With so many interesting places to see around both the coast and inland, we share some of the highlights found in the popular areas of Cyprus such as a Paphos, Akamas and the Troodos Mountains that you can enjoy on your next holiday to the island.
So you’ve touched down at the airport and thinking about what’s going on in Cyprus’s third largest city, Larnaca. For starters, almost stradling the runway itself is Mackenzie Beach. Here you’ll find plenty of food and beverage options directly adjacent to the clear waters and fine sands of the beach. Larnaca also boasts a lovely palm-lined seaside promenade running parallel to Finikoudes Beach which is just along from Mackenzie Beach. Just off the coast, you can take a diving trip out the the Zenobia Wreck or have a leisurely time on the water with a stand-up paddle lesson as the planes fly directly overhead.
In town, you can visit the gorgeous Greek Orthodox church of Agios Lazaros, under which houses the second tomb of Saint Lazarus of Bethany. At the end of Finikoudes promenade you’ll find the Larnaka Medieval Castle that dates back to the 14th century and was built to protect the city harbour.
Given its proximity to the Akamas Peninsula, the coastal city of Paphos in southwest Cyprus is such a popular holiday choice amongst holidaymakers. (We highlight some of the best things to do in Akamas further into this guide, so we’ll stick to the city itself within this section.)
Being an ancient city, there’s plenty here for the history buffs. The ruins of Kato Paphos Archaeological Park is a World Heritage Site located right on the coast, just over a mile north of Paphos Harbour. So it makes for a great day out when combining with a sea view walk. Many who visit the ruins are overwhelmed by its size (it’s perhaps doable in 3-4 hours), and the reasonable entry fee (approx. €4.50). With areas of the ruins dating as far back as 3000BC, the well-preserved mosaics are considered amongst the finest in the world. The site also contains The House of Dionysus a Roman villa dating back to the second century. Smaller in scale, but just as equally fascinating as the Archaeological Park, is the UNESCO Tomb of the Kings. Many of the tombs (which actually do not house any actual kings), have been around since the 4th century. A morning visit for an hour or so is recommended before the sun hits its peak.
Wine-lovers staying in Paphos are in for a real treat as there are dozens of wineries dotted around the region – with many located in the foothills south of the mountains of Troodos and the Paphos Mountains. The closest to the city proper is Fikardos Winery in Mesogi village, which is just 15 minutes outside of the city centre. Meanwhile, 30 minutes from Paphos in the lovely old village of Lemona, is the highly-rated Tsangarides Winery where in addition to wine-tasting, you can partake in their unique opportunity to adopt your own personal vine.
The large seaside resort on Akrotiri Bay in southern Cyprus is known for the centuries-old castle, a long promenade boasting unrivalled views looking out across the sea and both the old port and new marina. Saripolou Square is the most buzzing district, and the best location for food and drinks with bars and eateries lining the streets.
The Molos promenade is a walk taken between the city and the sea – perfect for a family stroll. You can stop off along the way at the Seaside Park and make a slight detour for Limassol Castle. For a full-day of fun, Fasouri Watermania is one of the best waterparks in Cyprus with plenty of thrills and spills for all ages. If you head out no more than 20 minutes west by car or bus, you’ll discover a couple of amazing historical sites such as the ancient archaeological site of Kourion and Kolossi Castle.
If you’re planning on holidaying in Ayia Napa, then you’re undoubtedly going for the beaches and nightlife. Depending on what you’re after, Konnos Bay, Makronissos Beach, Nissi Beach and Landa Beach are all lovely white sand coastal hotspots boasting beautifully clear waters. Of course, each offer bars, cafes and restaurants so you can stop for lunch without necessarily breaking from the beach completely.
One superb reason for opting for a stay near the aforementioned Konnos Bay is its proximity to the Cape Greco National Forest Park. There, you’ll find amazing cliff views and plenty of cool rock formations and sea caves. At the furthest tip of the Cape is the View Point that is a recommended place to relax at the end of your morning walk. Alternatively, head here just before the sun sets for some great photo opportunities.
The capital of Cyprus, Nicosia features many points of local interest within the ancient, walled part of the city. In fact, the walls are the longest preserved medieval walls in all of Europe! Buyuk Han (The Great Inn) is an Ottoman previously used by villagers stopping off in the city in times gone by. Nowadays, it features boutique shops, craft stalls and cafes. Offering a time capsule for the antiquity of the island, Cyprus Museum exhibits a rich collection of treasures such as coins, statues, jewels, ceramics and tombstones.
Head for the western tip of Cyprus and you’ll find yourself on the island’s Akamas Peninsula and the national park of the same name. First-timers’ to Cyprus tend to spend the best part of a day exploring the area. However, the general consensus tends to be that those returning, plan for a longer stay in the region, while making Paphos their holiday base.
The peninsular is home to quaint villages, the Blue Lagoon and Manolis Bay, Avakas Gorge, the sea turtle nesting site of Lara Bay and the natural grotto of the Baths of Aphrodite. Many coming to the area will take up the opportunity to join a jeep safari while others opt to hire a beach buggy to enjoy their surroundings. Using a regular rental car in the national park area is an absolute no-go owing to the terrain – you’ll need a 4×4 to navigate the ‘roads’ (dirt tracks). Another tip is to download a map of the routes using the Waze app for offline use in the event you can’t get an internet signal. For the more active, you can choose to hike around the gorges or take a bike tour for the hill trails.
With its highest peak Mount Olympus (not to be confused with the one in Greece) at nearly 2k above sea level, Troodos is the largest mountain range in Cyprus. The centre of the region is located 45 minutes away by car from Limassol and around 1 hour 15 minutes from Paphos. As you would expect, the scenery is absolutely stunning with many sights to behold. Enchanted woodland surrounds you from every field of view alongside a number of churches and monasteries that are dotted within old, cobbled villages. In contrast to Akamas National Park, the roads here are good, albeit windy. It’s as you scale these roads that you come to realise how the climate changes to one much cooler than the coast.
While exploring the Troodos Mountain region, we recommend making a trip to the glorious Caledonia Waterfall that is located in the wine village of Platres. What makes the experience of visiting this particular attraction so rewarding is the beautiful hiking trails you undertake to reach the falls and the incredible views available. While the paths from the village is uphill and occasionally rocky, the incline is easy-going and only takes around an hour to complete at most. The route follows the stream and is pleasantly cool as you gain altitude. Decent footwear is recommended – so leave your flip-flops back at the hotel!
While we’ve highlighted the Caledonia Falls, many tourists take the time to check out the Tzelefos Bridge, plus make additional hikes to Chantara and Millomeris waterfalls that can all be found in and around Platres.