Cyprus is a large island located near Turkey and has an intriguing but turbulent past. Birthplace of Greek goddess Aphrodite, Cyprus has sandy beaches, ancient archeological sites, wineries and gorgeous mountain scenery. There is, however, still evidence of the conflict between the Greek-Cypriots and the Turkish people. Highly coveted because of its location, the island is split into two halves. The north of the island was occupied by the Turks after the invasion of 1974 and is only partially recognised, whilst the Greek-Cypriot side in the south remains a booming tourist destination. Tourists looking for luxury hotels in Cyprus will find a number of properties in the main resorts of Protaras, Ayia Napa, Limassol, Paphos, Larnaca and the Akamas Peninsula. The Anassa Hotel Cyprus in Latchi is regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful luxury spa hotels, laid out in the style of a Byzantine village with stunning scenery and a Roman-style Thalasso spa. There is a multitude of sights and activities to keep visitors occupied for days. Here are ten things to do in Cyprus:
1. Famagusta – The Northern part of Cyprus has been occupied by Turkey since 1974. Famagusta lies in the buffer zone between the north and the south, and the Turkish authorities have cut off all access to the old tourist quarter of Varosha. Famagusta is literally a ghost town – washing still hangs on lines in the streets, hotels lie derelict and cars remain in the showrooms just as they did back in 1974 when the Turkish forces invaded. The Greek Cypriot population were forced to flee and the town has been left unoccupied by the Turks to use as a bargaining chip. Varosha has remained fenced off and empty ever since.
2. Limassol – Limassol is the second largest city on the island and is located on the southern coast of Cyprus. It is a busy industrial port town with cafés, shops, restaurants and bars. Although the long stretch of beach is not one of the best on the island, the city has lots going on in terms of entertainment and vibrant nightlife and the Old City is the best part to visit.
3. Paphos – Visit the town of Paphos to explore the souvenir shops and enjoy a seafood lunch in one of the restaurants overlooking the harbour. The picturesque harbour is filled with yachts and fishing boats and you’ll often see some large pelicans hanging around the front of the Pelican bar.
4. Aphrodite’s Rock – Stop off on the Limassol-Paphos coastal road near Pissouri Village to see Aphrodite’s Rock. The legend says that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, rose from the waves at this particular spot marked by the rock. She was supposedly carried by the waves on a scallop shell to Kythira and then to Cyprus, although there are varying accounts of this story.
5. The Amphitheatre at Kourion – Kourion is located in the south of the island just west from Limassol on the road towards Paphos. You can see some ancient ruins and restored mosaics then sit in the outdoor Roman amphitheatre which was build in the 2nd century A.D. It is now used for concerts and events, and several celebrities have performed in concert here. There are also some beautiful views out towards the ocean at Kourion.
6. Troodos Mountains 4×4 – Take a thrilling 4×4 excursion into the Troodos mountains and hold on tight because it might get a bit bumpy! You’ll see some spectacular views from the top of Mount Olympus and stop off at a picturesque waterfall where you can cool off in the refreshing pool at the bottom. Your driver will take you to visit the famous Kykkos monastery to see the icon of the Virgin Mary, painted by St. Luke, before heading to the wine producing village of Omodhos to see how the wine is made and play a few drinking games with their fire water! You can buy some wine at the winery and you’ll have the chance to buy souvenirs in the famous lace and silver-making town of Lefkara.
7. Nicosia – Nicosia is the capital of Cyprus and is famous for being the last divided Capital in the world. It is split into two parts by the Green Line, which divides the Republic of Cyprus on the southern side from the occupied Turkish side in the north. It is a great place to visit if you want to do some shopping and walk around the shopping malls.
8. Laser and Light Show – The laser and light show is in the resort of Protaras on the East Coast of the Island and is a fun evening of entertainment. There are fountains that dance in time to music, volcanic eruptions, lasers, colourful lights and smoke.
9. Party in Ayia Napa – Although Ayia Napa gained a bit of a reputation a few years back for its wild partying ways and out of control tourists, things have calmed down and Ayia Napa is still a great place to party. Visit Nissi Beach to laze on the white sand with the sound of club music in the background. At one end there is a bunjee jump where tourists can get their adrenaline kicks, and at the other end is a small island that you can walk out to and take it in turns to jump off the rocks. Ayia Napa has some of the best beaches on the island and plenty of bars and nightclubs for partygoers.
10. Parasailing – At the beach in Protaras you can go parasailing for aerial views of the coastline from above. There are also other water sports such as jet skis, banana boat rides and donut rings.