Larnaca

The beautiful Cypriot port town of Larnaca on the stunning south coast may be the third largest city in Cyprus, but it still maintains a small town feel. That isn’t to say that it’s not cosmopolitan, in fact with its hugely diverse population it can barely be anything else; the Turkish quarter exudes old world charm with it’s maze of tiny streets, bright ceramics and whitewashed buildings whilst the marina oozes sophistication and wealth.

This undiscovered Turkish gem is up and coming as a tourist destination and is steadily rising in popularity, developments are sympathetic and are always designed to improve and enhance this already beautiful city. For somewhere unusual and yet familiar Larnaca takes a lot of beating.

Larnaca has plenty of choice of accommodation ranging from boutique hotels to hotel complexes and self catering villas, you can opt to stay in the city itself or to stay at one of the beach resorts that dot the coastline around the area; some of the beach resorts can be quite self contained, so if you choose one of these resorts ensure that access into the city to sample all its delights is readily available.

Right in the heart of the city and just across from the beach itself is the highly regarded Achilleos City Hotel, the rooms are modern and spacious, the staff are welcoming, and the rooftop terrace has some of the best views in the city; it really isn’t surprising that this hotel is a travellers favourite and receives many great reviews.

The cuisine of Cyprus has much in common with that of both Turkey and Greece with the use of fresh flavoursome ingredients – although Mediterranean in nature the local food takes on its own character with the use of local herbs and spices; the local olive oil is particularly good.

Seafood is a great speciality on the island and there are many good restaurants serving fish cooked in a simple but tasty way, they really do let let the fabulous food speak for itself – head to the Piyale Pasa on the seafront where you will find a great choice of fish tavernas, there is little to choose between them and the best advice would always be to choose the fish of the day even if it sounds a little unusual.

The salt lake just outside Larnaca is one of its most famous sights, during the early months of the year it is home to over 10,000 flamingoes and although their visit is fleeting it is one of the highlights of the year; during the hot summer months the lake dries up leaving a thick salt crust making it a tourist favourite – just across from the lake is the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque one of the most spiritual of the worlds Mosques, the architecture dates back almost 1400 years and is deemed to be a place of great beauty.

For something completely different head to the camel park at Mazotos, just a short drive from the city this is the place to come to get close to these large and sometimes bad tempered creatures; camel rides are available through the neighbouring villages and are a most unusual way to enjoy the beauty of the Cypriot countryside.

The south coast of Cyprus is exceptionally hot, the intense summer sun can be a little too much for some travellers although the sea breezes can be cooling; the best time to visit has to be the spring months when the island is in full bloom and the weather although very warm is much more suited to enjoying the best of the island.

Celebrations in Larnaca are centred around the religious calendar with Easter being an exciting time of year, and then 50 days later the Flood Festival (Kataklysmos), much of this June celebration is held around the marina and promenade with traditional music and dance taking centre stage; this is an excellent time to visit the city.

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