Things to Do in Cyprus
If you believe the legends, the Adonis Baths played an important role in Greek mythology – it was here that lovers Adonis and Aphrodite spent much of their time, conceived many of their children and ultimately, where a wounded Adonis died in the arms of Aphrodite.
Today, the romantic spot is a popular choice for visitors to Cyprus and swimming in the natural pools is said to bring virility and long-lasting youth, while touching the waterfront statue of Adonis and Aphrodite is alleged to bring fertility. Even if you don’t believe the myths, the Adonis Baths make a scenic retreat on a balmy summer afternoon, with the emerald green lagoon set beneath a tumbling waterfall and hemmed in by rocky cliffs and wild greenery.
Covering 100,000 square meters, Fasouri Watermania is the most popular waterpark in Cyprus. With 30 different slides, three restaurants, six snack bars and the largest wave pool in the country, there is a little something for everyone. A Lazy River winds some 400 meters around the park and is perfect for anyone looking to relax. On the other hand, the Wet Wall Climb, is a major test of upper body strength as visitors try to get from one end of the park’s largest pool to the other. Other rides include the Kamikaze slide, which reaches speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour, the six-story Aqua Tube slides and the Black Hole slide, in which visitors plunge through complete darkness. Baby bungee swings are available for children up to three years old. Other activities include a massage parlor, fish spa and temporary tattoo parlor.
Set on an isolated beach, the Lara Bay Turtle Conservation Station presides over the shelled creatures who come here every year to nest. Devoted conservationists keep an eye on the green and loggerhead turtles, safeguarding the eggs and young hatchlings and educating the public on the turtles’ plight.
The pine forests and steep valleys of Cyprus’ largest mountain range shelter villages, hiking trails, and historic monasteries. The range’s literal high point is Mount Olympus, which, at 6,404 feet (1,952 meters), is the island’s tallest summit. These heights offer cool weather, making them the perfect spot to escape the summer heat.
The archaeological remains of Kourion are by far the island’s most important historical discoveries. As one of Cypress’ most prominent city-kingdoms of antiquity, Kourion was built on a hillside that overlooks the southern coast and its ruins date back to the Roman and early-Byzantine periods.
Spread along the southwestern coast of Cyprus, the sprawling Tombs of the Kings are eight excavated tombs dating back to the third century BC. Around 100 Ptolemaic aristocrats are estimated to have been buried there, along with a substantial trove of jewels and personal effects, long since pillaged by grave robbers.
A looming stack of rocks standing proud off the southwest coast of Cyprus, the UNESCO-listed Rock of Aphrodite, or Petra Tou Romiou (Rock of the Greek), is one of the island’s most famous landmarks and the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, according to Greek mythology.
WaterWorld water park is the largest themed water park in Cyprus, as well as one of the largest in the world. Located just outside of Ayia Napa, it features pools, water slides, an activity pool, a wave pool and various water rides spread over more than 100,000 square meters—all with a Greek mythology theme! On the Fall of Icarus, riders are shot up toward the sun before plummeting toward a plunge pool. On the Drop to Atlantis, riders slide down a 20-meter high slide with both audio and visual effects.
A huge wave pool covers more than 3,000 square meters, while the Lazy River winds through the park, providing a more relaxing experience. Waterworld has something for everyone and is welcoming to all ages, with several kids' areas designed for toddlers and young children.
Perched at 1,318 meters in the Troodos Mountains, against a backdrop of pine-covered slopes, Kykkos Monastery (Panagia tou Kykkou) is not only Cyprus’ largest and most famous monastery, but one of its most magnificent tourist attractions. The original Byzantine monastery was founded in the late 11th-century, but today most of the structures date back to the 19th century, while an impressive collection of icons, manuscripts and antiquities are housed in the onsite Monastery Museum.
The richly decorated monastery is a feast for the eyes, with its gleaming marble floors, colorful murals and elaborate frescoes, but its most notable asset is a silver-gilded icon of the Virgin Mary, one of three surviving icons painted by the Apostle Luke, enshrined in an ornate tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl case and never uncovered. Also in the monastery grounds is the tomb of Archbishop Makarios III, the first President of the Republic of Cyprus.
Kolossi Castle is a former crusader stronghold from the late 12th century though the structure itself was built during the 13th century and founded by the Knights Hospitaller (also known as the Order of St. John. The three-story tower is one of the more striking remnants from Cypress’ medieval era.
More Things to Do in Cyprus
Nestled in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains, Omodos is one of Cyprus’ most picturesque villages, with its aged cobblestones, flower-lined shop fronts and stone-brick buildings lending a nostalgic air to the small mountain settlement. Omodos is an idyllic spot to shop for local handicrafts, explore the museums of the Monastery of the Holy Cross or watch the world go by from one of the many traditional cafes and tavernas, but its biggest claim to fame is its long history of wine production.
As well as visiting the many vineyards and family-run wineries that surround the village, wine enthusiasts visiting Omodos can also see the island’s oldest Linos (a medieval wine press), which offers a unique insight into the region’s historic wine-making traditions.
A highlight of Paphos Archaeological Park, the House of Dionysos is the largest of four Roman villas, nicknamed the Mosaic Houses for their elaborate floor mosaics. The mosaics, painstakingly crafted from limestone tiles, date back to the second and third centuries AD and remained hidden until a local farmer discovered them in 1962.
A top attraction in Paphos, Paphos Archaeological Park is home to some of Cyprus’ most important historic ruins. Visit this sprawling open-air museum—a UNESCO World Heritage Site that stretches along the coast near Paphos Harbor—to see a number of ruins dating to the late Roman period, plus a few that are even older.
