Here you will the most interesting and the most beautiful places in Cyprus: Top 10 List. And even more!
Cyprus is quite a big island, diverse, rich in beautiful places: scenic, historical, natural. Despite various opinions that I read before the trip, I really liked it! If I have the opportunity, I will gladly go back!
Where to sleep in Cyprus? Check my reccomendations:
Beautiful house with swimming pool in Pissouri, close to the beach, perfect for a family stay – check here:
Cosy and beautifully placed, renewed, authentic old house in Agios Theodoros – check here:
Cyprus Top 10 – the most beautiful places in Cyprus
I prepared the list and ranked the places in the order of “most beautiful,” but let’s treat it as very arbitrary. How could you compare the turquoise color of the water to ancient mosaics…? I wanted to get to know Cyprus from different perspectives. Its nature, mountains, viewpoints, as well as beautiful coast and underwater world. I wanted to check to local food, and to know local history. Visit authentic towns, and people. I succeeded to some extent, but as it usually goes, the more you discover, the more there is to explore…
Unlock Cyprus: Discover flights to Paphos or Larnaca from your nearest airport
1. Cyprus Top 10: Cape Aspro Trail
Yes, this hiking trail, and not the easiest one, but with some of the most wonderful views I’ve ever seen! I is definitely my private number 1 in the whole Cyprus Top 10 List. Especially at sunset. I liked it so much! I decided to dedicate a special blog post to it, which you can read here (and see photos). It’s a very little-known place, not many people go there.
2. Cyprus top 10: Cape Greko
This, on the other hand, is a well-known place and many people recommend it. It’s close to the resort of Ayia Napa and the surrounding areas. I think it might be crowded during the holiday season. But no wonder. The color of the water and the underwater world that you can admire while snorkeling along the coast are the most beautiful we’ve seen in Cyprus. We even had the opportunity to see a flying fish! Places like the Blue Lagoon, the rocky bridge, caves, or the picturesque chapel offer beautiful views. We were fortunate that there were very few tourists on Cyprus when we were there. Yet we met the most of them at Cape Greko.
Rocky bridge Cape Greko The cape is a nature reserve. There are hiking trails here, and you can walk between the most interesting points on foot, but you can also drive (4×4) to practically any place.
If you are, like me, a fan of cacti, on the way to Greko, stop by the Cactus Park. It’s by the main road, just past Ayia Napa, or even within its limits. Admission is free, and it’s open 24/7. Beautiful specimens of cacti, agave, and yucca can be found here. The park looks quite new, so it will take a few more years before the specimens grow, but it’s worth a visit already. It’s just a shame they didn’t provide labels with species names.
3. Cyprus Top 10: Madari Peak, Troodos Mountains
Most tourists head to Olympus, the highest peak in Cyprus, reaching almost 2,000 meters above sea level. Unfortunately, Olympus is a bit disappointing – yes, the pine forests here are beautiful, but there are no views. The summit itself is occupied by a military base, and below is a small tourist town with a ski lift (yes, there are winters when you can ski here, and you can feel it in the cool, fresh air).
Madari rather than Olympus
However, if you want to visit Troodos Mountains and make some hiking there, I want to recommend Madari Peak (1,613 meters above sea level) to you. You can drive almost to the very top by car. You can also leave your car along the way, where the asphalt road ends and the paved road begins. From there, the GEO Trail educational path starts, which circumvents the peak and leads to it, describing interesting natural features along the way. It takes about 1.5 hours one way.
If you decide to drive all the way to the end of the paved road, you will only have a small ascent to the summit, but it’s still worth walking on the surrounding paths. Wonderful views, fresh air, interesting plants, a well-described geological path, junipers, and lots of Cretan rockrose! At the very top, there is a fire observation post. It’s a place where, in good weather, you can see practically the whole of Cyprus! A 360-degree panorama that the highest Olympus does not provide. If you have to choose between Olympus or Madari, go for Madari! Better views, no commercialization, almost no tourists… Only the beauty of nature.
