A major commercial port, cruise ship port of call, and wine-making center on the south coast, Limassol, 75 km (47 miles) from Nicosia, is a bustling, cosmopolitan town, with some of the liveliest nightlife on the island. Luxury hotels, apartments, and guesthouses stretch along 12 km (7 miles) of seafront, with the most luxurious ones just to the north of town. In the center, the elegant, modern shops of Makarios Avenue (where you'll mainly find clothes and shoes) contrast with those of pedestrian-only Agiou Andreou in the old part of town, where local handicrafts such as lace, embroidery, and basketware prevail; make sure you avoid shopping on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, when many shops close at 2 pm. A luxurious marina that will hold 650 yachts as well as house apartments, shops, and restaurants should further boost the town's lively appeal.
Chef Sam Kazzaz truly bucks the Cyprus meze trend by using touches of Indian and Moroccan flare at his simple yet elegant restaurant just a block from the beach in Pissouri (though he also offers Mediterranean fish and meat mezes with eight hours' advance notice); though not located in Limassol proper, it's certainly worth the short drive. He masterfully uses curry in such dishes as Curried Away Calamari and Lamb Jalfrazi, while catering to non-meat eaters with his weekly-changing vegetarian special, such as a subtly spiced tagine with chickpeas, eggplant, celery, peppers, and other fresh veggies. Whether you're seated inside surrounded by stone walls or outside on the pleasant terrace, you'll agree this is a Cyprus meal that's different from the rest—and one to remember.
Limassol District Archaeological Museum
Browse interesting archaeological finds from the Limassol area, including pottery, coins, jewelry, tools, and sculptures, from the Prehistoric period (10,000 BC) up to the Late Roman period (AD 327). The collection also contains many items related to Aphrodite, including ancient terra-cotta figures.
Kourion Archaeological Site
The Kourion (Curium) Archaeological Site, west of Limassol, has Greek and Roman ruins. Classical and Shakespearean plays are sometimes staged in the impressive amphitheater. Next to the theater is the Villa of Eustolios, a summer house built by a wealthy Christian with interesting mosaic floors from the 5th century AD; nearby is the partially rebuilt Roman stadium.
Reopened in the summer of 2012 after an extensive renovation, the zoo has modern enclosures that use only stone, glass, wood, and rope. Both kids and adults will enjoy the Asian otters, Cyprus oxes, Egyptian geese, and Cuban boa constrictors, among a good variety of other mammals, birds, and reptiles (though no lions, tigers, or elephants here). To see the animals in action, check the website for specific feeding times.
Kolossi Castle, a Crusader fortress of the Knights of St. John, was constructed in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 15th. Though there's not much left of the castle to see, it's worth a visit for the views from the rooftop of the surrounding vineyards, many of which produce Commandaria, the famous sweet wine of Cyprus.
The Apollo Hylates (Sanctuary of Apollo of the Woodlands), an impressive archaeological site, stands 3 km (2 miles) west of the Temple of Kourion. It includes a partially restored main sanctuary with enormous Roman columns.
Cyprus Wine Museum
Located about 10 minutes west of Limassol in the village of Erimi, this comprehensive museum succeeds at explaining the history of the grape in Cyprus, one of the oldest winemaking regions in the world. You'll get to view ancient wine jugs and vessels on a short guided tour of the museum and watch a film before heading downstairs for a sampling of Cyprus wines, including the island's famous sweet Commandaria, accompanied by tasty halloumi cheese.
The 14th-century Limassol Castle was built on the site of a Byzantine fortification. Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria of Navarre and crowned her Queen of England here in 1191. The Cyprus Medieval Museum in the castle displays medieval armor and relics.
Municipal Folk Art Museum
For a glimpse of Cypriot folklore, visit the Municipal Folk Art Museum. The collection includes national costumes and fine examples of weaving and other crafts.