Cyprus — Overview
Set in the northernmost corner of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea almost equidistant from Africa, Asia and Europe, Cyprus can claim to be the stepping stone between the three vast continents. During its nine thousand years of dramatic, violent history, the sun-drenched island has been fought for by almost every major civilization and empire since the dawn of time and has the ruins, remnants and buildings to show for it.
Cyprus’s stunning beaches are linked in legend to Greek gods and goddesses whose temples still adorn the countryside and rugged coastlines with Romans, Crusaders, Byzantines, Franks and Venetians all leaving tangible marks on the island. The history of Europe and Asia Minor can be traced back through the palaces, churches, monasteries, monuments, museums and landmarks, as well as in the fascinating heritage and culture of the Cypriot people.
Cypriot Greeks and Turks are amongst the world’s most welcoming and friendly people, going out of their way to help visitors confused by language, road signs or any other aspect of life. Accommodations range from small, family-owned hotels to huge, luxury five-star resorts and spas with good value for the money at all budgets. Cuisine in Cyprus is an intriguing mix of Greek, Turkish and Italian gastronomy, with many local dishes as old as the settlements themselves.
The island is split in two between the southern Greek region and the northern Turkish enclave, but it’s easy for visitors to get between the two halves on daytrips. Cyprus is a land of beauty from the soaring Troodos Mountains, rich in flora, fauna and picturesque villages to the picturesque coastal beaches and rugged cliffs. All varieties of water sports are available, and adventure enthusiasts can enjoy paragliding, mountain biking, quad-biking, rock climbing, horse riding, skiing or a game of golf.
Although Cyprus has no train service or domestic air network, getting around via the modern buses is inexpensive, yet slow with routes connecting popular attractions to most towns and villages. Getting a rental car is the fastest, albeit most expensive way to travel. For shorter journeys, local buses or shared taxis that operate in stretch vehicles and run on set routes are your best option. In the Turkish north, buses run more frequently, but are generally less comfortable than in the Greek region. Once you get to a town, most of the attractions are within comfortable walking distance of each other.
- Otello’s Castle and Citadel, the medieval fortress guarding Famagusta Harbor
- Aphrodite’s Bath, the site of Adonis and Aphrodite’s love affair
- Larnaca’s lovely Byzantine Church, Agios Lazaros
- The eerie Tombs of the Kings, even though no kings were actually buried there
- Nicosia’s spectacular Venetian walls, fortifications and picturesque Old Town
- The soaring Troodos Mountains and their quaint, traditional hillside villages
- Early 16th century Ayia Napa Monastery and its magnificent gardens
- The ruins of Salamis and the Lala Mustafa Pasa Mosque in Famagusta