Cyprus Travel Guide

Nestled into the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean. Cyprus history for the past 10,000 years has seen civilizations come and go and famous historical figures such as Alexander the Great to Cleopatra stake their claim here. According to the legend, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty was born here. From independent travelers to honeymooners, archaeology enthusiasts to friends of nature, adventure lovers to people enjoying lazy days on a beach visitors to Cyprus find offers to everyone’s taste. Food lovers feast on farm-fresh halloumi cheese and delectable meze, the local specialty appetizers that mix Western ingredients with Eastern zest. Business travelers appreciate the fine, modern conference facilities and warm, professional service at numerous hotels and resorts. Since 1974 there have been two countries on the island of Cyprus – the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the southern Republic of Cyprus. So you can actually visit two countries for the price of one. We invite you to get a delightful taste of what both Greece and Turkey have to offer: beautiful sunny beaches, small charming villages, ruins of ancient civilizations, and distinctive local cultures.

HISTORY: Cyprus (Kypros in Greek) gave copper its Latin name: cuprum. First Greeks settled on Cyprus in the Late Bronze Age (1,600 B.C.) and established trade links with Egypt and the Aegean islands. During this period ceramic art first flourished. Alexander the Great wrestled the island away from the Persians. As centuries passed by, the island came consequently under Persian, Assyrian, Egyptian, and Roman rule. The Roman emperor Marc Antony gave Cyprus as a gift to his lover, the beautiful Cleopatra. Then came a long period of Byzantine domination. For a hundred years until 1571, the flag of the Republic of Venice flew in Cyprus when the Ottoman Turks occupied it. In 1878 Cyprus became part of the British Empire. It gained independent status in 1960. Cyprus History – Recent Past and Present: A Greek, Archbishop Makarios, became an elected president. On 15 July 1974 a CIA-sponsored, Greek-organized coup overthrew Makarios and replaced him with a puppet leader. Turkey responded by invading the island and Greece quickly pulled out, but the Turks did not stop and took the northern third of the island, forcing 180,000 Greek Cypriots to flee their homes. In 1983 Turkish Cypriots proclaimed a separate state, naming it the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Peace talks have been held sporadically, but Cyprus remains divided.


NICOSIA: The island’s capital city is divided into two parts by the UN-patrolled Green Line, which separates the Republic from Northern Cyprus. Nicosia is a friendly, laid-back place, with good restaurants, museums, and a lively art scene. A visit here should give you a less touristy view of the country than you’ll get if you stick to the coastal towns. The old town, inside the 16th-century Venetian walls, is the most interesting part of Nicosia, home to numerous little shops where you can bargain directly with the owners. The Cathedral of St. John houses some outstanding frescoes. The Cyprus Archeological Museum exhibits the priceless collection of Cypriot antiquities and art treasures. Visiting Nicosia gives you a chance to cross the Green Line and explore the Turkish port of the capital city. Passing through the “no man” zone within the Green Line, where everything is left untouched since the 1974 military action, seeing houses covered with bullet holes leaves an unforgettable impression. The Turkish part of Nicosia is smaller, has fewer things to see, but carries its own charm and specific culture. More about going to Northern Cyprus- here.

PAPHOS: One of the most beautiful parts of the island, a place where, according to the legend, Aphrodite arose from the foaming waves. Among the souvenir shops, you’ll see Saranta Kolones, a Lusignan fortress destroyed by an earthquake in the 13th century; it’s mostly fallen columns and sewer tunnels. The underground Tombs of the Kings dated back to the 4th century are carved out of solid rock, some of them are frescoed and are thought to have been the burial sites of aristocrats and high officials. In Greco-Roman times Paphos was the island’s capital, and it is famous for the remains of the Roman Governor’s palace, House of Dionysus, with its stunning mosaics which is now a major tourist attraction. There is a small harbor and an upper town slightly to the north where the larger shops, offices, and town administration are based.

