Spread the love

Check this Cyprus travel guide to make the most of your trip to the beautiful Mediterranean island! I have already visited Cyprus 3 times, and can not wait to return. This island makes me feel like summer never ends…

  • This post contains affiliate links from which I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you). For more info, please read my disclosure. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Top things to see and do in Cyprus - Cyprus Travel Guide for Pinterest
No time to read now? – Pin it for later

Visiting Cyprus

When summer never ends

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. Because this island really has it all.

So far, I´ve been to Cyprus 3 times and I was lucky to explore many of its unique landmarks.

The first time I traveled to Cyprus with my parents for a family-friendly vacation at the beach, during the second trip – I was visiting my sister during her semester abroad and we went out a lot, and my last visit included an intensive sightseeing plan on both Greek and Turkish sides. Those were all perfect vacation choices and it’s hard to believe they took place at the very same place. So, Cyrpus is one of the most versatile destinations in Europe.

No need to mention here my love affair with Greece and its islands: so, if I get another chance to visit Cyprus anytime soon – I won´t miss it.

St. Hilarion Castle, North Cyprus
Cyprus Travel GuideSt. Hilarion Castle, North Cyprus

Need to know: Turkish vs. Greek side of Cyprus

There is one thing you need to know – even though most people compare Cyprus to the other Greek islands, like the nearest Crete, Cyprus is actually divided into two parts – the Greek and the Turkish. It all happened in 1974, as a result of the conflict when Turkey invaded Cyprus. The border between the two still divides the Cyprus capital of Nicosia. I visited the island for the first time back in 2010, with an obvious and relatively peaceful presence of both nations. But it is still a hard topic for many Cypriots, especially those who were forced to leave their homes in cities like Famagusta (which has mostly turned into a ghost town after the conflict).

But you can´t really wrap up a useful Cyprus travel guide without mentioning the basic historical and political insights on the region. So, I will try to share my honest impressions of both parts of Cyprus.

My first two Cyprus visits were to the Greek side. Historically, it has a huge British influence (you even drive like in the UK). Therefore, when I talk about the laid-back lifestyle and summer vibes of Cyprus – it´s the Greek side that pops into my mind. The Turkish side of Cyprus does not fall under the typical concept of a Mediterranean vacation.

Also read: Top Experiences to Fall in Love with Greece

Once you cross a border, you effortlessly deep into another, very different culture. If you have ever visited Turkey, you´d quickly catch the difference between the two parts of the Cyprus island: in Northern Cyprus, everything becomes much more dynamic, vibrant, and even chaotic, at times. A sort of immediate switch from Europe to Asia. The Greek side is cozy and relaxing – like most of the Mediterranean islands.

Cyprus Travel Guide – Near Aphrodite´s Rock

North Cyprus vs. South Cyprus: The Details

For this Cyprus travel guide, I´ll try to compare both sides, based on my personal experiences (from the touristic point of view). It is really not my place to judge the historical events.

Food

Let me admit that I can not be fair while comparing the cuisines, cause I love both. So, from a gastronomic point of view – both parts of Cyprus have a lot to offer.

Hotels

The best hotel price/quality is definitely in 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.

Cyprus Travel Guide – A morning walk in Paphos
The flags on the Greek side of the Island

Driving

Driving definitely felt more stressful in Northern Cyprus.

Any insurance that you may have purchased on either side is not valid once you cross the border. You´ll be obliged to pay for it again.

I´ve hired a car in the southern part of Cyprus and traveled to the North for a day without any problems. However, I was warned that if renting my car in the North of Cyprus, I would not be allowed to take it across the border to the South.

Plus, including the insurance price I paid at the border for one day (a minimum of 25 euros), it would make more sense to book an organized tour via GetYourGuide or Viator.

To sum up my impressions for you: the Turkish side offers cheaper prices, unique interesting historical sites, and beautiful less-touristy blue lagoons. At the same time, the Greek side has a much more relaxing atmosphere, better roads, and friendlier people.

While crossing the border to the Turkish side I felt a sort of tension in the air, even though these two parts of Cyprus officially coexist in peace today. You can sense there was a conflict at some point that had impacted many lives.

