Last updated on May 13, 2023 by Wandering our World
Cyprus is a Mediterranean island that has become a popular holiday destination due to its beautiful beaches, rich history, and warm climate. And amongst the best destinations in Cyprus are Larnaca and Paphos! But which of the two will make for the better getaway?
Well honestly, comparing Larnaca and Paphos is like chalk and cheese.
Both cities occupy the same sunny stretch of the Mediterranean and offer untapped potential to be your next beloved holiday destination. But what exactly makes each city so enticing?
Well, Larnaca is less tourist-orientated than Paphos and gives you an opportunity to dive head first into the culture of Cyprus.
On the other hand, Paphos has arguably more to do for tourists, and has the better nightlife scene too.
So let’s dive into our honest exploration of the highs and lows that make each city a Cypriot paradise, and discover the potential they each hold to offer you the perfect getaway.
You’re in for twists and turns, and the only advice we can offer, is make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen!
- A Quick Overview
- Which Has The Better Beaches?
- Which Has The Better Nature & Scenery?
- Which Has The Better History & Culture?
- Which Has Better Cuisine?
- Which Has Better Nightlife?
- Which Is Better For Families?
- Which is Better For Solo Travellers?
- Which Is Cheaper?
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- When’s The Best Time To Visit?
- Which Is The Better Choice?
Larnaca vs Paphos: A Quick Overview
A Quick Overview
Larnaca has long been considered the gateway to Cyprus. The city bleeds history, having been built on the foundation of the ancient city of Kition. Influence from foreign empires courses through the very culture of Larnaca, and makes it a unique gem amongst other Cypriot cities.
As it is home to the Larnaca International Airport, all vacations in Cyprus start off in this rambunctious town, with its golden coastline being the first sight to greet tourists as they flock from all corners of the globe.
The unapologetic beauty of the beachfront, vibrant nightlife and unique culture make Larnaca the ideal destination for an authentic Cypriot experience.
There is so much untapped potential running through Larnaca’s streets too, and it has started to gain momentum amongst tourists looking for the perfect vacation getaway.
On the other hand, Paphos is one of Cyprus’ most well-beloved holiday destinations and leaves nothing to want in terms of experiences.
This pearl once sat as the capital city of Cyprus, before being dethroned in favour of Nicosia, and has a history that stretches back to the Neolithic period.
The cultural footprint of Paphos is unfathomable, and the relics of old empires still stand as archaeological sites and in the charm of the people that call Paphos home.
But admittedly, Paphos’ beaches and scenery are the true crown jewels and the reason that the city bustles with activity throughout the year. Nobody can resist the silky soft sand, and the gorgeous natural appeal.
Even those less inclined to enjoy the great outdoors will still find themselves enthralled by the gorgeous cuisines, colourful festivities, and irresistible charms of Paphos culture.
Which Has The Better Beaches?
Larnaca: The Beaches
Larnaca is situated in the East of Cyprus, which is an area renowned for its stunning coastline.
Of course, the town is no exception to the rule, and the beaches stretch uninterrupted for miles alongside sultry turquoise waters.
Perhaps, its most famed beach is Finikoudes. This coastal paradise is the main hub of activity for Larnaca. A gorgeous, sweeping promenade, lined with swaying palm trees, serves as a backdrop to silky sands and salt water.
Beach bars, restaurants and cafes line the promenade and nearby streets, and the promenade itself houses a variety of its own unique amenities, from food stalls to rental shacks.
Further down the coast, you’ll find Mackenzie Beach, which lies just outside the doorstep of the Larnaca International Airport. Aside from gorgeous sands and pristine waters, this beach offers a view you’ll never forget as massive airbuses land and take flight from the nearby airstrip.
Most of Larnaca’s local beaches fall into the blue flag category and offer plenty of safe, family-friendly fun at the expense of diversity.
However the beaches in Larnaca don’t really offer any unique traits aside from a change in scenery, and so oftentimes, tourists find themselves wandering just outside the city limits in search of more interesting sands to play on.
Paphos: The Beaches
But Paphos offers unrivalled beaches that have made it one of the most popular seaside destinations in the country.
