A fetching, pocket-sized island thats sandy shores are tucked right in the heart of the Mediterranean - and infamously advertised in their own tourist literature as 'the island of Aphrodite’, implying you should expect a certain amount of sex with your serving of sun and sand - welcomes package tourists galore, but also hides tantalizing attractions beyond the unsubtle beer-swilling beach resorts.
As the world’s last divided capital, the walled city of Lefkosia (or Nicosia, depending on your political leanings - check which to use before getting in a mess with a local) is half Greek and half Turkish, as well as half EU member and half not. It’s a surprisingly tourist-free city (the lager louts tent to stick to the coast), littered on the north side with pulsating markets and astonishing architecture, while the south side is an electro-friendly, ultramodern capital not short of a few architectural gems of its own. A 24-hour checkpoint allows foreign visitors to hop between the two worlds, experiencing both in a few hours. Watch out for that feet-melting summer heat.
If you came to Cyprus for adventure, the Troodos Massif serves up stacks of sheer hiking trails, while those in search of Arphrodite-esque myths best head for the ruined city at Salamis, or the busy strategic settlement overlooking the Med at Kourion, victim of copious ancient raids, but immense and striking nonetheless. The hilltop, Gothic castles of Kantara and Buffavento are affectionately referred to as the ‘guards of the islands’ with their rounded turrets gazing down on the towns below.
Kyrenia – a half-moon harbor protected by another aged fort – offers another ‘escape the crowds’ spot, where fishing boats match high-end yachts and visitors dine by candlelight along the gentle waterfront. A far less subdued Mediterranean experience is to be had on the wilds of the Akamas Peninsula, where the otherwise gentle seas seem to show their vicious side against the soaring cliffs, and titanic turtles patrol the waters.
Of course, if it is cocktails and a suntan you’re after, head to Agia Napa and it’s reams of clubbers-paradise style venues, stacked with cheap booze and belt-for-skirt teenagers. Just know that away from the nightly carnage, Cyprus has so much more to offer.