10 places to visit in Cyprus
What do you want to see first? Cyprus has so many interesting places to visit, and all the major areas, Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, Famagusta and Paphos have a rich heritage, archaeologically, and beautiful mountain ranges and unspoiled natural beauty between them. Cyprus is often called the Island of Love, due to the fact that it is considered to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty. You can actually visit her birthplace in Paphos. The island of Cyprus is separated into the Greek southern side and the Turkish part in the north. Both sides of the island have stunning unspoiled beaches and seaside resorts that cater for millions of tourists every year. With so many archaeological sites, Byzantine monasteries and churches to see, it is worth taking a break from the sun and sea to visit at least some of them! Whether you want to lie on the beautiful beaches all day, go sightseeing to many wonderful sites or go hiking in the unspoiled nature parks, Cyprus has a lot to offer for everyone.
If I were to pick only 10 places to visit in Cyprus, my favorite would be as follows:
#1. Cape Greco- Cavo Greco
The absolutely breathtaking sea views of Cape Greco are considered to be the best in Cyprus. This protected area has many sea caves to explore and crystal clear waters to swim in. Definitely an area where you can escape from the crowds, this coastal national park has walking and cycling trails were you can admire the variety of endemic flora of the area. The trails start just outside Ayia Napa and go all the way to the Cavo Greco point, the most easterly point in the south of Cyprus. The spectacular views from the sea cliffs of the Mediterranean Sea will stay with you forever. The tiny white washed church you will find has steps that lead to the sea where you can find Holy water. Another trail takes you to the Cyclops cave where there is a picnic spot. You can get there by car or take a boat trip and admire the natural cave formations from the sea.
#2. Aphrodite’s Rock (Petra tou Romiou)
Petra tou Romiou is a rock formation on the Western coast of the island just outside Paphos town on the way to Limassol. This Rock has been regarded as the birthplace of Aphrodite the Goddess of love and fertility since ancient times. Much has been written about Aphrodite, from Hesiod, to Botticelli with the Birth of Venus display in Florence and Homers account in the Iliad. Petra tou Romiou translated means the Rock of the Greeks, which refers to another myth of Diogenes who threw the rocks at pirates to protect his lady. The long narrow beach in this area is an ideal swimming spot and there is a restaurant nearby if you want to order a light lunch.
# 3. The tombs of the Kings - UNESCO world heritage - Paphos
Paphos is situated on the South West coast of Cyprus and even though it is the smallest city on the island it has a plethora of beautiful beaches, the medieval castle at the harbor and many sites worth seeing. The most important are the UNESCO world heritage site of the tombs of the kings. The house of Dionysus as it is called, has the most incredible mosaic floors which are amazingly preserved and a wonderful example of the intricate artistry of the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The house has mosaics that depict characters of Greek mythology especially the god Dionysus. The tombs are in Paphos town, and while you are there you can visit one of the many tavernas for a great meze lunch.
# 4. Akamas Peninsula National Park
On the extreme Northwest part of Cyprus, lies the Akamas peninsula which is an unspoilt nature reserve of great beauty. You can travel to Akamas with a 4x4 vehicle or approach by boat from the sea and marvel at the clean sandy beaches and beautiful caves. At the end of the park is the 5 star Anassa and if you travel further you will find the village of Latchi and then the small coastal town or Polis.
# 5. Ancient Kourion – Limassol
The ancient Kourion is situated on a coastal cliff with magnificent views of the countryside on the one side and the Mediterranean Sea on the other. This truly stunning place is one of the most important archeological sites in Cyprus and to this day excavations are still revealing new treasures. The most famous section of this site is the House of Eustolios were the theatre is situated. The remains of the ancient city of Kourion has many sections of remarkable monuments from the Roman period. The Greek Roman theatre has amazing acoustic qualities, and now that is fully restored it is used for musical and theatrical performances. Nothing beats sitting in this ancient theatre under a full moon, with the waves washing up against the rocks while you immerse yourself in the performance of a good musical show.
# 6 Troodos Villages
The Troodos mountain range is the biggest in Cyprus with the highest peak being Mount Olympus at just under 2,000 meters. The whole area around the mountain range has stunning stone house villages with cobblestone streets and the most amazing churches dating back to the medieval era. Nine of these churches have been given the UNESCO World Heritage status that is how important these churches are. If you don’t manage to see them all, visit the one in Kykkos Monastery were Archbishop Makarios is buried and the church of Archangel Michail in Pedoulas, which has beautiful examples of Byzantine art. If you decide to go hiking in this beautiful area you will also see the Caledonia falls, which is a waterfall that you will find coming down from Troodos Square. The mountain resort of Platres is also spectacular, and if you want to escape the hot sun for a few days, it is the ideal place to stay for a few days.
# 7. Cyprus Museum – The green line (Nicosia)
The Cyprus Museum in the capital Nicosia,is worth seeing as it is the only museum of its kind in Cyprus. Here you will be able to follow the complicated history of Cyprus from the Neolithic age to the Ottoman era. The amazing terracotta votive statues that date back to the 7th century BC are remarkable and definitely worth seeing. The museum offers a complete journey of Cyprus which includes the fauna and geology of the island. If you are in Nicosia you have to visit the Green Line which separates the Greek and the Turkish sides of the island. Nicosia is the last remaining divided city of Europe. Visitors can walk up to the UN buffer zone and it is possible to cross over if you wish to do so.
# 8. Ayia Napa and Protaras Beach
The gorgeous beaches of Ayia Napa & Protaras are on the east coast were you will find miles of golden sandy beaches stretching before you with the magnificent view of the Mediterranean sea. Both these towns are very popular seaside resorts with Ayia Napa catering for the younger party goers and Protaras the quieter family resort. There are many famous beaches on this strip, take the day and explore this beautiful area, and enjoy the water sports and the hotels on the strip, or find a secluded beach and relax.
# 9 Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque – Larnaca
This historical mosque Hala Sultan Tekke, is located just 3 km west of Larnaca on the main Salt Lake. It is said that Mohamed’s aunt died at the site and that the mosque was constructed in her honor and built over her tomb. The mosque was first renovated in 1816 and more recently in 2002 by UNOPS. The archeological site has been inhabited since Neolithic times, and today this is the main Muslim pilgrimage site of Cyprus. This is a very important holy place of worship for the Muslims and is ranked immediately after Mecca, Medina and Al Aksha. The Hala Sultan is situated in the centre of spectacular gardens and is bordered by the Salt Lake. If you are lucky enough you might even catch site of the famous pink flamingos who grace the Salt Lake seasonally. If you are in this area, Larnaca is also a great town to visit, especially the harbor and the seaside road with all the palm trees. You will find popular seaside restaurants in this area which are well worth visiting.
# 10. Kyrenia – Girne
The beautiful seaside town of Kyrenia is in Northern Cyprus. The Kyrenia Castle overlooks the small harbor which has some of the most amazing fish tavernas. The town of Kyrenia looks like it has stood still in time, and the preservation of the harbor reminds one of the town before 1974, because it actually still looks the same. Unspoilt by construction and mass tourism this small part of Cyprus seems to have been left untouched. To get to the castle you have to cross over the castle’s rampart and that is an experience on its own, the magnificent view of the sea and the town from the castle are magnificent