The beaches roll for miles, with silver sands so soft you’d swear you were walking on silk. And the waters offer the versatility that Larnaca does not, meaning that you can enjoy far more beachfront activities than just lounging around on shallow sand bars.
In fact, the beaches offer ideal conditions for snorkelling and scuba diving, which is one of the most popular seaside activities on offer.
Of course, this doesn’t negate the fact that you can still pull up a sunlounger and colourful umbrella just to lay back and chill for the day.
Aphrodite’s Rock and Coral Bay are hands down the best beaches to experience in Paphos. Not only do they provide the calm, serenity necessary for a relaxing day under the sun, but they also house a more rambunctious atmosphere that’ll see tourists paddling, surfing and snorkelling along the crystal clear waters.
The only fault we can think of is the fact the beaches in Paphos don’t offer the uninterrupted length you’ll need for romantic sunset strolls, but they’re lined with plenty of bars and cafes that’ll let you sneak in the same sensation over a cheeky cocktail or two.
So the reality is Paphos is a crowd favourite for a reason, and when it comes to beaches, we think it’s the better choice than Larnaca.
Which Has The Better Nature & Scenery?
Larnaca: Nature & Scenery
Larnaca’s reputation as a metropolis precedes it, but most visitors to this Cypriot haven don’t know the natural wonders that sit on its doorstep.
In fact, Larnaca is home to natural phenomena that are truly a privilege to visit.
The Larnaca Salt Lake is a network of four salt lakes just outside the city limits. For the most part, these lakes look every bit as normal as your local one back home, aside from the distinct and unforgettable white crust that forms on its shores from the excessive amounts of salt.
Plus, it’ll host a few residents you won’t find back home in the form of migratory flamingos and other species of bird to tick off the birding bucket list.
But if you prefer to stick to the city limits, you’re not that far removed from the wonders of their natural world, as some tourists have witnessed various species of sea turtles clambering the sandy beaches to lay their eggs.
Further outside of Larnaca, lies the Cape Greco Natural Park, which houses multiple hiking trails that wind through hills, past caves and grottos and all end up at the South-Eastern shores.
Paphos: Nature & Scenery
Paphos’ natural beauty, on the other hand, has not gone unnoticed, and contributes swimmingly to tourist numbers throughout the year.
The beaches, of course, are the highlight, with Coral Bay being the perfect collaboration between a tourist haven and natural wonder.
However, we haven’t yet mentioned Lara Beach! Lara Beach is a protected stretch of sand, but you can’t pop a towel down on these sands as they hold precious clutches of eggs belonging to some of the world’s rarest sea turtles.
But not all of Paphos’ natural beauty is untouchable. In fact, the Akamas Peninsula sits right on Paphos’ doorstep and offers tourists the opportunity to hike through some of Cyprus’ most untouched landscapes.
The views are impeccable and the trials are suitable to families of all ages. The peninsula is home to a variety of animal, bird and plant species, which are a treat to see if you know where to look.
Not to mention that the Akamas Peninsula leads straight through the the Baths of Aphrodite, which are picturesque naturally-occuring pools.
Obviously, your hotel may have a spa, but nothing quite beats this mineral bath, fit for a goddess and just a small hike away!
Ultimately, Larnaca may be close to a lot of natural beauties, but the town itself is rather urban. So for us Paphos comes out as a clear winner, with all the charm and picturesque scenery a wild-at-heart traveller could need.
Which Has The Better History & Culture?
Larnaca may have been built on the foundation of an ancient city, but it’s dusted off the ancient ruins in favour of a more modern way of life.
Unfortunately, that means the ancient city of Kition is lost to the ruckus of skyscrapers and restaurant chains.
Luckily for history buffs, not every part of Kition was buried under modern development, with the relics instead being tucked into the Larnaca Archaeological Museum.
As for the cultural aspects? Well, that’s a different story.
Larnaca’s culture is a well-curated blend that’s taken influence from the old and the new. And if there’s one cultural event you cannot miss, it is the Feast of the Floods in June.
Not only does the week-long festival offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in every aspect of authentic Cypriot culture, but you’ll be able to celebrate the history of Cyprus too!
Paphos is quite the polar opposite in that its history runs rich and deep, yet the cultural aspects of the town are slightly more washed with Western influence.
