With summer kicking in a little early this year, the tourism industry in Cyprus is expected to boom, bringing waves to holidaymakers from Russia, the UK, and Germany, at least this is what experts say. Here are a few of the best places to visit in Cyprus this summer.
Ever since the New York Times ranked Cyprus as one of the 52 places to visit in 2017, travel agents have been under siege. Additionally, Cyprus has been massively investing in tourism development and improvement of services since last winter, with hoteliers adding 10,000 new beds, according to the Financial Mirror. So, this being said, are you still wondering where to spend your summer holidays?
Relax, this is a top 10 best places to visit in Cyprus, which I as a traveller would come back to, which I hope will give you an idea of what the island of Aphrodite has to offer.
#10 Famagusta / Varosha, the Ghost City
If you have a particular interest in history, Famagusta is a must-visit. Situated on the eastern coast of Cyprus, boasting what once used to be the main commercial harbour on the island, which also happens to be the deepest, the city of Famagusta is home to a great fortress surrounded by traditional walls, which stands to this day. Why the ‘Ghost city’?
To answer this question we need to travel back in time and stop in 1974, when the city was besieged by Turkish troops, and taken unawares, if they managed to escape from the slaughter they fled without taking any of their belongings along and left their properties as they were. That part of the city, called Varosha remained the same to this day and is closed to the general public. However, before the war, between 1970 and 1974 was the heyday of Varosha, which used to be the main touristic hub on the island and famous worldwide. It was the favourite destination for many celebs like Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Raquel Welch, and Brigitte Bardot.
Other landmarks of the city are two iconic mosque Lala Mustafa Pasha and St. Barnabas Monastery. Easily accessible by road from Nicosia, Famagusta is about 1hr 16 min drive away. Alternatively, intercity buses can always take you there from wherever you may be on the island for Euro 10 back and forth. In point of accommodation, the city boasts a number of 3 to 4-star hotels and villas, if you're planning to stay for more than one day.
#9 Akamas Peninsula
The utmost western point of Cyprus is a patch of land known as the Akamas Peninsula. If you're looking for a getaway from the hustle and bustle of big city life, this is the ideal place to be. There are no paved roads, which makes it perfect for mountain biking or hiking. In Akamas you can enjoy nature and wildlife at its best. The fauna of the place includes sea turtles, reptiles and local birds.
A place with a rich history and an Aphrodite-related antiquity, Akamas Peninsula works a bit of 'scouting' with an excursion to Agios Andronikos Church, which used to be a mosque and was built in the early 16th century. But, this is not the only attraction in this corner of earthly paradise, the Baths of Aphrodite where the goddess of beauty and fertility is said to have bathed lie near the town of Polis.
Stretching across an area of 230 square kilometres, the promontory was described by Ptolemy as a headland covered by thick woods and split in two by mountain summits raising towards the north. As pretty much every Cypriot name has a historical meaning preserving a special connection with the ancient, semi-legendary past of the island, the name 'Akamas' is actually a 'tribute' to the son of Theseus, hero of the Trojan War and founder of the kingdom of Soli.
Until 2000, Akamas was used by the British forces for military exercises and as a firing range. According to the 1960 Treaty of Establishment, the British Army was permitted to use the site for exercises up to 70 days a year.
At the southern end of the peninsula lies the town of Pegeia, renowned for its steep slopes and hillsides situated inland from Coral Bay. The city boasts a number of holiday homes and a large population of British expats.
Only a stone-throw away (14 km) from Paphos, the peninsula can be easily accessed by car (and if so, be prepared for an offroad ride). You can look for accommodation options either in the town of Akamas, Paphos, Pegeia or Polis.
Moving forward, next best place to visit in Cyprus is Nicosia, the very capital city. An interesting mixture of ancient and modern Greek and Turkish culture and architecture, Nicosia speaks volumes of the tumultuous history of the island.
Divided in two, one pertaining to the Turkish-governed Republic of Northern Cyprus and the cultural and southern Greek Republic of Cyprus. The city is a wealth of museums, among which the Cyprus Museum, the Byzantine Museum, and the Ledra Observatory Museum are the most prominent. If you go up to the 11th floor of Ledra Observatory, you can actually see the national border dividing the two Cypriot republics. This border is also known as 'The Green Line'. Want to remember your trip to Nicosia? Head off to Ledra Street for traditional souvenirs or Laiki Geitonia for all sorts of gadgets and trinkets.
