I’ve just returned from a week in wonderful Cyprus and this trip was exactly what the doctor ordered. We stayed on the luxurious Aphrodite Hills Resort, on the south west coast of the island in a gorgeous hillside villa that sleeps six people comfortably.
It offered the most incredible views of the Cypriot countryside and beyond, the sparkling ocean. In this blog post I have included everything from what to do, where to eat, when to go and my ultimate Cyprus Itinerary.
It was a holiday of two halves, restful and adventurous. With most mornings jam-packed with activities including boat trips to the blue lagoon, scuba diving and off-roading in the Avakas Gorge, and then afternoons were spent at the on-site spa, relaxing around our private pool and light evenings drinking wine.
10 Things to do in Cyprus
- Hire a yacht with Georges Watersports
- Visit the crystal waters of the Blue Lagoon
- Swim around Aphrodite’s Rock
- Hike the Avakas Gorge
- Go scuba diving with Dive Point Cyprus
- Explore the ruins of Paphos
- See flamingos at Larnaca Salt Lakes
- Try Horse Riding at Aphrodite Hills
- Wander around beautiful Limassol
I always travel with my favourite guide book brand Marco Polo Travel Guides which help me plan my adventures in advance. We explored Cyprus with this pocket-sized guide, and it was packed with Insider Tips for our visit to the island of Cyprus. Using the guide you can pre-plan and discover hotels, restaurants, and shopping destinations, as well as experiencing the more local side to the island, such as where to go to find the best mezze! I loved the inclusion of special tips, personal insights and unusual experiences to add even more fun to our family holiday.
My favourite part of the guide is the pull-out map which I can scribble on to plan our days, as well as use it as a road map! It was really useful for our trip to Cyprus, as the island has so much to offer, from beaches to lagoons and beyond. I also used it to research where the best place to go Scuba Diving was to when to visit. I travelled to Cyprus as a child many times, so it’s always been a place close to my heart so I was incredibly excited to spend a week in Cyprus again.
The Marco Polo Cyprus Pocket Guide includes:
- Insider Tips
- Best of Cyprus
- Discovery Tours
- Cyprus in full-colour
- Touring App
- Road Atlas and pull-out map
- Useful Greek and Turkish phrases
Planning a trip to Cyprus
Before we had even stepped on a plane, we decided due to the early morning start to book a hotel stay with parking with Holiday Extras. We had to be up at 4am to catch our 6.30am flight to Cyprus so we opted for the super useful Hilton Garden Inn with Drivefly Meet and Greet at Luton Airport.
The hotel was around 7-minute drive from Luton drop-off and we found the additional time we spent usually in the car, was now better spent sleeping. The drop-off was smooth, leaving the car with staff in the multi-storey car park across the road from Departures, and then we headed off on on holidays!
Then when you return, you need to give them a quick call about 30 minutes before you need the car, to let them know you’ve arrived and once you’ve made your way across the terminal, picked up your bags and made it to the car park, you’re car will be waiting patiently for you! We really loved the package system they’ve got in place, enabling us to both sleep and park for our summer holiday.
Holiday Extras is the market leader in UK airport parking, hotels, lounges and transfers, and in 2018 customers who pre-booked their parking with Holiday Extras saved an average of £59 each vs the price they’d have paid on the day. Booking an Airport Hotel with Meet and Greet Parking ensures that you can enjoy more holiday without the hassle. To book the Hilton Garden Inn with Drivefly Meet and Greet at London Luton Airport for £129, visit HolidayExtras.com or call 0800 955 5989. Price searched on 18 June 2019 for arrival on 17th August 2019.
How to get to Cyprus
We flew to Cyprus with wonderful Wizz Air. We jumped on a flight from London Luton on Saturday and returned one week later. We landed in Larnaca which wasn’t the best airport for where we were staying on the island, with Paphos being the closer option but Wizz Air offered the best flight from Luton. We really enjoyed travelling with Wizz Air, we paid extra for priority so we could board first and then also take an extra bag each as hand luggage. The flight was also super smooth and the staff were friendly, one even high-fived Arabella as we boarded our return flight home which was a nice welcome onboard.
Wizz Air fly to 100’s of destinations all across Europe and I will be travelling with them again when I go to Budapest at the end of the year. Because we flew in May half term flights were more expensive than usual and cost us around £400 per person return with hold and carry luggage.
