7 Top Reasons to Visit Cyprus

7 Top Reasons to Visit Cyprus

*This article was originally written for Travel & Destinations (www.travelanddestinations.com)

Cyprus is a remarkable place to visit. It is officially known as the Republic of Cyprus and is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea with Nicosia city as the capital. In fact, Cyprus is one of the largest and most populated islands in the Mediterranean Sea with an area of 9,251 square km. It has been said that the famous Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love, was born in Cyprus.

Cyprus offers several things to do and is a perfect holiday destination especially as it’s among the safest places in the world. Below are seven of the best and most important reasons to visit the beautiful island country of Cyprus.

Its Clean Beaches

Cyprus is famous for its white-sand beaches and crystal-clear cyan waters. The waters are exceptionally clean and over 60 of its beaches have been granted the prestigious Blue Flag high-quality standard award. For a small island, this number is exceedingly high.

Some of the best beaches to visit include Nissi Beach (Ayia Napa), Coral Bay (Paphos), Fig Tree Bay (Protaras), Konnos Bay (between Protaras and Ayia Napa), Makronissos Beach (Ayia Napa), Blue Lagoon Beach (Paphos), and Aphrodite’s Rock and Beach (Between Paphos and Limassol).

Beaches in Cyprus
Photo 147667100 © Oleh Panasenko | Dreamstime.com

Its Rich History

Cyprus has a rich history older than 10,000 years. This island country has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as revealed in the excavations in the Neolithic village of Khirokitia (Choirokoitia) which now stands as an UNESCO World Heritage site.

Some of the other top historical places to check out include Ancient Kourion, St. Hilarion Castle, Skala (Turkish Quarter), Agios Lazaros (Church of St. Lazarus), the Cyprus Museum, Ancient Salamis, Kolossi Castle, and the House of Dionysus.

Khirokitia (Choirokoitia) in Cyprus
Photo 68992174 © Debu55y | Dreamstime.com

The Delicious Cuisine

Cyprus’s cuisine is quite different and delicious as it is located at a crossroad of 3 continents: Asia, Europe, and Africa. This makes the cuisine favourable and exotic in comparison to other cuisines. It is somewhat similar to Greek food which is known for its freshness and great taste.

Traditional Cypriot foods that anyone must try are the famous souvlakia, afella, fried halloumi cheese, Sheftalia, juicy olives, kolokasi, warm pitta bread, artichokes, stifado, and several chickpea and yoghurt dishes.

The desserts of course are not to be missed and include pudding pies like galaktoboureko or mahalepi. As for drinks, you must try their sweet wine (Commandaria), ouzo, filfar, and anise brandy.

Gemista dish of stuffed peppers
Photo 76968423 © Konstantin Kopachinskii | Dreamstime.com

The Spectacular Weather

The weather in this island country is spectacular and sunny almost all year long. The weather in Cyprus is known to be the most steady and warmest in Europe with an average temperature of 24 degrees yearly. Amazingly, this island has a standard of 3000 sunny hours per year making it a great destination to visit.

So, whether you want to take your vacation in summer or winter, it will not be a problem in Cyprus. You can go for a holiday all year long and enjoy the beautiful warm climate and sunshine. Crazy enough, you can also go skiing on the slopes of Mount Olympus if you feel like, which is a popular site for Cypriot locals.

BBQ on a cruise ship

The Nature, Cities and Towns

Cyprus has a beautiful and lush nature, with fantastic towns and villages surrounded by historical monuments, heritage, mountains, and gorgeous landscapes. In fact, the whole town of Paphos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The other places which are worthy of checking are Peyia, Ayia Napa, Limassol, Protaras, Nicosia (split between Greek and Turkish Cyprus), and Larnaca.

Cyprus is blessed with beautiful rock formations, turquoise coasts, white soft sandy beaches, amazing caves and rich mountains, along with forests with rivers, lakes and waterfalls running around them.

Paphos in Cyprus
Photo 63637473 © Leonid Andronov | Dreamstime.com

The Great Party Life

Cyprus is known for its nightlife and parties which attracts a lot of younger people every year. The party capital is Ayia Napa which has several bars and more than 10 nightclubs. The drinks are also pretty affordable and so is the entrance fee.

The parties host famous DJs from all over the world and are usually held on open-air stages. The craziest and best parties are usually held during the summer months, from June to August.

