Mid-October caught us at the seaside again, only this time it was the Mediterranean. We early-booked an off-season mini-holiday in Larnaca, without knowing much about this place. But we were very positively surprised.
How to get there
There are two low-cost companies that operate flights on Cluj-Larnaca route. The flight takes about three hours, the time zone is the same as in Romania. The airport is close to the city, 15-20 minutes by bus to the center or to the beach.
We booked accommodation right in the heart of the harbor, on a boat that made cruises during the summer, and became a sort of an improvised hotel during off-season months. The ship looked good, being built a few decades ago, in a classic style, with a lot of polished wood, so we had to take our shoes off before climbing on it.
The cabin we were sleeping in was really small. There were problems with the electricity socket (which sometimes didn’t work) and hot water (the sailor supervising the boat had to be notified in advance if we wanted to take a shower). The location was excellent, and the price was much lower than at the hotels in the area.
How is it in Cyprus
Firstly, it’s much warmer than in our country. Although it had been 5 weeks since we returned from the Black Sea, the weather was much better and the water was much warmer than in Vama Veche. It was mid-October and during the day the temperature reached 28 degrees Celsius, and at night it fell just below 20. Being on the southern side, it is even warmer than in Malta and the climate is very pleasant.
The beaches are way better than the rocky ones in Malta, here you will find soft and fine sand-like ground. Cyprus is a large island, it has all kinds of landscapes, including high mountains, so the nature offers more diversity than on the piece of rock south of Italy that is Malta. The cost of living is affordable too, it is not a luxury destination, in supermarkets the prices are similar to those in Romania, and the real estate can sometimes be even cheaper than in our city.
In Cyprus there is a conflict between the north and the south, so for about four decades the island has an internal border between the Turkish side and the Greek one. Larnaca is located in the second, so the language here is Greek, the local currency is euro and the country is a member of the European Union.
You can also do well with English, the area being full of Britons (especially elders) who come here as tourists or even own shops and restaurants. After them, the most numerous are the Russians, you can find info written in Russian almost everywhere; there are flights connecting Cyprus with many cities in Russia, and the tourists who come here take advantage of the weather that is a lot better than in their home country.
What to visit in Larnaca
The city is relatively small (just over 50.000 inhabitants), but it is really well organized. The most “touristy” part of it is the street along the sea, that starts near the airport (Mackenzie Beach) and goes towards the harbor. Here are most of the important hotels and venues. The portion between the castle and the Marina is the most beautiful, with wide sidewalks, countless terraces, successive beaches and attractive modern buildings. It’s a pleasure to stroll by the sea, along the palm-tree alley!
The beaches of Larnaca are very similar to each other. There is not much “normal” sand, not even shells or stones. It’s a kind of soft, relatively comfortable ground. And the water is very shallow, so you can walk in it far away from the shore. The rental prices for sunbeds and umbrellas are even lower than at the Romanian seaside.
Larnaca Marina (the port of yachts and fishing boats), where we were accommodated, is a nice area, but quite inactive in the autumn. We didn’t go to the commercial port, where there are mostly giant ships that carry gas and oil. There were various boat trips on the sea to visit the surroundings, but we left that activity for the next time we will visit Cyprus.
Larnaca Castle is worth visiting, especially for the top view. Inside, there isn’t much to see. Next to it is the Djami Kebir mosque, which you can visit if you have never seen an Islamic religious site. The Orthodox Church of St. Lazarus is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in Larnaca. It is over a thousand years old and was built during the Byzantine Empire.
Nearby, you can also find a Medical Museum, open only for a few hours a week, for the rest of the time a doctor’s officce is functioning in there. The building and the business have remained in the family, being inherited over several generations.
Both the Museum of Natural History and the Archeology Museum were closed for renovation, so we didn’t get the chance to visit them. We skipped the Municipal Gallery as we don’t fancy too much that kind of art. Ancient Kition is a place with archeological excavations where vague traces of the former Greek cities can be found – there is not much to see.
But we visited the Pierides Museum, where you can find some quite interesting historical and ethnographic artifacts. Many civilizations passed through Cyprus, as it is an island in the eastern Mediterranean, at the confluence of the areas of interest of many empires. This mixture of cultures has brought it a special, very interesting specific.
