I asked a few of my fellow travel bloggers to help me put together a list of the best places to visit in Cyprus. But before that, a little context.
Where is Cyprus?
When you look at the map, you will find Cyprus island close to Turkey and Siria. So close, you couldn’t consider Cyprus a part of Europe. However, due to its cultural and historical links to Europe, and Greece in particular, it is a European country even though geography might disagree.
The third-largest island in the Mediterranean (after Sicily and Sardinia in Italy) is at a crossroads between Asia, Africa, and Europe. Many civilizations sought to conquer the island for its strategic position and they all contributed to Cyprus’ rich cultural heritage.
Assyrian, Egyptian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Turkish, Venetian, and English influence are visible everywhere on this multicultural island.
For instance, Ottoman and Venetian architecture are often visible in the same building. The Turkish built a Roman-style aqueduct in the 18th century. Not to mention that you have to drive on the wrong/left side of the road in Cyprus. Also, you have to use electrical adapters (if you’re not coming from the UK). Still, the currency used is Euro as Cyprus is part of the European Union.
Despite a complicated situation regarding Northern Cyprus, the island has managed to become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean. Good weather all-around the year, a beautiful coastline, historic sites, and traditional villages have helped to achieve that.
So, without further ado, these are the best places in Cyprus you shouldn’t miss.
Best Places to See in Cyprus
I’m grouping these best places to visit in Cyprus in 3 main categories so you can navigate easily:
Cities in Cyprus
Contributed by me, Anda from Travel for a while
Larnaca has one of the two airports operating on Cyprus island, so chances are this will be your gateway to Cyprus. In my opinion, it is also one of the best places to stay in Cyprus. It’s not a small island but you can easily stay in one place and visit the best Cyprus has to offer on day trips.
A long promenade lined with palm trees and hotels overlooking the sea is usually what comes to mind when you think of Larnaca. But, in addition to the beach luring, there are quite a few other things to do in Larnaca. Start with St. Lazarus church in the central square, the final resting place of Lazarus. Then, make your way to the Salt Lake to visit Hala Sultan Tekke, and maybe spot a few pink flamingoes. The promenade stretches for many kilometers, interrupted only by Larnaca Castle. Visit the museum operating here and choose one of the traditional taverns overlooking the sea. While we’re on the subject, a food tour is one of the best things to do in Larnaca, or elsewhere in Cyprus.
A walk through the old Turkish quarter will teach you about the ethnic problems in the recent history of Cyprus.
To sum up, whether you stay for a couple of nights and enjoy the beach, or spend a week exploring Cyprus, Larnaca is one of the best places to choose in Cyprus.
Contributed by Maggie Turansky from The World Was Here First
Cyprus is most famous for its magnetic coastline and crystal clear blue waters. However, visitors are really doing themselves a disservice if they ignore the incredible, dynamic capital city of Nicosia. Considered to be the last divided city in Europe, the Cypriot capital is situated in the center of the country, directly on the border of Southern and Northern Cyprus. And though many only visit the capital as a day trip (if they visit at all), it really is worth spending one or two days in Nicosia to get to know this fascinating city.
Nicosia is a compact and easily walkable city, so you can see a good portion of it on foot. Make sure to walk along the Green Line – the border of Northern and Southern Cyprus. While here, walk across the border into the Turkish side and explore all of the fascinating sites over there. Just don’t forget to bring your passport!
On the Greek side of Nicosia, stroll down the pedestrianized Ledras Street and learn about Cypriot history at the fantastic Levantis Museum. For incredible views on both sides of the city, you shouldn’t miss the Shacolas Tower.
All in all, there is so much to see and do in Nicosia that it’s worth spending at least one night here. You really get to see a side of Cyprus that you otherwise wouldn’t if you just stuck to the coast.
Contributed by Smita from My Faulty Compass
One of the jewels of the island, Paphos is a beautiful city replete with natural beauty and fascinating history. Paphos is the perfect place to base yourself and explore the west coast of Cyprus. Starting with the incredible Akamas Peninsula, to the legendary Aphrodite’s Rock, all are easily accessible from Paphos!
