Then known as Lemesos, Richard the Lionheart visited Limassol during the Crusades to free his betrothed from the Byzantine sovereign. The subsequent wedding party remains legendary, probably why modern Limassol is still a centre of . This lively ambience is aided and abetted by the fact that Limassol is the centre of winemaking on the island.
Today, it's Cyprus's second-largest city with around 200,000 inhabitants. Many people travel to Limassol to enjoy its lovely beaches, sidewalk cafés, and lively nightlife. Visitors can take an evening stroll on the seafront Akti Olympion, followed by a visit to a traditional tavern for live music. The Old Town radiates from the fishing harbour, with narrow streets lined with shops and boutiques.
The foothills of the Troodos Mountains lie north of the city and offer charming country walks that meander through friendly villages. A quick drive to the Kourion, only nine miles (15km) away, also offers historic sites such as The House of Achilles, the Altar of Apollo, and Curium Beach.
Travellers in Limassol looking to satisfy their urge to splurge will be pleased to know that there is plenty to whet their appetite when it comes to shopping. There are, of course, the ubiquitous western-style shopping malls where stores such as Debenhams and Carrefour will cater to their every need.
The main shopping areas in Limassol are on Agiou Andreou Street and Makarious III Ave, where everything from clothing and footwear to leather goods and jewellery can be found. Travellers can head to the cobbled streets of Ayios Andreas and Anexartisias for a more historic and traditional atmosphere, where trendy little boutiques and specialist stores line the streets and lanes away from the modern city.
They should also visit the local markets that take place every Saturday, where bargains and great buys can be scooped up. Best buys in Cyprus include sea sponges and loofas and these are available at most tourist shops and markets, though shoppers should be prepared to splash out on these bathing accessories. Another great buy is Lefkara Lace and other lace products. But it has to be said that for real shopaholics, the centre of Nicosia is the best place to spend a day indulging in the local wares and goods.
Restaurants are varied in Limassol, with something for everyone. Everything from expensive tourist traps to places popular with locals is on offer; it all depends on visitors making a smart choice. Both moussaka, an eggplant and potato-based dish, and kleftiko, a traditional hearty lamb meal, are ubiquitous, as too is the simple and affordable kebab. There are budget establishments and more upmarket venues, while western chains such as McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King are all present.
One of the highlights of Limassol's coastline is Dasoudi Beach, a Blue Flag stretch of sand and pebbles on the east side of the city. Tourists flock there for the beachside restaurants and outdoor activity. Other popular beaches in Limassol include Lady's Mile, located near the port; and Governor's Beach, noted for its velvety black sand.
Limassol is a great destination for the whole family and a good place to spend some time in when travelling in Cyprus with kids. Parents can take their children to the Municipal Gardens, where the Dinosaur Park and Limassol Zoo Garden are located for a fun-filled day. Or they can take a trip to Fasouri Water Mania, an amusement park that often proves irresistible on hot days in the city.
While fun in the sun is the object of many visitors, Limassol itself and the surrounding region are far from devoid of sightseeing opportunities. The Cyprus Medieval Museum, situated in the imposing Limassol Castle where Richard the Lionheart famously got married, will delight lovers of military history with its collection of weaponry.
Another treat for fans of medieval history is the perfectly preserved Kolossi Castle, near the city on the road to Paphos, which dates back to the 14th century. The main archaeological attraction of Limassol is the site of the ancient city of Kourion, which is located not far from the city, is considered by many to be the most beautifully located ancient city in Cyprus and makes for a rewarding excursion.
Those who are looking to explore ancient ruins and learn about the fascinating history of Cyprus may be disappointed when travelling to Limassol. It's more renowned as a vacation destination, with its lovely beaches, buzzing nightlife, and luxury resorts being the main order of the day. But those who remain interested in the country's intriguing past can visit places such as the acropolis of Kourion.