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6 of the best places to visit in Cyprus for a 2024 holiday

Ayia Napa’s Bridge of Love is one of Cyprus’s most beautiful natural attractions  (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Ayia Napa’s Bridge of Love is one of Cyprus’s most beautiful natural attractions (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Cyprus continues to grow as a year-round tourist destination, having consolidated its reputation as an island nation with amazing weather, delightful coastal resorts and fascinating historic sites.

This island combines Mediterranean culture and cuisine with a distinctly laid-back way of life, offering tourists the ideal holiday blend of pristine beaches, characterful resorts and lively nightlife.

The capital, Nicosia, is the cultural epicentre of the country, while Paphos is its ancient historic centre, with ruins dating back centuries. You’ll find plenty of delightful beaches there too.

The Troodos Mountains offer an escape into the wilderness with picturesque villages, hiking trails and even ski slopes, while Limassol and Larnaca provide a relaxed beach resort alternative away from the party-centric town of Ayia Napa.

There are plenty of accommodation options available in all six of our Cyprus hot spots, or you can always visit on a day trip as the island is small enough to get across easily in just a few hours. Read on to find the best places to visit during your trip.

Paphos

Paphos is the birthplace of Aphrodite according to Greek mythology (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Paphos is the birthplace of Aphrodite according to Greek mythology (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Paphos remains one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, with sparkling year-round weather allowing you to make the most of its Mediterranean promenade and beaches like Aphrodite’s Rock, Coral Bay or the Blue Lagoon.

The city itself comprises a charming old town (filled with colourful architecture, alfresco restaurants and great harbour views), a host of surrounding ancient ruins, a lively nightlife scene and great options for day trips such as vineyard tours or visits to other nearby towns.

Tourist highlights include the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park and its many ruins – which range from villas and mosaics to a 4th-century acropolis and the Odeon, an outdoor theatre – as well as the Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery and the Harbour Castle.

Where to stay

The Alexander the Great Hotel is an elegant beachfront property located minutes from Paphos harbour. It combines old-fashioned luxury with contemporary touches – from the opulent decor to the modern spa and five dining options – and features four swimming pools, a fitness centre and a terrace that is among the best sunset viewing spots in town.

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Nicosia

Nicosia is known as Lefkosia in Greek (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Nicosia is known as Lefkosia in Greek (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The capital is a magnificent showcase of Cypriot history, where Venetian, Ottoman and Byzantine architecture attests to the city’s complicated past. The skyline is dominated by russet-tiled roofs and walls of white and honey, with an old town surrounded by 16th-century Venetian city walls, delightful squares such as the recently redesigned Plateia Eleftherias and quaint neighbourhoods like the Chrysaliniotissa Quarter or Laïki Geitona.

Cyprus is divided into two parts by the UN-administered Green Line, which runs right through the country’s capital. The north and south of the city are separated into the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, and the immediate area around the line is a good place to learn about recent Cypriot history.

Parts of Ottoman and Byzantine life remain today in the city’s many churches, mosques and the Hamam Omerye bathhouse. Archangelos Michail and Agios Ioannis are the main churches, while the Omeriye Mosque stands out as a working mosque that non-Muslims can visit. For the best views of both sides of the city, ascend the Shacolas Tower Observatory.

Where to stay

Choose the Djumba Hotel and Cafe for a boutique hotel stay in Europe’s last divided capital. It combines traditional Cypriot architecture and hospitality with a touch of the Mediterranean, and offers cosy and modern rooms, a courtyard and terrace and a lovely local food options.

Limassol

Limassol may be a modern city now but can trace its roots back to medieval times (Getty Images)
Limassol may be a modern city now but can trace its roots back to medieval times (Getty Images)

Limassol is a busier, more cosmopolitan alternative to Paphos or Larnaca. It is the second-largest city on the island, with a picturesque marina and beaches including Lady’s Mile, Dasoudi Beach and Governor’s Beach that offer safe swimming.

Stretching back from the waterfront, the city itself is a collection of white-washed buildings that line cobbled limestone streets, with a mix of high-rise buildings and preserved heritage sites. Older historic sites include Limassol Castle, Kolossi Castle and the 2,000-year-old ruins at Amathus, while you can also day-trip to the ancient ruins of Kourion, once one of the island’s most important city-kingdoms.

