In May I had the privilege of visiting the beautiful island of Cyprus. I’d been when I was little to Nicosia, but this time I stayed in Paphos, a gorgeous city in the Southwest.
We stayed in the King’s Gardens complex, in a friend’s villa, with easy access to the harbour and beach. A site in the area not to be missed is the Tombs of the Kings, a large necropolis built in 3rd Century BC. The burial tombs were for high-up officials and distinguished personalities, with the name referring more to the grandeur of the place than a Royal connection. Free to roam the site for just two euros or so, you’re allowed into the tombs and can explore at will, with the beautiful backdrop of the sea it’s one of the best sites to see with a rich cultural heritage.
Whilst there are plenty of buses on the islands, connections can be a little tedious so we opted to hire a car. Word of warning, Cyprus driving is incredibly interesting, including a fair amount of straddling lanes. We did actually have someone drive into our car when parked and drive off, so make sure you get your damage collision waiver upon hiring- most cars on the island seemed to have a dent or two!
The weather was very changeable with glorious sunshine and heat one day and pouring rain the next, but luckily there’s plenty of places to go exploring. We ventured one cloudy day to a gorge which was an excellent sample of some of Cyprus’ natural beauty. Tackling a dirt road to get to the gorge area was interesting in our little car, but it managed the journey and we returned to the same area later that week to visit Lara Bay, which if you’re there at the right time of year has turtles hatching.
The food is not vegetarian friendly but absolutely delicious. My new love now is Sheftalia, which is traditional Cyprus meat, namely skinless sausage which uses the membrane which surrounds the stomach of pig or lamb to wrap the ingredients. Other traditional classics include Kleftiko, a tasty lamb dish and perhaps a more familiar dish to many, Moussaka. The drink of the island is Brandy Sour, made with Brandy, lemon juice, soda water, Angostura and ice. It’s really refreshing, especially on the beach (!) and by the end of the holiday we’d cracked the perfect recipe for homemade sours!
Restaurants range in price depending on the area, we ate down at the Harbour a couple of times and a main and a drink cost us around fifteen euros. There’s many ex-pat bars set up mainly by Brits, one in particular, the DTS Sunset Bar, was a favourite of ours, selling brand sours for only €2.75, and with live music on the majority of their nights the bar had a great feel to it. We visited Bar Street (the main strip of bars in Paphos) one evening, and if you play your cards right you can get some great drinks deals, lots of the bars hand out vouchers for Flares, one of the popular bars on the street anyway.
Recently developed is the mall, which hosts everything from a wide range of restaurants to a cinema and major brands like Accessorize and Mothercare. Wi-Fi is widely available at the mall also, for those who need to get online. The majority of restaurants will have Wi-Fi for their customers so its always worth asking the question.
We rented a boat one day from Latsi Water Sports, who were incredibly professional and helpful. Taking a tour of the island by sea is well worth doing, and we found a boat to hire for around ninety euros for the day. As the supposed birthplace of Aphrodite the boat ride gives you a better view of Aphrodite’s Rock and the stunning landscape of the island. We didn’t get a chance to visit the Baths of Aphrodite but it’s rumoured that if you take a dip you can expect to find love within a year, so the island welcomes singletons too!
Though we stayed away from some of the more ‘toursit-y’ activities on offer, there are plenty of firework dinner cruises, ‘dolphin spotter’ speed boat rides and glass boat tours. Water sports are widely available and for the fitness freaks out there, there’s plenty of gorgeous costal roads to run along if you’re looking to keep fit whilst away.
All in all it’s a fantastic island which accommodates all holiday types, from the cultural enthusiast to the sun worshipper. I’d highly recommend a trip out there – though perhaps not on RyanAir as we opted for, 4.5 hours on those planes is just too long!