What are the best towns to visit in Cyprus?
This Mediterranean island is home to many charming towns and cities that are just waiting to be explored. There are lots of towns to visit here, but I have narrowed this list down to just 8 towns to visit in Cyprus.
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8 of the best towns to visit in Cyprus
Paphos is a tourist town located on the southwestern coast of Cyprus. It’s one of the most popular towns to visit in Cyprus thanks to its stunning beaches, ancient ruins, and charming restaurants and cafes. There are also many historical sites, medieval forts, archaeological parks and a quaint harbour. You may also be interested in my post 10 Things to do in Paphos, Cyprus.
Paphos also enjoys wonderful scenery that includes both mountains and the sea. This location is perfect for those who want to experience culture, contemporary life, and historic archaeological sites all in one place.
The two main archaeological sites are the Tombs of the Kings and the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park.
To get a real sense of the area, I recommend venturing inland and checking out some of the wine villages. Make sure to stop by Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery too – the icons are breathtaking and the monks make their own wine that you can sample on-site.
Paphos Castle is historically significant (see my post 10 Things To Do in Paphos for more details) and you can also visit waterparks and various shipwrecks too.
Nature around Paphos
Paphos is near the Akamas Peninsula. This is a beautiful, unspoiled area of wilderness with stunning coastlines and sandy bays. This is also one of the last nesting grounds in the Mediterranean Sea for endangered Green-Back and Loggerhead turtles; you may be able to spot them on Lara Beach.
There are many nature trails where you can explore rare endemic plants and see different types of migratory birds. A boat trip along the coastline, taking in sights such as Aphrodite’s Rock, is also an unforgettable experience.
Further reading: 81 Unique and Exciting Things to do in Cyprus.
Lemesos, also known as Limassol, is the second-largest city in Cyprus. It is the most popular of all the towns in Cyprus for those looking to explore wine country on the island. It also has plenty of beaches, water sports, bars, cafes and restaurants for every type of tourist.
Archaeology in Limassol
Limassol is home to two of the most spectacular archaeological sites in Cyprus. Amathous and Kourion are situated East and West respectively in the city on cliff tops with stunning views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Unearthed at Amathous, The largest stone vase ever discovered (currently resting in the Louvre Museum in Paris) is just one of many priceless artefacts that have been found at these ancient sites and sent to international museums.
The cityscape is framed perfectly by the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains. These same hills are home to Cyprus’ vineyards which produce wine for the country’s notable industry. charming villages can be found throughout these Krassochoria, or wine-making villages, where traditional methods are still used today.
Commandaria is one of the oldest wines in existence. Commandaria was first made and shipped by the ‘Hospitallers’, also known as the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. The knights’ headquarters, Kolossi Castle, still stands today on the outskirts of the city. You can buy Commandaria wine on Amazon here.
The capital of Cyprus is a city divided between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot governments. Nicosia is actually the last divided capital city in the world. It has a border which you will need your passport to cross (the border is called the Green line) and also a high military presence from both sides.
In Nicosia, the Greek Cypriots live south of the border, and the Turkish Cypriots live on the North.
On the Greek Cypriot side of the border, at the Cyprus Museum, there are archaeological finds ranging from Neolithic to Byzantine periods. One notable item is the Aphrodite of Soloi statue which dates back to the 1st Century AD.
Nearby, within the old city’s 16th-century Venetian walls, sit the Famagusta, Kyrenia and Paphos gates. Inside these outer walls lies a marble mausoleum next to 19th-century Faneromeni Church.
The new city offers a modern European ambiance including plenty of office buildings, pavement cafes and shopping opportunities. Nicosia is an ideal place for those who love to shop, especially on Stassicratous Street.
Further reading: How to Visit Famagusta in Northern Cyprus.
Outer Nicosia Countryside
If you venture into the countryside, you’ll find olive groves and various fruit orchards leading up to the renowned pine forest of the Machairas Mountains. On top of the mountains lies a centuries-old monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary. From here, you can take in a picturesque valley view in all directions.
If you’re looking to learn about monasteries, my post 12 Important Monasteries in Cyprus may be of interest to you.
There are numerous traditional villages with cobbled streets located throughout the rural areas of Nicosia district. One such village is Fikardou, which has been declared a national monument. In 1987, it was also awarded the Europa Nostra award – making it a must-visit if you’re in the area and want to experience authentic Cyprus rural life.
Larnaca is located on the southeast coast of Cyprus. It is one of the most popular cities/towns to visit in Cyprus, due to its ancient walls, sites of religious importance and famous salt lakes.
Larnaca is picturesque, with a lovely harbour, and it historically served as a large centre for copper trade and later as a Phoenician outpost. Today, evidence of its past can still be seen in its enormous cyclopean walls made from single blocks of stone, as well as in the Mycenaean temples from the 12th century located nearby.
A leisurely walk down the ‘Phinikoudes’ is a must while you’re in town. The promenade boasts picturesque views of the oceanfront, complete with palm trees and cafes. Many tourists like to come here to watch the yachtsmen or take a stroll along the marina.
