Things to see in Cyprus: beaches, villages and castles not to be missed
For the myth is the legendary birthplace of Venus. For the two million visitors who every year choose its coasts and cities as a sort of perfect synthesis of the best of the Mediterranean since the list of things to see in Cyprus is endless: beaches sandy, ancient monasteries, archaeological sites, valleys green and scented with thyme, houses with facades marked by time and, of course, villages full of clubs a stone’s throw from the sea where you can party until dawn.
Things to see in Cyprus: an island divided in two
Cyprus has, on the other hand, always been a crossroads between Europe and Asiaan obligatory step between East and West. And it all settled down. In ancient times legions of warlords and armies battled in these parts to conquer port on the sea and hill forts that represented the ideal point of control over trade and the keys to supremacy over the Eastern Mediterranean. The succession of these empire-builders has left an incredible legacy of bequests that have made the list of things to see in Cyprus rich: Roman ruins And Byzantine fortresses, crusader castlesi, mighty Venetian walls, imposing mosques and minarets sign of the passage of Ottoman invaders.
The war and the occupation
Then a long period of quiet so that until the 60s Cyprus appeared abandoned in a long torpid lethargy which ended abruptly with the devastating war which saw those who wanted to be part of the oppose Greece and who instead aimed at Turkey. The result was a military operation that led to the occupation of a large part of the island by Turkish soldiers who proclaimed a Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which, however, still today, is recognized only by Turkey. This was followed by expulsions of Greek residents and the transfer of large groups of Turks fromAnatolia which changed the face of the northern part of the island which was forced to host a force of UN peacekeepers which are still present.
In the south the Greek side meanwhile it has grown and developed into a member country of theEurope with a very strong tourist development: now places like Ayia Napa, Protaras, Limassol, Paphos they attract charter vacationers looking for sun and fun while year after year new resorts are born, designed for those looking for white villas, long days on the beach and nights in discos. This is one of the faces: the other is that of the hinterland, or that of old Cyprus which resists with beautiful villages full of churches protected byUNESCOquiet mountain roads that pass by vineyards that have always been identical since the times of the myth.
The divided capital
Such an old-world atmosphere partly pervades there as well divided capitalNicosia, where quiet lanes lined with Turkish mosques and Byzantine churches seem to suddenly collide with the Green Linethe artificial border that separates Cyprus from the Turkish side where even restaurant menus seem to come from across the sea. And therefore a visit to Cyprus could not be complete without including at least a few trips to the north area also thanks to the fact that today the tensions are now a memory. And that comfortable and interesting trips and excursions are organized for tourists.
The blue sea and the blue flags
We talked about yesterday. But wanting to tell what are the things to see in Cyprus, we can start from the fact that a holiday can be calibrated on two fundamental aspects, which are not antithetical to each other: the sea and culture. Those looking for the former will be spoiled for choice with many award winning locations Blue Flags and with a large organization ranging from unpretentious hotels to all inclusive villages which thanks to the favorable climate they are open eight months of the year.
And what’s more, by happy coincidence, many of the things to see in Cyprus are located within walking distance of the beaches. The area of Paphos it is ideal for those seeking comfort, service and entertainment with a huge choice of accommodation and venues right on the seafront. However, remember that the coast in this stretch is very varied, jagged and you pass by rugged cliffs at pebble coves and sandy beaches. Some beaches in the Paphos area have deep seas and are often buffeted by waves and are therefore suitable for good swimmers.
The beaches of Larnaka
The beaches in the area of Larnaca are mostly long with gray sand. The water is shallow and clear and the sea is usually calm and ideal for swimming, beach games and walking. However, this apparent calm does not exclude the possibility that here one can experience the beach intensely given that the often strong wind makes it an area much loved by those who practice sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. Almost all the beaches are well organized and many have been awarded the Blue Flag.
Even the beaches of Limassol appear in the list of things to see in Cyprus: they are generally of gray sand or pebbles and offer acalm water and good facilities. The part of the city by the sea is very popular and presents itself as an elegant area with bars, hotels and restaurants and a very lively evening life. However, perhaps the most beautiful beaches are those of Ayia Napa And Protaras and it’s not surprising that they are quite crowded in the high season.