All in all, the Turkish vs. the Greek side of Cyprus – it´s quite subjective. I´d say, it all depends on your travel preferences. For instance, my parents traveled to the Turkish side and didn´t like it at all. At the same time, friends of mine said they didn´t get it why everyone on the Greek side was warning them against visiting Northern Cyprus: they absolutely loved their trip and were in awe of the sights and landscapes.

I guess, the best thing you can do – is to visit both and make your conclusions.

On the road / The Southern side of Cyprus
On the road / The Southern side of Cyprus

Where to stay in Cyprus

I honestly love Paphos: it is a great quiet match for a family vacation or romantic getaway.

If you´re looking for clubs & nightlife – the undisputed party capital is Aiya Napa. The second best one for entertainment lovers is Limassol. Another alternative is, probably, Larnaca´s beachfront promenade.

Many international celebrities live in the Aphrodite Hills, a closed area with some hotels and luxury villas, restaurants, golf and tennis courts, a riding club, and a soccer academy. Even though it is obviously fancy and overpriced, the area is still really nice. We had friends staying there, so I´ve visited several local restaurants and enjoyed it.

Medieval Castle of Paphos in Paphos Harbour, Cyprus
Cyprus Travel GuideMedieval Castle of Paphos /Paphos Harbour

What to eat in Cyprus

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. But as I´ve already mentioned, on the South (Greek) side of Cyprus there´s more variety for Greek food lovers and the North (Turkish) side is a vibrant palette of traditional Turkish flavors.

Shopping for local delicatessen: What to buy in Cyprus?

  • Halloumi and other local cheeses
  • Olives and Olive Oil
  • Tzatziki spices (the Greeks eat homemade Tzatziki with almost everything)
  • Cyprus wine
  • Silver and lace products from Lefkara
  • Turkish sweets (especially, on the Northern side)

Cyprus food tours

If you are a foodie, do not miss one of these unique Cyprus food tours:

Grilled Halloumi cheese/ Tzatziki (the white sauce)
Cyprus Travel GuideGrilled Halloumi cheese/ Tzatziki (the white sauce)

Let´s talk about sightseeing. For this Cyprus travel guide, I´ve put together a list of my favorite places to visit.

A Quick Cyprus Travel Guide: Places you can´t miss

1. Lefkara 

Lefkara has been recently included by a few trusted travel editions in the Top 30 Most Beautiful Villages of Europe. It is a charming place with cobblestone streets and colorful doors and windows, where the Cypriot folk needlecraft art was born.

Aside from enjoying the village, you can book a tour to walk around the scenic Lefkara manmade lake.

Lefkara, Cyprus
Cyprus Travel GuideVisiting Lefkara
Cyprus Travel GuideVisiting Lefkara
Cyprus Travel GuideCute tiles in Lefkara

2. The Blue Lagoon in Latchi

Visiting the Blue Lagoon

Rent a small boat in Latchi and head to the Blue Lagoon, a Caribbean paradise in Cyprus. It is better to visit earlier in the morning, as many boats visit this place on tours during the day. Yet I loved the Blue Lagoon – its beautiful crystal clear waters are simply stunning. You can read more details in this post.

Top Blue Lagoon Day Tours

To visit the Blue Lagoon on your own you can drive to Latsi (or Latchi) and rent a boat, or book one of the organized tours (which is easier and more budget-friendly). Here are the top-rated tours of the Blue Lagoon:

The Blue Lagoon, Cyprus
Cyprus Travel Guide – The Blue Lagoon (no filter)
Latchi Cyprus Travel Guide
The small town of Latchi

3. Kato Paphos Archaeological Park

Kato Paphos Archaeological Park houses a collection of the most amazing mosaics, dating back to the 2nd century A.D. Art and history lovers – this place is a must-stop for you. You can read more details in this post.

Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, Cyprus
Cyprus Travel GuideKato Paphos Archaeological Park
Kato Paphos Archaeological Park Cyprus
Kato Paphos Archaeological Park in Paphos

4. Larnaca & Saint Lazarus Church 

I’ve already mentioned Larnaca´s seafront promenade when talking about bars and nightlife. However, Larnaca houses a few unique historic sites like Agios Lazaros, Pierides Archaeological Foundation Museum, Larnaca Fort, Kamares Aqueduct, Turkish Quarter, and Cape Greco (50km east of Larnaca). And let´s not forget Larnaca´s Salt Lake, where you could even see flamingos in winter.