Depending on which part of the world you're coming from, especially if you're flying from the east, you can actually land on the International Airport of Nicosia (on the Turkish side), otherwise a trip with the intercity bus will take you there.
If you're planning to stay in the Cypriot capital, there is a wide range of accommodations you can choose from to fit every budget, from 5* hotels to hostels and self-catering holiday homes.
If you want to enjoy life to the max and relax at the same time, go to Protaras. Boasting quite a few white-sand beaches, it is almost impossible to stay away from this city.
With its crystal-clear blue waters, Protaras is mainly a touristic resort and one of the preferred spots by divers on the island. The best known diving spot in town is Fig Tree Bay. Other popular diving sites in the area include East Mediterranean Green Bay, which is where most of scuba novices go to learn and develop scuba diving skills, the Blue Hole,the Chapel, Decosta Bay, and Malama Bay. At the border with Ayia Napa, the Technical Diving and Commercial Diver training site is located - Cyclops Bay.
Only 10 km away from groovy Ayia Napa, and building on its success, Protaras boasts a riot of beach hotels, villas and restaurants, as well as beach bars where you can sit back, relax and indulge...
Cape Greco is about 10 minutes' drive away from the city centre and is considered one of the most picturesque places in Cyprus.
# 6 Kyrenia
Just like Famagusta, Kyrenia is another harbour-town under Turkish government rather than cultural Greek. Boasting mesmerising sites comprising of Pentadktylos Mountains, unique architectural style buildings more than 1,300 years old and limitless opportunities for outdoor fun.
To get a grip on the culture of the place, make a trip to the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Byzantine Kyrenia Castle, built in the 7th century, and the Shipwreck Museum, where you can feast your eyes on some 2,300 years old artefacts.
Kyrenia is not only a historical place, but also a place where wildlife thrives, being home to families of turtles.
About 1hr 24 mins drive away from Nicosia, Kyrenia has plenty resorts that provide golf courses, not to mention that the most of the fields overlook the Mediterranean Sea. Alternatively, if you're longing for more adrenaline, you can always hike along the coast.
The oldest city in Cyprus, Larnaca has a rich history that goes back in time more than 6,000 years. It is almost impossible not to at least pass through the city, as it has the largest international airport. Well, if you decide not to be a mere passer-through, the city unravels its marvels.
History lovers will definitely enjoy a tour to 9th century Church of St. Lazarus or breathtaking Faneromeni Church.
Craving for some adventure? Head off to Larnaca Salt Lake then! Here you can enjoy the view of flamingos. The lake provides a perfect habitat for 85 species of birds and is one of the major migratory passages through Cyprus.
Stretching out on a vast area of 2.2sq km, a tiny bit off the road that leads to Larnaca International Airport, the lake actually comprises 4 salt lakes, Aliki, Orphani, Soros and Spiro. All of them are excellent for birdwatching.
In for a dip? The wreck of Zenobia is the perfect diving spot for scuba divers. So if you enjoy scuba diving, you should definitely not miss this one!
Well, if you're planning to visit the island of Aphrodite this summer, when it can get melting hot, why not cool off in the mountains? Troodos is one of the most visited non-urban, non-beach areas on the island all year round and the perfect place to get a breath of fresh, cooler, pine-scented air up in the limey-green mountains of Cyprus.
Holding a well-deserved #4 position in our top-preference top 10 best places to visit in Cyprus this summer, Troodos is one of the major holiday destinations renowned for outdoor recreation opportunities. Caledonia Falls and Milia Medieval Bridge, apart from having a rich history, are excellent for hiking. You might as well rent a bike and hit the mountain trails or pedal along around the foothills.
If you want to come to grips with Cypriot traditions, the villages around will offer you the perfect opportunity. Major tourist attractions in the area include the Byzantine Timios Stavros Church in Pelendri, the Archangel Michael Church in Pedoulas, or Troodotissa Monastery renowned for the miracle-making icon of Virgin Mary with the Baby Jesus, which is said to help childless couples have children. So if you wish upon an icon, it can happen!