The city itself has a lot to offer visitors. The Kato Paphos Archaeological Park is one of the best of those. Known for sites dating back to the Middle Ages, this park will leave you fascinated.
The harbor of Paphos, located right outside the Archaeological Park is lined with charming restaurants & cafes overlooking the clear sea. A short stroll along the harbor brings you to another icon of the city – the Medieval Castle of Paphos.
As you continue your stroll along the sea, you can get on the coastal boardwalk. It stretches all the way to the Tombs of the Kings – an ancient necropolis which gets its name from the grandeur of the tombs. However, there are no kings buried here!
Plan to spend at least 3-4 days at Paphos to take in all that the city and the surroundings have to offer. You might very likely still leave wanting for more!
Contributed by me, Anda from Travel for a while
Limassol is the second-largest city in Cyprus and the most important harbor of the island at the same time. Cruise ships stop in Limassol, or Lemesos by its local name, making the city one of the most popular tourist areas on the island. As a fun fact, it is also the southernmost European city in the Mediterranean.
It’s a perfect couple’s escape as well as a great family destination, as you can find a bit of everything in Limassol. Start exploring with the Marina and the Old Harbor, then get lost on the narrow streets and find some beautiful churches as well as a couple of mosques. Also in the historical center, close to the Old Harbor, you can visit the Castle of Limassol. The original Castle was torn down during the Venetian governance and what we see today is a rebuilt Ottoman port.
The beautiful sea promenade will lead you to the Municipal Gardens and the Archaeology Museum which hosts some well-preserved mosaics. On a family trip, the children might like a visit to the Zoo close by.
A good idea for a half-day trip is to visit the ruins at Kourion, less than 20 minutes away from Limassol.
Image by Dimitris Vetsikas
Contributed bt Rai from A Rai of Light
The Mediterranean resort town of Ayia Napa, located on the southeast coast of the island, is well known for its sandy beaches, vibrant nightlife, and spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Attracting solo travelers, partygoers, and families alike, it offers a summer getaway with an abundance of things to do. Top sights include the Cape Greco, Makronisson Beach, Landa Beach, and WaterWorld Theme Park. Don’t miss a visit to the Venetian-era monastery and Thalassa, providing an introduction into the culture and history of the region.
Adventurous travelers will enjoy discovering the coastal areas, swimming in the waters, or partaking in the numerous activities on offer at any time of the year. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to get to. Most travelers arrive by flights that land at the main airport in Larnaca. From here, it is a 30 to a 40-minute taxi ride.
No visit to Cyprus is complete without a stop in the Ayia Napa that has something to offer for every visitor.
Best Historical Places in Cyprus
The Ruins at Kourion
Contributed by Wendy Werneth of The Nomadic Vegan
Kourion is among the most important archaeological sites in Cyprus and lies about 13 kilometers west of Limassol. The city-state was founded way back in the 12th century BC, though most of the ruins visible today are from the Roman era. The Roman temples, baths and other buildings you’ll see here are in many ways just as impressive as the ruins that stand today in the city center of Rome!
And one advantage that Kourion has over Rome is that its ruins are spectacularly set overlooking the coast of South Cyprus. Monuments worth seeking out include the Temple of Apollo, the Roman baths, and the Gladiator’s House. The latter is called that not because a gladiator actually lived there, but because in the courtyard are impressive mosaics featuring gladiators.
The theater, albeit heavily renovated, is still used for performances today and has incredible acoustics. Arrive early to beat the heat, and allow yourself a few hours to fully explore the ruins. There are restrooms and a souvenir shop on-site, but no restaurant. You’re best off eating in Limassol, which has a large variety of restaurants to choose from, including several that cater for vegetarians and vegans in Cyprus.
Contributed by Bolupe from 13 Weeks Travel
One of the best things to do in Cyprus is to go on a perfect day trip from Limassol to the village of Agros. It is popularly known as the Rose village in the Pitsilia Region of Troodos Mountains.
There are two stories about how Agros village became the Rose village. The first story is about how a schoolteacher bought some rose bush to the village for the schoolchildren to examine and learn about. The children, in turn, loved the plant and decided to plant it at school, when it blossomed, many villagers loved the colors and they decided to plant the rosebush in front of their houses. Everyone in the village copied this rose planting phenomenon.
