Limassol is a characterful Cypriot city, which radiates charm and oozes personality from every architectural pore. Take the old town itself, where all squiggly lanes lead to the dinky castle, and where old window-shuttered houses and modern boutiques sit amid a welcoming clutter of cafés, bars and restaurants. Cyprus considers Limassol an important city, not least because it is the country’s main industrial port along the Mediterranean trade route. It’s this geographical vantage point that first ensured that it stood up and got noticed by would-be Limassol holidaymakers - that and an inviting climate of course.
Sunshine, beaches, architecture and food aside, history is one of the other predominant draws in Limassol, a city steeped in archaeological relevance. From the ruined city of Kourion and the site at Amathus to Limassol Castle and the one at Kolossi (which represent two of the greatest Crusader examples), Limassol is certainly an attractive summer holiday destination in 2019 / 2020.
Limassol’s ancient castle is well worth a visit when exploring the fascinating and culturally-rich Cypriot city, as is the beautiful marina located in the old town. The 14th century castle has been the temporary home of many a passing conqueror throughout history including the Venetians (who vandalised it), the Ottomans (who gave it a facelift for military use) and indeed the Brits (who used it as a colonial prison). There’s even suggestion that Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria in the chapel of the original castle in 1191.
If you’re one of those Limassol holidaymakers who’s partial to an old ruin, then fear not as a mere 15km away there’s more. Ancient Kourion, with its stunning views of Curium Beach, is also where visitors will discover the historic House of Achilles and Altar of Apollo. The archaeological site has unearthed remains believed to date back to the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. Away from Time Team digs, tourists taking in the sights and sounds of Limassol might also wish to visit the local Saturday markets, while nearby Paphos boasts a stunning coastline with four beaches of its own. Not to mention Coral Bay with its excellent water sports facilities. Alternatively, the stunning setting of Ayia Napa offers holidaymakers much in the way of blissful blue seas, restaurants and, of course, a legendary nightclub scene.
Once the sun-kissed day starts to turn to a balmy Mediterranean evening, thoughts quickly turn to dinner and to eat once the sun disappears behind the horizon. Here in Limassol the choices, while not limitless, are far from limiting. Perhaps unsurprisingly, seafood plays a pivotal role in many menus. Check out the culinary delights on offer at the Trata Fish Tavern for starters. Arguably one of Limassol’ most respected fish restaurants - particularly famed for the seafood meze – the Trata Fish Tavern emits an unassuming ambience which attracts scores of tourists and locals, especially at weekends.
Dino Art Café has a great reputation and a loyal local following thanks to its smart décor, friendly owner and great food. Here you can choose massive salads with quirky choices like duck and orange or strawberry with blue cheese, while the backdrop is comprised of photography and works of art by local Cypriot artists.
Families of all ages will derive much excitement from a visit to Fasouri Watermania, regarded as Cyprus’ most popular waterpark and guaranteed to prove a hit with youngsters and adults alike. There’s also Limassol’s Natural Sea Sponge Exhibition Centre to keep the kids amused for hours at a time - a place where sponges seemingly have a life of their own. The exhibition itself goes through the process of sea-sponge harvesting and how the living creatures become the soft things we use in our baths.
Limassol Mini Zoo allows families to get up close and personal with a number of interesting animals including ostriches and cheetahs, all housed within the city’s leafy Municipal Gardens. Elsewhere, the Cyprus Historic & Classic Motor Museum provides a wealth of motoring-related exhibits to pore over, while the yearly Limassol Carnival is particularly child-friendly. This 11-day carnival (which takes place in the spring) starts with the ‘King of the Carnival’ entering town, escorted by a motley parade.
Action & Adventure
From paintball, off-road buggies and drift go-karting to moto trails, 4x4 experiences and all-terrain vehicle tours, Sayious Adventure Park is synonymous with action and adventure here in Limassol. If you like your pulse-quickening fun a little less high octane, then there’s always a variety of water sports, horse riding treks and safari tours to enjoy.
For a memorable mini-adventure in its own right, your Limassol holiday could well benefit from attending the city’s annual Wine Festival. Held in the Municipal Gardens every autumn, this festival provides a chance to sample a wide range of local wines from the Troodos foothills, which are home to a wealth of pretty hill villages and vineyards. As you might predict, the festival is extremely popular with young, fun-seeking tourists, here for the Cypriot food, traditional music and dancing.
Limassol boasts a sand and shingle beach that’s extremely inviting and makes for an idyllic place to explore. Plus, there’s more choice of beaches in this neck of the Cypriot woods than you could shake a bucket and spade at. Like the soft, golden sands of Governor’s Beach or Akti Olympion Blue Flag beach which is damn near perfect, as well as having a great choice of water sports. Its clear, calm waters (glistening and turquoise in colour) are made for activities such as windsurfing or diving. Just 3km east of Limassol, you’ll happen upon the resort of Dassoudi, complete with its sand-swept beach, restaurant and wide selection of water sports.
For those Limassol holidays which demand the letting down of hair, the bustling streets of this vibrant Cypriot city won’t disappoint. Boasting a variety of bars and clubs in and around Limassol marina, you’ll find familiar places to enjoy a bite to eat at the start of your evening. Providing almost home-from-home surroundings, such as Wagamama and TGI Fridays, Limassol’s night-time activity also throws up a choice of traditional wine bars and restaurants like The Yacht Club, Crystal and Derlicious.
Alternatively, you can dance under the stars along the beach in Guaba Beach Bar, where partygoers can let the music take control for long into the night. For something fruity (a Mojito or two, let’s say), make your way to one of the many cocktail bars to watch the staff flaunt their skills. 7-Seas is without doubt among the hippest clubs in Limassol and routinely plays host to an impressive roll call of Cyprus’ best DJs. Be it cabaret shows, karaoke or good old fashioned clubbing, Limassol nightlife is notoriously difficult to better.
Those couples hoping to find an escape route from the 9 – 5 grind will be positively besides themselves if they choose to holiday in Limassol this year. For a kick-off, why not plot your holiday coordinates for Aphrodite’s Rock, near Paphos, then head along the scenic turquoise coast to Paphos itself to swim in the mystical waters of Petra Tou Romiou, better known as the Rock of Aphrodite, famed Greek goddess of Love.
If this doesn’t do it for you, then perhaps sharing a traditional hammam might. It’s a great place where people go to relax and unwind together. What’s more, full-body massages, shiatsu, Swedish massage, Indian head massage and anti-stress massages are all available too.
Culturally speaking, there really is a smorgasbord of things to see and do in Limassol, including the city’s Archaeological Museum, home to an extensive collection of pottery and items dating from Neolithic and Chalcolithic times. The Grand Mosque at the heart of the old Turkish quarter is surrounded by palms almost as tall as its minaret and the Folk Art Museum hosts beautifully put together ethnographical displays of traditional costumes and agricultural implements, as well as some stunning examples of tornaretto embroidery (a traditional style of silk needlework).