Last updated on November 28th, 2018 at 02:13 pm
When I was a kid I would check the European map and dream of Cyprus, a country still in Europe but so close to the middle east, a country with a European character and a Middle East influence, a place with a unique cuisine.
I did not visit the island in the young age however it is becoming a natural place to stop and experience when travelling between Europe and Australia. Every time I ask myself where to stay in Cyprus, where to experience a new part of the island and I end up discovering new little accommodation gems.
Cyprus is a huge island, there are many villages, towns and even cities. Some of them are great for a family vacation, other for couples looking for a romantic escape and at the same time a few nights out to have a nice meal and a drink.
The young generation has found in Cyprus one of the best place for nightlife, maybe only second to Ibiza in Europe.
The weather in the island is great with probably the longest summer in Europe, from May to November. This is why the best place to stay in Cyprus in October may be different in August, when the temperature is much higher. For a quick overview of the week ahead, you can check Cyprus Weather, one of the best resources.
I have organised this guide based on the trip you are doing. For example, I would not suggest staying in Ayia Napa town centre if you travelling with kids however it’s a great location if you are after nightlife.
Cyprus is a relatively small island. In 2-3 hours you can drive from any town to any destination.
I usually rent a car and I alternate beach time to day trips. The north coast of Cyprus is unexplored to the most.
If not by car I organise day tours through agencies or websites, so many interesting sites to visit as Famagusta, just inside the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC – Did you know that Cyprus is actually divided in two? More information here).
Here below a map with the best Cyprus areas to stay as well as with places to visit and enjoy simply with a day trip.
If you are in a rush then these are my quick tips for a memorable experience:
There is a good choice of locations where you can have both a romantic gateway as well as few nice dinners and some cocktails and music afterwards
Protaras is an area on the south-east coast of Cyprus.
There are plenty of hotels, tavemas, cafés, water sports centres and an excellent to place to spend a holiday. In summer, its beautiful sandy beaches attract crowds of tourists ready to enjoy water sports, or to go for a cruise on one of the local pleasure boats.
The area is dominated by a rocky hill with the picturesque chapel of Prophitis Elias (the Prophet Elijah) affording a magnificent panoramic view of Protaras and nearby ghost town of Varosha.
Further north are more beaches including Pernera, Minas and Agia Triada which attract a quieter crowd.
This region is also known by the locals as Kokkinohoria (red villages) for the red soil that covers most of the ground.
In Protaras the Grecian Park Hotel is one of the most popular and beautiful accommodation in the area. The awesome view and the proximity to Konnos beach, one of the most beautiful of Cyprus, are probably the key factors.
The swimming pool is one of the biggest in the all island. Quiet but still steps away from bars and restaurants. Really hard to find a negative point.
If the Grecian Park Hotel is booked out (and it does happen more often than you think) then have a look at the Crystal Springs Beach. A great alternative.
Once in Protaras I suggest a visit to Paralimni and its centre dominated by three churches. The oldest of these is Panagia (Virgin Mary) dating from the 18th century and lined with porcelain tiles typical of the period.
Paralimni is famous for delicacies such as smoked pork (pasta) and pork sausages (loukanika). I suggest lunch at the unassuming Sintrivani restaurant, probably the best “local” restaurant I have experienced in Cyprus (ask for the dish of the day).
Another great choice is the characteristic Kanati restaurant, close to the town centre and a short walk from the church.
Paphos is the common name given to the twin towns of Pano Paphos (Upper Paphos) and Kato Paphos (Lower Paphos).
During the Byzantine era, when coastal towns were threatened by foreign invasions, the town was moved inland to its present hilltop location. The lower town is the site of fine Roman ruins and the majority of tourist facilities.
Lower Paphos is small and best explored on foot. Most of the attractions are within walking distance. The tourist area in the Old Town has been renewed.
The main shopping street is Makarios Avenue. Here you can buy really all you need, from clothes to jewellery, from shoes to local and imported magazines and books.