The second story is about how the village had huge troubles from the goats on Troodos Mountain. They decided to plant rose bush to prevent the goats from getting through to their houses. It does not matter which version of the story you wish to take but today, Agros Village has changed the wellness industry with the roses they planted many years ago.
The best time to visit Agros village is in May when visitors can participate in the gathering of roses. The best place to visit is the Rose factory which is owned by the Tsolakis family. Here you can purchase organic rosewater beauty products, candles, rose oils, marmalade, chocolate, and even a rose toothpaste!
Other things to do in Agros Village include going on Agros Safari (a must for adrenaline junkies), checking out the churches, and Frangolides Museum.
Angeloktisti Church in Kiti
This small Angeloktisti Byzantine church is very close to Larnaca. It’s an easy 30 minutes to 1 hour stop on your way to explore Cyprus.
The name Angeloktisti means “built by the Angels”. Legend says that people of ancient Larnaca (Kition) moved here to escape the Arab invasions. They started to build a church but overnight the church foundations moved to another location. In the next days, people noticed that angels descended at night to build the church. Little remains of that original 6th-century church. However, a beautiful mosaic of the Virgin Mary with the Child and two archangels survived in the old apse.
It the 11th century, the Byzantine church that we can visit today was built over the Early Christian basilica. You can also see a very old icon of the Virgin Mary in the sanctuary. Don’t ignore the small manicured park around the church, it has a very pleasant sitting area.
The church is free to visit and open every day except for Public Holidays.
Kyrenia (Girne) in Northern Cyprus
Contributed by Baia from Red Fedora Diary
Northern Cyprus is an undiscovered side of the country for many, mainly because of the political division between Greece and Turkey since 1974. Kyrenia, or Girne in Turkish, is the primary city of the northern part of the island. The list of things to do in Kyrenia includes visiting historical sites, several castles, a picturesque horseshoe-shaped harbor, and cobblestone streets. Also, the gorgeous coastline shouldn’t be ignored.
The town makes a perfect getaway from overcrowded towns and cities of Europe offering a good blend of cultural and beach holiday.
Start your day by exploring the Kyrenia Castle, huddled at the coast. The well-preserved fortification represents the influence of various rulers of the country, including Byzantine and also Venetian governance. Make sure to spend here enough time to visit its two small museums, cistern, dungeon, and Shipwreck Museum exhibiting the oldest shipwreck in the world.
Then continue your way to the harbor for postcard-perfect views of yachts and boats docked at the pier. Walk up to the Chain Tower that often is mistaken for a lighthouse to enjoy the views of the harbor, castle, and the Mediterranean.
Afterward, go a bit outside of the town to the nearby villages to explore St. Hilarion Castle, Bellapais Monastery, and Buffavento Castle.
Famagusta in Northern Cyprus
Contributed by Erika Bisbocci from Erika’s Travels
The walled city of Famagusta is one of the most fascinating places to visit in northern Cyprus. Until the mid-1900s, it was a bustling resort town that attracted sun-seekers from around the world. Today, the city is a largely vacant ghost town, with eerie streets and hollowed-out monuments.
The most prominent building in Famagusta is a cathedral-turned-mosque of Lala Mustafa Pasha. The 14th-century structure was modeled after the Cathedral of Reims in France. It was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman Empire captured Famagusta in the 1500s.
Outside of Famagusta’s historical core, the city’s abandoned Varosha district expands along the oceanfront.
Before the 1970s, Varosha housed a proliferation of high-rise hotels and beachfront resorts. It boasted a population of nearly 40,000 and was a tourist hotspot full of restaurants and bars.
When the Turkish Army gained control of northern Cyprus in 1974, it cordoned off the Varosha district and forbade anyone from entering. To this day, Varosha is a ghost town that you can only see from afar.
Despite being only a shell of its former self, however, Famagusta remains a popular day trip destination and a haunting reminder of Cyprus’ longstanding political woes.
Salamis in Northern Cyprus
Contributed by me, Anda from Travel for a while
The city of Salamis was probably the capital of Cyprus island in ancient times, as far as the 12th century BC. It had many rulers, Egyptians, and Persians, but it flourished during the Roman era.
