Time difference: GMT +2
Flight time: 4.5 hours
Home to romantic harbours, unspoilt beaches and ancient ruins, Cyprus is much more than just a fly and flop holiday destination. Its rich history carves a deep seam across the island, where Turkish and Greek cultures combine. With a famously warm and hospitable population, fantastic food and spectacular scenery, Cyprus is a strong all-rounder and popular repeat destination that sees visitors return time and again to its emerald coves and romantic harbour resorts.
Made up of two distinct cultures separated by the buffer zone, visiting the island affords the chance to dip in and out of the Greek and Turkish sides by crossing via one of the seven access points – there are even two pedestrian walkways in the capital, Nicosia, so you can visit the Cypriot side (Lefkosia) and Turkish side (Lefkoşa) on a day trip. The more recent history of the island is just as fascinating as its tumultuous ancient history, reflected in its well-preserved architecture and sights that form a rich tapestry that blankets the island. You can uncover Roman ruins, excellent museums and dusty streets that are now faded but still hold a sense of grandeur. In beautiful Paphos you can walk around the Tombs of the Kings, an ancient theme park of underground tombs and chambers, just a short distance from the sea. Urban landscapes include Venetian walls, Byzantine castle and churches and Islamic mosques.
Because of its two distinct cultures and an array of influences from over the years, its culinary scene is equally varied. A mix of Turkish and Greek flavours mix to form a cuisine that is distinctly Cypriot. Head to any relaxed taverna and you’ll find thick slabs of salty halloumi, towering plates of meze and freshly-landed seafood, grilled to perfection. For an adults’ day out, the wine villages (krasohoria) that line the scenic slopes of Omodos offer a chance to sample the traditional grape products of the region, as well as the award-winning and full-flavoured wines.
Saving the best until last, there’s one main reason that people flock to Cyprus for their summer holidays and that is, of course, the beaches. From soft shingle to smooth pebble to stretches of unspoilt white sand, Cyprus is ringed by beautiful beaches. Simple pleasures on this sunny island are no finer than a day wallowing in the shallows and relaxing on the sands, before a sunset dinner in a local taverna, whether you’re travelling as a couple, a family or a big group of friends.