Cyprus, situated in the eastern corner of the Mediterranean, Cyprus has a subtropical climate. During July and August temperatures rise to more than 40c, in the central Mesaoria plain, leaving the land dry with brown and gold colours broken only by the green leaves of the olive, carob and fig trees. Cyprus is an excellent choice for holidays during the Summer, Spring, Autumn or the UK winter season.
There is also Ancient monuments and archaeological sites. Cyprus has a fascinating history and rich cultural heritage. Those taking holidays in Cyprus have a vast range of ancient monuments and archaeological sites to visit. This is particularly so in Paphos, which is on UNESCO’s list of World Cultural Heritage sites. The most prominent features of Cyprus are two mountain ranges the higher of the two is the southern Troodos range, at 2,000 metres above sea level and in winter it is with snow covered. Following the invasion by Turkey of 1974, just over one third of the island remains under Turkish rule. The ‘Green Line’ that cuts through the capital of Cyprus, Nicosia divides the country, the last remaining divided capital in Europe.
Cyprus enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with abundant sunshine year round. Long dry summers and mild winters are separated by short autumn and spring seasons. Summer is a time of high temperatures with cloudless skies, but the sea breeze creates a pleasant atmosphere in the coastal areas. Winters are mild, with some rain and snow on Troodos Mountains.
When to Fly to Cyprus
As the weather is good for most of the year, the peak season runs for many months. Prices from the UK will rise for popular travel times such as school holidays and cheap flights to Cyprus can be harder to find.
The real winter lasts only for December and January. The resorts in Cyprus, unlike much of the Mediterranean, tend to stay open in the winter so fares won’t plummet. Spring starts in Mid-February when the almond trees blossom and the countryside becomes green. This can be the perfect time to visit with milder climate.
Getting Around Cyprus
Buses run on Cyprus every day except Sunday. Generally, the buses are cheap, frequent and efficient.
If you want to travel on a Sunday you will need to take a service taxi.
Hiring a car and driving is relatively easy. Driving is on the left and all the main roads are all paved. Minor roads are still largely unsurfaced. If you are driving make sure you think about filling up with petrol long before you need to do so – many petrol stations are only open at certain times so check well in advance.
It is not a large island and, though there are two airports (at Larnaca and Paphos) there are no internal Cyprus flights.
Cyprus Insider Information
The site of the main international airport and the second port, Larnaca is a bustling town and a busy holiday resort, popular with those mooring yachts. Even if the city itself seems too touristy to spend much time in, it can provide the perfect base from which to explore the island. It is easy to reach Nicosia, Limassol and Paphos (all are within two hours drive), and just outside the town are many other place of interest – with far less visitors.
Paphos was the island’s capital in Roman times and mosaics from the 3rd century BC can still be found here. This fun-loving region has excellent swimming in clear water beaches, hillside villages, catacombs, the Baths of Aphrodite and palm-lined boulevards by the port. To visit the best beach of the area, though, drive 15 minutes out of Paphos to Coral Bay.
The stunning Troodos Mountains run along the west of the island. Perfect to visit if the weather is too hot on the beach, the cool breezes and mountain air mean the area is always cooler than the coastal resorts. Visit one of the nine Unesco listed Byzantine churches, have a picnic, or just take a walk in the pine-scented forest. The Troodos region is especially beautiful to visit in Spring, when the almond blossoms are out.
Ayia Napa is the party capital of the island. The town is popular with package tours and those wanting to party. The clubs are world class. Perhaps surprisingly, the beaches and town are pretty good too. Despite being crowded, the long beach at Ayia Napa is clean and attractive and the town has excellent shopping and some beautiful buildings. Avoid staying in the centre though if you prefer to have early nights.
Lefkosia, also known as Nicosia, is the inland capital of Cyprus, though it is often ignored by tourists as it has no beach. Divided down the middle by the “green line” into North and South, it is the last remaining partitioned city in the world. Well worth a visit, Lefkosia is the place to see what the “real” Cyprus is like.
There are two airports on the island, Paphos and Larnaka
The beaches in Cyprus are among the cleanest you will find anywhere. The Cyprus Tourism Organization supervises the beaches and is responsible for protecting the interests of all tourists. Some or all offer full facilities to swimmers and include beach bars, restaurants, changing rooms, sun shades and sun loungers.
The beaches are safe with some great spots for swimming and snorkeling. Along most of the beaches are facilities for all sea sports including water-skiing, wind-surfing, sailing canoes, pedals, motor boats, scooters, speed boats, parachutes, scuba diving and more.
