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  • Writer's pictureKatrina Julia

Top 10 Things to Do in Cyprus

Updated: Jan 30

Cyprus is a beautiful island located to the south of Europe and north of Africa.


Cyprus is known for its history and culture, archeological treasures, natural beauty, mythology and legends, Biblical history, and Mediterranean food. and proximity to destinations including Bulgaria.


With my travel to 7 continents now 37+ countries, Cypress stood out to me as an ideal destination to travel to with its direct flight with Wizz Air from Varna, Bulgaria and incredible weather in winter.


During my full-time travels in Cypress, I stayed in North Cyprus near Kyrenia in a town called Kuckerenkoy for a month and rented a car so I could go on road trips all around Cyprus. I adored my Airbnb stay in Cyprus in a two story townhome in a beautiful residential area for less than half of what I would pay for rent in Atlanta #girlmath



It is time to put Cypress on your bucket list.





Whether you will spend one day, a week, or a month like I did, you will love it.

Cyprus Highlights

Cyprus is historically and culturally known for several aspects:


Rich History and Culture

Cyprus boasts a history that spans thousands of years, with influences from ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans. This rich tapestry of cultures is reflected in the island's architecture, traditions, and cuisine.


Strategic Location

Situated at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, Cyprus has a strategic geopolitical position that has shaped its history and culture. Today, it serves as a bridge between East and West, welcoming visitors from around the globe to experience its unique charms.


Beautiful Beaches

With its stunning coastline along the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus is renowned for its beautiful beaches. From golden sands to secluded coves, there's a beach for every preference, whether you're seeking relaxation, water sports, or picturesque sunsets.


Mythology and Legend

According to Greek mythology, Cyprus is the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Mythical sites such as Aphrodite's Rock and the Baths of Aphrodite continue to captivate visitors with their timeless allure.


Archaeological Treasures

Cyprus is home to a wealth of archaeological sites and ancient ruins, including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tombs of the Kings in Paphos, the ancient city of Kourion, and the Salamis Ruins near Famagusta. These sites offer a glimpse into the island's storied past. In the Bible, Salamis is where Paul and Barnabas first preached with the Acts Church in the New Testimament.



Mediterranean Cuisine

 Cypriot cuisine is a delightful fusion of Mediterranean flavors, featuring fresh seafood, locally sourced produce, and traditional herbs and spices. Mezes, Turkish and Greek cuisine are just a few highlights of the island's culinary offerings. The delicious food pictured below was in Agora in Paphos.








North v South Cyprus

North Cyprus and South Cyprus differ in several significant ways, primarily due to historical, political, and cultural factors.


I definitely experienced several of them that included not being able to pass the border when I landed from South to North Cyprus because North Cyprus requires separate liability insurance that you may ONLY buy at the border. When I came to both of the borders I tried, the insurance agents were gone already. In 2024, as a Non-EU citizen (my Polish passport is expired), I had to go to the Metehan Kermia Crossing in Nicosia as it is non-military and US citizens may pass.




Political Status

The most notable difference between North Cyprus and South Cyprus is their political status. South Cyprus is internationally recognized as the Republic of Cyprus, a member state of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN), with its capital in Nicosia. North Cyprus, on the other hand, is only recognized by Turkey and operates as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), with its capital in North Nicosia.


Division of North vs. South

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish forces invaded the island in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at unifying Cyprus with Greece. This resulted in the de facto division of the island into the Greek Cypriot-controlled Republic of Cyprus in the south and the Turkish Cypriot-controlled TRNC in the north. The United Nations Buffer Zone, also known as the Green Line, separates the two regions in the city of Nicosia.


Government and Administration

South Cyprus operates under a unitary presidential republic system, with Greek Cypriots as the majority population. It has a single government and administration. In contrast, North Cyprus operates as a self-declared state with a parliamentary republic system, predominantly inhabited by Turkish Cypriots. It has its own government and administration separate from the Republic of Cyprus.


International Recognition

While the Republic of Cyprus is recognized internationally as the legitimate government of the entire island, the TRNC is only recognized by Turkey. This lack of international recognition has significant implications for issues such as trade, tourism, and diplomatic relations.


Economies of North v South Cyprus

The economies of North Cyprus and South Cyprus differ due to their political status and international recognition. South Cyprus, as a member of the EU, benefits from access to EU markets, investment, and funding. It has a more diversified economy, with sectors such as tourism, finance, and services playing significant roles. North Cyprus, lacking international recognition, faces challenges in accessing global markets and investment. Its economy relies heavily on sectors such as tourism, education, and agriculture, with support from Turkey.


