The best things to do in Cyprus, from exhilarating beach hacks to scenic vineyard tours

These are unusual times, and the state of affairs can change quickly. Please check the latest travel guidance before making your journey. Note that our writer visited pre-pandemic.

With its world-famous archeological sites, including the Curium near Limassol and the Tombs of the Kings in Paphos, luxury thalassotherapy centres and spas, water activities, and mountains dotted with vineyards and nature trails, Cyprus offers an endless variety of things to do during your holiday. You can try your hand at snorkelling, or diving if you’re experienced, and even ski in the Troodos Mountains during winter. For a trip you’ll wish would never end, here are some of the best things to do.

Discover the scenery with a trek through the mountains

Whether it’s a gentle amble you fancy or a far more challenging trek, there’s a suitable route for you. Trails in the Troodos Mountains area are particular popular, including the Caledonia Trail, which sets off from Platres and follows the Kryos Potamas to the Caledonia waterfall. Others include the Artemis Trail and the Persephone Trail. All offer scenic views.

Insider’s Tip: Check out the Selladi tou Stavros trail. It’s a delightful walk that stops off at the Troodos Mountain forest station where crews monitor fire break-outs in this densely wooded region. Nearby is the mouflon (ovis ophion) enclosure where this endangered wild sheep is protected.

Contact: Free maps are available from Cyprus Tourism Organisation’s offices; 00 44 20 73 21 41 70; visitcyprus.com
Price: Free

Troodos Mountains, Cyprus

Trails in the Troodos Mountains area are particularly popular for walkers and hikers

Credit:
Kristof Bellens / EyeEm

Detox with sea-derived thalassotherapy in a smart spa

Cyprus enjoys some of the finest thalassotherapy centres in the Mediterranean. The therapy uses mainly seawater that has a restorative effect on the skin, and takes the form of baths, jet showers and sauna-style rooms set at various temperatures from ice-cold to hot. For many holidaymakers though it represents an opportunity to relax in the sumptuous surroundings of a spa. 

Insider’s Tip: Most thalassotherapy centres – thalassotherapy takes its name from the Greek word Thalassa, meaning sea – can be found in the island’s five-star hotels, including the Anassa. Most are open to non-residents. The therapy aims to detox and anti-age the body and skin, and to relieve some ailments. 

Contact: Anassa Hotel; 00 357 26 88 80 00; anassa.com 
Price: £££

Anassa Hotel, Cyprus

Most thalassotherapy centres can be found in the island’s five-star hotels, including the Anassa, pictured

• The best hotels in Cyprus

See shoals, caves and shipwrecks with a deep dive

Say Zenobia to any diving enthusiast and they will straightaway know you are talking about one of the world’s most famous dive sites, 140ft (43m) deep. Other famous sites include the shipwrecks of Lady Thetis and Consdandis, and freighters Vera-K and Ektimon. Experienced divers will also be thrilled by the Jubilee Shoals off Limassol with its caves, a tunnel and drop-offs. 

Insider’s Tip: If snorkelling is more your thing then head to St George’s Island and Devil’s Head off the Akamas Peninsula, Amphorae Caves and Manidjin Island off Paphos, or the caves off the rugged coastline near Ayia Napa. The marine life is spectacular.

Contact: Cydive, Paphos; 00 357 26 93 42 71; cydive.com. Dive-In, Larnaca; 00 357 24 62 74 69 dive-in.com.cy 
Prices: ££

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Snorkelling around the rock arches and caves near Ayia Napa is spectacular

Credit:
Oleg_P

Explore the island’s amazing archeological history

A massive part of Cyprus’ charm is its history. In fact, remains found on the island have been dated back to the Neolithic Age, 8200-3900 BC. In Paphos you can visit its castle, the Mosaics of Paphos and see the Tombs of the Kings. Along the coast at Limassol you can visit the Kourion and its Graeco-Roman amphitheatre, plus the ancient city of Amathous.

Insider’s Tip: While the sites in Paphos, which is a World Heritage Site in its entirety, and Limassol should not be missed, ensure you also explore the Troodos Mountains. Here, you can see the fabulous Kykkos Monastery and no less than 10 Unesco-listed painted churches. 

Contact: Cyprus Tourism Organisation’s offices; 00 44 20 73 21 41 70; visitcyprus.com
Price: £

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In Paphos you can visit its castle (pictured), the Mosaics of Paphos and see the Tombs of the Kings.

Credit:
Billy Stock/robertharding

Spot wildlife like turtles in unspoilt natural spots

The Cyprus countryside offers the chance to get back to nature. Top choices include the Akamas Peninsula to the west and Cape Greco nature park which is under the protection of the Forestry Department to the east. Further inland, the Paphos Forest is an area of dense cedar trees and winding roads, which eventually ascend to the peaks of the Troodos Mountains. 

Insider’s Tip: The Akamas Peninsula is an unspoilt, rugged region of woodland-covered hills, sandy coves, the odd village, and isolated beaches lapped by crystal clear waters, including Lara Beach where the endangered loggerhead turtles nest. Its dramatic coastline hides endless sea caves.

Contact: Cyprus Tourism Organisation’s offices; 00 44 20 73 21 41 70; visitcyprus.com
Price: Free

Turtles on a Cyprus beach

Endangered loggerhead turtles nest on Lara Beach

Credit:
Kirill Greshnov

Raise a glass to (and in) the island’s finest wineries

The Cyprus landscape is dotted with vineyards and bijou wineries, especially as you pass through the foothills to the Troodos Mountains. Some of the best, award-winning wines are produced here from the local grape varieties of Mavro and Xynisteri. Many wineries, such as the Kolios Winery and the Tsangarides Winery, offer tastings. KEO is a mass-producer of wine – and local beer – and you can tour its winery in Limassol.

