Flamingos, church and mosque with tombs.
Larnaca – what many believe as possibly the oldest city in Cyprus – will possibly be either your first or the last stop. Since the country’s largest airport is LCA, you will come across Larnaca with excitement or nostalgia.
Chilling on the southern coast of Cyprus, Larnaca (or Larnaka, rather) is the country’s third largest city boasting pink flamingos amid winter breeze and Russians tanning on the shores during vibrant summer haze. There are quite a few things to do in this relaxing town, here are some quintessentials:
SEE: Church of Saint Lazarus, and crawl downstairs to see the tombs.
Inside this little Greek Orthodox Church is a golden gem, quite literally. On the outside, one may feel ambivalent but inside this late 9th century church named after Lazarus of Bethany. After Jesus raised him from the dead, Lazarus arrived in Cyprus and was appointed as the first Bishop of modern day Larnaca. His tomb is underneath the church, you can go and take a peek.
SEE: Hala Sultan Tekke, and see another tomb!
Situated next to the Salt Lake is a beautiful Hala Sultan or mosque of Umm Haram, who was the wife of the Prophet Muhammed. In addition to the mosque, you’ll see a mausoleum, minaret, and a cemetery here. Umm Haram’s tomb can be discovered after you enter the mosque and pass through a small door. The tomb was first uncovered in the 18th century, followed by the mosque architecture that was built around the tomb. You should come here because it’s rare to see a mosque located in the Greek non-Muslim part of the Cyprus island.
DO: Watch the flamingos at the Salt Lake.
Note: these gorgeous flamings might get a bit camera shy! If you happen to be in Cyprus during winter months, you’re in luck! Flamingos flock to the island for brine shrimps! Fans of swampy areas, flamingos arrive here from Turkey, Sardinia, North Italy, and even Iran. What a great group of periwinkle United Nations!
EAT: Seafood meze at Aquarium Bar Cafe.
Right on the pier, Aquarium Bar Cafe is casual and delicious! We highly recommend the seafood here, but if you’re more of a meat lover, tons of meze here will satiate your appetite. Enjoy people watching, and sit back with a cold pint right by the beach. Life is real good.
DO: Stroll along the palm-tree seafront.
After a fabulous meal, strolling along the marina is a complete must. From this point, there are 6 countries just an ocean away, including: Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Egypt, and Greece. Walking along the shore, you’ll see many restaurants, cafes then finally the Larnaca Castle.
EAT: Grada Taverna has been around for decades.
You wouldn’t think but restaurants in Cyprus open, close and remodel quite often. So the ones that have lasted for decades means, they’re high quality eateries. Grada Tavern is one of them. Get their meze (what else!) and try not to order too much if you don’t have a large appetite since their portions are hearty! Local, casual, but tasty by the sea.