Tourism in Cyprus – General Information
In Cyprus you will discover a compact world of alluring beaches and fragrant mountain peaks, vineyards studded with olive trees and ancient ruins that stir the imagination, citrus groves and old stone villages where sweet wine flows as freely as conversations at the local cafe.
A carefree place where a sense of timelessness is magnified by the kindness of the people.
From the establishment of the Republic, tourism played an important role for the islands´ economy, while from the 1960s Cyprus became one of the main tourist centers of the Mediterranean, after a rapid and continuous growth.
Cyprus, at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, is situated in the north-eastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea, 75km south of Turkey, 90km west of Syria and 380km east of the Greek island of Rhodes. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia, with an area of 9.251 sq km.
Because of the appropriateness of Cyprus´ product, it’s geographic position and climatic conditions, it has the ability of serving a variety of special interests, while at the same time enriching with the special facilities that it offers from tourist experience of holiday-makers who come to the island for the sun and the sea.
Based on the Strategic Plan for Tourism, up to 2010 there will be particular emphasis for the growth of special forms of tourism, such as Conferences, Cultural Tourism, Athletic Tourism, Walk and Cycling Tourism, Cruises.
Particularly in areas of Cultural Tourism, Cyprus aims to advertise unique characteristics and sights, owed to it’s history of 11 millennia and to it’s position as the crossroad of three continents.
Learn all you need to know to help plan your stay and make it more enjoyable.
In general, and as member of the European Union, Cyprus follows European norms and standards. English is widely spoken, as are other European languages, especially in the resort areas.
Check out various facts and figures, such as entry requirements, currency, electricity voltage and time zone, to help you get organized and keep red tape to a minimum. Find out what the average temperatures for all the months of the year are, to get an idea of when to come and what clothes to bring. Discover how easy is to get around in our compact world using the efficient road network and the variety of transportation options available. Don-t get caught out by local holidays or shop closing times. You’ll find all the information you need at your fingertips.
Cypriot hospitality is legendary, and you’ll be given the warmest of welcomes in Cyprus. From the basket of fresh fruit and bottle of wine you may receive on arrival, to the attentiveness of staff and friendly service everything is geared to make you feel at home.
You will find reasonable rates and every type of accommodation to suit a wide variety of preferences and pockets in Cyprus, offering you great value for money.
Whether you prefer to lounge around in the lap of luxury at a five star hotel right on the beach with every amenity, including health centre and spa, or if you choose a hotel apartment or villa with pool for independent flexibility, or even a quiet hideaway in the hills in a simple family run establishment for a back to nature experience, you will find what you want on the island. Whether mountains or beach, city or countryside, the island can accommodate you.
Food and Drink
With emphasis on fresh local ingredients, a pungent mix of herbs and spices and a light spattering of olive oil, Cypriot food is essentially Mediterranean, similar to that of Greece and with a hint of Middle East and Asia Minor.
Both poets and travelers past have praised the flavors of the island. In present times doctors and health specialists have added their voices in extolling the virtues of the Mediterranean diet. The grains and pulses, sun-ripened fresh fruit and vegetables, high-protein fish, lean meat and poultry, olive oil and wine are both a healthy option as well as an irresistible temptation.
In a society of extended families with close ties, it is not surprising that home cooking is an important feature of everyday life, with recipes passed down through generations. Having a hearty meal in the company of friends and family is what it’s all about. No wonder that hospitality and conviviality are deeply ingrained in the Cypriot psyche, so much so that pleasing has become a fine art. So give free reign to your taste buds and indulge in a culinary feast.
Sun and Sea
Sink your toes into warm sand, feel the sun warming your skin as you look out on the sparkling blue Mediterranean sea. Nothing beats Cyprus for a beach holiday.
With an expansive coastline providing a wide variety of beaches to choose from, ranging from secluded bays, to lively resorts, sandy beaches and rocky coves, you are bound to find the right one for you.
Relaxing in the sun is not the only reason to visit Cyprus. There’s a myriad of activities you could indulge in and being an island, water sports feature strongly. Try the waterpark for thrills, or bungee jumping for an extreme sensation. Discover the magic of the underwater world by snorkeling or diving in the warm crystal clear seas. Windsurfing and sailing can be enjoyed all the year round, thanks to steady winds and calm predictable seas, while coastal cruising and deep-water fishing are also popular. You could even use the island as a base for a short cruise to other nearby countries.
Step back in time with a visit of Choirokoitia, one of the best preserved sites of a prehistoric settlement found in the East Mediterranean, with its reconstructed round dwellings giving a vivid representation what life was like at the dawn of civilization.
Admire the exquisite floor mosaics of the Roman villas depicting scenes from mythology, arguably the best in the eastern Mediterranean and the impressive underground Tombs of the Kings nearby, carved out of solid rock and decorated with Doric pillars. Or enjoy an ancient Greek play performed in a Roman theatre with the most spectacular view on a cliff overlooking the sea.
