Aphrodite’s Isle – 12 places you need to visit in Cyprus

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A lovely and often romantic island destination countless holidaymakers have decided to visit, we preview some of the most famous places to experience when holidaying in Cyprus.

Showing off the best of Aphrodite’s magical isle, here are 12 famous places you need to visit.

1. Bellapais

Bellapais

Tucked away in the northern part of Cyprus, the village of Bellapais is often celebrated as one of the country’s most beautiful.

At the centre of Bellapais’ beauty rests its old abbey. Standing tall above the rest of the village, the views afforded at Bellapais Abbey are extremely special.

From here, you can admire the village below and look out across the Northern Cyprus coastline.

Famously, the village was immortalised in pages of Lawrence Durrell’s memoir ‘Bitter Lemons of Cyprus’ published in the 1950s.

As well as the abbey, the village offers plenty of winding, narrow cobbled streets to follow that, should you decide to take a wander, will inevitably lead to lovely cafés ideal for a pit stop.

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2. The Akamas Peninsula

Akamas Peninsula

A beautiful corner of Cyprus and popular with walkers, the island’s Akamas Penisula is best characterised by lovely stretches of coast containing rocky coves, fine sandy bays, stretches of thick woodland and further in-land – welcoming villages.

Trails vary in difficulty throughout the island with one such route said to be the one followed by the mythical Adonis on the way to meeting the Greek icon Aphrodite.

Navigating hilly stretches, the trail takes walkers through some deeply significant stretches of wilderness home to a healthy variety of plant life.

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3. Troodos Mountains

Troodos Mountains

The highest peaks on the island, the Troodos Mountains are a definite island highlight found in the centre of Cyprus.

Island visitors will quite often find the mountains covered in snow.

Perhaps one of the most iconic mountains on the planet, Mount Olympus towers over 1800 metres high into the Mediterranean sky.

Pro Tip – Climbing into the mountains will help take the heat off! Temperatures tend to reduce by several degrees amongst the mountains.

The mountain range is another of the island’s popular walking spots thanks to the jaw-dropping views encountered throughout your journey.

Standing at a number of vantage points, visitors can gaze for miles around and are able to spot a number of pretty Cypriot villages.

A popular option amongst holidaymakers, hiring a car and exploring the mountain range following winding roads in the area takes you through some spectacular countryside.

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4. Famagusta

Famagusta

The town of Famagusta is one of the most popular tourist spots in all of Cyprus. Packed with charm and historic sights, there is much to see and do during a visit to this Cypriot gem.

Othello Castle, also known as Othello’s Tower is a rather special 14th-century castle highlight.

First built by the Lusignan people, the castle’s protective walls have largely stood the test of time.

Recently expertly restored, the castle is a true architectural triumph and even has ties to the UK thanks to being named after William Shakespeare’s famous play ‘Othello’, set in an unnamed harbour found on the island.

Also popular with holidaymakers, a trip scaling the heights of the city walls is well rewarded with great views of the surrounding area.

Notably, British soldiers in the early 20th century were known to practice their golf swing off the top of the city walls!

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5. Kyrenia

Kyrenia

Amongst Kyrenia’s best features is undoubtedly its lovely harbour. An Old Town quarter resting close by, the harbour is one of the most romantic spots on the entire island.

Characterised by old cobbled streets that skirt the harbour waterline, the town is a very pleasing-on-the-eye destination.

Another major local attraction, Kyrenia Castle dates back over a thousand years. A truly ancient highlight, the castle was originally built to protect the harbour and provided refuge for residents.

Today, you visit the castle and browse the on-site Shipwreck Museum dedicated to telling the story of an ancient Greek vessel lost at sea in the 4th century.

One of the oldest archaeological finds of its kind recovered on the entire planet, the fragile remains of the lost ship can be observed by visitors as they wander around the museum and learn more about this interesting chapter in history.

Elsewhere around the castle, there are even parts under the corner bastions that can be explored by visitors taking them underground.

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6. St Hilarion Castle

St Hilarion Castle

Looking out across Kyrenia, St Hilarion Castle stands in the surrounding Kyrenia mountain range.

One of the three former lookout strongholds placed on the Kyrenia mountain range, Saint Hilarion Castle is the most famous of these three historic fortresses and the best-preserved.

