Cyprus’ second-largest, southern-most city, Limassol has a lot to offer you! History, beaches, nightlife, live music, parties and shopping and a beautiful insight into Cypriot culture and lifestyle. The first thing to know about the Cypriots is their motto ‘σιγά σιγά’ (see-ga, see-ga) meaning ‘slowly slowly’. If you’re wanting to escape your hectic day-to-day, then a trip to Cyprus could be just what the doctor ordered. Limassol is perfect, as it has many of the benefits of a big city, but feels cosy and intimate at the same time. The relaxed way of life can’t help but take over here (and that’s coming from someone who colour-coordinates her diary to make sure she’s using her time to the absolute optimum!)
Like any city, different areas are referred to among locals by names that are useful for visitors to know.
The tourist area
This is the eastern area of the city; prices are higher (especially for things like sun-cream and postcards), but there is lots to do and see, all of which can be recommended by your hotel. Be prepared to see some Russian signs as well as the standard Greek and English; the influx of eastern Europeans in the last few years has had a significant effect on culture.
Another top spot for tourists, the marina is beautiful and many a happy afternoon has been spent admiring the yachts and colourful fishing boats! It has some great restaurants, my favourite being Häagen-Dazs (I have a personal target to eat the whole menu while I’m here), and plenty of places to meet for drinks (you’ve got try out the interesting combinations of bubble tea from Bubbletale!)
The Molos area boasts a beautiful promenade and many different sculptures. It’s great fun to interpret these pieces of art, and of course, take the standard tourist photos. I love the Red Cafe for it’s pizza and cocktails, and friendly staff.
Quaint little streets, graffiti art, shuttered windows, cats lounging everywhere, trailing plants and the best orange juice you’ll ever drink. It’s sold by the sweetest old man at the end of Zig Zak street who will show you photos of all his previous customers and is always looking for new friends.
Shopping Street, or Anexartisias
This street has some major brands, such as Mango and Topshop, as well as lesser-known Cypriot fashion boutiques. It’s well worth a visit if you’re looking to get rid of some extra euros; it can definitely be on the pricey side!
My first month was spent exploring on my bike (shout out to Biker Bike Shop who gave us a great deal). The road to the beach is downhill, which is wonderful on the way there, but not so great when I’m struggling to get home after a long day of relaxing! Nevertheless, I would fully recommend renting a bike, as you can cover a lot of distance and explore some of the hidden parts of the city. My best advice is to ‘cycle offensively’ – take up more space than you need so that cars know that you’re there! And don’t be afraid if you’re honked at, it’s friendly passion, I’m sure of it.
There are regular buses and a central bus station (by the old hospital and police station), and you can get pretty much anywhere, as long as you are willing to go, quite literally, ‘round the houses’. Early on in my time here, a local told me how easy it is to work out where you are in Limassol: you just have to remember that it has a basic structure of four roads cutting across it. The first, the B1, or 28ης Οκτωβρίου (28th October) runs along the seafront and has a cycle path which is one of my favourites. Two roads cut across the middle, and then you have the A1 which is the main motorway that runs from Paphos to Larnaca.
Rules of the road
While we’re on the topic of transport, there are a few things to mention. For any UK visitors, the driving appears to be a ‘home away from home’ – same side of the road, similar signs etc. Don’t be fooled. Cypriots tend to take the rules more as guidelines…for example, a red traffic light at a pedestrian crossing is only obligatory if there are actual pedestrians crossing (and if you wait in your car until the lights go green again, you’ll likely be honked at from cars behind you). Zebra crossings are a nice idea, but don’t step out unless you’ve made eye-contact with the driver and you know they’re going to stop! Being on your phone while driving is illegal, and you can be fined if caught, but that doesn’t seem to deter the general population.
If you’re here in the long hot summer months, don’t be surprised if you don’t see anyone out and about all day. Come out at 7 pm and the streets are transformed, with cafes sprawling out into walkways and large groups of Cypriots enjoying coffee and gelato til the early hours. Limassol is a melting pot of culture and so locals will be immediately endeared towards you if you make some attempt at the language. I personally think that the Greek alphabet is extremely aesthetically pleasing, but it is obviously difficult to learn if you are from a Latin-alphabet country. Phrases like ‘kalimera’ and ‘kalispera’ (good morning and good evening), ‘parakalo’ (please) and ‘efharisto’ (thank you) are essential, anything more is a welcome bonus! One of my favourite things that I’ve learned is that ‘mou’ means ‘my’ and it’s said as after your name as soon as anyone is on first-name terms with you, hence I immediately became Milly-mou, which has a super-cute ring to it!
My last recommendation (for now!)
On my first trip out with a local, I was introduced to ‘souvlaki’. For just €3 I got a pita bread full of meat, salad, sauce and CHIPS and got to eat it under a starry sky. Don’t leave Limassol without trying it; you won’t regret it!