Top 10 attractions
1: Troodos Mountains
Well maintained trails wind up through the slopes of these ancient mountains past Byzantine churches and black pine trees. Surrounding the area, you will be able to enjoy the sights and smells of nearby cedar and pine forests.
All of the painted churches of the Troodos are little gems of craftsmanship set in breathtaking scenery. Panayia tou Araka – the church of Our Lady of the Pea – is a superb example and one of ten painted churches on the UNESCO world heritage site list.
The church itself is tiny and is dwarfed by its snow proof roof and the wooden trellis that surrounds it. However, when you walk inside, the vibrant colours and the number of frescoes takes your breath away. In winter Mount Olympus plays host to hundreds of skiers.
2: Kourion/Kolossi Castle
Ancient Kourion and the castle at Kolossi are both in the Limassol area and can be visited together in a day. They are just two examples of the wealth of history to be found in Cyprus. Kourion is one of the most spectacular archaeological sites on the island.
This ancient city kingdom has many ancient treasures including the Greco Roman theatre dating from the second century BC, which has been fully restored.
Other sites include baths, houses – some with beautiful mosaics and a stadium. The ruins at Kourion are to be found in breathtaking scenery overlooking the sea. As it is one of Cyprus’s most popular tourist attractions, it worth arriving early in high season. Kolossi Castle – here you will encounter a military site that once stood as a Crusader fortress of the Knights of St John, dating back to the 13th century.
3: Baths of Aphrodite
This is the natural feature carved from limestone. Legend states that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, used to take her baths here. This is where you will encounter a natural pool surrounded by plenty of land to explore.
4: Tomb of the Kings
These tombs bear a strong resemblance to Egyptian tombs. Carved out of solid rock with pillars and frescoed walls. The Tomb of the Kings is a large necropolis situated a little over a mile north west of Paphos Harbour.
Spread over a vast area, these impressive underground tombs date back to the 4th century BC. They are carved out of solid rock with some being decorated with Doric pillars. High officials rather than Kings were buried here, but the magnificence of the tombs gave the locality its name.
5: Larnaca Fort
This small fort served as a prison during British occupation. It was however, originally built by the venetians in the 15th century, to protect the harbour. If you climb the wall you will get an excellent view of the town. There is also a small museum below the wall.
6: Limassol Castle
Built on the site of a Byzantine fort in the 14th century, this was where the marriage between King Richard and Queen Berengaria took place.
7: Paphos Harbour and Castle
The harbour at Paphos attracts visitors all year round, who take the opportunity to walk along the quay and maybe visit one of the fish restaurants, tavernas or cafes. The view is superb with lots of colourful fishing boats bobbing in the harbour.
The castle is in fact all that remains of a much earlier castle dating from 1391, which was demolished by the Venetians. The Ottomans used it as dungeons and the British as a warehouse for salt! It can be reached via a small bridge over a moat and is worth a visit for the view from the top.
To go right back to Cyprus’s earliest history, you need to visit the remains of stone age settlements at Choirokitia, better preserved than most other Neolithic sites in the eastern Mediterranean.
The settlement dates back to sixth and seventh centuries BC – although the site was discovered in 1936, serious excavation did not start until the 1970’s.
It is perhaps one of the earliest human settlements on the island and is a UNESCO world heritage site. He people of Choirokitia lived in beehive shaped one storey houses – more than sixty such houses can be seen at the site, as well as the original streets and lanes and a larger chieftain’s mansion.
9: The Paphos Mosaics
A must for all visitors are the colourful and intricate Roman mosaics to be found in Paphos. They were discovered by accident in the 1960’s – further excavation revealed a number of Roman houses all with spectacular mosaics, depicting scenes from ancient mythology.
The mosaics give a clue to the wealthy and opulent lives of some of the Roman Paphiots. The main sites are the House of Dionysos, the House of Aion and the House of Theseus. The mosaics can be found near the lighthouse and fortress of Saranda Kolones situated in close proximity to Paphos Harbour.
10: Akamas National Park
Studded with sandy bays, deep gorges and home to over 500 species of plants, 168 types of birds plus a host of other animals and insects this is a nature lover’s paradise. Akamas Peninsula in the summer is frequented by turtles, which makes it extremely popular.The wild, undeveloped Akamas Peninsula is perfect for a hike or jeep excursion.
Lacework and embroidery, pottery and woodwork, jewellery … the artistic heritage of Cyprus is a reflection of the islands history and traditions that have endured for centuries. Most of the raw materials used in crafts, from copper to silk and cotton, are native to Cyprus. Since 1975 the government has actively strived to preserve local craftworks by creating the Cyprus Handicraft Service. They provide goods to the large Cyprus Handicraft Centre (Lefkosia) and official craft shops.
