Holidays in Cyprus
Cyprus Holidays at a glance
A small country, but a big island with a huge, welcoming heart, Cyprus is among the most popular of holiday destinations for British travellers. Just when you think you have the measure of it, Cyprus turns up something else to beguile or enchant; you can be in the heart of a touristy resort along the southern coastline one day and the next cycling or hiking through the beautiful, unspoilt acres of the Troodos Massif, your senses arrested by the unfamiliar sights, sounds and scents. From tip to toe, wherever you are, the island of Cyprus offers endless opportunities to be active and try something new, whether it be wind or kite-surfing, paint-balling or diving down to explore a wreck or ancient ruin. Reliable sunshine and delicious local cuisine complete the prescription for holiday heaven.
At a little under 1000 kms square, and shaped like a flying squirrel, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, after Sicily and Sardinia. With her nearest neighbours being Turkey, Syria, Israel and Egypt, geographically Cyprus is in Asia, though, politically, she belongs in Europe. Many people associate the island solely with Greece 800 kms to the west, but her tangled 11-thousand year history has resulted in shared control by Greece and Turkey, with a couple of British bases thrown in for good measure. Home to a strong ex-pat community, the latter's' influence is very evident with 90% of the population able to speak English. Driving is also on the left, and many familiar UK brands have set up shop on the island. As a consequence, Cyprus remains one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe among British travellers and the nightlife in the main coastal resorts is as vibrant and exciting as any you could find. But there is so much more to be discovered and whatever your passion - or your pocket - Cyprus will not disappoint. Olympic Holidays has an unbeatable range of Cyprus package holidays offering everything from all inclusive holidays in Cyprus to budget Cyprus holidays.
Cyprus Holidays - Destination Profile
Reputedly the birthplace of Aphrodite, goddess of love, there is much to satisfy the romantic on this sun-blessed island of contrasts, whether in the verdant, pine-scented foothills of the arresting Troodos mountains, or the enchanting harbours where traditional wooden boats are bobbing on the rippling water awaiting their day's passengers. Cyprus offers a world of exceptional beaches and warm, welcoming seas and has always been popular for a perfect beach break, but venture inland and you will find yourself on winding roads taking you through dense forest, heading towards the magnificent mountain peaks. Tucked neatly into the landscape, old stone villages invite you to stop awhile and sample the local wines which flow as freely as the locals' conversation.
A history lover's paradise too, you won't have to travel far to see some of the ancient ruins that speak of the island's rich and complicated historical heritage. From hidden Venetian bridges and ancient tombs, castles and monasteries, to elaborate mosaics of mythology, the past continuously pushes through to bump shoulders with the present.
Cyprus holidays offer great diversity and a number of resorts catering for a wide range of interests and tastes:
Paphos has a main tourist area, Kato Paphos, with a seafront of palms where the strong British influence is evident in full English breakfasts and UK-style pubs. But the buildings of the back streets return you to the cultural past and the old town is a much quieter area with some good hotels and old colonial architecture. Nearby is Paphos Archaelogical site, one of the south's richest historical heritage spots.
Growing in popularity, Protaras is an ideal resort for family or romantic holidays. It offers safe beaches and smart hotels, and a good selection of shops and restaurants around the main boulevard.
Made up of a busy city, edged by a long and popular beach, Limassol is a vibrant cosmopolitan resort. Visitors enjoy a large pedestrianized area around the castle, and a wide range of places to eat or drink. The new promenade and marina add to its appeal while historic sites and the mountains are within easy reach.
The perfect beaches of this former fishing village have catapulted Ayia Napa to pole position for party places in Europe. With hundreds of bars and clubs, it attracts the young and lively like Odysseus to the Sirens. Its focal point is the central square, with pedestrianized streets surrounding it. But, in spite of its reputation of being a giant disco, there is still much to satisfy history lovers in its monastery, museum and ancient tombs.
Polis is a firm favourite among the Cypriots themselves as this small town offers some good hotels and restaurants. It's a great starting point for walking or cycling holidays in the Akamas, and it remains largely unspoilt. It is situated in the wide Chrysohou bay along the northwest coastal stretch. Diving, parasailing and other watersports along with pony trekking help to make this area popular with outdoor types.
Larnaca is a town that works hard to hang on to its authentic roots, with old crafts still used and traditional houses holding fast among the unassailable growth of more modern developments. The liveliest area is around the main seafront promenade where restaurants and family-owned businesses ply their trade, but the atmosphere is calm and it has a genuine community feel. Magnificent Neolithic sites are nearby and some fascinating natural formations can be seen along the coast.
