Limassol Holidays – A lively port town
Limassol (Lemesós in Greek) is Cyprus’ second largest city after Nicosia, and its busiest port and industrial centre. Although ancient Amathus lies nearby, it is not really the predecessor of Limassol, a very young town by island standards. The oldest thing here is the diminutive Byzantine castle, now housing an excellent museum, and the linchpin of the old town’s market and residential areas. Much effort has gone into refurbishing Limassol’s often elegant old quarter, part pedestrianised and full of interesting shops.
There are just a limited number of modest hotels in the centre, so holidays in Limassol mean staying out along the resort strip of Potamós Yermasóyias, which extends almost 18km east of Limassol town limits. Here you’ll find a broad selection of luxurious 4 star and 5 star hotels, mostly suitable for families, and a fair amount of nightlife.
Further afield, nearby highlights include breathtaking ancient Kourion on seaside cliffs to the west, the Crusader castle of Kolossi, and ancient Amathus in the resort strip. The Limassol foothills are sprinkled with stone-built wine-producing villages which make an excellent day-trip target or even an overnight venue.
When to go to Limassol
From a weather point of view (see below), Limassol is at its best during spring or autumn. The late winter, ten-day carnival season, which finishes 7 weeks before Easter Sunday, is celebrated with some verve here, with floats and masquers. The main city park hosts the annual wine festival each early September. Most hotels along the resort strip stay open year-round, as do inns in the nearby foothill villages. The level of cultural activity in the city centre, particularly at venues like the Rialto Theatre (www.rialto.com.cy) makes Limassol a good choice for a winter break.
The weather in Limassol
Limassol is typically one of the hotter spots on the island, after Nicosia, with daytime summer temperatures consistently in the mid-30s° C, with 40°C not unknown, 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/limassol-weather-forecast/ has the most accurate and complete summary of conditions.
Getting the best deal to Limassol
Peak season for the Limassol 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). The no- or lo-frills airlines EasyJet, jet2, Thomsonfly or Monarch usually prove cheapest, but always check the offerings of other airlines flying directly from Britain, of which Aegean and BA are generally cheaper than Cyprus Airways. Departures from regional airports can be advantageous compared to the biggest UK hubs.
Airport and transport need to know
Limassol is roughly halfway between Larnaca (LCA) and Paphos (PFO) airports, with a range of full-service and no-frills flights. Both are relatively new (completed 2009) and adequate to demand, though Paphos doesn’t have quite as many luggage belts as it should.
To reach Limassol from Larnaca airport, use the dedicated, long-hours shuttle-bus service (www.airportshuttlebus.eu; €8).
From Paphos airport, the same company has commenced service to Limassol as of April 2012. It may be less hassle to have a hire car awaiting you. Driving is on the left in Cyprus, as in Britain.
The best beaches near Limassol
Despite improvement with a park and pedestrianisation, the main town beach at Limassol isn’t much to write home about, and those along the Potamós Yermasóyias strip, also narrow and hard-packed, are dominated by the hotels just behind. The best town-centre beach, just at the boundary with Yermasóyia, is the Cyprus Tourist Organisation-maintained public beach at Dassoúdi.
The closest undeveloped beach is Lady’s Mile, beyond the new port to the southwest, some 4km of grey, hard-packed sand that’s better for jogging than bathing. Because it falls within the Akrotíri British Sovereign Base, no development is permitted other than the occasional shack-like café or taverna.
The same rules apply to the more impressive if still hard-sand beach at the base of the cliffs at ancient Kourion, some 16km west of town. The safe-swimming zone is clearly marked, in front of three ‘temporary’ tavernas.
In fact, all the noteworthy Limassol area beaches have been well protected by lying within British territory. The last wild beach on the west, which still gets occasional turtles nesting, is Evdímou, over a kilometre of fluffier sand, with a taverna at each end. Kitesurfing is practiced here, but you’ll have to bring your own kit – there are no franchises. Paramáli, one bay over, is similarly unspoiled and long but without any facilities and tricky to find via a maze of farm tracks from the old highway.
Cheap holiday deals to Limassol
A 3-star hotel with a fantastic beachfront location in Limassol, the Arsinoe Beach Hotel is fairly large, very comfortable and well-equipped with a great range of relaxation facilities. Attractive pools, a hotel health and spa centre and Jacuzzis provide the ultimate in relaxation.
Stylishly decorated rooms, an impressive pool area and excellent facilities for both adults and children make the 4-star Atlantica Oasis Hotel a popular family holiday choice. Just 200m from the beach and round 150m to the nearest bars and restaurants.