Cyprus is a dangerous tourist destination – once you get to enjoy it, you never want to leave. This island country, which has the third-largest population of all the islands in the Midettarranean, has exotic well-developed beaches, classic and medieval antiquities, ancient ruins, palaces, temples, and recreational sites.
With that being said, it’s no wonder that Cyprus ranks as the 40th most popular travel destination in the world, which 4 million tourists visit annually. Just like its changing weather, the tourism scene in Cyprus doesn’t stay still. Don’t stop reading. This article highlights the top-rated Cyprus attractions that never fail to amaze first-time travelers.
Cyprus boasts pretty beaches that become more enticing with the existence of nearby ruins of temples, castles, and churches. Adding to these treasures is the fun bustle of Cypriot cities and towns. Since Cyprus isn’t that big, you don’t have to experience long drowsy trips to transfer from one tourist attraction to another. In fact, though trips are short, they’re nevertheless fun because Cypriot highways provide scenic cliffside and seaside views.
There are lots of things that you can do in Cyprus. That’s why it’s best to apportion your vacation for recreation, sightseeing, culture, and relaxing based on which Cypriot attraction you want to vis.
The best places for recreation in Cyprus are:
• Athalassa National Park
• Akamas National Park
• Nissi Beach
• Coral Bay
• Fig Tree Beach
For relaxation, Cypriot attractions for you are:
• Aphrodite’s Rock Beach
• Blue Lagoon Beach
Cyprus also reaches in cultural attractions too and these are the places that await your visit:
• Cyprus State Museum
• Nea Paphos
• Painted Churches of Troodos Mountain
• Ruined Temple of Apollo Hylates
Athalassa National Park
The Athalassa National Park is an 840-hectare forest park in Nicosia, 41 minutes away east of Nicosia International Airport. This national park plays a vital role in Cyprus’ tourism because it’s one of the state’s two areas that have the abundant growth of indigenous and endemic trees, shrubs, and herbs.
Cycling is the most popular activity in Athalassa National Park. There are numerous paved trails for you to follow with a bike that will take you along the forest section, the lake section, the shrubs section, and the herbs section. In total, the paved biking trails extend to 15 kilometers.
Aside from the biking trail, Athalassa National Park has a mini-museum. The mini-museum displays fossils, samples, and specimens of the flora and fauna that dwells in Athalassa National Park. There’s also the Center and Agios Georgios Park, where you can enjoy film shows, trekking, and interactive botanical classes.
Akamas National Park
Akamas National Park 230-square kilometer peninsula that’s on the northwestern tip of Cyprus. Plato himself provided accounts on how Akamas look like. Thus, making this place one of the oldest Cypriot locations that the ancients were privy to.
Though not as big as Athalassa, Akamas National Park goes head to head with its flora and fauna. 530 indigenous plants are waiting for you here. Some of the flowers that you shouldn’t miss are the autumn flowering cyclamens, the petite alyssum, and the ox-blood Cyprus tulip.
Fauna thrives wonderfully in Akamasa due to the balanced ecosystem that the numerous plants provide. Animals that you can meet here are foxes, bats, hedgehogs, Cyprus warblers, and Cyprus scop owls.
You can take pictures and touch the animals and the plants. However, Akamas has strict policies that prevent damage to the integrity of its environment. Therefore, never pick the flowers and feed the animals. Sanctions apply if you fail to follow this simple rule.
The Nissi Beach is a 500-meter long beach that sits on Ayia Napa, a resort town in the Famagusta district, 1 hour away from Nicosia. Though the urbanization of Ayia Napa is heavy, hotels and restaurants’ presence doesn’t destroy the sights of Nissi beach because they’re far away from the shore.
The scene in Nissi Beach will strongly remind you of Hawai – jet ski’s cruising from a distance, windsurfers enjoying their time on mid-portion of the beach, and people happily lying on the sands or the recliners that populate the shore. Local DJs also crash in and initiate beach parties.
Nissi beach isn’t what you would call a peaceful beach. There’s always something happening wherever you look. It’s a great place to visit if you want to meet other tourists before transforming your vacation into something more laidback and restful.
Aphrodite's Rock Beach
Aphrodite’s Rock Beach is a tranquil beach that’s on the shores of the road that connects Limassol and Paphos. It’s famous for the oval rock formation near its shore that people refer to as Aphrodite’s Rock. The rock’s name might have come from the legend, which states that it was part of the shell where the Goddess Aphrodite came from.
Whether the legend is true or not, Aphrodite’s Rock and the beach where it stands are as beautiful as the Goddess of Love. The waves create foams upon touching the shore, the water reminds you of the tranquility of the mid-day sky, and the sands invite you to lie down for a while, close your eyes, and rest.
Blue Lagoon Beach
The Blue Lagoon is the largest natural bay of the Akamas Peninsula and is part of the Akamas National Park. It’s famous for its waters that stay unusually warm compared to the other bays on Akama’s coast. For this reason, Blue Lagoon Beach serves as an always agreeable swimming spot regardless of which month you decide to visit.
