Cyprus holidays

Experience Cyprus

Best Places to Visit

Larnaca, a city in the south of Cyprus, is the leading tourist destination, partly thanks to its large number of hotels, restaurants and bars. At its heart are many quiet streets and quaint craft stalls. There's also the main street with chain stores, but for the most part, it is a relaxed city where the new is slowly filtering in with the old.

For those after nightlife, it's hard to beat Ayia Napa. Once known for its hardcore clubbing, it's matured somewhat and is now home to many upmarket beach bars and late-night restaurants. Although you can still find some great places to party the night away, it's now mostly targeted at an older audience, with quality venues and products.

What's a trip to Cyprus without a visit to one of the many tavernas found throughout the island? The smaller, less touristy ones often offer better service, and can give you a real taste of the local food and drink, such as wild boar or the mouth-watering lamb dishes.

Of course, Cyprus is also renowned for its beaches. Thanks to the year-round sunshine, the beaches can be enjoyed throughout the seasons. Alagadi Turtle Beach, Fig Tree Bay Beach and Escape Beach are all stunning, but there are many others across the island that are perfect for a day of relaxation.

In recent years, a lot of tourists have been opting for a visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. This area is less tailored for tourists as it is under developed, but still boasts stunning beaches and plenty of historic ruins.

Kavo Greko Forest Park, in the south-eastern area of Cyprus, is truly beautiful. With its crystal clear waters, conditions for swimming and snorkelling here are ideal. There's also horse riding and rock climbing available, with nine hiking trails. There are a lot of wild animals and birds, with many of the trails ending at the top of the cliffs, giving an amazing view of the tranquil seas.

Ancient Kourion, also found in the south of the island, near the town of Episkopi, is the site of an extensive Greco-Roman ruin. Amazingly well-preserved mosaics, public baths and a gladiator stadium mean this place is popular with tourists. For visitors, it gives a glimpse into a slightly different history of Cyprus as the bridge between the two great ancient cultures of Greece and Rome.

Top Landmarks

Paphos, in the south of the island, has a stunning harbour that attracts tourists all year round. The sea view from the harbour is breath-taking and can be enjoyed from one of the many fish restaurants situated here. The harbour is also an ideal place from which to take a boat tour of the beaches and coastline, or to take some photos to show friends and family when you get back home. Paphos is home to the Ottoman-era Paphos Castle, which is easy to access via a small bridge over the moat.

The North of Cyprus has a lot of history, particularly relating to the past issues between the Greek-Cypriot community and the Turkish-Cypriots. In Northern Cyprus, there is the Museum of Barbarism. Although it takes a little seeking out, this museum in the west of Nicosia is informative and a must-see for any history enthusiasts. However, be aware that certain sections of the museum feature graphic displays which might not be suitable for some children.

Take a trip to Kalopanayiotis and you will find the Agios Ioannis Lambadistis Monastery. Comprised of three churches, this monastery dates back to the 11th century and has been well preserved, from the amazing statues to the vivid colour scheme. It has artistic influences from throughout Europe, and entrance can be gained by requesting the keys from the village priest. There is also a museum alongside the monastery, but no photographs are allowed to be taken of the site.

Entertainment

There are all sorts of entertainment options on offer in Cyprus. One activity that must be tried is the traditional Greek dance, the zorba. Many clubs and bars across the south of the island have shows and performances, with tourists encouraged to join in.

Larnaca offers Greek clubs where visitors can experience modern Greek nightlife, with some UK dance tunes thrown into the mix as well. For a more relaxed night in Larnaca, there are stylish bars with great cocktails and live jazz music.

For the hardcore clubber, there is Ayia Napa, the undisputed party capital of Cyprus. With its endless stream of bars and nightclubs, people are usually found dancing their socks off until the early hours of the morning. Be aware that Ayia Napa primarily appeals to the 18 to 30s crowd, especially during peak season. For those wishing to avoid this scene, there are more upmarket bars in the island's other towns and cities, with plenty of venues to choose from.

