Lonely Planet Cyprus

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Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Cyprus is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Hike in the beautiful Troodos Mountains, enjoy delicious mezze at a chic cafe in Kyrenia harbour, or explore fascinating Roman ruins in Pafos; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Cyprus and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Cyprus Travel Guide:

  • Colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, cuisine, wildlife, arts
  • Over 30 maps
  • Covers Lemosos, Troodos Mountains, Pafos, Larnaka, Lefkosia, Nocisia, Kyrenia and more

eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet devices and smartphones)

  • Downloadable PDF and offline maps prevent roaming and data charges
  • Effortlessly navigate and jump between maps and reviews
  • Add notes to personalise your guidebook experience
  • Seamlessly flip between pages
  • Bookmarks and speedy search capabilities get you to key pages in a flash
  • Embedded links to recommendations' websites
  • Zoom-in maps and images
  • Inbuilt dictionary for quick referencing

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Cyprus, our most comprehensive guide to Cyprus, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

  • Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet's Mediterranean Europe guide.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Josephine Quintero and Jessica Lee.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

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Life Outdoors

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Small it may be but Cyprus punches above its weight in terms of outdoor pursuits. Whether it’s sun, sand and sea on the coastline that tempts you or the rugged mountain terrain inland, this island has activities that suit every age and energy level.

Zenobia, 17m to 43m below sea level; Vera K, 10m below sea level; Helicopter Wreck, 16m below sea level; M/Y Diana, 21m below sea level

Pissouri Bay, Lemesos; Protaras, Agia Napa district; Makenzy Beach (including Cape Kiti), Larnaka

Aphrodite Trail and Adonis Trail, Akamas Peninsula; Kyrenia Mountain Trail, Kyrenia; Mt Olympus, Platres and the Troödos Mountains; Stavros tis Psokas forest reserve trails, Tylliria

Kiniras Horse Riding Centre, Pafos (www.horseridingpaphos.com); Moonshine Ranch, Agia Napa

Troödos cycling route; Cape Greco national park, Agia Napa; Lemesos to Pano Platres cycling route, Lemesos

The azure blue waters of the Mediterranean are Cyprus’ biggest drawcard and it’s not difficult to see why. From May to late October sea temperatures rarely dip below 20°C, while during the peak summer months of July and August, water temperatures average between 24°C and 27°C, making Cyprus the perfect place to plunge right in.

 

Travel with Children

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Cyprus is superb for families, with cuisine that is guaranteed to offer something for the fussiest of eaters and superb beaches, fascinating sights and fun-filled attractions.

Pafos overflows with watery activities: boat rides, fishing trips, snorkelling and a water park. Or there’s the spine-tingling trip to the Tomb of the Kings.

The city beaches offer shallow waters and plenty of activities, while horse riding, a water park and an expansive sports centre all keep the adrenaline up.

Older kids will really enjoy the underwater activities, plus sandy beaches, sea caves, camel rides and a fascinating museum on, you guessed it, the sea.

Fairy-tale castles, deserted beaches, nature strolls and the hulking Kyrenia shipwreck in the town’s main museum should blow their little socks off.

Famagusta’s medieval walled city captures the imagination. On the peninsula, stride out on endless beaches, enjoy a cycling trip, visit an eco village and see turtles in the wild.

 

Regions at a Glance

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This is an island where the word diversity takes on a whole new meaning. While the South has robustly developed its beachside towns and historic sites, the North’s main attractions remain the quintessential Med-style resort of Kyrenia and the wild beaches north of Famagusta.

On both sides of the Green Line there are great opportunities for hiking, particularly in the Troödos Mountains and on the northwest coast. For more gourmet pursuits, consider Lemesos with its sophisticated restaurants or enjoy the delicious simplicity of a North Nicosia kebab. History buffs have plenty to ponder as well, with some inspiring archaeological sites, particularly around Famagusta, Pafos and Lemesos. For a slice of rural life head to the interior where mountain villages around Lemesos and the Troödos Mountains provide tranquil respite from the clamour of the coast, as well as superb agrotourism accommodation.

Lemesos is famed for its innovative and sophisticated international and Cypriot dining, particularly in and around the historic centre. Check out the expertly renovated Old Carob Mill, home to some seriously urban chic culinary choices.

