Cyprus is an island of many facets and if you’re intending to take a holiday there, it’s best to plan so that you can explore as many of them as possible. Tourists often forsake the cities in favour of those gorgeous sandy beaches and the rugged terrain that have given the island its status as a holiday paradise, but the major cities have just as much charm as the fishing villages on the outskirts. Good nightlife, plenty of cafes and culture in abundance, you can definitely expect to find all of these in the metropolises below. With flights to Cyprus with companies such as Monarch so cheap at the moment, why not book a weekend off and explore one of them?
The city of Lefkosia is the capital and business centre of the island, and as such, you can expect a busy atmosphere as well as a thriving town centre. During the day, you’ll find plenty of places to sample that fine Cypriot coffee – Kafenio in Nikokleous and Raw in Themistokli Dervi are two of the finest recommendations – but you’ll also be treated to a rather exciting nightlife. For a unique evening experience, head to Plato’s. Tucked away inside an old house, it feels very much like a jazz joint and serves a huge variety of beers from all over the world. Dress appropriately, though.
Top of the list of cultural attractions is Buyuk Han, a stunning Ottoman-era construction where a local market still take place on a regular basis (check with your accommodation provider – they should be able to tell you when the market is on). Oddly enough, it’s also worth tracking down the local Debenhams for a first-class panoramic look at Lefkosia from the top floor. Don’t feel too self-conscious – everyone is doing it.
It’s all about the culture in Lemesos. The second largest city in Cyprus is an immensely popular tourist destination for many reasons, but the plethora of historical attractions is certainly a huge draw. Highlights to see include the Grand Mosque in the old Turkish quarter, the archaeological museum and, of course, Lemesos’ very own medieval castle. Constructed in the 14th century, this imposing structure has impressed and enthralled the city’s visitors since the day it was completed.
Our third city destination is the metropolis of Larnaca. Don’t be fooled by the concrete jungle feel offered by the circular steel towers here – there’s still plenty of beauty to be unearthed. If you have a choice, come here during the winter months. You won’t be disappointed – the nearby Salt Lake fills with water and plays host to flocks of beautiful flamingos.
But there’s plenty to do in the summer as well – be sure to visit the Ayios Lazarus, and dive down to the wreck of the Zenobia if you get the opportunity.
Our final destination is Paphos, which more than holds its own against its fellow cities. Must-visit locations include the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, the Ayios Neophytos monastery and – particularly if you’re a wildlife fan – the Lara Bay Turtle Conservation Station, which is every bit as wonderful as it sounds. Paphos is also coastal and, as such, has some of the best beaches in Cyprus. Head to St George with a beach towel and a good book for some serene coastline.