If you are planning your first vacation in Cyprus, or are already in your hotel room trying to think of how to spend the first couple of days, you may be surprised by how much there is to do anywhere on the island. Ancient cities, Medieval castles, zoos and waterparks, modern and classical art museums, wine, olives, carob — and this is only a small part of what one can see, try, taste, and experience in this seemingly tiny piece of land. How to find a way in a diversity of leisure opportunities in Cyprus, and how not to miss anything?
If you spend your summer in sunny Limassol, we highly recommend visiting the ancient city of Kourion and wander along its ancient theatre, and Roman baths decorated with original mosaics. Enter the Medieval castle which now houses a historical museum, drive to the Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas of the Cats (which is believed to be the first on the island), and to the picturesque Kykkos Monastery located up in the Troodos mountains. There are also such unusual museums as the Carob Mill Museum and Cyprus Motor Museum in the city, while architectural landmarks deserve a whole another article. 18 beaches to fit every taste, a zoo, a water park with dozens of slides, adventure parks, and cinema theatres will help to pass the time left from intense cultural entertainment. To find everything one needs to know about how to spend time in Limassol in the most enjoyable way please follow the link.
In Ayia-Napa, one the most touristic cities of the island full of sandy beaches, noisy night clubs well known worldwide, traditional restaurants and gift shops, we recommend stopping by the Thalassa museum, which features life size exact replica of the ancient ship «Kyrenia II», visiting an old monastery located in the city center, and walking along an unusual open-air sculpture park featuring objects from all over the world. One of the most picturesque national parks on the island — the Cape Greco park — is just 8 kilometers from the city. For outdoor activities, in Ayia-Napa you can try diving, flyboarding, and even going for a pirate ship adventure. More about landmarks, tourist attractions, and restaurants in Ayia-Napa.
What to do in Larnaca, the largest city in the southwest coastal Cyprus? If you are interested in history and archaeology, you would love to see the ruins of the ancient city of Kition: an open-air museum of a kind, which features ancient defensive walls, the ruins of the Phoenician Temple, shrines, and other archaeological mysteries. Lefkara village, which is famous for the very special embroidery produced here, is just 40 kilometers from Larnaca, while the Stavrovouni monastery, founded in 327 by Saint Helena, is 45 minutes drive from the city. Brighten your beach experience watching planes taking off and landing in Larnaca International Airport, dive to the remains of Zenobia ship, play bowling, feed donkeys at the farm, and even fire a gun — and this is just a small part of what Larnaca offers! More about things to do in Larnaca.
Family vacation in Cyprus
This is crucially important to plan a trip in details for those who travel with kids. The best zoos, indoors attraction parks, water parks and watersport centers, children’s museums, aquariums, planetariums and submarines (and lots of other places!) in Cyprus are described in our special review. Read about where to go and what to do with kids in all regions of the island! Spoiler: Cyprus is a perfect place for a family vacation, which has everything needed to make it an unforgettable experience for everybody: sandy beaches with shallow waters, educational programs for kids of all ages in all major museums, and lots things to do for those who like sports and active fun.
If you drive
Are you planning to rent a car in Cyprus? This will without any doubt open lots of new exciting possibilities. If you are interested in ancient architecture and history, with a car it will be much easier for you to tour around 31 monasteries located on the island. The history of Christianity in Cyprus started in year 45 AD with Paul the Apostle and Mark the Evangelist, and during many following centuries Cyprus monasteries had gone through wars, changes of owners, times of prosperity and neglect. Many of them keep the memory of inspiring legends. Our review of the most important monasteries in Cyprus.
We also recommend driving to at least several medieval castles, outstanding architectural landmarks of the island, that soaked lots of heroic stories and represent the history of Cyprus by their very appearance: in most cases, it was somehow changed by different rulers in different times. Kolossi Castle in Limassol, Paphos Castle in Paphos, Larnaca Castle in Larnaca, Saranta Kolones, Buffavento Castle in Northern Cyprus, defensive walls in Nicosia are some of the castles that are definitely worth visiting. More about Cypriot castles.
The best views and fresh air of Troodos mountains bring here thousands of tourists every year. The highest point of the mountain chain — the Olympus mountain — is almost 2000 meters above the sea level. Moreover, Troodos is where most of the famous Cypriot traditional villages are located. Here locals make wine, produce embroidery and silverware, live in stone houses with tiled roofs and walk along narrow paved streets. Other Troodos attractions are Byzantine churches, jeep safaris, and even a ski resort! All you need to know about Troodos you can find in one of our previous reviews.
Souvenirs from Cyprus
What to bring home from a vacation in Cyprus? This is a big question for, quite literally, all tourists who come to the island — and the closer the flight home is, the bigger it gets. Which objects will remind of the places you visited but will not end up in the closet full of useless stuff? Where to buy local olives, wine, or cosmetics, and which of these products are the best? Okay, heave a sigh of relief — we have it all here.
By the way, one of the everyone’s favorites among the gifts from Cyprus is carob and carob products. This evergreen tree has been cultivated on the island since ancient times, and its beans are widely used in culinary: carob powder is considered great for health, and chocolate, cacao, and other products made with it do not contain sugar. Learn more about carob in Cyprus, its economic influence and culinary contribution.
Where to eat?
In any traditional restaurant in Cyprus, you will be offered «meze» — a set of one-bite appetizers, that will introduce you to several dishes during one meal. Other Cypriot dishes you can see on the menu more or less anywhere are «kleftiko», «souvla», «stifado» — beef sauteed in tomato sauce with spices, «moussaka» and at least several types of seasonal fresh fish. More about traditional cuisine (and some recipes!).