One of the largest islands in the Mediterranean located much closer to Asia Minor than Europe. Thanks to its warm, mild climate and delicious cuisine, Cyprus is visited by thousands of tourists every year.
Cyprus is first and foremost famous for beautiful beaches located mainly in the southern part of the island. The most popular resort is Ayia Napa, which guarantees a wonderful holiday rest. Beaches in the vicinity of Larnaka (famous for ceramic products) and Limassol are also worth paying a visit to. Fans of unattended bathing areas will be delighted, as they will find many of them along the shore. You can also take a trip to Lara beach located in the west of Paphos, which is often visited by turtles.
With a historical background
Paphos itself is full of historic monuments enlisted on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is worth visiting the buildings of the port, and walking a three-kilometre promenade to reach the famous fort and the ancient necropolis from 2.5 thousand years BC located a bit further – the Tombs of the Kings. Do not get fooled by its name, as no kings were in fact buried here!
It is a very well-preserved burial site of over one hundred aristocrats. An interesting fact is that the leaders among numerous archaeological teams are Polish research centres. In the vicinity of Paphos, you can also find the famous Aphrodite’s Rock, i.e. a beach where, according to the myth, the goddess of beauty was born from the sea foam.
Politics in the centre
The division into two cultures – Greek and Turkish – is visible in the structure of the island. From the 1970s, in the middle of the island there runs a state border between Northern Cyprus (recognized only by Turkey) and the Republic of Cyprus, inhabited mainly by Greek descendants. The Republic, similarly to Poland, became a member of the European Union in 2004. Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, has been divided in half for almost 50 years – it is located on the border between the two countries.
Nicosia is a safe city and a good starting point for trips to the northern Turkish part of the island. From the floors of the houses you can see an enormous flag of Northern Cyprus, placed on a hill 12 km away from the city. At night the flag starts shining to spite the Greek Cypriots.
A large number of sunny days and a mild climate make the grapes here sweet. This is also the taste of the most popular dessert wine on the island – Commandaria. It is made from the blender of two sun-dried grape varieties: white and red, which is quite an unprecedented combination. As it is usually the case on islands, food is more expensive than on the land. Nevertheless, it is worth trying local dishes. In the south, you can get a taste of all kinds of grilled meat and seafood, delicious olives and juicy citrus that can be eaten straight from a roadside tree.
Another popular food is the Halloumi Greek cheese served with salad or as an addition to pita. On the other hand, Falafel or kebab is popular in the north of the island. In addition to wine, as a souvenir from the trip, you can bring locally roasted coffee (best to buy it in the capital), as well as original local sweets – made without sugar and constituting a combination of fruit juices and dried fruits and nuts.
The highest point in Cyprus is the 1952-meter high Mount Olympus located in the Troodos Mountains that stretch in the central part of the island and whose summits are covered with a several-meter layer of snow for most of winter. A visit to this area is a great alternative to sunbathing. Moreover, in its vicinity it is possible to trek as well as visit monasteries and mountain villages. One of them is Pano Lefkara with red roof tiles contrasting with the white hills and the blue of the sky.
Medieval walls and quiet streets are a great breakaway from the sun and tourist hustle and bustle. Just a walk along the streets of Pano Lefkara allows you to enjoy the unique Mediterranean atmosphere and take a look at the works of local lace-makers, which Leonardo da Vinci allegedly appreciated by presenting the Milan cathedral with a tablecloth that was placed on the altar. The city is divided into the upper and lower part, where the Church of Holy Cross with the relic – a fragment of the cross on which Christ died, is located.