Culture and Identity

While both regions share a common Cypriot identity and cultural heritage, they also have distinct cultural influences. South Cyprus has stronger ties to Greek culture and traditions, including language, religion (Greek Orthodoxy), and cuisine. North Cyprus, influenced by Turkish culture, has closer ties to Turkey, including the Turkish language, religion (Islam), and cuisine. However, both regions exhibit cultural diversity and a blend of influences from various civilizations that have inhabited the island throughout history.


Overall, the division of Cyprus into North and South has resulted in distinct political, economic, and social landscapes, reflecting the complex history and geopolitical dynamics of the island. Efforts to reunify Cyprus remain ongoing but face significant challenges related to political differences, security concerns, and the presence of foreign powers.


It's not easy to narrow down Cyprus to a Top 10 Things to Do, but here goes!



Cyprus Top 10 Things to Do

  1. Visit Kyrenia Castle in North Cyprus

  2. Experience Bellapais Monastery and Village in North Cyprus

  3. Walk Salamis Ruins and Imagine the History and Culture in North Cyprus

  4. Spend the Day in Larnaca and visit Saint Lazarus Church, Old Town, and Flamingos at Sunset!

  5. Immerse Yourself in a Beach Day near Aiya Napa in South Cyprus

  6. Take a Road Trip to Aiya Napa for the Day (or longer!) in South Cyprus

  7. Climb the Lover's Bridge in Aiya Napa in South Cyprus

  8. Travel to Paphos for Archeology, Markets and Food

  9. Marvel at Aphrodite's Rock in between Paphos and Limassol in South Cyprus

  10. Visit Nicosia's Old Town (Capitol of Cyprus!)








Cyprus

Cyprus is a must on any global travelers list for its mystery, beauty, and culture. Not to mention, it is not a frequently talked about travel destination.

Languages

Greek and English in South Cyprus

Turkish and English in North Cyprus


Climate

Hot and dry summers last from mid-May to mid-October and mild, rainy, rather changeable, winters last from November to mid-March, separated by short autumn and spring seasons. T


Currency

South Cyprus - Euros

North Cyprus - Turkish Lira



Banks

Debit and credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. Mostly souvenir and street food stands take only cash. You may find ATMs virtually everywhere.



Sea Caves in Cyprus in Aiya Napa



All shots are my own on Canon EOSM100, Sony A330, and/or my iPhone 13 or via Airbnb.


Travel to Cyprus

Travel to Cypress is easy with all major airlines flying in and through Larnaca, Paphos, and Nicosia Airports. I flew to Larnaca, Cyprus from Varna, Bulgaria via Wizz Air #notsponsoredyet I rented a car via Priceline with Avis and Budget and paid $300 for the month.


p.s. I learned how to drive UK Style with the steering wheel on the opposite side and driving on opposite sides v USA!!!






Where I Stayed in Cyprus

Airbnb: Townhome in Kuckerenkoy near Kyrenia in North Cyprus

My intention before traveling to most destinations I am traveling to for more than a month is to stay at one Airbnb. I am so grateful I found this beautiful Airbnb.











Top 10 Cyprus Things to Do

Undoubtedly, Cyprus offer countless experiences in the country and island.

I experienced a lot during my month in Cyprus.


I would love to travel to Cyprus again when it is even warmer to spend more time at the beach, diving, and kite surfing. The temperature for the most part stayed around 65 degrees fahrenheit.


No matter how much time you have to visit Cyprus make the most of it.

Whether you spend a day, a week, or months in Cyprus, always make any travels your own!


In putting together the Top 10 Cyprus Things to Do, I considered how I would experience travels knowing what I know now to make it easier and more enjoyable for you.



Cyprus Top 10 Things to Do includes:

  1. Visit Kyrenia Castle in North Cyprus

  2. Experience Bellapais Monastery and Village in North Cyprus

  3. Walk Salamis Ruins and Imagine the History and Culture in North Cyprus

  4. Spend the Day in Larnaca and visit Saint Lazarus Church, Old Town, and Flamingos at Sunset!

  5. Immerse Yourself in a Beach Day near Aiya Napa in South Cyprus

  6. Take a Road Trip to Aiya Napa for the Day (or longer!) in South Cyprus

  7. Climb the Lover's Bridge in Aiya Napa in South Cyprus

  8. Travel to Paphos for Archeology, Markets and Food

  9. Marvel at Aphrodite's Rock in between Paphos and Limassol in South Cyprus

  10. Visit Nicosia's Old Town (Capitol of Cyprus!)





 

1 Visit Kyrenia Castle

I love visiting unique places that I will. never forget and stand out exponentially. Kyrenia Castle does in more ways than one with one of the biggest castles I have ever seen, sunken ship findings, unique church, and beautiful coast surrounding the castle.