Insider’s Tip: Check out the wine museum in Limassol where you learn about how Cyprus has produced wine for millennia. It is best known for Commandaria which was served at the wedding of Richard the Lionheart to Beregaria of Navarre in Limassol, May 1191.  

Contact: Kolios Winery; 00 357 26 72 40 90. Tsangarides Winery; 00 357 26 72 27 7; tsangarideswinery.com. KEO; 00 357 25 02 00 00; keogroup.com. Cyprus Wine Museum; 00 357 25 87 38 08; cypruswinemuseum.com
Prices: ££

Grape vine trunks in a mountain vineyard, Troodos, Cyprus

Grape vine trunks in a mountain vineyard around Troodos, Cyprus

Credit:
Olga Donchuk

• The best all-inclusive hotels in Cyprus

Hop onto a boat and enjoy a full and fun day out

The waters around Cyprus are often abuzz with cruising yachts and day-trip boats in the summer months. The island is seeing a growing number of marinas, most notably the shiny new one at Limassol, and at Latchi, Paphos, Larnaca and Ayia Napa. As such, yachting has become popular. Most of the island’s livelier beaches, especially those around Ayia Napa and Protaras, offer small boats for hire. 

Insider’s Tip: You’ll find boat companies offering short cruises along the coast that include a stop to swim, snorkel or enjoy a barbecue lunch by day, or a candlelit meal and even fireworks by night. They can be found in most harbours.  

Contact:Cyprus Mini Cruises, Latchi; 00 357 99 30 28 79; cyprusminicruises.com. Dolphin Boat Safari, Ayia Napa; 00 357 99 60 71 81; dolphinboatsafari.com. Paphos Sea Cruises, Paphos; 00 357 26 91 02 00; paphosseacrusies.com 
Prices: ££

Limassol Marina, Cyprus

The island is seeing a growing number of marinas, most notably the shiny new one at Limassol

Credit:
f8grapher/f8grapher

Get active with some thrilling watersports

Windsurfing and waterskiing enthusiasts will be in their element. Ayia Napa and Protaras both offer good windsurfing conditions, while waterskiing is also popular in Ayia Napa, as well as Larnaca. Jetskis can be hired at some of the livelier beaches, or try a spot of parascending. Novelty watersports, like banana rides, can be found at most of the family-orientated beaches. 

Insider’s Tip: Ayia Napa and Protaras on the east coast offer the best windsurfing conditions, especially in the afternoons when a strong breeze whips up the sea. Waterskiing is a popular sport earlier in the day when the sea is at its calmest.

Contact: Nissi Watersports, Ayia Napa; 00 357 99 68 43 90; nissiwatersports.com. Stephanos Water Sports, Protaras; 00 357 99 42 75 01; stephanoswatersports.com. Anemos Water Sports, Larnaca; 00 357 99 53 52 58; larnacawatersports.com 
Prices: ££

Ayia Napa, Cyprus

Jetskiing is popular around the coast of Ayia Napa

Credit:
Diy13

• The best restaurants in Cyprus

Enjoy the glorious sights of Cyprus on two wheels

Cycling is a hugely popular activity in Cyprus. Routes range from being relatively easy or moderate right through to being downright challenging aimed at the most fittest of cyclists. Durations vary too. The Polis to Akamas Lighthouse route, for example, is around 13.6 miles (22 km) in length, while others like the Larnaca-Kofinou-Dali route, which starts in Larnaca, covers over 37 miles (60 km) of often hilly terrain. 

Insider’s Tip: The Cyprus Cycling Federation has assisted in designing many of the cycling routes around the island with the aim to cover towns, villages, interesting sites and countryside. Cycling in such beautiful surroundings is a great way to keep fit. 

Contact: Free cycling route maps are available from the Cyprus Tourism Organisation’s offices; 00 44 20 73 21 41 70; visitcyprus.com. Cyprus Cycling Federation; 00 357 22 44 98 70; cypruscycling.org
Price: Free

Cyclists, Ayia Napa, Cyprus

Cycling is a hugely popular activity in Cyprus, and a great way to explore towns (like Ayia Napa, pictured), villages, interesting sites and countryside

Credit:
Kirill Makarov/Kirillm

Saddle up for some horse riding along the coast and countryside

Although not a mainstream sport in Cyprus, horse riding is nonetheless a popular pastime for some. Equestrian centres close to the coast can arrange beach hacks, while inland stables, particularly in Nicosia, Limassol, Lysos, Pissouri and Paphos, cater for beginners right through to experienced riders, and you can arrange lessons, short countryside hacks and longer riding tours. Nicosia racecourse hosts regular horseracing events.

Insider’s Tip: If the exhilarating experience of galloping along a deserted beach in Cyprus is on your holiday bucket list then there’s a handful of riding centres close to beaches, such as at Pegeia and Lady’s Mile beach in Limassol, that allow this.

Contact: George’s Range, Pegeia, near Paphos; 00 357 99 64 77 90; georgesranchcyprus.com. Curium Equestrian Centre, near Lady’s Mile beach in Limassol 00 357 99 56 42 32; curiumequestriancentre.business.site 
Prices: ££