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Home » Blog » Destinations » All-in-one guide to Cyprus

All-in-one guide to Cyprus

Written by: Russell Wallace | Travel Insurance Expert
Last updated: 21 September 2022 | Created: 24 August 2022

The beautiful island of Cyprus sits in the azure Mediterranean sea and basks in the sun for 300-340 days of the year. With great weather and rich history and culture, it’s no surprise that it attracts over 130,000 UK visitors annually.

5 things to do

Visit the Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas of the Cats

This holy site is a must-visit for fans of the humble cat. Construction began in 327 AD but stopped due to a plague of snakes. Saint Helena, who was responsible for the building, shipped in 1,000 cats from Persia and Egypt, which she trained to react to bells. In time the cats drove the snakes away, and the building was completed. While the original building has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, the monastery is still home to many cats, including strays taken in by the nuns who now live there.

Explore the Zenobia Shipwreck

While many shipwreck dives are of ancient triremes or sunken ships, the Zenobia is a much more recent wreck. Under some suspicious circumstances, she sank in 1980 on her maiden voyage. Whether she sank due to an error or on purpose, the Zenobia draws divers in from worldwide. Due to the clear waters, you can also see the wreckage while snorkeling or from a glass-bottomed boat.

Wonder at the Mosaics of Paphos

These ancient floor mosaics are considered some of the world’s finest examples. The images are bright and vibrant even today and chronicle the everyday lives of the island’s people, as well as heroes and gods. The designs cover a period of over two hundred years and cover both the Hellenic and Byzantine periods of Cyprus.

See the birthplace of a Greek goddess

Legend states that the goddess Aphrodite was born of seafoam and came ashore near Paphos. Aphrodite’s rock is undoubtedly an impressive sight, and the beach next to it is breathtaking. A temple to the goddess of love is also nearby, which is worth a visit. If you fancy a swim, there’s a local legend that whoever swims around the entire base of the rock will forever be beautiful.

Explore the Tombs of the Kings

Despite the name, these tombs housed wealthy government officials from the 4th century BC. Regardless of who the tombs were built for, they’re an impressive sight to behold. It’s a large site with plenty of grand tombs to see. Beautiful fresco walls and doric columns make this underground site a visit you won’t soon forget.

5 Best Beaches

Makronissos Beach

Lush green shrubs gather at the edge of this chalky, white sand beach. The beach offers clear, blue waters to swim in and rock formations to explore. The peninsula is even shaped like a dolphin tale when seen from the air. Some ancient tombs await you at the tip of the beach, and you can explore them for free.

Nissi Beach

Nissi has an undeniable natural beauty which draws visitors year-round. The beach gets busy in the summer and is often home to live music events in the sunnier months. White sand and clear, shallow waters give this stunning cove an almost Caribbean feel. If you’re visiting in winter and spring, low tide reveals a sand walkway linking the beach to the small island of Nissi. You can stroll to the island and enjoy the pretty plants growing there. You can still walk to the island in summer and autumn, but you’ll need to paddle across.

Fig Tree Bay

An excellent beach for families to enjoy, Fig Tree Bay attracts a good mix of locals and tourists. The shallow waters and paddling pools are perfect for young children, and the beautiful sands and surrounding fig trees mean the rest of the family will also love this breathtaking bay.

Mackenzie Beach

Just fifteen minutes from the city of Larnaca, Mackenzie beach is more well known by locals than tourists, so it can be a great way to beat the crowds and get absorbed in Cypriot culture. Being near the city, there are plenty of choices for food and drink. You can enjoy a stroll along a promenade and soak in the breathtaking ocean view.

Kalamies Beach

Clear, warm water laps on an unspoiled sandy shore at this beach near Ayia Napa. The Kalamies Beach Restaurant is an excellent place to taste some fantastic Mediterranean seafood. A small spot of land reaches out into the sea and is home to St Nicholas Church. This archetypal Greek church offers a beautiful backdrop for your holiday photos.

5 Best Restaurants

Pyxida Fish Tavern, Nicosia

Specialising in seafood, Pyxida is a popular choice with the locals and visitors. Located in a converted 1930s house, this is a great place to sample some of the abundant fresh fish Cyprus offers. If you can’t decide between the octopus in vinegar or feta stuffed calamari, they offer a meze option so you can sample a wide range of the menu.

Andria, Limassol

Located just off Coral bay in a former vineyard, Andria serves genuine Cypriot cuisine using fresh, local ingredients. This family-run restaurant offers a relaxed atmosphere and a range of vegetarian options. You can also enjoy steak, fish, or chicken in various local dishes.

The Bunch of Grapes Inn, Pissouri

Located at the heart of the village of Pissouri is The Bunch of Grapes Inn. This restaurant is a 200-year-old building with an ancient mulberry tree offering shade in the courtyard; this restaurant is like stepping back in time. The menu is a mixture of Cypriot, French and English food, so there should be something for everyone.

Oniro by the Sea, Peyia

While viewing the famous Edro III shipwreck and hearing the sounds of the waves crashing below you, you could be forgiven for forgetting to eat at this popular eatery. However, you’d been missing out on modern twists to classic Cypriot dishes, such as cuttlefish and polenta or the chicken roulade. It can get busy during the summer but is well worth the visit if you can get a table.

Militzis, Larnaca

An excellent choice for meat lovers, Militzi is popular with Cypriots for lunch and dinner and can get busy. Offering classic local dishes such as moussaka and souvla (pork roasted in wine), you can also get a reasonably priced meze if you want to enjoy almost endless plates of salad, cheese, meat and seafood.

5 top tips

Try the fish

Being an island in some of the finest fishing waters in the world, Cyprus has a vast range of delicious fresh seafood dishes to try. Even if you’re not usually a fan of fish, try some on your trip, especially if it’s a local dish or variety, not just cod and chips. If you’re already a fan of seafood, don’t miss the chance to try out some more exotic options, such as lionfish.

When to visit

July is a sweltering month in Cyprus, with temperatures often reaching 40C, so it may be best to visit in May-June or the end of August -September. If you’re not worried about it being chilly compared to the summer months, staying in March or April will let you enjoy the mountains awash with stunning wildflowers.

Learn some of the languages

While 76% of Cypriots speak English, learning at least some valuable words in the local language is always polite. Cypriots are friendly and warmer to you if you make a little effort with their language. Depending on where you go, you may need to learn a different language. The southern two-thirds of the island speak Cypriot Greek, which varies from mainland Greek. The Northern third of the island speaks Cypriot Turkish, which is somewhat different from standard Turkish.

Be friendly

Cypriots are very friendly and incredibly family oriented. Don’t be afraid to smile at locals and shake their hands. It’s not unusual to be invited into the house of someone you’ve just met. If this does happen, remember that it is considered rude to refuse an offer of Greek coffee or cold drink. If you go into their home, don’t sit down until your host does. They may ask you many questions about your family or work and are usually genuinely interested. It’s considered polite to return this interest.

Avoid talking about politics

Cyprus has a reasonably turbulent political past. While many Cypriots will openly discuss politics and religion, it’s not a good idea for tourists to do so. The island’s division is a very complex issue and one that many locals have a deep knowledge of. Don’t offer your opinion; try to give a neutral response if you are asked for it.

Cyprus is home to fantastic food, historical sights and amiable locals. It’s well worth a visit, and many people fall in love with the island and travel there again and again. When you do go, make sure you have Cyprus Travel Insurance for your trip.


‘Author notes

Written by Russell Wallace, Content Creator at AllClear
Edited by Letitia Smith, M.Sc. Content Manager at AllClear’