When you visit Cyprus you may wish to explore the Island. If so, it will help you to know what there is to see and do. Below, I have briefly described each of the main areas, including: Larnaca; Protaras; Aiya Napa; Nicosia, Limasol; Paphos; Troodos mountains; Latchi; and Northern Cyprus.
Please also feel free to request our Guide: ‘Cyprus Inspired’ (details over to the right of the page).
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean and stretches 150 miles from the west coast to its east and 60 miles from north to south.
Larnaca is a hilly region in the south of the island and offers those who visit Cyprus a wide array of charming villages and traditional architecture to explore. Home to quaint craft workshops and an archaeological UNESCO site, Larnaca can provide a fascinating backdrop to your luxury holiday in Cyprus. Beaches in Larnaca are known for their palm trees, cafes and restaurants which line the beach prominade.
Larnaca is one of the most convenient places on Cyprus for holidays exploring the rest of the island. Larnaca (also often written as Larnaka) is on the south coast of Cyprus and it has good road links to the east and the west sides of the island and inland to the capital Nicosia.
Larnaka boasts 25km of beautiful beaches throughout the district. The beaches vary from pebbly to sandy with the main ones being the Larnaka Bay, the Makenzey Beach, Perivolia and Zygi Bay.
Larnaca, with its Marina, is the main yachting centre of Cyprus and also a great centre for those wishing to visit Cyprus to explore the Zenobia wreck (a world top 10 dive site). For the less adventurous Larnaca has a popular seaside promenade known as the Finikoudes (or Phinikoudes). This esplanade with its palm trees is the focus of town life and lined with hotels, bars and restaurants making it popular with tourists on holiday in Larnaca. Zinonos Kitieos Street is the main shopping area.
Larnaca has a long history (it’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world) which is represented in the town’s museums which have enough on display to make them worth a visit. However, only a scattering of sites, forts and churches remain.
As with all cities in Cyprus there is an abundance to see in Larnaka, especially as it is built over Kition, the ancient Kingdom of Cyprus. Excavations can be seen in certain parts in the city which are worth a look as they contain shrines and artifacts used during those times. Additionally, the magnificent church of Agios Lazaros merits a visit as this is the site where the relics of this saint are kept. Other places of interest are the Hala Sultan Tekke on the shores of the famous salt lake and the Kamares Aqueduct built under Ottoman rule in the 18th century.
When you visit Cyprus, the Salt Lake is one of the first things you see as you fly into Larnaca Airport and is clearly seen on any road map. In the winter, the lake fills with water and attracts many birds including flamingos. In Summer it dries out to leave a crispy white salt layer. In years gone by this was a productive business enterprise. Donkeys were used to transport the salt from the lake to be stored in huge piles.
It is said that a plane landed there about 30 years ago and then sank!
Protaras, 8km North of Ayia Napa, is a firm favourite with British families who visit Cyprus. Although back-to-back hotels line the waterfront, the beaches along this coastline are some of the best on the island.
As it is not as developed as some other areas like Ayia Napa, the mood is generally casual and laid back so you’ll generally find plenty of room on the beach. Fig tree bay is worth a visit, stretching more than 14 kilometres along the coast. All water sports are available to choose from, including paragliding (is that a water sport?).
Nearby Cavo (Cape) Greco National Forest Park is a favourite among tourists who visit cyprus and locals alike as it has more than 300 plant species and plenty of wildlife to spot. When there, you could make the trek up to the tiny Byzantine style church of Prophet Elias. You need to be fairly fit to cope with the 300 steps but there is a stunning view, at the top, of the crystal clear turquoise waters and golden sandy beaches in the area. In the evenings, the church is lit up.
Believe it or not, Ayia Napa was once a quiet fishing village. In the winter the little village has less than 1000 inhabitants, but during summer numbers expand to more than 10,000!
Now it is unashamedly Cyprus’ fun in the sun resort and anyone who enjoys non-stop parties on the beach (Nissi beach), in the bars and on the dance floors will love to base their holiday here.
However, over the years Ayia Napa has also developed into a popular holiday resort due to its beautiful crystal clear blue beaches with fine golden sands and many tourist attractions. The beaches are wonderful and many are hidden among the rocks to form small cosy coves.
Other than the beaches and the night life, Ayia Napa has three main other attractions: a beautiful Venetian style monastery, the Marine Life Museum and the Thalassa Museum of the Sea.
WaterWorld waterpark in Ayia Napa is a great place to go if you visit Cyprus with children.
Nicosia lies roughly at the center of the island, within easy reach of the other towns. It has a rich history that can be traced back to the Bronze Age. It became the Island’s Capital in the 11th century AD. Being a great blend of old and new makes this a fascinating place which really should be on your agenda when you visit Cyprus.
Old Nicosia is enclosed by 16th century Venetian walls, with plenty of museums, ancient churches and medieval buildings creating a nostalgic atmosphere. New Nicosia, outside of the walls is a contemporary, business and cultural centre. Heading away form Nicosia you’ll find enchanting places of interest such as Byzantine churches and monasteries, archaeological sites and charming villages.
Limassol (or Lemesos)
Limassol is a large cosmopolitan Cypriot town and a popular beach resort. It lies 25 miles west of Larnaca airport and 35 miles east of Paphos airport. Limassol is not too heavily focused on tourism so there are plenty of traditional tavernas, old fashioned shops and unpretentious bars, alongside modern restaurants and shopping centres. Limassol has a wide range of attractions, good beaches, and an attractive marina and seafront promenade.
