Cyprus Travel Guide

Cyprus Travel Guide

I’ve been to Cyprus several times and I really love this island. Cyprus is the easternmost Greek island that situated at the crossroads between East and West. In terms of culture, it is much closer to Europe, despite being divided into two parts. The entire island is filled with a wide range of natural and historic sites, mountain ridges, picturesque villages and lovely resort towns. With so many festivals throughout the year, traditions and myths, ruled by the hospitality and charm, Cyprus is a desired destination for many travelers.

Every stone here speaks of history. Homer once called Cyprus a “Forest covered island”. For centuries, Cyprus attracted, fascinated and inspired people. Sandy and rocky beaches, bright blue sea, picturesque villages, mountains covered with pine forests – there are so many things to do and to see. The tranquility and serenity of the villages are in striking contrast to bustling life in resort towns.

Transportation

Thanks to being under British rule in the past, the traffic here travels on the left side of the road. With no working railway system, buses connect all major cities in the Greek side of the island. So if you’re not planning to head for distant mountainous regions, the bus is the cheapest, and so far the most convenient option. Buses usually cost 1,5 EUR in a city, while intercity buses cost a few euros more. Airport shuttles cost between 8-15 EUR. Monthly pass depends on the destination and range from 70-130 EUR. Taxi fares start at about 3.50 EUR.

There are several border crossings between North and South Cyprus, which can be used to visit both sides of the island. When you cross the border you’ll have to fill in a piece of paper with your name and passport number. This paper is then stamped, but NOT your passport, while the details punched into a computer to record that you have crossed the border. I have to admit that Cyprus authorities aren’t feeling enthusiastic about border crossings. However, I haven’t heard of any difficulties with crossing the border here.

Once in Northern Cyprus you may want to get to Turkey. One of the possible ways is by ferry, which runs from Tasucu to Kyrenia 6 days a week.

The main airport in Northern Cyprus is the Ercan International Airport. All regular international flights outside of Turkey are not non-stop, they require an intermediate landing at a Turkish airport.

Accommodation

To save money on accommodation in Cyprus consider using Airbnb as it provides great options with prices starting from 24 EUR if you book in advance. While hostels aren’t as widespread as elsewhere expect to pay around 12 EUR per night for a dorm room. Even though WiFi is usually a standard option, it’s not common to find hostels with free breakfast. Budget hotels start at around 45 EUR for a twin/double and go up from there. For a private home or apartment, expect to pay at least 70 EUR per night.

Prices will be slightly lower outside of the major cities and tourist areas. There are several campsites across Cyprus offering basic facilities to those traveling with a tent. Campground prices start around 5 EUR per night. Most coastal campsites are quite busy in the summer months.

Food

With a wide variety of restaurants all over the island, you certainly won’t go hungry. As food is cheaper than in most northern European countries a full course meal will set you back around 13 EUR if you eat alone. If you go out for meze with homemade wine, then you should expect to spend around 45 EUR for two. Snacks, like souvlaki and sheftalia, cost 3-7 EUR almost everywhere.

Meat and fish dishes traditionally come with fries and vegetables. Fast food like McDonalds and Goody’s cost around 7 EUR. If you plan on buying your own groceries and cooking your own meals expect to pay between 53 EUR per week, depending on your diet. Local markets provide the cheapest and freshest food. Local wines like Commandaria are good value and will cost between 9-16 EUR.

How to do Cyprus on a budget

Try out Airbnb. If hotels or camping aren’t your options, Airbnb might be something you were looking for. As most popular accommodation options are usually reserved during high season, it is required to do some research and pick your option in advance. Some greatest options might be as low as 20 EUR a night for your own apartment.

Couchsurf. You just kill two birds with one stone by going couchsurf. Couchsurfing not only connects you with the residents who will give you a free place to stay, but also a local tour guide who can introduce you to all the great places to see.

Stay away from the main tourist areas. With the prices higher in resort towns, there are plenty of sites to explore in the middle of the island. Taverns and village restaurants outside of main beach resorts tend to offer lower food prices and larger portion sizes.

