We travelled to the south of Cyprus, quite a few years ago now, for a two-week vacation. The north at that time was not visited by western holiday-makers much at all.
Today the north has some tourism, but in a lesser degree to the south. Northern Cyprus is Turkish held and Southern Cyprus is Greek. There is still evidence around of the Turkish invasion and there is still quite a lot of bad feeling between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.
We took our vacation January, after working over the Christmas period in the UK. We stayed in Paphos on the south west coast of Cyprus and enjoyed a lovely relaxing winter break.
Cyprus has an all year round holiday climate, however it can be chilly during January and through to March. We were glad that we had took a mixture of clothing as we experienced everything from warm days on the beach, to snowy days when we visited the Troodos mountains.
Cyprus is an interesting destination with lots of history and sights to see. Enough to satisfy even the most well travelled tourist.
There are archaeological sites, beautiful traditional villages, architecture, lovely beaches and much more. The locals are friendly and seem to genuinely enjoy chatting with tourists.
Local food served is similar to Greek food with Meze's, and kebabs, as well as European offerings. The local specialty to drink is Cypriot brandy mixed with fruit juice to make Brandy Sour's.
We visited the Island's capital Nicosia where you can see the divide between the north and the south quite literally; the green line.
Nicosia is a bustling capital city which is interesting on many levels
One of the best sights and visits for us in Nicosia was a Museum which housed a huge statue of Archbishop Makarios in its grounds. This man was a previous leader of the country.
Nicosia has great cafes and restaurants also and you can travel to and from here by local buses.
Paphos in winter was lovely but, during the summer months, the over commercialism it has suffered is more evident. This is true of other resorts such as Ayia Napa and Limmassol.
Stay in these resorts, in high season, only if you enjoy hustle and bustle and a wild night-life. Cyprus however if you pick your destination, and time of year well, offers something for everyone.
There are still places a little of the beaten track and the Cypriot countryside is beautiful.
Travelling in winter we had the benefit of seeing a fairly green terrain. Spring would probably be lovely with all the early flowers too.
Cyprus is one of the largest Greek Islands in the Mediterranean
It's position means it is not far for anyone wanting to visit Israel and Egypt and back then many tourists did short stays. Current conflicts mean both countries are not such good options in 2018. Short cruises were available to take whilst holidaying on Cyprus and I assume they are still around and easy to book. Recent conflicts in these countries though may have limited such tours.
The island of Cyprus is a military base for some including British units.
No special visas are needed for holidays on Cyprus and there are no special health requirements such as vaccinations. However take an anti-mosquito plug and repellent as you may need it.
If you choose to visit Cyprus you will find a warm welcome and have a great holiday. You may find however it is a little more expensive when you are there than when you visit the Greek Islands.
Accommodation ranges from luxurious five-star hotels to basic bed and breakfast. As always the choice is yours but on the whole the accommodation is pretty good.
The currency is the Euro.
Travel diary Cyprus
Cyprus is often in the news in the 21st Century due to its useful strategic location for British military forces overseas but it remains a good holiday destination.
Cyprus is the third largest Island in the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its location it has a climate that is sufficiently warm to support an all year tourist industry. However if you visit from November to around March the weather may be a little unpredictable. However, on the whole the temperatures should be warm and definitely much warmer than in the UK.
Our two-week vacation
We visited a few years ago now. Our holiday began the last week in January and was for two weeks. We picked this time of year as Hubby's work, at the time, had meant working through all of the Christmas period.
The added bonus was the holiday price which at £149 each for a two-week self-catering stay, including flights, was a bargain basement price, with the resort and accommodation allocated on arrival.
Imagine our shock then when, talking with two elderly ladies, they informed us that their 8 week holiday had cost only £129 each!
Of course prices will be more expensive now, but you should still be able to get a great deal if you want to visit Cyprus outside of what is normally thought of as the main holiday period.
Bear in mind though that those prices do rise a little over the actual Christmas Holiday week.
So what did we make of the Greek half of Cyprus?
Of course we loved it and here is why.
Cyprus or as it is known in Greek, Kypros
First let me say that we have always been lucky when we have booked holidays that have the resort and accommodation allocated on arrival. The apartments where we stayed were away from the bustling centre of Paphos and on the road that leads to The Tomb of The Kings and Coral Bay.
Our apartments were not luxurious but for what we paid they were more than adequate. The apartment owner was a lovely eccentric Greek Man. By day he was a Bank Manager in the city. By night, as the hotel owner, he would serve drinks behind the bar and entertain guests. His party piece was dancing with a tea towel on his head. So what I hear you say. Well on top of this piece of material there were bottles of booze and glasses balanced. It made the film Cocktail look pathetic by comparison.
Arriving on the island of Cyprus
Our flight into Cyprus was fairly unspectacular, until the last few minutes.
In order to land at the tiny coastal airport the pilot had to bank the plane over sharply. So much so that we were almost upside down. The views over the Med were stunning but not everyone thought so.
As I looked across, to get the best view of the sea, I saw that the female passenger opposite me was sat with her opened book held tightly over her head, as if she was trying to disappear.
