Limassol is Europe’s southernmost town. It’s a tourist resort in Cyprus where you can appreciate the simple pleasures of Mediterranean life: There are clean sandy beaches, the climate is eased by the Troodos Mountains to the north and you can visit friendly tavernas to indulge in a delicious meze and fabulous local wine.
Venture into the surrounding district to discover a land laced with history, where olive oil and wine are made the traditional way, and where you can tread through medieval ruins and ancient cities.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Limassol!
There’s 6,000 years of human history at this UNESCO-protected archaeology park just west of Limassol.
It was during the Roman era that the city of Kourion had its heyday, mentioned at the time in the writings of Pliny the Elder and Ptolemy.
Kourion’s most complete remnants at are from this period, and there’s much to see. The terracing of the theatre is mostly intact and the House and Baths of Eustolios have vivid mosaics.
Later in Kourion’s history the city embraced Christianity, so you can check out the Episcopal precinct, seat of Kourion’s bishop, as well as two basilicas from the 400s and 500s.
Between the city and the sea, Molos is more than a promenade; it’s an eye-catching seaside park that stretches from the Old Port to the zoo.
Molos turns a seaside walk into an art-form, as together with playgrounds, rows of palm trees, cafes and benches, there are water features, lawns and sculptures to saunter past.
On Sundays Limassol’s locals will come to Molos for a family stroll, and if you like you can rent a bike for a few hours to pedal your way along this sophisticated strip of the city’s waterfront.
3. Akti Olympion
Partially fringed by Molos is Limassol’s prime city beach, Akti Olympion.
This Blue Flag bay is the easy option if you fancy a few hours next to the Mediterranean and comes with the facilities you’ll need, from sun loungers and sunshades to waterfront cafes.
You can get here with public transport and all sorts of shops are an easy walk away.
The dark grey sands of the beach reach out for more than two kilometres and in parts Akti Olympion is 40 metres wide, so there’s usually space to stretch out.
4. Fasouri Watermania
A cut above the other water parks in Cyprus, Fasouri is an attraction that will need a whole day, and the little ones are sure to love it.
Fasouri has a Polynesian Theme and packs slides, pools, eateries and side-attractions into its 100,000 square-metres.
In all there are 22 attractions, ranging from the high-speed Kamikaze Slide for bigger kids and adults, to the toddler-friendly Kiddy Pool.
Grown-ups can take the weight off and book a massage at the on-site parlour or park themselves on a sun bed for the afternoon.
5. Limassol Castle
A muscular presence in the old town, Limassol’s Castle as a history that echoes many of Cyprus’ defensive buildings.
It was erected by the Lusignans during the crusades and recent excavations revealed both a byzantine fortress and a basilica in its foundations.
The castle withstood attacks from the Genoese and the Mamluk Sultunate from Cairo before being beefed up during the island’s Ottoman period in the 16th century.
In the absence of a conflict the lower levels of the castle became a prison, and remained so until the 1950s.
Today the Limassol Castle has a display of coins, weapons and pottery from different stages in the town’s history.
6. Kolossi Castle
A few kilometres west of Limassol and on public transport routes is this fortress that certainly merits the detour.
It was on this site in 1191 that the King of England Richard the Lionheart wedded Berengaria of Navarre following his conquest of the island.
The castle was built up during the 13th century by the Knights Hospitaller, and the structure passed between this faction and the rival Knights Templar over the coming centuries.
Today what’s left is the compact keep, a large rectangular courtyard, a well and the ruins of a sugar factory, which was the local industry during medieval times.
7. Tuck into a Meze
In Cyprus a Meze is a great way to taste a variety of local specialities all at once.
Rather than a tapas-style appetiser, a Meze in Limassol means a satisfying sit-down meal of numerous small courses.
It will begin with olives, progressing to dips like humus, moving onto grilled vegetables, calamari and halloumi, before culminating with roasted meat or fish, depending on your choice.
