Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, has one of the best climates in Europe. With over 300 days of sunshine a year and summer stretching from April to October, it is no wonder Cyprus has been a magnet for Northern Europeans seeking sea, sand, and sun. It also has a vibrant nightlife, making the island a comprehensive travel destination.
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Cyprus is more than a lazy beach holiday or an all-inclusive resort staycation. It has some interesting archaeological sites, beautiful landscapes, many outdoor activities, and mouthwatering cuisine.
One of the best historical sites to visit is the Kourion Archaeological Site. It is located about 20km outside of the city of Limassol, atop a limestone promontory. This was the site of an ancient city of Kourion, dating to the Ceramic Neolithic period (circa 5500-4000 BCE). It boasts an impressive amphitheater, well-preserved mosaics, Greco-Roman columns, and a stunning sea view.
Another historical site not to be missed is the Tombs of Kings. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located about 2km from the coastal city of Paphos, in the southwestern side of the island. This large necropolis contains a set of well-preserved underground tombs and chambers, dating back to the 3rd century BC. These tombs were modeled after the houses of the living, an influence from the ancient Egyptian tradition.
With its beautiful landscape and mild climate, Cyprus is a paradise for outdoor lovers. If you are tired of the countless water activities offered at the coasts, head inland for other outdoor activities.
The Troodos Mountains, the largest mountain range in Cyprus, offers four ski slopes in winter, and countless nature trails for hiking all year round. There are many well-marked hiking trails, with varying degrees of difficulty and distance. Most trails lead you past stunning scenery, thick pine forests, and picturesque villages.
A popular and easy trail is the Asinou-Agios trail. This 5.6km circular walk will take about 2 hours through varied landscape and with a panoramic view of Morfou Bay. It also passes the 12th century AD church of Asinou with its famous frescoes.
The Atalante trail is a moderately easy 12km circular walk around Mount Olympus, the highest peak on the island. This trail weaves through pine forests and gives you views of the entire island. It is great for mountain biking too.
A visit to Cyprus is not complete without a visit to the local taverns. These are the places where you get to taste the real Cypriot cuisine; which has its influence from Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine.
The best way to acquaint yourself with the local cuisine is the delicious Meze, a large selection of hot and cold appetizers. A meze platter typically includes grilled sausages, tangy tahini (a paste of crushed sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic), creamy hummus, haloumi (grilled and spiced goat cheese), etc. These small helpings of varied food are brought to the table in a progression of taste and textures.
Surrounded by sea, Cyprus has a lot of fish dishes to offer: red mullet, octopus, calamari, sea bass, etc. Some not to be missed meat dishes include, kleftiko (a traditional lamb dish, slowly cooked in sealed clay oven and seasoned with bay leaves, cinnamon, and other spices), stifado (beef/rabbit stew simmered in wine, vinegar, onion, oregano), and loukanika (smoked sausages soaked in red wine).
End your culinary tour of Cyprus with one of their many sweet desserts, such as loukoumades (fried dough balls drenched in syrup), baklava (pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey), and the popular ekmek kadayif (bread pudding).