Larnaca is home to many charming villages, and many traditional houses in these villages are available for rent. The most well-known village is Lefkara, which is also the most scenic village in the area. It has narrow streets, red-tiled roofs, courtyards, chapels, and lots of hand-made industries. It is said that the artist Leonardo da Vinci came here and purchased an altar cloth, which he subsequently donated to the cathedral in Milan.
Monasteries in Larnaca
One of the oldest monasteries in Cyprus, The Holy Stavropaegic Monastery of Stavrovouni, sits on top of a mountain with amazing 360 degree views of the hills and plains below. According to tradition, the piece of Holy Cross kept at the monastery (and encased in a silver cross) was brought over by Saint Helen, the mother of Saint Constantine the Great.
Remember you may need a scarf or sarong to cover your ankles/knees when visiting the monastery. If you would like to learn more about monasteries in Cyprus, you may be interested in my post 12 Must-See Monasteries in Cyprus.
Prehistoric Settlement in Larnaca
The village of Choirokoitia is a UNESCO World Heritage site, being one of the best preserved sites of a prehistoric settlement in the Eastern Mediterranean. Have a look at my post 25 Stunning Sights You Must See in Cyprus for more information on this settlement.
Salt Lakes in Larnaca
Larnaca Salt Lake, located west of the city of Larnaca, is made up of four interconnected salt lakes. The largest is Aliki, followed by Orphani, Soros and Spiro. From November to March, many exquisite migratory birds visit the Salt Lakes. The pink flamingo is the most prevalent bird there. The Salt Lake is a nature reserve and is one of Europe’s premier waterfowl habitats.
On the west side of the Larnaca salt lakes is the huge mosque of Hala Sultan Camii, on the road to Nicosia.
Further reading: 81 Unique and Exciting Things to do in Cyprus.
Famagusta lies East of Nicosia, on the East coast of Northern Cyprus. The city was once the most important port and tourism centre in Cyprus, with the deepest harbour and most important trade routes with the middle east and the Silk Road merchants.
Ever since the Turkish invasion in 1974, Famagusta has been the capital of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a state recognised by the Turkish Government only. The old walled city and parts of the modern city are still under control of Cyprus, and recently opened again to tourism.
The second phase of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus took place on August 14, 1974. During this time, Turkish tanks overwhelmed the Mesaoria plain and Famagusta was bombed by Turkish aircraft. It took two days for the entire city to be occupied by the Turkish Army. As a result of the air strikes, dozens of civilians died, including tourists.
The Ghost Town of Varosha
The Varosha suburb of Famagusta, which is located in the Turkish-controlled areas of Cyprus, was fenced off by the Turkish army immediately after being captured. This area remained fenced off until October 2020 when the TRNC reopened some streets to visitors. Some Greek Cypriots who had fled Varosha were allowed to view their old town, and now tourists can also go there.
Varosha is a “ghost town”, with all of its 5 star resorts and hotels left derelict. Nature has well and truly taken over, and it is a very sobering sight to see. To get to Varosha you will need to cross the Turkish border, so you will need passports and visas etc.
You can learn more in my post How to Visit Famagusta, Northern Cyprus.
The Kokkinochoria, or “red soil villages,” are a group of hamlets that sit in the Famagusta district. They were named for the distinctive hue of the earth where potatoes grow in abundance—a crop which Cyprus is known for exporting worldwide. One particular village, Sotira, plays host to a number of medieval churches dotting its landscape. Folk art museums like Deryneia’s own boast beautiful collections of rural Cypriot artefacts from years past.
Also in the Famagusta district, you can also visit the little estuary locally known as ‘Potamos’ and see the fishing boats bring in their daily catch.
6. Troodos Villages
Whilst not technically one of the towns to visit in Cyprus, I simply could not leave the Troodos villages off this list! If you’re looking for breathtaking hikes, stunning mountain views, and delicious local food, then the Troodos Villages are perfect for you. These villages offer trails to explore, idyllic landscapes to discover, and unique traditional architecture.
Troodos villages are postcard-perfect, with folk architecture and quaint cobbled streets. Most of the villages sit on the mountainside among orchards and vineyards, rows of pine trees waving in the wind and corresponding scents filling the air. In addition to being picturesque, these rural communities are known for their hospitable locals and traditional cuisine.
There are tours of the Troodos villages on offer, where you can sample local produce such as halloumi cheese, sweets, wine, preserves and much more. I highly recommend these tours – a truly excellent day out. Check out my Instagram Highlights to see all of the produce I tried on my last visit.
Troodos Walking Trails
The walking trails of the Troodos area are truly magnificent. There is nothing quite like walking through the mountains marvelling at the beauty of the forest. For more information about the network of nature trails, visit the National Park Info Centre at Troodos square.
There are several monasteries in the Troodos. By far the most richly decorated and lavish of them all is the Kykkos monastery. If you are interested in monasteries you might like to check out my list of 12 Must-See Monasteries in Cyprus.
