Over in the eastern Med, stunning Cyprus is bubbling up as a destination on the rise. It’s got its gorgeous year-round climate to thank for that, but its rollcall of incredible cultural sites is positively perfection for history buffs and nature-seekers.
Like the sound of that? You’ll find this round-up of what to do in Cyprus nice and helpful.
Here are ten terrific must-sees to add to your agenda:
- Paphos Archaeological Park
- Tombs of the Kings
- Blue Lagoon
- St Hilarion Castle
- Akamas Peninsula
- Cape Greco
- Kykkos Monastery
- Machairas Monastery
- Landa Beach
1. Paphos Archaeological Park
There’s no end to the things to do in Cyprus and you’ll soon see why. This epic archaeological site spans a vast part of the island, showing off time-worn remnants, such as an ancient fortress and semi-circular fortress.
As you wander around the UNESCO-listed park, you’ll see prickly bushes of asparagus plants, trees with blossoming myrtle berries and old bits of stonework that jut out from the pathways. Head inside the House of Dionysus - it’s all about the mosaics. Look out for little pops of orange and blue – these parts are made from cut glass rather than pebbles. Highlights? Carefully inspect the face of Narcissus – it’s cleverly reflected in the tiled water.
2. Tombs of the Kings
There’s something pretty remarkable about being able to walk across land with hidden tombs underneath. The plots you’ll see under the surface at the Tombs of the Kings are where rich locals were laid to rest with valuables like gold hundreds of years ago. Nowadays, you can have a good wander through the cavernous rooms to see where raiders looted the tombs - you’ll be able to stare out to sea as well.
3. Blue Lagoon
The clue’s in the name with this one. The Blue Lagoon is one of Cyprus’ prettiest stretches of idyllic beachfront. It’s an isolated slice of the Akamas region that’s super-inviting, with the richest blue waters that are naturally warm and a known favourite with snorkellers and divers. Looking for the ideal beach for your Instagram feed? Yep, this is it.
4. St Hilarion Castle
Up in the Kyrenia Mountains, this well-preserved castle overlooks the Med from a great vantage point. With turrets and towers, St Hilarion Castle looks as if it’s been taken straight out of a fairytale. It’s a place of a few stories too – it’s apparently named after a local saint and there are even some murmurs that it influenced castles in a number of Disney films.
Explore its divisions of Byzantine architecture while you take a few pictures from the top. Stables were once operating in the lower ward, while the royal family reportedly lived in the upper section.
The MS Zenobia was a Swedish-built ferry that sank on her maiden voyage in 1980, just off the coast near Larnaca. This is another fascinating piece of hidden history in Cyprus and doubles up as a top-ranked dive site.
If you’re keen to get underwater to see it for yourself, you’ll be able to book a dive while you’re in the area. Expect to meet all kinds of creatures down in the depths – barracuda, tuna, turtles and trigger fish are known to call this part of the sea home.
6. Akamas Peninsula
Best way to check out the Akamas Peninsula? By jeep safari! You’re literally in for a bumpy ride, sure, but that’s part of the appeal. You’ll get to off-road it all the way through the hillsides, with rewarding views of the coast below the higher you get. Depending on which company you go with, you can tailor your tour to have a few photo stop-offs.
7. Cape Greco
Sandwiched between Ayia Napa and Protaras is Cape Greco. It’s a protected natural park that’s ideal for dreamy seafront strolls and landscape photos. Legend even has it that the so-called ‘Ayia Napa sea monster’ can be found under the waves around here…
What’s more, there are designated cycling routes for pedalling pros to take on. If you’d rather play things low-key, why not pop to the local supermarket and get some snacks for a picnic lunch? There are loads of gorgeous little spots to have a feast.
8. Kykkos Monastery
In Marathasa Valley, you’ll find Kykkos, one of Cyprus’ wealthiest monasteries. Though first built in the 11th century, it’s now a modern-looking complex as it’s been burned down several times due to local fires. Today, an attractive porch area frames the building, which then leads on to a courtyard, museum and series of passageways that meander round to the bell tower. In the museum, various artefacts are on display. Icons, manuscripts, wood carvings, religious books – there’s all sorts to discover.
9. Machairas Monastery
The story goes that a hermit with an icon of the Virgin Mary snuck into Cyprus between 8 and 9 AD and hid in a cave. This was uncovered long after – in the 12th century – and a monastery was built in place of the old cave. Since then, fires have devastated this site as well, but the monastery has been rebuilt. Nowadays, about 25 monks are said to live a quiet existence in Machairas, on only funds brought in from farming and donations.
10. Landa Beach
Ayia Napa’s not just all about the nightlife. Landa Beach is a lush patch of golden-hued sands with aquamarine sea that stretches out as far as the eye can see. If you’ve done all the exploring and sightseeing you can muster, this is the ideal place for some R&R. Take a towel, pack some snacks for lunch and enjoy the rays.
With so many things to do on the island, you’ll find yourself with plenty to keep you busy during a trip here. If you’re desperate to plan a getaway to Cyprus, we’ve got a fantastic choice of Jet2holidays to browse through.
Posted: 1st Dec 2018.