Unique experiences to book in Larnaca

5. Agios Neophytos Monastery 

Agios Neophytos Monastery is a quiet and spiritual place close to Paphos, founded by St. Neophytus in the 12th century.

You can still visit the cut-out-of-the-rocks caves where he lived and wrote his books. The cave with the cell of Saint Neophytos (Enkleistra) contains some of the finest Byzantine frescoes dating from the 12th to the 15th century. But you´re not allowed to take pictures inside.

From Paphos, you can easily book an organized tour to Agios Neophytos.

Agios Neophytos Monastery, Cyprus
Cyprus Travel GuideAgios Neophytos Monastery 
Ayios Neophytos Monastery Cyprus
Cyprus Travel GuideAgios Neophytos Monastery 

6. Kykkos Monastery

While being one of the most important places of religious cults on the island, Kykkos Monastery stands on a mountain peak – at an altitude of 1.318 m. It was burned down several times throughout Cypriot history, but it´s still one of the coolest monasteries in Cyprus.

Kykkos Monastery is also famous for its connection with the First President of Cyprus, who was once a monk here and was buried 3km from Kykkos after his death.

To explore the region beyond Kykkos Monastery, you can book one of the guided tours:

7. Aphrodite´s Rock 

Cyprus is famous in Greek Mythology for the seashore of Paphos, which was the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty. So, no Cyprus travel guide can miss Petra tou Romiou or Aphrodite’s rock.

According to the legend, this stone was the actual birthplace of the beautiful goddess who had emerged from the sea foam. Aphrodite is still associated with youth, beauty, and love. Some believe that Aphrodite Rock and its surroundings possess magical properties.

Rumor has it that those who swim around the boulder three times anti-clockwise would be blessed with eternal beauty. Another belief claims that if you swim in the area at midnight or find a heart-shaped stone on the shore you´ll find your one-true love.

From Paphos, you can book an organized tour to Aphrodite s Rock with sunset drinks.

Aphrodite´s Rock, Cyprus
Aphrodite´s Rock

8. St.Hilarion Castle / Bellapais Abbey/ Kyrenia

Let’s talk about Northern Cyprus. Last time, I visited the area on a day trip from Southern Cyprus.

The city of Kyrenia is famous for its harbor, cobbled streets, Castle, and Shipwreck Museum. However, I mostly loved its two nearby sights – St. Hilarion Castle and Bellapais Abbey.

The most breathtaking views of my trip to Cyprus were at St. Hilarion Castle without any doubt. Some say Walt Disney´s Sleeping Beauty Castle was inspired by this one.

St. Hilarion Castle, Cyprus
Cyprus Travel GuideSt. Hilarion Castle
cyptus travel guide northern cyprus
Cyprus Travel GuideSt. Hilarion Castle
  • Warning: bring comfortable shoes as it´s a rough clip to the top. And beware of the summer heat, go early in the morning, or visit during the spring/autumn months (my cute flats were not a good idea, but I realized it too late)

The Bellapais Abbey is an idyllic Gothic Abbey. It is currently used for artistic and musical performances, but this place definitely has lots of old charm and history.

I visited both places on my own, but would honestly book a tour next time. Driving in Northern Cyprus was a bit stressful. Plus, you are charged a minimum of 25 euros for mandatory insurance while crossing the border.

Best tours to Northern Cyprus:

Bellapais Abbey, Cyprus
Bellapais Abbey

9. Nicosia & Büyük Han

Nikosia is internationally famous for being the only divided capital in the world.

Nicosia´s Green Line extends across the capital with various entry points for people to cross over. If you feel like diving more into the region’s history – include some local museums in your route: Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia, Cyprus Museum, and NiMAC.

Don’t miss the central shopping streets: Ledra, Onasaagorou and Ermou.

Another interesting place that immediately drags your attention is Buyuk Han, the largest Ottoman caravansarai on the island of Cyprus.

To get more historical insights, you can book one of the organized tours:

Büyük Han, Cyprus
Büyük Han

Also read:

Pin it:

Top things to see and do in Cyprus - Cyprus Travel Guide for Pinterest

For more travel stories and useful tips for Cyprus check my Cyprus Pinterest board.

at lifestyle crossroads travel blog resources