After a disappointing UK summer what could be nicer than a week of guaranteed sun in Cyprus?
Situated in the east of the Mediterranean, Cyprus can boast almost constant sunshine, with September temperatures nudging 30 degrees. Perfect for relaxing on the beach, walking in the hills, or exploring the numerous ruins around the island.
The island is divided into two areas; Turkey occupies the north, while the south is home to Greek Cypriots. Having been colonised by the British, and with our troops stationed there today, you will find that English is widely spoken, driving is on the left and you will probably come across Marks & Spencer along the way.
We split our week between the ancient town of Larnaca and the holiday resort of Paphos, two contrasting areas.
Larnaca is a working industrial town, which at first glance doesn’t look so pretty, but on the outskirts you find Mackenzie Beach, a newly developed area full of restaurants, bars and an excellent 5 star hotel, The Ciao Stelio Deluxe Hotel.
The beach is clean with numerous sun beds and the waters are warm and shallow, ideal for all ages and abilities. The long promenade stretches into town and offers an invigorating stroll of about 4 kms. Or you can hop on a bus, which takes about 15 minutes. Saga excursions include day trips to the capitol Nicosia, the famous Troodos Mountains and to the pretty lace making villages.
St Lazarus Church, in the heart of Larnaca, is worth a visit as it is the most important surviving Byzantine monument on Cyprus. On the outskirts of the city is an attractive salt lake with a nature trail that you can follow. On a hot day the reflection in the lake is just perfect, and is a photographers dream. In the winter months Pink Flamingos and many other migratory birds gather and attract bird spotters from all over the world.
As well as sun, sea and historic monuments, the delicious Greek Cypriot food deserves a mention. We enjoyed copious amount of fresh seafood and can recommend ‘Zephyros Fish Taverna’ for a truly memorable fish meze. The restaurant is situated just a short walk along from The Ciao Stelio Hotel in Larnaca.
When the time came to transfer to Paphos we took the opportunity to visit the world famous ruins at Kourion en route. This extensive site has some incredible remains including an enormous amphitheatre that is in use today for summer concerts. Intricate mosaic tiles have been discovered adorning the floors of a partly restored Roman Villa and the whole city is laid out for visitors to explore. It can get blisteringly hot so take water with you and grab the chance to rest under a tree now and again.
Kourion is on an elevated site with fabulous views in all directions, and just below is the beautiful Kourion beach with a couple of restaurants overlooking the sea, ideal for a lazy lunch after all that sightseeing.
Paphos is a buzzing holiday resort that manages to combine history and culture with all the fun of the seaside. Kato Paphos is the touristy area and can be a bit overwhelming with ‘all day English breakfast’ on offer in bars that stay open late into the night. But the attractive meandering back streets offer a more authentic Cypriot welcome where you will come across the rich history of the city.
We stayed at the brand new Olympic Lagoon Resort that has everything the discerning holidaymaker could ask for. In fact it would be easy to just spend all your time relaxing at this luxurious all-inclusive hotel. But make the effort to explore the surrounding areas, as there is so much to see. Paphos is proud to be a UNESCO World Heritage site and is immersed in history. It is said to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, and a visit to Aphrodite’s Rock just outside town is a must. Other highlights are the Tomb of the Kings, the Medieval Castle and harbour area, with many locations within walking distance of the hotels.
In 2017 Paphos will be a EU Capitol of Culture, with plenty of special events being planned, and so surely a reason to visit.
Saga Holidays offer a range of different accommodation across the south of the island ranging from all inclusive beach resorts, boutique hotels and interesting cultural tours.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Saga Holidays