Built on a strategically important location overlooking a formerly crucial trading route, the castle is one of the most iconic sights in the Mediterranean.

Just as impressive as the fairy tale castles tucked away on the main European continent despite lying in ruins, the remains of the castle rise out of huge jagged rock formations.

Climbing up to the castle, you can look around for miles. When visiting, make sure that you bring along your camera in tow as this perfect vantage point often provides many perfect photo opportunities.

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7. Lefke

Lefke

Overlooking Morphou Bay, Lefke is a rather beautiful Cypriot town and an often included stop on tours taking holidaymakers on an exploration throughout the north of the country.

The town is known for its oranges that enjoy the generous climate before being picked and sent to market.

Close by, the ruins of Soli can be found.

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8. Limassol

limassol

One of the country’s best-known cities and popular with holidaymakers, Limassol is another beautiful and historic must-visit.

A great place to indulge in a spot of shopping, the city is just the right size to explore on foot and ideal for a wander with the city’s Turkish Quarter the ideal place to stop for a refreshment or two and bite to eat.

Delving into Limassol’s history, key landmarks worth visiting include the city’s old castle and beautiful Ayia Napa Cathedral.

Limassol Castle rests in the heart of the city with the current structure originating back to the 16th century.

Inside, there are a number of artefacts to admire including suits of armour, old military dress, and various sculptures.

A brief climb up some steps and visitors will reach a calm viewing point where you can look across the city.

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9. Nicosia

Nicosia

The capital of the island for an amazing twelve centuries, Nicosia is a wonderful city.

Divided by the ‘Green Line’ in the 1970s (a border dividing the capital in two), Nicosia is a city full of character displaying a range of different influences.

Places to visit around the city include the city’s museum (dedicated to showing off archaeological finds), Selimiye Camii Mosque, Famagusta Gate, and old Venetian city walls.

Also referred to as the Cathedral of Saint Sophia, the mosque was once a Catholic church and can be found in the Turkish controlled, northern half of the city.

A massive building, the mosque is an extremely important and busy place of holy worship for residents of the city.

Construction first began on the tower in the 13th century and two of the finishing touches – two huge tower spires – make the mosque instantly recognisable.

Ideal shopping territory, the area around the impressive Büyük Han building is also a fantastic city spot for holidaymakers looking to unwind in a classical setting.

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10. Paphos

Paphos Castle

Coastal Pathos is another of the great places to visit when holidaying in Cyprus.

Thanks to picturesque setting on the shores of the Mediterranean, the city has strong ties to the famous Greek icon Aphrodite with a number of locations throughout the city related to the goddess, said to have been born in Old Paphos.

Magnificent local experiences include the ancient necropolis referred to as the Tomb of the Kings, Coral Bay, the Roman ruins at Kato Paphos, and the iconic Aphrodite’s Rock (also known as Petra tou Romiou).

Home to one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Coral Bay is famed for its lovely turquoise waters hiding coral formations that attract diving enthusiasts from all over the planet.

Often celebrated as a symbol of the country and rather iconic, Aphrodite’s Rock is a massive sea stack featured heavily in Greek mythology.

A beautiful natural landmark, it is said the rock was the birthplace of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, goddess of love.

A deeply romantic spot, it is not uncommon to witness a proposal taking place during time spent along this lovely stretch of shoreline.

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11. Salamis

Salamis

One of the oldest cities on the island, Salamis was once a hugely important city during both classical Greek and Roman times.

Something of a cultural hub, key archaeological sites you can visit include a well-preserved amphitheatre and the ruins of former Roman baths, once a place of relaxation and political discussion with elite residents all vying for power within the colossal Roman Empire.

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12. Soli

Soli

A remarkable place to visit, the ancient city of Soli, found close to Lefke, is one of the most memorable places in Cyprus.

Originally a settlement that can be traced back to 11 BC, Soli was formerly a Greek capital on the island and an important religious hub for islanders.

Huge parts of the city have been excavated but many more important ancient archaeological finds still remain hidden under the surface awaiting discovery.

Key sites that have been excavated include a stunning Roman theatre, temple of Athena, a church and a nymphaeum (shrine) with jewellery also recently recovered from unearthed tombs.

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