Are you looking for a vacation that perfectly blends history, culture, and natural beauty? Cyprus is the answer, and I want to share some of the best things to do in Cyprus with you! I was so surprised to discover Cyprus for the first time in January 2023, and I have to say this is a perfect destination in Europe for all seasons.
This stunning island country in the eastern Mediterranean has something to offer every type of traveler, from ancient ruins to beautiful beaches, picturesque mountain villages, to cosmopolitan cities. Another one that I also adore is Malta.
Cyprus offers history and UNESCO sites and has a wonderful mix of modern and traditional cultures.
And if you love the outdoors, you’ll find so much natural beauty to explore in Cyprus. There are stunning trails to hike and beautiful beaches for relaxation.
Whether you’re looking for unusual or fun things to do or simply want to relax and take in the beautiful scenery, Cyprus has something to offer. So, pack your bags and get ready to discover the best places to visit in Cyprus and the top tourist attractions this beautiful island has to offer!
Here’s an overview of the top 15 things to do in Cyprus.
The best way to explore Cyprus is by car
If you want to make the most out of your visit, I strongly recommend renting a car in Cyprus. Check out some of the best Cyprus car rentals offers here. Do know that they drive on the left side (the wrong side of the road, just like their colonialist superpower – the UK), but everything has been adjusted to help you adjust fairly quickly.
This was also my first time driving on the left side of the road, and I got used to it in no time. If you have experience as a driver, then driving in Cyprus will pose no issue for you. If you want to be extra safe, get a car with automatic transmission, as there are some hills. Other than that, follow the signs, and be careful. The locals know you are a rental car, so they will be extra careful around you, trying not to scare you and let you do your thing.
Where to stay in Cyprus?
Cyprus is a fairly small island and country. You can either book accommodation in a single city in Cyprus and then go on day trips, or you can switch accommodations as you move on the island – It’s up to you and your travel style.
My personal choice is to switch accommodations because it allows me to be more flexible with my travel plans, and I don’t have to worry about getting back to a certain city.
However, do know that hotels are limited and tend to get pricier in high season – so book your rooms in advance. For all my hotels in Cyprus, I used Booking.com.
Here are some good, tried and tested hotels:
- Larnaca – Best Western Plus Larco Hotel
- Limassol – Harmony Bay Hotel
- Nicosia – Centrum Hotel – City Center
Top 15 things to do in Cyprus
1. Visit the beaches
Cyprus is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, with crystal-clear waters, golden sands, and stunning coastal landscapes. From bustling resorts to secluded coves, there’s a beach for everyone.
Hint: You can visit the beaches in Cyprus even in winter! The Mediterranean Sea might be a bit cold, but you’ll get warm enough during sunny days for a sun bath.
Some of the best beaches to visit in Cyprus include:
- Nissi Beach (Ayia Napa) is known for its vibrant atmosphere and turquoise waters
- Konnos Beach offers breathtaking views of the coastline and is a popular spot for watersports.
- Fig Tree Bay (Protaras) is a picture-perfect crescent-shaped beach with soft white sand and shallow waters that are perfect for swimming.
- Lara Beach is a more secluded beach in Cyprus. This unspoiled beach offers a more peaceful and natural setting, with pristine sands and dramatic cliffs.
- Coral Bay (Paphos). A beautiful horseshoe-shaped beach with clear waters and stunning views of the surrounding cliffs.
- Mackenzie Beach (Larnaca). A popular beach close to Larnaca Airport with plenty of bars, restaurants, and watersports activities.
- Makronissos Beach (Ayia Napa). A family-friendly beach with shallow waters, perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
- Kourion Beach (Episkopi). A secluded beach with breathtaking views of the ancient Kourion archaeological site and crystal-clear waters.
- Aphrodite’s Beach (near Aphrodite’s Rock): A picturesque and romantic beach near Paphos, with calm waters and golden sand, said to be the birthplace of the goddess of love and beauty. My personal favorite beach in Cyprus!
