Top Five Things to do in Cyprus

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Top Five Things to do in Cyprus

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With both gorgeous natural landscapes and a rich cultural history, Cyprus has a bit of everything you could want in an island paradise.  Sitting in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus is a place where east meets west and where you can walk among the ruins of great empires from the Romans to the Persians.  Add to that breathtaking beaches, interesting cities, great food, and friendly people to create an island perfect for a visit.  Below are five of the top recommended things to do in Cyprus but this is really only touching the tip of the iceberg.  Go explore and you will discover an island with much more.

The Ancient Cities of Cyprus

You can’t come to Cyprus and not explore at least one of the island’s famous archaeological sites.  Empires from both the east and the west used Cyprus as a stopping point and strategic trade point, leaving behind ruins like grand Roman amphitheaters and Venetian city walls.  There were a dozen or so famous ancient cities, many whose ruins you can explore today.  Ancient Kourion is a great example, sitting on the southern side of the island, and containing some of the most extensive Greco-Roman ruins in the whole Mediterranean region.  You can explore the old theater, bath houses, and marvel at the well preserved mosaic floors through the ancient city.  One the east coast of Cyprus, ancient Salamis is another great archaeological site, representing a city that was ruled throughout the ages by everyone from the Assyrians to the Egyptians to the Romans.

Ayia Napa

Cyprus has always had a seductive appeal, from its very founding and its mythical status as the birthplace of Aphrodite herself.  In more modern times, this has played out in the form of the beach party atmosphere of the island’s southern coasts.  At the center of the action is the club scene in Ayia Napa.  Once known for drugs and violence, Ayia Napa has cleaned up, becoming a modern, fun club paradise and attracting travelers from across Europe and around the world.  Clubs here are world-class with high end lighting and sound systems, making them popular spring and summer vacation destinations.

Local Tavernas

Like most places in the world, a true highlight of visiting Cyprus is trying the island’s delicious local cuisine.  The best place to head for a casual meal and taste of a few of the classic Cyprus dishes is one of the local tavernas.  Avoid the tavernas in the center of town or in highly touristy areas and instead find smaller tavernas where the food will be much more authentic.  Specialties often include wild boar and lamb but it is highly recommended to order a Mezé, a traditional dinner consisting of many small dishes.

Troodos Mountains

Unlike smaller islands, on Cyprus there is much more to see than beaches and coastlines.  Head inland to visit the island’s highest peaks in the Troodos Mountains.  Here you can do a bit of hiking, exploring, and even in the winter do a bit of skiing which is the last thing people think of on a Mediterranean island vacation.  The Troodos Mountain region is also home to some great historic sites like monasteries and churches, including some of the island’s most impressive UNESCO listed Byzantine churches.  The region is slightly less touristy making it a great place to get away if you have had enough of the party scene down on the coast.

Dive at Zenobia

If your idea of a great island vacation is more about sun, sand, and water, there is plenty of that on Cyprus too.  The beaches are great and most are safe for swimming but if you are a diver, there is a real treasure located just off the coast of Larnaca.  The Zenobia was once a grand ferry ship but in 1980, after suffering some sort of malfunction, she was abandoned and sunk about a half mile off the coast.  Today the site is known as one of the best dive sites in the world, giving divers a chance to experience an incredible underwater world where you can swim through the parked trucks that went down with the ferry and see the carpet still lining the ship’s hallways.  It is definitely not a beginners dive but if you are a moderately skilled diver, it is a once in a lifetime experience.

Photo Credit: europanostra via photopin cc

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