This article is for those who won't be just tourists, walking only the well-known routes, seeing what everyone should see and letting the guides show you the most visited places mixed up with “the best” shops.
We begin a small cycle of publications for those who are searching for something more interesting to see on the island. Each article will tell you about our top 5 non-obvious routes of every district in Cyprus. And today we’re going to walk around Limassol.
Most tourists in Limassol are busy with polishing the tiles of Molos with their feet, shopping on the main street with the difficult-to-spell name Anexartisias, visiting the Medieval Limassol Castle and sitting in the cozy cafes of Marina. These places stay as they call it on the “must have” list and we agree entirely with this choice because they are perfect to reflect the spirit of the city.
But our goal is to do a deep dive in it.
West cycleway and footpath of Limassol
What you will find here: authentic Cyprus, walks in the shade of trees, bike rides, cafes and national peculiarities.
This route is very easy to overlook but it is one of the most interesting routes of the city.
It would be ideal if you rent a bicycle for it because the route is quite long. By the way the whole path is designed so wisely that it crosses the motorway only at several locations and because the route mostly goes along the Garrylis River the main part of the motorway crossings are bridges. Basically there are almost no crossings and traffic lights. Another plus point is that the route suits perfectly for the summer season — the biggest part of it goes in the shade of the trees and houses so you can get a maximum safety and comfort during the ride, relax and enjoy the views.
Walking this route by feet is another option a man can bear, though. Give yourselves at least 4 hours for the leisurely and comfort walk along the whole distance. That will be more than enough time for it.
The route starts in the city centre: from the Turkish Mosque of Limassol to the North crossing almost the whole city. You can spot it by the colour of its surface that is red along the whole route. As you can see it’s difficult to miss it or to lose it. You will see many scenic places far from the tourist’s paths of the city and be able to discover a flip side of Limassol, the life of its parts where only the locals live in.
In 1,5 km there is a fork. The left road is longer; it goes through the whole city to the mountains, under the main motorway route A1 and climbs up and up. Taking this way you will see many fruit gardens, unique architecture of old Limassol and a lot of playgrounds for children. Cafes and shops are very few in number on this route, so make sure you have enough water to take with you.
The right fork is shorter. It crosses Makarios Avenue and ends at Lanitio Stadium. This part of the city is rich on different cafes preferred by the locals. And thereby the prices here differ advantageously from those in the main tourists places like the old town and the seafront promenade.
One more secret bonus for you: If you take the right fork in the Saturday morning you will definitely find a big grocery market (it’s just a parking on other days). You can buy a good quality olive oil here, as well as fresh melting in the mouth anari cheese, Cyprus deli meats, traditional pastry and many more interesting and delicious treats.
Wastelands of Akrotiri
What you will find here: the romance of immense landscapes away from everyone, fascinating sea views and Cyprus sceneries.
There is a big salt lake few kilometers to the South-West of Limassol. It’s dry most of the time and its smooth surface stretches beyond the horizon and shines in the sun because of the salt crystals. The lake is unique by itself so it deserves a special article about it, but today we’re interested in what is behind it: a picturesque strip of land between the salt lake and the Mediterranean Sea. If you are a fan of sandy landscapes, it is your place of choice. But it’s not the only reason to visit this place. Imagine the sandy plain with scant low bushes, shiny small lakes here and there, Limassol with it tourist life barely seen in the haze and magnificent Troodos mountains above all of this. Vastness and freedom. And not a single soul for miles. And all these in less than 10 km from the nearest megapolis.
The landscape here is perfect for the memorable and extraordinary photo shoot. It would be a Grail place for those who like to be alone in the nature, breathing in a fresh sea air and enjoying a panoramic view to the horizon in all directions.
There’s a certain beauty in observing deserted spaces while you are staying back to the Limassol on the one of the empty beaches of this location. The colour of the sand on the beaches here is deep orange, richer than in the city. A turtle nesting beach is hiding in one of the tiny bays. But you probably do not encounter any turtles there because they come with the important mission — to lay the eggs and not to sunbath. So they are doing their business at night.
What you surely will find there are stuck in the sand signs informing you that it’s a place where the turtle lay their eggs and it is better not to disturb them.
Pebble beaches are situated to the right from there. And they are abandoned as well, with stones and small rocks growing outside the sea here and there. You might see Episkopi village in the distance. There’s also a small island close to the seashore with the remains of the wrecked ship. The view is captivating.
All these places are deserted because of a few reasons. The first one is their closeness to the British Air force military base. There are a lot of gates and many roads are closed. Beside this fact there’s a chance to bump into a watchtower with the armed soldiers in the plains. That will be enough for many tourists to end their trip and to turn back. The second reason is that you can reach many of the beaches only by taking the dirt roads. The third one — there are plenty of comfortable beaches within the city limits. Why should one come all the way down those terrible roads under the watchful gaze of the British soldiers when there are beaches, sunbeds and beer in the kiosk nearby his home?
But don’t let the watchtowers scare you. The soldiers don’t care about those who want to take a walk through the plain at all. Just do not step on the closed areas. If you have no intention to do it on purpose, it’s impossible to walk accidentally into closed areas, don’t worry. Another special peculiarity of this place is low flying British jets because the airstrip is located few kilometers away. So it’s a common thing to happen here.
