There are a few types of holidays one can take in Cyprus, some of which are:
1) come for a few days and stay in a resort to relax, enjoy the exotic beaches and the local food;
2) apart from the beach, go to 1-2 cities for a couple of days for a more hip and happening holiday, as well as explore the city historical centres;
3) come for a party weekend and enjoy our nightlife in combination with the the beach clubs during the day;
4) focus on agrotourism and the village life of Cyprus
In my opinion visiting the seaside is a must. From then onwards it depends on each person’s preferences and expectations. This is what I suggest if in Cyprus for only a few days.
Day 1. Nicosia: the cultural experience
Land in Larnaca and drive to the capital for one night. It is not on the beach, therefore mostly a cultural visit. Being the only divided capital in the world a must-see is the old city centre and the UN borders leading to the Turkish occupied side, which is one third of the island (the Northern part). The destroyed epoch houses, the Venetian walls and the old city vibe that carries thousands of years of history is surely moving.
When in the old centre, walk around Ledras & Onasagorou street leading to the UN borders, have lunch at Mattheos for its fantastic location and scenery right in next to Faneromeni church or Siantris further down for its great local food, even though there are no tables outside (Vasiliki is equally nice but not in the old centre). Have coffee at Diosmos & Kanela and all-day drinks at 7 Klidia. You can also enjoy a local sweet (galaktoboureko or baklava) from Kala Kathoumena or Hurricane pretending you are from a different era.
For dinner go to Aigaio for great Greek/Cypriot traditional cuisine over a good bottle of wine in their fantastic courtyard. Other options are Souxou Mouxou Mandalakia and Loxantra for typical Greek & Cypriot specialities in a traditional and cute ambiance, or Berlin 2 and Leventis for a more “hard core” local taverna.
Have drinks anytime between 20:00-2:00 at Silver Star for a casual glass of wine outside, Brew or Market Company for drinks in the old city or Vino Cultura for a more elegant vibe. You can party until late at Cafe Mercedes, Aperitivo or Sfinakia for pop and mainstream music, or Svoura if you are looking something more alternative.
Day 2. Protaras: the exotic beaches
Drive to Protaras/ Ayia Napa, the best beaches on the island. One can choose to do the party life of Ayia Napa (if they are 16 years old), or enjoy a more relaxing beach holiday around the area. Best beaches in Protaras are Sirena bay for a more quiet day and Sunrise/Vrissiana area for a longer beach with clear green waters.
Konnos bay in between Ayia Napa and Protaras is an all time classic even though it gets packed, Green Bay (below Cavo Maris hotel) is a more quiet bay even though it doesn’t have any facilities. Grecian Bay beach in Ayia Napa is fantastic if you want a proper organized beach with waiters and comfy sunbeds while enjoying the clear green waters at high-end prices. Have lunch at the beach bars to enjoy a full beach day. Good food can be found at Mezedopolio Kyklos (traditional Greek at fair prices), Kalamies right on the beach for good fish (even though its quite volatile), Knights pub for burgers. KOI, Alati & Nozomi are great for drinks by the beach, while Cliff bar inside Grecian Park hotel above Konnos bay is a must-visit for all day coffee/drinks while enjoying the best view the East coast. If you are looking to eat amongst locals in a village scenery: Mousikos is fantastic for traditional meze, Costaris nearby for slow cooked lamb (kleftiko). Napa Tavern in Ayia Napa is not bad for if you are looking for traditional food nearby, as it is in the centre of the area.
Stay anywhere on the main Protaras beach street, Grecian Bay/Park for higher quality a bit further down, So Nice boutique hotel in Ayia Napa for great bungalows and beautiful grounds.
Note: if you are taking a relaxing beach holiday stay for a few nights. There are hundreads of hotels, look at the map to find one on the beach and feel free to contact me for more details or advice
Day 3 or 4. Limassol: the party city
If Protaras & Ayia Napa are more touristy and exotic, Limassol is busier all year around with not so pretty beaches but great for party. The main reason for this is that, despite it being the second largest city, there are a lot of Russians and Eastern Europeans who sustain a more high-end nightlife. Limassol itself is not so pretty but the beach clubs and the party scene are the best. During the day one can visit the beach clubs (Plus Sea, Blueberry, Four Seasons or Londa hotel are my favourites even though the two latter are overpriced). For lunch and/or drinks by the beach apart from the above, Puesta is great, while if you are looking for fantastic fish by the beach Fat Fish is a must. The traditional Sikaminia or Yiagkini are fantastic for home made grandma’s food in the old city.
For dinner: the Old Neighbourhood has the best fish on the island (even though pricey), go anywhere around the old castle for international or modern local cuisine (Artima, Karatello, Stretto), or visit the best “hard-core” taverna 5 Efkaliptoi a bit futher into the city for great grilled meat. Have late drinks in the old center at Library, Meli Bar and Lobby, or even Sousami for a more alternative vibe. Party at the best clubs of the island Breeze or Dolce to get the posh beach city vibe of Limassol. For the biggest Sunday beach party do not miss the all time famous, Guaba. Stay at Londa, Amathus, Four Seasons if you are looking for luxury, Ajax if you are looking for great value for money or Mediterranean for average prices.
Note: if you don’t want to go out and party in a more high-end scene but are looking for a relaxing beach holiday one can skip Limassol and visit Protaras & Paphos instead.
Day 4-5. Paphos/Akamas: the national Parks
In my opinion Paphos is a must-see, and I don’t mean the city of Paphos but the surrounding areas, which probably have the prettiest scenery on the island, ie Pomos, Akamas, & Latsi. The beaches are different than Protaras in the sense that they are not long with white sand, but more rocky surrounded by beautiful greenery. One can stay for a couple of days and visit Akamas, Latsi & Pomos by car to enjoy the views and small beaches all around, but also rent a small boat from Latsi port to go around Akamas to beaches one cannot drive to (around 60-100€ for 4 hours for a boat that fits 4-8 people). You can’t miss Fontana Amoroza bay and the surroundings, mostly because of the number of small boats and yachts that moor for a quick dive. A visit to Lara beach to see the turtles is also a good activity, so as Aphrodite baths and Kato Paphos port. Have lunch at Yiangos on Latsi port (fish) and dinner at The Old town at Polis Chysochous for good quality meat and fish. Paradise cafe is fantastic at Pomos for all day coffee or drinks, so as Kanali restaurant at Pomos (on the main street). A coffee or a drink Anassa, the best and only hotel in Akamas is a must. Stay at: Anassa (even though super expensive), Almyra (modern but in Paphos centre), and x&y villas in Pomos. Otherwise there are thousands of villas or around Pomos or Latsi that you can book online.
This is the best of Cyprus in a nutshell, even though it looks long and excessive. I have excluded agrotourism as it is a big chapter on its own. I have focused in city overviews, as well as tips for food and drinks as I think these are tips you can’t get easily, whereas tours, maps and general info are widely available online. Feel free to contact me for further insights.