Given its relatively compact size, Cyprus rewards those with a sense of wanderlust. Within an hour or so’s drive you can leave the beach and find yourself exploring a cool mountain monastery or wandering the streets of an ancient Roman city. The following itineraries can all be done within a fortnight, giving you a taste of both sides of the island.
Home to the island’s biggest airport, Larnaka is the inevitable start point for many visitors to Cyprus. However, its elegant promenade, beautiful Agios Lazaros cathedral, ancient ruins, and a vibrant resort are reason to linger.
Cyprus’s second city, with a reputation for great restaurants, has transformed itself recently through sympathetic city-centre development into the definition of laidback Mediterranean living.
3 The Troodos Mountains
Small villages, lovely monasteries and churches, cool mountain air, the Troodos Massif offers a startling contrast to the more hectic coast.
Known for its family-friendly resorts, Pafos has, among the hotels, shops and restaurants, a pretty harbour, some world-class historical monuments and a fascinating hinterland of small villages.
5 Girne (Kyrenia)
The most beautiful harbour town on the island, and a good introduction to life in north Cyprus, Girne has a stunning castle, a relaxed atmosphere and offers wonderful days out to St Hilarion Castle and Bellapais Abbey.
6 Nicosia (Lefkosia/Lefkoşa)
Cyprus’s capital, with a wealth of monuments, museums and good shopping and eating, can, for the first time since 1974, be treated as a single city: visit either from Girne or from Larnaka. You can cross from one side to the other in a matter of minutes.
7 Gazimağusa (Famagusta)
An ancient port city defined by its elegantly ruined old town, pounded by the Ottomans in 1571. Nearby are the magnificent ruins of Ancient Salamis and also the unsettling sight of Varosha, derelict since 1974.
1 Agia Napa
Once the archetypal 18–30 resort, Agia Napa has morphed into a more sophisticated destination with a surprising smattering of museums and other attractions.
Worth a day or two for its promenade, town centre beach and marina, and also its old fort, Pierides museum and Agios Lazaros Church.
Take a walking tour of both north and south sides of the city, then drive across the Green Line and north to Girne, stopping off at St Hilarion Castle on the way.
4 The Karpaz Peninsula
Explore the villages and small-scale sights of the Karpaz Peninsula. Look out for its wild donkeys, and press on to lonely Apostolos Andreas monastery, both the easternmost and the northernmost point on the island.
You could spend an entire day exploring the ancient city of Salamis, the nearby Royal Tombs, Monastery of St Barnabas and the ruins of Enkomi-Alasia – all within a couple of kilometres of each other.
6 Gazimağusa (Famagusta)
A modern city with an old town at its heart, a place for strolling, sitting in cafés, and admiring the historical ruins.
Cross back into the republic at Agios Nikolaos, drive around the Kokkinochoria (red villages), and drop into the Cultural Centre of Occupied Famagusta to take a look at Varosha from the other side.
With an airport second in importance only to Larnaka, Pafos is the best place to start a tour of the west. Don’t miss the town’s spectacular UNESCO-listed Roman mosaics, important early Christian remains, eerie Tombs of the Kings or, just to the southeast, the ruins of Palaipafos and pretty Petra tou Romiou, birthplace of Aphrodite.
Driving from Pafos to Polis, take time to look at the Monastery of Agios Neofytos, Pafos Zoo, and the numerous villages, known for their traditions and their wine, in between. Polis is also the gateway to the Akamas Peninsula.
3 Kato Pyrgos
Having driven northeast around Chrysochou Bay, through the villages of Pomos and Pachyammos, stay for a while in quiet Kato Pyrgos, exploring from here the forests of Tiliria.
4 Vouni and Soloi
Cross the Green Line into north Cyprus at Limnitis/Yesilirmak, and take time to look first at the remains of the Palace of Vouni, then of Soloi. Continue to Güzelyurt, an unpretentious market town with an interesting museum.
5 The northern Troodos
After Güzelyurt, cross back into the south at Zodeia/Astromeritis and head up into the northern Troodos regions of Marathasa and Solea, staying perhaps in Kakopetria. Head south to the coastal motorway, then west to Pafos Airport and your flight home.