Cyprus also caters to the whole family. In Lefkosia, south of Nicosia, is Kykko Bowling, a huge 19-alley bowling complex where you can buy snacks and drinks as well as bowl. There are also five cinemas on the island, four in the north and one in the south. All show big Hollywood films in English, although they have Greek subtitles.

Also in the Nicosia area is the Nicosia Race Club, ideal for the keen punter. Races are held throughout the year, although days and times vary from season to season.

Dining Out

Food in Cyprus, like in most Mediterranean countries, is of huge importance, and eating is the highlight of the day. A blend of Greek, Italian and Turkish, the food is spectacular. As expected of an island, Cyprus is big on seafood, with calamari (fried squid) a popular dish.

A common favourite in Cyprus is meza. Similar to Spanish tapas, it encompasses lots of little dishes which can be sampled and shared between groups. The dishes in a meza can vary, but common dishes include hummus and tzatziki (cucumber, yoghurt, mint and garlic) served with fresh pita bread and olives, along with pasta and potato, or meatballs in a spicy sauce. The list is endless, and it means diners can try lots of different traditional Cypriot foods in one meal.

There are hundreds of traditional Cypriot restaurants and taverns across the island, and most come complete with a wonderful view. The seafront in Larnaca is home to many seafood restaurants, and most have outdoor seating. Choosing one of the more crowded restaurants is often a good way to ensure you get a good meal.

Many Paphos restaurants also serve a great selection of traditional dishes, including lamb kleftiko, which arrives at the table still cooking on fire.

Beach

Cyprus has no end of stunning beaches; however, one of the most popular is Aphrodite's Beach in the southwest of the island. Not only is it absolutely beautiful, the Petra tou Romiou, or Aphrodite's Rock, here is supposedly the birthplace of the Greek goddess of love. The crystal clear waters make this beach perfect for swimming, and rumour has it that taking a dip here will help you find the love of your life.

Romance

Heading to Aphrodite's Beach for that perfect romantic getaway is a great idea. Where better to spend time with a loved one than in the mythical birthplace of the goddess of love? The island offers a number of romantic resorts which back the beach along with spas that provide guests with every luxury. Or couples can try a Turkish bath for rejuvenation.

Family

Cyprus has a lot of fun things to do as a family. As well as many beaches with shallow waters for the kids to play in, there is also a great array of water parks. The Fasoiri Waterpark in Limassol has over 20 waterslides suitable for all ages and the Wet 'n' Wild Waterpark, based on the park of the same name in Orlando, Florida, is just as impressive. Limassol also has the Galactica Luna Park and Bowling Centre, with 24 lanes of bowling, an amusement arcade and an internet café.

Adventure

Cyprus has it all when it comes to adventure. With crystal clear waters for snorkelling and sea kayaking, to the Troodos Mountains for mountain biking, rock climbing and trekking, visitors won't be stuck for things to do. The best places for adventures are Paphos, with its access to the sea, the Troodos Mountains and Akamas Park. There are many companies that cater for all activities. Rental charges for bikes and other equipment are reasonable, with guided tours and lessons available for various sports.

Need to know

Language

The main languages in Cyprus are Greek, spoken by the Greek-Cypriot community, and Turkish, spoken by the Turkish-Cypriot community. However, thanks largely to tourism, English is widely spoken. Within the tourist industry, German and French are commonly spoken, so European visitors should find most hospitality establishments have at least one member of staff they can communicate with easily.

Currency

In 2008, the Cyprus pound was replaced by the Euro. Euro banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200, and 1 and 2 Euro coins, with 100 cents making up 1 Euro. Every bank in Cyprus offers foreign currency exchange, as do most hotels. The majority of hotels, large shops and restaurants also accept major credit cards and travellers cheques, so access to money is not an issue, although spending on plastic abroad may incur a foreign currency transaction fee.

