Partying in Ayia Napa

There is no better place to party in Cyprus than in Ayia Napa – the island’s dance capital. What was once an idyllic fishing village is now considered as one of the most popular vacation destinations on the island. During the day, you can head to the beach where you can soak up the sun and enjoy the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean. Come night time, enjoy the bubbly atmosphere at the city’s public square where you can party till the wee hours of the morning. There is simply so much fun waiting to happen that boredom is not a known concept in the area.

Since most visitors going to Ayia Napa are there to experience its legendary party atmosphere, the best time to go is from June to August. But, if you can’t keep up with the wild antics of college kids, it is best to visit between the tamer months of October to May when the resort town is less crowded.

The party is brought to the beaches of Ayia Napa during the day. It’s gorgeous white and golden sand beaches swarm with holidaymakers, many are content simply lying on the sand and broiling under the sun, some take advantage of the warm and shallow crystalline waters while others are engaged in all forms of revelry from daring bikini pageants to drinking contests.

Two of the most popular beaches in the area are Grecian Bay and Nissi Bay because they are closest to the town centre. Nissi is more crowded because it often hosts beach parties and outdoor concerts. If you are interested in water sports then the beach to seek out is Pantahou while those who are looking for dramatic natural sceneries will delight in the rock sculptures of Palaces beach. If you have kids in tow, the family-friendly beach of Makronisos is a perfect alternative.

Of course, there is no leaving town without experiencing its famous nightlife. The main square is definitely the place to go when partying in Ayia Napa. But don’t get there until after 11 pm because the area is practically deserted before that. The site begins to stir close to midnight and after the clock hits 12 o’clock the clubs and bars on site are all pulsating with music, excitement and high spirits that will surely keep you on your feet until daybreak.

Most bars either have arrangements with clubs or are actually owned by the same people and if you will in some of the bars you can buy-one-get-one-free on some of their drinks and will give you free entrance ticket to popular club Castle or Starskys.

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Exploring Southern Nicosia

Cyprus is another interesting destination in the Mediterranean whose rich culture is a melting pot of European, Asian and African influences. The island offers many appealing facets that draw all kinds of visitors to the area. The long sandy shores provide a haven for the beach-loving tourists while the archaeological sites fascinate the history enthusiasts. Its thriving nightlife is a treat for those who love to party but those who seek laid back tranquility can find refuge in the island’s idyllic small villages.

Cyprus really offers something special for everyone and its capital, Nicosia, is just one of the many worthwhile destinations to explore when visiting the area. Unlike most other capitals in the world, Nicosia is not as popular among tourists compared to its more famous neighbors. Perhaps, it has something to do with the fact that the city does not have the stunning beaches and legendary party atmosphere of Agia Napa or the spectacular landscape of the Karpas Peninsula. However, what the city lacks in natural beauty it makes up for in glitz and glamour as well as in rich historical attractions. So, it is worth giving it a chance to make a good impression because there is much to discover, experience and enjoy here.

Nicosia is located right smack at the heart of the island and is considered to be the last remaining divided capital in the world. The existing division between northern (Turkish) and southern (Greek) Cyprus is fortunately not that conspicuous to tourists – aside from the Green Line border – thanks to the somehow cordial relationship between the two governing groups. However, visitors coming from non-EU member states should enter by way of the southern entry points to freely roam around the island. It is also highly recommended to get up-to-date information from the locals on the condition of border crossing before you visit the Turkish side of the island.

Southern Nicosia is also referred to as Lefkosia to distinguish it from its northern counterpart, which is called Lefkosa. This part of the island is oozing with a cosmopolitan vibe brought about by its chic restaurants, fashionable shops and avant-garde atmosphere. The bustling stretch of Makarios Avenue, in particular, is popular among those who are looking for a bit of retail therapy because of the extensive selections of designer and luxury goods on display.

On the other hand, those who are passionate about bygone eras should start exploring within the Lefkosia’s Old City whose 16th century Venetian wall – shaped like a snowflake – is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Cyprus. Strolling around the delightful historical site is one of the more pleasant ways to pass the time in Nicosia.

Also, go ahead and hit the museums for a more insightful look into the island’s past. You do not want miss a visit to the Cyprus Archaeological Museum to experience its impressive display of 2000 terracotta figures of warriors and demon-servants dating back to the 7th century B.C. Other exhibits worth seeing include the limestone lions and sphinxes from the Tamassos necropolis south of the capital and the sculpture of Aphrodite, among others.

If religious icons are of interest to you, make sure to visit the Byzantine Museum and the remarkable 15th century church of Panagia Chrysaliniotisa. But, if folk art is more your passion then the Ethnographic Museum is a better fit for you. Art loving tourists will be glad to visit the Makarios Cultural Foundation to admire its vast collection of 16th-19th century artworks from European masters such as Rubens and Van Dyk, to name a few.

You can also spend your time getting pampered at the luxurious Turkish bath of Omeriye Hamman – just make sure you are visiting on the day designated for your gender to avoid disappointment. If you do not want to miss out on something touristy, check out Laiki Yitonia, which is a rather lovely village and makes for a wonderful sightseeing stroll if you don’t mind the abundance of tacky restaurants with overpriced food.

Finally, for a good view of the city, head to Ledra Museum-Observatory. It is located above Ermes Department store and offers sweeping views of Nicosia as well as Cyprus’ infamous Green Line.

