I’m no Dora The Explorer, but over the last few years I’ve had the sudden urge to just explore and visit new places. I find comfort in travelling to different cities where people don’t know who I am, and being in awe of magical and captivating sunsets that I wouldn’t be able to witness back home.
Although I don’t have the time to travel as much as I’d like, I’ve been fortunate enough to go to the places that I have been to already and I look forward to future trips where I can lose my shit at the beauty that foreign cities possess.
I travelled to Cyprus in late November (2018), and learned more than I expected during the week I was there. Cyprus is situated in the Eastern Mediterranean and it’s a relatively small island but holds a wealth of history. My knowledge on the divide and invasion of the island was little to none, so I was surprised when I did research on the topic.
Quick History Lesson
In 1974, Turkey invaded the north of Cyprus to protect Turkish Cypriots. This was backed by the Greek government and forces managed to capture 3% of the island. Fortunately, a ceasefire was declared. Unfortunately, the Greek military junta collapsed and Turkey sent in more troops to overrun the North. There is a green line which divides the two parts which is patrolled by United Nations troops. It’s known as one of the world’s most intractable conflicts, and I’m not surprised.
I flew into Larnaca International Airport and had a transfer to Ayia Napa to get to the Anmaria Hotel where I was staying for the week. For a winter sun getaway, it was relatively cheap so I was ready to get some much needed vitamin D. The first few days were quite warm, and didn’t involve me going outside with 5 layers on like I usually have to back home. Here’s what I got up to during the week.
The first official day in Cyprus consisted of picking up a rental car and driving to Cape Greco which is located on the outskirts of Ayia Napa. It’s a natural haven, boasting sea caves, cliffs and exceptional views of the Mediterranean. It’s a quiet location with many trails to explore. I highly recommend spending the day here and finding a spot to watch the sunset as it’s absolutely magical.
Stop by the Sculpture Park on the way back to view pieces of art scattered around. You can spend a good few hours walking around and admiring the sculptures. My favourite would have to be Iris – Goddess of Rainbow.
The second day was for exploring Limassol which is the most underrated city in Cyprus. It’s mostly known for the Limassol medieval castle and museum which is perfect for historical lovers. An absolute must visit, though, is the Kaledonia (Caledonia) Waterfall and the Troodos Mountains. Both were about a 2 hour drive from the hotel and the throwback Spotify playlists in the car made it that much better.
If you’re planning to visit the Troodos Mountains, I recommend renting a car that isn’t a Kia Rio, unless you like driving up extremely steep hills at 15mph in a car that sounds like the engine is screaming for help simply because it can’t handle it. Other than that, you’ll be blessed with captivating panoramic views that take your breath away. It’s the largest mountain range in Cyprus and the highest peak is named Mount Olympus which sits at 1952 metres. You can discover hidden restaurants, vineyards and forests if you’re looking to make a full day of it. It’s definitely one way to see the island from a different perspective.
As for the Kaledonia waterfall, it’s possibly one of Cyprus’s best. And the walking trail to get to it shows you the true beauty of nature. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the top, so you can enjoy a break and stand in awe of one of natures finest creations. You’ll be able to hear the water running during your walk, and if that isn’t motivation to keep climbing, I don’t know what is.
Nicosia is the largest city in Cyprus and lies along the Pedieos River. It has a vibrant street life, full of small boutiques, cafes and restaurants. It’s landmarks embody the island’s history, including the famous green line that extends across the capital. It has quite a few checkpoints – you can find one on Ledra street where you’ll see find barrels and sandbags.
I spent the day bumbling through the city, exploring shops and cafes where I consumed possibly one of the best peach iced teas ever. I also went to see the flag of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus located on Mount Pentadaktylos. It’s said that the flag can even be seen from space!
Paphos would have to be my favourite city I visited. It’s best know for it’s ancient mythology, with castles, churches and other cultural gems. The mythological goddess, Aphrodite, was born in Paphos so it’s no surprise the city gains a lot of attraction from tourists. And it was only right I dedicated a day to exploring the city and what it has to offer.
I went to Avakas Gorge first, which is a popular hiking destination. The canyon is a masterpiece of nature surrounded by wild flowers and pine trees which is such a treat to the eyes. It’s a relatively easy trail, but I’d recommend taking appropriate footwear, and if you have a clumsy friend make sure you keep an eye on them!
Next up on the list was Toxeftra Beach. This was a spontaneous stop, and a worthwhile one at that. Watching the crystal blue sea from a cliffs edge was something I never knew I needed! No matter how many beaches or oceans you visit, all of them somehow hold a sense of calm and tranquillity that the soul needs every once in a while.
Just an FYI, if you do intend to cross the border when you’re road tripping, make sure your phone data plan includes internet data, calls and texts. I didn’t actually cross the border, but my phone company decided to play one sick joke while I was away and overcharge me for data. I sorted it out eventually, but that consisted of a 15 minute heated conversation over the phone while I was trying to have a nice walk around the Archaeological Park in Paphos!