Club scene

The Cultural Diversity

Cyprus consists of a population that is mainly made of Greeks (78%) and 18% made of Turks.
Cyprus’s capital Nicosia is so unique as it is the only divided capital in the world where the northern part is mostly occupied by Turks and the southern side is mainly inhabited by Greeks. In fact, Turkish Cypriots have self-declared an autonomous state named the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (only recognized by Turkey).

So, when you visit Cyprus, you can almost visit another country (Turkey); 2 in 1. The people of Cyprus are also very friendly, helpful, and warm like their weather. This cultural diversity gives Cyprus its unique characteristics and vibes.

Summary:

Cyprus is a gorgeous island to visit for a holiday or vacation. This country island is so inviting and will guarantee you a special experience. In Cyprus, you can have the best time and enjoy the beaches, the food, the party, the drinks, the friendly people, the perfect warm weather, and the gorgeous nature of the island.



10 Best Day Trips to Take from Rome

10 Best Day Trips to Take from Rome

*This article was originally written for Travel & Destinations (www.travelanddestinations.com)

Rome is a great place to be for many reasons. Not only is Rome the eternal city with its stunning buildings and monuments, priceless art, and delicious cuisine, but it is also central and close to many of Italy’s other gems.

Below, are 10 of the best day trips to take from Rome, perfect for adding incredible experiences when you are in the eternal city. These places are breathtaking and will surely present you with the authentic “La Dolce Vita” vibe that you are seeking.

1. Amalfi Coast & Positano

The Amalfi Coast is a massive 50 km spread of coastline in the Campania region. If you are driving there, you will get to enjoy some gorgeous scenery of its villas, terraced cliffs, charming gardens, lemon fields, and great beaches. You can also go to the Amalfi coast by taking the train to Salerno which is a beautiful place worth stopping for a few hours to check out.

The Amalfi coast is famous for its massive grapefruit-sized lemons that are the main ingredient for the popular Limoncello drink which you, of course, must try. The best part about the Amalfi coast is that it is home to the photogenic Positano village.

Positano was a former fishing village and is now the go-to romantic holiday destination for its luxurious and scenic hotels, colourful buildings, and delicious restaurants. Discover Positano on foot and witness its beautiful and small art galleries, its cute little shops, restaurants, and the famous Santa Maria church. You can also enjoy The Path of the Gods “Sentiero Degli Dei” hiking/walking trail.

2. Turano

Lago di Turano is beautiful and almost looks unrealistic. It is so gorgeous that it has been used several times as a film location during the filming of “The Patron” movie starring Lucio Dalla. Turano is just 1 hour & 20 minutes away from Rome by car. You can also reach it using a special bus that goes to Rieti.

All you need to do when you arrive is spread a picnic blanket and just enjoy the view of the mountains surrounding the turquoise-coloured lake, all while eating some fresh pizza prepared by the artisanal bakeries nearby. Turano lake is a great location to tan and then cool off with a dip in the beautiful lake. You can also check the delicious restaurants located in Castel Di Tora nearby.

Location: See on Google Maps

3. Naples and Pompeii

Naples is located in southern Italy and is one of the most unique destinations close to Rome and is also the birthplace of pizza. While in Naples, check Galleria Umberto I, Saint Carlo theatre, Naples Cathedral, Capodimonte royal palace and museum, the National Archaeological Museum, the veiled Christ at Cappella Sansevero, and Castel dell’Ovo.

Later, have a walk along the beautiful Piazza del Plebiscito, and Spaccanapoli (street) which is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and enjoy the traditional pizzerias and pastry shops, the historic monuments, and churches in this gorgeous city.

One of the most famous attractions in Naples is Mount Vesuvius, which is a still-active volcano that destroyed the Roman town of Pompeii (the most famous archaeological excavation site in Italy). Take a train from Naples to see the incredible ruins of Pompeii. Pompeii is approx 17.3 miles (28 km) from Naples and would take you around 30 to 40 minutes to reach.

View of Naples in Italy

4. Sorrento

Sorrento is a city with beautiful sloping terraces decorated with cultivations of oranges, grapevines, lemons, and olives. It is a gorgeous city that overlooks Naples’s bay, the great Vesuvius volcano, and the islands of Ischia, Capri, and Procida can be seen in the far distance.

You can reach Sorrento by using a bus from Rome. Buses depart each day from Roma Tiburtina station. You can also reach Sorrento by taking a train from Naples. You could also explore Sorrento through a tour such as seen below.

While in Sorrento, take a walk along the old town centre and Piazza Tasso where you can find great shops, cute café’s, restaurants, and many bright yellow local limoncello shops. You can also enjoy a great beach day in the unique beach clubs. These are built on decks out into the water.