 

Lemesos & the South

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The south coast is Cyprus at its most diverse. Beaches hem the shore offering relaxed holiday fun. Impressive sites like Ancient Kourion showcase the island’s rich history. Travellers seeking vestiges of traditional rural life are charmed by the gentle pace of the hill villages scattered on the Troödos Mountains’ slopes. And centred around it all is cosmopolitan Lemesos.

Hotel developments may have taken over much of the coast but drive a little further afield and the natural beauty of this region is revealed. The beaches around Episkopi Bay nestle against verdant farmland and dramatic bluffs while inland the countryside rolls upward in hilly waves with roads edged by olive and almond trees and vineyard rows. Once exploring is done for the day, lively Lemesos is the place to head. With its cafe culture and restaurants, this city is developing a reputation as a rising star in Cyprus’ foodie scene.

AJoin in the fun-time revelry along the seafront at Lemesos’ annual carnival (50 days before Easter), full of traditional music and dance, family-friendly parades and modern festivities.

 

Troödos Mountains

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Home to Mt Olympus (1952m), the island’s highest peak, this stunning mountain range provides visitors with a forested flipside to the coastal resorts and big city clamour. Overlooking the valleys of Lemesos, Larnaka and the greater Mesaoria plain, this region covers over 90 sq km and is a protected natural park which safeguards its wildlife, ecology and geology. In winter, skiers and snowboarders populate the ski resorts of the northern slopes while, at other times of the year, the park is ideal for camping, picnicking, hiking, cycling and birdwatching.

As well as the natural beauty of the landscape, Troödos is home to a variety of postcard-pretty villages with their cobbled streets, terraced slopes and vernacular architecture. The region’s peaks and valleys also hide some of the island’s most important medieval frescoed churches, along with unexpected monasteries, museums and some of the Republic’s finest wineries.

AFrom January to April you can ski and board the slopes by day and and enjoy a hearty tavern meal by night.

 

Pafos & the West

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Pafos was nominated joint European Capital of Culture for 2017 in recognition of its extraordinary archaeological sights. Unsurprisingly, tourists have flocked here for these for decades – plus more hedonistic pursuits. If you find the beach strip at Kato Pafos too developed, duck into the backstreets or head up to Ktima on the hillside, which has a more tangible traditional feel. More beach resorts are strung out north along the coast towards Agios Georgios.

To seriously sidestep the crowds, consider renting a car and searching out traditional rural villages where some of the best tavernas are located. If you have sturdier wheels, check out the unspoilt Akamas Peninsula, where there are remote beaches and some of the best walks on the island. To the east, the vast Pafos Forest is equally enticing, melting almost imperceptibly into the sombre tracts of the Tyllirian wilderness.

APafos is the island’s top tourist destination, which is worth bearing in mind when planning your visit.

 

Larnaka & the East

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Cyprus’ east has more to offer than sunbathing and sandcastles. Hike Cape Greco’s coastal path for glorious scenery and weird rock formations then follow the winding roads inland to wander snoozy villages which hug hillsides speckled with wild fennel. Delve into the very beginning of this island’s human habitation at the neolithic site of Choirokoitia or whiz back not quite so far in history with a fresco-infused church-hop of this region’s Byzantine relics.

Larnaka itself is an easygoing seaside town with a handful of excellent historic sites. It’s an ideal base for further exploration.

Those golden strips of sand along the coast are what beckon most travellers here though. As resorts, hedonist-fuelled Agia Napa and family-friendly Protaras may be as different as chalk and cheese but both owe their success to this region’s beach-sloth beauty. Pick a beach. Any beach. You’re pretty much guaranteed to come up trumps.

ABetween February and March pink clouds of flamingos, waterfowl, wild ducks and many other migratory birds check in at Larnaka’s salt lake for their annual spring break and turn the serene waters into birdwatcher central.

 

Nicosia (Lefkosia)

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If you grow weary of the coast’s sea and sunbed scene, and even if you don’t, make sure you spend some time in the country’s capital, Nicosia (or Lefkosia as it is known officially and to Greek speakers). It is an enticing city and is ideal for experiencing what modern Cyprus is all about. The ancient walls, traditional restaurants and an increasingly vibrant and young cafe and cultural scene effectively showcase the city’s basic make-up.

Almost everything of interest lies within the historic walls, where a labyrinth of narrow streets reveals churches, mosques and evocative colonial-style buildings. The country’s best museum is also here, housing an extensive archaeological collection.

