After the capital Nicosia, Limassol is the second largest city in Cyprus. Famous for its dramatic southern coast on a sweeping 15km (9-mile) bay, its wine industry, and nightlife, Limassol (known locally as Lemesos) has long held a place in the island's history. Sandwiched between two ancient city-kingdoms, Kourion and Amathous, Limassol was also the setting for Richard the Lionheart's marriage to Princess Berengaria of Navarre.
As one of Limassol's most popular beaches, Akti Olympion has wind-surfing, water-skiing, lifeguards and a headland with views of Limassol's beachside skyline. Aphrodite, Loures, Kastella, and Armonia beaches in Agios Tychonas are some of the city's sandiest -- and most crowded -- while a little way along the coast is Governor's Beach, a favorite of the British Governor of colonial rule. Today, it has good parking and cafes, making it a local favorite. A quieter beach is the nearby and difficult-to-reach Kalymnos.
Things to Do
Limassol's Old Town, near the medieval castle, is a labyrinth of cobbled streets fit for hours of exploration. Wander among Old Town's crooked lanes to find the Grand Mosque or Cami Kebir. Along the seafront promenade are the beautiful Byzantine-style Agia Napa Cathedral and Agios Andronikos church. Vendors sell local wine and sweets at the central market and nearby is the Cyprus Handicraft Centre, selling authentic crafts, such as lace, ceramics, and traditional confections.
Eating and Drinking
Limassol's tavernas serve classic Cypriot dishes, like afelia (pork with wine and herbs) or kleftiko (slow-cooked pork and lamb). Gourmet restaurants and international bistros offer European, Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisine. Around the medieval castle is a lively concentration of cafe culture. Locals and holidaymakers share patio space in the sunshine over morning coffee or a light lunch. Cocktail lounges and bars along the promenade light up in the evenings with a bustling late-night scene.
Nightlife and Entertainment
The Apokreo Festival, two weeks before Greek Orthodox Lent (typically in March), has the largest carnival parade in Cyprus. Limassol's citizens dress in their finest to attend formal balls and fill the city in teeming street parties. In summer, the Kourion ancient city site hosts theater and opera. The summertime Limassol Wine Festival is the city's major annual event, with traditional dances celebrating Cypriot viniculture. Local wineries open to the public and offer tastings of new wines.