Cyprus is situated in the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean, at the meeting point of Europe, Asia and Africa. Since the dawn of history, it has been one of the most interesting areas of the region and has a rich and visible cultural history. Ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans along with Crusaders, Byzantines, Franks and Ottomans have all left a powerful legacy for the modern visitor to see and admire.
Cyprus is endowed with golden beaches, green forests and other natural wonders. The environment is one of the healthiest in the world, free from pollution and the other ill-effects of industrialized countries. Crime is rare.
The island enjoys a wonderful Mediterranean climate. Apart from sporadic rain between November and March, Cyprus is sunny all the time. Average high temperatures range from 14°C (59°F), during the coldest month of December, to 36°C (97°F) during the hottest month of August.
The weather, however, is not the only attractive feature of the island. The Cypriot people are equally famous for their hospitality and the warm and friendly welcome they extend to visitors.
Cypriot economy is booming and political stability is firmly established. In May 2004, Cyprus officially became a member of the European Union and will thus bridge Europe to the Middle East and the rest of the world. Having emerged as one of the region's leading business and financial centers, the island enjoys competitive advantages in areas such as tourism, consultancy, shipping, telecommunications, banking, and insurance.
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Southeast Coast: Ayia Napa and Protaras
This is an overnight trip that first takes us past the Hala Sultan Tekke, an important Islamic holy site that is located on the Larnaca salt lake.
After that, we continue on to the beach resorts of Ayia Napa and Protaras that are known for some of the best beaches on the island, including the beautiful protected park reserve of Cape Grecko. Ayia Napa and Protaras are two of the best known resorts in Europe and make for a very pleasant weekend.
Saturday night is a time for a traditional meal in the beach resort of Ayia Napa and then we will overnight at a resort hotel. Sunday is for relaxing by the pool or beach or enjoying water sports. We return to Nicosia on Sunday evening.
We spend a weekend in Limassol on the southern coast of Cyprus. Limassol is the second largest city in Cyprus and home to the shipping and off-shore sector.
In Limassol, we will visit:
The historical Old Town with its narrow streets, coffeeshops and restaurants
Limassol Castle, where Richard the Lionheart married Queen Berengaria in 1191
Kolossi Castle, a military castle built in the plantations outside of Limassol. Kolossi was the Grand Commandery of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and eventually passed to the Knights Templar. Kolossi is also the home of the production of Commandaria wine, the oldest continuously produced brand of wine in the world.
We spend a weekend in Paphos, a city so rich in history that it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
On our way to Paphos, we stop at Curium, a remarkable Greek-era city built on a cliff overlooking the sea and Petra tou Romiou, the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and an iconic location for Cyprus.
In Paphos, we stay near the pretty harbor and fort. Our visit is focused on the mosaics of Paphos, some of the best-preserved ancient mosaics in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Walking Tour of Nicosia:
Nicosia has been the capital of the island for over 1,000 years. We spend a day walking the city. Among the highlights of the tour will be:
The six-hundred year old Venetian wall that separates the old city from the new city
The Famagusta Gate that is now converted to a Cultural Center
The Byzantine museum and Archbishopric
Several Byzantine churchs
Laiki Yeitonia, a neighborhood reconstructed to reflect what Nicosia looked like at the turn of the century
The modern shopping street of Makariou
Mountain Day Tour
This is a day-trip where we explore the Troodos mountain range, which in ancient times served as a refugee for the Cypriot population from invaders. We travel by bus through the picturesque village towns of Pedhoulas, Mouttoulas and Kakopetria, stopping to walk through and experience a traditional mountain village. Eventually, we reach Mount Olympus, the highest point of the island, where on a clear day you can see down to the southern coast of the island.
We stop for a traditional lunch at Platres, the hill station of the British administration.
Day trip to Kyrenia, Bellapais and Saint Hilarion Castle
This is an opportunity to visit the Northern part of the island that has been under Turkish occupation and administration since 1974.
We will cross the "Green Line" to first visit the harbor town of Kyrenia, with its very impressive Venetian fort and one of the oldest intact shipwrecks ever recovered. We will then head to the Pentadactylos mountain range to see the famous St. Hilarion castle and Bellapais Abbey, with dramatic, soaring views over the northern coastline.
Note: This trip will be dependent on the status of the border with the northern side of Cyprus. Currently the border is open and there is a strong push for rapprochement.
National Museum Tour
This is a half day tour of the Cypriot National Archaeological Museum. The Museum Director will make some brief remarks, after which an expert on Cypriot history will walk us through the most important collection of Cypriot artifacts on the island.