to the 19th century. You can also just visit the open garden (for free). A quick and interesting visit!
5. The Salt Lake
There’s a big salt lake just by the airport in Larnaca. If you’re visiting in the winter, you can see flamingos, swans and other beautiful birds in the area. This is one of the most important habitats for migrating birds in Europe. The Larnaca Salt Lake was once a port, but when the ancient city was abandoned, the water started to dry out, until the salt lake was formed. For many centuries, salt was extracted for commercial use. Nowadays there’s a beautiful path on the shore, great for photography and bird watching. This is a perfect place for sunsets too!
6. The Hala Sultan Tekkesi Mosque
As you maybe saw in the photo above, there’s a mosque right on the salt lake. The Hala Sultan Tekkesi Mosque was built in 648 AD in the place where Umm Haram died falling from her donkey. According to tradition, Umm Haram was a relative of Prophet Muhammad. Nowadays this is one of the most important holy sites for Muslims, right after Mecca and Medina (Saudi Arabia) and el Aksa (Jerusalem).
So if you have a stopover in Larnaca as I did, I hope you spend a nice day following these tips!
And if you happened to visit Larnaca already, what would you add to my list?