Its thriving tourism industry is in part due to the fact that Paphos is one of Cyprus’ most archaeologically rich regions. There are ruins that spread across the area for guests to awe over, and plenty of museums to keep the smaller relics safe from prying hands.
Culturally, Paphos doesn’t vary too differently from Larnaca, but as a city, it does share more similarities to Western culture, solely thanks to the huge influence the tourism industry plays.
Yes, you’ll still be able to enjoy aspects of Cypriot culture, but you can’t shake the feeling that everything is a bit more staged.
Ultimately, Larnaca is a city that caters more to culture lovers, whereas Paphos and its incredible archaeological sites would better appeal to a history lover.
Which Has Better Cuisine?
Now it’s no secret that Cyprus is influenced heavily by a blend of Mediterranean cultures. So if you’re not a fan of rich flavour profiles, we’d suggest picking somewhere with root vegetables as the main export.
The reality is, comparing Larnaca and Paphos’ cuisine will simply boil down to which town offers the better restaurants.
Unsurprisingly, the food served in both cities is of the same ilk and packed with incredible depth of flavour that’ll hush any food critic.
The cuisine in both is the epitome of authentic Cypriot cuisine. And any previous guest to the white-washed shores of Greece will be far too familiar with the concept behind Cypriot cuisine.
Dishes like Kleftiko and Moussaka, are staples, and while they may share the same names as the classic Greek dishes, they have their own unique flare that makes them distinctly Cypriot.
Each town has their own distinct imports, which can make a big difference in the quality of certain dishes, but ultimately, Larnaca and Paphos are on par in terms of the meals they create.
However, Paphos tends to offer more variety of restaurants than Larnaca, in part due to its tourist-pleasing attitude. You may be happy to find some more Western-style eateries on these streets, that is, if you’re sick of eating Halloumi. Weirdo.
Which Has Better Nightlife?
When the sun goes down, the city lights up, and the real Larnaca party animals come out to play.
The city might have a sleepy feel to it for anyone just passing through, but those who decide to stay and smell the roses will discover that Larnaca has a bit of an edgy side that only shows after dark.
Venues like Savino Rock Bar, and Lush Beach Bar offer live music, good food and vibey atmospheres that aren’t too overbearing. So you can still feel accomplished even if you head back to the hotel by 10 pm!
Otherwise, the more introverted folk can still peruse the wonderful street and beachside restaurants for a sneaky sundowner, before settling in for an early evening.
Paphos is no different, and if you’re a beast on the dancefloor you’re going to enjoy this Cyprus town.
Paphos’ reputation as a party capital, at least for locals, precedes it. The town was built for all types of people, and has an incredible community of night owls that thrives when the sun goes down.
Of course, you can choose to have a quiet evening dining at one of the beachside bistros, but where’s the fun in that?
Paphos is a place packed with cocktail bars, beach bars, and nightclubs all with their own unique twist of entertainment. So what we’d recommend is taking the bull by the horns and throwing yourself head first into their nightlife scene.
You can start the evening off with a trip to the specialty bars, like Ambiance Gin Bar and Boulevard Bistro Wine Bar and end the evening with a trip to Loft Club before heading to the beach to watch the sunrise.
We’ll give Paphos the win, simply because of its versatility, but we believe in the near future Larnaca will be right on par with Paphos’ nightlife scene.
Which Is Better For Families?
Both Paphos and Larnaca are two peas in a pod in terms of what they offer, and any family, whether active or not can find something in these towns to do.
But they have some major discrepancies that may make or break your decision to visit.
For one, Larnaca doesn’t offer the same versatility as Paphos in terms of accommodations.
Of course, this town is not as tourism-based as Paphos, despite the fact that most of Cyprus’ tourism passes through their streets on the way to their destinations.
Larnaca covers the basics, and while you can find some variation of budget to luxury accommodation, you might struggle to find one that offers all of the attributes you need to keep your family happy.
And when it comes to the range of activities, well Paphos is definitely the clear victor. From busy beach days to exploring the landscape, you can guarantee your family will have plenty to keep them occupied.
