The island of Cyprus is an eclectic blend of different worlds. It is a pivotal marker between the waters of the European Mediterranean waters in which it sits and the Middle Eastern shores so close by. The result is a community that takes its cultural cues from Western Europe, but has more than a little Eastern spirit thrown in for good measure.
If you’re taking one of the great value holidays to Cyprus with Expedia or another operator, it can be easy to arrive and to fall into the same old tourist trap that exists in all popular destinations. While sitting by the pool sipping your all-inclusive cocktail is nice for a day or two, when you’ve travelled to such a colourful destination you’d be missing a trick if you didn’t take advantage of the many opportunities to explore and discover that the island holds.
Hidden gems of Cyprus
Whatever you want to do with your time, by steering away from the regularly beaten tracks of the island, you can discover something really special.
Aiya Napa has the sandiest beach but it is often packed with teens enjoying their first holiday without mum and dad, especially in summer. Alternatively, head to the Akamas National Park where you’ll find a secluded beach all to yourself. If you fancy a hike or rent a 4×4, you could end up at Lara Bay, home to a number of rare Loggerhead Sea Turtles.
Cyprus may be a beach resort island, but it also has some stunning scenery to be explored in the mountains. Catch a breath of fresh air in the huge forests of Troodos or head up Mount Olympus for some great views. There is also a little-known wine route to explore, with around 40 boutique wineries to sample. Don’t miss the drive from Limassol to Paphos on the old B6 road, where you can enjoy the most breathtaking view of Aphrodite’s Rock and the deep blue Mediterranean.
Get out of your hotel and head to the old towns to find traditional Cypriote food. Nicosia is a great place to eat, with plenty of traditional meze to enjoy. Larnaca’s seaside towns offer some great value ‘catch of the day’ meze all year round too, and fish don’t come much fresher than this.
Avoid Napa unless you want to enter a very high-octane club-scape. A good alternative is Larnaca, where you can walk the picturesque promenade and pop into a variety of bars and restaurants along the way. Alternatively, the old square around Limassol’s castle is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike, and is a hive of activity with music and dancing late into the night
However you choose to spend your time on the island, one thing is for sure – if you arrive in Aiya Napa or Paphos and fail to leave those places for the duration, you may as well have spent a week in an outer London suburb during a mega heat wave. So take the chance to discover the real Cyprus outside of the tourist traps and enjoy what the island really has to offer.
Have you ever been to Cyprus?