What can Limassol travel offer you? Well, Limassol (or Lemessos to the Cypriots) is the island’s second largest city after the capital Nicosia, and lies in the southwest of Cyprus. Tourism in the area has grown rapidly over the last decade, and it now offers some of the most luxurious hotels in Cyprus and wonderful facilities for travellers. There are many things to do in Limassol.
Since the 1974 invasion, the area has taken over from Famagusta as the main shipping location for Greek Cypriots, and like many other port cities, it has become a bustling and cosmopolitan metropolis. Despite the modernisation though, the city is still a must for history lovers so Limassol travel really does offer something for everyone!
To the west of the city is the Akrotiri Peninsula which is home to a British military base. The British soldiers can often be spotted spending their leisure time in the city’s bars and restaurants.
To the east, north of the motorway to Larnaca you can find round stone houses believed to be from the Early Stone Age. You can see the houses in a village called Kalavasos, as well as in Choirokoitia. Near Kalavasos village is also a Bronze Age cemetery called Ayois Dimitros which holds royal graves from this period.
The Limassol district is also at the centre of the wine trade in Cyprus, and the area boasts huge vineyards reaching out to the Troodos foothills. You can experience the fabulous wines during the city’s annual wine festival and the Lent carnival. Keo, the country’s biggest alcohol manufacturer, also has its winery and brewery based here, and you can tour both during normal working hours.
The city’s nightlife is sometimes overlooked due to the fame of Ayia Napa, but it is definitely still worth checking out especially as it boasts a more local crowd and probably the most authentic Cyprus nightlife.
Rumours Bar is probably the most famous venue, and with good reason. The drinks are decently priced, and there is a nice outdoor area with couches as well as dance floor inside. It usually attracts a cool crowd and has a lively atmosphere.
Red Bar is another favourite and it gets packed out most weekends as some excellent DJ’s play here. This is a great place to party with the locals, as not that many tourists have discovered it yet!
You will also find beach-side bars available during the summer season; Guaba Bar for example is a chill-out bar with bean bag seats. They often hold beach parties, which usually offer trance music.
Also look out for Waves Beach Bar, which has both indoor and outdoor areas. It normally draws an older crowd than other Cyprus nightspots and is considered quite upmarket. The music here covers all the genres that you’d expect to hear to set your mood for the evening.
The Ancient City of Kourion
The ancient city of Kourion Limassol lies perched on the top of a 230 ft cliff with breathtaking views of the surrounding area and the blue Mediterranean Sea. It was an important city during Hellenic and Roman times, although relics pre-dating these periods have not yet been discovered.
There is a nice beach below which is a mix of sand and pebbles. Many visitors like to relax on this beach after visiting the site. In addition, the ruins are also a popular spot for hang-gliding.
The last king of the city, King Pasicrates, is said to have fought with Alexander the Great against the Persian siege. The city thrived under Roman rule, and became the centre of the cult who worshipped Apollo, the Greek God. However, the city fell into decline during Arab raids in 7th century AD. The ruins of the city are located across three areas.
One of the most popular sights here is the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates. Although the sanctuary was intended for followers of the cult of the Greek God Apollo, it was disguised as a place of worship for Apollo Hylates the God of Forests, who was only ever worshipped in Cyprus, not Greece.
Other highlights include the mosaics of Eustolios, the Roman forum (recognisable by the columns), the House of Wells and the House of Gladiators.
The site is the absolute must-see of Limassol attractions but be aware that there are separate entrance fees at each of the sites.
Episkopi village is also home a museum which houses ancient relics from the city. The museum shows artefacts discovered at the site and items from the Stone Age and Bronze Age found in the surrounding area. It is closed at weekends.
Public buses run from Limassol Castle to the site daily, but if you prefer to drive, be sure to take the scenic route via Kolossi Castle. Nowadays, the ancient amphitheatre here is also the setting for several theatre productions.