A very cool place that is a must-see, is the salty lake. We were expecting to find flamingo birds there. But when we got to its shores… we did not find the lake. In fact, there is actual water in the lake just for a few months a year during the rainy season. And we were now at the end of the drought, so that it had completely dried out. So we walked on the bottom of the lake, on a thick layer of hardened and cracked salt. It’s a super special experience, it feels like you’re on another planet!
Ayia Napa, a fancy resort
An hour’s bus ride to the north from Larnaca is a place that rivals with the Romanian resort Mamaia: Ayia Napa. We arrived there before noon and it gave us the feeling that everything was deserted, the streets were almost empty. And that’s because this is a place with intense and vibrant nightlife, there are dozens of clubs for all tastes, and during the day the party-goers are sleeping and restoring energy for the next wild night.
As we didn’t come here to go clubbing, we walked across the narrow streets of the small town and enjoyed the sun and the lemon trees. We entered the monastery that is almost two millennia old and keeps track of the tumultuous history of the place, in contrast to the lust for life and invitations to party everywhere around it.
We also went to the Paliatso Luna Park amusement park, which has lots of entertainment options, but it’s pretty expensive, so we’ve only tried some of the huge wheels that spin you until you get dizzy. But from the top of the Ferris wheel there is an amazing view of the surroundings and the sea!
The beach has very fine sand, but it doesn’t seem natural – it is most likely brought from elsewhere. At Pantachou Beach, where we went for a bath, there are big stones everywhere in the water by the shore, so it’s possible to enter the sea only on a kind of “alley” where the boulders were removed.
The resort has many expensive hotels and attractive restaurants, but it seems to be dedicated to a certain tourist segment, that is, to those who appreciate clubbing and have costly taste, and less to active tourists who want to experience many things at a low price, like us.
Some other stuff we did in Larnaca
We ate at many restaurants. Prices are higher than in our country, but not too high. The most convenient morning offer was the English Breakfast for €5. Despite what some may think, it’s a pretty healthy meal that gives you energy for the entire day.
We have also tasted some fish and seafood specialties, which seem to be better here, probably because they were fished recently by locals. We also found a place with an all-you-can-eat offer, very convenient, where we ate too much sushi.
Almost all dishes come with included French fries. Tzatziki, halumi and other local specialties are relatively expensive and served in small quantities. Local beer does not impress, the wine is ok, and the few sweets we’ve tasted were good. Pastry products are excellent and very hard to resist, they’re also pretty cheap and big.
We were on several beaches and liked all of them. The seaside is pretty clean and quiet, there is no loud music, no annoying sellers, it’s really pleasant to sit or walk on the shore. The only frustration was that it was getting dark too soon, it was still autumn…
There are also some pretty good shopping options in town if you are passionate about it, there are hundreds of small shops on the narrow streets, especially at the seafront. Larnaca looks typically Mediterranean, with narrow or no sidewalks, with people mixing with cars on roadways, sellers who bring out products to the street in front of the shops, locals chatting in front of their houses and leaving windows and doors open and you can see everything they do inside.
We have walked a lot these days and got to see most of the city. While wandering on the streets, we found the British cemetery, a very quiet and nice place, that is worth a visit. Besides de main large streets, we also walked on the secondary alleys and shopped at stores were the locals go. It’s all very chill here, life is quiet, the weather is always beautiful, we love it. And there are lots and lost of cats, everywhere !!! <3
The way back home
After 5 days, we didn’t want to leave at all! It was so nice to stay here (and it was so rainy and cold in Cluj) that we were already seriously thinking of moving for good. It’s not a joke, Larnaca has all the coordinates of a very pleasant living: good weather almost all year round, good prices and opportunities to earn relatively well, people who know how to enjoy life and do not stress, really cool sights, quiet places and entertainment venues, cosmopolitan environment and even many Romanians to interact with if you miss it.
We had to go home though, but we’re sure to come back. We also want to see other places in Cyprus: the capital city Nicosia, the ports of Paphos and Limassol, Mount Olympus… It is a very good place for a holiday, but also for studies, work or even relocation. We highly recommend this destination! We are really curious about your opinion on this beautiful island. Αντίο!