There are six distinct areas in Cyprus, with Larnaca being one of the less touristy spots to the south. While you won’t find lots of glamourous hotels here, it’s home to some of the best attractions in the country, as well as beautiful beaches and interesting towns. The coastal promenade – known as the Finikoudes by locals – is a popular spot where you can relax on the beach and try local food at the restaurants and bars. Head to Makenzy Beach in the morning for a quick dip and coffee, then make a beeline for the historic sites, including Lakarna Fort, Agios Lazaros (a beautiful church) and Ancient Kition – an arachnological site.
Known to locals as south Nicosia, Lefkosia is the capital of Cyprus. A heady mix of vibrant markets, historic buildings, award-winning restaurant and great cocktail bars, there’s something for everyone. The southern half (Lefkosia) belongs to Cyprus, while the northern half is Turkish occupied, so there are interesting Middle Eastern influences in the food and culture. Walk around the Venetian Walls which surround the Old City, then head to Plateia Faneromenis for independent cafés and edgy shops filled with art and ceramics. Lefkosia has some of Cyprus’ best restaurants, as well as a buzzing nightlife scene – ideal for a girls’ trip.
When holidaying in Cyprus, a trip to Lemesos is a must. The home of ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite, the city was made for history buffs who want to explore the archaeological sites, castles, and traditional villages. The city itself is wrapped around Lemesos Castle, an impressive 14th-century building, and an interesting Marina surrounded by small boutiques, art galleries, and stylish bars and restaurants. Venture a little further out and you’ll also find a string of beautiful vineyards where you can enjoy tastings and pick up a few bottles to take home – Zambartas Winery with its rolling hills and laid-back vibe is an SL favourite.
The Troodos Mountains
To see Cyprus’ rugged landscape and immerse yourself in nature, the Troodos Mountains (otherwise known as Troodos Massif) is the place to go. Covering 90sq km, the county’s largest mountain range is where you’ll find Mt Olympos, the highest point in Cyprus, as well as a range of ancient monasteries and medieval churches. The area is a protected geopark, ideal for a family outing where you can enjoy hiking, camping and cycling, or take advantage of the excellent ski slopes during the winter months. Be sure to visit the botanical gardens and Archangelos Michail – a UNESCO-listed church.
If you want to relax on the beach with a cocktail in hand, head to the north. Just be aware North Cyprus is primarily Turkish, and uses the Turkish Lira currency. Home to several stylish resorts and beach clubs, you could easily spend a week here relaxing in the sunshine. The way of life is distinctly more laidback than the neighbouring areas, and there are several traditional villages and towns to visit – Girne and Gazimağusa being two of the most interesting. Head to Gazimağusa Bay for beautiful, quiet beaches or head to Glossa for more of an up-tempo vibe. Kyrenia Mountains are also worth a visit if you want to hike or see some of the best views of the island.
While Paphos divides opinion, there’s no doubt it has some stunning scenery. It also has a variety of award-winning sites and was nominated European Capital of Culture a few years ago. Avoid the busy beach strip at Kato Paphos and head to Upper Paphos instead, which has a more traditional feel, with ancient sites, beautiful architecture and sandy beaches. Be sure to visit Tomb of the Kings and Hrysopolitissa Basilica (two archaeological sites) then head to Lara Beach, renowned for its clear waters. A lovely afternoon can also be spent at Tsangarides Winery which operates free tours and wine tastings.
Easily one of the most stylish hotels on the island, the Anassa is an SL-favourite that’s a haven for adults, but suitable for little ones, too. Located in Paphos, this hillside retreat has stunning sea views and is surrounded by a beach, lush, landscaped gardens and olive trees for total privacy and seclusion. There are several types of room to choose from – couples should book a suite with sea views, while groups can stay in villas with a private pool and terrace. Several of the options are family-friendly, too, and there’s a great kids’ club where children can enjoy everything from swimming to pottery lessons. Enjoy dinner at Helios and head poolside to Pelagos for light bites and Mediterranean mezze. Anassa also has a luxury spa, and an extensive list of outdoor activities to choose from, like paddleboarding, scuba diving, yoga and sailing.
