Limassol (Greek: Λεμεσός) is the second largest city (after the capital, Nicosia) of Cyprus. Following the Turkish invasion in 1974, it has become the principal sea port and has also developed into a significant tourist destination.
Limassol is the second largest town in Cyprus after Nicosia, with population of approximately 200 000. Apart from being a major tourist destination, it is also a principal hub for international business in Cyprus. This gives Limassol a more cosmopolitan feel compared to other district centers. Recent renovation projects in the old town and old port area are seeking to rejuvenate the historic center, making it more accessible and interesting for sightseeing.
Limassol is about 40 minutes drive away from Larnaca and Paphos international airports. Larnaca mainly serves traditional airlines, while most of RyanAir flights land in Paphos. There is a regular shuttle bus service from Larnaca and Paphos airports . Be careful to arrange pick-up from the shuttle bus stops, as they are located away from the central areas. Bus driver might provide assistance to arrange a taxi.
Limassol has the biggest commercial shipment port and a reasonable passenger port, with several regular cruise routes:
- St. Raphael Marina St. Raphael Marina on the outskirts of Limassol.
- There are special Green Buses which operate intercity. Buses are available for Troodos, Larnaca, Pafos and Nicosia. It is best to confirm timings from the closest CTO Tourist Information Center.
By service taxi
- Travel Express run an intercity service using shared minibuses between the major towns in Cyprus. They have recently had their licence extended to allow them to pick up from Larnaca and Pafos Airports. They are a lot cheaper than taxis but more expensive than the intercity buses, however, they take you door to door. Bookings need to be made in advance, however, if it's not full you can normally get on the next one.
The three main roads are:
- The Beach Road
- Makarios Avenue
- Griva Digeni (which transforms into Kolonakou / Spyros Kyprianou later to the east)
The bus service has recently been upgraded, with more routes and better schedules, however waiting times may still be long. The principal tourist route is #30, serving the beach road from Le Meridien hotel up to New Port (Old Port after 6pm), which runs approximately every 15 minutes. You can find detailed information and maps on the EMEL bus company website. Cost per trip is €1.50. Day tickets cost 5 Euros.
Taxi is the most popular means of transportation for tourists, but are expensive and it is common to ignore meters. Of late, share taxis too are popular, and may work out to a more reasonable fare.
The beach road has a dedicated bicycle lane stretching from the Old Port to Dasoudi area. Keep in mind that in summer it gets very hot.
Cars, scooters and bicycles can be hired easily, however keep in mind that locals have a relaxed approach to Highway Code.
- Limassol Old Town: recently renovated, especially around the Limassol Castle area.
- Limassol Castle
- Akti Olympion, a 7-km beach-side walking park area stretching from Municipal Gardens to the Old Port.
- The ancient city of Amathus
- The ancient city of Kourion (outside Limassol)
- Kolossi Castle (outside Limassol)
- Governor's Beach (outside Limassol), long sandy beach with many beach-side fish restaurants, and a beautiful white stone coast to the west.
- Lady's Mile Beach (outside Limassol), long mostly-pebbly, partly sandy beach with several beach-side fish restaurants. Try watching birds at the salt lake nearby. Note that there is a military air base in the area.
- Visit the Limassol Wine Festival, every September.
- Party during the Limassol Carnival, every February/March. Truly Colorful!
- Watch the Cyprus Rally every Autumn.
- Get drunk at the Potamos Yermasoyias (aka "Galatex") which has plenty of entertainment in the pubs, night clubs and cafes on the street and in the surrounding area.
- Visit one of the traditional buzukia (tavern with live music).
- Explore the Limassol Castle and nearby Old Town area.
- Visit Anexartisias street in the Old Town, a popular shopping area for both tourists and locals.
- Take a stroll on the seafront Akti Olympion in the evening.
- Take a walk on the wooden promenade along the sea opposite the archeological site of Kingdom of Amathus.
- Drive down to the Kourion (15 km) area offers sites of historic importance, namely The House of Achilles, and The Altar of Appollo and spectacular views of the Curium Beach.
- The Municipal Garden along the beach road is a good place to spend some time and catch some interesting flora. However the zoo is not that great.
For a taste of local sport, visit the home games of the local clubs: AEL, Apollonas and Aris. All three compete in the first division of the Cyprus Soccer and Basketball leagues. Recently Apollonas' football and AEL's basketball teams have enjoyed considerable success in European competitions. So you never know, you might be lucky and catch a Manchester United visit. Expect double a figure score in such a case. Tickets are relatively cheap when compared to European leagues where on average a full price ticket costs less than €20. However football hooliganism is a problem as of late, so take care.
An annual marathon event takes place every February, the Limassol Marathon GSO . Limassol Marathon GSO is expanding into a big athletic celebration where Marathon runners from all over the world will meet to compete and at the same time enjoy a memorable experience race.
- The traditional shopping streets are Ayios Andreas and Anexartisias street. These streets provide an ambiance of the old cobbled path lanes, away from the modern city.
- Several western style supermarkets ( Carrefour, Debenhams, LIDL, Orphanidies etc.) are spread across the city and warehouse-style shopping centres have mushroomed on the outskirts of the city. My Mall is the biggest shopping center in the area, located to the west of New Port.
