The island of Cyprus has been a popular holiday destination for generations, famed for its warming sunshine, generous hospitality, splendid beaches, tumbling headlands and hidden coves. It may surprise you, however, to discover that the island is also an open-air museum – the Greeks, Persians, Romans, Phoenicians, Normans, Venetians, Turks and British have all left their mark. And, it’s steeped in contrasts: lively resort to natural serenity, cacophonous street life to ageless village silence, World Heritage Sites to modern ports and attractions. Let the third largest island in the Mediterranean capture your heart; as they say: ‘nobody comes to Cyprus once’.
Direct flights connect the UK to Cyprus throughout the year. The island’s winter is short and mild, although snow can be found on the higher peaks. Spring brings with it glorious swathes of flora and the perfect conditions for walkers and nature lovers. At this time of year, head to the Akamas National Park, a virtually unblemished landscape and to the tranquil valleys of the Troodos Mountains. The beach and deep blue sea will beckon during the sun-drenched summer months, or head inland and cool off in the shade of Mount Olympus. Autumn offers a mellow warmth and an abundance of local festivals to experience and enjoy.
Stretches of golden sand, deserted beaches and picturesque coves can all be found on Cyprus. Some have watersports others are lined by local tavernas or backed by the wild nature. In the summer months, Green turtles and Loggerhead turtles can be observed burying their eggs on the beaches of Ã¯Â¿Â½Lara and Toxeftra.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Cyprus is a melting pot of cultures and the crossroads between east and west. Across the island are sites of historical and archaeological importance including 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Not to be missed are the remains of ancient Neo Paphos (Aphrodite’s Sacred City) at Kato Paphos, the Temple of Aphrodite and Old Paphos at Kouklia and the painted churches in the Troodos Region. You can even visit Choirokoitia, a Neolithic settlement dating from the 7th century BC.
Flora and fauna
TheÃ¯Â¿Â½ Troodos Geopark is considered one of the most important mountain habitats for plants in the whole of Europe.
Wine and gastronomy
The gastronomy of Cyprus reflects its history and influences – the ingredients of Greece and the Mediterranean spiced with a dash of the Orient. Order a mezedes at a local taverna and receive dish after dish of mouth wateringly-delicious different tastes – vegetables, fish, meat, grains and sweets.
The wine villages of Cyprus are located north of Limassol, on the southern slopes of the Troodos mountain range. Viticultre on the island dates back some 5000 years but, we can assure you that it is not an industry stuck in the past. Improvements in technology and the establishment of small boutique producers has elevated Cyprus’s reputation as a wine producing region to amongst the best in the world.
The autumn months bring with them the harvest and a host of local food festivals. Visit the Troodos Mountains at this time of year and experience a side of Cyprus that will reward you with an insight into Cypriot culture and will leave you feeling enriched. Festivals include: Galata food festival; the grape festivals of Vasa Koilaniou, Lofou, Arsos and Koilani; the pastelli (sesame biscuit) festival in Anogyra; the apple festival in Kyperounta; the honey festival in Miliou and Zivania (local fire water) festival in Alona and Pelendri.
It takes a mere step away from the popular tourist resorts to encounter the real Cyprus, a land of sleepy villages and age-old customs. Distances are short and with driving on the left-hand side of the road, it is easy to explore and discover the geographical and cultural diversities. Why not combine a stay on the beach, with Nicosia – Europe’s only divided capital or the mountains?
Direct flights operate from most UK airports to Paphos and/or Larnaca. The flying time is 4 to 4 Ã¯Â¿Â½ hours.
For more details and #HolidayInspirations, ask about Sunvil’s holidays to the real Cyprus at Baldwins Travel Group. www.baldwinstravel.co.uk