It may sound steep for the budget traveller in you, but as you know if anyone wants to travel in school holidays you’ve got to have a packet ready. I think if we’d done the same flight the following week it was around £120 instead.
Wizz Air flies daily from Luton to Larnaca, with fares starting from £49.99 (one way, including all taxes, non-optional charges and one small cabin bag). For more information about Wizz Air’s routes or to book, visit wizzair.com.
READ MORE: Ultimate Guide to one week in Bali Itinerary
How to get around in Cyprus
Unlike some other European countries Cyprus isn’t the most easy country to navigate without a car, especially if you want to head away from the main towns. The bus networks aren’t great and trains are non-existent. So in order to make the most of our week and really explore the island, we hired a car for the week when we landed in Cyprus, with Sixt. Again another great experience and the car for us from a-to-b and the pick up and drop off process was super easy too!
When to go to Cyprus
The best time to go Cyprus is any time! Depending on what you want out of a trip, I’d go between March and May, or September and October. July and August the temperature skyrocket, making it sometimes unbearable to actually explore, and also the prices are higher.
We really enjoyed going in May as the temperatures were still incredibly hot, but we could still feel comfortable when walking around town. And it wasn’t too cold at night either. If you go in down-season October to March you may find some things are shut, including hotels, restaurants and activities.
Where to stay in Cyprus
Our villa was the perfect base for our week in Cyprus, offering the perfect mix of practicality and luxury. The villa was located on the eastern plateau of the resort, overlooking the canyon and the golf course, as well as other magnificent villas.
And the villa slept six adults, and we had Arabella on a z-bed in our master bedroom on the top floor. Downstairs there was a spacious lounge-come-dining room, with well-equipped kitchen and outdoor seating on the terrace. On the terrace there were sofas, dining spaces and a BBQ, with all the utensils we needed for a feast after a day of activities.
The master bedroom was on the top floor with its own wrap-around balcony and en-suite bathroom, with lots of wardrobe space for a week or more. The other two bedrooms are twin rooms, with en-suites and located on the ground and first floor. The villa also had air con throughout so keeping cool wasn’t a problem in the 30 degree heat we got in May!
10 Things to do in Cyprus
Hire a yacht with Georges Watersports and head along the Akamas Peninsula to the Blue Lagoon
One of our most memorable experiences from our trip to Cyprus was the morning we spent with the wonderful people at George’s Watersports. Georges watersports is a well established business that settled operations 1989 in the small graphical harbour of Latchi, located on the North West of the island and lies on a beautiful coastline and a panoramic peninsula.
During the summer time Latchi Harbour attracts thousands of tourists every year that want to visit and explore by themselves the magnificent bays and the beauties that Akamas forest offers. Georges watersports offers self drive speed boats for hire, a great opportunity for you and your family to experience your own private charter on your holiday.
We hired our very own 300hp Acapulco Sports Yacht which could have 12 people onboard and they also provide you with a skipper. It was an amazing boat (make sure you check out my vlog from the trip for the most amazing drone shots from the yacht).
Once you leave the harbour, you then cruise along the 13 km long North Coast of the Akamas Peninsula, from Latchi Harbour up to the Arnautis cape. Along the coast you can visit and anchor in all the multiple bays, such as Manolis- Sea Caves, Bladji-Amphitheatre bay, Chamili before ending up at the Blue Lagoon for swimming.
We headed here as part of our 3-hour boat hire with George’s Watersports and because we had hired our own boat it meant we arrived before the crowds on the bigger boats arrived. The place is spectacular and waters are incredibly blue!
Have a couples massage at The Retreat
Whilst we were on holiday at Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus, we also made sure we took a visit to the resort’s own luxury spa called The Retreat. Me and Theo head to The Retreat on one of our last days at the resort, visiting late afternoon to enjoy a 30-minute Couples Swedish Massage.
The massage combines light-to-medium pressure which releases tension, improves circulation and eases aching muscles. It involves the use of hands, forearms or elbows to manipulate the superficial layers of the muscles to improve mental and physical health.
We both felt incredibly relaxed after we left our treatment room, and headed for the terrace outside to relax in the sunshine with a glass of Jasmine Tea. Once we had awoken from our massage, we jumped in the infinity pool, and the hydrotherapy pool in the spa, before heading downstairs to the sunad and steam room.