A thin shoreline that a rocky border surrounds makes Blue Lagoon special. The thin shoreline is okay because you won’t spend your time sunbathing. After all, the rocky border casts shadows on the shore. You’ll spend your time swimming on the Blue Lagoon beach most of the time – exploring the coral reefs underneath the water or taking a dip in the water near the shore.
Blue Lagoon Beach is also part of Ayia Napa. Therefore, head to it after you have tried out Aphrodite’s Rock Beach.
The coral bay is a 600-meter long beach in Paphos that begins and ends in limestone headlands. Its terrain consists of sea caves, a soft shoreline, rocky headlands, restaurants, cafes, and hotels near the shore. Coral Bay offers quick access to great accommodations such as Ningaloo Reef Resort and Hotel and St.Georges Beach Club Resort.
Activities in Coral Bay are the same as the activities in Nissi Beach. Even so, choosing Coral Bay over the other is advantageous if you’re aiming to stay in hotels that provide a wonderful view of a golden coastline during the sunrise and the sunset.
Fig Tree Beach
The Fig Tree Beach is an all-time favorite travel destination in the Protaras Municipality of Cyprus. It once became the third best beach in Europe and has continued to be the third-best beach globally. Fig Tree beach attracts tourists with its fig-filled coastline and cerulean water.
Just like Nissi Beach, hotels and restaurants are far away from the shore. The only amenities that you can immediately find are small parasol-installed cottages. On the water is an inflatable obstacle course where you can take a plunge towards the pristine deeps.
Fig Tree beach isn’t exactly a white sand beach. Its shoreline has a bit of a brown shade and feels coarse on the feet. Nevertheless, it stretches far and makes for an ideal walking or biking excursion you’re tired of swimming. If you the equipment with you, beach volleyball, frisbee, and badminton are also worthwhile activities.
The Cyprus Museum is an institution in Cyprus that houses the most important Cypriot artifacts. Its architecture follows modern and classic architecture, wherein the entrance highly resembles that of the Athena Parthenos. This museum is Cyprus’s capital, Nicosia.
Fourteen rooms comprise the layout of the Cyprus Museum. Each displays artifacts from the periods of Cyprus prehistory and history. Things for you to see are Roman and Greek limestone and marble statues, neolithic age potteries and figurines, sarcophagi, and ancient tablets.
Though it looks large on the outside, Cyprus Museum has very limited space on the inside. That’s why consider coming here early to get good shots of the artifacts. Cyprus Museum opens at 8:00 a.m and closes at 6:00 pm Tuesday-Friday. On Saturdays, it opens at 9:00 and closes at 5:00 pm. The entrance is open from 10:00 a.m up to 1:00 pm on Sundays.
The Nea Paphos is a ruin that once served as a major Roman and Greek city in Paphos, a coastal city in Cyprus. This ruin dates back to the 4th B.C. Archeologists uncovered numerous ancient Roman and Greek buildings here. Some of the most notable finds are the House of Dionysus, the House of Aion, and the House of Theseus – all of which contained well-preserved relief paintings.
Paphos is a dry city, especially during the summer months. That’s why Nea Paphos can be very hot at noon, and visiting it during this time isn’t good. To explore the place well, schedule your visit in the afternoon or the late morning. This way, the sun won’t batter you while you’re exploring the site.
Painted Churches of Troodos Mountains
Atop the Troodos Mountains of central Cyprus is a collection of 10 Byzantine Churches with colorful frescoes on their interiors that people generally call the Painted Churches of Troodos Mountains. With their frescoes, the Painted Churches of Troodos Mountains are Cyprus’ version of the Sistine Chapel but with paintings on their walls aside from their ceilings.
The paintings show the figure of saints and angels. Most are still in wonderful condition, and the shades of different colors haven’t faded yet. Together, the paints on the walls and ceilings make the churches feel enigmatic. This might be due to the optical illusion that the combination of artistic elements from the paintings gives-off.
Ruined Temple of Apollo Hylates
The Ruined Temple of Hylates serves as evidence of Greek influence on ancient Cyprus. Though there’s nothing much to see except the pillars, visiting the Ruined Temple of Apollo Hylates is great because it will teach a lot about how ancient Cyprus venerated the Apollo as the god of the sun and as the god of the woodlands.
Walk around and see the landscaping, which tells much about what happened in the temple during ancient times. The layout of the temples consists of several monuments as well as passageways. Religious activities that happened in the past are parades, processions, and dances that ended or commenced on the ruined temple altar.
Moreover, Apollo Hylates is the source of artifacts that are on the Cyrus Museum Right now. On its Votive Pit, archeologists found several clay figurines and potteries. These finds denote that the Ruined Temple of Apollo Hyllates once served as a core religious center for Apollo’s worship during Cyprus’ ancient days.