Now I didn’t have high expectations, or any expectations at all if I’m to be honest, but Cyprus was a completely surprising destination, in the best possible way. Honesty-time again, but Cyprus hadn’t even made it to my bucket list, which is a lengthy list of bizarre (and generic) countries. So how did I find myself gallivanting around Cyprus for five days?
Israel. Pesach (Passover). One week break. Warm weather. Beaches. Close in proximity.
Add all of those things together and I found myself on a quick 45 minute flight to Cyprus to sunny skies, food that makes you salivate just by looking at it and Instagram-worthy beaches.
Cyprus became independent of Britain in 1960, which had been a crown colony since 1925. There has been a longstanding conflict between the Greek Cypriot majority and the Turkish Cypriot minority. Turkey invaded the island in 1974, and is now occupying the northern part of Cyprus, known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. However, its independence is only recognised by Turkey.
We flew into Cyprus at 6pm, and spent the night and next morning wandering through the quaint port city. There isn’t much to do here and the beach wasn’t anything special, so I wouldn’t spend more than a day here but the food we ate was excellent.
What to do-
- Church of Saint Lazarus
- Larnaca Marina
- Larnaca Fort
- Old Turkish Quarter- begins at the fort
Stou Roushia: This was our first dinner in Cyprus and it set the bar very high. The restaurant is traditional and welcoming. We chose tzakiki and aubergine dip (life changing experience) as our starters which came with warm pita bread. We also ordered a spinach pasta, a lamb pita sandwich, vegetarian bites and halloumi along with house wine. Everything was so delicious.
To Kafe tis Chrysanthis: We went here for lunch and got a huge salad. There are many different salad options, sandwiches, and cakes on the menu.
Ayia Napa was one of the most bizarre places I have ever visited in my life. The main tourist strip is filled with beyond tacky, themed restaurants with neon lights and statues of dinosaurs and cows atop the restaurants. I didn’t dare eat in any so I can’t comment on the standard of the food, but if you can, steer clear from this street unless you like that sort of thing!
But don’t be deterred from visiting as the rest of Ayia Napa has a lot to offer. Drive 10-20 minutes out of the main tourist strip and you’ll find yourself surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Spending 2-3 days here would be the perfect amount of time.
What to do-
- Cape Creco
- Konnos Beach
- Nissi Beach
- Makronissos Beach
En-Yevo Tavernaki: I can confidently say this is the nicest restaurant in Ayia Napa. The decor of the restaurant was cute and traditional with vine leaves covering the roof and walls. The food was delicious- make sure you leave room for dessert so you can try the apple pie with ice-cream!
Vassos (Psarolimano) Fish Tavern: As I mentioned before, the restaurants in Ayia Napa were so tacky looking we steered clear from the main strip which meant there weren’t too many other options. This restaurant was on the harbour so while it was touristy and not the best food we’d eaten on the trip (to be fair there was some very high competition), the fish was very fresh. If you’re looking for a nice meal over looking the water this place was nice and not expensive.
I would recommend 2-3 days in Paphos so you have enough time to site-see and relax at the beach.
What to do-
- Tomb of the Kings
- Coral Bay
- Boat cruise- I went on a boat cruise from Latchi, about 50 minutes drive from Paphos
- Kato Paphos Archaeology Park
- Petra tou Romiou, also known as Aphrodite’s Rock
Seven St. Georges Tavern: My friends and I agreed that this was the highlight of our whole trip to Cyprus. From the atmosphere to the hospitable service and the mouth-watering food, the whole night was an experience. There is no set menu, they just bring you plates and plates of food until you can’t eat anymore, and then they bring you dessert! Make sure you make a reservation or you may miss out on dining here.
Muse: Come for the sunset, stay for the drinks. We arrived at this restaurant-bar just in time to watch the sun set over the city. The place has an extensive drinks menu, but the food is nothing special. I suggest coming for the sunset and getting a drink or two, but finding somewhere better to eat.
- Rent a car: This will make your life so much easier as the island is small and there are no trains and limited buses. The roads were very easy to drive on, and in April they weren’t busy at all!
- Driving: Since Cyprus was ruled by Britain until 1960, they drive on the left hand side.
- Adapter: You’ll need a British plug adapter if you aren’t from England.
- Travelling between the Greek and Turkish side: You can’t travel between the two sides with a rental car. If you wish to do this you will have to leave your car on either side and cross the border by foot, then order a taxi to your destination.
- Language spoken: The main language spoken in the country is Greek, followed by English and Turkish in the north.
- Wifi: Most restaurants offered free wifi, so we managed to travel around Cyprus without needed to buy a sim-card.