Whatever your pace or special interest, Cyprus is uniquely poised and welcoming to anyone and everyone — from the cleanest beaches in Europe, to the pine-clad Troodos Mountains, where the wild moufflons roam and cedars grow, and gem-like churches and monasteries replete with unmatched Byzantine frescoes and icons. Find a few reasons for a trip to Cyprus and you might find more reasons to go back.
Reasons to be in Cyprus
Haven for archeology lovers: From Neolithic settlements more than 10,000 years old, to spectacular Greco-Roman ruins, such as the ancient seaside amphitheater of Kourion, to fortresses such as Kolossi, the list of treasures is boundless. UNESCO recognized Pafos as the wellspring of antiques in the west – mysterious Tombs of the Kings… extensive and well-preserved colorful Roman mosaics.
Distances seem to be shorter: Although the country is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, it is surprisingly compact and easy to explore. In between the rugged mountain peaks and the shimmering coast, traverse untrammeled landscapes and rolling hills with vineyards.
Culinary Pleasures: All across Cyprus, there are opportunities to experience a distinctive cuisine – a delicious sweep of history that counts Greek, Turkish, Levantine and other savory influences in its gastronomy – composed of meze, small plates of everything from flame-grilled fish, koupepia (stuffed grape leaves), mousaka, souvla, delicately spiced meats, fresh vegetable and amazing cheeses, such as the famous halloumi (the savory sheep's cheese that grills).
Lefkosia: Discover Venetian fortification, ancient doors and cheerful taverns in this capital city.
A walk to the lovingly restored old section of Laiki Geitonia – through the narrow gate where crimson flowers cascade from window pots – the aroma of traditional baking wafts through open doorways.
Do: Visit Cyprus Museum, the Byzantine Museum to encounter early Christian icons from the Mediterranean's Golden age or, get a newer perspective on Cyprus' modern artists at the State Collection of Contemporary Art. For a panoramic view of the whole town, head to the Ledra Museum Observatory. Beckon nightlife near Famagusta Gate which gives expression to the Cypriot's legendary spirit of celebration.
Shop: Come full circle in time and buy jewelry and handicraft from the Cyprus Handicraft Center Workshops.
Larnaka: Deep blue seas meet the bright sand beaches under brilliant skis at Larnaka, where yachts and sailing vessels from around the globe bob and glint along its palm-lined harbor promenade. One of the oldest, continually-inhabited cities in the world, Larnaka abounds with sights – its museums contain exceptional examples of Mediterranean art.
Do: Make your way north from fort, toward the city-center, to one of Island's most cherished site – the church of Saint Lazarus. Be seduced, like Leonardo Da Vinci was five centuries ago, by Lefkara's exquisite handmade lace.
Lemesos: Cyprus' major port is also home to world-class resorts and historical treasures and today, the tradition of celebration – in restaurants, cafes and night clubs – continues for momentous and trivial events from a soccer win to a sudden romance to yet another stunning sunset at the day's end in this vibrant seaside town.
Do: Explore Lemesos Castle, which contains the Cyprus Medieval Museum, or Folk Art Museum, housed in an old mansion. Walk on 15km of beautiful beaches of the Cypriot Riviera. At Amathous, one of the ancient city kingdoms of Cyprus, see the ruins and take a dip near the site of an ancient port. In the Kourion archeological site, take in a play or concert at the ancient Greco-Roman theater, overlooking the blue Mediterranean. Explore a treasure trove of Greek and Roman sites, such as the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates.
Event: In February, before Lent, masked revelers invade the streets with music, parades and dancing for Carnival.
Pafos: Enter another world, where idols and temples, graves and goddesses make up the fabric of everyday life. Pafos is where Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, is said to have risen from the waves that crash on its shores. The grace of line and subtlety of color of the Aphrodites Rock or Petra tou Romiou; spectacular mosaics of Roman villas from the 3rd to 5th century AD; then go past Polis and Latchi to the baths of Aphrodites and the Fontana Amorosa or fountain of love that provided the ancients with a dramatic setting for outdoor bathing, still bubbles forth.
Do: For a glimpse of artifacts and masterworks, visit the District Archeological Museum.
Eat: At Hondros – the oldest traditional restaurant in Pafos – relish succulent souvla and kleftiko cooked in a traditional clay oven along with live weekends-music and a delightfully rambling terrace. Take a look at the old photos of Pafos and the fine paintings, done by the original owner, in the dining room.
Troodos: The thick cedar, pine forests and sun-soaked slopes of the Troodos region offer an unexpected contrast to the Mediterranean coast. Halfway between the busy towns of Lefkosia and Lemesos, halfway between sea and sky, rising to 1,950 meters, Troodos is a counter-point to the rest of the island.
Do: Explore ten of Troodos' remarkable painted Byzantine churches listed on UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List. Visit the picturesque village Fioni famous for its pottery and its loukoumi sweet.
Ammochostos: With its superb beaches and multi-star hotels, the Ammochostos (Famagusta) region draws discerning sun-seekers. It remains the agricultural heart of Cyprus, where traditional windmills stand with modern aqueducts to irrigate the fertile red soil. The historic site of 16th century Venetian monastery, lend character to a town that is best known for its colorful shops, taverns and nightclubs.
Do: Scuba-dive, water-ski and paraglide. For something calmer, explore the rugged coast toward Cape Greko, with its string of calm sandy coves and spectacular sunsets. Head north, toward the basket-making community of Liopetri and stop at Sotira to take in the pretty village churches.
Eat: At the crescent harbor, crowded with bright fishing boats, dine the day's catch at the restaurants. Just inland the white-washed town of Paralimini boasts open air taverns known for their succulent grilled fish.