For many visitors to Cyprus, all they see of LARNAKA (the old spelling “Larnaca” is still commonly used) is its blinding-white salt lake, visible as you come in to land at the airport, or whatever can be glimpsed from the windows of a coach speeding off to the resorts to the east and west. This is a pity, because the city has a unique character and atmosphere worth sampling for a couple of days. It also makes an excellent base from which to explore the rest of the island, connected as it is by motorway to Pafos and Lemesos in the west, Lefkosia in the north, and Protaras and Agia Napa in the east.
Larnaka is easy to get to know. The road that follows the beach between the marina in the north and the fort in the south – Leoforos Athinon – has a host of hotels and restaurants along the landward side and a sunbed-and-parasol-packed beach to the seaward, lined by the stately palm trees that give the pedestrianized seashore its name – Foinikoudes (Palm Tree) Promenade. Many of the main sights, including the Municipal Cultural Centre, the ancient church of Agios Lazaros and the old fort, are a few steps away from this axis. Further west are the town’s archeological and natural history museums, the site of Ancient Kition, the Municipal Theatre and the impressive old Kamares Turkish aqueduct. South of the fort, along Piyale Pasa which continues to skirt the sea, are Skala, the old Turkish area now dominated by craft shops, the distinct holiday area of McKenzie Beach, and the huge salt lake with its haunting, palm-shaded Hala Sultan Tekke.