Ah, Cyprus – the jewel of the Mediterranean! As travellers, we often seek destinations that offer a harmonious blend of natural beauty, rich history, and unique experiences. Cyprus, with its intriguing mix of ancient wonders, pristine beaches, and vibrant local culture, is the epitome of this travel dream. Join us on a captivating journey as we explore the hidden gems that make Cyprus an unmissable destination for your 2023 travel bucket list.
NICOSIA: WHERE PAST MEETS PRESENT
Our journey begins in Nicosia, the divided capital city and the heart of Cyprus. Nicosia stands as a testament to the island's unique history, with its dividing line serving as a poignant reminder of the unresolved conflict between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. A walk through the historic Old Town is a step back in time, as you traverse winding streets lined with beautifully preserved Ottoman and Venetian architecture.
The Shacolas Tower, nestled in the heart of the Old Town, offers panoramic views of this divided city. It's a vantage point that allows you to see both sides of the capital, a stark reminder of the island's complex history.
LARNACA: BENEATH THE SEA AND BEYOND
Larnaca, situated on the southern coast of Cyprus, boasts more than just beautiful beaches. Here, you can embark on a unique adventure below the surface. Explore the underwater wonders of the Zenobia Shipwreck, one of the top dive sites in the world. This sunken ferry, resting on the ocean floor, has become an artificial reef teeming with marine life. It's a mesmerizing world waiting to be discovered by intrepid divers.
Once you resurface, make your way to the enchanting Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque, an architectural masterpiece set against the backdrop of the Larnaca Salt Lake. The setting sun bathes the mosque in a golden hue, creating a sight that's nothing short of magical.
AKAMAS PENINSULA: THE UNTAMED BEAUTY
Leave the urban comforts behind as you venture west to the wild and unspoiled Akamas Peninsula. This protected area is a haven for nature enthusiasts and hikers. From following the Avakas Gorge trail, where towering cliffs and lush vegetation form a cool, shaded path. To visiting the Baths of Aphrodite, the Blue Lagoon or the Green Turtle and Hawk’s Bill Turtle breeding ground of Lara beach it is an explorer's dream!
For the more adventurous, exploring the peninsula by off-road vehicle is an exhilarating experience. Bump along rugged tracks and discover secluded coves, hidden waterfalls, and dramatic cliffs that plunge into the turquoise Mediterranean.
TROODOS MOUNTAINS: PEAKS AND PILGRIMAGE
The Troodos Mountains, situated in the heart of Cyprus, offer a refreshing change of scenery from the coastal regions. Here, you'll find quaint villages and lush landscapes punctuated by monasteries. The most famous among them is the Kykkos Monastery, a serene sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
As you meander through these mountain villages, don't forget to sample traditional Cypriot dishes. Taste the hearty, slow-cooked lamb and indulge in the delightful cheese, halloumi – an integral part of Cypriot cuisine.
PAPHOS: THE LAND OF LEGENDS
Paphos, located on the southwest coast of Cyprus, is a city steeped in mythology. It is said to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty. Explore the ancient archaeological site of Paphos, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and discover stunning mosaics that depict tales from Greek mythology.
For those seeking more contemporary pleasures, Paphos offers a thriving restaurant and bar scene. Dine al fresco on the picturesque waterfront and savour fresh seafood while gazing at the Mediterranean.
AYIA NAPA: BEYOND THE NIGHTLIFE
Ayia Napa is famous for its vibrant nightlife, but there's much more to explore beyond the clubs and bars. Cape Greco, located just a short drive away, is a natural wonderland with sea caves, cliff formations, and hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the coastline.
For a more tranquil experience, visit the Makronissos Tombs, a hauntingly beautiful burial site from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The serene surroundings are perfect for contemplation and reflection.
HIDDEN BEACHES: PARADISE FOUND
Cyprus is dotted with countless hidden beaches, each offering its own slice of paradise. Whether it's the seclusion of Petra tou Romiou, the tranquility of Konnos Bay, or the surreal beauty of Nissi Beach, there's a beach for every mood.
Get off the beaten path and explore the lesser-known beaches like Pernera Beach, where you can bask in the sun with hardly a soul in sight. Or visit the stunning Lara Beach, a protected area for nesting sea turtles.
Cyprus is a land of contrasts and hidden treasures. From the rich history of Nicosia to the underwater wonders of Larnaca, the pristine landscapes of the Akamas Peninsula to the serene monasteries of the Troodos Mountains, Cyprus offers a diverse range of experiences.
As you venture through this Mediterranean gem, you'll encounter mythological legends, enchanting villages, and captivating landscapes. Cyprus is a place where past and present intertwine, and where hidden gems await those willing to explore.
So, as you plan your travel adventures, be sure to include Cyprus on your list. Let the island's timeless beauty, rich culture, and hidden places transport you to a world where every corner reveals a story waiting to be told. Cyprus is more than a travel destination; it's an odyssey of discovery and wonder.