2. Explore the ancient city of Paphos
Paphos is a beautiful city, and there is no wonder many European cities have direct flights to this piece of land in the Mediterranean Sea.
The city is located on the southwestern coast of Cyprus, and has a rich history that dates back to ancient times. It’s the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, and was once the capital of Cyprus. Today, Paphos is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
What to visit in Paphos:
- Pafos Archaeological Site. This must-see attraction can take up to half a day, and allows you to explore the remains of ancient palaces, theatres, and other important structures that date back to the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The Pafos Mosaics are also a highlight, featuring intricate and colorful designs that have been preserved for centuries.
- The Tombs of the Kings, a large necropolis with underground tombs that were carved into the rock. Explore the complex and learn about the fascinating burial traditions of the ancient Greeks.
- Old Town. Pafos also offers beautiful beaches, charming neighborhoods, and plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars. Take a stroll through the Old Town, sample some traditional Cypriot cuisine, and soak up the unique atmosphere of this historic city.
- Archaeological Museum of the Paphos District
3. Visit the Troodos Mountains
I bet you did not know the island of Cyprus also has mountains.
But they do have some beautiful mountains. They’re called the Troodos Mountains and offer a stunning natural wonder that dominates the landscape of central Cyprus.
Hiking is one of the most popular activities in the Troodos Mountains, and there are trails for all levels of fitness and experience.
Here are some of the most popular hiking trails in Cyprus in the Troodos Mountains:
- Artemis Trail: This is a challenging 7-kilometer trail that takes you through the Troodos Mountains and past Mount Olympus, the highest peak in Cyprus.
- Caledonia Trail: This is a 3.5-kilometer trail that takes you through the beautiful forested area of Platres and offers stunning views of the Troodos Mountains.
- Atalanti Trail: This is a moderate 7-kilometer trail that takes you through the forested area of Troodos and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
- Aphrodite Trail: This is a moderate 7-kilometer trail that takes you along the coast of the Akamas Peninsula and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
- Adonis Trail: This is a moderate 6-kilometer trail that takes you through the beautiful valley of the Kryos Potamos River and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
If you’re more into the culture and religious sites, then don’t miss the Kykkos Monastery. Founded in the 11th century, it’s the richest and most famous monastery in Cyprus and is known for its stunning architecture and exquisite artwork. You can explore the complex and admire the intricate mosaics, frescoes, and icons that adorn the walls and ceilings.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, you can also visit the charming villages of the Troodos Mountains, such as Kakopetria, Platres, and Omodos. These traditional communities offer a glimpse into the local way of life and are home to historic churches, museums, and shops.
No matter what you choose to do in the Troodos Mountains, you’re sure to be impressed by the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of this unique region. So, put on your hiking boots and get ready to explore one of the most stunning landscapes in Cyprus!
4. Explore the capital city of Nicosia
Nicosia is the capital city of Cyprus, and it’s a vibrant and cosmopolitan destination that offers a mix of ancient and modern culture. As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Nicosia has a rich and complex history that’s visible in its architecture, museums, and traditions.
Here are the top places to visit in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus:
- Visit the Cyprus Museum: Explore the rich history and culture of Cyprus through artifacts from ancient kingdoms, Byzantine art, and much more.
- See the Ledra Street crossing: A pedestrianized street lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants that is a symbol of Nicosia’s divided past. At the end of the street, you’ll find the border crossing to North Cyprus, which is like stepping into Turkey. Bring your passport.
- Visit the Selimiye Mosque: A stunning example of Gothic and Ottoman architecture that has a fascinating history. It’s located in the North side of Nicosia.
- Explore the historic Laiki Geitonia neighborhood: A charming and traditional neighborhood that offers a glimpse into Cypriot life and architecture.
- See the Famagusta Gate: A 16th-century Venetian gate that once served as the entrance to the walled city of Nicosia and now houses cultural events and exhibitions.
