The Greek south of Cyprus has sat uncomfortably alongside Turkish North Cyprus since 1973, when the Mediterranean island was divided. This situation, possibly on the verge of resolution, makes an intriguing backdrop to any exploration of Cyprus, where modern history merges with some of the oldest relics in the region – just take a look at Kourion, where remains date back to the 13th century BC.
Cyprus can be extremely touristy – coastal hotspots such as Agia Napa, Lemesos and Larnaca are brash and over developed. But move away from these resorts and you’ll find Cyprus has a mountainous interior, great for hiking and cycling, and small villages clustered around Orthodox churches, the perfect place to hole up in a taverna and relax.
Summer (June-August) is hot in Cyprus, with temperatures over 30°C. It’s also peak holiday season; Cyprus’s resorts are packed. Spring and autumn are more pleasant, and good for walking; April and May see the Cyprus hills covered in wildflowers.
Turtles can be seen on Cyprus’s beaches: females come ashore to lay in May, with eggs hatching a month or two later. Winter, from December to March can be cold, especially in the mountains.
Larnaca International (LCA) 4km from Larnaca, Paphos International (PFO) 6.5km from Paphos
Roads are generally good and distances short, so getting around Cyprus is easy. It’s best to hire a car, so you can explore Cyprus properly, especially for getting into the Troödos Mountains where there is no public transport.
Buses in Cyprus are frequent and well timed and good for getting around less rural areas, though do not run on Sundays. There are no trains.
There are plenty of villas and package-hotel options in Cyprus – most of the mid-range options will have swimming pools; these will get booked up quickly in July/August.
B&Bs in Cyprus are known as agrotourism; these are often renovated Cypriot village houses in rural locations with self-catering facilities – you will need a car.
At the extreme ends of the scale, Cyprus has a few hostels and campsites, as well as some luxurious five-star properties.
Food in Cyprus is delicious, with lots of fresh vegetables, fresh fish and tasty dips. Cyprus’s taverna-style restaurants are usually laid-back and welcoming, offering a range of typically Greek dishes: souvlaki (skewered meat), haloumi (squeaky cheese), dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), calamari.
Other Cyprus favourites include trahana (a yoghurty soup) and tava (lamb and beef stew). Vegetarians will find enough meat-free meze dishes to fill them up.
Coffee is generally black and strong – ask for it ‘glykos’ if you want sugar. KEO beer is the local brew, or try the palatable Cypriot wines.
No specific jabs are required for Cyprus. Take sunscreen and a hat to combat the summer sun.
If walking in the countryside, be wary of snakes (there are three poisonous types on Cyprus) – wear boots and socks, and don’t put your hands into crevices.
Tick-borne diseases can be caught in Cyprus – wear repellent and check your body for ticks after your walk.
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