Sitting on crossroads of three continents on Earth, Cyprus is famous for at least one thing. The world knows it as Aphrodite’s birthplace. Tourists around the world recognize Cyprus as a land of immense beauty that can seduce even the grimmest of souls on this planet.
Compiling a list of best places to visit in Cyprus is like asking a kid to point out the stars that look most beautiful. The problem with Cyprus is that everything it has to offer is gorgeous. Be it the natural beauty or be it the cultural diversity, be it the layers of historical narratives or be it the taste-bud-seducing food – Cyprus points of interest are virtually endless.
Its rugged landscapes, vineyard-dotted mountains, shimmering blue seas, quaint monasteries to dazzling hotels – nothing fails to impress the travelers. But still, putting in some hard work makes room for a quick list of Cyprus destinations that shouldn’t be missed by anyone.
However, before starting with such a list, a quick look at some amusing and exciting facts about Cyprus will utterly make the day!
- Cyprus is home to the oldest water well in the whole of the world.
- In the Mediterranean, Cyprus is the third most populated and third largest island.
- Cyprus earned her independence from British rule on August 16th, 1960. However, the country celebrates its independence day on October 1st.
- During the Bronze Age and Copper Age, Cyprus was among one of the wealthiest nations in the whole world.
- According to legend, Aphrodite – Greek Love Goddess was born in Cyprus.
- It is an island nation, and hence, fishing should be one of the most important economic activities. Unfortunately, Cypriots don’t like fishing, and they presently don’t fish.
- The geographical shape of the island nation resembles that of a smoking pipe.
- Cyprus is home to Commandaria – the oldest wine label in the whole world. The brand came into existence some 5,000 years back in history.
Those facts should suffice for now as the list of best tourist attractions in Cyprus seeks attention.
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Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Cyprus
For an island nation, what could be a better way to start a travel bucket list than beginning with a seaside jewel? Paphos makes it to the list, and why wouldn’t it? What part of it couldn’t possibly impress someone?
A hint of Grecian flavor with bobbing fishing boats at a distance, alfresco food joints offering exquisite seafood, esplanades shaded with palm, overlapping Mediterranean waters kissing the cobalt – it is just the relaxing atmosphere one seeks by the sea.
But it’s not just about nature here. One can enter time machine by walking straight into the stone archways of Saranta Kolones castle of the medieval Byzantine era or merely roam around in the broadsides of Turkic Paphos Fortress that laying silent in ruins.
Or perhaps, one can slide into the Odeon from the second century and feel the musical vibrations of the past. If history suddenly gets too heavy, one can lighten the soul by slipping into the municipal Alykes Beach and touch the shifting sands underneath their bare feet.
Paphos undoubtedly remains one of the top attractions that Cyprus tourism has to offer.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Paphos
No, there aren’t words good enough to express the sheer beauty of Cyprus’ western tip, which goes by the name Akamas Peninsula. It is for the poetics and the individual types because this peninsula is the country’s least inhabited sites.
Cyprus travel is taken to a whole new level at the peninsula with ZERO paved roads, making it ideal for adrenaline addicts who prefer things like mountain biking or hiking. A trip to Akamas Peninsula gets further rewarding when an onlooker catches glimpses of native birds, reptiles, and sea turtles that show how pristine Nature is.
For those who want to play history buffs while being true explorers from within, the nearby Agios Andronikos is a place to be. Built-in the 16th century, it was initially a mosque but was later converted to a church.
Everyone knows the saying – ‘Old is Gold.’ Larnaca lives up to that saying – literally! Historians point out Larnaca as Cyprus’ oldest city with human settlement history that can be traced as far back as 6,000 years before the present. This experience itself makes Larnaca a town worth visiting.
However, if that isn’t interesting enough, how about a quick trip to the Salt Lake where pink flamingos woo every pair of eyes staring at them? No? Fine! How about Zenobia wreck resting beneath the waters? It is a primary attraction for the scuba divers looking for some fun in Cyprus.
Those who are history buffs can head for the Faneromeni Church of St. Lazarus Church to pick from pebbles of history as far back as the 9th century. Weird thing!
Travel to Cyprus cannot happen without being at Larnaca because that is where the island nation’s most prominent international airport is. Thus, Larnaca captures a position in the list of most extraordinary places to visit in Cyprus.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Larnaca
Read also: Top 15 Best Beaches in Europe to Visit
Cyprus travel for nightlife lovers cannot be complete without a trip to Ayia Napa. It is the place where everything post-sunset happens. It is a resort destination dotted with numerous clubs and bars that mostly stay open until the sun wakes up in the morning.
The atmosphere is vibrant and full of youthful energy. Alfresco drinking and thumping live music add to the overall fun. On the downside, the Square is pretty much crowded and hence, not a good choice for solitude seekers. But those who want to get the taste of both humming crowd and a hint of serenity, they can always head for Makronissos Beach or Grecian Bay or Nissi Beach – all of which will utterly make hearts stop for a moment or two.
And for history lovers? Yes, sir, Ayia Napa has something in store for them, as well. The Ayia Napa Monastery of 16th century is the right place to start, but the Thalassa Museum also does justice with a carefully curated exhibit of collections that explain the role the sea played in the development of this tourist heaven.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Ayia Napa
If one seeks magic among the ancient ruins, the Ancient Kourion is second to none, and a quick visit to the place will make travel to Cyprus even more memorable. Overlooking the majestic Mediterranean down below, the site gives a sweeping view of the countryside as well.
Sitting right on top of a coastal cliff, the major attractions of the site include the House of Eustolios and the Theater. Here one can witness the breathtaking preserved mosaics that are so majestic that feet will revolt against time and stay glued.
Those who break free can also head for Byzantine Basilica that displays the scraps of mosaic floor and tumbled columns while giving a breathtaking view of the blue Mediterranean waters kissing the blue horizon at a distance. Those who embark on Cyprus travel without putting Kourion on the list make a colossal mistake.
St. Hilarion Castle
If a tourist’s travel to Cyprus is inspired by castles, the one that is a must-see is the St. Hilarion Castle. No, it isn’t intact and well-preserved. It is in its ruins but still manages to be breathtakingly beautiful.
The St. Hilarion Castle was once a Crusader bastion, and today, it is the source of myths and local legends that linger around aplenty. One such fable is that a fairy queen once lived in the area who spent time charming the shepherds of the local areas. It was she who built this castle.
Though not something believable, the legend or myth is quite fascinating, and so are the rest of them: the limitless bulwarks and the chambers snaking uphill to reach the castle ruins.
Those who make it to the top get a bewitching view of a significant part of the island that, at a distance, fade into the blue elixir of the enchanting Mediterranean. The Mediterranean, in turn, amalgamates into the embowed horizon – creating a sense of a massive entity – the inseparable ether, aqua, and terra firma.
Another historical site that the country has to offer as one of the top places to visit in Cyprus is the Ancient Salamis. Holding as much historical importance as the Ancient Kourion, the Ancient Salamis is a place where one gets to wander among marble ruins.
The place has a genuinely layered history where one gets to see the grand and classical Hellenistic statuary, albeit with heads missing because somewhere down the line, the openly ambitious and over-jealous Christians just managed to hack the heads of those monumental statues.
Sitting right between the Gymnasium ruins, these statues tell the saga of religious conflicts. For those interested in Byzantine era can find substantial ruins of a couple of churches. Even the engineering skills of the ancients can be witnessed through the ruins of a humongous reservoir that scream the greatness of a city that once dotted the old timeline.