- Walk along the Venetian walls: The walls that once surrounded the city of Nicosia, with stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
- See the Archbishop’s Palace: A historic building that serves as the residence of the Archbishop of Cyprus, with beautiful gardens and impressive architecture.
- Visit the Leventis Municipal Museum: A museum that tells the story of Nicosia and its people through art, artifacts, and interactive exhibits.
And, of course, you’ll have to enjoy traditional Cypriot cuisine. Nicosia has many restaurants and cafes serving delicious Cypriot cuisine, from meze to grilled meats and fresh seafood. However, after you cross the border, you’ll get to experience amazing Turkish food, which is one of my favorite cuisines. You’ll find many better-priced restaurants as you walk away from the border.
5. Go scuba diving
Cyprus is a world-renowned destination for scuba diving, with crystal-clear waters, stunning underwater landscapes, and a wide variety of marine life. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, there’s something for everyone.
Here are the best places to go scuba diving in Cyprus:
- Zenobia shipwreck (Larnaca Wreck): One of the most popular dive sites in the world, offering a stunning underwater view of a sunken ferry and a variety of marine life.
- Cape Greco Marine Park: A diverse marine park with a wide range of habitats, including caves, reefs, and underwater canyons, and a rich variety of marine life.
- Green Bay: A great spot for beginners with shallow waters, colorful fish, and plenty of underwater wildlife. This is a great option for beginners, with shallow waters and plenty of fish.
- Akrotiri Peninsula: A rocky coastline with underwater caves and formations that offer a unique diving experience with diverse marine life.
- Blue Hole: A natural underwater tunnel that is home to a variety of fish and other marine creatures and offers a thrilling dive for experienced divers.
- Limassol Wrecks: A collection of three shipwrecks that were intentionally sunk to create artificial reefs and now house an array of marine life.
- St. George’s Island: A small island off the coast of Akamas Marine Reserve with crystal-clear waters, underwater caves, and plenty of marine life to see. It’s only a short boat ride from the fishing village of Latchi.
- Zygi Reef: A beautiful coral reef that offers a diverse range of marine life and underwater landscapes for divers to explore.
- Paphos Caves: A group of underwater caves and caverns that offer a unique diving experience with beautiful rock formations and plenty of marine life.
There are also many dive centers throughout Cyprus that offer a range of courses and certifications for divers of all levels. These centers provide equipment rental, guided dives, and expert instruction, so you can feel confident and safe while exploring the underwater world of Cyprus.
6. Visit the Salamis ruins
The Salamis ruins are one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Cyprus, and they offer a fascinating glimpse into the island’s rich history and culture. Located near the city of Famagusta, the ruins date back to the 11th century BC and were once an important center of culture and trade in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Salamis ruins cover a vast area, and visitors can explore the remains of ancient buildings, including a gymnasium, a theater, and a bathhouse. The highlight of the site is the Roman amphitheater, which could seat up to 15,000 people and is still used for performances today.
Here you will also find a vast collection of ancient artifacts, including mosaics, statues, and pottery. The most famous of these is the mosaic of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, which is a masterpiece of ancient art.
Whether you’re a history buff, an archaeology enthusiast, or just looking for a unique and memorable experience, a visit to the Salamis ruins is a must-do activity in Cyprus. You can go on a day trip to the Salamis ruins and Famagusta. So, step back in time and explore the fascinating world of ancient Cyprus at the Salamis ruins.
7. Take a wine tour
Cyprus has a long and proud tradition of winemaking, and the island is home to some of the most delicious and unique wines in the world. With its perfect climate, fertile soil, and unique grape varieties, Cyprus is a paradise for wine lovers. This is true for most Mediterranean destinations, so enjoy!
If you have more than a couple of days in Cyprus, then make sure to book a wine tour. Some of the island’s finest wines are:
- Commandaria, a desert wine and the oldest named wine in the world, and
- Zivania, a famous and traditional Cypriot spirit.
