Cyprus: The Top 10 Attractions - Global Storybook

Cyprus: The Top 10 Attractions

Stefanie Konstanta

Stefanie Konstanta

Stefanie Konstanta is the Local Contributing Writer at Global Storybook (Cyprus).

Geia sas! I am Stefanie and I will be your local guide in Cyprus.
My ultimate goal in life is to travel around the world. When I am not traveling, I am organizing my next trip.
Even though Cyprus is small, I am here to prove that it's actually a rich and diverse country! You can also follow my adventures at Stef's Journey.
Stefanie Konstanta

Latest posts by Stefanie Konstanta (see all)

While Cyprus may seem like a tiny drop in the sea, it is rich in history and culture.  Throughout the centuries, Cyprus was occupied by numerous conquerors due to its enviable position – it is located between three continents.  As a result, Cyprus inherited a little bit from every culture, and it’s what makes our country so unique and appealing.

So if you are looking for something more than just sand and the sun, Cyprus is a perfect destination for you.  It has a number of very old and historic archaeological sites, consecrated churches, some very interesting museums plus an amazing scenery that you can explore.  It’s also a wonderful place where you can go hiking, as you’ll find countless natural trails on the island.

As a local, I want to share the top 10 sights that you must visit when you come to Cyprus.  Since it’s quite a small island – it will be easy for you to see these attractions on a day trip.  In addition, all the mentioned places are located relatively close to each other.

1. Choirokitia

The Neolithic settlement of Choirokitia, which was occupied from the 7th to the 4th century BC, is considered one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean.  It is the earliest permanent human settlement found in Cyprus.  Not surprisingly, Choirokitia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1998.

To illustrate how the early inhabitants once lived – the local archaeologists have rebuilt 5 houses.  They quickly discovered that each house used to have a unique design.  In addition, the findings indicated that the Choirokitians had a very sophisticated lifestyle which included hunting and farming.

What is even more shocking is the fact that the dead bodies used to be buried under the floors of their dwellings, along with their most important possessions.  At that time, people strongly believed that they could carry their earthly possessions into their next lives.

Choirokitia, Cyprus - Global StorybookP.S. You can easily get to Choirokitia on your own, by taking an intercity bus.

  • Address: located 32km from Larnaka, or 48km south of Lefkosia
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: open daily: September 16 – April 15: 8:30am – 5:00pm; April 16 – September 15: 8:30am – 7:30pm
  • Price: €2.50

2. Ancient Amathous

This archaeological site has a particularly great importance in the history of Cyprus.  These ancient ruins include an Early Christian Basilica, the Temple of Aphrodite, an Acropolis, Defense Walls, plus various others.  As the research shows, the Amathous was inhabited since the 11th century BC.

Originally, it used to be a small city with a seaport right in front of it.  Sometime later, Amathous has become one of the four main kingdoms of Cyprus.  The city took its name from Amathousa, the mother of the King Kinyra from Paphos.  At the top of the hill, an Aphrodite temple was built, which dates back to the 1st century BC.

By 1191, when Richard Lionheart appeared on the scene, the Kingdom of Amathousa was almost completely in ruins.  Nowadays, you can find numerous archaeological findings displayed in various museums in Limassol, Nicosia, and even New York and Paris.  This site has a tremendous historical value, though very little of it remains today.  At the very least, you can always use your imagination to go back in time and fancy how it was like back then.

  • Address: Ayios Tychonas (seaside), Limassol
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: open daily: September 16 – April 15: 8:15am – 5:15pm; April 16 – September 15: 8:15 – 7:45pm
  • Price: €2.50

3. Petra tou Romiou: (The Aphrodite’s Rock)

According to the Ancient Greek mythology – Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, emerged from the sea.  Well, as it turned out – it happened at this very bay.  Even though it’s considered to be one of the most popular sights in Cyprus – don’t expect to spend much time here.  If you enjoy taking photos, then you will especially love this place.  It is mostly popular due to the famous legend, and it’s also free.  So if you’ll have an opportunity, then don’t miss it!

  • Address: Kouklia, Paphos
  • Time required: 30 min -1 hour
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: Free

4. Kourion

Kourion is one of the most interesting archaeological sites located on the Southern coast of the island.  It’s also one of the most popular landmarks in Cyprus.  So what is Kourion?  Kourion is an ancient ruined city of… immense dimensions.  The city has a spectacular position – it’s based on top of a cliff, 70 meters above the sea level.  As of today, only the floors plus some of its walls give us a hint of its once grand proportions.  Fortunately, there’s a huge roof covering a large area which protected the mosaics and walls from the elements.

Furthermore, Kourion was also once a villa of a wealthy Roman.  After a few strong earthquakes in the later part of the 4th century, it was built above a former palace.  Many of the building’s mosaics were influenced by the early Christianity, which arrived in the beginning of the 3rd century AD.  The mosaics mostly feature animals, plants and crosses as a symbol of faith.  The villa once contained 35 rooms, including a spa with a heated floor.

The city’s well preserved and restored theatre was once part of a sophisticated Hellenistic complex.  It was transformed during the Roman period.  It featured 3,500 seats plus a splendid view across the beach, the Akrotiri peninsula and the sea.  One can still visit it today to enjoy a theatrical performance or even an open-air musical.