Kolossi Castle, in Limassol, is believed to be the place where Richard the Lionheart spent his honeymoon with his new queen Berengaria.
If you wish to visit Cyprus during festivals, Limassol is famous for its wine festival in September. It’s hugely popular, thanks to the sample of free wine and Cypriot food, dancing and music. In May they hold a flower festival as a celebration of spring’s natural beauty, which can be traced to ancient times.
Ladies Mile beach, near the new Limassol port, is popular because of its golden sandy beach. It is a great spot for families since the water is clear and shallow. Windsurfers love it too.
The smaller authentic Cypriot resorts of Polis and Latchi and the beach resort of Pissouri lie a few miles west of Lemesos.
Paphos is small town at the southwestern tip of Cyprus is famous for being, according to mythology, the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.
Although quite small there is plenty to see and do and you can easily walk to and from the main points of interest. One of those will be the Paphos Archaeological Park, a must-stop attraction that has many highlights.
Also visit the Tombs of the Kings. They are in fact the tombs of ‘nobles’ and not Kings. Having said that, they provide a glimpse into the after-life of the rich and famous of the fourth century, with tombs carved out of solid rock.
Visitors also enjoy roaming through the shops and stalls. Although they mostly caters to tourists, leather goods and lace are excellent buys. Later, if you want good authentic local style food you’ll need to bypass the typical western fair and the fast-food chain restaurants and visit one of the large hotels which have great restaurants.
For the genuine experience of drinking and dining alongside local people you’ll need to venture further out to small villages.
The Troodos Mountains
When you visit Cyprus you must take a trip up into the Troodos Mountains, if at all possible. They are the mountain chain crossing western Cyprus which rises to over 6000 feet at Mount Olympus (reachable by Jeep). There is even a modest ski resort which winter visitors and locals dash to when snow appears. Other sports in the area include paragliding, mountain biking, rock climbing and of course hiking.
Your trail up to the Troodos Mountains will uncover gorgeous sleepy villages and traditional Cypriot tavernas. Favourite mountain resorts include Kakopetria, Omodhos, Platres and Troodos .
The atmospheric medieval town of Kakopetria is in an exhilarating setting on a hillside between two rivers and a deep gorge. The entire old town is a protected national monument. You will find traditional shops, a charming market plus cafes and bars serving local wines and regional cuisine.
Omodhos village has a romantic feel to it with its narrow streets, traditional whitewashed houses, a cobbled village square elegant cafes and the famous local monastery. The charming old shops sell jewellery and lace and tavernas serve local wines and regional cuisine.
On your journey into the mountain region you might notice that there is a remarkable concentration of splendid Byzantine churches and atmospheric mountain monasteries like Trooditissa, Machairas, Ayios Ioannis and Kykko Monastery (11th century) which is the largest and indeed the most famous in Cyprus.
Latchi is a peaceful beach resort on the borders of the unspoilt Akamas Peninsula, on the north-west coast of Cyprus. Latchi is a picturesque fishing village surrounded by countryside and farmland, popular with walkers, birdwatchers and nature lovers. The protected Akamas Peninsula is famous for its rugged gorges and isolated sandy coves.
Northern Cyprus has a wonderful coastline with fine sheltered bays and sandy Mediterranean beaches free of crowds. The beaches are great for sunbathing, swimming in beautifully clear water, or watersports. Charming restaurants offer local Turkish-inspired cuisine as well as tourists favourites.
Tranquil Kyrenia (Keryneia/Girne), the walled city of Farmagusta (Ammochostos/Gazimagusa) and the wild Karpaz Peninsula, are just a few places well worth visiting in the North when you visit Cyprus.
Farmagusta spans both Cyprus and Northern Cyprus and is just one hour away from Larnaca airport.
This part of Northern Cyprus is known as one of the most beautiful places on the Mediterranean, with miles of sandy beaches, plenty of opportunity to swim, snorkel, scuba dive etc. To the north is the wild Karpas Peninsula which, because of its great biodiversity, is in many places protected.
Evidence of Famagusta’s’ troubled past is still evident at Varosha (the ‘new town’) which, since the 1974 Turkish invasion, has only been open to the military. Varosha is now effectively a ghost town; however, it was Cyprus’s leading holiday resort until 1974.
However, visitors to farmagusta concentrate their visit on the walled city which has one of the finest examples of medieval military architecture. In the narrow streets some shops remain unchanged by time or trend and authentic cafes and bars are worth visiting. In peak season the town can get very busy but more often than not it is calm and the Turkish Cypriots are courteous and helpful. Farmagusta is home to the deepest harbour on the island.
Other places of interest include Othello’s’ Tower (the city was the setting for Shakespeare’s’ epic play), St Nicholas Cathedral, the Royal Palace, The Twin Churches and the two original gates of the city walls.
The spectacular ruins of the ancient city of Salamis, dating back to 1100BC, lies just 9km away and are considered to be amongst the worlds’ most important archaeological sites.
I hope you can see that there is much to explore when you visit Cyprus.
If you want to learn more general information about Cyprus then please go to ‘Visit Cyprus’. Useful information re Tourism can be found at ‘Cyprus Tourism Information’
If you wish to consider a holiday or retreat in the Larnaca region then you will may find the following pages useful:-
The Grove Spa Resort