What makes Cyprus so popular?
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, after Sicily and Sardinia, and is located in the eastern part of the Mediterranean near Turkey. Cyprus is divided into two regions; The area controlled by the Republic of Cyprus and inhabited by Greeks in the southern part of the island, and the northern part of the island, which is occupied by Turkey and inhabited by Turks. Vacation trips are mainly made to the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, which covers two-thirds of the island's area, and where most of the island's wonderful sandy beaches are located. The island has a colorful history and over the millennia it has been ruled by several different rulers who have left their mark on the island's culture.
In Cyprus, the sun shines statistically more than 300 days a year. The island enables versatile vacations, from sun worshiping to diving and snorkeling, as well as from driving to hiking. The island is suitable for families with children, active vacationers, culinary connoisseurs, partygoers and those interested in history and stories. Our trips go to the southern part of the island of Cyprus, the Greek-inhabited Republic of Cyprus. In the Ayia Napa area, several turquoise beaches, versatile services and lively nightlife are attractive, while the quieter Protaras area with its gentle beaches and recreational opportunities is suitable for families with children and travelers looking for a more leisurely vacation.
Cyprus attractionsCyprus has three UNESCO protected sites: the historic city of Paphos, the ancient village of Khirokitia and the Byzantine churches of the Troodos Mountains.
The most famous attraction of Ayia Napa is the monastery square and the buildings around it, the most famous of which is the monastery built in the 16th century. In Ayia Napa, there is a maritime museum in Thalassa, the attraction of which is an exact replica of the Kyrenia II merchant ship from the time of ancient Greece, which was found off North Cyprus in the 1980s (the original ship can be admired in Kyrenia Castle).
Elia's church is located on a hill above Protaras, with a wonderful view of the sea. There are churches on the UNESCO heritage list in the Troodos Mountains. Kykkos Monastery is also in the Troodos mountain area.
The town of Paralimni is north of Protaras and you can get there by bus, taxi and bicycle. There are beautiful sandy beaches and sea bays along the way to Paralimni.
Nicosia and Larnaca are good larger shopping cities full of interesting historical sights. The city of Larnaca has a fortress, museums and the famous Church of Lazarus.
From Protaras you can get close to the border of the occupied territory. The city of Famagusta is on the other side of the occupation line, and from the city's beach you can admire the ghost town of Varousha. Please note that photography is prohibited in the border area.
Soldiers and police officers on duty may not be photographed. Filming is also prohibited at control stations along the occupation line and in base areas.
Photography with flash light is not allowed in churches and museums; in many, filming is completely prohibited, as is video recording. In some indoor museums, you can take videos by paying a filming fee.
ActivitiesIn Cyprus, the most popular activities are concentrated on the beaches. The clean and clear waters provide an excellent setting for diving, snorkeling and practicing many water sports. By bike and scooter, you can comfortably explore nearby villages and uncrowded beaches. For example, the nearby Cape Greco nature reserve has outdoor routes for both cyclists and hikers.
Hiking. In the Cape Greco nature park, you can take several different hiking routes. On the slopes of the Troodos mountain in the central part of the island, there are varied and extensive hiking trails along which you can see small local villages and wineries.
Bicycle rental. Bicycles, scooters, ATVs, motorcycles and cars can be rented from several rental companies. For example, hiking on bicycles to the Cape Greco nature reserve is popular.
Water sports. Boat trips and water sports are popular. Various equipment can be rented from the beaches, such as SUP boards and canoes.
Diving and Snorkeling. The clear and warm waters of Cyprus offer good opportunities for scuba diving and snorkeling. There are several companies that organize diving and snorkeling trips.
There are several diving sites near Ayia Napa. There are calm, sheltered bays for beginners and less experienced divers, old sunken ships and caves and tunnels for more experienced divers.
Konnos Beach, located between Ayia Napa and Protaras, is a good and great area for snorkelers, but you can snorkel on all beaches.
ShoppingThe island has been known for its good wines since ancient times. The main wine regions of Cyprus are around Limassol and Paphos and on the slopes of the Troodos Mountains. "Drink well and be happy", goes an old Cypriot saying.
The streets of Protaras have plenty of mini markets and shops selling beach clothes and accessories. The best shopping places in Ayia Napa are on Makarios main street and around Luostariaukio. You can make inexpensive purchases, e.g. In Larnaca and in the nearby village of Paralimni. Larnaka and Paralimni stores usually have a siesta in the middle of the day.
There are good shopping opportunities in Limassol and Larnaca. Limassol has the My Mall shopping center and Agiou Andreou Street, Anexartisias Street and Makarios Avenue are the best shopping streets in the city.
There is a Metropol Mall shopping center in Larnaca. Finikoudes Boulevard and Zenonos Kitieos are good shopping streets.
Nicosia is said to be the best shopping place on the whole island. You can find many boutiques and luxury brands along Ledra street. On the other hand, you can order custom-made shoes or clothes from craftsmen in a week. Popular purchases include local lacework, ceramics and leather and silver products.
