The stunning Mediterranean island of Cyprus, blessed with an incredible natural beauty, is one of my favourite holiday destinations. Its fabulous golden beaches, fascinating history and wonderfully diverse culture is made even more intriguing by the island’s strong connection to the mythical goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, whose birthplace, near Paphos, can be visited.
Cyprus is the ideal destination for lovers of ancient history, as every invader of this sought after island left a legacy – many of which still remain for today’s visitor to explore.
What to Do
While the majority of people come to Cyprus to spend a week or so just relaxing on the beach, for those who want to experience a little more, this island is bursting with opportunity. For example: Cyprus is also a favourite nesting place for the loggerhead and green turtles. Time a visit right and you could be lucky enough to see these incredible creatures in the wild!
The gorgeous picture postcard port Girne (which is backed by the majestic Kyrenia Mountains) is the ideal spot to spend a morning, while in the south of the island, Lemessos is a port of a much larger scale – and one famous for its great restaurants.
For the more adventurous traveller, hiking in the Troodos Mountains is a great way to stretch the legs. The climate inland is perfect for exploration on foot and, while you’re in the area anyways, you can stop and visit the beautiful painted wooden churches that now have an UNESCO status. Kykkos Monastery is another impressive hidden gem, and a trip to the ancient archaeological site of Salamis is a ‘must-do’ when visiting this jewel of a destination.
Healthy, flavoursome and diverse, the food of Cyprus could be considered almost Greek. While the Greek influence is evident in the dishes, the Cypriots claim that the variations they have made to the staples like the stuffed vine leaves make them far superior. Mezzes are very popular and the delicious tzatziki and taramasalata are mainstays on the menu, alongside mousakka, souvlakia and stifado.
Looking for real authenticity? Then look out for the large domed oven or the charcoal grill at the back of a restaurant. This tells you that you are in the right place. The grilled fish and meats are some of the most popular dishes.
April to October offers visitors the best weather, and during this time everything is open and ready for tourists. August is particularly hot and the autumn can also be very humid. For hikers, spring is the best time to visit, as the weather tends to be warm but the air has a certain freshness to it. Winters can be cold and very unsettled, but keen skiers will be able to try out the limited skiing options.
How to Get to Cyprus From the UK
Flights from the UK to Cyprus are plentiful and the two main arrival airports, Paphos and Larnaca, are well served by flights from London Gatwick, Heathrow, Edinburgh, and Manchester, among others. Thomas Cook and easyJet are the budget airlines of choice, although British Airways offers some good deals too. From any arrival airport, Shuttle Direct offer a variety of excellent transfers that you can book in advance.
Travelling to Cyprus? Don’t Miss…
Agios Lazaros, the 9th century chapel dedicated to Lazarus of Bethany is a stunning example of Byzantine architecture. With added Latinate and Orthodox features added in later years, the incredible woodcarvings and Orthodox artistry make this church one not to be missed.
Kyrenia Castle is a wonderful place, full of history. With connections to many prominent figures such as Richard the Lionheart and King Peter I, the castle was also inhabited by the Ottomans. The stunning fortifications are still very much intact and can be explored on marked routes.
AG Leventis Gallery is a newly constructed art museum displaying European works of art from the 16th to 20th centuries. The highlight, according to many, is The World of Cyprus painting by Adamantios Diamantis.
About Shuttle Direct:
Shuttle Direct offers low cost transfers to and from airports and ports across Cyprus, and throughout Europe and North Africa. Pre-book an airport transfer via our secure online booking system, and all your onward travel arrangements can be in place before you even set foot out the door.