So, whether you are in need of a touch of R&R on a secluded beach followed by a peaceful evening meal overlooking a stunning view, or you want to fill your day with action and then dance the night away in one of the numerous clubs or discos, Cyprus can oblige.
For sports lovers, sightseers, and pleasure seekers, Cyprus holidays are hard to beat; with a wealth of historic treasures and archaeological attractions, you could fill a fortnight on this island with cultural enrichment alone. Your holiday could begin and end with sporty action, or you could dedicate each day to chilling out. Your choice.
Cheap Cyprus Holidays at Olympic Holidays
Book cheap Cyprus holidays with Olympic Holidays the leading specialist tour operator to Cyprus and Greece with over 45 years expertise in offering quality package holidays to Cyprus at great value. In addition to Cyprus package holidays, we have an excellent range of cheap flights to Cyprus and hotels in Cyprus. For great value Cyprus holidays book online or call our reservations team, lowest price guaranteed!!!
Holidays in Cyprus - Things to see
For sightseeing, Cyprus holidays are hard to beat with a wide variety of sights and attractions. Whatever type of holiday you choose to Cyprus, it will be enriched by visiting the fascinating historic sites. Listed below are just a few of the many cultural and historic places well worth a visit :-
Baths of Aphrodite: Legend has it that Aphrodite, goddess of love, would bathe in the pool of this natural grotto, situated in Polis, in the shade of fig trees. It is an area of natural beauty surrounded by a pretty botanical garden. There are also a number of natural trails leading from the baths.
Kolossi Castle: Originally constructed in the 13th century and subsequently rebuilt in the middle of the 15th, this fortified tower has housed the Grand Commander of the Knights Templar and been headquarters to the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. It is accessible by crossing a drawbridge and the battlements are also reachable by a spiral staircase. It contains a mural of the crucifixion.
Kourion: Founded in Neolithic times, Limassol's Kourion is an ancient city in a spectacular location overlooking the sea. There are well-preserved mosaics, early Christian basilica and a magnificent amphitheatre, used today for al fresco opera performances.
Larnaca Fort: Erected in 1625 by the Turks, the fort is now a museum and its inner courtyard is used as an open-air theatre during summer months.
Mosaics of Paphos: Considered among the finest in the Eastern Mediterranean, the mosaics depict scenes from Greek mythology.
Neolithic Site of Choirokoitia: One of the best preserved historic settlements in the Mediterranean, this Unesco World Heritage Site of over 50 cylindrical stone and mud dwellings and preserved utensils reveals a surprisingly sophisticated lifestyle. Reconstructions give further insight to life long ago. Over 20 skeletons, including those of infants, were found buried beneath the dwellings.
Petra Tou Romiou: In legend, the birthplace of Aphrodite, it is also known as Aphrodite's Rock and Beach. Waves crash over the rock and are said to form a pillar of foam in human outline; most impressive at sunset, but worth coming earlier for a day on the beach with a picnic.
Pierides Museum: The museum in Larnaca houses unique archaeological, medieval, post-Byzantine and Cypriot folk art collected by five consecutive generations of the Pierides family. It also holds an old arsenal and a rich collection of old cartography of Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Tombs of the Kings: Spread over a vast area in Paphos, these impressive underground tombs date back to the 4th century BC. They are carved out of solid rock and some of the tombs are decorated with Doric pillars. High officials rather than kings were buried here - it is their magnificence which accounts for the name.
The Paleo Enklistra: Located just outside Kouklia and south west of Paphos is Paleo Enklistra. This Byzantine cave-hermitage has a fifteenth century depiction of the Holy Trinity on its ceiling.
Monastery of Ayia Napa: Set in central Ayia Napa this beautiful Venetian style medieval church comes as a surprise as it stands defiantly amongst the bars and clubs of the area.
Avgas Gorge: Located north of Paphos on the unhinhabited Alkamas pensinsular the natural wonder that is the Avgas Gorge is the most spectacular gorge in the region and is very popular with hikers.
Things to do on a Holiday in Cyprus
Cavo Greco: A National Forest Park at the southeastern end of the island between Ayia Napa and Paralimni. The uniqueness of the area is due not only to its natural beauty but also the wide range of activities available: swimming, diving, towed parachute, fishing, rowing, cycling, riding, climbing and hiking.
Diving: There are over forty different dive sites in Cyprus. Around Latchi and Akamas you will find the best scuba diving available anywhere in Cyprus with crystal clear water and no tides or strong currents to worry about.
