Ancient Kourion

There's no shortage of ancient sites in Cyprus but Kourion is the pick of the bunch. Romantically situated across a coastal cliff with tumbling views of the countryside and Mediterranean below, it's a magical place.

The entire site is vast, but the most famous section is the theater and the House of Eustolios, which holds a clutch of fine, well-preserved mosaics.

For those with more time up their sleeves, the large Byzantine basilica area is wonderfully picturesque with its tumbled columns and scraps of mosaic floor.

St. Hilarion Castle

One of the Mediterranean's most beautiful castle ruins, St. Hilarion's is an old Crusader bastion and the home of plenty of local legends and myths - the most famous being that a fairy queen, who spent her time charming local shepherds, built the castle here.

The extensive ramparts and chambers snake up the mountain and are explorer heaven. For those that climb right to the top, the views across a fair chunk of the island are phenomenal. If you only have time to see one castle in Cyprus, make it this one.


Easygoing Larnaca, on the island's southeast side, may be a seaside resort, but it's kept its local soul.

This is by far the most laid-back base for holidaymakers here.

All the facilities for sun- and sand-based fun can be found, but the old crumbling Turkish Quarter (called Skala) and ornate Agios Lazaros (Church of St. Lazarus) give the town an interesting historical edge, while the center itself has retained the atmosphere of a proper workaday town rather than just a summer resort.

Even better, the salt lake, just to Larnaca's west, is packed full of flocks of pink flamingos during spring, and plenty of hill villages and cultural tourist attractions lie in the surrounding hinterland.

Karpas Peninsula

The most beautiful region in Cyprus is the lonely and rugged Karpas Peninsula, which stretches out in a long finger of golden beaches backed by rugged hills in the northeast of the island (in North Cyprus).

It's Cyprus' least trodden area with sublime hiking, quaint villages, and hidden historical sites in abundance.

This is the place you need to head if you want to experience the undiscovered and undeveloped island life of old.

Venture out for the day in a car (the area has virtually no public transport) and visit the mosaics of Agia Triada at Sipahi village before heading further northeast to remote Dipkarpaz village and the small ruin of Agios Filon church. Afterwards, move on to the peninsula's famous Golden Beach, a vast swath of sand that sums up the Karpas' rugged appeal.

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