The coast of lower Paphos is just magnificent, with a nice romantic walk next to the sea, beautiful at night with the sea breeze. Bars with live music and awesome restaurants are right in front of the water. Very popular with couples and group of friends.
Paphos is a town where you do not feel overwhelmed with loud music and pubs. It’s more about enjoying the night in style and having a nice sleep without the noise from close bars or discos.
Once in town do not miss a visit to the Agora, an ornamental covered market hall building, dating from the early part of the 20th century. Sweet and souvenir sellers have replaced the fruit and vegetables vendors.
Unmissable is also the Tombs of the Kings, a fascinating necropolis where you can explore caves and rock tombs dating back to the Hellenic and Roman eras (300BC). You can find it north of Kato Paphos, beyond the old city walls and close to the sea.
In Paphos there are many accommodations however my favourite is still the Annabelle Hotel, right in front of the sea and with 2 amazing swimming pools, including one carved into caves and waterfalls.
The rooms and the service are really unique, not to talk about the lovely breakfast.
A great alternative to the Annabelle Hotel is the Almyra Hotel with an amazing infinity adult-only pool and again a fantastic view to the sea.
If you are looking for a great restaurant with some local live music you should check the Locanda, right below the Annabelle Hotel, meters from the water. You can enter from the coastal walk.
A great spot for a drink is the Ta Mpania, a bar right in front of the beach with some lovely music.
Amathus Bay is about 15 minutes taxi drive from Limassol. It has a nice beach, almost black. You are here next to the ancient ruins of Amathus, a town funded in the 10th century BC and one of the first city states of the island.
Amathus Bay is a bit sleepy and in some respects a great spot to calm down and have some romantic time. For some actions it’s worth to take a taxi ride to Limassol, with the great choice of bars and restaurants (more on this later).
The St Raphael Resort is probably one of the best accommodation in the area with a dedicated beach and two fabulous swimming pools. It has also some nice bars and restaurants nearby for a local night without having to go to Limassol.
A great alternative is the Four Seasons Hotel , which is closer to Limassol. Think of awesome pools right to the beach, a spa area, a gym and an indoor pool for the cooler part of year.
Overall Cyprus is a great island for families.
One thing you will noticed straight away is that most of the bars and restaurants offer a free kid area, sometime even with jumping castle. Almost small play centres in some cases, all fenced so that, as a parent, you can have your own private time meanwhile the kids have fun.
And that’s all we need on holiday, isn’t it?LOL
Pernera is the area just after Protaras, on the north-east directions.
I like this area for the wide choice of family oriented resorts, family-oriented restaurants and family-oriented bars. Yes, one common word (actually 2), family-oriented.
The beach itself is nice however on the small size. I see the beach as complementing the swimming pool of the resort more than a reason to go to Pernera.
The most beautiful thing of Pernera is the awesome coastal walk that goes as far as Protaras. On the way you can stop in one of the many bar/restaurants with jumping castles or book a 2 hours boat trip along the coast.
You have a tons of things organised mostly for families, like a trip to Famagusta on the double-deck red bus (yes, you may feel like in London LOL) or rent a tandem bike or just have an ice-cream.
In Pernera you may stay at the Pernera Beach Hotel. This is an excellent resort including 2 swimming pools with one adult-only (just to have a break 😉 ). If you go for the all-inclusive package you have a real deal beside some great food.
As an alternative to the Pernera Beach Hotel you may have a look at Louis Althea Beach Hotel, just 200 metres away.
There is no doubt that the best beaches in Cyprus are on the east side of the island, from Pernera to Ayia Napa. However some of the most beautiful historical sites are on the south-west coast.
If you are travelling with a family and you want to have a great beach but still plan some half-day or full-day excursions to visit ruins or small inland typical villages then Coral Bay could be the right place for you.
Coral beach is only 15km north of Paphos and has probably the best beach of this side of the island. Moreover, you can take a 20 minutes taxi ride and visit sites, like the Tombs of the Kings or the old town of Paphos.