You can get to Troodos either by car or minibus (there are minibuses that take you to the villages from everywhere on the island). The region offers a wide range of accommodation possibilities for all budgets ranging from self-catering guest houses to hotels and luxurious villas.
#3 Ayia Napa
From the mountains, back to the sea again! Suitable for adventurous, party-all-night seekers, Ayia Napa is a 'wild' beach resort where the fine sand caresses your soles (if it's not burning hot). It almost goes without saying that during the day, the beach buzzes with people, who can either have fun playing some beach sport or laze in the sun and cool off in the crystal-clear water at Nissi Beach, Grecian Bay, or Makronissos Beach.
The 'wild' part comes after sunset, when the Square comes to life and all the bars and terraces in the area are literally besieged by tourists. At night, party is the name of the game. All the bars are open until dawn, without any exception, offering you the possibility to enjoy live music, spirit uplifting cocktails and dance the night away.
Well, after a 'rough' night, perhaps a 'quest' for inner peace at the Ayia Napa Monastery is exactly what you need, or if you're a sea lover, the Thalassa Museum will for sure enlighten you about the role of the sea in the development of the region.
On the south-western coast of the island, lies the city of Paphos, which legend has it, is the birthplace of Aphrodite. Today, the city is split in two - Kato Paphos, which is where numerous hotels and archaeological sites are clustered, and the upper city, which is the commercial hub.
The upper area of the city is where most of the shops and restaurants are. The major attractions of Paphos are ruins and archaeological remnants of ancient human existence. As we all owe a lot to the Romans, Roman traditions and the Latin language regardless of what our home is in Europe, the House of Dionysus and the House of Theseus are perfect illustrations of Roman expansion in the area. Cyprus is perhaps one of the most multicultural places in Europe, and Paphos is one of must-visits from this perspective.
The 16th century Paphos Fort erected by the Turkish, the Tombs of the Kings, and the Odeon, a fantastic Greek amphitheatre where plays were staged in ancient times and live performances are offered even nowadays, are architectural proofs of the multiculturalism and unique combination of Balkanism and Roman-Greek heritage.
Saving the best for last, Limassol is after the capital city, the main business hub on the island and the most beautiful best place to visit in Cyprus.
A main commercial port, Limassol has become one of the main tourist destinations over the years.
The Old Town, with its narrow streets, brick-wall buildings, and souvenir shops almost around every street corner is the perfect place to start your exploration.
The Limassol Castle in the very heart of the city is a major tourist attraction you won't want to miss. Archaeological discoveries made on the very site revealed that the castle was built on the remnants of a former Christian basilica (4th-7th AD) and a Middle Byzantine monument (10th - 11th century AD).
The first part of the castle was built in 1193 by Guy de Lusignian. With a tumultuous history, the castle was the target of numerous attacks over the centuries, from the Genoese to the Turks. Additionally, the earthquakes that shook up the island between 1567 and 1568 caused serious damages to the construction, which underwent serious strengthening and reconstruction work. During the Ottoman period, which started in 1576, the castle began to take its actual shape. The underground and the 1st floor of the fortress were at that time used as prison and continued to remain in use until 1950.
After this brief short intro into the history of the place, shopping anyone? If yes, head off to Anexartisias Street, which is where shoppers get together and load their bags. And, what's more relaxing and indulging after a good shopping therapy than a Cypriot coffee served by one of the numerous cafes lining the street or a good traditional lunch (or dinner)?
Well, as Limassol is a harbour, what would it be without a 'Marina' where luxurious yachts dock? Limassol Marina is where all yacht owners and lovers get together for a unique experience. Of course, the Marina is a riot of restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy the menu of the day and the view of the sea and the boats. Boat trips are also available.
If you're travelling with young children, you need not worry, they will find plenty of fun at the playgrounds in Molos Park stretching along the seafront. Want some nightlife action? Almost all the beach bars along the seafront, discos and clubs can offer you some grooving till the early hours of the morning.
Want to see with your own eyes? Hop on a plane and come to Cyprus!