The Republic of Cyprus is the last outpost of the European Union in the east. For its particular geographical position, closer to Asia than to continental Europe, and for its millenary history, Cyprus is a peculiar island that seems to be perpetually undecided between two fascinating cultures: the Greek and the Turkish one.
This fracture has a concrete result in the Green Line, the dividing line between the Republic of Cyprus, where the Greek-Cypriot population lives, and the northern part, a state born after the Turkish occupation of the 70s and still not recognized by the international community.
For tourists crossing the border is very easy, but it is not necessary: staying in the Greek part there is enough things to see and do to fill a week and more.
Enchanting beaches, archaeological sites and museums, the places of the myth of Aphrodite, monasteries and mosques, traditional villages, modern cities, seaside resorts with a wild nightlife, hiking and mountain biking trails and even ski slopes: Cyprus has everything you need for a dream vacation at any time of the year.
Cyprus enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate, with long hot summers and mild winters. Humidity is mitigated by pleasant sea breezes and despite the high summer temperatures, the heat is endured all in all well.
The best time to go to Cyprus is the beginning or end of summer, when temperatures are still hot but not torrid. The bathing season in Cyprus is quite long and you can usually swim as early as May and as late as August.
If you plan a lot of cultural visits, especially to archaeological parks fully exposed to the sun, or a trekking vacation, it is advisable to travel in the spring.
On the Greek side of the island of Cyprus there are two international airports: Larnaka and Pafos. We recommend the second for the greater availability of low cost flights.
Many flights are unfortunately seasonal, in service only during the summer months. In other seasons, the plane is still the fastest and cheapest way to get to Cyprus, even if you need a stopover in a European airport.
With its ancient history, its unique traditions and its beautiful landscapes Cyprus is a perfect destination for those who want to combine afternoons at sea with cultural visits and outdoor activities. Here are the island’s top attractions not to be missed.
Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, is a city divided as Berlin used to be: this sad feature is for visitors one of the elements of its charm. Usually tourists dedicate to the capital a quick half-day visit, but in reality Nicosia has much to offer and deserves a much longer stop.
During the day you can admire the ancient Venetian walls that protected the city, the interesting Byzantine museum with its centuries-old icons and the Cathedral of St. John. For your shopping, browse through the souvenir stores that line the pedestrian Ledra Street in the heart of the city.
Cross the green line that separates the border between the Greek and Turkish sides to admire one of the city’s top attractions: the Buyuk Han, a caravanserai built by the Ottomans in the second half of the 16th century. Here merchants and travelers could refresh themselves, pray and rest. During the English colonization it was used as a prison. In the center of the square is a unique fountain-mosque, while the ground-floor rooms of the Buyuk Han are home to quaint bars, stores and restaurants.
In the evening you can join the young people who animate the city’s vibrant nightlife, enjoy a typical dinner in one of the many traditional restaurants or attend a folk music concert.
Pafos is the city of the myth of Aphrodite: here are the places dedicated to the cult of one of the most famous and worshipped goddesses of all Olympus. You can bathe in the waters from which the goddess emerged, admire the pool where she went to cool off, visit the sanctuary dedicated to her and walk along the fascinating Aphrodite trail.
After paying homage to the goddess Aphrodite, go and admire the magnificent mosaics of the Archaeological Site of Nea Pafos, which once decorated luxurious villas of the Roman era with scenes from Greek mythology. Another not-to-be-missed cultural-historical attraction in the city of Pafos are the Tombs of the Kings, a necropolis dating back to the Hellenic-Roman period.
Cultural visits can continue in the city’s many museums and churches, but set aside some time to explore the wonderful beaches dotted along the Pafos coastline.
The second largest city in Cyprus by population and one of the island’s most important ports, Limassol overlooks a pretty bay where the seat of the Templars once stood.
The old town has been extensively renovated and today Limassol presents itself as a dynamic and modern city. Its elegant marina is frequented by tourists who love to flaunt luxury: you don’t necessarily have to, you can simply enjoy the atmosphere.
A visit to the inevitable archaeological museum will delight fans of ancient history, while gourmet travelers will find more interesting the Limassol Wine Museum where you can learn about the island’s wine-making tradition and taste some local wines.
Larnaka is one of the most ancient cities of Cyprus still inhabited today. Founded more than 6000 years ago, it is a melting pot of peoples and cultures that have left different traces in the architecture and in the local traditions.
Today Larnaka is one of the most attractive places of Cyprus, chosen by many tourists for the large number of hotels and services. Its waterfront promenade, known as Finikoude, is crowded day and night. If you prefer fewer tourists and a more authentic atmosphere move to the old Turkish Cypriot neighborhood of Buyuk.
Among the attractions not to be missed in Larnaka are the Church of St. Lazarus, the Cami Kebir mosque and the Ottoman fortress that now houses an archaeological museum. If you have more time available, take a day trip to explore the villages in the surroundings and the salt lake on which the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque was built.
A few kilometers from Larnaka is another of the archaeological wonders of Cyprus: the remains of the ancient city of Kourion. Allow at least a couple of hours to visit the Roman and Byzantine ruins of the archaeological site of Kourion, scattered on the slopes of a hill from which you can admire a beautiful view.