Prefer buying groceries in bigger supermarkets. Shops like Papantoniou, Lidl, Alpha-Mega or Phillippos or Carrefour allow you to save a lot of money and provide wider choice. For fruit and vegetables, try the fruit markets. They’re a fantastic experience and you’ll get some great bargains.

Attend the Cyprus Tourist Organization free tours. This is a great way to get acquainted with Cyprus architecture and culture. Can be found in most major cities, the tours are carried out by professional guides and give comprehensive advice on the history of the island.

Top Places To Visit In Cyprus

Machairas Monastery

Located 40 kilometers (25 mi) away from Nicosia, Machairas monastery is one of the oldest Orthodox monasteries in Cyprus. With around 25 monks living in the monastery, it dates back to the 12th century. Named after the Machairotissa icon it may take an entire day to explore this place. The monastery doesn’t charge an entrance fee and has its own winery. Since the monastery is located on the mountain top you can check out a picturesque view of the main road, the temple and the vineyards. It is possible to take a walk along the E4 hiking trail that starts near the monastery and leads to the village of Phicardou. The hiking will take about two hours one-way, but be ready to find a very pleasant tavern in Phicardou. You may also consider visiting Lasanias village as well that is located not so far from the monastery.

Pedoulas village

To take a break from the noisy and bustling beach life, Pedoulas, with its terraces tumbling down the hillside, might be a great option. Mostly famous for its painted church, Pedoulas is a great spot for outdoor lovers as it offers a wide range of nature trails not only for those who love hiking but also for those who love cycling as well. The village has several attractions, like the chapel of Archangelos Michael, which is listed in the World Heritage Monuments list, the local Byzantine museum and the Folkloric museum. As you explore, be sure to check the statue of Archbishop Makarios the Third on the main street, the large monument to Aristides Charalambous, a local man who fought for the independence, and the white Cross of Fithkia that dominates the entire area, can be found next to a modern chapel.

Phicardou village

A tiny old village has been declared an Ancient Monument to preserve the history of this place. The entire neighborhood is popular with filmmakers as a fine example of classic and ancient Cypriot village. You can cross an entire village within five minutes, and meet nobody but travelers. It is said that only few locals still live here. The village is famous for its rural buildings, the House of Katsiniorou, which is now a museum with furniture and accessories used in wine production.

Oleastro Olive Park

If you ever wondered how the olive oil is made than visit this park. Located halfway between Paphos and Lemesos, the museum walks you through the production secrets and the history of olive oil that dates back centuries. If you visit between October and late January you can see olive oil being extracted. The park consists of olive oil museum, gift shop, a tavern, an olive grove and a petting zoo, where anyone can feed a camel or a donkey. The admission fee is around 3 EUR.

Visit Caledonia and Millomeris Waterfalls

With a vertical drop of 50 feet (15 meters), Millomeris fall is the highest in Cyprus. Located on the Krios River it wasn’t easily accessible until recently. Now with the path to the waterfall cleared and the footbridge over the river bed being built it offers a nice walk through the woodland, traversing the river at various points. Not far from the Platres village there is a Caledonia fall, which is also worth visiting. Pano Platres provides several restaurants to try out including the one with trout dishes.

Mount Olympus

The culmination of the Troodos mountains and the only place in Cyprus to go skiing in winter. With the military installations located at the very top the area is still beautiful and has completely different climatic conditions. Due to cooler temperature and more humid air the snow usually lies thick from January to mid-March, making the mountain a nice place to spend winter skiing holidays here. Apart from ski lift and other suitable ski infrastructure, there are numerous hiking trails with spectacular scenery and cooler temperatures in summer compared to the coast. The Artemis and Atalante tracks are great for any type of hiker.

Panagia tou Sinti Monastery

This is a very “off the beaten track” place to go. The abandoned monastery of Panagia tou Sinti is located a few kilometers away from Pentalia Village, on the banks of Xeros river. Once built during the Venetian occupation, the main church building with cobbled stoned yard and the octagonal dome makes this place one unique, and not really popular among travelers. Not easily accessible, the complex of ancient buildings is a right place to take awesome photos!

Omodos

Yet another wine destination in Cyprus. While visiting the annual wine festival in Omodos is the best way to feel the spirit of the real Cyprus, it also has several museums and historic sites. The Timios Stavros Monastery, Museum of Byzantine icons and the Folk Art Museum can all be found in Omodos.

