Cyprus has long staked a claim as a holiday fave, thanks to its something-for-everyone attitude. Here’s our pick of the 5 places you have to see on the Island of Love…
Petra tou Romiou – to give it its full title – is arguably the Island of Love’s premier tourist attraction, and for good reason. This rocky formation, just metres off the island’s southwest coast in Paphos, is fabled to be the very spot where the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, rose out of the Med. Don’t be surprised if you spot a string of swimmers doing loops around the rock – if legend is to be believed, you’ll find true love if you swim round it 3 times.
Tombs of the Kings
UNESCO got their protective mitts on a few of Paphos’ sites in 1980, though the history of the Tombs of the Kings, in particular, goes much further back. Poking out of the ground not too far from Paphos Harbour, the subterranean necropolis dates back as far as the 4th century BC. And, although the name might suggest otherwise, no kings were actually buried here – the frescoed tombs, which were carved straight into the rock, were reserved for ancient aristocrats.
Nicosia, near the centre of Cyprus, has a controversial claim to fame – it’s the world’s only divided capital city. Like the whole island, it was split by Greece and Turkey in 1961, and still has two halves today. The outskirts favour a typical modern capital city – a bit of a concrete jungle, in fact. But step inside the 16th-century Venetian walls at its heart, and it’s a totally different story. Think narrow sandstone streets, boutiquey shops, and pretty Medieval buildings.
This pine-clad mountain range stretches across most of Cyprus’ western side, and it’s home to 4 ski slopes, over the winter. Take a trip up the mountains throughout the rest of the year, and you can expect to come across 9 UNESCO-listed churches, a handful of old-world villages, and flocks of curly-horned mouflon sheep. If you’re feeling bold, strap yourself into the back of a 4×4 for a bumpy, off-road adventure up to 2,000 metres above sea level.
It wouldn’t be very First Choice of us to not include a waterpark in our Cyprus top 5. So, step forward Waterworld, in the lively resort of Ayia Napa. It’s the biggest themed waterpark in Europe, where columns and statues recreate the mythical realm of the Ancient Greeks. As for the rides, there are freefall drop slides, a half-pipe slide, multi-lane racers, and a plughole-like bowl slide. You’ve also got more orthodox swimming pools, plus specially-designed splash zones for kids.