For a refreshing break from the summer heat in Cyprus you can take refuge in the Troodos Mountains, the mountain range in the southeast of the island. The highest peak is Mount Olympus (not to be confused with the homonymous mountain of the myth in mainland Greece) which exceeds 1900 meters in height.
The mountains are crossed by numerous hiking and mountain biking trails; along their slopes rise traditional villages where you can see a cross-section of authentic Cypriot life. There is no shortage of historical and cultural attractions including the beautiful monastery of Kykkos. Also worth seeing are the monastery of Agios Ioannis Lamabastidis, the church of Arhangelos Mihail and other beautifully decorated Byzantine churches.
In the colder months of the year, the peaks of the Troodos are covered with snow, which has resulted in Cyprus developing a winter tourism of ski enthusiasts.
Although it has no museums or famous attractions, the small village of Pyla deserves to be included in the list of things to see in Cyprus for its symbolic significance: here Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots coexisted peacefully before and after the Turkish occupation.
Located along the road from Larnaka (Greek side) to Famagusta (Turkish side), this village is part of a sort of buffer zone presided over by UN blue helmets. Almost ignored by international travelers and rarely recommended in tourist guides, is a special place that with its simplicity allows you to get in touch more directly with the local reality.
The most beautiful beaches of Cyprus are concentrated in two areas: the coast between Pafos and Limassol in the southwest of the island and the coast of Ayia Napa in the southeast. Here are the 5 beaches in Cyprus that you should not miss.
One of the most famous attractions of Cyprus is Petra Rou Romiou Beach, also called Aphrodite’s Beach because according to the myth in this stretch of sea the goddess of love and beauty emerged from the waters and began her earthly life.
The birthplace of Aphrodite is an enchanting beach of sand and pebbles dominated by a huge stone and bathed by crystal clear waters.
Considered the most beautiful beach of Cyprus, Coral Bay also has the advantage of being easily accessible and equipped with all services: convenient and suggestive at the same time. It is a golden sandy beach that extends for 500 meters, bathed by blue waters and calm.
Off Coral Bay there are suggestive diving sites that will delight divers on vacation in Cyprus.
A blue lagoon in which to dive for a refreshing dip: it is not a dream, it is the magnificent Blue Lagoon beach of Cyprus. Inserted in the beautiful natural scenery of the park of Akamas, is accessible only by boat, on foot or by quad and is perfect for snorkeling.
For those who love wild-looking beaches we recommend Lara Beach, a remote beach divided into two bays (Lara North and Lara South).
The beach is famous because here caretta caretta turtles come to deposit their eggs during the period of reproduction: the cages scattered here and there along the beach serve to protect the eggs, do not touch them!
If you love the tranquility follow our advice: cross the border and go to relax on the beaches of the Turkish part of Cyprus. Few tourists bother to go that way so the beaches are usually very quiet.
The most beautiful beach in Northern Cyprus is Golden Beach, a very long beach (a good 10 km!) of fine sand bordered by a strip of thick Mediterranean vegetation.
Learn more about the most beautiful beaches in Cyprus
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean: given its size, it is important to look for accommodation in a place suitable for the type of vacation you want to do.
Ayia Napia is the area recommended for those who want nightlife, while Pafos is perfect for combining sea and cultural visits. Larnaka and Limassol are the main seaside resorts, recommended for those who want comfort and all services at hand.
The capital Nicosia is ideal for those who love city life and is also recommended to those looking for cheap accommodation: often snubbed by tourists, it offers hotels and apartments at prices on average lower than those of the seaside resorts.
In all the main tourist resorts of the coast there is a good choice of hotels, apartments and vacation homes for all budgets. Inland the choice is reduced, with the exception of the capital Nicosia.
To get the most out of a vacation in Cyprus is strongly recommended to rent a car because the long distances make it difficult, if not impossible, to move by public transport. In Cyprus there are car rental companies and local: the first generally offer greater guarantees of seriousness and low cost rates for those who book online.
The most convenient solution is to rent the car at the airport of arrival: in this way you can leave immediately, without wasting time to reach a rental agency, and you will have the car for the duration of your vacation.
The Republic of Cyprus is a member state of the European Union, so you only need a valid identity card to enter. It is not part of the Schengen area so at the airport of arrival are carried out controls of documents.
If during your vacation you wish to visit the Turkish part of the island, bring your passport: even if they don’t often ask for it, officially it is necessary. For both the Greek and Turkish parts of the island, no entry visas are required.
The official currency is the euro, so you won’t need to change your money.
The flag of Cyprus is decorated with the silhouette of the island in yellow ochre with two olive branches underneath as a symbol of peace. The background of the flag is white.
The island of Cyprus is located in Mediterranean Sea, at the south of Turkey, just 70 km from the Anatolian Peninsula. From a geographical point of view, therefore, for its proximity to the Near East should be considered an Asian country.
The island is divided into two areas: one is the Republic of Cyprus, with a Greek majority, a state officially recognized internationally; the north-eastern part of the island is the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a state recognized only by Turkey.
From a historical-cultural point of view, the Republic of Cyprus has more connections with the European continent than with the Asian one. In 2004 it became part of the European Union.