You can rent a car and visit the magnificent inland typical villages or why not driving to Polis Chrysochous, one of the most attractive and unpretentious towns in west of Cyprus, a step back in time. Or why not having a swim in one of the awesome nearby beaches.
The Coral Beach Hotel & Resort is one of the most popular choice in Coral Bay, and for many good reasons: great service, all-inclusive packages, child-friendly swimming pools, playground, meters from the beach and so much more.
As an alternative you may also check the Corallia Beach Hotel Apartments, lower key however also less expensive.
Cyprus is worldwide famous for its nightlife. There are few options, mostly in the major towns.
Did you know that Cyprus comes only second to Ibiza in Europe for the nightlife? Quite impressive.
Ayia Napa is probably the place to be for the young generation, especially between June ad September with an 18-30 years old crowd.
Think of drinks at sunset with chill-out music, disco, parties till late and a never ending feeling of craziness and fun.
Ayia Napa has also some of the best beaches in Cyprus which makes this area a great stop for everyone.
In true honesty Ayia Napa can be a a great location for everyone, couples, families etc. The most important thing is to select your accommodation in the right spot, which is at least a 10-15 minutes walk from the centre, where the party is.
In this respect I suggest Nissi Beach as one of the best areas, being just a walk or a short taxi ride for the town centre. The Nissi Beach Resort is an incredible value for money accommodation which is difficult to resist, especially considering the position, right on this blue beach. Great service, beautiful appointed room and fantastic food, not to mention the amazing breakfast.
Another accommodation I would suggest is the Adams Beach Hotel, with direct access to Nissi Beach and some fabulous swimming pools. There is the possibility to book also at the Delux Adults-only wing for a quieter time.
Looking for food? The Stamna Tavern is one of the best finding in the island. Great food, characteristic place, lovely people and just steps away from the town centre of Ayia Napo.
Next to Stamna is the Napa Tavern, a restaurant over 100 years old but still with fresh food everyday 🙂 Highly recommended for everything really.
Drive along the A1, on the south coast, on Saturday night and you will experience a big queue of cars trying to exit to Limassol. Most of them are Cypriots going for drinks and live music.
If you like to experience the local way you should plan a night, either Friday or Saturday, in Limassol (tourists tend to go to Ayia Napa).
Staying in Limassol or nearby is also a great idea, although the city is quite industrial with the resorts more confined to the eastern side of town, almost in Amathus Bay.
Some of the best places to go for live music are:
This post is focusing more on the Greek side of Cyprus. I have still to visit properly the Turkish side.
This is a list of places to go in Cyprus for day or half day trips
I am going to update this list with more activities based on my upcoming trips….and my memory 🙂
For more experiences you can also look at these special deals for organised tours in Cyprus
Cyprus has a long summer, as you can imagine, in fact the island is very popular from May to October.
The shoulder months are November and April. This is the time when you don’t experience any crowd, even Ayia Napa is quiet and some of the bars and restaurants start shutting down, or opening, the operation. The weather is mixed but you can still have some amazing sunny warm days
December to March is the winter period with temperatures close to 15-20 along the coast and much less inland.
From June to early September the days can be quite hot, in the mid-30s during the day, but always with that nice sea breeze that cools down in the night.
My favourite period is late May/early June and September/early October when the island is till busy, but not crowded, and the weather is just perfect, in the mid/high-20s, cooling down in the night.
The main airport of the island is the Larnaca International Airport which connects the island with most of the capital cities in Europe and the Middle East.
I usually fly from Australia to Europe through Doha or Dubai and I have a stop over in Cyprus, well connected by both Qatar Airways and the Emirates Airline.
From Europe there are plenty of low cost airlines that fly to Larnaca.
The other option is to fly to the Paphos Airport used mostly by European airlines and low-cost ones.
Enjoy your stay and let me know how it goes 🙂
Stef Ferro is the founder and editor of MEL365, a travel & photography website made to enhance the travelling experience and improve the photography work.
Stef is a professional travel photographer with past experience in the cycling and film industry.
Stef runs travel photography workshops in Melbourne and around the world.