340 sunny days a year is one of the things that make Cyprus a perfect holiday destination, but also a very desirable place for living. Sandy beaches, high mountains, picturesque ports and lovely churches also contribute to desirability of this paradise island. Tourists usually start discovering Cyprus from Larnaca, as this is the island’s tourist capital. There is an international airport, and the Port of Larnaca which is used as the main cargo port of Cyprus.
Ever since the ancient times, Larnaca has been an attractive location due to its mild climate, sandy beaches, and sunny weather. When the layout of Larnaca as a whole is considered, it consists of 3 parts: the coast with modern buildings and beaches, the old town, and the Turkish quarter. This means that tourists, as well as Cypriots, can enjoy both modern time’s amenities and the spirit of the ancient times. There are lots of lavish restaurants with pleasant terraces on the beach where freshly caught fish is regularly on the menu. Larnaca is the home town of the renowned Greek philosopher Zeno, the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy. Lazarus, resurrected by Christ, came to Larnaca bearing the Gospel of the Savior. He later became the bishop and patron saint of the city. His tomb is situated in the altar of the St. Lazarus Church in Larnaca, but his relics were later taken to Constantinople. South of Larnaca a most beautiful saltwater lake is situated. During the seasonal migrations of birds, twice a year, it becomes the home for egrets, black swans, and flamingos. On the shores of this lake stands the mosque Hala Sultan Tekke, which is considered to be among the 5 most important Muslim sacred places. This is the place where the aunt of the prophet Mohammed was buried and it is interesting to note that this is one of the very few Muslim sacred places built in honor to a woman.
Lefkara is a picturesque village situated near Larnaca which lies 700m above the sea level. It is considered to be one of the main tourist destinations on the island. For 5 centuries it has produced craftsmen world-famous for their traditional embroidery of covers, tablecloths and blouses. It takes 2 and a half months to produce a cloth. Many women sit on their porches and work while talking to their neighbors and tourists. They will gladly tell a story about Leonarado da Vinci’s visit to that very village. He was inspired by the patterns of the embroideries which now bear his name. He even purchased a piece of local canvas for one of his paintings.
Central part of the island is occupied by the mountains of Trodos. As you go across the Maracas Valley, you can see many villages with stone houses. This region of Cyprus is very rich and developed. During the Byzantine era, churches and monasteries were built in the mountains in order to be protected from Arab invasions. In St. Lazarus Monastery, there are some of the most ancient iconostasis in the Orthodox world. A monastery which is regarded as the richest and the most famous on the island, the Kikos Monastery, is located nearby. Besides being a popular religious and tourist spot, this monastery serves as a refuge for many religious people.
Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, is the political and trade center of the island. One of the most interesting facts about this city and its culture is that business contracts are sign in taverns at the hospitably set table. One of the most popular taverns is the Niki Tavern, whose regular visitors are politicians and celebrities.
Limassol is like a real open air museum. Its grand, ancient amphitheater used to serve as battlefield for gladiators and barbarians in Roman times. This amphitheater was initially dedicated to the cult of the god Dionysus. People who come to Cyprus expect active vacations at the seaside and in the mountains. Their expectations are fulfilled because at some mountain ski resorts people can enjoy in traditional skiing in the morning, and in water skiing that very same afternoon on the coast. Villages have very developed agricultural tourism, and they offer various activities. There you can learn how to make olive oil or cheese, practice horseback riding, bike riding, and enjoy sunbathing on the beach. Besides that, night life in cities is very rich, and tourists can find a lot of entertaining places. Shops, bars, disco clubs and restaurants are open till dawn. So, Cyprus offers a lot of possibilities for vacation and everyone can find something suitable.