Cypriot lacework is prized for its quality and artistry and it is one if Cyprus’s most famous exports. The village of Lefkara is very well known for its embroidery, called Lefkaritika, take a wander around the streets and you will be invited into the many of the shops.
Embroidered lace, worked on off white linen or cotton, makes for highly decorative tablecloths, curtains, doilies, placemats and dresser sets. A specialty of Paphos is Pafitika, fabric embroidered with geometric designs.
Pottery has been made in Cyprus continuously for thousands of years. Attractive pots come in all shapes and sizes. Terra cota pieces with white decorations, copies of museum pieces are popular gifts, as are copper wares, hand painted gourds and handmade baskets and jewellery with motifs from antiquity.
The smaller villages of Cyprus are the best places to pick up handcrafted Cypriot lace at a good price. Bargaining is accepted, be polite but firm. Always shop around and don’t display too much enthusiasm.
One can travel around Cyprus either by bus, by taxi or private car. There are no trains in Cyprus. One of the most inexpensive ways of travelling is by bus, which costs approximately €1. Buses are available every half an hour throughout the area. Almost all villages are connected with the nearest town by buses.
There are numerous places of interest in remote areas, if you like to explore then driving in Cyprus is a must. Fairly good surfaced roads complying with international traffic requirements link the towns and various villages. Use of a mobile phone is strictly prohibited. Visitors in Cyprus can drive using a valid international driving license or their national driving license provided it is valid for the vehicle class they intend to drive. Driving is on the left as in the UK. There are many places that you can hire a car from. Always use a reputable company.
If you don’t want to drive yourself, communal service taxis are another option. They provide connections between all major towns every half hour. Regular taxis are reasonably priced and are especially good options for airport transfers.
Cyprus has a lot to offer in terms of nightlife. You will find traditional entertainment – folk music and dancing – at numerous tavernas and restaurants in cities and villages. There are many fish and specialty or themed restaurants and many places are family friendly.
Everyone knows that Cyprus is famous for its food; the cuisine is a blend of flavours gathered from all over the eastern Mediterranean. Cypriots cook with less oil than their Mediterranean neighbours. The cuisine is healthy apart from their love of syrup soaked pastries. All food is cooked fresh on a daily basis. The quality of fresh produce is excellent and the local salads are delicious.
One of the most popular dishes in Cyprus is a Meze. You are served up to 20 different saucer sized dishes, ranging from local cheese like halloumi and feta, meats like pork, chicken and fish.
Some of the most popular meals are:
Kleftico – lamb or goat roasted with vegetables in an outside oven
Shish Kebab – marinated lamb skewered and grilled over charcoal
Souvla – Lamb or goat cooked on a rotisserie
Souvlaki – Pork grilled on a skewer
Sheftalia – small rissoles of mince, onions and spices wrapped in a ‘skin’ of gut rather like small sausages
Mousakka – slices of aubergine and potato overlaid with mince and white sauce.
There are some fantastic golf courses in Cyprus and a couple luxury golf resorts are under development in Paphos. Pissouri is situated close to two popular courses, Tsada and Secret Valley.
Hiking is very popular in the mountains and the climate is cooler on higher ground. There are beautiful unspoilt views from the mountains.
Sea sports are also very popular due to the calm clear waters surrounding the island. There is jet skiing, water surfing, various boat excursions, diving and many more. There are trained instructors ready to assist for all levels of divers. There is also the wreck of Zenobia which is the fourth largest wreck dive in the world and this is for experienced divers only. Please visit www.cydive.com for more info on diving in Cyprus.
From January until March you can ski in the Troodos Mountains! So Cyprus really does have something for everyone.
For the family
Everyone agrees that Cyprus is a fantastic place for children. The long sunny days and sandy beaches are an irresistible holiday combination. Be sure to think about alternative plans if weather is a factor in what you want to do. It can be very hot in the middle of the day in high season and it does occasionally rain in the winter months. The good news is that Cyprus has a variety of attractions for all ages.
Coral Bay Karting – Go karts for adults and children. There is also a games centre and a children’s playground.
Aphrodite water park Paphos – Offers a very high level of safety and hygiene and has a variety of slides and fun activities there are also a couple of bowling alleys in Paphos and themed cruises with indoor shows and meals.
There are also 2 ten-pin bowling alleys, horse riding ranch, many children’s play parks, crazy golf, paint balling and numerous family friendly cafes and restaurants…