Kolossi Castle

The old Crusader stronghold, the Kolossi Castle is the spot to visit by ancient history lovers. Located just outside of Lemesos the castle is the most remarkable attraction in Cyprus and a reminder of Cyprus’ importance for the Medieval kings during the Crusades in the Holy Land. Once built with large limestone blocks the castle’s appeal is mostly down, but still worth visiting to check out lovely views from the observation deck at the top. The castle is also known as a birthplace of Commandaria wine. Not far from the castle there is a Limassol salt lake, which becomes a shelter for pink flamingos from November to April.

Amathus Ruins

Another spot to unwind after the day at the beach is Amathus Ruins. One of the oldest ancient settlements in Cyprus that is surrounded by myths and mostly destroyed during the Middle Ages, it still keeps the spirit of the place. The archaeological site has two main levels: the lower (agora) and upper city (acropolis). While there is a small admission fee for entering agora, go up the nearest hill to get amazing views of the Ruins and the Limassol outskirts just for free. The place can easily be reached by Limassol city bus 30.

Cape Greco

Escaping the clubbing crowds is not easy in the Cyprus’ buzzing south, except for one spot. The Cape Greco national park is a picturesque unspoilt area with several hiking trails that start just east of the resort town of Agia Napa. With all this Cavo Greco is the place of turquoise sea and numerous grottoes and caves located on the western side of the Cape. It might be a tough task to reach the caves from the top of the cape, so the boat is the main means of transport here. There is an observation deck in the northern part of the cape with a small chapel dedicated to Agioi Anargyroi, which can be used as a starting point before you go down the stairs located on the edge of the area to the cave and a tiny rocky beach.

Bellapais Abbey

Just a few kilometers away from Kyrenia in Northern Cyprus, there is a Bellapais Abbey mentioned by Lawrence Durrell in his book entitled Bitter Lemons. Located in the village of the same name, it is the first Catholic abbey in Cyprus dates back to the 13th century. Due to exquisite architecture, it was called Abbaie de la Pais or the Abbey of the world and fit well into the landscape of Cyprus. Apart from the well-preserved main church only the refectory has survived until the present time. The complex is used today due to its amazing acoustics so classical music festivals are held annually. Be sure to get to the second floor of the Abbey with its views of the remarkable landscape. While there are no bus routes here, the only two possible options to get there are by taxi or on foot.

Turkish side of Nicosia

The only European capital city divided into two parts has a lot of sites to visit. Since the Greek side is more popular with travelers and offers a bunch of great locations, the Turkish side is home to cultural diversity. Start your trip with visiting the Caravanserai (or the Inn) Buyuk Han that was built in the early years of Ottoman rule and used by the merchants who arrived in Nicosia with the goods. The inn slightly resembles a fortress as it was supposed to guarantee the security of the rich merchants. Today, Buyuk Han is a great place to enjoy the architecture and take cool photos. Another spot in Northern Nicosia to see is the former St. Sophia Cathedral, currently Selimiye Mosque. Being one the most beautiful Gothic buildings in Cyprus it dates back to the reign of Lusignan. After the conquest of Nicosia the Cathedral was converted into a Mosque, it gained two minarets. To feel the spirit of mystical Medieval Turkey visit the wax museum of whirling dervishes. Once a powerful Mevlevi order it was outlawed in Turkey in 1925. However, the ceremonies still take place in Istanbul and Konya. The Turkish Bath is something that delivers great joy after prolonged walking. Buyuk Hamam, located three metres below road level, uses the basement of a 14th century Lusignan church, St George of the Latins. Scrubbing, washing and foam massage to relax and feel refreshed.

Tombs of the Kings in Paphos

The tombs were hewn out of solid rock, while some of them still have columns and fresco painting. The necropolis has gained its name due to its monumental forms and splendor decorations. Some of the tombs are more like an underground hall with columns than a tomb. The catacombs date back to the time of the Roman Empire and the Hellenistic period. The Tombs of the Kings are located in the northern part of the New Paphos and can be reached by bus 615. Consider visiting the Tombs in the afternoon when the heat is not too intense.

Share5
Tweet
+11
Pin1
Stumble