Natural forces, local uprisings, and ultimately the Arab Invasions completely destroyed Salamis which fell into oblivion for centuries. However, earthquakes that destroyed the city, helped preserving it under layers of sand and debris.
Now, you can visit beautifully preserved Greek and Roman ruins in the rediscovered ancient Salamis. The site is about 6 km from Famagusta in Northern Cyprus, on the Eastern coast of the island.
There are remains of a Gymnasium, the ancient Agora, the Roman Baths, and Villas. The most striking feature is the reconstructed Roman Theater which is used again today to host performances. It is a free-standing structure, probably built during the reign of Augustus in Rome.
Although a lot of Salamis is still buried under the sand, several other ruins are visible today. Among those, two early Christian basilicas, probably built around the 4th century AD.
The site is worth a visit on a trip through North Cyprus. You’ll probably spend at least a couple of hours here so don’t forget the sunscreen and bring some water with you.
Image by Dimitris Vetsikas
Best Natural Places and Landmarks in Cyprus
Aphrodite’s Rock is a rock formation in the sea near the coast between Limassol and Paphos. Legend says this is the beach where Aphrodite first came to the shore after she rose from the sea-foam. The goddess’s name comes from ‘aphros’, the Greek word for sea-foam. The rock fragments in the sea cause the forming of sea-foam frequently in this particular spot.
Because of the connection with the Goddess of beauty and love, several myths surround Aphrodite’s Rock in Cyprus. For instance, if you swim around Aphrodite’s Rock three times, your beauty will last forever. You’ll get some good exercise anyway. Also, if you find a heart-shaped rock on the beach, make sure to keep it as it will help find true love.
The other name of the place, Petra tou Romiou means ‘The rock of the Roman’. Another legend says that local hero Basil, a half-Byzantine (so a Roman descendant), threw a giant rock from the nearby mountains to keep the Saracens away.
Regardless of all legends surrounding the place, Aphrodite’s Rock is a beautiful beach and a popular tourist area in Cyprus. It’s a 25 minutes ride from Paphos or a half an hour drive from Larnaca, so it’s really easy to spend a few hours here, no matter where you are staying in Cyprus.
Image by Dimitris Vetsikas
Contributed by Stefan Arestis from the Nomadic Boys
Cape Greco is our favorite place in Cyprus. It is a National Forest Park area on the south-eastern tip of the island, east of Ayia Napa and south from Protaras.
Cape Greco is a large area with plenty to see and do, making for a unique and memorable day trip. Several trails run through the park – ones for hiking and others for cycling or small buggy cars that are so ubiquitous amongst the summer tourists in the area!
Natural highlights of Cape Greco include the stunning sea caves, which make for the perfect romantic spot to watch the sunset, the Blue Lagoon Maldives-like waters, and Konnos Bay, which is our pick for best beach in Cyprus! Cape Greco is so stunning that many couples use it as the backdrop for their wedding pictures, including gay couples like us looking to explore the LGBTQ side of Cyprus.
Interestingly, Cape Greco is not only the Easternmost point of the Republic of Cyprus (southern side) but also of the entire EU.
Contributed by Alina from World of Lina
The popular holiday destination Cyprus is not only known for its great beaches but offers a lot of different outdoor activities to do as well! One of the coolest and most adventurous things to do in Cyprus is taking a Troodos Mountains tour and explore the high mountain range in the middle of the island. Not only can you enjoy a 360-degree view of the island from the high peaks, but there are also so many other great places hidden between the mountains.
For example, there’s the small abandoned mountain village Fikardou. Exploring this place takes you back to many years ago when the way of living was completely different.
Another interesting place to visit is the Machairas Monastery built at an altitude of 900 m above sea level. Inside the church, you can admire stunning chandeliers, stone floors, and beautifully painted wall frescoes.
Last but not least, don’t forget to check out Lefkara. Apparently, this gorgeous town is among the most beautiful ones in Europe and is widely known for its iconic lace.
Disclosure: Some of the above may be affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. However, I only recommend companies, activities, or products that I use myself.