Situated in the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus is a wonderful mixture of cultures. Influenced by its proximity to Asia and Africa, this former British colony has retained the language and culture of western Europe. Known for warm friendly hospitality, both Northern and Southern Cyprus are popular with holiday makers for their mild winters and sunny summers.
Cyprus has something for everyone, from wild partygoers in Agia Napa to retirees enjoying an affordable lifestyle and slower pace of life in Larnaca. The Karpas Peninsula is known for its beautiful beaches, rich archeological sites and medieval forts which look out over nearby islands.
Nicosia, the capital, offers gleaming white houses perched on narrow terraces that descend in steps to the turquoise waters of the bay below. Modern buildings sit side by side with ancient houses of worship with their ornate spires, domes and minarets. Museums dedicated to Cypriot history, art, astronomy, ancient coins and even motorcycles are found throughout the city and there are several performing arts centres for concerts and plays.
For upscale shopping in Nicosia, visit Stasikratous Street with its high fashion ambiance, while for authentic crafts and souvenirs, the pedestrianized Laika Geitonia district is just the place. Al fresco meals of grilled pork kebabs with a cold Keo beer make a delicious meal at a reasonable price.
The broad streets of Larnaca are lined with graceful palms and lead down to the wide sandy beaches. Colourful outdoor cafés, ancient ruins, bustling boardwalks and world-class resorts line the shores of the blue Mediterranean Sea. Stroll through the maze of tiny streets and alleyways to discover traditional shops in the old Turkish Quarter, where history oozes from every brick. Guided walking tours expose the ancient past and bustling present of the city. Trendy nightclubs and lively beach parties are the perfect way to cap off a wonderful day while watching a glorious sunset.
Limassol combines beach activities with a medieval castle, spectacular views and world-renowned ancient ruins. Folk music, dancing and cheap local wines are features of the annual Wine Festival that takes place every August at the city’s Municipal Gardens.
The legendary home of Aphrodite, Paphos offers a 13th Century Byzantine Church with intricate mosaic floors, said to be where Saint Paul was converted to Christianity. The Cyprus Handicraft Centre provides an opportunity to purchase finely crafted metal, wood and textiles made using time-honoured methods. For lazy days in the sun, Paphos offers beautiful sandy beaches and waterports in the clear warm sea.
Swimming, wreck diving and sailing can be enjoyed from most resorts. Taking a trip in a submarine is a recommended family-friendly activity and you can get close to a famous shipwreck as part of your underwater tour. Alternatively, the Kyrenia Shipwreck Museum is dedicated to the sea and is home to the wreck of the world’s oldest known trading ship complete with tools and pottery used aboard the ship.
Further inland, Mount Olympos in the Troodos Mountains offers scenic hiking or biking beneath the fragrant cedar trees. Magnificent scenery, sleepy little villages and some fine examples of historic churches and monasteries add to the enjoyment of this lovely area.
For youngsters, exciting water rides can be found at the Fasouri Watermania Water Park in Limassol and families will also enjoy the Limmasol Zoo Garden which includes a dinosaur park and wonderful plant and animal exhibits.