Getting aroundThe island has a good and functioning public bus network. From Ayia Napa and Protaras, you can easily get to Ayia Napa's water park and bigger cities by bus. Bus ticket prices vary depending on the length of the journey from a couple of euros upwards and you can buy the ticket directly from the driver.
A taxi is the easiest solution for moving shorter distances. You can get a taxi from the stations or from the flight. The hotel staff will also call a taxi to your hotel upon request. Make sure the meter is on, or agree on a price in advance.
Renting a car is worth considering if you want to go around longer distances on your own and you have control over left-hand traffic and the different Finnish driving culture. When moving around the island, and especially when driving a rental car, you should consider the border that divides the island. Northern Cyprus has declared itself an independent state, but so far only Turkey has recognized it. Thus, as seen internationally, Northern Cyprus is still located within the borders of the Republic of Cyprus. With an EU passport, you can enter the Turkish territory of the north by crossing the Green Line managed by the UN through official border crossing points. There are a total of seven of them on the island. If you plan to cross the line in one direction or the other, remember to make sure that your rental car's insurance covers both areas of the island.
Popular destinationsLarnaca is the oldest city in Cyprus, where you can combine city and beach vacations. The Seafront beach boulevard is buzzing with life and in the old town you can spend time visiting luxury boutiques and feeling the oriental atmosphere. Visit the Byzantine-era church of Agios Lazaros. It is built over the grave of Jesus' friend Lazarus. The tomb and the marble sarcophagus can be seen in the crypt of the church.
To the south of the beach from the harbor is the Larnaka fortress, which was built in several eras. Today, a historical museum operates on the premises. In the past, the fortress has functioned, for example, as a prison. The city-state of Kition has been located on the site of the city of Larnaca in the past. Back then, the main business was selling copper. You can explore the ruins of ancient times in the archaeological area, which is located a short walk northwest of the center. Larnaca is about an hour's drive from Ayia Napa and Protaras.
Pafos is a UNESCO-protected port city in the southwestern part of the island of Cyprus. The Paphos area is an amalgamation of several villages, where you can visit several interesting historical sights.
The ancient catacombs of the church of Agia Solomon are at least worth a visit. It is said that Saint Solomon survived there for 200 years when the Romans closed the mouth of the catacombs. You can visit the graves from ancient Greece in the southwest cemetery of Paphos. In the "tombs of the kings" there are probably persons belonging to the upper mystique buried.
In the archaeological park, you can admire the wonderful floor mosaics that date from the 2nd to 5th centuries and depict events from Greek mythology. Paul's pillar, on the other hand, is famous for the fact that the Apostle Paul was flogged there when he converted the Roman Governor to Christianity. Paphos is about a couple of hours' drive from Ayia Napa and Protaras.
Limassol is the largest city in Cyprus by area. The city has an international atmosphere and a 16 kilometer long coastline. You can walk or bike the whole way along ready-made routes. Limassol has many interesting medieval sites and ancient ruins. At least the old town is worth visiting. During the Crusades in the 13th century, a new castle was built in place of the old Byzantine castle. Today, the castle houses a medieval museum. Another medieval attraction is the Kolossi castle built in the 15th century. It is located about 10 kilometers west of the beaches of Limassol.
Limassol has good shopping opportunities. There is even an ice rink inside the shopping center My Mall. It's about a 10-minute taxi ride from the center. In the city, you can also spend time in the largest water park in Cyprus, Fasouri Watermania. It is located just a couple of kilometers from My Mall.
There are many events in the city area, especially in summer. Masquerade carnivals in February-March start the festive season. In May, the flower festival is celebrated and in autumn it is the turn of wine festivals. Wine festivals have been organized for more than 50 years.
Various events are also organized in the amphitheater found in the archaeological area of Kourium. The area is about 15 kilometers west of Limassol and the remains of an ancient bath can also be seen there. To the east of Limassol lies another archaeological site, Amatus. The best way to visit it is to rent a bicycle. An easy route of about 11 kilometers along a paved road starts from the old port of Limassol. You should bring a bathing suit, because there is a lovely beach there.
The Keo brewery and winery is located near the old port. There you can visit Keo beer making and the different stages of wine. It is also worth visiting the charming small rural villages in the vicinity of Limassol where wine is grown. Limassol is about an hour's drive from Ayia Napa and Protaras.
The Troodos Mountains are a beautiful place to visit during your vacation. Drive the day along the mountain roads and enjoy the great scenery. You can see beautiful monasteries and churches in the mountains. The most famous of the monasteries is Kykko, which is located in the Marathasa region at an altitude of about 1300 meters in the northeastern part of the Troodos mountains. There are small villages and vineyards and orchards in the mountains. The wine villages are mostly located on the southern slopes of the mountains above Limassol. You can make self-guided visits to many wineries and taste local wines while getting to know the secrets of viticulture. The most famous of the wine villages is Omodos.
The highest peak of the mountain range is Mount Olympos, which rises to a height of almost 2,000 meters and you can ski on its slopes in winter. There are several different walking routes around Mount Olympos, and detailed information about them can be obtained from tourist offices. There are also many guided trips to the mountains.