4. Cyprus Top 10: Inactive Amiantos Quarry
I suspect that this quarry rarely makes it onto typical top lists, but for me, it’s at the forefront. Absolutely! Cyprus is rich in minerals overall. The name Cyprus comes from the Greek word “kupros,” which means copper. Since ancient times, Cyprus has been a source of ores and minerals. Until the ’80s, the largest deposit of chrysotile asbestos in Europe was exploited and asbestos was produced in the Troodos Mountains. But don’t worry!
The mine has been inactive since the ’80s. As we know, its use is now prohibited in the EU due to its carcinogenic properties. Visiting the quarry is safe. I even consulted a geologist because I had some concerns about walking along the trails and observing those blue stones and whether it was safe for my health. Harmful asbestos fibers are released only when drilling, sawing, or crushing asbestos. The mine has been inactive for 40 years. If anything was hanging in the air, it was long dispersed into the world by Mediterranean winds…
Lunar landscape on Cyprus
In any case, the area of the former mine resembles a lunar landscape. Hundreds of trees have been planted here, geological sites have been established, and an arboretum has been created. The old mine buildings house an educational center where geological processes, the structure of the Earth’s crust, and a series of geo-curiosities are presented in great detail.
If you plan to visit the Troodos Mountains, include a drive through this quarry. I know I’m a bit strange, but for me, it’s truly one of the most extraordinary places on the island.
5. Churches and Monasteries of the Troodos Mountains
The Troodos Mountains are beautiful, surprisingly green areas, hiding numerous small churches and monasteries from the Byzantine period. Ten of them have been included in the UNESCO list. They have remarkably well-preserved frescoes from that period. Interestingly, these churches are covered with gable roofs. It takes quite a bit of time to explore all these churches, and I’m a bit unsatisfied with my knowledge on the subject. We chose to visit the church in Kakopetria dedicated to St. Nicholas of the Roof. Here the roof is double, with stone domes hidden beneath the gable roof.
Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the church, which houses frescoes dating back to the 11th century. Admission is free.
6. Cyprus Top 10: Ancient Mosaics
Ancient mosaics are extremely interesting and extraordinary. Cyprus is home to places where we can admire the floors of houses that people walked on 2,000 years ago, or even more. Archaeological parks are not just piles of stones and toppled columns like you can see in practically every corner of the ancient world. These mosaics are something truly worth seeing, even in the June sun.
The Paphos Archaeological Park is the place where the largest collection of mosaics is located. They are remnants of the houses of wealthy citizens. The images depicted on these mosaics are captivating. Interestingly, Polish teams of scientists conducted archaeological work here. Pavilions were built over the most valuable mosaics to protect them from the weather. Some mosaics are buried again, waiting for the construction of additional pavilions. You can walk on some of the mosaics…
A stroll through the Archaeological Park will take some time – even up to few hours. There are plenty of sites to explore. Make sure to bring some bottles of water and a head covering as there is almost no shade there.
Tip of the day! Pour some water from a bottle on the mosaics (the ones you walk on outdoors, not the ones under cover!). See how the skillfully arranged little stones come alive with colors.
In Search of Leda and the Swan – Kouklia
We also visited the town of Kouklia (Palaia Paphos) because I really wanted to see the famous Leda and the Swan mosaic. It is a mosaic from the 3rd century AD that was originally located in the ruins of the temple of the goddess Aphrodite. Many years ago it was stolen from there. I still wonder, how one can steal a mosaic? The information about its whereabouts was contradictory. Fortunately, it eventually returned to Kouklia, but not to the temple ruins. It is now displayed in a guarded museum pavilion behind glass.
To say that the mosaic depicting Leda and the Swan is a provocative scene is an understatement. This motif has been depicted in various ways, more or less daring, in later centuries by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Salvador Dali.