Some of the best wineries to visit on a wine tour include:
- the Vouni Panayia Winery, which is located in the beautiful Troodos Mountains and produces a range of award-winning wines, and the
- Ktima Gerolemo Winery, which is known for its delicious red wines and stunning vineyard views.
- The Kolios Winery,
- the Tsiakkas Winery, and
- the Ayia Mavri Winery, all of which offer a unique and memorable wine-tasting experience.
No matter which wineries you choose to visit, you’re sure to be impressed by the quality and diversity of wines in Cyprus. You can always combine some of the best things to do in Cyprus and go on a food and wine tour in the Troodos mountains.
So, raise a glass and take a wine tour in one of the most beautiful and delicious destinations in the world.
8. Visit the Akamas Peninsula
The Akamas Peninsula is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled regions of Cyprus, and it offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors. Located on the northwest coast of the island, the Akamas Peninsula is a protected nature reserve that is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.
If you’re a nature lover, like I am, I’m sure you will enjoy these breathtaking, stunning coastal cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and pristine beaches. Some of the best hiking trails in Cyprus start here, as I already mentioned.
Of course, the most popular attraction on the Akamas Peninsula is the Baths of Aphrodite, a natural pool surrounded by lush vegetation that is said to be where the goddess of love used to bathe. Bring your swimsuit and jump right into these crystal-clear waters or take a hike through the nearby forest trails.
9. Go on a boat tour
One of the best ways to explore the stunning coastline of Cyprus is by taking a boat tour. With a wide variety of boat tours available, there is something for everyone, from relaxing cruises to thrilling speedboat adventures.
You can choose from a range of boat tours, including half-day and full-day excursions, sunset cruises, and private charters. Boat tours offer a unique and unforgettable way to explore the island’s many beaches, coves, and hidden gems and provide stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Some of the best boat tours to take in Cyprus include the Blue Lagoon cruise, which takes visitors to the stunning Blue Lagoon and the Akamas Peninsula, and the Cape Greco cruise, which offers a unique perspective on the rugged coastline and stunning rock formations.
Other popular boat tours in Cyprus include the pirate ship cruise, which is a fun and interactive experience for all ages, and the Glass Bottom Boat tour, which offers a unique way to see the island’s underwater world.
Don’t forget your sunscreen and be ready for one of the best activities to do in Cyprus.
10. Visit the Kyrenia Castle
The Kyrenia Castle is one of the most impressive and historically significant landmarks in Cyprus. Located in the charming seaside town of Kyrenia, the castle dates back to the 7th century and is a testament to the island’s rich and complex history.
Note that the castle is located in North Cyprus, and you’ll either have to get a tour to Kyrenia Castle or you will need to drive and cross the border.
But I believe this is all worth it because you’ll get to see the Kyrenia Castle, which is a well-preserved example of medieval architecture. The castle will offer you a fascinating glimpse into the island’s past. You get to explore the castle’s many rooms and chambers, including the royal apartments, the prison cells, and the armory.
One of the highlights of the Kyrenia Castle is the Shipwreck Museum, which houses the remains of a 4th-century BC Greek merchant ship that was discovered off the coast of Kyrenia in the 1960s. The museum provides a unique and fascinating insight into ancient seafaring and trade.
No visit to Cyprus is complete without a visit to Kyrenia Castle, where you can immerse yourself in the island’s rich and complex history and enjoy stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. So, step back in time and explore the wonders of Kyrenia Castle.
11. Go paragliding
Are you seeking new adventures? Great, because this is the place to go crazy.
Paragliding in Cyprus offers an exhilarating and unforgettable experience for those seeking a thrilling adventure. The island boasts numerous paragliding opportunities with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and rugged coastline. Paragliding is truly one of a kind! And if this is too extreme for you, you might consider going on an air tour of Cyprus.
Of course, I recommend booking your experience with experienced instructors who will teach them the fundamentals and guarantee a safe and enjoyable experience. While paragliding is possible year-round, conditions tend to be best during spring and summer months.
