Looking for things to do in Cyprus, the best places to visit in Cyprus, and where to stay in Cyprus? We first visited Cyprus years ago when we were looking for an escape from the European winter. We landed in mid-October and found everyone was still enjoying the sun and beaches and decided we never wanted to leave.
Once again this past year we found ourselves in Cyprus coincidently in mid-October and enjoyed all the best food, beaches, and views this wonderful country has to offer. Here are a few of our favorite things to do in Cyprus!
Things to do in Cyprus
1. Petra tou Romiou
Being a country with a rich and lengthy history, it should come as no surprise that there is an abundance of lore and myth that has worked its way into everyday life here. Petra tou Romiou is an attraction reflecting this. A formidable sea stack formation in Paphos, it is widely known as Aphrodite’s Rock and hailed as the mythological site of the goddess’ birth – largely due to its solidarity in the waters and the foaming sea swell surrounding its base.
It has also been described as being a part of Uranus’ lower body, left behind after he was mutilated and overthrown by his son Cronus at the behest of his mother, Gaia.
Though considered one of Cyprus’ top natural attractions, the rough waters don’t make this the best swimming spot in the country, nor can you safely climb the rock. However, for many, it is simply enough to be in the presence of a natural giant, and maybe even feel the presence of the ancient gods in every breath of ocean air you take. You can also witness stellar sunsets here.
2. Cape Greco
If you’re the kind of traveler drawn to the sea who can’t go more than a few days without a swim, this spot is definitely up your alley. Cape Greco National Park is a protected area particularly noted for the rich blue clarity of its waters and natural rock formations (including caves).
This is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts; it is a popular spot for cycling, hiking, cliff jumping, swimming, and even snorkeling in the rock’s sea caves. There aren’t really any sandy beaches here to lounge at, but there are multiple access points into the water, or you can take a jump at the cliff jumping point! You can also follow the two kilometers long Aphrodite’s Trail to return to Petra tou Romiou.
A local fun fact: this is supposedly the home of the Ayia Napa Sea Monster, known colloquially as To Filiko Teras, which translates to The Friendly Monster. According to local legend, if you happen to spot it, you’re likely to come away unharmed and with a pretty cool story.
3. Sea Caves, Ayia Napa
Located in Cape Greco National Park the Cape Greco sea caves! The incredible coastline at Ayia Napa is home to more than just sandy beaches. Its coastline is scattered with impressive rock formations that stand resolutely against the clear blue skyline; within these formations lie sea caves and hidden tunnels.
The water does not run too deep, making this a great spot for diving, snorkeling, and swimming with a little protection from the sun. Legend has it that pirates once used these caves as hideouts and hiding places for stolen booty.
The caves are accessible by land and sea, and many companies will offer transport and tours of the area. In addition to swimming and diving, fishing and cliff jumping are also popular activities; in fact, the area’s local fishermen claim that this is a hotspot for octopus fishing. We’ve been cliff jumping here on multiple occasions, it’s about a 10-meter jump and you’ll definitely have to work up the courage to jump but it’s a thrilling experience for adrenaline lovers.
4. Nissi Beach
If you’re looking for a little excitement to add to your list of things to do in Cyprus, this is it. Nissi Beach is a beautiful beach and a party-happy resort town. Located in Ayia Napa, the beach is a popular destination with both locals and travelers for its musical scene, soapy foam parties, and live DJing. I’m a bit of a lounge on the beach with a book as far away from other people kind of gal, so Nissi really isn’t my scene. BUT if you want to spend your day drinking with your friends by a beautiful beach this is your place.
Nissi Beach itself is a 500-meter strip of white sand accompanied by crystal clear water, meaning you can spend your day under the hot sun and quickly transition to clubbing mode for the evening. The water is very warm and shallow here. You’ll need to swim for a bit to get to the deep part, but like most of the Med it’s calm and clear waters.
The beach is named for the tiny islet Nissi, which is just across the water from the coast and easily accessible on foot when tides are low. The islet is not inhabited, but a fun place to spend the day with other travelers before walking back across the water to take part in the evening festivities.
5. Coral Bay
It’s hard to come to a place like Cyprus and not find a myriad of beaches at which to lounge away your days. Coral Bay is another one that deserves a mention among the endless list of things to do in Cyprus, for many of the same reasons as others mentioned: warm, crystal clear water perfect for a dip, and bright white sand.
Also offered here are a variety of water sports and beach massages, for as much adrenaline or relaxation as you want (depending on your preferred method of decompressing).