Largely regarded as one of Cyprus’ most beautiful churches, the Panagia Chrysopolitissa Church, now the Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa, is renowned for its elaborate ancient floor mosaics, parts of which have been preserved and form a colorful addition to the medieval church.
Built on the site of an early Byzantine basilica, the church dates back to the 13th-century and forms the centerpiece of number of historic ruins and relics, among them the remains of a Gothic Basilica, a mosque dating back to the period Ottoman ruleand St Paul’s Pillar, where legend has it that Paul was flogged for preaching Christianity in 45 AD.
Standing proud in the grounds of the Panagia Chrysopolitissa Church, St Paul’s Pillar is one of Cyprus’ most important sites of pilgrimage, dating back to the early days of Christianity. Legend has it that St Paul arrived in Paphos in 45 AD and was scourged by the Romans for preaching Christianity, receiving 39 lashes while tied to the pillar. But his efforts weren’t in vain and Paul eventually succeeded in converting Roman Governor Sergius Paulus to Christianity, making Cyprus one of the world’s first Christian states.
Today, St Paul’s Pillar lies amongst a series of ancient ruins surrounding the Chrysopolitissa church, including the remains of an early Byzantine basilica and a mosque dating back to the period Ottoman rule.
With slides, drops, and a wave pool, Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark is among the city’s top attractions. Even the names of the rides hint at adventure—try the Free Fall, Kamikaze, or Cannon Drop before relaxing on the Lazy River. Visitors with small kids will find plenty of fun at the family-friendly Mini Volcano and Mini Bubble.
Founded in 1159 by Cypriot saint and writer Neophytos, the Agios Neophytos Monastery is among Cyprus’s most striking religious buildings, carved into a mountain rock just north of Paphos. Though a small number of monks live here, the main attraction for visitors is the museum, full of religious manuscripts, garments, and other artifacts.
A sleepy village tucked away in the foothills of the brooding Troodos mountains, historic Lefkara is charmingly picturesque and a popular stop on a tour of the surrounding mountains. Taking its name from ‘Lefka Ori’ or ‘White Mountains’, the village’s characteristic white stone buildings and timeworn cobblestones are its most distinctive asset and the small center can easily be explored on foot, admiring landmarks like the Church of the Holy cross along the way.
Lefkara is best known for its rich lace-making heritage, a unique tradition that dates back to the 15th century and was honored on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list back in 2009. Today, visitors to Lefkara can still see the local ladies creating the intricate, hand-stitched Lefkaritika lacework as they sit chattering in their shop fronts, as well as visiting the fascinating Handicraft Museum, where the art form takes center stage.
Once famous for its sacred gardens, dedicated to the Goddess Aphrodite, these days the sleepy village of Yeroskipou (Geroskipou) is best known for its production of Loukoumia, the age-old Cyprian sweet, otherwise known as Turkish delight. The powdered sugar coated candies are traditionally flavored with rose water, but are produced in a myriad of unique flavors and make an ideal souvenir.
Additional highlights of the small town include the 11th-century Church of Agia Paraskevi, celebrated for its medieval paintings and icons; the fascinating Folk Art Museum; the sandy Yeroskipou beach; and the nearby Luna Park amusement park.
Mount Olympus is the towering peak that marks Cyprus’s highest point, reaching up to 6,404 feet (1,952 meters) in the Troodos Mountains that form the backbone of this eastern Mediterranean island. Being the highest of the range, Olympus now has a British Army radar station on its summit.
Known as Chionistra in Greek, Olympus is snowcapped in winter, when it becomes the Cypriot number-one skiing destination with four ski slopes of differing levels from green for beginners to the aptly named Zeus black run on the mountain’s north face.
In summer, however, the mountain’s forested slopes become the domain of walkers who follow trails along the Troodos range. Hikers can start a day’s walk from Troodos village, along way-marked pathway leading through steep, scented pine forests to the summit of Olympus for sweeping panoramas over Cyprus and across to the sea. Other walking paths meander around the base of the mountains, and from time to time wild moufflon sheep can be spotted in the lowland scrub and meadows.
For those who don’t fancy the hike uphill, these days there’s also a road that snakes up to the peak of Mount Olympus to catch those Mediterranean vistas.
Famous for its sweet Commandaria dessert wine (the world’s oldest named wine in continuous production) and home to an impressive 45 wineries, Cyprus makes a popular choice for wine lovers and there’s no better place to start a wine tour than the Cyprus Wine Museum. Housed in a 150-year-old converted inn, the museum is dedicated to the island’s long history of wine-making – a tradition dating back more than 5,000 years and kept alive through the island’s family-run wineries and wine tourist routes.
Visitors to the museum can learn about the age-old production process, as well as the modern practices of grape cultivation and aging, browse the fascinating collection of ancient wine jars, vases and medieval drinking vessels and even sample a glass of locally produced Commandaria.
Looming over the Paphos Archaeological Site, Fabrica Hill once marked the northern entrance to ancient Paphos and today serves as a scenic lookout point, offering impressive views over the numerous Roman ruins, Saint Paul's Pillar and the glittering Mediterranean coast.
The main attraction of Fabrica Hill is the ancient Odeon amphitheater built on its slope, a striking limestone structure dating back to the 2nd-century, where music concerts and theatrical performances are held throughout the summer months. Also of interest are a number of quarry caves dating from the Hellenistic period, a partially restored ancient mosaic and the nearby Agia Solomoni Catacombs.
The Cyprus Historic & Classic Motor Museum exhibits classic and historic cars that range from a Ford Model-T dating back to 1912 to the former rides of famous politicians. Along with the 90-strong collection of well-preserved cars, there’s a movie space where a film short calledMotoring through Ages plays on a loop.
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