Cyprus - Ancient Pearl in the Mediterranean Sea
Turquoise water in front of a white coast, ancient ruins under cedars, the steam of shishas in the alleys all over town - Cyprus has been shaped by its history, its legends and its unique position in the east of the Mediterranean Sea.
Geography - The eastern island in the Mediterranean Sea
Cyprus is the third biggest Mediterranean island and lies about 50 kilometres away from the Turkish and 100 kilometres away from the Syrian mainland. Regarding geography, the island is located on the Anatolian Plate and therefore in the Asian area. With regard to culture, however, is has a European nature. The island has been divided into the Republic of Cyprus in the south and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the north since 1974. Its climate is Mediterranean but also has a continental character. The summers in the capital Nicosia are very hot with an average daily temperature of 37 °C. Sometimes there is snow in the higher mountainous regions in the short wintertime.
Nature - Mount Olympus' cedars and cypresses
The island is of volcanic origin and characterised by two great mountain ranges. The highest peak is Mount Olympus (1,952 m) in the Troodos Mountains. Parts of this mountainous region are forested. Stone pines, Aleppo pines, cedars and cypresses are very common in these regions. In the west and east you see a hilly landscape and in the outer areas of the island you find the coastal plain. The fine sandy beaches attract numerous visitors. Apart from the placid island donkeys, Cyprus does not have a particularly notable fauna. It is home to amphibians and reptiles, several hundred types of birds and a number of fish species. With a bit of luck, travellers can spot chameleons and turtles. An interesting animal is the mouflon, called agrino. Nowadays, this wild sheep only exists in Cyprus, Corsica and Sardinia.
Natural sights - A touch of Aphrodite
The best-known imagine of Cyprus, a rugged rock in the sea in front of the coast, is connected to the legend of the goddess Aphrodite. It is said that the divine beauty was born from the sea foam at exactly this point. Aphrodite's rock was her witness. The mythical rock is located at the Petra tou Romiou Beach. The white Lara Beach is another beautiful sight. It is enclosed by snowy white limestone and populated by turtles, especially during the time of egg deposition. A highlight for visitor of all ages are the island's donkeys. You can pet, feed and "adopt" the tame animals in the Donkey Sanctuary near Limassol.
Culture - A mirror of history
Cyprus has had a turbulent history since the Old Stone Age. Dozens of cultures celebrated their prime and fall on the island. Among them are the Phoenicians, the ancient Greeks and the Assyrians. They were followed by the Persians, the Romans and the Byzantines. Even the Arabs and the crusaders played a part in the history of the Mediterranean island. After the Venetians and Ottomans had left the island, Cyprus became a British colony but it managed to win back its independence. Since 1974 a part of the country has been occupied by the Turkish, which is why the island is divided into two parts. Cyprus is also called the "Island of Saints" because there are countless buildings such as churches, monasteries and temples all over the island, which represent different eras. Despite the country's turbulent past and present, the inhabitants of Cyprus are relaxed and friendly towards visitors.
Cultural sights - A great mix of peoples in the smallest spaces
Travellers who are interested in culture and architecture will be delighted with Cyprus. The archaeological site Paphos and the painted churches in the Troodos region are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Choirikoitia is a neolithic site which has existed since 7000 BC. The ancient town Salamis with the Temple of Zeus bears witness to the Hellenic civilisation. The ruin of Saint Hilarion Castle in the mountains as well as the ancient complex Kourion with its Early Christian Basilica and its amphitheatre are also worth a visit. In addition, you should not miss out on the capital Nicosia. Museums, mosques and souvenir shops string together in its labyrinthine old part of town.
Experience - Meze, frappé and wine
The island offers a number of culinary specialities. Meze is a dish of up to 30 different small morsels, including fresh bread with herbs and olive oil, tzatziki, hummus, lamb meatballs, skewers, calamari and much more. Typical of Cyprus is also the frappé. This creamy iced coffee with a layer of foam tastes best in the bars and pubs at the seaside. The wine villages in Omodos are still an insider tip. Visitors learn all about the production of the island's strong red wines in the wine museum. Although the towns on the islands are relatively small, they are suited for shopping trips. The prices for fashion and accessories are very reasonable. Small shishas, thyme honey and mosaics are some of the most popular souvenirs. Agia Napa has a great party mile with bars, clubs, pubs and everything party-goers could wish for. You can end your day with a glass of iced ouzo in one of the characteristic taverns.
Activities - From the harbour onto the sea
Kyrenia's old harbour in the north of Cyprus is the starting point for many island activities. Boats and yachts set off to the beautiful Mediterranean Sea here. Swimming, bathing and diving are popular sports in this region. The Zenobia wreck is one of the world's ten best diving wrecks. While windsurfers and kitesurfers can pursue their hobbies in the bays at the east coast, hikers discover aromatic stone pine forests, hidden waterfalls and secluded streams in the Troodos Mountains. A well-developed network of nature trails leads holidaymakers to all the sights on the island. The winter season on Cyprus lasts from January to March. In these months travellers can bring their ski and winter sport equipment and test it on Mount Olympus.
The Mediterranean Sea around Cyprus has the warmest temperature in summer with 28 °C. Travellers who want to cool down best visit the country in the autumn or winter months. As the political situation on the island is still tense, holidaymakers should inform themselves on the current security situation before setting on their journey. Cyprus is a member of the EU. Therefore, you can pay in euro on the whole island.
Cyprus is worth a visit at any time of the year. The wonderful weather, the pleasant water and the charming island atmosphere are perfect for sun-worshippers, especially when it is cold in your home country.