- Sea Sponges is popular product of Cyprus, used as a bath/face scrub. Loofa is used as a bath scrub. Available at most tourist/souvenir shops. Also there is a Sea Sponges Exhibition at the roundabout at the Old Port. However, sea sponges may be pricey!
- The Lefkara Lace and other lace products may be brought from Limassol or any other city than Lefkara itself, as they may be often over priced in Lefkara, due to a large number of tourists flocking there, especially during the tourist season.
- Opening hours for most shops are M-F 9AM-1PM / 3PM-7PM (siesta time in between, outside of the tourist area most smaller shops are not open on Wednesday afternoons) and Saturdays 9AM-2PM. Only some convenience stores (Periptero in Greek) would be open 24 hours on all days.
Kebab can be optimum for a relatively cheap, fresh and filling meal. Be careful with colourful "tourist" cafes since those are often over-priced and offer low quality conventional sandwiches or English Breakfasts. Mousaka or Kleftiko are popular, however your best bet (especially if you are hungry), is a traditional Cyprus Meze (either of the meat or fish variety), which usually includes a myriad of small hot and cold dishes for a reasonable price.
Try targeting restaurants that cater for the locals. You should not encounter a client/waiter language barrier as virtually everyone speaks English.
All major western chains are present, e.g. McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Friday's, Bennigan's, Goodies, Nandos et al.!
- Kyrenia Nautical Club, beach-side tavern in Yermasoyia tourist area (opposite Mirage traffic lights). Traditional Cypriot fish meze.
- Syrian Arab Friendship Club, Lebanese-style tavern/restaurant with excellent meze. Located in Yermasoyia tourist area.
- Ocean Basket, fish restaurant at My Mall.
- Draught Microbrewery. Restaurant and bar located in the Carob Mill next to the Limassol Castle. Specializes in grills.
- Tapas Bar, tapas with a local twist, located opposite St. Raphel hotel (next to Chesters). Also known for expensive, but good shisha (hookah).
- Pralina Blu, beach-side restaurant and cafe located opposite to McDonalds / Luna Park in the Yermasoyia tourist area. Mediterranean cuisine.
- Columbia Steakhouse [www.columbiaplaza.com/columbia-steak-house/], located in Old Town.
- Roku. Japanese Restaurant.
Drinking water: It is generally safe to drink water directly from the tap. Most apartments/hotels would have a separate tap provided along with the sink, for water that bypasses the storage tank on the roof.
Limassol has the reputation among locals of being the party capital of Cyprus. When Ayia Napa hibernates in the winter, Limassol powers on drawing much of the local clientele especially during the carnival season.
The Potamos Yermasoyia tourist area is littered with countless bars and pubs to cater for everyone's tastes and budget. The old medieval town centre is more popular with the locals and offers classier but pricier establishments. Most hotels will also have a variety of in house bars (either with a local or international twist), which are open to non residents too.
Sport is religion here and sports bars abound. Football is in your face everywhere, especially the British and Greek leagues. Being here during a European or World cup competition finals stage is only next best to attending the real thing.
Zivania is the equivalent local version of Grappa or Eau de Vie. Drink frozen zivania shots at your peril.
Commandaria is a sweet dessert wine and a speciality of Limassol is worth tasting especially after a meze.
- Chesters. Irish-style bar locaged in tourist area opposite St. Raphel hotel. Good selection of beers and food.
- Draught Microbrewery. Restaurant and bar located in the Carob Mill next to the Limassol Castle. Has its own small beer brewery.
- Molly Malones. Irish-style bar locaged in tourist area opposite Elias Beach hotel. Good selection of beers and food.
- Pralina Blu, beach-side restaurant and cafe located opposite to McDonalds / Luna Park in the tourist area.
- 7Seas. Located in Old Town. Probably the classiest live music nightclub in the town.
- Dolce. Located next to Amathus excavation. Nightclub which often has live music and international DJs.
Apart from local luxury and boutique hotels Limassol boasts many branches of international hotels. However one can easily find low budget accommodation. An increasingly popular option is private apartment and villa rental.
As far as renting a Studio Apartment (with cooking facilities) goes, there are plenty of them around, and one may find accommodation easily, both long term and short term.
- L'Onda, ☎ +357-25865555, fax: +357-25320040, e-mail: email@example.com. The forerunner of a new wave of boutique hotels. Pricy but classy. Highly rated and expensive restaurant, with a good selection of local wines. Popular with locals and tourists alike.
- Le Méridien Limassol Spa & Resort. Old Limassol - Nicosia Road. Tel.+357-25862000, Fax. +357-25634222. Considered as one of the best hotels on the island but you pay for what you get.
- Amathus Beach Hotel, ☎ +357-25832000, fax: +357-25832540, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Member of The Leading Hotels of the World. A five star hotel that does not belong to a globalized conglomerate but non the less, a worthy rival.
- Four Seasons, ☎ +357 25 858 000, fax: +357 25 310 887, e-mail: email@example.com. A 5 star hotel. But beware, getting a room facing the road can mean noisy nights, as this becomes a race track for locals after 10PM.