When most of us think of Cyprus, we’ve either heard of, or experienced, the wild parties of Ayia Napa on the southeast coast (for the record, we’ve only heard the stories). Fortunately, if you prefer a more cultural experience – otherwise known as the real Cyprus – there is a whole island of treasures awaiting you in the Mediterranean.
If there’s a town that knows the true meaning of transformation, it simply has to be Limassol. One of the most cosmopolitan districts in Cyprus, the sprawling cityscape is famed for its thriving cultural scene and dynamic modern life. Buzzing cafés complement candlelit bistros, modern architecture and old colonial mansions vie for attention, while small galleries are tucked away near larger art centres.
Limassol is the second largest city of Cyprus, the home of the island’s main port, and a bustling holiday hot-spot. From its jewel of a marina and impressive archaeological monuments, to the vast 15km coastal strip lined with restaurants, bars, cafés, shops and nightclubs, the city is thriving and colourful.
The region also includes two unique wetlands. Germasogeia Dam is a peaceful place to relax, take a stroll, or enjoy a spot of angling, while Akrotiri Salt Lake is the perfect place to observe nature and wildlife (especially birds).
Where to stay: Amathus Beach Hotel
Nuzzled on the beach amid the tropical gardens and the indigo sea, the newly renovated Amathus luxury hotel in Limassol is a serene sanctuary of
Ideal for travellers seeking a relaxing retreat on the beach, this prominent hotel provides a tranquil oasis of holistic indulgence for honeymooners, spa enthusiasts, families and corporate travellers wishing to visit the captivating island.
Boasting some of the finest luxury rooms and suites in Limassol, and an abundance of recreational activities and entertainment options, this five-star hotel is an experience all of its own.
From its gigantic pool and beach access to its gourmet dining destinations and spectacular views, it’s the perfect base in a perfect location. INFO: amathuslimassol.com
One moment you might be exploring the glorious rocky coastline, the next you could easily find yourself surrounded by an archaeological site filled with historical intrigue. With so much magic in the air, it’s no wonder that Aphrodite is famed to have risen from the shores of the island’s west coast.
Comprised of old and new towns, rural villages and picturesque resorts, the region is home to some of the most stunning areas of natural beauty on the island, while its many archaeological sites are historically invaluable, with Katos Pafos declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While visiting the area, stop at the Baths of Aphrodite, which is located near Polis. Greek mythology tells that the goddess of love and beauty bathed here, and it is one of the most enticing sites in the region.
Aphrodite’s connection with Cyprus begins at the landmark rock formation of Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s Rock/birthplace), where according to legend, she rose from the waves.
Where to stay: Almyra
Almyra is a top choice for anyone seeking a ‘less ordinary’ holiday. With two in-sync experiences catering equally to couples and fun-loving families, this chilled-chic hotel is all about carefree Mediterranean living with a cool, contemporary twist.
For instance, it features five freshwater swimming pools: one indoors, one just for adults, one for infants and two facing the sea. Plus the endless Mediterranean, of course, for open-water swimming, including a smooth, wave-free zone protected by stone breakwaters.
Its sleek accommodation showcases contemporary luxury paired with either sea or garden views. You can choose from 187 stylish rooms or suites, or if you’re taking
the entire family along, you can create your own ideal accommodation with interconnecting options. INFO: almyra.com
Often characterised by its eye-catching seaside promenade, linked with graceful palm trees that frame the entrances of dozens of bustling cafés and eateries, charming Larnaka is more than just an airport arrival and departure destination.
Beautifully compact, easily accessible and truly authentic, Larnaka is the island’s oldest soul. And by that we mean it’s the longest continually inhabited region of Cyprus, with a history that dates back 4,000 years. And while it is rich in ancient culture, Larnaka is also a thriving and modern European city that offers the best of all worlds.
One of its most popular spots in the city is the bustling promenade of Foinikoudes, which is lined with palm trees and flanked by beach, restaurants and entertainment. Its coast joins with the seaside walkway of Piale Pasha – which passes by quaint old neighbourhoods and fresh fish taverns – while its parallel shopping centre puts everything at your fingertips.
Where to stay: Golden Bay Beach Hotel
The Golden Bay Beach Hotel is an exclusive, five-star hotel set in mature landscaped gardens. Perfectly situated at the edge of Larnaca’s tourist area, along a fine sandy beach with crystal clear waters, the resort is easily accessible from the town centre and Larnaca International airport.
Offering four establishments for dining, complimented by live music and entertainment, a meal at the Golden Bay is a delightful indulgence. Whether you’re craving quality cuisine, a breezy lunch or a light snack, you’ll be well-fed here. INFO: goldenbay.com.cy
OUR FAVOURITE SPOT IN CYPRUS: COLUMBIA BEACH RESORT
Thanks to its distinctively Cypriot architecture, the award-winning, all-suite Columbia Beach Resort possesses an idyllic charm like no other in the region. From the moment we arrived, the restored roof tiles, graceful arches, and shutters on the windows reminded us of a traditional Cypriot village.
Located in the secluded Bay of Pissouri on the southern coast of Cyprus, this fabulous five-star hotel features elegant suites luxuriously appointed with fabrics and furnishings that reflect the colours of the landscape and the dramatic cliffs that frame the blue of the Mediterranean Sea.
It’s here you’ll be able to enjoy breathtaking views from the balcony of your suite, depending on the type of accommodation you select. Whichever view you decide on, the resort’s spacious suites also offer a sleeping and living area.
Foodies are also in for a treat. A variety of bars and restaurants, each with a different feel and ambiance, embellish the resort across both east and west wings.
The nautical heritage of the Columbia Beach Resort is evident in both the Eros Bar to the west, and Seven Cs Bar to the east. Come for lunch or dinner, take a seat on Cape Aspro Restaurant’s expansive terrace, and peruse the menu’s many gourmet options. The magnificent views out to the Mediterranean from the terraces of these restaurants and bars are simply immaculate. Whether enjoying a morning espresso or a pre-dinner mixed drink, the views are what Instagram moments are made of.
Truth be told, we were meant to visit Columbia Beach Resort just for brunch, but we were so captivated by its beauty and relaxing atmosphere that we decided to stay – it’s really that impressive! And we’re definitely making this our first (and possibly last) stop the next time we visit Cyprus. INFO: columbiaresort.com
Picture credits: Shutterstock, supplied.