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With fascinating history, delicious food and endless sandy beaches, a holiday to Cyprus is always a winner.
Most head to Cyprus for its long, dazzling coastline, where the sun shines 300-plus days a year and the Mediterranean is a blissful shade of blue. The white sands of Coral Bay and Protaras are popular with families, while revellers flock to lively Nissi Bay and Ayia Napa, which tick all the boxes for a party-filled getaway.
Step away from the resorts, though, and you’ll discover an island of ancient ruins and relics. From the sprawling old city of Nea Paphos Archaeological Park to the ancient kingdom of Kourion, Cyprus is up there with the likes of Italy and Greece when it comes to historical sites.
Its recent history is just as intriguing. The island has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus. Today, the north of Cyprus remains occupied without international recognition, with the Green Line, a United Nations buffer zone, dividing the predominantly Turkish-speaking north from the rest of the country.
Despite this, it’s perfectly safe to visit the north using the seven border crossings – wandering north Nicosia’s old town alleyways and visiting the Selimiye Mosque are common day trips. The south of the island is busier as a holiday destination, but you should consider booking a beach holiday in the north if you like a wilder coastline. Kyrenia (Girne) and Bafra are popular spots for package holidays.
For hiking and outdoor adventures, head inland to the Troodos Mountains. Trails for hiking and biking trace a wild countryside, dotted with Byzantine churches and mountain villages. Here, you’ll see a different side of Cyprus; the local food and wine served in the tavernas are as authentic as you’re likely to find.
With a choice of sandy beaches, watersports and plenty of restaurants, Protaras and Fig Tree Bay are great for a family holiday. Beaches here get busy in peak season, but the shallow waters and hotels with kids' clubs make it worth the crowds.
On the other side of the island, Coral Bay and Paphos have great beaches for young children and many family-friendly hotels. Stay here and you can easily explore the archaeological sites. Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark is also nearby for a fun day out.
Large resorts in Larnaca and Paphos often have affordable accommodation, and you can keep costs down by comparing holidays well in advance and travelling outside peak season. Polis also has nice beaches, traditional restaurants and a good range of affordable accommodation.
Up in the Troodos Mountains, meanwhile, the villages are full of rustic hotels and guesthouses – ideal if walking, cycling and wildlife are your thing.
For cheap beach holidays in the north, Famagusta or the coast around Kyrenia (Girne) are good options. Here, you’re more likely to find a quiet spot to enjoy the sand and sea.
All-inclusive holidays in Cyprus span a wide range, from family-friendly resorts to romantic adults-only retreats. Not surprisingly, all-inclusive accommodation tends to be in beach resorts, such as Larnaca, Protaras and Ayia Napa.
For a cheap all-inclusive holiday, consider Paphos. If you’re pushing the boat out and want five-star luxury, search around Limassol.
Tourist resorts such as Paphos, Protaras and Larnaca are made for beach holidays and they have a wide selection of sandy shores with sunbeds, bars and watersports. Hire a car and you can easily explore the island’s more remote beaches when you fancy a break from the hustle of the main towns.
In the north, the coast near Kyrenia (Girne) has the family-friendly Escape Beach Club and Acapulco Beach (during turtle nesting season, Alagadi Beach closes).
With more than 3,000 years of stories to discover, Paphos is one of Cyprus’ most important historical cities. Stay here, and you’ll be close to the Nea Paphos Archaeological Park, the Tombs of the Kings, the Sanctuary of Aphrodite and Chrysopolitissa Basilica.
Limassol is another lively city with an ancient old town. Take time to visit the Cyprus Medieval Museum inside the castle and the Archaeological Museum. A short drive away, ancient Kourion is a must-see.
Ayia Napa is the obvious choice if you’re in Cyprus to party – it has bars, beach parties and clubs open that go well into the early hours. You have stacks of accommodation to choose from, whether you’re seeking simple apartments, all-inclusive resorts or cheap hostels.
Paphos, Protaras and Larnaca all have plenty of bars and restaurants, but the vibe isn’t as wild as Ayia Napa. That said, if you’re after a late night, you won’t have to look too hard.
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