Swim around Aphrodite’s Rock
Supposedly where Aphrodite rose from the water, this is one of Cyprus’ most famous landmarks and is visited by millions each year. Petra tou Romiou also known as Aphrodite’s Rock, is a sea stack in Paphos, Cyprus, located off the shore along the main road from Paphos to Limassol. The combination of the beauty of the area and its status in mythology as the birthplace of Aphrodite makes it a popular tourist location.
Hike the Avakas Gorge
Avakas gorge is the most well known gorge in Cyprus. It is located very close to the entrance of Akamas peninsula from the area of Agios Georgios Peyias. Its total length is about 5 km, however the narrow part of it covers about the first 2 km, after that it opens up and it is more like a small valley.
On the first narrow part you can admire the impressive rock formations, while of the second, more open, part, you will enjoy the beautiful landscape and wonderful vegetation. We headed here on a sunny afternoon, by car, not realising the road surface wouldn’t be very good. So we drove some of the way, got out and had a wander. We didn’t get chance to find the famous gorge caves due to the road surface, but if you head in from Coral Bay it is easier to find.
Go scuba diving with Dive Point Cyprus
On our third morning in Cyprus me and Theo left Arabella with my parents and we headed to go scuba! We drove over to Paphos to Saint George’s Hotel just north of Paphos town and met with Ray, who owns the Dive Point Diving Centre.
Diving in Paphos is among the best diving in Cyprus with a number of different dive sites with their own range of depths, difficulty levels and points of interest. I have dived a few times before, but Theo was a beginner and had never dived before. The wonderful team at Dive Point Cyprus are professional PADI and BSAC registered instructors who are waiting to show you the delights of diving in this Mediterranean paradise.
With water temperatures remaining pleasantly above 25C well into October, Cyprus has a longer diving season than most of its competitors nearby. The clarity of the sea, often vital to good diving, is also excellent. Visibility of more than 30 metres is not uncommon. Seas are usually calm, meaning there is rarely any current to contend with, and making the diving benign and manageable for people of all abilities.
Once we had done our paperwork, got fitted in to our gear and been measured up, we jumped in the car and headed across to Coral Bay with our instructor Kevin and his assistant for the day Callum, who was there on work experience. We couldn’t do their try dive in the lagoon outside the hotel due to the winds being strong, so we headed to Coral Bay instead which offered us an easy descent, calms waters and a depth of up to 10m.
We arrived at the bay and got kitted out, before getting in to the water to do our skills with Kevin. These were optional but both me and Theo chose to do them to improve our confidence under the water. And then, off we went…
We headed under the water, and it was the most magical hour. We sunk to a depth of 1m, then 2m and Theo went down to 3m, whilst I stayed up higher due to my ears not being able to pop. We saw an array of different fish throughout the hour, and Kevin showed us some beautifully coloured fish and even a sea sponge. We both had such a great time diving with Dive Point Cyprus and we can’t wait to return to do another dive with them!
Explore the ruins of Paphos
Paphos is a city on the southwest coast of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Inhabited since Neolithic times, it has several sites relating to the cult of goddess Aphrodite, whose mythical birthplace was at Old Paphos (Kouklia).
New Paphos is the modern city that incorporates the harbor, and the ancient ruins of tombs, Petra tou Romiou, fortresses, theaters and villas at Kato Paphos Archaeological Park. There are also an array of things to do including: Tombs of the Kings, Coral Bay
Head to Ayia Napa for the party scene
Ayia Napa is a Mediterranean resort town on the southeast coast of Cyprus, known for its beaches and nightlife with young adults all across Europe. Plateia Seferi is surrounded by bars and clubs. If you fancy a party, head here on a Saturday night!
Explore the Sea Caves
The Ayia Napa sea caves are a must see landmark along the stunning coastline at the Cape Greco national forest park. Here you can find incredible rock bridges, hidden caves and tunnels. And they pretty amazing to look at from a distance too – the sea caves extend for up to 80 metres underground and are only partially submerged. They can be explored on foot at low tide and this area is popular for snorkeling, diving and swimming.
See flamingos at Larnaca Salt Lakes
Larnaca Salt Lake is a complex network of four salt lakes of different sizes to the west of the city of Larnaca. The largest is lake Aliki, followed by lake Orphani, lake Soros and lake Spiro. They form the second largest salt lake in Cyprus after the Limassol Salt Lake. During the cooler months, from October to March you can also find the famous flamingoes here! (Credit: Wikipedia)
Try Horse Riding at Aphrodite Hills
The Aphrodite Hills Riding Club offers horse riding experiences in the forestry land of Lakkos Tou Frangou, which is adjacent to the north end of the Resort. Located in an area of outstanding beauty, the horse riding facilities are available for all ages and abilities.
