Limassol Guide Cyprus

Limassol and Around

Limassol, the island's second largest city, is a brash, functional place, with little to recommend it other than gritty authenticity, a wide range of dining options and sophisticated nightlife. More than anywhere else in the South, it has acted as a magnet for extensive and debilitating urban drift from the poor, low-altitude hill-villages just north, and was a major focus of Greek-Cypriot refugee resettlement after 1974.

The city continues to expand a hundred or so metre annually to the east along the coast (westward growth is blocked by a British vereign Base), and a similar distance up into the barren, shrub-clad foothills of the Troodhos, whose nearer settlements are now scarcely other than commuter dormitories. The most interesting spots, such as Ayia Mavra, Omodhos, Voum and Lofou, might not rate a special detour, but are easily visited en route to the high Troodhos. Other half-inhabited hill-hamlets, like Arakapas with its fine Italo-Byzantine church, Akapnou and Odhou, see few outsiders from one month to the next; reaching them requires considerable energy, not to mention your own vehicle, as there's effectively no public transport in the backcountry.

Along the coast east of Limassol, you have to outrun 16km of fairly horrific hotel and apartment development before the tower-blocks halt a little past the small but evocative ancient site of Amathus. Just before the coast road veers inland towards Nicosia, there's access to Governor's Beach, the last remaining (relatively) unspoilt stretch of sand in the district. The adjacent bay of Ayios Ye6ryios Alamanou is better for dining, while Pendakomo just inland is perhaps the most interesting of the villages in this direction.

Heading out of Limassol in the opposite direction holds more promise. A long beach fringing the Akrotiri peninsula, home to one of the island's three British Sovereign Bases, ends near the legend-draped convent of Ayiou Nikolaou t6n Gaton. On the far side of the lagoon, orange and eucalyptus groves soften the landscape en route to the atmospheric crusader castle of Kolossi and the cliff top ruins of Kourion -together with its associated sanctuary of Apollo Hylates, one of the most impressive ancient sites in the South. You can swim at the beach below the palisades, but it's probably better to wait until reaching the more secluded bays at Evdhimou and Pissouri, both favourite hideouts of British expats.

Limassol (Lemesos)

Although its old centre of Levantine stone buildings and alleyways lends the city some charm, LIMASSOL (Lemesos in Greek, now the official name) is primarily the industrial and cornrnercial capital of the southern coast, specializing in wine-making, citrus processing and canning. Since 1974 and the loss of Famagusta, it has also become the South's largest port, with container ships at anchor near the seafront esplanade throughout the year.

With about 160,900 inhabitants, Limassol basks in its reputation as a mini-Texas of conspicuously consuming, gregarious nouveaux riches -and this was true even before a massive, mid-1990s influx of Russian biznismen who briefly dominated the "offshore banking" industry here. Large sums are still frittered away at "exclusive" nightclubs just off the expressway to Larnaca, and at topless "gentlemen's clubs" closer to the centre. Along with the laundering of money smuggled out of the Russian Federation, prostitution is now a major local enterprise, and has spilled out from the confines of its traditional central red-light zone.

Most of the conventional tourist industry is ghettoized in a long, unsighdy ribbon of development east of the town, in the areas known as Potamos Yermasoyias (Potamos Germasogeias) and Amathus (Amathous). This consists of 15km-plus of intermittent roadworks and traffic diversions, crumbling, faded, rabbit-warren hotel and apartment buildings, neon-incandescent bars, naff restaurants and "waterparks", all abutting a generally mediocre beach. Jewellery and furs are assiduously pitched at the Russian market -judging from the fact that every fourth sign is in the Cyrillic alphabet -while many (though by no means all) of the hotel entrances are closely patrolled by eastern European prostitutes.

All is not frowsiness and vulgarity, however; under a new mayor, extensive areas of the old commercial centre have been rehabilitated. The giant Anex- artisias shopping mall just off the eponymous street, the refurbished central market and the Lanitis Carob Mill project, constitute the main foci of this urban renewal. Native Lemessans do their utmost to uphold the city's reputation as the party town of Cyprus, with some lively music venues, quality restaurants and stylish nightspots. And if you're considering a winter-sun break in Cyprus, Limassol (or at least its environs) makes an excellent choice -as a "real" town, it most emphatically does not close down off-season the way Ayia Napa does.