The bays and beaches follow one after the other and it is possible to go from one place for swimming to another even just by bike or on foot. However, the advice is to rent a car and a motorbike to go and look for the most secluded, least crowded and most beautiful parts.
Things to see in Cyprus: archaeological sites and mosaics
Now, however, after the umpteenth dive, it’s worth going to see something else. And in our guide of things to see in Cyprus we point to some of the treasures that have come from the past.
One of the most beautiful is the ancient center of Kourion, romantically placed on a cliff from which it is possible to see on one side the countryside to infinity and on the other the sea. The archaeological site is quite large and if you are in a hurry don’t miss the ancient theater and the so-called house of Eustolioswhich houses a number of mosaics well preserved. For a more in-depth visit, don’t miss the great Byzantine basilica with its row of columns and splendid mosaic floors.
If, on the other hand, you love castles, head straight towards the Castle of Sant Ilarioa suggestive Crusader castle where they still hover legends and myths very rooted among the locals who are convinced that a fairy queen passing through here he bewitched all the local shepherds and then built himself the castle to live on. The ramparts and halls protected by thick walls climb the side of the mountain and the visit makes everyone feel a bit like an explorer. From the highest point you can see a splendid panorama over a large part of the island so much so that, if among the many castles you want to see one, it is only here that you have to come.
Moving on to the cities of the island, they deserve a special place Larnaca: here there are a very busy port and airport but the feeling is that you have landed in a tourist resort that hasn’t lost its relaxed and popular style. It’s one of older citiesamong those inhabited continuously in the world, and this is best understood by walking around the old quarter of Skala or stopping in the alleys around the church of Agios Lazaros but traces of the past are everywhere: the city was called Kitiona millennium before Christ, and the ruins of the ancient city are still visible.
Most of his rich archaeological heritage it has been preserved and is on display in two of its major museums. But the area around Larnaca is also much loved by those looking for long, full nights: not far away is the area of Ayia Napaone of the most famous tourist areas of Cyprus, where very lively (for someone too much) villages follow one another such as Protaras, Kapparis and Paralimni.
Things to see in Cyprus: the less touristy areas
Instead, to enjoy nature and understand how many treasures there are among the things to see in Cyprus, here is the Karpas peninsulaone of the loneliest and most charming areas of the island which extends into a long peninsula golden beaches in the northeast of the island. Paradoxically it is the least traveled area of Cyprus and offers excursions not to be forgotten, picturesque villages to discover and a host of hidden historic sites galore.
This is the place to spend at least a couple of days if you want to experience the real aspects of island life not too distorted by modernity. Venture into the hills for a day by car (the area has virtually no public transport) and visit the mosaics of Ayia Triada in the village of Sipahi before heading northeast to the remote Dipkarpaz village and the small ruins of the church of Agios Filon. Afterwards, conclude your tour on the famous Golden Beach, a vast expanse of sand that combines the rugged charm of Karpas and the sweetness of the sea Mediterranean.
We end our journey at Paphoson the south-west coast of Cyprus where one of the two airports. It was the capital of the island in Roman times but above all it is the place where, according to the myth, the island was born Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. In addition, the city offers many finds related to early Christianity and over the centuries it has seen all sorts of things, from the incursions of pirates and invaders and even a devastating earthquake in the 4th century.
The British colonial period
But the definitive push came with the British colonial period when the development of this part of the island stopped giving a long interval of apparent decline. Today, however, Paphos has become one of the most famous seaside resorts of the island. The area of Ktima is the main residential area, while Kat Paphos it’s the vacationers’ playground; built around the medieval port, it stands out for the many luxury hotels, the more or less original taverns and the string of pubs and clubs.
Most of those who come to Paphos are drawn to the beautiful beaches, framed by palm trees and limestone cliffs. Aphrodite’s Rock Beach offers some of the best snorkelling spots in Cyprus, while the beach of Pissouri it is very famous among water sports enthusiasts. But you don’t need to go far: even there municipal beachvery close to the city center, is always crowded thanks to a long promenade with many restaurants and bars nearby and the beach easily reachable.
Paphos it is also a great base for exploring the peninsula’s unspoilt beauty Akamasthe valley of Diarizos River and the Ezouza valley. And the list could go on: but from the soil that saw Venus born, one cannot expect less. Because beauty, needless to say, is at home.