Larnaca Holidays – Levantine charm
Larnaca (Lárnaka in official spelling) has never been as popular with Brits as Paphos or Limassol, despite its proximity to southern Cyprus’ busiest airport; Larnaca is in fact the third largest town in southern Cyprus, a plus for shopping. Hotels in the town centre are relatively few, concentrated behind Finikoúdes beach and near Mackénzy beach; holidays in Larnaca, especially for families, generally mean staying in a resort complex out at Voróklini (Oroklini), which starts 7km north of the centre, or perhaps out at Perivólia near Cape Kíti, a similar distance southeast past the airport. If you’re not wedded to bucket-and-spade holidays, restoration lodging at inland villages like Léfkara, Tókhni and Kalavassós has considerable appeal.
The town proper has a first-rate museum in the Pierides Museum, the venerable church of Áyios Lázaros. In winter, the vast salt lake towards the airport fills up, reflecting the minaret and palm trees of the Hala Sultan Tekke, and frequently home to migratory flamingos. The short, palm-tree promenade behind Finikoúdes beach is much touted, but the seaside quarter of Skála, with its tavernas and artisan’s workshops, has more charm. Nightlife concentrates in the Laïkí Yitoniá, a compact area of pedestrianised lanes behind Finikoúdes.
When to go
From a weather point of view (see below), Larnaca is at its best during spring or autumn. The festivals of Kataklysmós (50 days after Easter) and the May Anthistíria or flower celebration are added incentives for a springtime visit. At least one hotel out at Perivólia stays open all years, as does most Voróklini beach strip accommodation, and restoration lodging in the foothill villages.
The weather in Larnaca
Larnaca is typically one of the hotter spots on the island, after Nicosia and Limassol, with daytime summer temperatures consistently in the mid-30s°C, and nights in the mid-20s° C. Cooling offshore breezes are light. As most everywhere in Cyprus, spring and autumn have the most pleasant conditions, while winter days average about 17°C, with moderate rain. www.cyprus-weather.org/larnaca-weather-forecast/ has the most accurate and complete summary of conditions.
Getting the best deal
Peak season for the Larnaca area has traditionally been late June to September, but each tour operator seems to have its own rationale for assessing this, and autumn departures can be more expensive than spring or early summer.
Booking a package is usually the most cost-effective strategy, though with operators pricing pre-emptively against possible air-fare hikes, you need to be quick to get a bargain for 2012. Flight prices, quoted separately, vary considerably; anything under £250 return, at shoulder seasons, is doing well, while summer prices soar above £300 (as against £150 in winter). Departures from regional airports can be advantageous compared to the biggest UK hubs.
Airport and transport need to know
Larnaca’s airport (code LCA) is just 5km from the city centre. It has a relatively new terminal, completed in 2009, which should cope with high-season demand for the foreseeable future.
Taxis to the city centre cost about €12; city bus No 22 is much cheaper but only runs Mon-Sat, 8am-5pm, with early stoppage Wed and Sat.
When you return home be at the airport at least 75 minutes before your scheduled departure. There are a dozen or so eating and dining options at Larnaca (all pricey, so ideally have lunch beforehand). Car-hire parking areas lie a reasonable distance from the entrances.
The best beaches near Larnaca
Beaches in and around Larnaca are apt to be fairly hardpacked and of brown sand – a far cry from the fluffy, blonde stuff found at Ayía Nápa. The town-centre beach of Finikoúdes, laced with sunbeds, is a case in point. There’s easier parking, a better range of tavernas and probably cleaner sea at Mackénzy beach at the far south end of town beyond Skála district, near the airport.
At the base of low cliffs either side of Perivólia’s Cape Kíti spreads a fairly wild, unspoiled beach which is, however, exploited by the local hotels just inland. The broadest, whitest, best equipped public beach in the Larnaca area is the one run by the Cyprus Tourist Organisation at the far end of the Voróklini resort strip, just before the boundary of the Dekélia British Sovereign Base.
Some might be happiest off the beach, rather than on it; for scuba enthusiasts one of the best wreck dives in the Mediterranean, the Zenobia, beckons just out to sea from Skála district (Dive In, www.dive-in.com.cy is a recommended operator).
Cheap holiday deals to Larnaca
The Vangelis Apartments are popular with couples and families with older children and are conveniently located in the heart of bustling Protaras close to Fig Tree Bay beach.