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The problem isn’t finding five amazing places in Cyprus, but leaving out the other 5,000! But here we are – I’ll probably have five different favourites by next week.
This massive rock is located about 15 kilometres east of Paphos on a rugged coastline. Also known as Petra tou Romiou after an ancient, mythical warrior who threw the huge rock at his enemies, this spot, in my view, represents a potential tourism goldmine. Come on, tourist authorities, it’s the place where Love was born, surely you can do something with that! It is the birthplace of Aphrodite, goddess of love, also known as Venus. You know the famous painting by Botticelli, the Birth of Venus, of the beautiful young woman landing ashore on a shell? It happened here.
You know the famous painting by Botticelli, the Birth of Venus, of the beautiful young woman landing ashore on a shell? It happened here
I have visited this spot at night – when there’s no shortage of shooting stars – and during the day in the summer to take a dip. Legend says that if you can swim around the rock three times you will have eternal youth. The problem is that one side of it is landlocked so I guess you have to be lucky enough to visit when the tide is high (I have never seen this). Anyway, Aphrodite’s Rock is an imposing natural site worth a visit for the coastal drive as well as the spot itself.
Nicosia Old City
The star-shaped old city, built by the then-ruling Venetians in the 1500s in the centre of the capital, is a place I visit regularly and have got to know quite well. In some parts it is shabby, in others stunningly renovated, but everywhere it has characters and is atmospheric. Of course, the scar-like Green Line runs rights across it so you can cross into the Turkish-Cypriot part of the island at the bottom of the main shopping avenue, Ledra Street. The old city is a Venetian fort and you can count on three fingers the number of other places where there are similar Venetian fortifications. The reason is, they weren’t very effective in the end (in Nicosia they were built against the Ottomans who nevertheless managed to invade and sack the city). I recently took part in a walk with the Cyprus Strollers around each of the 13 ramparts (which involved crossing the Green Line) and learnt new things about this interesting place.
Ledra Street is the home of high street chain shops (although the serious shopping is near Makarios Avenue) and the web of surrounding roads are home to countless art galleries, cafes, bars and restaurants. I recommend Tria Fanaria in a historic part of in Phanaromeni . This family-run café has been in operation since the 1950s and serves some of the best Cypriot sweets going. A coffee or drink here won’t break the bank either.
I love so many spots in Cyprus that I have had a really tough time picking out five of my favourites.
When I write the Troodos I mean the whole network of mountain villages that are dotted around this central part of the island. In the winter, snow and ice make it dangerous, as you may have read in recent reports, but in the summer it is a heavenly respite from the heat, being 1,000 metres above sea level.
There are a few camp sites scattered around the Troodos (the smell of pine trees is unforgettable!). You can also spend time at one of the hotels or just visit for a day trip. You really feel like you have visited another world when you descend back to the humidity and hub bub.
It’s true that Cyprus has quite a bit to offer in terms of outdoor markets – for food at least – and I would recommend paying a visit to your nearest local venue to enjoy their character. However, the local shopping malls have really grown on me.
Nicosia, Limassol and Paphos each have a mall, and while I’m not suggesting they are the be all and end all of shopping, they do have good high-street shops, a choice of restaurants and usually a supermarket. They’re all fairly new as well so haven’t fallen to shabby rack and ruin. The reason I started to appreciate these shopping venues was the lack of local parking. I got so tired of traipsing around town stopping at different shops for all of my different errands and trying to find a safe place to park that, against what I thought were my better instincts, I decided to try a shopping mall where I could park once. While I don’t make a regular habit of visiting the mall, when I do, I enjoy browsing under one roof in a pristine and well-heated or cooled environment. If you get tired of the high streets, they are a good alternative.
I only visited Limassol Marina for the first time recently on the recommendation of friends. This relatively new spot is pleasantly developed and the perfect place to relax with a coffee or drink right on the water and all the more enjoyable as it is just a stone’s throw from the busy tourist hub. It’s pleasant to stroll and the clubhouse venue is lovely. With its watery situation, it seems to epitomise everything there is to enjoy about Cyprus – instant relaxation, the quayside and light, bright colours.
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