Cyprus is a dreamy holiday island with picturesque villages, centuries-old sites and miles of Mediterranean coastline. Deciding to book your next trip to this diverse and enthralling country is easy, but choosing between Larnaca or Limassol, two of Cyprus’s hottest destinations isn’t quite so simple.
Larnaca and Limassol are two of Cyprus’ biggest and most popular cities, both located on the southern coast offering seafront relaxation and scorching weather. They’re only 60 kilometers apart, that’s less than an hour’s driving distance, but these sun-soaked metropolises are more different than you might think.
From the atmospheres to the beaches, to the different costs, our guide looks at everything that makes these two cities unique so you can decide on one, once and for all. Wherever you choose, you won’t be disappointed, but you’ve got to have a base for your next Cypriot adventure, right? Let’s get started.
Larnaca or Limassol: General Vibe
Cyprus is the land of lusted European adventures, offering something different from the upscale French Riviera and chillier Balkans, with a uniquely Middle Eastern feel and endless resort appeal. There’s no reason you need to decide on one city for your stay, but the country is easy to get around so basing yourself in either Larnaca or Limassol is a wise move.
You can travel between these cities in less than an hour and the taxi will only set you back around €50. Limassol is bang in the middle of Paphos and Larnaca, separating the two regions, but these two cities have some distinct differences when it comes to the atmosphere.
Limassol is the second-largest city in Cyprus, and although closely followed by Larnaca in size, this coastal metropolis is much more built up and cosmopolitan than Larnaca. This means there’s an on-the-go feel to the city with bustling crowds and a big population of busy Cypriots. Developed and modern, there are tons of restaurants, coffee shops, and shopping malls, as well as scenery to take in. Still, at its center is Limassol Old Town, known as Lemesos, a contrast from the urban sprawl but a picturesque district that’s still buzzing with energy and people.
Larnaca is also a big city in Cypriot terms, with 144,000 inhabitants, second to Larnaca’s 184,000. However, although more laid-back, Larnaca arguably attracts more tourists than Limassol, due, in part, to the biggest international airport on the island being located here, but also to its alluring seaside position.
Lofty palms line the promenades, seafront bars are brimming with tourists, and the beaches are rife with day beds and loungers for visitors to hang out all day.
Larnaca caters to its visitors and it’s all about chilling by the beach with fewer historical sites and places of cultural importance than other cities. Limassol is a popular tourist hotspot, but more busy and populous than Larnaca, meaning you have more choice when it gets to keeping busy. It’s a close tie as both cities appeal to different crowds.
Larnaca or Limassol: The Beaches
Graced with 735 kilometers of coastline, Cyprus is blessed when it comes to fantastic beaches and sea-lovers will be right at home in both Larnaca and Limassol. Limassol, the bigger city of the two, is within easy reaching distance of a diverse variety of great beaches, some with golden sands and others covered in pebbles and great for swimming.
You’ll find beaches with modern amenities and some with more natural environments located off the beaten track. There are 33 beaches in the Limassol region and many have even been awarded the coveted Blue Flag because of their crystal clear waters, such as Kourion Beach and Pissouri. Still, it’s hard to compete with Larnaca.
Larnaca’s Finikoudes Beach, right in the center, is the heart and soul of Larnaca, while most of Limassol’s beaches are all located just outside the city. Finikoudes is the place to be in this region during the summertime and the swaying palms and large stretch of grey sands give Limassol a tropical feel.
There’s also Nissi Beach, located in the party resort of Ayia Napa just 30 minutes from Larnaca. This is largely considered to be the best beach in Cyprus and it offers paradisical scenes with its own desert islet that visitors can wade out to when the tide is low.
Larnaca or Limassol: Things To Do
They might both be big cities, but Limassol has a bit more to offer when it comes to sightseeing. The majority of Larnaca’s attractions can be done in just a few short hours, making it a great place to visit for a weekend break or if you’re looking for a holiday with a lot of downtime.
Stroll the seafront promenade, check out the Larnaca salt lake, tour the Church of St Lazarus and wander the Larnaca Castle fortifications. The beach is the top attraction in Larnaca and most of the action is concentrated here with swimming, tanning, and water activities being at the top of the agenda for most tourists.