Arrival, orientation and information on Limassol

Since early 2002, all passenger-ferry services to Lirnassol have been suspended and show no sign of resuming; the Cypriots are unwilling to terrorist-proof the port terminal, 4km southwest of the town centre; to the satisfaction of the Israelis who shared the boat-line. Bus #30 still runs into town from the port via r the seafront, its route extending along the coastal boulevard down to the hotel strip, all the way to the marina; the service runs roughly every 20 to 25 minutes t from 7.30am to 7pm, then half-hourly from the old port until 11.3Opm. Theless far-rang;ing #6 links only the market area with the marina, approximately every 20 minutes from 7am to 7pm.

Arriving by long-distance bus or service taxi, you'll be dropped at one of the terminals. If you're driving, make for the public pay-and-display car parks on the seafront promenade, or various privately operated ones inlarid along Elladhos. There are a very, limited number of uncontrolled spaces around the municipal gardens.

The town centre is defined by three main thoroughfares: the coastal boule- vard, which changes its name first from Spjrou Araouzou to (very briefly) Khristodhowou Hadjipavlou, then to 28-0ktovriou as you head northeast; the main shopping street, Ayiou Andhreou, which runs roughly parallel to it just inland as far as the Municipal Gardens and Archeological Museum; and Anexartisias, which threads though the central downtown area.

The main tourist information office (Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri 8.15am- 2.30pm & 4-6.15pm, Wed 8.15am-2.30pm, Sat 8.15am-1.30pm) sits on the ground floor of the Continental Hotel building on Spyrou Araouzou, but their stock of leaflets is not the greatest -English-language material in particular can disappear quickly. There's also a branch near Dhassoudhi beach at Yeoryiou tou Protou 22, keeping the same hours.

Eating and drinking in Limassol

The plastic-fantastic, steak-and-chips eateries interspersed among McDonald's and KFC along the waterfront and in Potamos Yermasoyias are pretty dismissible, but a short walk, or even a brief drive, will be amply rewarded. Bear in mind also that Lemessans eat late, as in metropolitan Greece, from about 9.30pm onwards -though this is much less true on the tourist strip.

Limassol Nightlife and entertainment

The resort strip of Potamos Yermasoyias, defined by its main drag Yeoryiou tou Protou, has the expected complement of foreign-orientated bars and clubs, most of which close down in the off-season. Town-centre venues tend to have much greater patronage from locals, and stay open all year. There's a scattering of gay, or at least gay-friendly, clubs among them -Limassol was always the hub of Cyprus's gay life, even before the late-1990s relaxation of laws against homosexual practices.

As part of the revival of downtown Limassol, the Rialto Theatre (Tel 77777745, at Andhrea Dhroushioti 19, on the corner of Plana Iroon, has been gloriously refurbished and pressed into service as the city's main venue for serious musical, dance and dramatic acts, about evenly split between Greek and foreign names. This local renaissance has had the effect of partially reclaiming Plana Iroon, the historical heart of Limassol's traditional red-light district, from the sin merchants -there are now even "respectable" places for theatre patrons to have a coffee before or after performances. The former shack-like brothels, complete with proverbial red bulb over the doorway, at the fringes of the square have all closed down, but sleazy cabarets just around the corner from the Rialto have paradoxically multiplied. The Pattikbion Theatre on Ayias Zonis (Tel 25343341) is the city's longest- running quality music and drama venue, and still offers a crowded programme. Limassol can also muster three cinemas: Othellos 1 & 2, Thessalonikis 19 (Tel 25352232 and Tel 25363911); the Rio at Eiladhos 125, corner Navarinou (Tel 25352232);Pallas, Evklidhou 2 (Tel 25362324); and the K-Cineplex 1-5 at 4 Ariadhni 8 in Potamos Yerrnasoyias. There's also the much cheaper Limassol Film Society, housed in the Praxis Theatre on Mikhail Mikahelidhes (Tel 25357570), which shows art-house movies on Mondays at 8.30pm (not July/ Aug).


Central Limassol is in the grip of a restoration craze, as fine Neoclassical build- ings are being steadily rehabilitated for business and residential use. This has created a ready market for antiques to furnish the interiors, and dealers abound in the commercial district. The plushest, installed in a former candy factory, is Hermal's Auction House at Gladstonos 48 (, which also hosts sales of international art.

More affordable, locally produced art -primarily painting -is on view at Morfi Gallery,AnkYras 84 (Tues-Sat 10am-lpm & 4-7pm, Mon 10am-1pm; For ceramics, Kerameas, nearby at no. 55, has a selection of portable, yet unusual, objects.

At the Ergastiri Keramikis Tekhnis (Workshop of Ceramic Art) on Khristou Sozou, between Ayiou Andhreou and Spyrou Araouzou, you'll find highly idio-syncratic, often eerie, large-scale work by Pambos Mikhlis, displayed in an old house just behind the seattont.