Cyprus is a melting pot of history, cultures, and religions.
The entire island is rich in history and every landmark tells a unique story, not to mention the many distinct natural wonders that paint the most beautiful picture.
What makes Cyprus even more special is its diversity, since you never know what’s waiting around the next corner, whether it be a calm rural village with thick vegetation or a busy city where everyone is in a rush.
Every region that you visit on the island is different from the previous, from the people to the aesthetics because Cyprus truly has it all.
Nicosia: The Heartbeat of Cyprus
Nicosia is Cyprus’ capital city, which is why it’s frequently referred to as the island’s heartbeat. You may have heard the city’s other name before, which is Lefkosia. Nicosia, or Lefkosia, is the only divided capital city in the entire world and it’s home to the largest portion of the island’s museums and monuments.
The city has an exceptionally rich history and at some point in time, it was under the control of the Byzantines, the Lusignan Kings, the Venetians, the Turks, and even the British.
The decision to make the city the seat of government was made in the 10th century and it was officially divided in 1974.
The city’s biggest attractions are probably the Venetian Walls and the Cyprus Museum. Ledra Street, where the Cypriot Nationalists attacked the British Military, is the most popular shopping street in Nicosia and you can find Shacolas Tower just a few steps away.
You won’t be able to step onto a white-sand beach in Nicosia and the military presence may be somewhat overwhelming, but all-in-all, the city’s history makes it a must for your bucket list!
Limassol: Where Festivals Are the Order of the Day
Limassol, or Lemesos, is certainly the most lively and vibrant city in Cyprus and it takes the 2nd position when it comes to size.
The name means ‘in-between’ in Greek because you’ll find the city between the ancient cities known as Amathus and Kourion.
It’s said that the city has been the island’s festive hotspot since ancient times. This reputation still stands, with most of Cyprus’ biggest festivals taking place in Limassol every year. The biggest annual events include the Limassol Wine Festival and the Lemesos Carnival.
While the beaches are a big attraction, the city is also home to two wetlands, known as Germasogeia Dam and Akrotiri Salt Lake.
You’ll also find the Medieval Lemesos Caste in this city, which is home to the Lemesos Medieval Museum. Don’t overlook the Limassol Marina, where most of the island’s yacht owners gather.
You’ll be met with a lot of other tourists when you decide to visit Limassol, especially during festival months. The city is the heart of the island’s tourism sector because of everything that there is to explore. Plus, the nightlife is wild and you could almost say that Limassol never sleeps.
Paphos: A Seaside Wonderland
Paphos, of Pafos, is without a doubt the most romantic city in Cyprus. It should be since legend has it that Paphos is the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
The city is much calmer and more focused on its culture and breathtaking architecture than most other cities in Cyprus.
Before Nicosia became the island’s capital city it was Paphos that ruled Cyprus. Today, the people of Paphos refer to their city as the Capital of Culture.
This name is well-suited as there are many museums and monuments that pay tribute to the city’s history and culture. Katos Pafos is so rich in cultural history that UNESCO has named the entire area as a World Heritage Site.
The Medieval Castle in Pafos is just one of the major attractions, as tourists flood the city to explore the harbor and absorb the beauty of the Akamas Peninsula.
Lara Beach, home of Cyprus’ turtles, is the most popular hangout, while Petra tou Romiou, where Aphrodite was born, is an enormous lure for photographers.
Famagusta: Where History Meets Seashores
The other name for this scenic region is Ammochostos, which means hidden in sand. From the preserved 15th and 16th-century Venetian walls to the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, this city is dripping with cultural and historic structures.
In 1974, amidst the Cypriot unrest that left the island divided, the Greeks living in Famagusta were evacuated due to the attacks by the Turks, leaving Varosha as it is today; a ghost town. Locals are forbidden from resettling in this ruined town, while visitors and tourists are only allowed to move around in certain areas.
Ayia Napa, a well-known town in Famagusta, is a tourist paradise.
The gorgeous award-winning Ayia Napa beaches, Nissi Beach, Cape Greco, and Makronissos Beach receive thousands of visitors every year. There are many beach clubs situated on the golden beaches of this area, where locals and tourists unite to celebrate the beauty of this Mediterranean island.
Larnaca: Home of the Salt Lake
The Larnaca, or Larnaka, is home to the island’s most famous salt lake, known as the Larnaca Salt Lake. It’s made of four smaller lakes that have come together to form the second-biggest salt lake in Cyprus.
The four salt lakes that form a part of the Larnaca Salt Lake are known as Lake Aliki, Lake Orphani, Lake Soros, and Lake Spiro.
The salt lake isn’t all that Larnaca has to offer, as the city is the longest continually inhabited region on the island. With all the inhabitants that the city has had, every cobblestone path and white sand beach has more than enough stories to tell.
The city is both modern and ancient, with new buildings and many ancient structures standing around. Plus, you can reach most of the other cities and regions in Cyprus from Larnaca.
The biggest tourist attraction in the city is the Finikoudes promenade, where you can have cocktails under the mature palm trees or enjoy fresh fish at a cozy restaurant.
What’s more, Larnaca is home to the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque and the Holy Church of Saint Lazarus.
The Troodos Region
Cyprus is known as a sunny island with ample opportunity to relax on the beach and go sightseeing at the churches and museums.
What you probably didn’t know is that the Troodos Region is home to a prime winter skiing spot known as Mount Olympus. Mount Olympus is the highest peak of the Troodos Mountains and it sits at more than 2,000 meters above sea level.
The mountains house more species of animals and plants than you could imagine. Fortunately, hiking in the mountains will give you the chance to explore some of Cyprus’ fauna and flora. Who knows, maybe you’ll spot a very rare Cyprus Spiny Mouse or get to take a picture of a Cyprus Cyclamen.
The Troodos Mountains aren’t just for nature enthusiasts and as you’ve probably noticed, every inch of Cyprus has historical and cultural significance, even the pine-lined mountains.
This mountain range is home to no less than 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means that you probably don’t want to get caught taking something from your hike.
The Akamas Peninsula
On the west coast of Cyprus, there’s a natural wonderland known as the Akamas Peninsula. A 230 square kilometer area with gorges and valleys, beaches, and forests.
The entire area is protected because there are many endangered species living here and there is a lot of land space in the peninsula that hasn’t been explored yet.
The cape features many native flora and fauna and some common species, like the 168 varieties of birds, including some native to the island, which includes the Cyprus Warbler.
With more than 20 reptile species creeping about, from ragged lizards to slimy snakes, it would be best to watch where you’re going. When it comes to butterflies, there are 16 different species to explore.
Lara Beach is the most popular beach on the peninsula, while the Blue Lagoon is a tourist magnet. The lagoon can only be reached by boat and the water is so clear that you can spend hours on end exploring the many marine species swimming around.
If this sounds like a dull activity in a paradise like this, you could always explore the peninsula with a quad or ATV tour.
Cyprus, A Symphony of Regions and Cities
It’s clear that Cyprus is home to a number of unique regions and cities. Some of them are forbidden, while others barely have space for a mouse during festive times.
No two trips to Cyprus will ever be the same, granted that you travel around the island instead of choosing the same region every time.
Each region has its own charm and each city is diverse and unique. It can be hard to embrace everything the island has to offer but if you plan your journey carefully, you could experience the different parts of Cyprus in a couple of trips.