Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean with beautiful beaches and mountains and is very rich with history. It dates back to the Neolithic times and has been occupied but the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Alexander the Great, Ptolemaic Egypt, the Roman Empire, Arab caliphates, the French Lusignan dynasty, the Venetians, and then the Ottoman Empire until it was placed under British administration in 1878. It was then granted independence in 1960. The city of Nicosia is divided and was not free to walk between the Turkish and the Greek sections until 2003.
It is a great place to go if you love adventure, there is so much to do:
- See the Kykkos Monastery in the Troodos Mountains. It is said to be the wealthiest Greek Orthodox monastery and if you are there early enough you can see the monks in their morning prayers. Also there is a Byzantine Museum with artifacts.
- The same mountains have the ten Byzantine painted churches with their wall frescoes that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List
- Explore the villages in which little has changed over the generations. And given how many years the island has been inhabited, the architecture is influenced by many cultures. You can find some wonderful crafts made by hand as well.
- Go to the Akamas for a hiking adventure. The Avakas Gorge is some beautiful hiking in spring. Visit the turtle conservation project at the Lara headlands. l See the Karavopetres, ‘the Sailing Ship Rocks.’ And while you’re there, visit the small chapel of Panayia tou Vlou, the Byzantine church of the Virgin Mary of the Blind, to have your eye problems miraculously cured. And if you’re up for more adventure, drive up to the Cape Aranouti and see the mythology with the Fontana Amorosa and the Baths of Aphrodite.
- Go snorkeling or scuba diving at the wreck of the MS Zenobia which is off the coast of Larnaca.
Photo courtesy of Gloria Travel Services
- Visit the capital of Nicosia where you can see the city divided between the Turkish Cypriots in the north and the Greek Cypriots in the south. The city is the only divided city in the world. The division was opened up in 2003. Stand on the 11th floor of the Shacolas Tower to see a panoramic view of Nicosia and visit the Great Inn, a 16th century Ottoman Inn.
Photo courtesy of Visit North Cyprus
- If you like acoustics, visit the Curium, where it is said that you can speak quietly in the center of the stage and be heard at the farthest reaches of the theatre. They hold productions there often.
- Take a walk on the Limassol Coastal Walk and pass the beaches, gardens, sculptures, and the archeological site of Ancient Amathus.
- Go Skiing on Mount Olympus!
Photo courtesy of CypLive
- Visit the donkeys on the Karpas peninsula. Someone shot some of them and it united the Greek and Turkish Cypriots through Facebook to protect the donkeys who roam freely around the peninsula.
- Visit the Bellapais Abbey, a 12th century French Gothic Abbey in the Five Finger Mountains which was said to inspire Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle
- Go to Paphos, the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its remains of ancient villas, theatres, fortresses, tombs, and mosaics.
- Go to an old restored Turkish Bath at Omeriye Hamam in Nicosia. hamambaths.com
Photo courtesy of About Travel
Make sure you try the Mezé, which is the traditional meal of Cyprus. It starts with a salad, dips and bread, then seasonal veggies, seafood, and then a meat and pasta dish, a meat dish, and for dessert, a bowl of chilled fruit.
Also try the wine. Cyprus was the first country in Europe to produce wine, since 3500 BC, and has several family-run wineries.
If you’ve been to Cyprus, let us know how it was in the comments!