The locals sometimes refer to Larnaca as Skala, which means ‘landing stage’. And there was a time when it functioned largely as that for goods and people, a set-off point for wider tours of the region. But today flights to Larnaca aren’t just phase one of the journey – the city is a travel destination in its own right.
Even though it’s best known for sunshine and sandy beaches, this Cypriot port city is more than a winter holiday spot. There are some fascinating historical attractions here, such as the stunning Byzantine Agios Lazaros (Church of Saint Lazarus), a gorgeous 10th century stone church. Located next door is the Agios Lazaros Byzantine Museum. Other cultural attractions in Larnaca include a Neolithic settlement, as well as the remains of the ancient city of Kition, which dates back to 1,200 BC. Kition was the precursor to modern-day Larnaca before being taken over by the Phoenicians, and you could easily spend an afternoon exploring its atmospheric ruins.
When you’re not sightseeing in Larnaca, pack a picnic and head for the countryside. There are walking trails dotted with lemon trees, windmills and wild flowers, all bathed in sunshine. As the evening draws in, find a tavern packed with locals in a side street, or a seafront restaurant where you can soak up the views of the Mediterranean.
Further inland, in the older districts of Larnaca, the seaside resorts give way to traditional whitewashed Cypriot buildings. It’s in these neighbourhoods that you get a feel for the local communities, and find some of the best Cypriot restaurants.