Limassol is a busy, vibrant, and modern city. But in the heart of its urban sprawl lies its ancient heart, Limassol Old Town, also known as Lemesos. This is a place of winding, cobbled streets, ancient castles, and soft, sandstone buildings worn smooth by centuries of use. The Old Town still has that medieval feel to it, and is filled with the warm scent of herbs and fresh baking drifting out from ancient doorways. This is the real Limassol, and it's a wonderful place to discover more about the history and culture of this part of Cyprus, and escape the crowds for a few hours, too. The heart of Limassol Old Town is the castle. Built by Byzantine rulers in around 1000AD, it's supposed to be where King Richard the Lionheart married his sweetheart, the first royal marriage of an English king to take place outside of England. In the castle's museum you can wander through exhibits that chart the history of the Old Town, as well as giving you a glimpse into the lives of the medieval occupants.
Busy markets and boutique shopsThe town is full of character, so you won't find many branded shops here, or large, modern shopping malls. Instead, you'll have the thrill of the chase through winding, cobbled lanes and alleyways, with new and exciting shopping experiences around each corner. Boutiques and small, family-run shops form the heart of the Old Town, Limassol's traditional commercial centre. Head around the next corner and you'll come to the Municipal Market, a traditional market full of the sights, smells and sounds of Old Town Limassol. Buy some fresh oranges that have been picked that morning, or try some traditional cheeses and cold meats, just perfect for that picnic on the beach. Want to find out more about Limassol Old Town? Head to the Archaeological museum, which will take you through the ages and show you how the city developed as an important port over the centuries. And for a little more of an insight into the culture of the Cypriot people, head to the Folk Art Museum that charts everything from the crafts of Cyprus, through to traditional dress. It's housed in an ancient house in the Old Town, so it really feels like a fully immersive experience as soon as you step through the doors. If the kids are getting bored with all that history (and even the castle hasn't fired their imagination up!), head for the Public Garden on the coastal road.
Shopping in the Old Town Limassol districtBecause Limassol Old Town is made up of small shops and markets rather than big department stores, it's best to have both cash and a card on you if you want to go shopping. A great way of carrying your holiday money around is with a Thomas Cook Cash Passport, that can be used to take out cash from ATMs, or as a debit card. Simply load it up with your holiday spending money before you head off abroad, and you can keep your spending money completely separate from your bank account for complete peace of mind. Many of the shops will accept cards, but you'll need some cash if you want to pick up that bargain in the market!