Limassol is Cyprus' biggest resort and Europe’s southernmost city. Known as Lemesós in Greek, the city appeals to tourists of all ages, budgets and interests. Beach lovers flock to this sunny and sandy stretch of the southern coast with its bustling seafront. History buffs delve into its archeological landmarks. Thrill seekers come for the water and mountain sports, lively nightlife and colorful festivals.
To get a feel for what it’s like to live in Limassol, head over to the old town, which is cocooned around the old harbor. Towering over it is Limassol Castle, where Richard the Lionheart is said to have married his only queen, Berengaria of Navarre, in 1191. Originally larger, the fort was damaged by island invaders and rebuilt in its current form by the Ottomans in 1590.
Along the narrow streets that radiate from the old fishing harbor, you’ll find ancient monuments, a unique blend of cosmopolitan architecture and bijou houses, traditional workshops, boutiques and bustling markets. A state-of-the-art marina is set to put Limassol on the yachting map as part of a substantial ongoing development project. Sidewalk cafés are strewn across this web of narrow streets, and you’ll find some of the island’s most exclusive stores on Arch. Makarios III Avenue.
Walking back toward the seafront, you’re bound to come across the 7-kilometer-long promenade. With its Rula skatepark, playground, athletic park, amphitheater and Sculpture Park, it’s a wonderful place for a stroll in the breeze. The municipal garden on nearby Lord Byron Street hosts the local open-air theater and zoo. It’s here that the 12-day annual Wine Festival has been held since 1961, inspired by ancient celebrations in honor of Dionysos.
Tucked into a corner of the park is Pattichion Municipal Museum, housing archives of local history from the 18th century onwards. Another must-see for culture and history buffs is the Folk Art Museum, in a stately listed townhouse exhibiting national dress, decorative items, utensils and paraphernalia. Toward the eastern edge of the promenade lie the Roman ruins of Amathus with a well-preserved amphitheater.
Only a few minutes away by car, Kolossi Castle is conveniently close for anyone with a rental car in Limassol. This Frankish stronghold west of the city is a medieval fort with vast vineyards and olive, sugar cane and locust-tree plantations. It was briefly held by the Knights Templar, but it’s best known for featuring in several works of fiction.
A few steps westward, we move into British Overseas Territory. The Akrotiri Area boasts the Curium Ancient Theater, with splendid mosaic floors and its own basilica. Nearby is the Temple of Apollo Hylates, a rural sanctuary dating back to the Bronze Age. Strewn across the coast and beyond the salt lake are some of Cyprus' finest sandy and unspoiled beaches: the family friendly Lady's Mile, the dune-nestled Button Beach and the shallow Avdimou Beach.
For a refreshing mid-day dip, head over to the blue flag Dasoudi Beach, a hot spot for fishing, sailing and diving. An Olympic pool, sports complex and playground are a stone’s throw away. But if the young ones demand a lazy river and slides, the Watermania water park is ready to please with everything their hearts could possibly desire.