Larnaca Guide Cyprus

Larnaca and Around

The southeastern flank of Cyprus, centred on Larnaca, is still -recent development at pafos notwithstanding -the most touristed portion of the island: a consequence of the 1974 Turkish invasion, and the subse- quent conversion of hitherto sleepy Larnaca airfield into the southernrepublic's main international airport. Except for its hilly western part, the district isn't particularly scenic -not that this bothers many of the patrons of the burgeoning resorts, who seldom venture far from the clear, warm sea and their self-contained hotels.

Despite lying a short motorway drive from two mega-resorts at the southeastern rip of the island, the district capital ofLarnaca still claims its share of local tourism, though increasing industrialization -and the possibility that Varosha might soon be rehabilitated casts some doubt on its future as a holiday destination. However, just southwest of the town lie two of the most appealing, and most easily accessible, monuments in the area: the Muslim shrine of Hal a Sultan Tekke by Larnaca's salt lake, and the mosaic-graced Byzantine church of Angeloktisti at Kiti. Perivolia, on the approach to Cape Kiti, is perhaps the last human-scale resort in this part of the island, but the coast beyond will reward only the most determined explorers; at the end of the line, little Ziyi port with its fish tavernas is more easily reached from the main Nicosia-Limassol expressway. Inland and west in Larnaca district, a number of attractions are scattered to either side of this highway. Neolithic Khirokitia is one of the oldest known habitations on the island, and a visit can be easily twinned with one to Pano Ufkara, a picturesque village in the Troodhos foothills, renowned for its handicrafts. More direcdy approached from Larnaca along a secondary road, the Chapelle Royale at Pyrga houses a rare example of Lusignan sacred mural art, andd nearby Stavrovouni is an equally unusual instance of a stricdy penitential Cypriot Orthodox monastery. To the southwest of Pyrga, Konnou village has a reputation as a pottery centre, though it's more famous for a particularly ugly intercommunal incident during the days of the unitary republic -as is Tokhni, near Kalavassos on the far side of the A1 expressway, both now popular holiday bases on account of some imaginative accommodation schemes.

East of Larnaca, there is little specifically to recommend along the coast: the saody crescent of Larnaca Bay and the British Sovereign Base Area of Dhekelia are each compromised in their own way. Things only lookup at the two over-grown resorts to either side of Cape Greko: though by no means the largest permanent community, Ayia Napa mushrooms in season to become the busiest hard-core clubbers' resort in the area, while the strip at Protaras on thenortheast coast is slighdy more upmarket.

With the city as a base, it's easy to make several full- or half-day trips to the surrounding attractions. To do this with any degree of flexibility, you'll need a car, for while public transport links the city with the majority of the sites detailed, there are few connections between them. Outside Larnaca, Ayia Napa and Protaras, accommodation can be found at Perivolia, Kalavassos, Tokhni, Vavla and Pino Letkara.

Larnaca (Larnaka)

LARNACA (officially LARNAKA since 1996) has little tangible evidence of its eventful history, and is today a visibly moribund tourist centre and minor port forgetful of its past. Gone is the romantic town depicted in eighteerith-century engravings, with only furnace-like summer heat, an adjacent salt lake and palm trees to impart a nostalgic Levantine touch.

Such recent growth as has occurred is primarily due to regional catastrophe; numbers were first swelled by Greek refugees from Famagusta in 1974, and a year or two later by Lebanese Christians fleeing the strife in their homeland. With a permanent population of about 75,000, Larnaca is just half the size of Limassol, and more encroached upon by downmarket, town-based tourism, though the coastal hotel "ghetto" of Voroklini to the northeast is also increasingly important.

Nightlife and entertainment

Visitors in search of a drink gravitate towards several adjacent bars in the pedestrianized Laiki Yitonia, just inland from the Finikoudhes, though locals tend to avoid the place. They instead patronize Memphis at Athinon 76, the premier Larnaca club with its stunning, high-tech interior and name DJs laying on techno, house and trance events. Honourable mentions go to Prime at Filiou Tsingaridhi 2-4, with an aquarium for interest and mosdy Greek soundtrack, and the smaller Venue at Thermopylon 8, with a mix of Greek pop and trance-dance, and frequent theme/party nights especially during Kataklysmos, the five-day Festival of the Flood, usually held in June . Most years, one of the commercial sponsors or the Cyprus Weekly publishes a full programme of events; the evening singing,dancing and verse competitions are heavily subscribed. Vendors' stalls, normally forbidden on the Finikoudhes, return at this time to sell everything from canaries to plastic toys.

There are two cinemas around Larnaca, showing first-run "family entertainment": the central Othelos 1 & 2 (Tel 24657970) atAyias Elenis 13, and -a short drive out of town near the Kamares aqueduct -the six-screen K-Cineplex at Peloponnisou 1 (Tel)24819022). It's best to check English-language newspapers or on-site posters for screening times, as these phone numbers have Greek-only recordings.


In the former Turkish quarter, just inland from Piyale Pasa and five blocks south of the fort, are the studios of several leading Cypriot ceramicists, all of Farnagusta origin. On the adjoining lanes called Ak Deniz and Bozkurt, the workshops of Efthymios Symeou, Akdeniz 18 (Tel)24650338), Stavros Stavrou, Akdeniz 8 (Tel) 24624491), and Fotini Kourti-Khristou, Bozkurt 28 (Tel 24650304), turn out a wide variety of thin stoneware and raku ware, either practical or decorative, in both traditional and innovative designs.

In what remains of the tradesmen's bazaar on Kaloyera area few coppersmiths, wood-restorers and antique dealers, plus another (Antique Emporium) on Valsamakinear the enclosed car park. Connoisseurs of slightly more mundane second-hand items should gravitate towards Bags otFun in the Christos Demetriou Commercial Centre, or the Larnaca Thrift Shop, Protis Apriliou 67.