The divided island of Cyprus is a hotspot for both party seekers and sun worshippers alike. And it’s easy to see why. Not only does Cyprus boast one of Europe’s best party destinations, Ayia Napa, but it also enjoys over 300 days of sunshine each year, making this gorgeous island the perfect vacay spot no matter when you decide to visit.
But there’s more to Cyprus than meets the eye. So, if lying on the beach and partying till dawn aren’t your vices of choice, you’ll find there are plenty of things to do in Cyprus to keep you busy and entertained year round.
Unfortunately, we only had five days in Cyprus, with one of those days spent photographing the villa we were staying in, so we were limited on time. But I did tons of research prior to our trip to scope out the best things to do in Cyprus and I’ll share all my findings here to help you plan your very own trip to this gorgeous island.
So, without further ado, here are 15 awesome things to do in Cyprus.
10 fantastic things to do in Cyprus
1. Day trip into the Troodos Mountains
The natural beauty of Cyprus doesn’t end with the coastline. Head inland and you’ll be overwhelmed by the stunning beauty of the vast Troodos Mountain range. We were fortunate enough to visit Cyprus after an exceptionally wet winter which meant the whole island was a lot greener than usual. Owing to this and the epic mountain backdrop, I was really blown away by the scenery.
It might also surprise you to learn that there is actually a ski resort in the Troodos Mountains (open from January through March), located on Mount Olympus, and a drive up to the pistes, even in summer, presents outstanding views from several vista points along the road.
2. Visit the rustic village, Omodos
While in the Troodos Mountains, don’t forget to pay a visit to the pretty, rustic village of Omodos. Nestled into the hillside, Omodos is a popular stop for tourists, so don’t expect to have this place all to yourselves. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth a visit. Take a pew at one of the restaurants in the main square and enjoy a traditional sheftalia kebab, wander the gorgeous streets, chat to the locals, and tour the monastery.
Just remember, if you do decide to enter the monastery, make sure you’re respectful by covering your shoulders and legs, if you’re wearing shorts.
Also, don’t forget to try the local fortified sweet wine, otherwise known as commandaria. As you wander the streets, you’ll notice locals selling bottles of homemade commandaria on their doorsteps for between €2-5.
3. Visit Nicosia, Cyprus’ divided capital
Cyprus is rich in history, both ancient and more recent. Sadly in 1974, Cyprus suffered a devastating civil war that literally tore the country in two, dividing the island right through the middle into two seperate states. In the south, you’ll find the Greek Republic of Southern Cyprus, and in the north, you’ll find the unrecognised state of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The ‘green line’, as the border is known, runs right through the centre of Cyprus’ capital city, Nicosia, making this the only divided capital city in the world.
There are several points at which you can cross the border from one state to another, with the most famous one being the Ledra Palace Border Crossing, which allows for both pedestrians and vehicles. I used the Ledra Street border crossing which can only be used for crossing on foot.
It was really interesting to cross the dead zone, just a couple hundred yards or so, and enter the TRNC. I only stayed in the TRNC for three hours, but thoroughly enjoyed wandering around, visiting the Selimiye Camii mosque and meeting the friendly locals. I found the buildings were much more historic and well preserved on the Turkish side of Nicosia and I enjoyed a really great Shish Kofte Kebab at a lovely restaurant in a quiet square!
4. Hike to the waterfalls from Pano Platres
If you enjoy a spot of hiking and can stand walking in the heat of the summer, make sure to check out the waterfall hike starting from Pano Platres in the Troodos Mountains. We visited Millomeris Waterfalls which were just a short jaunt from the road. I wouldn’t recommend travelling all the way to the Troodos Mountains just for these waterfalls, but if you’re in the area and looking to get out into nature, it was worth the detour. The Millomeris waterfalls are located just a short five minute walk from where you park your car, so it’s an easy one to do if you don’t want to hike, or are short on time.
If you have more time, you can take the 3km trail from Platres village to Caledonia Waterfalls which is supposed to be a relatively easy hike with steep sections along the way. For more information on hiking routes in the Troodos Mountains, check out this website.
5. Visit Lara Bay Turtle Conservation Station
I firmly believe if you want to enjoy animal tourism abroad, you should make a concerted effort to only support ethical practices and organisations. Sometimes this means you have to dig a little deeper and research the establishments you plan on visiting. It’s so important not to be ignorant!
Before our trip to Cyprus, I did some research on the Lara Bay Turtle Conservation Station near Paphos to make sure their ‘conservationist’ claims fit the bill. And while we didn’t get to visit ourselves, I’m happy to recommend this organisation on my blog.
The unspoiled Lara Bay is a safe haven for Green and Loggerhead Turtles. Conservationists work tirelessly to protect the turtle eggs laid on the beach, in an effort to boost turtle populations, with steel cages and wardens to protect the eggs from predators.
If you want to see turtles arriving at the beach to lay their eggs, make sure to visit between May and August. The road to Lara Bay is, apparently, quite rugged, so if you’re taking your hire car, drive slowly, or preferably take a jeep tour or hire a 4×4. Or you can hike the 10 mile round trip from Agios Georgios, which is supposed to be a very beautiful trail.
6. Visit Aphrodite’s Rock
According to ancient Greek legend, Cyprus is honoured as the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite. Also known as Aphrodite’s Rock, Petra tou Romiou is the place at which Aphrodite is said to have been born out of the sea foam. Whether you’re interested in Greek mythology or not, this place is a must-visit simply for it’s natural beauty, although the sea is typically too rough to swim here.
7. Visit the Tombs of the Kings
Another location we didn’t get to visit on our first trip to Cyprus, but will definitely be making a beeline for next time is the large well-preserved archaeological site, Tombs of the Kings. The site is home to an immense number of majestic underground tombs dating back to the 4th century B.C., which were used as burial sites for high-ranking government officials.
Just a short 2km north of Paphos Harbour, this 2400-year old necropolis is an easy day trip from Paphos. There is a small entrance fee of €2.50.
8. Go snorkeling in Protaras
Recommended by a friend whose family are from Cyprus, Protaras is a hotspot for snorkeling. Head to the popular Fig Tree Bay, iconic Cape Greco or beautiful Green Bay for crystal clear Mediterranean waters, gorgeous coastline and the chance to see fish, the occasional octopus or turtle and even underwater statues if you swim out far enough.
9. Explore the Akamas Peninsula National Park
Located on the west coast of Cyprus, the Akamas Peninsula National Park delivers a diverse offering when it comes to natural sights. Take a boat trip or jeep safari to the spectacular Blue Lagoon, hailed as one of the most beautiful places in Cyprus, hike one of the three nature trails (the Adonis Trail, the Aphrodite Trail, and the Smigies Trail) or marvel at the impressive Avakas Gorge.
10. Visit Cyprus’ many castles
Due to it’s unique location, Cyprus has a rich Medieval history meaning there are dozens of well-preserved medieval castles and fortresses to be explored. Perched on cliff sides and watching over harbours and ports in Southern Cyprus, you’ll find structures such as Kolossi Castle, Larnaka Kalesi, Paphos Castle and Limassol Castle. Venturing into Northern occupied Cyprus, Buffavento Castle, Kyrenia Castle, Saint Hilarion Castle, Othello Castle and Kantara Castle are all must-sees.