Situated at the north-eastern end of the Mediterranean basin, Cyprus is the third largest island in the region, after Sicily and Sardinia, with an area of 9,251 square kilometres (3,572 square miles).
It is situated at the north-eastern corner of the Mediterranean, at a distance of 300 km north of Egypt, 90 km west of Syria, and 60 km south of Turkey. Greece lies 360 km to the north-west (Rhodes-Karpathos).
The country has two mountain ranges: the Pentadaktylos range which runs along almost the entire northern coast, and the Troodos massif in the central and south-western parts of the island. Cyprus coastline is indented and rocky in the north with long sandy beaches in the south. The north coastal plain, covered with olive and carob trees, is backed by the steep and narrow Pentadaktylos mountain range of limestone, rising to a height of 1.042 m. In the south, the extensive mountain massif of Troodos, covered with pine, dwarf oak, cypress and cedar, culminates in the peak of Mount Olympus, 1.953 m. above sea level. Between the two ranges lies the fertile plain of Mesaoria. Cyprus is almost surrounded by coastal valleys where the soil is suitable for agriculture. Arable land constitutes 46.8 percent of the total area of the island. There are no rivers, only torrents which flow after heavy rain.
Limassol is the second largest city of Cyprus, the home of the island’s main port, and a bustling holiday resort. From its jewel of a marina and impressive archaeological monuments, to the vast 15 km coastal strip lined with restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and entertainment establishments, the main city is thriving and colourful. Legends of kings and kingdoms, and the origins of the island’s wine making industry characterise the Lemesos region, which embodies both the ancient and the modern. Known as the region of wine, celebrations and ancient realms, Lemesos is comprised of its main city – which sits between
two important archaeological sites; the ancient city-kingdom of Amathus to the east, and the ancient city-kingdom of Kourion to the west – along with rural areas and charming mountainous villages, where old traditions and crafts are still practised.
The region also encompasses two unique wetlands. Germasogeia Dam is a peaceful place to relax, take a stroll, or enjoy a spot of angling, whilst Akrotiri Salt Lake is perfect for observing nature and wildlife (especially birds). The environmental significance of the Salt Lake and its surrounding area are showcased at the new installations of Akrotiri Environmental Centre. The region then trails up the sun-kissed southern slopes of the Troodos mountains, with vineyards forming a pleasant green backdrop to the city. The hillside villages here are known collectively as the 'Krassochoria' (or wine villages), and keep their old traditions of viticulture alive, producing the island’s best wines even today, and especially one of the oldest named wines in the world – the sweet dessert wine of Commandaria. Here, visitors will find a tranquil, rural retreat where hiking and cycling can be enjoyed in the unspoilt countryside. With its viticultural pedigree and a magical history, the region of Lemesos simply sparkles with opportunity from coast to hillside.
An air of romance and history carries through the naturally abundant and culturally rich region of Paphos. Comprised of its old and new towns, rural villages and picturesque resorts, the region is home to some of the most stunning areas of natural beauty on the island, whilst its many archaeological sites are historically invaluable, with Kato Paphos declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a whole. Centered around the quaint harbour and impressive Medieval Castle, Paphos environs then stretch to incorporate the tourist resort of Polis Chrysochous. The pretty and tranquil area - known simply as ‘Polis’ - has expanded to become a sub-district in its own right, and encompasses the beautiful Akamas National Park, Lara beach - which is a breeding site for turtles, and the traditional fishing shelter of Latchi.
Whilst visiting the area, pass by the Baths of Aphrodite, which is located near Polis. Greek mythology tells that the Goddess of Love and Beauty bathed here, and it is one of the enticing sites in the region that trace her story. Her connection with Cyprus begins at the landmark rock formation of Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s Rock/birthplace), where she rose from the waves. From there, make a pilgrimage to her sanctuary at Kouklia. Further out, the monastery of Agios Neofytos is located in a secluded valley, and was founded by the Cypriot ascetic Saint Neofytos around 1200. The monastery of Panagia Chrysoroyiatissa, next to Panagia village, is also significant for its well-preserved buildings dating back to 18th century. Nestled within Paphos Forest is the breathtaking mountain locality of Cedar Valley. The area is crossed by a country road that unfolds into Stavros tis Psokas, an additional mountain locality that is home to the rare and shy Mouflon (Ovis gmelini ophion). A myriad of outdoor pursuits can also be enjoyed, further enhanced by religious monuments, wineries and museums, making the Paphos region a haven of nature and culture.
