With warm sun, sparkling sea, welcoming people and wonderful scenery, Cyprus offers visitors a superb holiday destination packed with unforgettable experiences, extraordinary sights and exquisite Mediterranean cuisine, plus a generous dose of romantic ancient legends to spice up those lazy days by the sea.
Cyprus known as the 'Jewel of the Mediterranean' and legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, the ancient goddess of love and beauty, certainly lives up to the exacting standards of its divine patroness. A stunning Mediterranean island steeped in legend, myth, beauty and romance that enjoys more than 340 days of sunshine a year, Cyprus is attracting visitors from across the world. Enchanted by the island’s endless stretches of golden sands, secluded bays and rocky coves, today’s tourists are also drawn to Cyprus for its fascinating history and culture, its exquisite Mediterranean cuisine and its glorious mountains and verdant countryside that prove that Cyprus is much more than just a ‘sun and sea’ destination.
Offering something for everyone, regardless of interests, age or budget, Cyprus describes itself as the year-round island, where each season brings something new and wonderful for visitors to discover, from swimming in the warm blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, to rambling in pine-scented forests, skiing on the snowy peaks of the mountains, cycling through the countryside and wandering around the ancient Greek temples and magnificent Byzantine churches.
At the Crossroads of Continents
The third largest island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus is situated at the north eastern corner of the Mediterranean, 300 km north of Egypt, 105 km west of Syria and 75 km south of Turkey, while the Greek mainland lies 800 km to the north-west. The island’s hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters mean sunshine is abundant all year round and from April to September visitors can count on getting an average 11 hours of sunshine per day.
Anchored at the junction of three continents, Cyprus has always been a prized possession for the many civilisations that ruled it through history. From the earliest Greek settlers who gave the island its Hellenic identity in the second millennium BC, the island was then subject in turn to the empires of Assyria, Persia, Greece, Egypt, Rome, Byzantium, the Franks and the Venetians, the Ottomans and the British before it achieved independence in 1960.
Business Centres or Sea-Side Town
The capital of Cyprus, Nicosia, lies in the centre of the island and is the seat of government and the main business centre. The second largest town is Limassol on the south coast, the island’s chief sea port and an industrial centre and important tourist resort, as well as an international business centre with a thriving expat community made up of business people who have chosen to work and live by the sea. Larnaca on the south coast provides the island with its second commercial sea port and is one of the island’s leading tourist resorts, with Larnaca International Airport located to the south of the city. Paphos, lying on the west coast of the island, is a fast developing tourist resort, endowed with an attractive fishing harbour as well as the island’s second international airport.
The island is like a large open air museum packed with evidence of its chequered past, a mosaic of different civilisations and cultures. In Nicosia, visit the old quarter surrounded by a Venetian sandstone fortress with a moat and heart shaped bastions, where Mosques and palm trees add an oriental atmosphere to the old city. Visit St John’s Cathedral with its frescoes and adjacent museum of marvellous Byzantine icons, and the Cyprus Museum, where you can see the best collection of archaeological artefacts on the island, including a first century AD Roman statuette of Aphrodite of Soli.
Cyprus’ long and winding history offers visitors a journey of discovery paved with ancient archaeological treasures. The ancient city-kingdoms of Kourion and Amathus, and the Mosaics of Paphos, are considered among the finest mosaic floors in the eastern Mediterranean. Other must-see historic sites include the Neolithic settlements of Choirokoitia and Kalavasos-Tenta, the Tombs of the Kings and the famous Sanctuary of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, who legend claims was born on this island.
Diverse Flora and Fauna
All year round Cyprus’ air is redolent with the scent of blossom, be it the heady fragrance of musky mimosa, balmy jasmine perfumed nights or the sweetly sharp aroma from the abundance of citrus trees. With nearly 2000 flowering plants (including 20 rare species of orchid), 371 varieties of birds including flamingos, imperial eagles and griffon vultures, and a fascinating diversity of animals including sea turtles, snakes and lizards – not to mention the elusive moufflon (a rare wild mountain sheep found only in Cyprus), the island is a haven for any nature lover.
Outdoor Activities for all Seasons
Cyprus offers a host of energetic pursuits to engage the visitor. Becoming increasingly popular as a destination for golfers, Cyprus offers first-class facilities with three professional courses on magnificent locations, and the development of several new courses in the pipeline.
Spectacular pine clad mountains in the centre of the island offer walkers and cyclists welcome respite from the heat. Breathe in the bracing pine scented air whilst admiring the series of Venetian stone bridges and waterfalls that pepper various hiking trails in scenery that looks as if it has been lifted from a book of fairy tales. In winter months, skiers can test the slopes on Troodos whilst the rest of the island wear short sleeves and bask in winter sun.