5. Kolossi Castle

Castles are an integral part of the history of Cyprus, so you should definitely include at least one on your sightseeing tour.  Kolossi takes its name from the famous commandaria wine, which was once exported from this area.  Although nowadays the castle is quite empty – you can always envision it in its happier times.

Its stonework is incredible.  Most visitors will enjoy exploring its staircases and the battlements, as well as the grounds.  It definitely takes us back to the medieval period – especially to the time of St. John of Jerusalem’s knights once they arrived here, around the 13th century.

  • Address: Kolossi, 14km west of Lemesos; take the road towards Pafos (Paphos)
  • Time required: 1 hour
  • Hours of operation: open daily: September 16 – April 15: 8:30am – 5:00pm; April 16 – September 15: 8:30am – 7:30pm
  • Price: €2,50

6. Limassol Castle

This next castle dates back to the 11th century.  Throughout Cyprus’s turbulent history, this structure has been utilized numerous times by various conquerors.  Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria in the chapel of the original castle here in 1191.  It’s also where he crowned himself the King of Cyprus and his wife the Queen of England.  Afterwards, the Venetians vandalized it, the Ottomans used it as a military base, and then the British used it as a colonial prison.

The interiors of the castle contain a series of chambers spread on several levels.  In addition, the castle’s displays feature a number of tombstones, suits of armor, weaponry, religious objects, as well as the Ottoman pottery.  If you climb to the rooftop, you can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding area.

  • Address: Richardou and Berengarias, near the Old Port, Limassol
  • Time required: 1 hour
  • Hours of operation: Monday – Saturday: 9:00am – 5:00pm; Sunday: 10:00am – 1:00pm
  • Price: €4,50

7. Tombs of the Kings

Our next sight is perhaps one of the most famous attractions in Cyprus.  Now, close your eyes and imagine yourself surrounded by ancient tombs in a desert-like landscape where the only sounds are waves crashing on the rocks.  You’ve arrived at the Tombs of the Kings!  This ancient archaeological site in Paphos is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list, since 1980.  It was used by the residents of Nea Pafos, during the Hellenistic and Roman periods – between the 3rd century BC, and the 3rd century AD.

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Interestingly enough, even though many assume that the tombs were once used only by the royalty, the truth is they have acquired their name mainly from their grand appearance.  In addition to the aristocracy, high ranking officials were often buried here as well.  This site was also heavily influenced by the ancient Egyptians, who believed that the tombs of the dead should resemble the houses of the living, among other things.

  • Address: Tombs of the Kings Ave, Kato Pafos
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: open daily: April 16 – September 15: 8:30am – 7:30pm; September 16 – April 15: 8:30am – 5:00pm
  • Price: €2,50

8. Paphos Archaeological Park

The archaeological Park of Paphos is another amazing attraction not to be missed in Cyprus.  It hosts a number of historic sights and monuments from the Prehistoric Period, up until the Middle Ages.  However, most ruins date back to the Roman Period.  The spectacular floor mosaics are perhaps the most impressive feature of this important historic park.  They mostly depict the scenes from the Ancient Greek mythology.

In 1980, this park has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.  In addition, the complex includes other important landmarks, such as the Asklipeion, the Odeion, the Agora, the ruins of the Castle of the Forty Columns and of the Limeniotissa Basilica, plus the Tombs of the Kings (sight #7).

  • Address: Kato Paphos
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: open daily: April 16 – September 15: 8:30am – 7:30pm; September 16 – April 15: 8:30am – 5:00pm
  • Price: €4.50

9. Kykkos Monastery

Located in the mountainous region of the Marathasa Alley, at a height of 1318 meters, there’s the magnificent Monastery of Kykkos.  It is the largest monastery on the island.  It’s also one of the most important, sacred places in Cyprus.  Religious people visit it often, though it is quite popular with travelers as well.  Notably, the Kykkos Monastery carries the entire history of Christianity on the island, and it is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

On the walls of the main entrance, you will find golden mosaics with religious images.  In 1998, a museum was established here as well, which showcases numerous works of religious art, and is integrated into the complex.  The history of the stunning Kykkos Monastery dates back to the time of the glamorous Byzantine Empire, hence its spectacular design.

The atmosphere of its exhibition rooms will give one a strong sense of the bygone times.  Since its foundation in 1100 AD, the monastery is thought to be responsible for countless miracles.  Though it is not the original construction, as the initial Monastery had burned down and was later rebuilt.

  • Address: Troodos Area, Nicosia District
  • Time required: 2-3 hours
  • Hours of operation: November – May: 10:00am – 4:00pm; June – October: 10:00am – 6:00pm
  • Price:  €5
  • Official website: www.kykkos.org.cy (Greek only)

10. Cape Greco

Do you enjoy scenic views?  I’m sure you do.  Cape Greco, our national park located in Protaras, has a really dramatic landscape plus a number of high cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean sea.  If you are lucky – you’ll be able to catch a spectacular sunset as well.  You can also stop by a small church, called “Agioi Anargyroi” which is a true gem.

The waters in Cape Greco are crystal clear so if you’re feeling a bit adventurous – you can… jump off the cliffs!  There are also stairs next to the chapel that can take you down to a number of beautiful sea caves.  In addition, there are several trails that you can follow to explore the natural beauty of this island.

  • Address: Cape Greco, Ayia Napa Municipality, (take 101 or 102 bus from Agia Napa)
  • Time Required: 2-3 hours approximately
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: Free

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