The land of never-ending summer: Cyprus. I simply can´t get enough of this beautiful island. It has the most relaxed atmosphere from all the places I´ve been to. The food is obviously amazing, everything fresh and mostly, local. Moreover, it´s always sunny, everybody is smiling, and the morning walks by the seaside at Paphos harbor energize you for the rest of the day. It feels like summer never ends here.
The land of never-ending summer: Cyprus
Being the 3rd biggest island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus is a must stop, whether you´re a solo traveler, honeymooner, beach lover, avid hiker, history explorer or a party person. This island really has it all. Depending on the area you choose for your stay -you´ll find your perfect vacations there.
As to my personal experience, I´ve been to Cyprus 3 times and I got to see almost all of its versatile sides. First time I was in Cyprus with my parents for a family vacation at the beach, the second trip – I visited my sister during her semester abroad and we got to party, and my last visit included an intensive sightseeing plan. Needless to say, these were perfect vacations each one in its own way. Something that could probably happen only in Cyprus.
And let me say here one more thing: if I get another chance to visit Cyprus anytime soon – I won´t miss it.
Crossing the line: Turkish vs. Greek side
As you probably know, the island of Cyprus is divided by a border into two parts: the Greek and the Turkish. My first two visits were only to the Greek side, which by the way, historically has a huge British influence (you even drive like in the UK). Nevertheless, once you cross a border you effortlessly deep into another very different culture. This was great! I´ve only spent a day on the Turkish side and will definitely be back one day to explore more. To sum up from my impressions: the Turkish side has the most interesting sites, beautiful lagoons, and cheaper prices, while the Greek side has a much more relaxing atmosphere, better roads, and friendlier people (I mean, everyone was still friendly on the Turkish side but less open).
Will not compare the food here, cause I love both Greek and Turkish cuisines. And maybe it was only my experience, but once I´ve crossed the border to the Turkish side I felt the tense atmosphere (even though these two parts of Cyprus coexist in peace today). Driving definitely felt more stressful in Northern Cyprus. Nevertheless, even though the Greek side also has a lot of great historical sites to visit, those on the Turkish one have impressed me more.
But again, it´s quite subjective. My parents traveled to the Turkish side and didn´t like it a lot there. While some friends said they didn´t understand why everyone on the Greek side was warning them not to visit Northern Cyprus: they absolutely loved their stay.
Moreover, it´s also probably different if you come from one of the counties with that kind of conflict in the past. Again, my impressions of both sides come from the traveler´s point of view. Nevertheless, I guess, the best thing you can do – is to visit both and make your own conclusions.
On the road
The best area to stay?
As I´ve previously mentioned – it all depends on a kind of vacation you´re up to. My favorite area is Paphos. It is very quiet and is great for a family vacation. There are some great hotels, but mostly – holiday rentals.
If you´re looking for an exclusive vacation – Aphrodite Hills is the place. It is a closed area with some hotels and luxury villas, restaurants, golf&tennis courts, riding club, soccer academy… literally everything! Indeed, you could even meet some international celebrities there. Even though it is obviously fancy and overpriced, the area is still really nice.
If you´re looking for clubs and nightlife – the best area is Aiya Napa. Although, the best hotel price/quality is definitely Northern Cyprus. You could get a 5 star all-inclusive for a really affordable price. However, vacations in Northern Cyprus would feel closer to visiting the Turkish coast (Bodrum, Antalya etc.) rather than Europe or the Greek Islands.
Sunset / Paphos Harbour
Coastal Walk, Paphos
Coastal Walk, Paphos
A Culinary Feast
The Cypriot food is influenced by Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine. So here you could find everything from meze and kebab, to Greek moussaka and Turkish baklava. Food souvenirs to buy:
- Halloumi and other local cheeses
- Olives and Olive Oil
- Tzatziki spices
- Cyprus wine
- Silver and lace products from Lefkara
- Turkish sweets (especially, on the Northern side)
Grilled Halloumi cheese/ Tzatziki (the white sauce)
Places you can´t miss:
Lefkara has been recently included to the Top 30 Most Beautiful Villages in Europe. It is a charming neighborhood, where the Cypriot folk needlecraft art was born. I enjoyed every minute there.
2. The Blue Lagoon /Latchi
Rent a small boat in Latchi and head to the Blue Lagoon, the Caribbean paradise in the heart of the Mediterranean sea. Best to visit earlier in the morning, as many boats visit on tours. And yet this place is completely unspoiled and charming. Its beautiful crystal clear waters are simply stunning. You can also visit it by walking from the Baths of Aphrodite (90min) or hiring a quad, the road is too narrow for a car.
The Blue Lagoon
3. Kato Paphos Archaeological Park
This place houses a collection of the most amazing mosaics, dating back to the 2nd century A.D. Read more…
4. Kyrenia – St. Hilarion Castle – Bellapais Abbey – Büyük Han
The following sites are on the Turkish side, quite close to the border though. I´ve managed to visit them all in one day, coming from the Greek part of Cyprus.
St. Hilarion Castle has a rough climb, but the views are so worth it…
St. Hilarion Castle
St. Hilarion Castle
Views from St. Hilarion Castle
5. Larnaca and Saint Lazarus Church
By the way, Larnaca´s salt lake has flamingos in winter…
6. Ayios Neophytos Monastery
A quiet and spiritual place close to Paphos. The caves have very interesting painted ceilings, but you’re not allowed to take pictures of them.
7. Kykkos Monastery
8. Aphrodite´s Rock
According to the legend The Greek goddess was born here and there is a myth that any person who swims around the Aphrodite´s Rock will be blessed with eternal beauty…