There is much more to Cyprus than just its beautiful beaches. As a fulcrum for the cultures of East and West, the island is home to a glittering array of archaeological treasures. Any trip to the country is sure to give you a glimpse into a distant past.
Home to many different civilisations over the ages, such as the Hittites, Assyrians, Romans, and Persians, there are more historical sites in Cyprus than you can count. The ancient capital Paphos should perhaps be first on your list.
Now the modern and beautiful coastal town of Neo Paphos, the old heart of the city is ever-present, and easy to reach as flights to Paphos are regularly scheduled from all over Europe. From the ancient Roman Odeon amphitheatre, to Petra tou Romiou, the mythical birthplace of the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite, you will be enchanted by the history that surrounds you.
While the history that abounds in Cyprus transports you to ages gone by, the island is very much a modern tourist destination. One aspect that constantly delights tourist is the quality of the food on offer. Like much of the island, Cypriot food is a blend of Turkish and Greek influences. This is seen in the unique take on classic foods such as haloumi, meze and baklava.
In many ways a divided island, traversing the Greek and Turkish sides is increasingly easy, and for a true picture of Cyprus you should try to visit both. Nicosia straddles both sides of the island and serves as the capital of the Republic. As with everywhere on the island Nicosia is a product of its history, from ancient Byzantine and Roman influences, to more modern influences from the recent British colonial rule, Nicosia has plenty sites to discover. The 16th century Büyük Han is one such site. Built as a refuelling stop by the Ottomans, the caravanserai has found a new life as a bustling market place, with many colourful stalls and galleries enjoy.
Another beautiful site is the Kykkos Monastery, in the west of the island. Originally constructed in the 11th century, the monastery has been rebuilt many times since then and remains a shrine to the Virgin Mary. It welcomes visitors from all over the world each year, and offers a pleasant mix of tranquillity and history.
Away from the history, a great way to enjoy the laid-back yet thriving nightlife of the island, is with a visit to the resort of Ayia Napa. It is hard to avoid all the beaches that are dotted round the coast, and Ayia Napa is home to one of the best. With a number of clubs and bars to enjoy, there is no better way relax and recharge after a busy day sightseeing.
Cyprus may be a small island, but it has a vast history. Combine this history with the vibrancy of a modern and relatively young country, and you are left with a destination that will delight any first time visitor.
Images by Disparkys and Thulborn-Chapman Photography, used under the Creative Commons license.