There are lots of waterfalls in the Troodos. The Chantara Falls are found on the Trooditissa River (also known as Diplos Potamos) in the village of Fini which lies at 3,400 feet above sea level and is part of the state forest. The water falls from a height of 26 feet.
Caledonia Falls, located on the outskirts of Platres village in Troodos, is one of the highest waterfalls in Cyprus. It’s a 40-foot drop from the Mesa Potamos waterfall which falls over gabbros rocks. The Millomeri Fall in Platres is also impressive for its natural beauty-a 50-foot drop! Some of these falls are hard to get to since they were only discovered recently.
Finally, you may not think of skiing when you think of Cyprus, but the Troodos Mountains are a popular destination for skiers. The mountains are covered in snow during winter, making it the perfect place to hit the slopes.
Kyrenia is a beautiful harbour town filled with modern restaurants, lively nightlife and importantly, an ancient Byzantine castle. This is one of the most underrated towns to visit in Cyprus, but it has much to offer and is a stunning place to base yourself in Cyprus.
The Kyrenia District is one of six districts of Cyprus, with Kyrenia as its main city. Kyrenia is a small city which is most known for its picturesque harbour and castle. It should be noted that the city sits within the Turkish-occupied part of Northern Cyprus, and if you are coming from the south, you will need to cross the border to enter the city.
Historic Architecture in Kyrenia
Kyrenia is rich in historic architecture. Bellapais Village, which was the backdrop for Lawrence Durrell’s novel ‘Bitter Lemons of Cyprus,’ has barely changed since Durrell’s time. The 13th century abbey is evidence of this fact. Other Crusader castles nearby, like Hilarion, Kantara and Buffavento, are definitely worth visiting too.
Moving west from Kyrenia, you’ll find what is known as ‘the garden of north Cyprus’. This area boasts citrus orchards, forests and fertile plains. Of particular interest here is the Roman settlement of Soli and the Persian palace of Vouni. Both are wonderful places to explore with stunning views across the island and out to sea.
8. Ayia Napa
Ayia Napa is a world-renowned tourist resort located on the outskirts of Limassol in southeast Cyprus. It is known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and lively nightlife. Whilst Ayia Napa is known as a party town, there are plenty of other interesting features to see, away from the nightlife.
Ayia Napa is one of the best towns to visit in Cyprus for water sports. There are also many boat trips in the area, and you can see numerous windmills here too.
Cape Greco National Park
The beautiful national park of Cape Greco is unlike any other national park I have seen. Not only does this place provide excellent opportunities for diving and snorkelling, but its rocky protrusions, secluded coves, sea caves, and amazing views make it a beautiful area for hiking and boat trips.
The Palace and Smuggler’s Caves are two popular examples of caves that can only be accessed by swimming or walking in at low tide during calm seas. These caves extend up to 240 feet into the cliffs! Even though they have a rocky appearance, the water inside is beautiful and serene.
Love Bridge is an elevated, rocky arch bridge of natural origin that overlooks the sea. The water beneath it is a beautiful crystal clear turquoise and emerald colour. It is believed that if you kiss while standing in the middle of the bridge arch and make a wish, your wish will come true.
Cape Greco Nature Trails
There are also several nature trails to explore on foot, and you can also take in the stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea from the sea cliffs. One of these trails is part of the European Long Distance Trail E4, which runs from Cyprus all the way to Gibraltar.
The Aphrodite nature trail stretches for 2 km along the North-East coast of Cape Greco. This particular route has some significance as it’s believed to be where Greek goddess Aphrodite was born.
Nissi Beach Ayia Napa
Nissi Beach has fine golden sand and is well sheltered from the wind, resulting in mild waves. The central and western part of the beach has a rocky formation, while the eastern side has a small islet located about 45 metres from the coastline.
The close proximity and low depth of water between the islet and shoreline has resulted in a continuous flow of sand that, over time, has permanently joined the two. This is considered a natural phenomenon unique to Ayia Napa, Cyprus drawing visitors from all around. Don’t forget to take the perfect beach towel.
Conclusion: Best Towns to Visit in Cyprus
That brings me to the end of my list of the best towns to visit in Cyprus! I hope this post has helped you to plan your trip to Cyprus. There are many more than 8 towns in Cyprus of course, but these ones are my favourites.
I hope this post has been helpful in giving you some information about visiting Cyprus. Here is a round up of my posts on visiting Cyprus:
- 10 Great Things to do in Cyprus
- How to Visit Famagusta, Northern Cyprus
- 12 Important Monasteries in Cyprus
- 10 Things to do in Paphos
- 26 Photos to Make You Want to Visit Cyprus
- 12 of the Best Beaches in Cyprus
- 25 Stunning Sights to See in Cyprus
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Travelling soon? Check my 20 Must-Have Travel Essentials post before you go.
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You are reading Hazel’s Travels – an online publication and travel blog which aims to provide advice and inspiration for travel in Europe, the UK and USA.Tags: Cyprus, Europe