The stable facilities include private lessons for beginners or experienced riders; trail riding off-road in stunning countryside; a Pony Club where children visit the stables to learn about riding and pony care, and a large outdoor arena. Arabella and my mum headed up to the stables on a sunny morning for Arabella to try a pony ride with the excellent instructors they’ve got at the stables. Here they’ve got 11 working horses, one mule and a pony called Pixie! It was such a lovely addition to the holiday and something we never imagined Arabella could experience in Cyprus!
Play a championship PGA Golf Course
Featuring a magnificent championship golf course, a dedicated 3-hole Golf Academy, a magnificent Clubhouse and surrounded by breathtaking scenery; it is the perfect place for golfers of all standards and ages.
My mum, dad and brother headed out early one morning before the heat caught up with them, to put their skills to the test on the 6,289 squared meters course and overlooking the site where Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, is said to have emerged from the sea.
Where to eat and drink in Cyprus
Theo’s Restaurant, Paphos – Theo’s Restaurant is a Paphos harbour landmark eatery where catch-of-the-day fish is cooked to perfection. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and is one of the most celebrated fish restaurants in Paphos. It enjoys a fortunate waterfront location, offering the perfect setting for you to observe the boats moored nearby. Their mezze-style fish specials are famous. Even many residents of Kato Paphos come to eat here. The restaurant displays the fish available for the day at the counter – another nod to the freshness of the ingredients used to woo your palate. The ambiance of the restaurant is typical Cypriot with white seats and tables with blue covers.
Pithari Taverna – Located in the Village Square of Aphrodite Hills Resort, this traditional Greek Cypriot Tavern offers authentic island cuisine. Guests can enjoy island cooking and classic tavern-type food, choosing either a customary meze or delicious à la carte options. We headed to the Taverna on the Friday night, the last night of our stay for one of the resorts themed evenings with ‘Cyprus Meze Night’ and live music.
Aphrodite’s Rock Microbrewery, Tsada – Located in the middle of nowhere, but an absolute gem of a place, the Aphrodite’s Rock Brewery is amazing offering both food and drink to passing travellers. Here you can sample five excellent craft beers on a tour of Aphrodite’s Rock Brewing Company which are brewed using the mineral rich spring water used to brew its handcrafted beers and ales, including Yorkshire Rose best bitter and Rock Premium Bavarian lager. After the tour you can pull up a pew at the Brewpub for a pint or two and grab one of their amazing pizzas! They offer a 200ml tasting of five beers for €6 and informative tours at 2pm daily. There’s an outside terrace bar and restaurant famed for its excellent pizzas, made in a traditional wood-fired pizza oven.
Gabriel’s Tavern, Kouklia – Gabriel’s Tavern is located Kouklia village, which is close to Paphos and we dined here as a family on one of the evenings we were in Cyprus. We weren’t sure what to expect at first, as they don’t have a super useful website, but this place was amazing and we would 100% return next time we visit. The tavern serves traditional Cypriot cuisine, such as meze, kebab, sheftalia, musaka and many others. There is a great selection of desserts and drinks, as well as a vegetarian menu. We opted for the meze platters between two people and were incredibly impressed with the service, food and atmosphere.
Zimi Trattoria – Located in the Village Square of Aphrodite Hills Resort this restaurant is based on a traditional Italian dining concept. An assorted medley of salads, pizzas, fresh pasta and traditional homemade Italian dishes are available, made with only the freshest of ingredients. We didn’t dine here ourselves, but we heard great things from other guests we met on-site during the week. If we had been there another night or two we would have ordered takeaway pizza from these guys! They looked amazing…
Mourayio Greek Taverna, Paphos – Mourayio Greek Taverna at Leonardo Plaza Cypria Maris Beach Hotel & Spa offers a Greek feast in an inspired natural setting framed by the Mediterranean gardens of the resort in Paphos, Cyprus. Relax in the majestic surroundings and gaze at the dance of the sea in the distance while enjoying the mouthfuls that make the Greek cuisine a revelation for gourmands.
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