With assets as varied as the visitors they attract, this welcoming island has ski-slope mountains and sun-soaked shores, classical ruins and cosmopolitan resorts, historic harbours and modern marinas, and two distinct cultures in its divided capital.
This beautiful island has been beguiling visitors for centuries, but its politically strategic position also invited invaders. Roman and Persian, Ottoman and Venetian empires, along with Crusader campaigns, all left their legacy on the landscape of Cyprus; the country’s most recent incursion, the 1974 Turkish invasion, splitting the island and leaving Nicosia as ‘the world’s last divided capital’.
In the Turkish-occupied north, Kyrenia’s castle dominates the harbour, and St Barnabas Monastery is now a museum of icons and artefacts; while, in the hills behind the city, Bellapais village, lauded by Lawrence Durrell, is little changed since he lived there in the 1950s, its abbey ruins steeped in an air of serenity.
Famagusta, a ghost town since 1974, has re-opened to visitors, its medieval citadel surrounded by sturdy fortress walls, its historic St. Nicholas Cathedral now a mosque. Nearby, overlooking the sea, the ancient city of Salamis dates back to the 11thcentury BC, with an amphitheatre, statuary, and colonnades.
North meets south in the narrow streets of Nicosia, Lefkosia the city’s Cypriot name. With mosques, museums and medieval churches on both sides of the capital’s divide, landmarks within the Venetian Walls range from the minarets and mosaic domes of 13th-century St. Sophia Cathedral to caravanserai courtyards, the Whirling Dervish Museum, and 1930s British ‘Covered Bazaar’.
The peaceful Troodos Mountains are sprinkled with picturesque villages and Byzantine churches, where Kikkos Monastery sits atop a high peak, and houses the ‘miraculous’ icon of the Virgin Mary.
A sea-view hilltop is the site of ancient Curium (Kourion), inhabited as a Greek, Roman and Christian town right up to the early Middle Ages, with relics of each era in its theatre, arches, and frescoes. On the shore below, Aphrodite’s Rock marks the mythical birthplace of the goddess of love; and to the west, Paphos reveals its past with 2nd-century BC catacombs, and splendid mosaics of the House of Dionysus.
Medieval meets modern in Larnaca and Limassol, the former teaming a palm-lined promenade with a cobbled streets and arcaded squares; the latter linking labyrinthine lanes with legends of Richard the Lionheart, a seafront park by its 7km beach, and ‘the Med’s most modern marina’ adjoining the Old Port.
Cyprus is also teamed with Israel on a luxury cruise, combining the island’s medieval sites with highlights of the Holy Land, from biblical Cana and Capernaum to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, the Crusader city of Acre, the Sea of Galilee, and the salt-dense Dead Sea.
Coolest in the mountains, warmest on the south coast, Cyprus has long, hot, dry summers stretching from mid-May to mid-October, bookended by brief spring and autumn seasons. Winters, apart from the snow-capped heights of Troodos, are generally a comfortably cool 13-17°. Summer temperatures hover around 30-34° but can peak nearer 40°; the shoulder months (March-April and late-October - November) average a balmy 25°, glorious for touring, when the sites are usually quieter.
From cosmopolitan Limassol to awe-inspiring ancient ruins, intriguing medieval monuments, soft sand beaches, and hidden villages in herb-scented hills, the ‘Island of Aphrodite’ is as welcoming as it is warm, and blends a wealth of history with mythology and modernity; so it certainly ticks the boxes for a broad range of interests, often all in one day.
Singles, couples and friends will enjoy the variety of aspects and attractions on our small-group tours, and Jules Verne offers ‘No Single Supplement’ dates and exclusively Solo departures for single travellers.
With 45 years’ experience and a passion for creating extraordinary adventures, Jules Verne takes you to iconic landmarks and lesser-known sites, with expert tour guides who share their local knowledge, and show you hidden gems. Leisurely interludes on our journeys in Cyprus include a lunch by the beach in Famagusta, dinner in idyllic Bellapais, and time for you to enjoy the island’s ubiquitous tavernas and delicious food.
All our guided tours to Cyprus are ABTA and ATOL protected, and we offer a 100% price guarantee, so you can book with complete confidence.