That said, Larnaca is conveniently located just 10 minutes from Cyprus’s biggest international airport. It is also well-served by Cyprus’ many motorways and you can get to virtually anywhere in the country very easily. Nicosia, Limassol, and Paphos are all well-connected by bus from Larnaca and it will only take around 90 minutes to reach Paphos (the furthest major city) from the city center.
It’s not necessary to have a car in Larnaca, especially if you’re happy to sink into the barefoot beach lifestyle and aren’t as fussed about sightseeing. Larnaca is more concentrated in one area than Larnaca, with a small-town feel that is more manageable and less intense. Still, if you want to learn about Cypriot history, enjoy some beach days, and go on some action-packed adventures, Limassol checks all the boxes.
There’s so much to do here from historical landmarks to traditional villages. There’s no international airport but Limassol is equidistant from Larnaca and Paphos meaning you can fly into either city to reach it. You might need a car rather than trying to rely on public transport, but it will be worth it and there’s far more to do here and in the surrounding region than in Larnaca.
Known for its centuries-old castle, which is home to the Cyprus Medieval Museum and a trove of tombstones and ancient pottery, there’s also the Prokymea Sculpture Park on the seafront and the Limassol Archaeological Museum with artifacts from the Neolithic and Roman periods.
Check out the Troodos Mountains to explore the quaint villages and sample some great local wine. The world’s oldest named wine is actually made in Limassol and is exclusive to the Troodos foothills district. Tour the Cypriot Wine Museum and savor the sweet Commandaria. The busy port also has more restaurants and bars than Larnaca.
Larnaca or Limassol: Nightlife
If you’re heading to Cyprus to party, you won’t be disappointed. Larnaca with its strategic location to some of Europe’s best clubs, and Limassol with its big city vibes, you’ll always find something going on. Limassol’s nightlife scene attracts a young and vibrant crowd. There’s something for everyone but you’ll find a lot of young locals intermingling with the crowds of tourists.
The recent closure of the Galatex, the former main nightlife strip in Limassol near the beach, has seen things quieten down a bit. Still, there’s a vibrant bar scene in the old town and plenty of late-night discos.
Saripolou Square in the old town has taken the reins in recent years as the epicenter of Limassol entertainment. Food, music, drinks, and lounges to satisfy every taste are scattered around. Check out Poe Bar and 7 Seas for great drinks in even better atmospheres, and Marina Roof Bar if you’re looking for something a bit more upscale.
However, Limassol might be the bigger city, but it struggles to compete with all that Larnaca has to offer. There on the same page when it comes to late-night bars, chic lounges, and raging nightclubs, but where Larnaca takes the lead is it easy reaching distance to one of the most iconic party destinations in the Med.
Ayia Napa is but a 30-minute drive from Larnaca center and the happening resort has something going on every day of the week, 365 days a year. It’s the first place that comes to mind when you mention partying to any Cypriot and it can’t be missed if you plan to get a real taste of the nightlife here.
Ayia Napa gives Ibiza a run for its money and the party atmosphere spreads to the nearby, paradisical beaches with all-day parties and luxury beach clubs being the places to be from May to October. Neither destination will let you down if it’s nightlife you want, but Larnaca is a great base if you’re after some really memorable nights out.
Larnaca or Limassol: Places to Stay
With Limassol being Cyprus’ second-largest city, and Larnaca being the best-connected, you won’t struggle to find somewhere to stay. That said, the best deals for the summer months are snapped up very quickly, so be sure to book far in advance.
Many people choose Larnaca as a base because of its close proximity to Cyprus’ main airport. This means competition is high and pricing is competitive. There are plenty of places to stay right on the beachfront and in the old town, with all-inclusive resorts being much the norm in the suburbs reaching out to Ayia Napa.