Kyrenia Castle, located in Kyrenia (Girne) in Northern Cyprus, has a history that spans over a thousand years. While the exact date of its construction is uncertain, the origins of the castle can be traced back to the Byzantine period, likely in the 7th century AD. However, the current structure of the castle primarily dates to the 16th century during the Venetian rule of Cyprus.


The castle underwent significant renovations and expansions during different periods of its history, including modifications made by the Byzantines, Lusignans, Venetians, and Ottomans. These renovations were aimed at fortifying the castle's defenses and adapting it to the changing military technologies and threats of the time.


Today, Kyrenia Castle stands as a remarkable testament to the island's medieval past and serves as a prominent landmark overlooking the Kyrenia harbor. Its age and historical significance make it a popular destination for tourists and history enthusiasts, offering a glimpse into Cyprus's rich cultural heritage.








2 Experience Bellapais Monastery and Village

Experience Bellapais Monastery and Village in North Cyprus - you will be so glad you did. Driving up to the village on increasingly smaller streets was quite an adventure itself! I paid $3 Euro in 2024.


Bellapais Monastery and Village, located in the northern part of Cyprus near Kyrenia (Girne), is a captivating destination renowned for its historical significance, stunning architecture, and picturesque surroundings. Here's what you can expect to experience at Bellapais:


  1. Historical Background: Bellapais Monastery, also known as the Abbey of Peace, dates back to the 12th century when it was founded by Augustinian monks. The monastery flourished during the medieval period, serving as a center of religious worship, learning, and cultural exchange. Its strategic location atop a hill provided both spiritual solace and strategic defense.

  2. Architectural Marvel: The highlight of Bellapais is its exquisite Gothic architecture, characterized by elegant arches, intricate stonework, and vaulted ceilings. The monastery's main attraction is its beautifully preserved church, adorned with stunning frescoes, intricate carvings, and a serene courtyard. Visitors can also explore the monastery's cloisters, chapels, and living quarters, each offering glimpses into the monks' daily lives.

  3. Panoramic Views: Set against the backdrop of the Five Finger Mountain range and overlooking the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Bellapais offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Whether you're exploring the monastery grounds or wandering through the village streets, you'll be treated to stunning vistas that inspire awe and wonder.





3 Walk Salamis Ruins and Imagine the History and Culture

Walk Salamis Ruins and Imagine the History and Culture in North Cyprus. I visited both the Salamis Ruins and Barnabas Church close by on the same day.


The Salamis Ruins and Barnabas Church are two historically significant sites located in Northern Cyprus, near the city of Famagusta (Gazimağusa). Here's what you can expect to discover at each of these fascinating destinations:


Salamis Ruins:

  1. Ancient City: Salamis was once a thriving ancient city located on the eastern coast of Cyprus. It dates back to the 11th century BC and was inhabited by various civilizations, including the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines.

  2. Archaeological Site: Today, the Salamis Ruins stand as a testament to the city's former glory, with extensive archaeological remains spread across a vast area. Visitors can explore the ruins of ancient temples, basilicas, theaters, bathhouses, and other structures, each offering insights into the city's history and architecture.

  3. Highlights: Some of the notable highlights of the Salamis Ruins include the impressive amphitheater, which could accommodate thousands of spectators for theatrical performances and gladiatorial contests, as well as the Gymnasium, the Agora (marketplace), and the Roman Baths.

  4. Mythological Connections: According to legend, Salamis was founded by Teucer, the son of King Telamon of Salamis in Greece, and was named after the nymph Salamis, who was believed to be the daughter of the river god Asopos.

  5. Scenic Setting: The Salamis Ruins are situated in a picturesque coastal location, surrounded by lush vegetation and overlooking the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The scenic beauty of the site adds to its allure and makes it a popular destination for both history enthusiasts and nature lovers.


Barnabas Church (St. Barnabas Monastery and Icon Museum):

  1. Religious Site: The Barnabas Church, also known as the St. Barnabas Monastery, is an important religious site dedicated to Saint Barnabas, one of the early Christian apostles and the patron saint of Cyprus.

  2. History: The monastery is believed to have been founded in the 5th century AD and served as a center of Christian worship and pilgrimage throughout the Byzantine period. It was named after Saint Barnabas, who is said to have preached and performed miracles in Cyprus.

  3. Architecture: The current church complex features a combination of architectural styles, including Byzantine, Gothic, and Ottoman influences. The interior of the church is adorned with beautiful frescoes, iconography, and religious artifacts, providing visitors with a glimpse into the island's religious heritage.