You can choose to go paragliding in the Troodos Mountains, as well as the Blue Mountains. Other popular sights are Kourion Beach near Limassol, St. Hilarion Castle near Kyrenia, and Green Bay near Protaras for some spectacular sights.
12. Visit the Larnaca Salt Lake
The Larnaca Salt Lake is one of Cyprus’ most stunning natural attractions, located just near the Larnaca airport. They brag about this place as it is the home to wonderful wildlife, but the true attraction are the flamingos that reside here during wintertime.
The flamingos don’t have an exact location on the lake, so that’s why there are multiple viewing points. If you decide to also visit the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque (which you should), you can park your car at the exit from the highway and then take the trail up to the mosque. Sometimes this is where the flamingoes are, and you’ll get a better view if you walk instead of driving there.
I also enjoyed visiting this mosque because it offers insight into Cyprus’ vibrant cultural heritage.
13. Go on a food tour
Cyprus is a culinary paradise with a rich and diverse food culture that has been influenced by centuries of history and tradition.
This is the place to embark on a food tour and explore the island’s many delicious dishes and drinks.
Cypriot cuisine is characterized by its use of fresh and locally sourced ingredients, such as lamb, fish, and vegetables. Some of the most popular dishes in Cyprus include souvlaki, halloumi cheese, moussaka, and kleftiko, a slow-cooked lamb dish.
Popular food tours include:
- Troodos Mountains Food & Wine, during which you can meet locals, eat traditional dishes and meze, and discover the authentic mountain villages of Cyprus
- Authentic Paphos, which includes a traditional Cypriot lunch paired with wine.
- Halloumi Heaven, a tasting of fresh, warm hallloumi cheese straight out of the pot
Other popular places to go on a food tour in Cyprus include the traditional villages of Lefkara and Vouni, which are known for their traditional Cypriot cuisine, and the wine region of Paphos, which offers a unique and delicious wine-tasting experience.
14. Visit the Ayia Napa Monastery
The Ayia Napa Monastery is one of Cyprus’ most significant religious and cultural landmarks, situated in the popular seaside town of Ayia Napa. Dating back to the 16th century, this monastery serves as a testament to Cyprus’ vibrant cultural heritage.
The monastery boasts an exquisite church and cloister, as well as a small museum displaying religious artifacts and icons. Visitors are welcome to explore its many rooms and courtyards, learning about its fascinating history and cultural significance.
Other popular activities at Ayia Napa Monastery include attending religious services or ceremonies and taking in the serene atmosphere of its grounds.
15. Visit the Church of St. Lazarus
The Church of St. Lazarus is one of the most important religious and historical landmarks in Larnaca. According to tradition, the church was built on the site where Lazarus, the friend of Jesus who was raised from the dead, was buried.
The church dates back to the 9th century and is a fine example of Byzantine architecture. The interior of the church is decorated with beautiful frescoes and icons and features a stunning marble iconostasis.
And guess what? You can even visit the crypt, where the tomb of Lazarus is located. That’s right under the altar, and the entrance is from the church, on the right side of the altar. The crypt is a peaceful and contemplative space and is considered to be one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Cyprus.
Of course, if you want, you can also attend a religious ceremony. There is no fee for visiting the church. There is also a museum, if you’re interested.
Are you ready to discover the magic of Cyprus?
Cyprus is a destination that appeals to everyone – from stunning beaches and ancient ruins, to delicious food and intriguing cultural experiences. In this article, we have compiled the top 15 things to do in Cyprus, from exploring the Troodos Mountains to visiting Ayia Napa Monastery.
No matter if you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking an escape, Cyprus has something special to offer. So why not pack your bags and come discover its stunning beauty for yourself?
We hope this article has provided you with an incentive to explore all that Cyprus has to offer, from its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters to ancient ruins and breathtaking natural landscapes. A journey here will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
Come and experience Cyprus for yourself and discover why this captivating island has captured the hearts and imaginations of visitors from around the globe.