Cyprus offers excellent dive sites and facilities, with one of the best wreck dives in the world, the Zenobia, situated off Larnaca. Other popular dive sites include Ayia Napa, Paphos and the Akamas Pensinsula, where divers are often able to see artefacts such as Roman pottery on the seabed.
Cypriot cuisine is famous for its delicious Mediterranean qualities. The island is the home of halloumi cheese and meze, a multi-course meal of olives, salad, seafood, cheese, chicken, sausage, and kebabs that deserves to be shared and savoured ‘siga siga’ (slowly, slowly), preferably at an open-air taverna at vine-shaded tables.
Cyprus is also one of the world’s oldest grape-growing and wine-making regions, with its fruits of the grape ranging from delicate whites and full-bodied reds to the rich sweet amber-coloured dessert nectar known as Commandaria. This is one of the oldest wines in the world, representing an ancient wine style documented in Cyprus back to 800 BC and has the distinction of being the world’s oldest named wine still in production, with the name Commandaria dating back to the crusades in the 12th century.
Sports, Music and Culture
More than a place just for lounging in the sun, there are lots of things happening in Cyprus all year round. From music concerts and cultural performances with big name stars, sports events to participate in or watch, religious festivals with all the pomp and circumstance of the Greek Orthodox Church, to informative conferences where you can meet like minds.
Annual events such as the Cyprus Rally, held every year since 1970 and forming part of the World Rally Championship and the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, attracts hordes of car enthusiasts, while the Historic Cyprus Rally, also an annual event, draws crowds of vintage car enthusiasts. Cultural events such as the Kypria International Festival, comprising music, dance and performance arts, and the ‘Thalassa’ International Festival, which includes photographic exhibitions, movie screenings and music performances, ensure there’s something to interest everyone on the annual calendar of events.
Conference and Incentive Travel
With two decades of experience in serving the conference and incentive travel market, Cyprus has the expertise, the venues and the track record to ensure an unforgettable experience for all participants and delegates. Excellent facilities, year round good weather and convenient connections to all major airports in Europe, Asia and the Middle East are only a few of Cyprus’ selling points as a Conference and Incentive destination.
In addition Cyprus’ tourism operators are doing their best to maximise the natural advantages of the island in order to attract this highly competitive market. Millions of euro have been invested in improving and extending the facilities and services offered, while a new conference centre planned for Limassol will serve to further expand the island’s capacity and add even more value to the island’s product offering as the leading meeting place in the Mediterranean.
Health and Wellness Tourism
High standards of care at low prices are winning Cyprus increasing levels of health tourism, as patients from all over the world choose to have treatment and recuperate in one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean. With a long-standing reputation for excellent healthcare, Cyprus is emerging as one of Europe’s most popular medical tourism destinations. Offering patients from across the world the opportunity to secure top-quality, timely treatments in first class hospitals, clinics and spas on one of the Mediterranean’s favourite holiday islands, Cyprus is fast becoming a regional front-runner in the provision of health tourism.
Tourists travelling to the island have long been charmed by its balmy climate, culture, lifestyle and natural beauty. Combining these experiences with treatment for medical problems, or even elective cosmetic surgery, may be a new phenomenon, but it’s fast becoming a way of life for the hundreds of thousands of people who seek medical care overseas.
Popular since the early 1980s with British and other European holidaymakers, Cyprus is well connected to the continent’s main cities, as well as to Asia and the Middle East. Flights from mainland Europe are quick, frequent and increasingly low cost. By air, Cyprus is one and a half hours away from Athens, four hours from Frankfurt and five hours from London.
Where to Stay
When it comes to a place to stay, tourists are spoilt for choice. Cyprus runs to every conceivable type of accommodation, from budget-priced two and three-star hotels to a growing range of upmarket hotels with four and five-star status. Construction of a modern new conference centre in Limassol is well under way, giving business visitors the ideal opportunity to mix business with pleasure. For tourists seeking peace and tranquillity off the beaten track, a growing number of villagers in rural Cyprus are opening up their homes and tables. Agro-tourism houses are available for rent all over the island, often in the most picturesque villages, and give the traveller a unique opportunity to experience authentic Cyprus village life.
Discover and Experience
Cyprus offers so much diversity and entertainment that you won’t waste a minute of your time on the island. From lounging on balmy beaches to discovering ancient settlements, hiking across forest paths or relaxing over a glass of Commandaria, there’s a whole world of amazing experiences to fit in to your visit. Add to that the famed Cypriot hospitality guaranteeing the warmest of welcomes by the locals, whether you’re exploring a mountain trail, a rural village or a city centre shopping street, and it’s easy to understand why most visitors start planning their return trip to Cyprus before they’ve even left the island the first time.
Updated July 2016