Road trip from Greek mythology to posh beach town.
Tip! Definitely rent a car or hire a driver for this list. There’s a lot of unwalkable distance from #1 Kourion to #9 Guaba Beach Bar.
Limassol is the second largest city in Cyprus, and a thriving one in the south. Compared with Nicosia where so much of your travel experience will be a multicultural look at the Turkish and Greek sides; Limassol is all about fun in the sun and beach town vibes.
Limassol Marina is the perfect example, where Cyprus blends the old and the new but in a modern luxurious way. Lucky for you, bars, clubs, gourmet restaurants aren’t lacking in this town!
But we can’t forget the island’s long history from the Classical to Roman periods, so this list starts with a road trip along the coastline. So before you party ’til dawn, you’ll explore a cultural side full of castles and acropolis. Surf’s up!
1. DO: Rent a car to see Aphrodite's Rock and Kourion.
One of the best things to do in Cyprus, thanks to its accessible size, is to rent a car or hire a driver and cruise along the southern coast. Especially if you’re traveling between Nicosia (the capital) and Limassol (Cyprus’ third largest city,) there are certain sites you must not miss. One of them is Petra tou Romiou, aka: Aphrodite’s Rock. Legend has it that the rock is the birthplace of the Greek goddess of love – Aphrodite. And if you sip in the water, it’s said that you’ll be blessed with eternal beauty!
Another 30-minute drive from Aphrodite’s Rock, you’ll encounter Kourion which is definitely worth a visit. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kourion is an ancient limestone acropolis by the sea. There’s a visitor’s center that explains the history of several grounds you can visit that’ll require at least an hour to walk around and see.
The Kingdom of Kourion goes back to 1050-75- BCE with tombs that indicate a flourishing society here with strong ties to Greece. Once the most powerful kingdom in Cyprus, Kourion carries history through the Classical and the Roman periods. Here, you’ll see The Temple of Apollo Hylates, sanctuary baths, a massive theater, basilicas, aqueducts, House of Achilles, and House of the Gladiators which features marvelous mosaic work.
2. SEE: The majesty of Kolossi Castle.
A 10-minute drive from Kourion is Kolossi Castle that place an imperative role during hte Middle Ages when Cyprus was known for exporting sugar and Kolossi held large factories producing sugar from local sugarcanes. The castle was built in 1210 by the Franks, who were Germanic people from the 3rd century and came to known as Western Europeans during the Middle Ages.
The castle we see today was built in 1454 under Kolossi Commander, Louis de Magnac, and his coat-of-arms can be seen throughout the castle, such as the fireplaces. There are 3 floors of empty rooms, but I highly recommend heading up to the rooftop where you can capture a gorgeous view of surrounding landscapes.
3. EAT: Lunch at La Maison Fleurie.
La Maison Fleurie is a classic French restaurant, which is probably a nice change from all the Cypriot meze you’ve been indulging. The dishes here are hearty and comes in beautiful presentation. Even if they’re French-inspired, you can still get seaside vibes by ordering seafood on the menu. You’ll see why this is one of the most popular restaurants in town!
4. DO: Enter the historic center and check out Limassol Castle.
Situated in the heart of Limassol’s historic quarter, the city’s main castle was rebuilt during the Ottoman empire around 1590. Experts have discovered the Limassol Castle was originally constructed over a Christian basilica from the 4th century, a Middle Byzantine monument from the 10th century and the city’s first church. Once the Ottomans took control of Cyprus around mid-1500’s, they transformed the castle into a fort, turning the underground chamber and the first floor into prisons. The castle was used for such until the 1950’s.
This is also where the Queen of England Berengaria of Navarre was crowned in 1191.
5. SEE: Ayia Napa Cathedral.
Ayia Napa Cathedral is a small Byzantine church that was built towards the end of the 19th century or early 20th century. The origin of its name come has two versions: 1) It’s named after the glen (napa in Latin) that the Virgin Mary was found. 2) Named after the temple built in during the Frankish period: Saint Nape, dedicated to the Holy Nappe of St. Berenice.
The church we see today was completed in 1906, filled with marble iconostasis and frescoes. A must-see in Limassol because it plays such a significant religious role in the city.
6. SHOP: Limassol Marina.
While in Limassol, it’s worth checking out a luxurious part of Cyprus, which is at the Limassol Marina. This waterfront high-end development is where you can check off your shopping list for loved ones back home since there are tons of shops and boutiques in this area with gorgeous views. In addition, you can also get on a cruise, opt for windsurfing sailing and scuba diving activities.
7. DRINK: Sip on cocktails at Marina Roof Bar.
While you’re in the area, you’ve gotta grab a drink/or dinner at Marina Roof Bar. The ambiance is cool, and you’ll love sipping tasty cocktails in front of the bluest sea. Located above TGIFridays, there are DJs working their magic ’til the wee hours. If you decide to dine here, the menu serves up fresh seafood in a sophisticated setting.
8. EAT: Dinner at Limanaki Fish Restaurant (open May - Oct).
Although only open during some months throughout the year and only for dinner, Limanaki Fish restaurant has been around for a few decades. Situated inside Amathus Hotel, you must grab a table by the sea for an ideal feasting experience. Known as the best fish restaurant in Limassol, the delicacies served are fresh and delicious.
9. DRINK: Party at Guaba Beach Bar.
If you want some after hour fun, head over to Guaba Beach Bar, where there’s live DJs spinning by the sea. For the ultimate island, Ibiza-esque vibes, Guaba is often voted as one of the top beach bars in the world. The bar can host up to 5,000 club goers, and it’s seasonal so that the atmosphere is fresh and renewed year after year.