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Exploring Larnaca Salt Lake

When visiting Larnaca be sure to visit the city’s biggest natural attraction, the Salt Lake. It is located near the airport just outside of the city centre. What makes the site a big favourite among tourists is not only its rich natural diversity but also its proximity to some of the most important historical monuments in Larnaca. Those who love to take long exploratory walks will surely delight in the abundance of attractions that can be found in the area.

Start your exploration at the Kamares Aqueduct, accessible from the highway going to Limassol. The aqueduct dates back to the 18th century and features remarkable stonework inspired by traditional Roman craftsmanship. Its 10-mile stretch is simply a visual treat for those who appreciate lovely architecture with stunning vistas at the background. Not far away from the Kamares Aqueduct, you will find the 12th-century church of Agios Georgios Makris and its ancient wall paintings. This Byzantine beauty is strategically situated on a hilltop which also makes it a perfect lookout point to take in the surrounding panorama of Larnaca.

Next stop is at the modern structure of Chalkidos Street Residence. The edifice will surely delight the architecture enthusiast for the rare feat of creating a harmonious blend between the unpretentious material of concrete and glass with the open and sun-drenched landscape of the island. It is then followed by the Salt Lake Park, which makes for a dramatic contrast. The verdant area often hosts open-air musical events and also serves as the gateway to the scenic area of Larnaca Salt Lake.

The Salt Lake is composed of several smaller lakes which dry up during summer leaving nothing but a thin layer of salt. The area is a beloved haunt among birdwatchers because it is home to several dozen bird species. The regal and vibrant flamingos, in particular, gather by the hundreds during autumn until winter when the lake is filled with water. The flocks of flamingos happily scampering around the lake area is truly a magnificent sight that will surely take your breath away. Timing is of the essence, so make sure you are visiting when the area is transformed from a salt-pan to a lush natural retreat for migratory birds.

From the Larnaca Salt Lake, continue along Artemidos Avenue taking a few turns towards the shore to get to the palm-lined MacKenzie Beach. It is the perfect place to rest your weary feet and enjoy a pleasant meal from one of the many waterfront restaurants scattered around the area. The beach stretches for about half a mile, which is just perfect for those who would love to spend a few minutes to take lazy strolls or building sand castles!

Finally, after a pleasant amble along the shore, head in the direction of Tekke Park where you will discover the extraordinary Hala Sultan Tekkesi Mosque. From a distance, the site looks like a very charming oasis surrounded by swaying date palms and olive trees. This imposing Muslim Shrine dates back to early 19th century and its idyllic setting perfectly complements its reputation as a holy site. There are various structures to explore in the area, from the imposing mosque to the mausoleums so take your time and bring your curiosity and your camera.

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Side Trips from Limassol

Aside from the many attractions that Limassol offers, visitors will also find plenty of opportunities for fun side trips just minutes away from the city centre. Get ready to discover idyllic remote beaches, take lazy strolls around picturesque villages, or explore marvellous ancient ruins. With a wide range of options awaiting the eager tourist, there is simply no room for lackluster moments when holidaying in the area.

If you find the long stretch of Limassol Beach too crowded and busy for your taste, just hop on a bus or grab a taxi and you can easily find yourself enjoying peace and quiet on a lovely beach nearby. Drive about 19 miles west of Limassol and you will discover the scenic village of Pissouri just before you reach the town of Paphos. The village is beautifully perched on top of a hill and affords breathtaking views of the coastline. Head to the beach area and walk along its shoreline with a perfect mixture of golden sand and pebbles. There are quite a few tavernas near the beach so you do not have to worry about going hungry or thirsty for that matter!

If you are up for some exploration, befriend a local and ask for directions to Pissouri’s secret beach. It takes quite a bit of walking but the secluded and gorgeous pebbled shore you will discover makes all the huffing and puffing worth it. Pissouri is not all about the beaches because its traditional village is also an attraction in itself. It features a pretty square surrounded with charming tavernas and quaint little shops. Stay until the evening for a more traditional nightlife scene where live music and dancing make up most of the entertainment.

The picture-perfect village of Lania – where scenic vineyards cling to the hills and traditional houses with their bougainvillea-adorned walls flank the cobbled streets – is also worth an entire day in your itinerary. It is located north of Limassol, in the foothills of the picturesque Troodos Mountain. Check out the area’s divine little shops where remarkable art work from local artists are on display, drop by a traditional taverna and enjoy delectable local fares accompanied by a glass (or a bottle) of the village’s very own wine. Of course, lazy strolls along the meandering cobblestone lanes will lead you to exquisite stone work and vibrant blooming gardens. Be sure not to miss a visit to its famous stone church where you can find the awe-inspiring 17th-century icon of the Virgin Mary of Valanas.

Finally, the splendid ruins of Kourion are a must-visit. The ancient city dating back to the 12th century B.C. is worth checking out not only for the history enthusiast but also for anyone drawn to beautiful sites that help us understand the past. Take the time to explore the splendid Greco Roman Amphitheater whose sheer age, architectural splendour, strategic location on a hilltop and the breathtaking views of the coastline it affords make it a favourite day trip destination from Limassol.

Other highlights near Limassol include the House of Gladiators and the House of Achilles with their stunning floor mosaics as well as the Roman Nymphaeum, which is considered to be one of the grandest and largest Roman monuments in the Mediterranean.

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