According to mythology, Leda was the queen of Sparta. She was seduced by Zeus himself, transformed into a swan. From their union, Leda gave birth to four eggs, from which their children, including the beautiful Helen of Troy, hatched. Greek mythology can really push the boundaries of imagination…
Entrance fees to archaeological parks are around 3 EUR. Children enter for free. Practically everywhere, children are allowed free entry to such historical sites in Cyprus (regardless of age). In one of the places, the ticket vendor jokingly said that we, as parents, should be extra paid for bringing children to archaeological museums 😉
7. Cyprus Top 10: Akrotiri Peninsula
The Akrotiri Peninsula caught our interest for several reasons. First, it is home to a British Military base that occupies practically the entire peninsula and Episkopi Bay. Another military base, Dhekelia, was also established in 1960 when the Republic of Cyprus gained independence. It’s fascinating to see on Google Maps – you’re driving on the highway in Cyprus, and suddenly you see the border between Cyprus and the United Kingdom. Entering the British territories is seamless. There are no designated border crossings on the ground. However, it’s not allowed to photograph military objects, as indicated by appropriate signs.
Secondly, we wanted to see flamingos, cats, and beautiful beaches.
Flamingos in Cyprus
On the Akrotiri Peninsula, you’ll find one of the two Cypriot salt lakes – Limassol Salt Lake. It is larger than the one near Larnaca and is less frequented by tourists. Flamingos winter in these salt lake areas. These graceful pink birds, whose feather color is influenced by their diet of brackish mollusks, can be observed here during the winter months. I didn’t expect to see them at the end of June, but as we were driving along the salt lake, we decided to make a stop. A large part of the lake had already dried up, but in the distance, where there was still water, I spotted a cluster of white birds.
We had binoculars with us, and it turned out to be flamingos! We couldn’t approach them closely because the lakebed is soft, muddy, and there is a risk of getting stuck. However, through binoculars, the birds were clearly visible.
Cats in Cyprus
The southernmost part of the Akrotiri Peninsula is Cape Gata, also known as Cat Cape. It got its name for a reason – that’s where the abundance of cats on the island comes from! According to legend, about 1700 years ago, Saint Helena, the mother of the emperor, ordered cats to be brought to Cyprus. The local population couldn’t handle the venomous snakes and vipers, especially in the Akrotiri area. Only the brave cats fought the poisonous creatures and helped the locals get rid of them.
Today, the descendants of those cats laze in the shade of St. Nicholas of the Cats Monastery. Yes, this 14th-century monastery is actually named that way. The nuns living there take care of sick and injured cats. Unfortunately, the monastery is currently undergoing renovation. Besides dozens of furry residents waiting for the food you brought them, there isn’t much to see. Perhaps after the renovation, it will be possible to peek inside.
Lady’s Mile Beach
Not far from the cats is Lady’s Mile Beach. It’s a beautiful, sandy, and long beach with turquoise water. It’s great for children because the water is warm and shallow for a long distance. You can also observe RAF planes taking off or landing at the nearby base. And there are plenty of seashells!
When you’re in the area, it’s worth visiting Kolossi. It’s another piece of history. Kolossi is a crusader castle dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries. When the last Christian stronghold in Acre (Akka) was captured, the knights had to find somewhere else to go. The closest option was Cyprus. Here, the Knights Hospitaller, as they were known, received their estates. They profited from sugarcane cultivation and sugar production (you can still see the ruins of the old sugar mill today), vineyards, carob, and olives. The castle was the residence of the Order’s commander, hence its name, the Grand Commandery. And the wine produced by the monks was named after it – Commandaria.
Commandaria is still produced in Cyprus today, and they say it is the oldest wine in the world, created with an unchanged recipe and under the same name. Commandaria is sweet, strong, has a tea-like color, and tastes reminiscent of our mead, which goes well with ice cubes.
The castle we see today in Kolossi is from the 15th century, built on the site of the old castle. It can be visited, and admission tickets are inexpensive (2.5 EUR, children enter for free). Basically, you can explore it on your own. If you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit. However, traveling from the other end of the island specifically for this castle is recommended only for medieval history enthusiasts.