Beautifully compact, easily accessible and truly authentic, Larnaca is the island’s oldest soul; the longest continually inhabited region of Cyprus, with a history that dates back 4,000 years. And whilst it is rich in ancient culture, Larnaca is also a thriving and modern European city that offers the best of all worlds. A characteristic feature of Larnaca is that tourists will find that there is no distinction between resort and town; locals and visitors alike can enjoy the same daily experience of a charming and diverse Mediterranean city. From stretches of varied coastline, a mix of traditional and cosmopolitan establishments and fascinating monuments, Larnaka seamlessly blends its two ‘faces’.
One of its most popular spots is the bustling promenade of Phinikoudes, which is lined with mature palm trees and flanked by beach, eateries and entertainment. Its coast joins with the sea walkway of Piale Pasha - which passes by quaint old neighbourhoods and fresh fish taverns - whilst its parallel shopping centre puts everything at your fingertips, and is home to the grand cathedral church of Saint Lazarus. As the town’s Patron Saint, the story and monument of Saint Lazarus serve as an enduring symbol of Larnaka significant religious history. The town is also the most centrally positioned, offering easy access to other regions, whilst it's small and scenic rural villages are famous for their local handicrafts. For the warmest welcome, and a unique local atmosphere in a progressive town… Larnaca ticks all the boxes!
Cosmopolitan, glamorous and bustling, the capital of Lefkosia (Nicosia) is uniquely comprised of an ancient, walled city and a modern, fast-paced metropolis that is the epicentre of the island’s business and commercial activity. There is no end to the options that Lefkosia provides, blending the current with the traditional. Its retail experience ranges from town centres and malls to traditional shopping quarters of winding streets. Its leisure and nightlife is a mixture of the popular and exclusive, with trendy bars that nestle amidst old, historically rich monuments. A wealth of interesting galleries and museums mix with fun entertainment for all the family. And its selection of cuisine is equally as diverse as its overall character.
All at once, you will be transported back to Medieval times at the ancient city that is surrounded by Venetian walls and heart-shaped bastions, and yet, just a heartbeat away you are undoubtedly in a progressive, European capital. As you leave the city and enter the rural areas of the region, a different world unfolds; tranquil and picturesque, stretching across countryside and mountain villages, and offering further pursuits such as hiking and cycling in traditional surroundings. A city always on the go, the many layers of Lefkosia various attractions and features make it the island’s capital in every sense.
ABOUT FAMAGUSTA (AMOCHOSTOS)
The beach town of Famagusta before 1974 buzzed with life, while the fishing villages of Protaras and Ayia Napa further south along the coast were sleepy backwaters. Nowadays it's the other way round. The once top notch beach hotels and apartment buildings lining the golden Famagusta coast today stand empty and deserted, and Famagusta a virtual ghost town as a result of the Turkish occupation of the island, while Agia Napa, with its fabulous sandy beaches and popular night clubs, and Protaras, with its hundreds of windmills, attract holidaymakers from all over the world.
Here visitors spend the day sunning themselves on the beach, swimming in the warm turquoise waters or taking a short cruise along the coast. Some of the best snorkeling and diving can be had off Cape Gkreko, the eastern peninsula national forest park, with its secluded coves and rocky platforms, impressive cliff top views and sea caves. The Sea Museum, "Thalassa", in Ayia Napa, has a replica of a 4th century BC trading ship which sank off the coast of Kyrenia. The original, together with its cargo of amphorae, is on display in the museum of Keryneia (Kyrenia) castle.