The Mediterranean island of Cyprus is steeped in myth and legend and its rich history, endless sunshine and established resorts has attracted travellers for years. Drawn to the Greek and Roman ruins, heady cedar forests, traditional Cypriot villages and self-styled party towns, there’s a resort for all tastes and budgets.
Paphos – Nestled between the azure Mediterranean coast and the imposing Troodos Mountains is the established harbour town of Paphos, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Legend has it that the Greek goddess Aphrodite was born here and as you’d expect the area is brimming with archaeological gems, particularly in the Kato Paphos district. There are a great selection of tavernas and shops around the pretty harbour and a superb sandy beach. The resort attracts couples and families although there are a variety of bars and restaurants for evening entertainment. Don’t miss the elaborately rock-carved complex of Tombs of the Kings, wander the Ayios Neophytos Monastery and explore ‘The Odeon’ which is a classic Greek amphitheatre set within the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park. Paphos will host the prestigious European Capital of Culture in 2017.
Limassol – The lively cosmopolitan resort of Limassol is centered around the promenade district. There’s plenty going on during the day at the adventure park, waterparks (there are two!) and on the sandy beaches too with games of volleyball and various watersports on offer. The local nightlife is busy with a great selection of bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Don’t miss the local cultural sights including the Curium ancient ruins, the impressive Kolossi Castle and the Old Town region which includes Limassol Castle.
Nicosia – The centrally located city of Nicosia is also the capital of Cyprus and a great base to explore the wider island. The city is the subject of decades of political issues and Nicosia is physically split in two by a wall of barbed wire and guard towers. The north side of the Green Line is claimed as Northern Cyprus and is a tourist destination in its own right, whilst the south is considered the Republic of Cyprus. In fact this is the largest divided capital city in the world. Travellers will have no issues crossing over at any of the border points – simply present your passport and complete a short visa slip (EU citizens only).
Explore the compact Old City on foot which is home to many historic sites, cultural landmarks and architectural buildings. Stop off at the magnificent Buyuk Han (the Great Inn) which is an Ottoman caravanserai (roadside inn) built in 1572. Don’t miss the interesting Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia, wander the Selimiye Mosque and look out over the divided city atop the Shacolas Tower Museum and Observatory.
Ayia Napa – If you want to party the night away, then the former fishing village of Ayia Napa is for you. With a great choice of nightclubs, bars, shops and restaurants, Ayia Napa also has a superb sandy beach to relax on during the day. Top beaches include the golden Makronissos Beach, popular Nissi Beach (which adjoins with neighbouring resort Nissi Bay) and glorious Thekla Beach. Spend your days at the Waterpark, climbing the nearby Troodos Mountains and wandering the local landmarks including the Ayia Napa Monastery and Thalassa Municipal Museum. Ayia Napa has also been named as one of the cheapest destinations in the world!
Larnaca – Probably the oldest city in Cyprus, Larnaca has been inhabited for over 6,000 years. The thin strip of the town meanders alongside the Mediterranean and the promenade is a great place to cool off. Larnaca is popular with scuba divers who can dive the Wreck of the Zenobia and participate in other watersports such as sailing, windsurfing and kayaking. The city is brimming with culturally important and visually stunning religious monuments too, such as the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque, Church of Agios Lazaros and the medieval Larnaca Castle. Top beaches include the main Finikoudes Beach and MacKenzie Beach, where plane spotters will be in their element (ie it’s on the flight path!)
Protarus – The popular beach resort of Paphos attracts couples and families, keen to laze the days away on the superb beaches. Head to the popular Fig Tree Bay and the divine Flamingo Bay. As you’d expect there are also a great range of Cypriot tavernas and traditional restaurants. Culture is never far away, don’t miss the Church of Profitis Elias and try walking the Konnos Nature Trail.
Pernera – Family friendly Pernera has pristine child-friendly beaches, fantastic restaurants and two waterparks. More laidback than neighbouring Protarus, the two resorts are linked by the beach promenade whenever you want to switch it up (or down!) Pernera is based around coastal activities such as canoeing, sailing and snorkelling. And in contrast to many tourist resorts in Cyprus, Pernera still has a working fishing village. Needless to say, fresh fish is high up on the restaurant menus.