In the early 1900s, Cyprus was a generally unknown, sleepy backwater island. But today, it is one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world, with an estimated three million visitors per year. A friendly populace, a lot of ancient history and landmarks, plus beautiful natural landscapes are some of the reasons the island has witnessed a surge in tourist visits.
Visitors to Cyprus are bound to have a good time as Cypriots are generally lovely and welcoming people, and there are lots of activities to participate in that couldn’t possibly fit in one trip.
Where is Cyprus located?
Famous for being the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and Passion, Cyprus is a small island nation located in the eastern Mediterranean in Western Asia; It is surrounded by Turkey to the south, Syria, and Lebanon in the West, and Israel to the North. The island has a population of over one million people and is the third-largest and most populous in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia.
Currently, the Republic of Cyprus is divided into two major parts – the Southern, unoccupied part, and the Northern Turkish Cypriot side. The Greek, Southern part of Cyprus contains more developed areas such as Protaras, Limassol, Paphos, Ayia Napa, and a host of holiday resorts and vacation spots. Southern Cyprus is also famous for its smattering of UNESCO world heritage sites and ancient wineries that still produce wine!
Quick Fact: Locally produced Cyprus wine, ‘Commandaria’ is one of the oldest named wines in the world!
How to Get to Cyprus?
Travel to Cyprus can be done either through a ferry from Greece or via a direct flight from European countries.
Those hoping to visit Cyprus from the UK via ferry can do that through the Port of Lavrio which incidentally, is the only available route to reach Cyprus on water. As you can only get to Cyprus via ferry through Greece, you first have to make your way to the country, and this can equally be done through land or air. Once you get to Greece, you have to make your way to the port approximately 60 kilometers away from Athens. From there, you can then board the freight-only vessel heading to Limassol.
Cyprus has two international airports for those seeking to fly directly into the country – the Larnaca International Airport and Paphos International Airport. A third airport, Ercan International, located in the Occupied part of Cyprus, offers direct flights into Turkey only.
Larnaca international airport, the biggest and by far busiest in Cyprus, is host to lots of flights into the Island from Europe all day and is your best bet of getting into the country. The airport is well suited to handle a large amount of air traffic, and it also offers excellent facilities for travelers.
How is the climate in Cyprus?
Cypriots enjoy one of the warmest climates among Mediterranean countries with an average annual daytime temperature of 24 degrees Celsius. Summer in the country typically lasts for five hot months, beginning in June and ending between October to November. The island also experiences winter, and underlying thick snowfall between January to March, thereby making its mountain slopes an ideal skiing location.
Although summer is hot in Cyprus, it is typically one of the busiest periods on the island, with it being peak holiday season; The resorts are usually packed and the beaches crowded. Spring and Autumn have a milder temperature and are best for those who enjoy hiking and walking.
The vegetation in Cyprus is mostly evergreen and comprises olive and citrus trees. You will also come across dwarf oaks, pine, and cypress trees if you visit the Trodos range. The southern and western slopes of the island contain dense vineyard plantations due to the winemaking activities in Cyprus.
Animal activity on the island includes harmless reptiles such as the Cyprus whip snake, loggerhead sea turtles, and numerous small games. Fossil remains of elephants found in the Kyrenia area are evidence of past heavy-duty animal activity on the island. The largest living animal present in Cyprus is the strictly protected Agrino (symbol of Cyprus airways).
How do I get around Cyprus?
There are various modes of transportation available for tourists visiting Cyprus, but the most common is by road, air or sea.
The road network is generally good, with the majority of roads paved, and distances are short. Because the island is so small – the distance from the west to the east is less than aa two-hour drive! – you can easily travel through Cyprus by car hire! Moving around the island by car hire is one of the best ways to spend your Cyprus holidays because not only will you get to destinations faster, you can also get an experienced driver to act as a tour guide. The Paphos car hire system comprises several decent rental services that you can patronize to sort transportation issues.
As for air travel, Cyprus has several heliports for those looking to travel by chopper and three international airports. Two of these airports, Larnaca International and Paphos International, are located in South Cyprus. The third airport, Ercan International, is located in the Turkish administered area of Cyprus and handles direct international flights to Turkey only.
Two ports located in Limassol and Larnaca are Cyprus’ primary source of water travel activity.
Tourist hotspots to visit in Cyprus
Now that you are familiar with the prevalent modes of transportation in Cyprus, and you have an idea of how to move around the island, there are places you need to go see to make your stay on the island a memorable one.
Cyprus being an ancient civilization with a lot of history, has numerous landmarks that tell tales of its past. Additionally, the island has countless other attractions that are sure to appeal to tourists. If you are planning to visit Cyprus, you need to visit those ancient castle ruins and beautiful beaches to make the most of your experience. And although you may unlikely be able to participate in all these fun activities in one trip, who says you can’t come back a second time?
That said, some of the spots that attract the most attention on the island include:
- Tomb of the kings – consists of a vast underground necropolis with ancient stone-carved tombs which were used to bury high-ranking officials and aristocrats on the island.
- Nissi Beach – this is one of the most beautiful and famous beaches on the island and is host to a bevy of daily activities, which include beach parties, picnics, water skiing, volleyball games, among others.
- Ancient Kourion – an important ancient city located atop a cliff, which contains Greek and Roman ruins that interest both scholars and tourists alike.
- Church of Saint Lazarus – built over the second tomb of the biblical character, Lazarus, this church is a favorite among tourists due to its exquisite architecture and religious sentiments.
- Kykkos monastery – this structure, which once served as an abode for hermits, contains several relics for visitors’ viewing pleasure.
Additionally, some of the fun activities you can partake in while vacationing in Cyprus include:
- Taking a walk through ‘No man’s land,’ located in Cyprus’ divided capital, Nicosia.
- Attending a beach party at the famous Nissi beach.
- Take a hike up the Trodos mountain slopes to explore the Cyprus landscape and ancient Byzantine churches.
- Explore the many traditional villages scattered around the island.
- Go for a swim at the sea caves in Cape Greco, and many more.