Larnaca, on the other hand, might have the same type of activities, but nowhere near as much variety, which for a family can be tedious especially if your kids get bored easily.
At the end of the day, this comparison comes down to the amenities, and whether or not the town will cater for your families needs.
Paphos is more likely to suit a family of all ages, than Larnaca, which caters to an older crowd that may be looking for less action.
Which Is Better For Solo Travel?
The new age of travel sees more and more people deciding to pop on a backpack and hit the skies to find far off destinations. And luckily for solo travellers, Cyprus’ is a country of immense beauty, low costs and unforgettable adventure.
Both Paphos and Larnaca provide all the wonderful aspects you’d want if you’re going on a solo trip.
They are both incredibly safe destinations, with good law enforcement and friendly, helpful locals that make it all the more easier to put your mind at ease.
Traveling is simple, quick and can be cost efficient depending on what you use. For Larnaca, most of the fun attractions are within walking distance from the hotel zone, although visiting Paphos may require a bit more use of public transport.
Paphos offers more opportunity to mingle with people, with the town’s bustling reputation as a tourist hub, and you will feel quite at home meeting and mingling with other first-timers.
Larnaca, on the other hand, gives you a more in depth look into Cypriot life, as it doesn’t necessarily attract hoards of tourists, and most of the company you’ll keep will be from honest-to-goodness born-and-raised locals.
At the end of the day, your decision on which town is better will lie solely in whether they provide the activities and scenery that suit you as a person.
Which Is Cheaper?
On average, a day on the golden coastline of Larnaca can cost tourists close to €120. This includes the cost of travel, meals and accommodation, but does negate the cost of some activities.
This is also a rough figure based on whether you decide to day-trip to other villages on the hunt for more activities.
Realistically, Larnaca can be a cheap option because it does away with pricey airport commutes and you can penny pinch on the activities, but that doesn’t make it the better destination! Budget travel is about getting bang for your buck, and in Larnaca, you get what your buck pays for.
Meanwhile, Paphos may come with the cost of airport commutes, but offers far more budget-friendly options that won’t force you to sacrifice your good times.
There are plenty of budget-friendly accommodations, activities and restaurants that can stretch your daily cost to a whopping €90. That’s a significant change compared to Larnaca, and there’s plenty more to do!
Plus, you can enjoy quite a few of Paphos’ most famed activities and sites without spending a dime, like hiking through the wilderness, visiting the archaeological sites and soaking up sun on their blue flag beaches.
So it goes without saying, we’d rather go for the city that gives us more for less. Paphos, we’re looking at you.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: Pari Holiday Studio is well located, simple, clean and cheap. It’ll be a great base for a budget Cyprus holiday, and the view you’ll get while staying there is a lovely bonus. See photos and rates!
Luxury: The 5-star Ivi Mare sits on the beachfront, has one of the best swimming pools in the country, and is known for its views, service and hospitality. Best of all, it’s half the price of other 5-star hotels in the region. See photos and rates!
When’s The Best Time To Visit?
Thanks to its prime location in the Mediterranean, Cyprus is a country that offers incredible year-round weather conditions!
The peak season lies between June and September, when Summer rolls through and hoards of tourists flock to the pristine coastline for some much-needed R&R.
Obviously, this makes the summer the busiest time in the country, and also when you can expect to see price hikes.
Both Larnaca and Paphos explode with life during these months, and slowly begin to quieten down in Autumn, when the temperatures begin to drop.
However, even in their winter lows, Cyprus still has lovely, temperate conditions. The only downside being the shift in oceanic currents making the waters a bit too chilly for swimming.
Depending on where you’re staying though, this shouldn’t be an issue, as the country is packed full of year-round activities to keep you entertained.
Larnaca vs Paphos: Which Is The Better Choice?
While the city of Larnaca is charming, it may not be ideal for travelers looking to explore, as there is a lack of tourist sites.
In this case, Paphos will likely be the best destination. With a seemingly endless array of archaeological sites in and around the city, along with beautiful beaches and numerous day trip options, Paphos offers a great experience for those seeking variety, and the opportunity to dive headfirst into Cypriot culture.
But at the end, your vote will be the only one that matters in the great Larnaca vs. Paphos debate. Safe flight and happy travels!