The city has been labelled ‘the last divided capital’, a reality that, although still present, is slowly changing thanks to 24-hour checkpoint crossings into its Turkish northern half – North Nicosia (Lefkoşa).

AThe best time of year to visit is during spring and autumn, when the weather is pleasantly warm, interrupted by only an occasional outbreak of rain.

 

North Nicosia (Lefkoşa)

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Home to roughly a third of the population of North Cyprus, the northern half of Nicosia is another world. Approached from the smart boutiques in Ledra St, North Nicosia (Lefkoşa) sees the avenue fracture into a medina-style market of stalls and kebab houses. Thanks to the Nicosia Master Plan, however, many of the historic buildings are being restored and the area around the Selimiye Mosque, in particular, has a real sense of heritage.

This is essentially a daytime city where the appeal lies in observing daily life and exploring the dusty historic streets lined with ancient mosques and Frankish ruins. Many visitors take a day trip via the Ledra Palace or Ledra St checkpoints. Consider staying until dusk, when the minarets light up and release their evening call to prayer and the air is scented with an intoxicating combination of wild jasmine and freshly grilled kebabs.

ANorth Nicosia can be an uncomfortably hot and dusty city in July and August, which is also when many inhabitants leave for cooler coastal climes.

 

Kyrenia (Girne) & the North

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Castles cling to craggy hilltops. Lonely churches peek out amid wild-flowered slopes. Fields of gnarled olive trees march across the coastline where the harbour town of Kyrenia, backed by the imposing silhouette of jagged mountain ranges, looks out towards the sea. This bite-sized region combines the best of Cyprus’ natural charm with oodles of history.

Most visit for sun and sea holidays which has led to a flurry of less-than-pretty developments being flung up along the shore. Ignore the concrete-block oddities though and you’ll find there’s plenty left to explore. From Bellapais Abbey to the fairytale-fluff of St Hilarion Castle, there are ruins with million-dollar views galore.

This region is famed for its outdoor potential with hiking, turtle-spotting, orchid-hunting and bird watching on the agenda. The trails are under-promoted and gloriously quiet; a perfect incentive to get your walking shoes on and discover them before everyone else.

AFrom February to April a vibrant palette of wildflowers and rare orchids bloom across Kyrenia’s coastline, splashing the rolling fields with a paintbox of colours.

 

Famagusta (Mağusa) & the Karpas (Kırpaşa) Peninsula

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The thin finger of the Karpas (Kırpaşa) Peninsula is all rolling meadows, craggy cliffs and wild beaches with a handful of snoozy villages thrown in. It’s a taste of old-style Cyprus that can’t be beaten. Despite new roads and development efforts, it still feels like someone stopped the clocks here a few decades back.

When you’ve recharged your batteries with the Karpas’ serene wilderness, turn back west to visit Ancient Salamis. This enigmatic window into the Hellenic world is the island’s most impressive archaeological site.

Just to the south is the fortified city of Famagusta. Climb up to the ramparts to walk the city walls. Then wander through lanes where gently dilapidated houses sit beside crumbling ruins of once majestic churches and breathe in the ambience of faded long-lost grandeur.

Brimming with history and full of mesmerising natural beauty, this is by far the island’s most rewarding region to explore.

AFrom March to May wild orchids and wildflowers come into bloom on the Karpas Peninsula and a variety of bird life can be spotted in the sky. It’s a showcase of Cyprus at it’s prettiest – nature-lover’s won’t want to miss it.

 

Accommodation

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Part of the charm of Cyprus is that each region has a distinctive character, so deciding on what you want from your holiday experience is the first priority. In the south, Larnaka is at the centre of the most tourist-driven part of the island, with nearby Agia Napa still the clubbing capital. To the west, sophisticated Lemesos is the restaurant hot spot and is an ideal central base for exploring inland and further afield. Still due west, Pafos is a favourite with families, and tour groups, but also provides easy access to the unspoilt west-coast beaches and the Troödos Mountains. The urban flip side is the capital, cultural Nicosia (Lefkosia), with fantastic museums, galleries and historic sights. In North Cyprus, Kyrenia has some superb hotels overlooking the harbour while, to the west, the Karpas (Kırpaşa) Peninsula is perfect for those who want to get away from it all, surrounded by stunning scenery, pristine beaches and coves.

The following price ranges refer to the cost of a double room, including private bathroom and excluding breakfast. Prices ranges are for the low (winter) and high (summer) seasons.

 

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