Where to stay

The S Paul City Hotel benefits from a seaside location that is also within the city’s historic centre, meaning guests can pair beach visits with easy strolls through the old town. Interiors here fuse the modern with the traditional in a series of 22 minimalist rooms housed within an 19th-century stone building, and guests can enjoy easy access to the bar and its two restaurants.

Larnaca

Larnaca lies less than an hour from Limassol (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Larnaca lies less than an hour from Limassol (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Larnaca lies along the southern coast of Cyprus, just east of Paphos and Limassol, so benefits from much of the same great weather and superb beaches. Standouts are Makenzy, Finikoudes, Kastella and Dhekelia.

Larnaca is probably less glamorous than its resort town neighbours, but has a solid tourist infrastructure and enough sites to keep you occupied over a long weekend (if you decide you want to leave the beach). The Leoforos Athinon is the main thoroughfare, linking the marina with Larnaka Fort – it’s lined with plenty of hotels and restaurants. Many of the city’s main sites are close by, including the Agios Lazaros (a 9th-century church), the museums of natural history and archaeology and the site of Ancient Kition, an ancient Greek city-kingdom.

Half a day can also be spent exploring areas like the Turkish Quarter, or experiencing the phenomenal scuba diving on the Zenobia, one of the best wrecks in the world. The towns of Protaras and Ayia Napa are also both within easy reach.

Where to stay

The Lokàl provides a boutique hotel stay in the heart of Larnaca, just minutes away from the city’s main attractions. A family-run hotel with a distinctly homely feel, it lies just 300 metres from Foinikoudes Beach and offers its own rooftop terrace pool, along with a bar and modern Mediterranean bistro.

Protaras

Protaras lies less than 15 minutes away from Ayia Napa (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Protaras lies less than 15 minutes away from Ayia Napa (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Protaras offers more of a laid-back, family-friendly alternative to the well-known party atmosphere of Ayia Napa. It is smaller too, stretching from Fig Tree Bay in the south to Trinity Bay in the north (just over 10 minutes’ drive up the coast). There are plenty of other bits of attractive coastline too, including the blue glag beaches of Konnos Bay and Pernera.

Many of the activities in Protaras are aimed at families, with mini-golf courses, amusement arcades and the Ocean Aquarium all within easy reach. The Konnos Nature Trail offers opportunities for hiking, while Cape Greco is the place to go for the best coastal views. The Church of Profitis Ilias, perched on a hill overlooking the coast, offers one of the most scenic views in town.

Where to stay

Sunrise Jade is an adults-only oasis on the beachfront in Protaras. It is centred around its two large outdoor pools and the accompanying elegant terrace. Rooms are minimal with muted tones, and some come with direct access to their own small private pool.

Troodos Mountains

The highest point in the Troodos Mountains is on Mount Olympus, at 1,952m (Getty Images)
The highest point in the Troodos Mountains is on Mount Olympus, at 1,952m (Getty Images)

This mountain range shows a different side to Cyprus, with quiet mountain villages surrounded by dense pine forest and medieval churches sitting alongside historic monasteries. Cooler temperatures allow for summer hiking and, in the winter months, you can even go skiing on the slopes of Mount Olympus, Cyprus’s tallest peak.

The main settlement here is Troodos village, which sits just under Mount Olympus, and this is the best base for tourists. Some of the most desirable villages to visit include Fikardou, Pedoulas and Agros, all of which are well-preserved and filled with churches and russet-roofed buildings that hug the verdant hills. Hiking trails in the area to check out include the Caledonia, Millomeris and Artemis.

Where to stay

The Troodos Mountains are full of traditional villages and accompanying hotels, but the Casale Panayiotis combines a picturesque mountain setting with modern amenities and traditional Cypriot touches. It is located in the town of Kalapanayiotis, and is set in a series of traditional houses that contain contemporary rooms with period features. The Byzantino restaurant serves traditional cuisine, while guests can enjoy use of a spa, swimming pool and large courtyard.

Read more on the best hotels in Cyprus