5. Capri

Capri is definitely a dream destination. The Island of Capri is located just a few miles from Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. The only way to reach the island of Capri is by sea. If you are coming from Rome, you need to take a train to Naples and Sorrento (usually takes 1 hour on the fast train) where ferries depart from. During the summer months, there are also ferry routes from Positano, Ischia, and Salerno. You can of course also take a tour (see below).

The island is divided into two municipalities: Anacapri and Capri. The centre of Capri town is about 150 meters above sea level while Anacapri is at a higher altitude. There are also two villages directly on the coast: Marina Grande and Marina Piccola.

While in Capri, have a boat tour around the island and discover the quaint Blue Grotto. You can also, go up Mount Solaro with a chairlift to see a breathtaking view from the top. Check out the Sphinx at Villa San Michele, which is a villa built by Axel Munthe, a Swedish physician and writer. This villa has one of the most scenic views of Capri. Later, have a stroll in the centre of Anacapri where you can go shopping for unique clothing and gifts. At night, cool off in the “Piazzetta” with a drink and dinner in the amazing restaurants around.

6. Florence

Florence is Tuscany’s capital and is a dazzling place and also within reach of Rome. You can easily reach Florence by a comfy train ride from Rome which are 162 miles apart. If you want to reach there in less than 2 hours, use the available high-speed trains. Florence is a picturesque place and home to several famous art pieces and architecture from the Renaissance era.

While in Florence, you must check the iconic Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo di Firenze), The Uffizi, Galleria dell’Accademia, Giardino Bardini and Piazzale Michelangelo. Have a stroll in Florence’s center and enjoy the central markets and Piazza Santo Spirito where you can find fresh pastas, pizzas, truffle bars, delicious wines, and leather shops.

7. Bracciano

Bracciano is a small quaint town in Lazio. It is located only 50 minutes away from Rome by car and 1 hour by train. The town is famous for its volcanic lake, Lago di Bracciano, with its black, sparkly and smooth sand. The lake is surrounded by beautiful medieval towns, lush green mountains, and great architecture.

Bracciano also has a famous palace, Castello Orsini-Odescalchi which is known for holding the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. The lake is besieged by charming aperitif places where you can have drinks with some delicious local food. You can also have a nice lunch or dinner inside the town away from the lake.

Location: See on Google Maps

8. Tivoli

Who knew that a 3-euro train ticket from Rome can take you to this little haven called Tivoli? Tivoli is a small town in Lazio located 1 hour and 25 minutes away by train and 40 mins away by car from Rome.

While in Tivoli, make sure to visit the 16th-century Villa d’Este famous for its terraced hillside Italian Renaissance garden and especially for its plethora of fountains. The Villa is now an Italian state museum and is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. This villa is one of the most beautiful villas you can visit.

Do not forget to check The Temple of Vesta, Villa Gregoriana, Hadrian’s Villa and Rocca Pia. Head to Via delle Cascatelle, a walkway surrounded by the amazing views of waterfalls that cascade in the northern part of Tivoli.

9. Sperlonga

Sperlonga is the perfect getaway since in a way it resembles a little Greece. The vibe is amazing, and the water is crystal clear. Sperlonga was awarded a Blue flag status for high water quality and standards. You can immediately feel that you are far away from the stress of the city.

How to get there? Take the regional train headed to Naples from Roma Termini station and then get off at Fondi-Sperlonga. Once there, take the Piazzoli bus for 20 minutes to Sperlonga (€1.50 bus ticket – note the price may change). While there, enjoy a relaxing beach day with some cold prosecco and then have lunch at the many tasty and fresh seafood restaurants.

10. Anzio/Nettuno

Anzio and Nettuno are only 10 minutes apart and are easily reached from Rome’s termini station in 60 to 70 minutes.

How to get there? One train per hour leaves from Termini station, stopping first at Anzio and then at Nettuno. Anzio was also awarded a Blue Flag status for its high-quality waters.

While in Anzio/Nettuno, enjoy a great beach day and then have a stroll in the centre where you can find many local products made fresh daily. You can get a delicious panino (sandwich) with fresh mozzarella di bufala for just 5 euros.

Summary:

If you are planning to visit Rome over the summer, then these day trips will guarantee you the trip of a lifetime. Rome is not only a great place to be because of its beauty and perfect temperature, but it is also blessed to be close to many of Italy’s “bucket list” destinations and which are crazy beautiful. So, when planning your trip to Rome, you must try and include these day trips on your list!