Naturally the best places to enjoy Mezes are the traditional tavernas, and for these it even pays to go out of town to the hillside villages if you’d like to eat like a Cypriot.
8. Oleastro Olive Park & Museum
As you know, olives and olive oil are a staple of Cypriot and Mediterranean cuisine so there’s no better intro to local food culture than this olive press and museum.
Oleastro is the largest olive oil producer on the island, pressing oil only from the koroneiki cultivar, and here guides and displays will talk you through its production, from soil to the bottle.
Such is olive oil’s importance that the product is suffused with local legend and folklore, and the museum here will teach you about the science as well as the mythology of the trees and their oil.
9. Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates
A couple of kilometres west of the ancient city of Kourion is this temple complex that was once the most significant religious site on the entire island.
This is where people from all parts came to worship Apollo as God of the island’s woodland from around the year 700 BC up to 300 AD.
Large fragments of the sanctuary remain, including a section of the wall and portico of the temple, stairways, columns, a monument where parades or dances would have taken place and outer buildings where visitors would have lodged.
10. Limassol District Archaeological Museum
This museum is the sister attraction to Limassol Castle, and traces the history and development of civilisation on Cyprus from prehistory up to the end of the Roman era.
A great deal of the late bronze age, Hellenistic and Roman items on display were unearthed at digs just a few kilometres away in Kournia and Amathus.
Among the most striking exhibits are a pair of ornate animal-shaped wine vessels and a free-standing sculpture of the Roman god Bes.
From Limassol it won’t take long to get to the southern foothills of the Troodos Mountains.
The best reason to make the trip is to take a driving tour of the numerous picturesque villages which make their living from viticulture.
Krasocheria is where small stone settlements are dwarfed by steep hills into which terraced vineyards are etched.
Omodos is a lovely example, 900 metres above sea level with winding cobblestone streets and enveloped in a landscape of orchards with plum, pear, apple, apricot and peach trees.
12. Commandaria wine
For a real taste of southern Cyprus, Commandaria is a sweet dessert wine that has roots reaching back to 800 BC.
It’s fermented with methods that pre-date the Romans and contains either of the two indigenous grape species, Mavro and Xynisteri.
A drink with the name of Commandaria was brewed in southern Cyprus during the crusades in the 1100s, which makes it one of the oldest continually-produced alcoholic beverages in the world.
Commandaria is a speciality of the eponymous region and you can pay a visit to a variety of wineries to see how this venerated drink is fermented and bottled.
13. Akrotiri Salt Lake
One of the few wetland areas in the eastern Mediterranean, the Akrotiri Salt Lake occupies the centre of the cape of the same name.
Despite the lake’s large circumference the water is never more than a metre deep and most of it is even shallower than that.
Because of this, birdlife flocks to the lake, especially in the migration seasons when all sorts of species stop here on their way to or from Africa.
If you happen to be in Limassol in the winter months then you can come to the lakeshore to catch the spectacle of several thousand greater flamingos wintering here.
14. Anogyra and Pastelli
Just off the road from Limassol to Paphos is the picturesque village of Anogyra, which has been growing carob trees for longer than anyone can remember.
Carob thrives on the arid slopes that descend to the sea and the sweet flesh of the pods that they produce are boiled into a syrup for pastelli, the local sweet. It’s a kind of toffee with a faintly bitter flavour.
There are three museums in Anogyra that will acquaint you with carob cultivation and the painstaking steps needed to make pastelli by hand.
15. Avdimou Beach
So we know that Limassol’s waterfront is a modern tourist beach with plenty of conveniences, but you may be in need of a more serene day by the Mediterranean.
If that’s the case then there are all sorts of choices east and west of the town.
West of Limassol and great for uncertain swimmers is Avdimou Beach, a broad curve of sand and shingle far too large to ever be overcrowded. The beach arcs deeply inland ensuring light waves and waters that don’t reach above knee high until you’re a long way out.