Having only opened two years ago, AMARA has already established itself as a stylish hotspot on the northeast coast of Limassol. David Rockwell Studio and WA Interiors are behind the design, where you can expect design-led touches, like infinity pools overlooking volcanic beaches and chic sea-view rooms. Couples will love the secluded Rooftop Duplex Suites, which have private pools, sun loungers and dining areas on the roof, while families can spread out in one of the Seafront Bungalows. If you’re after a bit of R&R, head to AMARA’s spa for a treatment and use of the hammam and sauna, then watch the sunset at Ristorante Locatelli. For something a little more relaxed, Armyra serves delicious seafood, while the Rooftop Bar is the place to go for sundowner cocktails.
Gillham Vineyard Hotel
The only vineyard hotel in Cyprus, wine lovers should head to Gillham for a slice of Mediterranean bliss. Ideal for couples or a relaxing girls’ trip, the hotel is adults-only, so you needn’t worry about being disturbed by little ones. There are 31 suites in total, from the modern Rosé Suites located on the edge of the vineyards, to the White Suites which have private garden terraces and mountain views. Guests can dine at the sophisticated Gillham’s restaurant and relax in the luxury Wine Spa to experience ‘vino therapy’ – antioxidant treatments using grapes. Of course, the vineyards and wine are the star of the show, so be sure to explore the grounds and try the hotel’s bottles at the wine bar.
If you want a truly relaxing getaway, head to Casale Panayiotis, a stunning spa retreat and wellness resort. Here, the rooms have some of the chicest interiors on this list, especially the suites and family rooms, complete with high ceilings, minimalist furniture and beautiful views of the surrounding hills. The hotel as an ‘outside-in retreat’ ethos where you can relax in the private outdoor whirlpool, herbal steam room, hydrotherapy pool and thermal suite which has tropical rain showers and a detox mud cabin. In terms of food, the restaurants create seasonal dishes made with local ingredients from the village, and there’s a takeaway menu, too – ideal if you’re just passing by. Be sure to visit Kava, the hotel’s impressive subterranean cocktail bar.
Modus Vivendi is a beautiful collection of self-catering suites and stone cottages in the small village of Psematismenos, between Larnaca and Lemesos. Full of character, the interiors are rustic yet chic – think stone walls, bamboo ceilings, antique four-poster beds and stylishly mismatched furniture. Terra Verte Studio and Lefko House are the top choice, with white-washed walls and modern en-suites. Guests can relax in the pool and on the outdoor terrace, before exploring the local village – you’ll need a car to get around, especially if you want to hit the best beaches in Larnaca.
If you’re heading on a family holiday or group trip, Cyprus has a myriad of villas to choose from. Villa Otrea is in the small village of Pernera, just a short walk away from the beautiful Malama Beach. With ultra-modern interiors, the villa sleeps up to six and has an open-plan living room with garden access, three bedrooms, and a plunge pool with Roman steps. There’s also a full-equipped kitchen and a spacious terrace for al fresco dining. Guests can explore the coastal village of Kapparis with its unspoilt beach and crystalline waters, or head to Nissi for water sports and excellent diving spots. For a fun girls’ night out, Aiya Napa is only a 15-minute taxi ride away, where there are some stylish beach bars in addition to the high-octane clubs.
Louis Chris Le Mare
Another stylish option for groups, Louis Chris Le Mare is located in Protaras – a family-friendly resort town in eastern Cyprus. The villa has everything you need for a comfortable stay, including luxury bed linens in each room and a fully equipped kitchen, while several restaurants, bars and beaches are a short drive away. The property sleeps six across three bedrooms, and there’s an outdoor patio with sun loungers overlooking the pool. Head on a day trip to Agia Trida Beach, an idyllic spot which both adults and children will love and visit the nearby picturesque fishing harbour – ideal for romantic dinners and sundowner drinks.
Ristorante Locatelli, Limassol
If you don’t stay at AMARA, be sure to book a table at its restaurant Ristorante Locatelli, headed up by Michelin-starred chef Giorgio Locatelli. The Italian menu features simple yet elegant dishes like seabass with champagne sauce, slow-cooked beef ragu with black spaghetti and marinated veal with burrata and asparagus.
