As in Greece and Turkey, much of the male population of the island is obsessed with football. Otherwise, the most popular activities relate to the island’s geography and climate, from paragliding and climbing to sailing and scuba diving or even, for a few weeks in the year, skiing on the snowcapped Troodos Mountains.
With its excellent weather and varied terrain and coast, Cyprus is ideal for a range of air sports. For general information contact the Cyprus Airsports Federation (t22339771, w caf.org.cy). For parachuting get in touch with Stavros Kypragoras (t 99643068), for hang-gliding Sotos Christoforou (t 99606211), for paragliding Demetris Antoniou (t99406507).
Cypriots have the reputation for preferring to eat rather than watch songbirds, but the former is now illegal in the south. Those interested in birdwatching in Cyprus should contact BirdLife Cyprus (t22455072, wbirdlifecyprus.org). For more on birdlife, see the section on birds.
Climbing and hiking
Popular sites for rock climbing/bouldering include Eagle Rock and the Chassamboulia rock in Pafos District and Cave Greko near Agia Napa. For detailed information on climbing, contact the Cyprus Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Federation (t97770067, wkomoaa.com).
For hikers there are numerous marked trails in the Troodos Mountains. A section of the European Long Distance Path E4 travels for 539km the length of the island, and there is 322km of good walking divided into 72 nature trails. An excellent booklet on the E4 Long Distance Path and the nature trails is available in CTO offices in Cyprus and abroad. The best general walking in the north is in the Kyrenia range.
Cycling is a year-round activity in Cyprus, but conditions are best in spring and autumn. Mountain and road bikes can be rented in all main towns and holiday areas (guide rental €10–20 per day). For further information contact the Cyprus Cycling Federation.
Fishing, both sea-and freshwater (the latter primarily in reservoirs), are popular in Cyprus. The main source of information regarding angling in the south is the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (t22807862, wmoa.gov.cy/dfmr), who publish a booklet on the subject. In the north look out for sea-fishing trips from the most popular harbours (for example, wfishingnorthcyprus.com, from Keryneia). It is possible to get permission to fish in reservoirs, but is probably not worth the effort.
Football (soccer) is strongly supported across the island. The Cyprus Football Association runs a full league of four divisions with fourteen clubs in each, and there are three cup tournaments. Admission prices are a fraction of what UK league teams charge, and tickets can be bought at the ground, on the day. Despite being relative minnows, Cypriot clubs have reached the group stage of the Champions League three times in recent years, and in 2012 Lefkosia’s Apoel became the first to reach the quarter finals.
There are four main golf courses in southern Cyprus, three in Pafos District, and one in Lemesos, with several others planned. For a summary see wcyprus-golf-courses.co.uk In north Cyprus, there are two. See the relevant chapters for details of each course.
There are numerous horseriding stables in Cyprus, and many offer holiday packages – look out for literature in the CTO office or your hotel. Two of the best are Ride in Cyprus (wrideincyprus.com), based just outside Pafos, and Drapia Farm in Kalavasos (book through wcyprusvillages.com).
Though it might seem unlikely, from January to March there’s usually enough snow on Cyprus’s highest peak, Mount Olympus, to allow skiing. The Cyprus Ski Club operates a ski centre on the mountain with four ski lifts serving three slopes: a chairlift on Zeus slope, and T-bar lifts on Hera, Aphrodite and Hermes slopes. For further information, contact the Cyprus Ski Club (t22449837, wcyprusski.com).
There are hundreds of tennis courts across Cyprus run by the municipalities as well as many hotel courts. Most have all-weather surfaces and are floodlit. There are numerous local tennis and beach tennis tournaments, and, during the winter, the Cyprus Masters Cup and Aldiana Seniors Open tournament. Cyprus also plays in the Davis Cup. For further information contact the Cyprus Tennis Federation (t22449860, wcyprustennis.com).
Watersports and diving
The main coastal holiday areas, in both north and south, all offer the full range of watersports, either through centres on or near the beach, or through the big hotels. Dive schools in both the south and the north offer accredited courses. Among the numerous recognized dive sites are the wrecks of the Vera K and the Achilleas off Pafos and the wrecks of HMS Cricket, a British army helicopter and, most famously, the Zenobia off Larnaka. For scuba diving, contact the Cyprus Federation of Underwater Activities (t22754647, wcfua.org). Sailing is widely catered for, either within the island or visiting – there are many ports, marinas and fishing shelters from which to choose. For charters, try Sail Fascination Shipping Ltd (t25364200) in Lemesos, Armata (t24665408) in Larnaka or Cyprus Yacht Charters (80000011) in Pafos.