If you’re impression of the island of Cyprus is based on the built-in conflict among its Turkish and Greek residents, you’re missing out on one heck of a vacation opportunity. Recent political change has made Cyprus a more inclusive and more welcoming destination than ever before. Divide your time between the island’s rich cultural history and beaches so beautiful you’d be hard-pressed to find their equal anywhere else. If that’s not enough to fill your time you could simply cruise the island’s eateries and sample the sumptuous cuisine. There are dozens of reasons to spend some time bumming around Cyprus; here are some of the most compelling.
1. They’re Ready and Waiting to Welcome You
In large part, the economy of Cyprus is based on keeping tourists happy. As a result, the island’s inhabitants are extremely welcoming to visitors of all shapes and sizes. Provided you don’t try and take sides on the whole Greek-Turkey dispute that underlies the island’s modern history, you’ll be very welcome throughout Cyprus.
2. It’s Bright and Sunny All Year Long
The island of Cyprus averages about 326 days of sunshine a year. That means that even in the dead of winter, you’ll be greeted by bright sunshine pretty much every day. Fair warning, the summer months can reach up to the triple digits. Provided you can handle the heat, though, the country is gorgeous all year long.
3. Beaches of All Kinds
Cyprus is home to a variety of different beaches. Rocky inlets and white sand beaches are scattered across the island, so there’s always somewhere in Cyprus that’s destined to suit your tastes. Even better, no matter where you drop your beach towel, you’ll have the opportunity to wade into the cleanest water in all of Europe.
4. But It’s Not All Beaches
In addition to its world-class beaches, Cyprus is also home to Mediterranean forests that house some plants that can’t be found anywhere else, the Cyprus cedar and the Cyprus oak among them. More than 125 local plants can be found in the island’s lush forests, meaning there’s absolutely something you’ve never seen before waiting among the greenery.
5. The Bird Watching Is Spectacular
Since it’s smack dab in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, dozens of species of bird use Cyprus as a stopping point during their regular migration. As a result, Cyprus serves as a central point where avid bird watchers can see a huge variety of different birds while visiting Cyprus. There are also more than 10 species of bird found only on Cyprus.
6. Hit the Town and Have a Blast
Cypriots can party right. Each one of the island’s six, large cities has its own nightlife and each one is worth checking out. Will you hit the clubs in Limassol or push it to the limit in Ayia Napa. Every flavor of nightlife in Cyprus is a ton of fun; all you need to do is find the one that’s right for you.
7. The Food Is Amazing
Though similar in philosophy to the wonderful cuisine you’ll find elsewhere in the Mediterranean, the food in Cyprus adds a twist all its own. Halloumi cheese is a delicacy. Cyprus also does its own version of souvlaki (which is tasty grilled meat and vegetables). For a snack, stop and grab a Koubes — if you’ve never heard of that, it’s basically a hush puppy stuffed with minced meat and spices. There’s really no end to the rich, delicious offerings on the tiny island.
8. The Booze Is Incredible, Too
Cypriots know how to enjoy their booze as much as they do their food. The national drink is known as a Brandy Sour. The cocktail is a heady mix of Cypriot brandy, lemon squash, some Angostura bitters, and a splash of soda water. If you fancy wine, Cyprus is home to the world’s oldest wine, Commandaria.
9. You Can See the Whole Island in One Trip
When you’re visiting Cyprus, the island’s tiny size will work heavily in your favor. It’s possible to set up camp pretty much anywhere on the island (think: beach resort) and then take short day trips to see whatever tourist spots you’d like to see. Nowhere on the island is more than 3 hours away from anywhere else, so you’re always near wherever you want to be.
10. Cyprus Is Very Safe
Provided you don’t take pictures of any military installations, and you don’t wander willy nilly into the UN buffer zone, Cyprus is considered extremely friendly. Sure, in the urban areas you have to be on the lookout for a small amount of expected crime (pickpocketing, that sort of thing), but Cyprus is still considered one of the safest destinations in all of Europe.
11. ‘Quaint’ Doesn’t Begin to Cover the Architecture
The towns and cities that dot the island of Cyprus are a thrill to simply walk through. In a perfect world, tourists could spend weeks simply wandering through the charming little villages and the bustling urban streets and soak in the vibrant culture and the gorgeous architecture. If you do manage to find yourself winging your way toward Cyprus, make sure to spend some time simply walking around. You won’t regret it.
12. Birthplace of the Goddess of Love
Any fans of Greek history might recognize Cyprus as the reputed birthplace of Aphrodite. During the goddess’ hey day, her chief temple was located in Paphos, the town near which she supposedly sprung from the foam of the sea. Today, Aphrodite’s Rock serves as one of Cyprus’ many tourist attractions devoted to the Greek goddess of Love.
13. Live the Relaxed Lifestyle
No matter how you decide to spend your time in Cyprus, one thing pervades every trip to the island: the laid-back attitude. Everywhere you go, you’ll find no one in a hurry and everyone happy to lend a hand. It’s an infectious, delightful vacation mindset that you’ll wish you could take back home with you.