Many fine examples of Byzantine are have survived on the island, which you can see for yourself in Cyprus’ painted churches with their colorful frescoes, ten of which have been put on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Marvel at the sumptuous pageantry of Greek Orthodox religious festivals whose origins go back thousands of years.
In addition to the wealth of outdoor sites, tour the priceless collection of artifacts displayed in the various Archaeological Museum where you can see objects spanning the island’s history, including pottery, coins, jewellery, tombstones and statues.
Sites and Monuments
Testaments to Cyprus’ turbulent history can be found all over the island. Long coveted by foreign powers due to its strategic position at the crossroad between three continents, the island is like a huge open air museum where you can see evidence of the passage of the various conqueror and rulers that controlled it through the ages.
Marvel at the spectacular views from cliff top spots where the ancient Mycenaean Greek settlers built temples to their various gods, with pride of place to Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Watch a performance in a Roman theatre still in use today, or admire the fabulous mosaic floors that once adorned the villas of Roman noblemen when the island was a distant outpost of the Roman Empire.
Discover hidden away in the pine forests Cyprus’ painted churches with their colorful frescoes on walls and apses, ten of which have been put on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Coasts and Beaches
With a wealth of beaches to choose from, you’re bound to find one that suits your taste. From the quiet backwaters of the western peninsula, to the lively in the east, the island has something for everyone.
The eastern coast is famous for its fine white sandy beaches with shallow turquoise waters. Deep water bays with rocky outcrops are perfect for snorkeling or diving. The long finely packed grey sand of the southern coast lend themselves to long winter walks of jogging, while the secluded coves of the western coast beckon when you want to be alone.
The Cities of Cyprus
Four large cities punctuate the island, with Lefkosia (Nicosia), the capital in the centre, and Larnaka (Larnaca), Lemessol (Limassol) and Pafos (Paphos) along the southern coast.
They are busy modern commercial and business centres, with old town centres with picturesque historical buildings, where you can wander along narrow streets and browse through interesting markets and shopping centres.
Lefkosia combines both old and new, characterized by its old quarter surrounded by Venetian sandstone fortress wall, beyond which spreads a cosmopolitan city. Lemessos, the island’s second largest city, is the centre of the wine industry, and bustling holiday resort, renowned for its varied nightlife, while Larnaka, with its marina and palm/lined promenade, has important shrines to both Christianity and Islam. Pafos to the west is an archeological treasure trove, with some of the finest mosaics in the Mediterranean.
The Regions of Cyprus
When in Cyprus, don’t limit yourself to the main cities and coastal resorts. Spread your wings by venturing into the countryside.
From fragrant citrus orchards and olive groves, rolling vineyards, wide open plains, carpeted with colorful wild flowers, to cool pine forest and pristine beaches were turtles nest, Cyprus’ nature will delight you at all times of year.
Go on a wine or culinary tour discovering age-old villages cascading down hillsides with shady squares where you can sit at the coffee shop and mix with the locals. Spend a relaxing day at one of the salt lakes where you can observe nature and wildlife to your heart’s content. Or visit some of Europe’s most evocative ancient sites, Neolithic settlements and quaint medieval churches. Cyprus offers the full Mediterranean experience in a compact area easy to reach.
Take in the culture of Cyprus by following one of the themed routes around the island.
Follow in the footsteps of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty and protectress of Cyprus. Wander through layers of history, culture and mythology as you learn all about her birth, mythology, character, the rituals connected with her cult, as well as plantas and seashells associated with her.
Take a tour of the wineries and indulge in some wine-tasting, or sample other grape-based delicacies visiting an old monastery or a wine museum along the way.
See the Cyprus’ famous ten Byzantine churches on UNESCO’s World Heritage List scattered throughout the Troodos mountain areas with their remarkable pitched wooden roofs, icons and frescoes.
Experience the island’s culture, history and wonderful scenery from the saddle of a bike.
A cycle tour enables you to come across things which you would probably miss from inside a car. A chance encounter with a local, a stunning landscape to linger over, the sights and sounds of nature from up close, an ancient ruin or a secluded cove.
Follow one of the many cycling routes or even make your own. Set the pace you deside whether training of leisure and feel your lungs with fresh air while making your bit to fight global warming and protect the environment.
Use your mobile phone’s browser to navigate to m.visitcyprus.com and click to install the mobile brochure for the Troodos Cycling Routes . Your mobile phone must support Java Mobile Edition.
Cyprus Tourism organisation
Perhaps the best way to see a country is on foot. If you love the great outdoors or want to improve your fitness, hiking is ideal. Leave your car and experience the culture and nature of the island in the best possible way.
Cyprus has numerous signposted paths or nature trails, some more challenging than others, but all are a feat for the senses, especially in the springtime when you can experience the sights, sounds and smells of nature at first hand.