Visas

A valid passport grants UK and US citizens a 90-day tourist visa, although some European citizens can travel using just their national identity card, providing it has a photo. The passport used to gain entry must not be due to expire within the 90-day period otherwise entry will not be granted. Bear in mind that in the event your return journey is delayed, so you might want to allow even longer before your passport's expiration date.

Climate

Situated in the Mediterranean, Cyprus has very hot, dry summers and fairly mild winters, so it's an ideal place for a winter break. Summer starts in May and lasts through to September, with average day temperatures of 29°C in July and August. Winter is classed as the period from November through March, with daytime temperatures of around 10°C in mid-winter. During the summer, Cyprus benefits from around 15 hours of sunshine a day and there are almost year-round clear skies. At any time of year, temperatures should be up to ten degrees warmer than back home in the UK, so you should always feel the benefit of the climate when you take your first steps off the plane.

Main Airports

There are five airports in Cyprus, of which two are international airports: Larnaca International Airport in the east and Paphos International Airport in the south. Larnaca's airport is the most popular entry point and has the most chartered flights per year, but Paphos' airport is more commonly used as part of package deals.

Flight Options

There are non-stop flights available from all major cities in Europe, including London, with many services from both London Heathrow and London Gatwick. The main airlines serving the island are Cyprus Airways, British Airways and EasyJet. Standard flight time to London is around 4 hours, 30 minutes. Be aware that flight prices can increase in August when seats sell out quickly.

Travel Advice

Those looking for a bargain should head to Cyprus in the off-season, between October and March, as fares can be considerably cheaper at this time. Visitors who visit in October or March on cheaper flights will still benefit from the pleasant weather, with most tourist places open and the waters warm enough to enjoy a dip.

Other Transport Options

Cyprus can be reached via a passenger ferry from Turkey, which docks in the north of Cyprus. There were previously ferries from Rhodes and Patmos in Greece, and from Haifa in Israel. Unfortunately, these services were suspended in 2001 and have not been re-instated. Many of the ports in Cyprus cater to cruise ships and privately owned vessels.

Getting Around

Cyprus is reasonably small, so getting around is easy so long as the journey does not involve crossing the border between Southern and Northern Cyprus. To enter Northern Cyprus by land, all visitors must pass through immigration. Citizens of the EU and the US can get a visitor visa at the designated border crossings. Due to the size of Cyprus, it is possible to cycle around the island, with designated cycling routes available.

Bus

The bus service in Cyprus is extremely popular, and there are both public services within the cities and a planned service across the island. There are around seven bus operators currently in operation, with frequent services and reasonable ticket prices. Information about bus times is available online or at bus stops, helping you to plan your journey well in advance of setting out.

Car

On the whole, roads in Cyprus are well built and maintained, with clear signposting. The motorway network is gradually being expanded, but there is presently only one main motorway in the north, which runs between north Nicosia and Famagusta. Car hire is fairly easy to arrange, with car hire services available in towns and at airports.

CYPRUS`S WEATHER TODAY

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MAP

FACTS

  1. Cyprus is the Mediterranean's 'third island' - third in terms of land size, and also in its permanent population, which is estimated at just over a million people.
  2. Nobody is quite sure why it is named Cyprus - explanations range from links to the cypress tree, through to the Greek word 'kypros' meaning 'henna', or an old word in the region for copper.
  3. Cyprus was once home to dwarf elephants and dwarf hippos, but archaeological evidence suggests that these both became extinct around the same time humans first occupied the island in 10,000 BC.

FACTS

  1. Cyprus is the Mediterranean's 'third island' - third in terms of land size, and also in its permanent population, which is estimated at just over a million people.
  2. Nobody is quite sure why it is named Cyprus - explanations range from links to the cypress tree, through to the Greek word 'kypros' meaning 'henna', or an old word in the region for copper.
  3. Cyprus was once home to dwarf elephants and dwarf hippos, but archaeological evidence suggests that these both became extinct around the same time humans first occupied the island in 10,000 BC.

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