If you’re interested in history and archeology, there is a ruin site on one of the limestone headland rocks that mark the edges of the beach. The Maa Palaiokastro site marks a late Bronze Age settlement, including a variety of smaller buildings within it that show evidence of structures such as fireplaces, communal rooms, and even food prep areas.
20th-century excavation discovered that the settlement was destroyed by fire and its subsequent reconstruction was poorly done. The settlement was abandoned in 1150 BC but its foundations remain a fascinating piece of the Early Chalcolithic period.
6. Kykkos Monastery
The Kykkos Monastery isn’t exactly a historical building; its original structures burned down several times since its construction in the 11th century by a Byzantine emperor. It is a religious and historical site that is still impressive to see.
Though the monastery’s history is lengthy, its main claim to fame today is the artifacts it houses – most notably, the golden mosaic icon of the Virgin Mary, to which much good fortune has been attributed throughout history (the ebbing of a locust invasion, for one).
Though the icon is probably the most famous element of the Kykkos Monastery, interestingly, no one can see it in its entirety; it remains partially covered and tucked behind a protective layer due to the legend that whoever looks upon it will be blinded. I would suggest venturing around the small town Kykkos is in and take your time in the Troödos Mountains.
Sometimes the places that are the least accessible prove to be the best experiences. Akamas is a mountainous cape in the northwest of Cyprus with a thick brush-like environment and very few paved roads, making navigation difficult; thus, it is a well-preserved region. It’s remote enough that until 2000, it was used by the British army for military exercises.
Despite its lessened accessibility, and though roads are scarce, there are still many attractions for visitors to the area. The Lara Bay Turtle Conservation Station is a loggerhead turtle sanctuary where you can observe, from a distance, the caged-off nests where these sea creatures have laid their eggs. If you happen to pass through here between August and mid-September, you may catch the conservationists releasing the baby turtles into the sea.
If you’re up for a seven-kilometer walk, you can also visit the Baths of Aphrodite, where the goddess is said to have bathed. Akamas is peaceful, devoid of crowds, and a unique experience no matter how you choose to spend your time here.
8. Church of St Lazarus, Larnaca
If the Kykkos Monastery structure isn’t quite old enough to satisfy your need for ancient structure, the Church of St Lazarus almost definitely is. Located in Larnaca, on the southern coast of the island, this should be close to the top of your list of things to do in Cyprus.
Built in the 9th century, the church is named for Lazarus of Bethany, a man Jesus supposedly raised from the dead as one of his miracles. He became the region’s bishop and was said to be buried there after his (second) death 30 years later; the church is supposedly built over his tomb.
The church is located in the town square and was restored in the 17th century, so is still in excellent condition today. It is open to visitors year-round and has no entrance fee.
9. Tombs of the Kings
Though there is an endless list of things to do in Cyprus, this one deserves a spot on the list. On the western coast of the island close to Paphos lies the Tombs of the Kings, a necropolis also classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
If you’re not already fascinated by tombs, then at the very least you’ll want to visit for the structure and impressive architecture; though simple, the tombs were carved into the solid rock itself. The tombs show many parallels with Egyptian death ideology, in that the tombs of the dead should resemble the houses of the living, which is apparent in the pillars carved into the rock.
Despite its name, no kings are buried here; rather, it is believed to be the burial site of high-ranking officials and nobles as far back as the 4th century BC. Excavation began here in the 1970s, and discoveries of stamping on the different Rhodian amphora clay pots is helping to establish the chronology of various burials.
10. Mount Olympus
If you’re a hiker, adventurer, or someone who loves views, make a point to visit Mount Olympus. The highest point in Cyprus means the views won’t be too shabby. It’s even high enough that there is a ski resort with four ski runs covering a range of skill levels.
The views are supposedly better in the winter, with a dusting of snow on the hills and peaks below making for some spectacular scenery. There is a chair lift to take you partway to the top but do be prepared for a moderate walk of approximately seven kilometers across terrain that isn’t overly difficult, but can be challenging at times.
There is a British long-range radar at the highest peak, but despite this, there are still lookout areas perfect for the just-climbed-a-mountain view. There was even a geographer who wrote that one of the mountain’s promontories had a temple dedicated to Aphrodite that women were forbidden to enter.
11. Kato Paphos Archaeological Park
Kato Paphos Archaeological Park is one of the most fascinating things to do in Cyprus, whether you are a history buff or not. Located in Paphos, it is the site of many critical Greek and Roman city discoveries, ranging in time from the prehistoric period to the Middle Ages.