Antasia Beach Club, Paphos
If you’re after a seriously chic beach club, head to Antasia in Paphos. Having only opened in June, it’s already become a hotspot with those in the know. Specialising in a ‘day-to-night experience’, guests can enjoy light plates on the beach, like calamari, prawn tempura and Peking duck rolls, then head into the restaurant later for sushi and sashimi, and delicious seafood. There’s also a cool rooftop bar where DJs set the tone with chilled house tunes.
Captain’s Table, Zygi
Located in Zygi Marina, in between Limassol and Larnaca, this restaurant serves delicious seafood and Mediterranean plates. Ideal for a romantic dinner with beautiful views of the marina, menu highlights include crab croquettes, grilled octopus and stuffed lobster.
Sage, Ayia Napa
If you visit Ayia Napa, this is the restaurant to go to. With a string of awards to its name, diners can listen to live music in the outdoor courtyard while enjoying a range of European-fusion dishes, like beef carpaccio with truffle oil and parmesan, roast duck with hoisin sauce, prawn ravioli, and crème brûlée.
Kiniras Garden, Paphos
For traditional Cypriot food, Kiniras Garden, is right by the market in Paphos’ Old Town. In this family-run restaurant, part of Kiniras Hotel, all the dishes have been inspired by their favourite cookbooks over the years, so there’s an interesting mix of modern and traditional plates to choose from. There’s also an extensive wine list and the homemade desserts are delicious.
Piatsa Gourounaki, Lefkosia
Piatsa Gourounaki translates as ‘a place where little pigs get together’, so you can expect hearty meals in this casual Greek restaurant. All the meat is slow cooked on the grill, and the salads are made from fresh veg from local suppliers. Choose one of the souvlakis with tzatziki and tahini, and wash it down with wine from the barrel.
Kastro, Pissouri Bay
This family-owned restaurant was once a beach shack several years ago but is now a stylish restaurant with a beautiful terrace overlooking Pissouri Bay. Expect traditional Mediterranean dishes like grilled seafood and meat, Greek breads, and big salads.
Zenobia Diving Site
Hailed one of the best diving spots in the Med, Zenobia is a Swedish shipwreck that plummeted to the bottom of the ocean in the 80s. You’ll need diving experience to explore the waters, which are teaming with fish and sea creatures.
Aphrodite’s Rock & Beach
This is one of the most famous beaches in Cyprus. Said to be the legendary settlement of the Greek goddess, there are two huge rocks surrounded by blue waters. Head to the beach for a sunset swim or visit during the day for a picnic.
Located in Lefkosia, CVAR museum has an extensive collection of art, photographs and relics that tell the story of Cyprus’ rich history. You could easily spend a whole afternoon here, before having lunch at the on-site restaurant, Balthazar.
Located on the edge of Protaras, this beach is a great option for families. Adults can relax on one of the sun loungers and swim in the sea, while children play in the rock pools and enjoy ice-cream from one of the local stalls.
Larnaca Salt Lake
This is the second largest salt lake in the country. Now a protected area, visitors can spot wildlife in the waters, including flamingos and other water birds.
Cape Greco National Park
Located in the south, this national park was made for outdoor lovers. There are several walking trails and cycling paths to choose from, all of which have beautiful sea views. Be sure to stay until sunset to see the beautiful white Ayii Anargyri Chapel.
Avakas Gorge is one of the wonders of Paphos – it was created over the course of thousands of years when a flowing stream collided with limestone. Today, you can hike around the area (it’s fairly challenging and not for the faint of heart) to see a range of exotic plants.
Current Travel Info: Cyprus is currently on the UK’s amber list. All travellers from the UK must present a negative Covid-19 antigen test which must not be older than 48 hours or a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours on arrival, regardless of their vaccination status. You will also need to complete an online entry form before you enter.
Flight Time: A direct flight from London to Cyprus takes around 4 and a half hours. The main airport is Larnaca International.
Average Temperature: During the summer months, temperatures tend to range between 32°C and 36°C.
Time: Local time is GMT plus one hour.
*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice and entry requirements to Croatia before you book anything. Visit Gov.uk for more information