Cape Gkrekko National Park is located in the southeast corner of Cyprus between Ayia Napa and Protaras. The Gkrek peninsula can be reached by car and bicycle, but you can also hike there from Ayia Napa. You can jump directly into the clear sea water from the beach cliff of the peninsula. On the way, you can also stop at the nearby Konnos beach. It is usually sheltered from the wind and it takes even a whole day. The beach has good basic services. The national park also offers great diving and fishing opportunities. There you can spot many kinds of birds and explore sea caves.
Ayia Napa and Protaras are the most popular holiday destinations on the whole island, famous for their wonderful white sandy beaches. Ayia Napa is known for its lively nightlife, while Protaras is more popular with families.
Nissi Beach is one of the most stunning beaches on the island and is located about 5 km west of Ayia Napa. The busy beach has good services. A couple of kilometers west of Nissi Beach is Makronissos beach. The atmosphere is often much calmer than at the crowded Nissi beach.
Waterworld water park and Parko Paliatso amusement park are located on the west side of Ayia Napa. You can easily spend a whole day at the water park. The amusement park is quite small. Between Ayia Napa and Protaras is a small, often sheltered from the wind, beautiful Konnos Beach.
NightlifeAyia Napa has a very lively and popular nightlife, especially in summer, and Ayia Napa has often been compared to the party paradise of Ibiza. Bars and nightclubs can be found along the main street Nissi Avenue and around the monastery square. During the summer, daytime parties are held on Party Boats. When the evening comes, pubs and cocktail bars open their doors, whose bartenders compete for customers with various drink offers. Most also have various themed parties, such as foam parties.
Protaras has a bar street and offers nightlife, but to a lesser extent than in the Ayia Napa area. Some hotels and restaurants offer live music during the busiest season.
Good to knowAirlines: Several different airlines fly from Finland to Cyprus. At Aventours, we fly to the destination with Enter Air company planes.
Airports: The largest airport on the island of Cyprus is located in Larnaca. The second largest field on the island is located in Northern Cyprus in Tymvo, and there are no flights there from outside Turkey. There is also a third international airport on the island, which is located on the southwest coast of the island in Paphos.
Distance to holiday destinations from Larnaca airport: approx. 1 hour to destinations in the Ayia Napa area (approx. 45km) and approx. 1 hour to destinations in Protaras (approx. 55km).
Flight time: 5 hours
Language: Greek, the local population also speaks English well.
Time difference: The time is the same as in Finland.
Population: The official population of the Republic of Cyprus of 1.2 million inhabitants also includes the inhabitants of the territory occupied by Turkey. The population of the territory held by the Republic of Cyprus is approximately 860,000.
Capital: Nicosia (Lefkosia) approx. 230,000 inhabitants.
Passport: A Finnish citizen needs a valid passport or chipped identity card as a travel document to Greece.
Tipping: In restaurants, the final amount of the bill is usually rounded up by 5-10%. At the end of the holiday, you can remember the hotel room cleaner with service money.
Electricity: In Cyprus the voltage is 220-240 V, English three-hole socket. You can borrow an adapter from the hotel or buy it from a supermarket.
Tap water: Generally clean and drinkable, but the water may have a mineral taste. We recommend drinking bottled water.
Three tips for those on holiday in Cyprus
1. Did you know that real halloumi cheese comes from Cyprus? Try at least these during your vacation: Mezet - a meal consisting of several small portions, local halloumi cheese and local wines made on the island. Mezet consists of several, even dozens of different dishes. All small portions should be tasted. The meze meal includes at least vine leaf rolls, hummus, halloumi cheese, salads, seafood, moussaka and long-braised meat. Local wines or fresh Keo beer can be enjoyed with the meal. For dessert, you can enjoy sweet Commandaria wine, which has been produced in Cyprus since the Middle Ages.
2. Today, Nicosia is the only shared capital city in the world and is located in the central part of the island. Armed UN soldiers guard the border day and night. Since 2008, the border between Greek and Turkish Cyprus has been crossable. If you want to cross the border, you must have a passport with you. The queue can be long, as there are plenty of tourists and locals go to the Turkish side for cheap shopping. Nicosia is the best shopping place on the island. The so-called Green Line runs between the areas, which is an uninhabited area where abandoned houses from the Turkish occupation of 1974 can still be seen. The center of Nicosia is surrounded by walls built by the Venetians from the 16th century. Great sights include the Famagusta Gate and the 17th-century Agios Ioannis Cathedral with its wonderful old frescoes.
3. Avakas gorge is located in northwestern Paphos near the Akamas peninsula. The 3 km long gorge is surrounded by high limestone walls and you can hike through it. The route runs next to a small river flowing at the bottom of the gorge. You should wear sturdy shoes and enough drinking water. Along the way, you can see wild goats, lizards, hawks, owls and butterflies living in the gorge. The endangered Centauria Akamas flower has not been found anywhere else. It blooms in spring in a beautiful aniline red. The best way to go hiking is to buy a ready-made excursion from the island's travel agencies.