Blue skies, warm water, and white sandy beaches are reason enough to visit this ancient island. The best way to see this Mediterranean gem? A road trip through Cyprus!
It’s hard to visit Cyprus without making plans to come back before you even leave! If you like crystal clear water, white sand beaches, Mediterranean food, and a cocktail or two, you’ll love this little island.
Boasting more than 300 days of blue skies each year, Cyprus is truly a dream for sunworshippers. The temperatures were perfect in early May, but summer temperatures can be absolutely brutal. Autumn and Spring are definitely the best times to visit.
Cyprus is an ideal location for a road trip. The island is packed with hidden gems and off-the-beaten-track finds, plus car rentals are easy and affordable. You can arrange to pick up a rental car at the airport, then return it wherever you find the most convenient.
I was fortunate to have an Australian travel buddy with me who was used to driving on the wrong (ahem, left) side of the road. There’s not a ton of traffic on the island, so if you’re comfortable with the idea of driving on the left, go ahead and give it a go! If not, there’s also a lot of public transportation options to get you from town to town.
We flew into Larnaca, then explored the towns of Agia Napa, Limassol, Paphos, and Nicosia. We also took some time to drive around aimlessly through the middle of the island, which were probably my favorite days. Mount Olympos and Paphos Forest are definitely worth a visit!
Each of the cities on the island has its own charms, so you can pick and choose where you want to go. You can drive all the way across Cyprus in just a few hours, so don’t limit yourself to just one place! You can choose to drive between the cities and stay in a new town every few nights, or base yourself in one of the cities and explore the island in a series of day trips.
Agia Napa is famous for its glorious beaches and intense nightlife. I’m not sure I’ve ever partied as hard as I did in Agia Napa! I left the town with a new tattoo as evidence of the debauchery.
If you head a few minutes out of town in either direction you can find secluded spots to hike and swim in the sea. There’s also a good size waterpark nearby that is worth a visit.
After Agia Napa, we decided to stay in Limassol for a few days and use it as a base to explore some of the villages in the interior of the island. Limassol has lots of shops, restaurants, beach access, and a pretty decent nightlife scene.
It seemed to me that most of the bars closed down pretty early, especially compared to Agia Napa. If you’re looking for a good meal, head to the new marina for some excellent fish and seafood. For cheap dining options, keep your eyes peeled for falafel/kebab places, Indian restaurants, and traditional Cypriot food (like moussaka cooked in a clay pot).
From Limassol, we spent a few days driving inland to see the wine regions and ancient villages in the mountains.
I truly can’t recommend this enough! It’s a great way to get to know the island. It feels like not much has changed in these villages for a very long time.
Make sure you leave Limassol with a full tank of gas each day because there are not many (any?) petrol stations once you are out of town.
If you are short on time, Omodos is a lovely village not far from Paphos and Limassol. Stop by for a stroll through town, a glass of wine, and local hospitality.
Paphos seems to be famous for its beaches, but I found the beaches near Agia Napa more to my liking. Paphos has a small port with stunning views and a good sized boardwalk chock full of ice cream and souvenir shops. We spent two afternoons here, and that was enough for me.
When driving in between Limassol and Paphos make sure to stop and visit Aphrodite’s Rock, which is particularly gorgeous at sunset.
Nearby are the ancient sites of Kourion, Tombs of the Kings, and Kato Paphos Archaelogical Park. On the other side of Paphos you can visit the Adonis Baths. I skipped the archaelogical sites (I was a bit burnt out after Egypt and Jordan!), but I loved visiting the Adonis Baths.
There’s a double waterfall which makes for a lovely view, and the chilly pools provide the perfect opportunity to refresh yourself in the afternoon heat. The water is believed to have medicinal properties. The man who sold me my ticket warned me that it would make me beautiful and very fertile. Just something to keep in mind.
The last city we visited was Nicosia, the world’s only divided capital city. A large part of the island is under Turkish occupation, and the dividing line runs right through the middle of Nicosia.
To pass through you just need to show your passport, then you can go back and forth as much as you like. There’s a lot of fascinating history in this city, so be sure to explore it to your heart’s content!
The occupied part of the city contains a stunning mosque as well as plenty of places to smoke sheesha and enjoy fresh shawarma.
While many people tend to refer to the two parts of the island as the “Greek” and “Turkish” parts, Cypriots consider the entire island to simply belong to Cyprus, with part of it currenly occupied by an invading power.
Whether you’re interested in exploring the 10,000 year history or just soaking up some time in the sun, Cyprus is a destination worth visiting!