  4. Icon Museum: In addition to its religious significance, the Barnabas Church is home to an Icon Museum that houses a valuable collection of Byzantine icons, religious relics, and artifacts. The museum offers visitors a chance to explore the rich artistic and cultural traditions of Cyprus's Christian heritage.



 

4 Spend the Day in Larnaca

Spend the Day in Larnaca and visit Saint Lazarus Church, Old Town, and Flamingos at Sunset! My mom came to visit me for mother daughter adventures in Cyprus. When I picked her up in Larnaca, we went to explore Old Town, Saint Lazarus Church, and ended our day at the Salt Lake with Flamingos at Sunset.


Here is a snapshot of our day:


Saint Lazarus Church: Start your day by visiting Saint Lazarus Church, one of the most important religious sites in Larnaca. This Byzantine-style church dates back to the 9th century and is built over the tomb of Saint Lazarus, who was resurrected by Jesus according to biblical accounts. Admire the church's beautiful architecture, intricate iconography, and serene atmosphere as you learn about its history and religious significance.


Old Town: After exploring Saint Lazarus Church, take a stroll through Larnaca's charming Old Town. Wander along the narrow cobblestone streets lined with traditional houses, shops, and cafes. Immerse yourself in the local culture, chat with friendly locals, and discover hidden gems tucked away in the historic heart of the city.


Larnaca Salt Lake:  During the winter months, the lake is home to thousands of migratory birds, including flamingos, making it a popular spot for birdwatching. Stroll along the lake's scenic trails, marvel at the vibrant pink hues of the flamingos, and soak in the tranquil ambiance of this natural oasis.







 


5 Beach Day near Aiya Napa in South Cypress

When researching beaches in Cyprus, I was amazed. I found numerous beaches in the North and South Cyprus. On our road trip to Aiya Napa, I chose Konnos Beach. I think you'll agree it is a great choice (and shallow far out too!)





Ayia Napa, located on the southeastern coast of Cyprus, is renowned for its vibrant nightlife, stunning beaches, and lively atmosphere. It's a popular destination for both party-goers and sun-seekers, offering a diverse range of attractions and activities. Here's an overview of Ayia Napa and one of its most beautiful beaches, Konnos Beach.


After we left Konnos Beach, my mom and I visit Lovers Bridge, Sculpture Park, Sea Caves, and Aiya Napa Downtown. If you split your beach day in half, it is easy to do it all in one day.


I recommend staying in Aiya Napa longer!



 

6 Take a Road Trip to Aiya Napa for a Day (or Longer!)

Take a Road Trip to Aiya Napa for the Day (or longer!) in South Cyprus. The beaches, water, caves, Lover's Bridge, Sculpture Park, and city are breathtaking!






7 Climb the Lover's Bridge in Aiya Napa

If you are like me and love adventure, you love climbing Lover's Bridge to make memories for a lifetime. You will find my climbing the bridge in the video above!






 

8 Travel to Paphos for Archeology, Markets and Food!

Paphos is an adorable city with an old town, markets, beaches, archeology and food. I seriously had some of the BEST food in my life at Agora Tavern in Old Town!



Paphos, located on the southwestern coast of Cyprus, is a city steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Paphos boasts a rich tapestry of archaeological wonders, traditional markets, and picturesque landscapes. Here's an overview of Paphos, its charming Old Town, bustling markets, iconic Agora Tavern, and the nearby Valley of the Kings.


Take a peak at my VLOG for Paphos, Cyprus.






 

9 Marvel at Aphrodite's Rock

Marvel at Aphrodite's Rock in between Paphos and Limassol in South Cyprus. Aphrodite's Rock, also known as Petra tou Romiou, is a geological formation located along the southwestern coast of Cyprus, near the city of Paphos. According to Greek mythology, this striking sea stack is the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. Bonus: its Free to Visit! (Jan 2024)











 

10 Visit Nicosia's Old Town (Capitol of Cyprus!)

If you are a non-EU citizen like me, and want to travel to North and South Cyprus, you will drive through the middle of town when you cross the border several times. I made it a point to stop, go to Ledra Square, Old Town and Eleftheria Square.






 

Top 10 Things to Do: Cyprus

Cyprus will amaze you in every way. Have you even heard of Cyprus before this blog or show?


Whether you want to experience Kyrenia Castle, Bellapais Monastery, Salamis Ruins and its history and culture (including Biblical!) , Larnaca Day Trip, Beach days near Aiya Napa, Adventures along the coast, Marveling at legends like Aphrodite's Rock, or any of my other Top 10 Things to Do in Cypress, you will love it.


What activities interest you to do for Top 10 Cypress Things to Do?


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