Among the most notable discoveries are four villas: The Houses of Dionysus, Theseus, Aion, and Orpheus, many with grandiose atriums in the center of the structure and tremendously preserved mosaic flooring depicting scenes of hunting and mythology. Additional discoveries have been found of theatres and the nearby necropolis of the Tombs of the Kings.
12. Fig Tree Bay
When perusing a list of things to do in Cyprus, thanks to its Mediterranean location, it’s no surprise that several beaches are often listed. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t include Fig Tree Bay.
Once classified as the third best beach in Europe, it’s a pristine paradise, with soft white sand, clear water (that earned it the blue flag award), and plump fig trees that line the coast. Incidentally, that’s how the beach got its name.
Unlike many other popular beaches which can get rowdy, Fig Tree Bay is popular with families, but still attracts some crowds of thrill-seekers. During high season, the beach offers a multitude of water sports, such as parasailing, windsurfing, and waterskiing, to name a few. Whether you decide to get your heart rate up or rest under the sun on the warm sand, this is a perfect spot for a kick-back beach day. Umbrellas and chairs line the beach in the high season and are available for rent for €5. Get here early for the best spot this beach can get packed.
13. Kolossi Castle
Located near Limassol, Kolossi Castle is a unique addition to the list of things to do in Cyprus. Formerly a stronghold for the Crusaders on their mission, the castle was originally built sometime in the 1200s, though it is not certain who built it.
During the Medieval period, when the Crusades were at a head, the castle held particular importance for its partial use in producing cane sugar, an important and profitable export of Cyprus at the time. Today, the sugar mill’s aqueduct is visible.
The region is also very well known for its sweet dessert wine, Commandaria, named for the commander of the Knights Templar during their age of religious persecution. Produced today exactly as it was at the time of its conception, it is believed to be among the oldest continually produced wine anywhere in the world.
14. Machairas Monastery
Another monastery to add to the list of things to do in Cyprus, it has a history just as fascinating as the Kykkos Monastery. The Machairas monastery’s origins are steeped in legend; it is said that a hermit smuggled one of Luke the Apostle’s 70 icons into his cave. It remained undiscovered until after his death when two other hermits had to knife their way into the cave to retrieve it. Afterward, the monastery built on this now-holy site was named for the Greek word for knife, makhaira.
The monastery houses a collection of manuscripts and religious artifacts and can be visited year-round. Today, a brotherhood of monks live here and practice an extremely devout lifestyle. Though open to the public, no photography or videography is permitted on site.
15. Agios Neophytos Monastery
Another monastery for the list, but it’s hard not to include them when they’re as breathtaking as this. The Agios Neophytos Monastery is located west of Paphos and was founded in the 12th century. Originally a cave that was carved into the rock, the cave was then decorated with Byzantine frescoes and icons; a steep stair climb down will take you straight there to see the original structure and the pillars that were carved from the rock.
The main building today is a Venetian-inspired basilica dating from the 16th century. Originally, it housed its own religious artwork, though little survived the passage of time. The site is inexpensive to visit—only 2 Euros—and the caves can be explored for an extra small fee.
16. Konnos Bay
Ever imagined soaking up the sun in a moon-shaped beach hidden at the bottom of a forested hill? At Konnos Bay, that dream can become a reality. It is a picturesque beach quickly gaining the attention of tourists and locals. It’s perfect for a day at the beach with family or loved ones.
The water in the photo? It truly is that color – you don’t need to spend a fortune on a vacation in the Seychelles or French Polynesia to enjoy this. However, during the summer season and UK holidays, this is another Cyprus beach that gets horrendously packed. It will be hard to find space in the sand to set your towel on. Or you can fork over the €3 for a beach chair. The café overlooking the beach is also a must; it’s a terrific place to enjoy a nice cold Frappe.
17. Avakas Gorge
Avakas Gorge is a beautiful piece of nature on the Avakas peninsula. If you love walking, hiking, and being in nature then this is one of the best things to do in Cyprus for you! It’s here that you’ll find walls 30 meters high and amazing rock formations and rare megafauna and flora. The hike is pretty straitforward and easy, but I would recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes and to watch your step as it can get slippery.
The best way to get here is with a 4×4 car, although we did make it in a sedan by driving very carefully and slowly.
