For over two years, My Cyprus Insider has been dedicated to bringing you the best the island has to offer, unlocking some of the country’s most brilliant secrets. None of it, of course, would be possible without the support of our dedicated readers, every step of the way. Read on for our readers’ top picks of what what to see on the island…and make sure you tick them all off your bucket list!
1. Best Ancient Site: Paphos Mosaics
Hardly surprising that this ancient site tops the list; a place where Greek mythology springs to life at what is probably the most famous archaeological site in Paphos, with old restored Roman villas adorned with impressive colourful mosaic floors portraying images from Greek mythology. The mosaics date back to the 2nd and 3rd century AD.
Where? Kato Paphos, within the grounds on the Paphos Archaeological Park. Open daily: Winter hours (16th September – 15th April): 8.30am – 5pm. Summer hours (16th April – 15th September): 8.30am – 7.30pm. Tel: (+357) 26-306217
2. Best Beach: Lara Bay
Hidden within the breathtaking Akamas Peninsula nature reserve, vibrant greenery and unkempt wilderness gives way to sweeping bays and panoramic views of the west coast of the island. And as indicated by reader’s votes, Lara Bay stands as one of the most impressive sandy stretches.
Home to the green and loggerhead turtle that arrive to lay their eggs in the summer months, you’ll no doubt be making friends with the little creatures in this strip of untouched wilderness. Just be sure to keep quiet so as not to disrupt their peace. Best to hire out a 4×4 to get here or head our on a safari tour.
Where? Akamas nature reserve, Paphos district.
3. Best Church: St Lazarus
One of the most high profile attractions in Larnaca right in the centre of town, this stone church is one of the most impressive examples of Byzantine architecture on the island and lies over the tomb of the namesake saint (the patron saint of Larnaca).
Built by Byzantine Emperor Leo VI in the 9th century, the church was restored in the 17th century. Although the three domes and original bell tower of the church were destroyed in the first years during Ottoman rule, the gold-covered iconostasis has survived today and is a superb example of baroque woodcarving. The churchyard contains a Byzantine museum and a small cemetery.
Where? Agios Lazaros Square, Larnaca. March 1st– Oct 31st: 8am – 6.30pm daily. Sunday 6.30am- 12.30, 3.30pm- 6.30pm. November 1st– February 29th: 8am – 12.30, 2.30 – 5.30pm. Sunday: 6.30am – 12.30, 3.30pm – 5.30pm. Tel: (+357) 24-652498
4. Best Historic Architecture: Curium Amphitheatre
Perched high on a cliff top outside Limassol (near the village of Episkopi), this Greco-Roman theatre commands tremendous views of the sea and tells tales of days gone by, with the whole area steeped in history.
Originally built in the 2nd century B.C, what remains today dates back to the Roman period, with further restorations having taken place thereafter.
Where? 19km west of Limassol centre, towards Paphos. September 16 – April 15, daily: 8.30am – 5pm. April 16 – September 15, daily: 8:30am – 7:30pm. Tel: (+357) 25-934250
5. Best Lake: Larnaca Salt Lake
One of the town’s largest attractions, nothing beats catching a glimpse of the graceful migratory pink flamingos that get quite comfortable in the area between the wetter months of November and March.
Measuring about 2.2 square kilometres and sitting 3 metres below sea level, the salt lake was a source of commerce from ancient times. In a trade that was worth many thousands of pounds every year, salt was exported from Larnaca as far as Venice. After the hot summer months, the salt lake is typically completely dry but it doesn’t take a great deal of rain for it to become a lake once again – albeit a shallow one!
Where? East of Larnaca centre.
6. Best Modern Building: Renovated Old Limassol Port
Having totally revamped the old port area (initially built in the 1950s), crowds from Limassol and beyond gravitate towards this place to drink and dine in fine style with uninterrupted views of the glistening Med.
Declared the ‘Most Remarkable Architectural Project for 2016’ at the State Architecture Awards 2016, the new redevelopment was designed by architect Chrysanthos Chrysanthou and includes restaurants, shops, bars, offices, a large square, pedestrian area, a cultural events hall and more.
Where? Limassol city centre, connected to the Limassol Marina.
7. Best Monastery: Kykkos
Little wonder this monastery is so highly regarded – it’s one of the most well-known, lavish, and undeniably impressive monasteries in Cyprus. Dominating a mountain peak about 20 kilometres from Pedoulas, it was built at the end of the 11th century by Byzantine Emperor, Alexios Komnenos, and possesses one of three famous icons attributed to Agios Loukas the Evangelist.
If you wish to catch a glimpse of an important collection of Christian exhibitions, the Museum of Kykkos Monastery is bound to impress. Both men and women are allowed to enter the monastery.
Where? 20km west of Pedoulas. Troodos Mountains.
8. Best National Park: Troodos
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, nothing beats feeling like you’re on top of the world on the Troodos Peaks as you cool off at almost 2000 metres above sea level. And readers clearly agree!
The Troodos National Forest Park covers an expanse of forest covering about 90km around Mount Olympus and is one of the most complete and best studied ophiolites in the world. It also stands proud as a geological model for researchers the world over, formed 92 million years ago. What’s more, it’s home to gorgeous waterfalls, an impressive Geopark, gorgeous nature trails, a botanical garden and much more.
Where? Troodos Mountains.
9. Best Natural Wonder: Avakas Gorge
Another gorgeous site deep on the Akamas nature reserve, reader’s votes go to show that this place is undoubtedly of the island’s most spectacular spots in the natural world, carved out of limestone rocks and rising to a height of 30 metres, you can take a walk right by the stream that formed this natural wonder thousands of years ago.
Do beware of the slippery rocks and be sure to wear suitable shoes!
Where? Akamas Nature Reserve, Paphos district.
10. Best Waterfall: Caledonia
The most famous waterfall of the lot, this claims a proud spot, at an altitude of 1330m north of Pano Platres village, with the water falling from a height of 13 metres. Luring thousands of visitors year in and year out, prepare for a walk like no other as the gushing sound of water through dense forest vegetation leads you towards the waterfall.
You can get to the falls through the Caledonia nature trail which has two starting points. One of them begins at the point on the ‘Kryos Potamos’ River near the Troodos Presidential Residence, and the other, from the ‘Psilon Dentron’ point near the village of Platres. The choice is yours: the former is two kilometres long while the latter is one kilometre.
Where? Platres village, Troodos.