The San Remo Hotel is a budget yet boutique hotel located just 500 meters from Larnaca bay with an outdoor pool and sun terrace. All rooms come equipped with sea view balconies and breakfast is included in the rate. Or if you’re after a bit of luxury, check out the Radisson Blu. This five-star resort overlooks the port with a rooftop pool and lounge and a fully kitted-out gym and spa. But Larnaca also has its fair share of authentic homes. Check out the Edem Traditional House for a taste of Cypriot culture with its own garden and kitchen, located just 350 yards from the beach.
Limassol is by no means lacking in variety either. The city is only a 40 minutes drive from Larnaca Airport and is equally popular with holidaymakers. Check out Pefkos City Hotel for a locally-owned, mid-range option with quaint old town charm and a great central location.
There’s also the Curium Palace Hotel if you’re after a hint of luxury. The colonial-style building is situated within easy walking distance from the beach with plush suites and a great breakfast included. There’s also an outdoor pool and fine-dining restaurant on site. Or perhaps it’s beachside relaxation that you’re after? Just outside the center, the Mediterranean Beach Hotel is a seafront resort with lush grounds, a large outdoor pool, and a private stretch of beach, perfect for couples. Better yet, room rates start at €140 ($150) with breakfast included.
The accommodation comes in all shapes and sizes in Cyprus and you’ll be spoilt for choice in Larnaca and Limassol.
Larnaca or Limassol: Cost
With only 60 kilometers between them, you wouldn’t expect Larnaca and Limassol to be too different in price. Average costs don’t vary too much across the whole of Cyprus, but you might be surprised that these two cities have some of the largest discrepancies.
Limassol is actually the most expensive place to live in Cyprus, even more so than the capital, with rent averaging at €800 ($880) a month compared to €600 ($660) in Larnaca. So what does this mean for your holiday? Well, consumer prices, attractions, restaurants, and groceries will all set you back around 10 percent more on average in Limassol. It might not sound like too much, but it all adds up.
An inexpensive meal in a restaurant in Larnaca should cost around €12 ($13), but this is closer to €15 ($17) in Limassol. A mid-range restaurant meal for two comes to around €50 ($55) without alcohol in Larnaca, but €65 ($70) in Limassol. Alcohol is around five percent more in restaurants and supermarkets in Limassol, but can actually be fifteen percent more than this in Larnaca’s Ayia Napa resort town with high premiums being charged for drinks in clubs.
Mid-range accommodation costs between €100 ($110) to €150 ($160) in Limassol but more like €70 ($77) to €120 ($130) in Larnaca. Cyprus isn’t a shoestring destination, but you can visit any of its cities on a budget. Still, if you’re money-savvy, these differences could be the decider for your next trip to the island.
Which is better Larnaca or Limassol?
Limassol is a far more developed city in comparison to Larnaca. There’s plenty to do in the busy port and a holiday here will give you a great chance to learn about Cypriot culture. Larnaca’s plethora of alluring beaches makes it a fabulous choice for a relaxing getaway by the sea, but it’s not the place to go if you plan to explore any of Cyprus’ historical sites, unless you plan on hiring a car. Larnaca is, however, a great destination for partying with Ibiza-style beach clubs and energetic resorts just a stone’s throw from the city. They might appeal to two different crowds, but you won’t be disappointed with your holiday to Cyprus, whichever city you choose.
How much does it cost to live in Cyprus?
Cyprus isn’t as cheap as the nearby Balkan countries but it is a great alternative to western Europe with cheaper living costs than France, Italy, and the UK. The estimated costs for a family of four come to around €2,500 ($2,700) without rent and €710 ($780) for a single person. One-bedroom apartments in any of the major cities (Limassol, Nicosia, Larnaca, and Paphos) cost between €400 ($440) and €900 ($1,000) a month, while you can bag a three-bedroom property for between €800 ($900) and €1,500 ($1,600) depending on the location.
Which is the best month to go to Limassol?
The whole of Cyprus benefits from a warm Mediterranean climate with long summers and mild winters. It rarely dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit on the island, so Cyprus is a year-round holiday destination. Still, the most popular months to visit Limassol are between June and September when average highs hover in the mid-80s. Nevertheless, if you want to beat the crowds and high season discounts, April, May, and October are also great times to visit with plenty of blue skies and pleasant temperatures.