TROODOS MASSIF: The Troodos region mountains, in the country’s south, are unforgettable. This is where the highest point on the island – mount Olympus (1,952m, 6,507ft) is located. Kykkos Monastery, in the western Troodos, is the best known Christian Orthodox monastery. Built-in the 12th century, it’s been completely renovated and contains a museum of religious icons including the icon of Christ and the Virgin Mary painted by St. Luke himself. On the Throne Peak in the region, there is a tomb of Archbishop Makarios, the first Cyprus President.

COLOSSI CASTLE: Built by the Crusaders (Hospitallers, the Order of St. John of Jerusalem) in the 13th century this castle served as their headquarter. This well-preserved castle, restored in 1933 is a good example of the military architecture of that period. A spiral staircase leads up to the roof and the restored battlements. There are also plenty of citrus orchards in the area, and you can pick up some of the country’s juiciest oranges in the markets here. SALAMIS: It was the most important pre-Christian city in Cyprus. You could easily spend a day here, exploring these very extensive ruins that include a fully restored Roman amphitheater, the gymnasium with marble baths, and the mosaics, a temple of Zeus, numerous statues of the 4th century. Byzantine remains to include the basilica of Bishop Epiphanes (4th century AD). The necropolis of Salamis covers 7 sq. km (almost 3sq.miles) to the west of the town. It contains a museum showing some of the finds. Close to the site is a very nice beach, so bring your swimming suits.

ACTIVITIES: A country of resorts, Cyprus has plenty of places where you can try water sports. If it’s windsurfing or sailing you want, head to the peninsulas and capes, where the wind is strongest. There’s also at least one sea-diving site in each of the big resorts. Mountain biking and hiking are possible all over the island, with specially marked trails in the southern hills, on the Akamas Peninsula, and in the Troodos. Although hardly renowned for its skiing, Cyprus does have a resort on the northeastern face of Mount Olympus, but it’s not exactly world standard. For a golf fan, there are several courses, the most popular area in the Paphos district. Spear-fishing (without aqualung) angling, fishing with vertical lines, or trolling is the permitted methods for which no license is required. Birdwatching trips and social events are organized for members and the general public. Horse-riding can be enjoyed at special centers, professional training facilities, equipped with instructors who provide lessons for beginners and advanced riders. want, head to the peninsulas and capes, where the wind is strongest.

GETTING THERE AND AROUND, ACCOMMODATIONS: The Republic of Cyprus has airports at Larnaka and Paphos, you can book a flight from most of Europe and the Middle East. North Cyprus has an international airport at Ercan, only Turkish airlines fly there. By sea, you can get to Greece and Israel from the Republic’s port in Lemesos. There are ferries from North Cyprus to Turkey, but you cannot exit Cyprus this way unless you entered Turkey. Bus services run within and between towns every day except Sunday, they are cheap, frequent, and efficient. Visitors may travel between the North and the South. 2 and 3- day cruises from Cyprus to Jerusalem, Cairo, and Jordan are very popular among tourists. They can be booked through any travel agency on the island. Prices start from $300 USD. 9-11-night Eastern Mediterranean cruises with Cyprus’ Limassol as one of the ports of call would cost you from $1,200 USD. Hotel prices start from $65 USD/room in peak season when booked through our agency.

WHEN TO GO, WEATHER: The climate here is typically the Mediterranean, with very hot July and August. There are over 300 sunny days per year. Mid-May to mid-October is the ideal season for swimming, sunbathing, and watersports. Temperatures are cooler in the mountainous Troodos area, making it ideal for hiking or simply relaxing. December and January are the months of wet and cool Mediterranean winter. Troodos is ideal for skiing at this time. The first flowers bloom in January, and by mid-February, there are fresh green meadows and blooming almond trees. March days are still cool (daytime temperatures around 19C or 65F, 9C or 40F at night). In April and into the middle of May spring is in full force. This is an ideal time for nature hikes and off-road adventures. The most pleasant times to visit Cyprus are April-May and September-October.