Although officially part of Europe, the country’s location and history means that it has been influenced by Asia, the Middle East and Africa. This combination of cultures results in a heady mix reflected in, among other things, Cyprus’ landscape, historical attractions and cuisine. The north-east of the island is the Turkish side, while the remainder of the island is under Greek influence.
Find inspiration for the best things to do in Cyprus if you would like to go travelling, backpacking or take a gap year.
Interested in travelling to Cyprus? Get information, advice, ideas and recommendations on our destination guide.
There are daily international flights into Cyprus with budget airlines offering cheap ways to visit the country throughout the year. Flight times from London to Paphos or Larnaca are around 4 1/2 hours or 5 from Edinburgh.
Summer is the most popular time of the year but this can also be the most busy, hot and expensive. Another option is to visit Sping or Autumn when the weather is more pleasant. Cyprus is even a popular destination to go in winter due to the warm climate.
Despite its size Cyprus has so many different places you should try to see. Most of these places can be added to a short itinerary. Here are some of our top recommended destinations to see:
Cyprus is blessed with beautiful beaches, here are some you should try to add to your itinerary:
Both Greek and Turkish are the official languages, and while it is recommended not to bring the subject up, the divide is far more amicable than it previously was. Most local people can speak English due to the amount of tourists visiting the country every year.
If you plan to travel to Cyrus you will be sure to find something to match you interests. There are lots of independent options and also organised excursions including walking and sports adventures. There is a vast amount to experience on the beautiful Mediterranean island and you will be able to take in as much as possible on any trip here. Once in Cyrpus you will be able to converse with friendly locals to learn more about the history and culture of the country.
Keen on spending your gap year in Cyprus? Good decision! Search gap year jobs and programs today.
Despite being the third-largest island in the Mediterranean (after Sicily and Sardinia), it is relatively straightforward to navigate; indeed, it is recommended to get around and visit different locations on the island. With no railway system, the easiest way is almost certainly by car. Having your own transport, in addition to hiring your own villa or accommodation, gives you a huge sense of independence and freedom to explore in your own time.
Cyprus caters for a variety of holidaymakers in the same way that the island itself does. There are hotels, guest houses and apartments in tourist areas and around the cities, with access to the nightlife, shopping and dining districts. Or at the other end of the spectrum, huge villas in the mountains or by the beach, that can cater for big family trips or romantic getaways. Cyprus is most enjoyable when everything is made as easy as possible. Being in control of the decisions you make from day to day; where to go, what to do, what to eat, enhances the sense of freedom. Having your own villa means you can find your personal preference, making sure you get to experience everything you set out to.
The main food to try, in fact the only food you can try in specific restaurants, is Cypriot meze. Similar to tapas in Spain, meze is a combination of meats, fish and vegetables, served up all at once for its diners to sample and share around the table. Perfect for large parties and eating alone alike, it is the best way to get a taste of Cypriot food as quickly, and traditionally, as possible. Within the meze, you will undoubtedly come across the island's two great edible exports; halloumi and taramosalata. Halloumi, a salty cheese, is often grilled and melted so that it mellows and softens, similar to mozzarella. Taramosalata is made from the roe of cod or carp and is mixed with breadcrumbs, oil and lemon juice to produce a bright pink dip for bread.
The obvious way to sample the food of Cyprus is of course to eat out, and there are numerous restaurants and taverns that will serve up delicious meals right into the night. Cypriot food is however a cuisine that prides itself on its simplicity and use of local ingredients. It is thus relatively easy to try your hand at making local dishes yourself. Hiring your own villa gives you the freedom to eat out and cook for yourself. Serving up a local feast for your friends and family is just as satisfying as eating the same dishes at a restaurant. All the ingredients can be picked up from shops, or even better, from local markets where you will have the best selection of local produce.
Cyprus has become a centre point for partying and clubbing holidays. Like Ibiza, it offers a vast number of clubs and bars, full of other English tourists, which attracts the best acts and DJs from around Europe. The usual plan of action is to hit the beach in the day and top up on your tan, before eating out in the evening, and then heading to one of the town’s infamous clubs. Many spend their entire holiday in the town to stay close to the action. There are also those, however, who take day trips to far more scenic parts of the island, or even those who rent villas in the more peaceful regions, only to come into the town for the odd night out.
The island’s role in Ancient Greek tradition is not lost on Cypriots today. The island of love (according to mythology), the western region of Paphos is supposed to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, and Adonis, the historical symbol of male attraction. The beach is home to the Rock of the Greek and is where Aphrodite was born out of the sea. The goddess is still celebrated today with an annual festival that attracts large numbers of visitors to the local tombs and castles. Festivals are not solely linked to mythology. Each September there is an annual festival to celebrate the wine produced on the island, and there is a vibrant mix food available, drawing upon the country’s influences. The Salouze festival champions the dessert of the same name, a jelly-like sweet made from grape juice often dressed with almonds or other nuts that are eaten across the Greek parts of the island.
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