The short landing strip was surrounded by water but we soon made it down safely.
After an efficient meet with the travel rep we were on our coach and heading to our allocated destination, Paphos. It was the January 26 and the temperature was a pleasant 56F although it was only early in the morning. The sun was shining and all was definitely right with the world.
Paphos, especially in recent years, has become quite developed. However, out of the main tourist season it was a great place to visit. It is quite a sprawling area and so we would walk into the main harbour area or the town.
Paphos has a wealth of shops, some of which can be found at home in the UK however. The locals are fluent in speaking English but still enjoy the odd Greek word if you can manage it.
There are some four star hotels near the sea front of Paphos but they can be a little pricey. However getting around and shopping on Cyprus is not too expensive.
We travelled around on the local buses a few times and also booked a couple of tours through local agents. These were good value and interesting. We visited Coral Bay, Limassol, Nicosia, The Troodos Mountains and Polis.
My husband jokingly called Coral Bay a one cat town. This was because as we approached the resort it was small and almost had tumbleweed tumbling around. However it has a great sandy beach which is sheltered by low cliffs. Despite visiting in January it was warm enough to wear swimwear and sunbathe on this beach. Not warm enough to venture into the sea though.
Limassol is a large coastal town which has many hotels. We enjoyed our visit but were glad this was not our resort. There was a medium sized zoo here which we felt uncomfortable visiting. For one thing there was a huge Tiger prowling a tiny cage which seemed to have nothing more than a weak catch holding him in. None of the animals looked unwell but their surroundings were less than ideal. Perhaps these days this zoo has improved. I certainly hope so.
We enjoyed our two visits to Nicosia. As the capital of Cyprus it certainly lived up to its title. Here you can actually see the Green Line and glimpse the Turkish half of Cyprus. Nicosia is a vibrant city and well worth a visit. We visited the Archbishop Makarios Palace in Nicosia. This is now called the Byzantine Museum. There was an impressive huge, and formidable, statute of Makarios in the grounds. In 2008 this statue was replaced with one that was a little more conservative as its predecessor was now deemed an eyesore.
Nicosia has a strange diversity of architecture which includes Turkish mosques and more.
The Troodos mountains
The Troodos Mountains are in the interior of Cyprus. The scenery is breath-taking and here you will experience many traditional Greek Villages, sights and sounds. Even in summer it can be cool in the mountains and so you need to take suitable clothing with you. One young man on our visit, in early February, wore sandals, shorts and a T Shirt. He shivered the whole day as there was snow in some of the highest parts we visited. Thankfully we had enough scarves and the like to help him out. There is skiing in the mountains in winter.
Polis and Latchi
Polis was a largely unspoilt place with much to offer. I would imagine it would be a great place to stay.
With such a diverse history there are many other attractions to visit around Cyprus. The baths of Aphrodite,The Tombs of the Kings, Aphrodite's Rock and more.
If you enjoy a lively night-life Ayia Napa may be for you.
The restaurants serve a good mixture of Greek and English dishes. For those who are unadventurous there are burger bars, English pubs and the like. However if you look around you will find that there are plenty of traditional Greek Restaurants or tavernas. The speciality is often Meze which includes small amounts of many different Greek dishes. This is a great way to find out what Greek food you like and is ideal for sharing. It is also good value.
Brandy Sours are the local tipple and use locally made Brandy. They are served in huge glasses and include:-
50 ml Brandy
25 ml Lemon squash
2 dr Angostura bitters
1 slice of fresh lemon
At the end of a meal, more often than not, the waiter will bring you a complimentary Brandy Sour or a Schnapps drink. When I declined a Brandy Sour, due to my medication, the lovely waiter kindly returned with a huge glass of ice cream, which he said was for the ladies.
Cyprus adds a tourist tax onto the price of food and dining out. You will see this added onto the bill in restaurants, for example. I think the money raised helps those citizens who were displaced when the Turks invaded in 1974.
Some places also add a tip which you have no choice about. It is up to you whether or not you leave an additional tip.
If you visit out of season you may find that the tourists tend to be older. Many older visitors travel to Cyprus for the winter and stay for extended periods of time.
Some of our fellow holidaymakers looked at buying a holiday home on Cyprus. You need to exercise caution though as this Island still has a lot of problems. Until the problems between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots are resolved remember you could easily end up in a conflict or lose your property.
Some of those who have already bought homes on the Turkish side of the Island have recently lost their homes. The properties that are for sale are often those which were left behind when Greek Cypriots fled during the Turkish invasion.
The Greek Cypriots are a lovely people. They are warm and welcoming and positively love children. Children are made welcome in restaurants and the like. In the busy tourist areas you may come across some Greeks that have become cynical due to the tourists. However, it is easy to step back in time in Cyprus and meet genuine local folk.
Please note: - The Turkish and Greek Cypriot problem is not detailed here as this is a travel journal. However the links supplied will lead any interested reader to a little of Cyprus's troubled history.
We visited in the early 90s so expect some changes although our experiences will still act as a rough guide to Cyprus.
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