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Limassol is the glitzy new face of Cyprus: Where to stay, what to do and when to go

Limassol’s Marina is the piéce de resistance of the city’s facelift.
Limassol’s Marina is the piéce de resistance of the city’s facelift. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Ruth Wright
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Want a city break on the beach? Limassol has year-round sun and a booming food scene.

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If you’re ever invited to a meal with a Greek family, you’d be a fool to say no. I’ve been travelling to Cyprus for more than 20 years and on every trip I make sure to join my best friend and her family around the dinner table. Being welcoming and open is central to Greek culture so I’m always treated like one of the family and fed until I can’t eat another bite.

But this trip was a little different as I opted for the south of the island rather than the east where I’ve previously stayed, around the beachside destination of Larnaca.

Over five days of exploring, I discovered that Limassol is a sophisticated and forward-thinking city, a world away from the ‘fly and flop’ reputation of Cyprus.

Thanks to a boom in foreign investment and favourable tax conditions, money has poured into Limassol in the last few years. The result is a skyline dotted with high rises under construction and streets lined with fancy cars.

While the influx of money may have pros and cons for locals, for the occasional visitor it’s a win. The food scene in Limassol is booming with interesting, high quality cuisine and the local area is clean, modern and easy to get around.

Read on for everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip to Limassol.

What’s the best time of year to visit Limassol?

One of the things that has made Cyprus a firm favourite with tourists from all over Europe is its climate. It’s warm or hot 10 months of the year, with January and February being the coolest.

If you’re a fan of baking hot temperatures opt for June to September.

Whereas the shoulder seasons of April, May, October and November are better for cooler but still pleasant temperatures.

Does Limassol have an airport?

While I wouldn’t be surprised if one is built in the future, for now Limassol doesn’t have its own airport.

The nearest airport is Larnaca, a 45-minute drive or 2.5 hour bus ride away.

If you’re coming to Limassol from another part of the island, Cyprus has a good intercity bus network. Check timetables and ticket prices here.

How to get around in Limassol

Most tourists here rent cars so there are lots of rental car places around Limassol from both international and local companies.

If you don’t want the hassle of parking, the Bolt on-demand taxi app works here.

To make the most sustainable choices, there are cheap local buses and the city centre is very walkable.

Royal Apollonia hotel in Limassol has 2 outdoor pools, a swim-up bar and an indoor pool.
Royal Apollonia hotel in Limassol has 2 outdoor pools, a swim-up bar and an indoor pool.Royal Apollonia

Where to stay in Limassol: Royal Apollonia

Thanks to the two-hour time difference, most flights from the UK to Cyprus land in the early hours. A delay meant we landed two hours later than planned, at 3.45am. Despite the ungodly hour, I was given a warm welcome by Royal Apollonia before heading to my room for a few hours of rest, determined to get up in time for breakfast.

The food, it turns out, was one of the highlights of the 5-star property, part of Louis Hotels’ adult-focused Elegant Collection. Hotels in this group are defined by personalised service and spacious and refined rooms. I certainly found that Royal Apollonia lived up to both of these promises.

The staff were always smiley and eager to help with any questions or requests. I also noticed they spoke a wide range of languages and seemed to be from all over Europe, adding to the international feel of the hotel.

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You can choose from three restaurants at Royal Apollonia, with Aura Dining being the busiest. Breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets are served here but don’t let the casual style put you off - it’s excellent food.

At breakfast there was a selection of European and Greek choices, with options to splurge or stay healthy. Prosecco and other bubbles are included if you want to get your day off to a fizzy start.

For a change from Aura, I recommend Alati for traditional Greek food done to a very high standard. Go for the set menu and you’ll be brought lots of courses without needing to worry about making any choices. Just sit back and experience specialities like slow-cooked pork and deep-fried cheese with honey drizzled over it.

The breakfast buffet at Royal Apollonia hotel, Limassol.
The breakfast buffet at Royal Apollonia hotel, Limassol.Royal Apollonia

Royal Apollonia is popular with British and European tour operators so many guests are here on half-board or premium all-inclusive packages. If you go for a package option, you can choose which meals to have included, then just pay for any extras.

When you need a break from sunbathing by the outdoor pools, head to Luna Lounge and Terrace. The whole ground floor was renovated this past winter so it has a really fresh feel to it, with comfy seats and coffee tables perfect for chatting or having some down time with a book.

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The hotel has a spa, due to be renovated this coming winter, and a fully-equipped gym where you can balance out the all-inclusive meals.

Once I had got my bearings in Limassol, I realised Royal Apollonia is perfectly located. It’s right on the seafront so ideal for beach days but tucked a little away from Limassol’s main drag.

To explore the Marina and other parts of the city, it’s a €10 taxi ride or there’s a bus stop right outside the hotel that takes you into the heart of the action in 20 minutes.

What are the best things to do in Limassol?

Beach and cafe culture reign supreme in Limassol so there’s plenty of options to keep you busy for a whole holiday. But there’s lots to do when the sun goes down, too.

Built to rival Dubai and Capri, Limassol’s Marina is the piéce de resistance of the city’s facelift. It’s worth going just to marvel at the superyachts that line its dock. While you’re there, dip into one of the many restaurants, cafes or shops, some local and some from international brands.

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Families will love the Paradox Museum in the Marina. It’s home to more than 50 exhibits centred around optical illusions and magic. It’s suited to all ages and perfect for gathering Instagram content to impress your friends back home.

If you’re looking for history and culture indicative of the ‘old Limassol’, head into the historical centre, walking distance from the Marina. Here you’ll find the Castle which dates back to the 4th century but has been destroyed then rebuilt over the years. It even has underground prison cells that were used until 1950.

There are plenty of historical sites within an hour of Limassol, such as the ancient Greek city of Kourion.

The writer was a guest of Royal Apollonia.

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