Larnaka: A year-round family-friendly destination
When a surprise air-ticket win left two Larnaka residents with the unexpected delight of a family visit from the Antipodes, initial euphoria gave way to slight trepidation as they realised it was a long time since they’d needed to keep two little toddlers amused in winter as well as summer.
Surprisingly, there were absolutely no suggestions, or even contact, from the co-promoters of the competition – so they sought the help of the Larnaka Tourism Board (LTB).
“With a three year old and an almost-one-year-old arriving, we realised we were out of touch with year-round activities that would maximise the opportunities for two highly intelligent information-seeking adults in the communications business and two inquisitive, wriggly, smiley toddlers”, they said. “Summer is easy, but what about the odd windy, cold or rainy winter days?”
“We reckon we’re fairly knowledgeable about the Larnaka area, in terms of what it offers adults. But just how much, we wondered, was ‘officially’ child-friendly.
“What we hadn’t realised was how well-prepared the LTB was to provide that information; either directly to enquirers, or through their hotels and tour operators.
“LTB produced this amazing, lengthy list, including all the details of the free excursions and guided tours in the ‘Winter Programme’. Some of the events involved really cheap local bus travel (€1.50 per adult each way) plus free entry to a venue, or a free guided tour; other day trips were on free coaches, with tour guides, and pick-up from the various hotels. How good is that?”
The list included family-friendly fishing trips, sporting and water-sporting activities, museum visits and – in summer- even a ‘Zenobia Week’ free glass-bottomed boat trip out to one of the world’s most famous wrecks and dive sites (and a spectacular view of the Larnaka coast and wind turbines) plus so many other things!
A visit to the Buffer-Zone village of Athienou – with a guided tour of the museum and restored flour mill, together with a demonstration of Halloumi-making – provided background information on the history and archaeology of the area, the challenges of living on a divided island, and an understanding of the cottage industry as well as modern-day activities! It was very child-friendly too.
And of course, the Camel Park at Mazotos gave winter-time opportunities to ride and feed the camels, but also hand-feed the ponies, donkeys, horses, deer, ostrich, goats and porcupines; see some of Cyprus’s marine life, and touch the tortoises. There are plenty of coin-in-the-slot rides, trampolines and even a miniature train-ride for the kids, plus a swimming pool with free access to all park visitors in summer.
The restaurant, of course, serves a wide range of food (and, naturally, huge ice-cream concoctions) year-round. And you can also buy highly nutritious camel milk! They even organise kids’ parties if you have a youngster celebrating.
The free guided coach tour to the villages of Lefkara and Skarinou left both adults and children mesmerised! Even the toddlers loved watching the elderly ladies working on their embroidery. The adults enjoyed the free regional wine tasting and those adults and children without allergies enjoyed the locally-grown nuts. Lefkara has so much history, and has now been included in the list of Europe’s 30 most beautiful villages by Japan’s Association of Travel Agents.
In Skarinou there was the opportunity to visit the donkey farm, see all the things (from skin products to liqueur) made from donkey milk and to test a wide range of olive products too. The little ones were fascinated by the demonstration of olive-bread making, overawed by the juicy oranges growing on the trees, and loved the local cuisine on offer. The whole family found the exhibition of ‘Cypriot life in the past’ quite fascinating.
“The LTB list of activities seemed endless, and the family reckon they need lots more visits and time to work their way through the attractions,” said grandma and grandad!