18. Edro III Shipwreck
If you’re into seeing shipwrecks and getting some cool photos head to the Edro III shipwreck. The Edro met an unfortunate fate not long ago in 2011 when a storm swept it into the rocks. Thankfully no one died and fuel was removed from the wreck fast so that pollution was avoided. Now it’s becoming a popular tourist attraction for those wanting to see a relatively new shipwreck. It’s well worth the journey and is nearby to the Paphos sea caves!
19. Get Soaked at a Waterpark!
That’s what we did when we found ourselves in need of some adventure. There are a few waterparks scattered throughout the country and they make for a great trip if you’re looking for something to do in Cyprus with kids. The Waterworld waterpark near Ayia Napa provided us (three grown adults) with a lot of fun for the day. It’s well managed, clean, and have plenty of rides. With the Mediterranean climate, waterparks in Cyprus generally stay open until the end of October. Come during the week or in the offseason for fewer crowds.
20. Enjoy the Food!
Most Cypriots are Greek by heritage, and it is very evident in their food and culture. Meze is a big deal here and all of the typical dishes that come with that. You have savory kleftiko if you’re a meat eater, cool tzatziki, creamy hummus, and doughy pita bread. Costs here are decent even at the restaurants, just make sure to read reviews so you can get to the local spots.
We found meze at a good tavern to come around €12 a person and the average entrée costing €10 (our favorite was Kambana Restaurant in Paphos). You can also easily get a good pita for €5 and a real Greek frozen yogurt will run you €2.50. Groceries can also be very cheap if you have a kitchen. Great feta, halloumi, pita, olives, cucumbers, yogurt, pomegranates, and whatever else is in season for cheap at places like Lidl and Metro We ate in for about €5 a person, with a nice spread of food eating hummus, olives, tzatziki, cheeses, meat, and pita. If you’re a coffee fan like us make sure to head to Coffee Island and enjoy a Frappe for €2.50 – nobody does coffee like the Greeks and Turks!
What to Pack for Cyprus
Travel Water Bottle
Plastic pollution is a problem in Cyprus so it’s best not to contribute to the problem buying plastic water bottles everywhere – plus the water from the taps here is perfectly safe to drink. We’ve shifted to using an insulated aluminum water bottle as it handles the hot sun well. However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about favorite water bottle for travel in our post.
You will absolutely need sunscreen for your trip to Cyprus. You can purchase it when you get there, but then you’ll be searching around for it and may pay a premium for a generic brand. Please consider spending a few extra dollars for reef safe sunscreen. The typical sunscreens like Coppertone, No Ad, and Banana Boat have many chemicals in them that will run off your body while swimming damaging the precious coral and marine life. We have this reef safe sunscreen for our ocean adventures.
Most hotels will provide you with a towel, but they often aren’t suitable or allowed on the beaches. I like to travel with a microfiber towel because they are light and fold up small, and they also don’t cling on to sand our dirt. Here are a few of our favorite travel towels.
These were great to have! You’ll do a lot of walking around Cyprus in the extremely hot sun. Hiking sandals allow for your feet to breathe and they do not collect sand when trudging through the desert. You bet we’ve reviewed the best hiking sandals for travelers!
We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen in a foreign country and it’s best to be prepared. World Nomads provides good short term coverage.
Transport to and around Cyprus
Getting to Cyprus from mainland Europe has never been cheaper with budget airlines such as RyanAir servicing the island. Paphos city buses run €1.50 one-way. While long distance buses to another city typically cost around €7. An automatic rental car in the goes from €15 a day in the low season up to €35 a day in the higher seasons (automatic) and will ensure you get to all the best places in Cyprus. If you’re traveling as a group it is worth your while to hire a car for your trip. Our best experiences have been with SiXT. Check prices here.
Where to stay in Cyprus?
Every time we visit Cyprus we stay in an Airbnb and have had fantastic experiences. To feel more at home we use Airbnb you can check out some tips and read more about getting an Airbnb coupon code here. Or just take this coupon for your first stay!
Rododafni Beach Apartments
This is our favorite place to stay in all of Cyprus. Rododafni apartments is run by a local Cypriot, Costas. Costas goes out of his way to make sure all guests are comfortable in his rooms. His apartments are well equipped and extremely affordable. Plus, the balcony in each room provides stunning ocean views. Don’t take my word for it though – check the reviews!
Villa Grand Zeus
If you are traveling with a group to Cyprus a villa is definitely the way to go. Villa Grand Zeus is only a 10-minute drive from Pissouri Beach, but if you don’t feel like leaving it also has a free form pool and large terrace for everyone to relax at. With all the amenities you could possibly need for a vacation a villa is not a bad option especially for families in Cyprus.
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