Considering that the speed of the jets is greater than the speed of the sound, their sudden appearance out of nowhere could be scary sometimes. You see something huge that approaches you and than hear the deafening noise while turning your head. All these combined with the desert landscape is like a strange attraction where you are taking part in some kind of battle.
To get to the wasteland take A6 route and turn to Akrotiri village. When the shiny surface of the salt lake will be on your left, choose any of the dirt roads to the right before reaching the village. Then you can take any direction or leave the car and go by foot enjoying the views and breathing in fresh sea air.
What you will find here: Cyprus gardens, panoramic views, authentic architecture and local life as well as mountains, winds and romantic picnics.
You can reach Germasogeia Dam not only by car but also by foot; it is situated not far from the city. Take the A1 route and then F128 road up to the mountains.
The route itself and its final point are equally interesting. The road goes among scenic hills of Germasogeia. It’s a non-tourist part of the Limassol district and many of the buildings here are great examples of the authentic Greek mountain architecture. The route is full of twisting narrow streets, cozy Greek coffee shops with its lazy atmosphere and colorful local life, houses almost on top of each other, plenty of fruit trees and even opuntia plants growing here and there. Do you want to feel the spirit of the Cyprus? Here is the best place for that.
You should drive through the Germasogeia village and go up in the mountains. After about 2 kilometers you will have the panoramic view of the dam, the coast and the foothills from the several platforms and winds bringing fresh air. The place will serve great for the photo shoot or romantic picnic.
By the way you can observe tiny silhouettes of the fishermen along the dam shore down there. Yes, there is fish in the dam, so you can take a fisher pole to the shore, but, please, do not forget that you need a special permission paper to fish in Cyprus. It is available at an affordable price and covers all the water bodies of the island.
And that could be the end of the trip but if you still got some energy left, you can take the right fork going from the dam and find even more beautiful scenery and picnic areas.
You can choose the same route for you to come back but it is better to turn left to the Potamos Street that runs parallel the highway. You will find fruit gardens and palm trees here on the land of the Amatho River in the shade of the mountains. This piece of land looks like some Indonesian or Cambodian jungle village.
Fertile lands with an access to the water nearby are very rare in Cyprus, so don’t miss the opportunity to see green gardens. It will be a big contrast to the quite poor on green places Limassol.
Passing the most appetizing fruits growing in the trees try your luck and ask the hosts for the permission to pick up an orange or a medlar. The Cypriots often are totally okay with it.
Souni Zanakia Forest
What you will find here: nature, forest, silence, pine scented air, panoramic views, the dam and the abandoned buildings.
The whole Cyprus was covered with dense forests back in the time. That time has passed. The climate changed and the edge of the forests receded, remaining mostly in the mountains. There are only few places in Cyprus with the forest growing on the plain. Souni Zanakia Forest is one of those places situated near Limassol.
You can get here taking the main highway from Limassol to Troodos. Note that you can’t see the forest from the highway itself. Turn to the left after passing by the Kouris Dam. Another option is heading down E613 route from the Ypsonas municipalty.
In the middle of the serpentine running along the one of the most beautiful dams in Cyprus you will suddenly see an old half-ruined arch standing alone in the nature and a broken-down paved road that goes through it.
Take this road and…the plain coniferous forest will surround you. You can walk many paths, admire the nature and enjoy the silence of the place for hours. On the other edge of the forest there are old abandoned horse farms and the horse track, grass growing in it. All the doors stay open; everyone can walk inside and satisfy one’s curiosity.
Autumn is the mushroom season in Souni Zanakia Forest. There are mainly edible Suillus species and champignons. The first one you can pick up in Cyprus without any hesitation, but I want to warn you about champignons: there are a lot of species that are toxic. It is a complicated task to differ the species from each other especially if you are not an expert.
Despite the fact that the plain forests are rare in Cyprus and this one is located very close to Limassol you will find very few people here. So if you want a “real forest”, you must add Souni Zanakia Forest to your list.
What you will find here: authentic old Limassol, the atmosphere and the nightlife.
If you want to feel the spirit of old Limassol but the map reading is not the thing you are best at, you can go for a walk on the Agiou Andreou Street. It runs along the seafront promenade through the whole old part of the city. You will find everything what must be found in Cyprus here: delicious souvlaki, bars and restaurants with live music from pop to jazz, cozy tiny pubs, old signboards of places which have passed into oblivion, shops selling extraordinary goods, Asian cafes (of course, it’s a trend of our time), ceramics, wine galleries, art studios and orthodox churches. Agiou Andreou Street contains the quintessence of everything that is associated with Cyprus. Everything you have planned to buy is sold here, often at a reasonable price, though the street is on the tourist route.
What about the architectural aesthetics of the Agiou Andreou Street, it will satisfy any devotee. This part of the city is old as well as the houses except few buildings. At the beginning the street goes parallel to the seafront promenade but then turns to the right leaving the touristic areas and the look and the size of the houses slowly starts to change. At its end it’s a common modern street of Limassol. At the same place there is also one of the city parks. You can have a rest in the shade, drink Cyprus coffee and go back.
Today we’ve offered you most interesting and non-obvious routes around Limassol district. Your satisfaction is guaranteed. And don’t forget that the best route is that not planned at all. Try to trust your instincts, to go wherever your feet take you and you will definitely find the most precious places of the old town and its surroundings.