Golf: Cyprus has a growing reputation as a holiday mecca for golfers; there are three 18-hole courses within a short drive from Paphos. The Aphrodite Hills hotel has an 18-hole standard championship golf course that follows the scenic contours of the two plateaux divided by a central ravine. A premier Golf Academy and Pro Shop are there to enhance the golf experience while the Clubhouse offers enticing specialities and a breathtaking view to the golf course. The Tsada Golf Club near Tsada village is the oldest course in Cyprus and is set in the grounds of a twelfth century monastery. Slightly further away is the Secret Valley Golf Club, about 18 km east of Paphos.
Hiking: The Akamas peninsular is an excellent area for walking holidays in Cyprus as it is virtually untouched by tourism and development. Further afield, in the breathtaking Troodos Mountains, there are innumerable interesting walks.
Horse riding: Well-organised facilities, riding clubs and a network of bridal paths make horse-riding a very pleasurable way to take in Cyprus' natural assets.
Mountain biking: Cyprus is a haven for serious cyclists, with an exciting and varied terrain and many trails, tracks and twisty roads. The mild winters enable the sport to be enjoyed throughout most of the year.
Watersports: For active Cyprus holidays the fabulous sparkling warm sea brings great opportunities for watersports. These include water skiing and windsurfing, pedal boating and so on.
Eating/Drinking During Cyprus Holidays
All over Cyprus, restaurants offer delicious, traditional dishes. With influences of Greece, Turkey and the Middle East in the cuisine. Eating here is a wholesome treat to enrich the holiday experience.
Meze: One of the best ways to sample Cypriot food is to order the meze, a selection of tasters to share with family or friends, from a range of local dishes including dips, vegetables, fish and meat.
Halloumi: A cheese, but not as you know it! Made from goats milk and/or sheep's milk, it has a rubbery texture, a salty taste and is delicious grilled, in a salad.
Kebabs: Find out what the UK's favourite after-the-pub snack tastes like at its finest; a speciality of the north of the island.
Loukoumi aka Cyprus Delight: Similar to Turkish Delight, Cyprus is also renowned for this fragrant, sugary sweet.
Wine: Usually held in September, the annual wine festival is an ideal time to sample the surprising range and quality of local wines available in Cyprus.
Nightlife: Cyprus holidays won't fail to meet your nightlife needs whether they be for traditional entertainment, folk music and dancing at one of the numerous tavernas and restaurants, or a frenetic rave with British House Garage sounds, up-and-coming DJs and the festive atmosphere to be found in Ayia Napa, a resort in the east of Cyprus known as an international clubbing destination. Nightclubs of every persuasion are also to be found in Nicosia, Larnaca and Paphos.
Getting Around on Cyprus Holidays
Car: To make the most of all there is to see, hiring a car is recommended, but do book well in advance. Car hire can be added to existing Cyprus holiday bookings as well as when making a new booking. If you are planning to explore the more mountainous areas, a higher horsepower engine (over 1600cc) is advisable. Parking is readily available in most urban areas.
Taxis: Cyprus is served by a plentiful supply of metered taxis. They can take up to 8 people, and will run between major towns as well as covering shorter journeys.
Buses: The five districts each have their own bus company, the subsidised fares are kept low, and weekly tickets are available for unlimited travel within each district, including rural villages. The Intercity Bus Company provides a similarly subsidised service between cities (and districts) at very reasonable rates. Discounted fares are available if several journeys are planned.
Bicycles: Bicycles can be hired in most resorts and make a wonderful way to explore the resort on your Cyprus holiday.
Cyprus Holidays Shopping
On your Cyprus holiday be sure to take in the bustling activity of a colourful local market where you'll find fresh produce including fish, meat and national specialities. You will no doubt also find original and inexpensive souvenirs such as embroidery, tablecloths, silks, basketwork, pottery, silverware, leather goods, jewellery and lace; Lefkara lace is famous throughout the world. For culinary treats to take home, try wine, sweets, Halloumi cheese, Chiromeri ham or Loukoumi (aka Cyprus delight).
Holidays in Cyprus - Beaches
Macronissos Beach: Located on the west side of Ayia Napa, this beach of soft golden sand features a great variety of watersports and shelves gently into the sea making it ideal for families.
Protaras: A great choice for families and those seeking uniterrupted relaxation in the sun, this great stretch of golden sand that makes up the beach at Protaras also hosts a wide variety of water sports.
Asprokremos: Located on the Akamas peninsular this is considered to be one of the best and most un-spoilt beaches on the island.
Weather and climate information
The Mediterranean has plentiful sunshine throughout the year and Cyprus holidays are no exception: with nine months of summer and three of spring, it is idyllic holiday weather all year round. Cyprus does not experience distinct periods of autumn or winter in the same way the UK does, and the rainy season is short making it ideal for winter holidays in Cyprus or even a Cyprus Christmas and new year holidays.
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