Explore Limassol Castle
Limassol Castle is located in the old town, and is a popular attraction for history lovers. It was built in the 14th century over the ruins of a Byzantine castle as a refuge for the crusaders.
The chapel in the Byzantine castle was the setting for marriage between Richard the Lionheart and Berengaria, who later became Queen of England. The castle was later renovated by the Knights of St John and until 1940 was both a prison and an army headquarters for the British.
It is also home to the exhibits of the Cyprus Medieval Museum, which were moved here after the 1974 invasion. They had previously been held in the museum of the same name in Nicosia, which unfortunately was located right on the border of the divided city.
Three silver plates dating back to AD 620 with depictions of King David take pride of place in the museum. They were originally discovered along the northern coast of Cyprus in 1902. A further six plates from the collection were smuggled abroad and can now be seen at the famous Metropolitan Museum in New York.
One of the highlights is the Gothic Great Hall on your right past the entrance. You can find steps from both the great hall and the small rooms to its left which will lead you up to the roof of the castle, where you can enjoy fantastic views of the old city.
The castle is within walking distance of the Turkish district, and after visiting it is nice to go and see the mosque Djami Kebir and enjoy a walk around this area. Look out for the Turkish inscriptions which are still visible on some of the houses. Doing all of this is a nice day out for those who enjoy history and culture, or for those who just want to do something different in Cyprus.
Kolossi Castle and the City of Amathus
Two of the most significant Limassol attractions, Kolossi Castle and the ancient city of Amathus lie at opposite ends of Limassol – the castle to the West, and the ruins of the city at the east.
The Castle at Kolossi
The castle, located in Kolossi village, dates back to the 13th century. The castle was fought over as a sanctuary between the Knights Templar and the Knights of St John. In ancient times, it was a prime area for the sugar cane and cotton industries.
It is also the birthplace of the famous Cypriot wine Commandaria, as the area was known as Grand Commanderie (the headquarters of the Knights Templar). For this reason you can still see images of the castle on many bottles of Commandaria wine.
The castle can be found at the northern end of the Akrotiri Peninsula. This area is also home to the Akrotiri Salt Lake (one of the prime spots for seeing pink flamingos as they migrate) and the British military air base where photography is strictly forbidden.
Amathus can be found to the east of Limassol and is one of the important ancient cities on the island, along with Kourion and Salamis.
It was also an important port until it was destroyed by Richard the Lionheart and, like the ancient city of Salamis in the north, parts of the old harbour have been found under the sea. You can still see the submerged ruins on snorkelling trips in the Amathus area. Amathus is actually one of the most popular places to snorkel on the whole island.
Amathus was a main site for followers of the cult of Aphrodite Greek Goddess of Love, and the main attraction here is the Temple of Aphrodite on Acropolis Hill. There is a small entrance fee to the site.
Most of the Limassol beaches have dark sand and a mix of sand and pebbles. You will have to travel two or three miles from the main town of Limassol to reach the beaches in the area. Staying at a Hotel in Limassol means you will often have the local beaches to yourself as the beaches are usually very quiet without many tourists.
Blue Flag beaches in or near Limassol: Pissouri, Santa Barbara, Kalymnos Beach, Armonia, Loures, and Vouppa.
A couple of miles from the main town, this is a sandy beach which goes on for 5 miles. This beach has nice shallow water making it especially safe for children, and it is mostly deserted although you will sometimes see the families of British servicemen relaxing here. Lady’s mile allegedly got its name because it was where the colonel’s wife walked her horse in the days of the British Empire.
This beach offers some great opportunities for scuba diving and snorkelling. Although the beach is unspoilt with very few tourists, there are still a good range of restaurants behind it and most serve great seafood!
This is actually quite a stony beach, but I can easily forgive that because of its stunning surroundings. Kourion Beach is long and curving, and it has the backdrop of the dramatic ruins of Kourion perched on the top of the cliff overlooking the bay.
It is common for tourists to relax here after visiting the ruins so it can get busy at times. Windsurfing is popular on this beach, and hang-gliding is also available from the cliff.