8. Episkopi Wild Beach and Turtle Nests
Located near the Akrotiri Peninsula, Episkopi is a town that can be considered English. It is home to military base employees. Rows of small white houses line the streets with British names. You can drive through the town, but there are signs prohibiting photography everywhere. Episkopi Bay itself is stunning, with high cliffs. The cliffs are very dangerous but beautiful. Here, you’ll find a wild beach that you can reach via a rocky path (about half an hour’s walk from the parking spot). The beach is nice and sandy, but the seabed is quite dangerous. I don’t recommend it for children or weak swimmers. We arrived here in search of turtles. The beach is full of their nests, but unfortunately, we didn’t encounter any underwater.
Sunset at Episkopi Bay
Loggerhead turtles and green turtles lay their eggs on Cypriot sandy beaches from June to August. The nests are surrounded by metal bars with the inscription “do not disturb.” Turtle eggs (around 100 in each nest) are buried about 50 cm deep. The hatchlings emerge after 7 weeks and, guided by the moonlight, make their way from the beach to the sea at night. It is forbidden to disturb the turtles.
Staying on beaches designated as turtle habitats (such as Episkopi Bay) at night is not allowed. You must leave at least an hour before sunset. It is also prohibited to destroy nests (enormous fines are imposed), as well as set up beach umbrellas, or bring dogs to such beaches. All these measures are in place because turtles are an endangered species. Only one in a thousand turtles reaches adulthood…
9. Lara Beach, Akamas Peninsula
Many people recommend visiting the Akamas Peninsula. We also ventured into this area, starting and essentially ending at Lara Beach. Lara Beach is the most famous turtle nesting site in Cyprus. And honestly, despite its distance from resorts and the difficult access road, it was quite crowded. Many people unfortunately didn’t follow the guidelines. They bring their own umbrellas, play loud music from their phones, and leave behind lots of trash. This beach was a disappointment to me because of that. However, it is beautiful itself, the nature is stunning, and has a rich underwater world.
The entire Akamas Peninsula is a nature reserve, and it’s good that there are no asphalt roads, campsites, or commercial attractions here. To reach Lara Beach and explore further areas of the peninsula, it’s best to have a 4×4 vehicle or join an organized jeep safari. That way, you will see more, albeit at a faster pace. It is possible to reach the beach by car from a rental agency, but it’s a very tedious and car-damaging journey. Consider yourself warned!
10. See Beautiful Plants, Cacti, Snakes, and Possibly Aphrodite’s Rock
Taking your time to explore and discover the immediate surroundings gives you a chance to see more. During our casual walks around our town, Pissouri, we encountered black whip snakes. It was an extraordinary sight! We watched with fascination as they performed their mating dances. Whip snakes are harmless to humans and very shy. If you come across them, don’t panic or run away. It’s a good sign – there are no venomous snakes in the area, and they flee from the whip snakes.
Mediterranean plants always captivate me. Cyprus is home to numerous palms, oleanders, huge fig trees, carob trees, and in the high mountains, you’ll find black pines, cedars, and protected junipers. In valleys and backyard gardens, you’ll see citrus orchards and banana trees. Additionally, I admired a beautiful collection of cacti at the Cactus Park in Ayia Napa.
How about Aphrodite’s Rock?
Lastly, let’s talk about Aphrodite’s Rock. It’s a nice place, I won’t deny it, quite charming. It is on every Cyprus Top 10 List, but not necessairly on mine 😉 If you’ve already visited places like Cape Aspro or Cape Greco, this particular rock might not impress you as much, as you can expect. Unless it’s the number of people who want to take a photo with it in the light of the setting sun… This is a spot in Cyprus where everyone wants a souvenir picture since it’s associated with love and all things beautiful.
The rock is visible from the road, and there is even a designated spot to stop and take a photo within a special metal frame.
I hope you enjoyed my compilation of the most beautiful places in Cyprus and that I have encouraged you to visit this country a little bit. I will definitely go back there when the opportunity arises. How do you like my Cyprus Top 10 List? Please share a comment below!