Best Excursions in Cyprus
Published on July 11, 2020
If it’s your first time visiting Cyprus, here are some of the most popular excursion you can take to see the whole island in one go:
- Paphos: retrace Aphrodite’s footsteps
Legend has it that Paphos was home of Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love. Still under the spell of the goddess, the area retains her magic and has remained intact by time. It seduces its visitor with its majestic landscape, lovely coastline and historical treasures.
Paphos itself is a leading cultural centre of the Mediterranean and the whole town is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Wherever one treads in Paphos one comes across a glorious history which dates back thousands of years, when the cult of goddess Aphrodite flourished in this beautiful part of the world attracting many visitors from inland and abroad.
Our first visit will be to the Church of Panayia Chrysopolitissa, built in the 13th century over the ruins of the largest Early Byzantine basilica on the island. Within the compound one can see St. Paul’s Pillar, where according to tradition; the saint was flogged before the Roman Governor Sergius Paulus converted to Christianity. The floor of the basilica was covered with colourful mosaics, some of which are still preserved today.
The city is home to Mosaics of the Roman period, dating from around the 3rd century AD. These are situated in four main houses: the House of Aion, House of Dionysos, House of Orpheus and House of Theseus, which will be our last visit. They include many attention-grabbing geometrical decorations and draw inspiration from Greek mythological scenes.
On returning from Paphos, we stop at Petra tou Romiou, the legendary birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite-Cypria. A spectacular beach with awe-inspiring views, this golden stretch of sandy coast is where the Greek goddess of love rose from wave and foam. Guests can have a short break to admire the magnificent view and take some memorable photos.
- Nicosia: the medieval capital
Nicosia, lies roughly at the centre of the island, with a rich history that can be traced back to the Bronze Age. Today, it blends its historic past brilliantly with the bustle of a modern city. The heart of the city, enclosed by the 16th century Venetian walls, is dotted with museums, ancient churches and medieval buildings preserving the nostalgic atmosphere of years past.
The famous Famagusta Gate still stands today, proudly protecting the still-ancient town within from the modern city without. From there, we will drive to the cathedral of St. John the Evangelist and its 13th and 18th century wall paintings; depicting scenes from the Bible and the discovery of the tomb of St. Barnabas in Salamis.
Enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the capital of Cyprus with a visit to the prominent Archaeological museum with its fascinating collection of Cypriot antiquities and treasures from the Neolithic age to the Early Byzantine period. After a passing the Venetian walls of the old city and Famagusta Gate, we arrive at Laiki Geitonia and stroll at leisure down its stone paved streets towards Ledras, where many taverns and restaurants serve local dishes.
- In search of Limassol
Limassol, traces its history to the Middle Ages, and is named so being situated between (anamesa) the ancient Kingdom of Kourion and Amathus. The medieval Castle of Limassol is where according to tradition, after conquering the island in 1192, King Richard the Lionheart of England married Princess Berengaria of Navarre in the castle’s small chapel. The castle itself is surrounded by the old town’s winding shopping streets where visitors can bargain with the local shopkeepers for handicrafts and visit one of the town’s many coffee shops. The Limassol harbour and Marina, with its range of upscale shops and restaurants, is only a short walk away; where guests will be spoiled at a local restaurant.
Just outside Limassol one finds the ancient Kingdom of Kourion, which is placed on one of the most spectacular sites in the island, with extensive archaeological ruins including well-preserved mosaics. Its Greco-Roman amphitheatre, built in the second century BC, is famous for its vistas of the Mediterranean Sea. The kingdom is also renowned for its preserved mosaic floors in the House of Eustolios, the House of Achilles and the House of the Gladiators.
Passing though the Fassouri citrus plantations; we come across the medieval Castle of Kolossi. It is a fine example of military architecture originally constructed in the 13th century during the crusades. After the Siege of Acre in 1291, it served as the Grand Commanderie of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem; and thus gave its name to the world famous Commandaria wine, which is still produced in the area.
- Daytrip to Omodos
Our excursion takes us to Omodos, a traditional Cypriot wine producing village, was once the property of Sir John De Brie, Prince of Galilee. The village is also renowned for its Monastery of the Holly Cross standing by the stone-paved square. Apart from its byzantine era icons, it holds excellent wood carvings and other ecclesiastical objects of interest, as well as a small national museum.
Omodos has a long tradition in wine making. A traditional wine press known as Linos is preserved, where we will stop and sample the local wines and liqueurs: a selection of white and red wines, the famous Commandaria desert wine and of course Zivania. Visitors can stroll around the village’s winding streets and mingle with the locals, walk around for some shopping at the various small shops selling traditional Cypriot items such as crafts, lace and local delights.
- Explore Larnaca
On our way to Larnaca our guests can visit Choirokitia, the oldest Neolithic settlement in Cyprus. The site is one of the best preserved prehistoric sites of the eastern Mediterranean.
Our excursion takes us to the city of Larnaca, built on the ruins of Kition, as the town used to be known, which was one of the several ancient city kingdoms of the island. After a short city tour we visit the cathedral of St. Lazarus, the first bishop of Kition, originally built in 900 AD. With three large domes and decorated with an impressive iconostasis; tradition says that the place of Lazarus’ tomb was lost during the period of Arab rule beginning in 649. In 890, a tomb was found in Larnaca bearing the inscription Lazarus the friend of Christ. Emperor Leo VI of Byzantium had the Church of St. Lazarus erected over Lazarus’ tomb in the late 9th century.
Thereafter we continue to the Pierides private museum where over 6000 exhibits present the 10,000-year history of the island. We continue to the Tekke Mosque of Hala Sultan, an important place of pilgrimage for the island’s Muslims. The final stop will be the village of Kiti, which hosts the church of Angeloktistos with its magnificent mosaics dating to the early Christian period believed to be built by Angels.
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