Cyprus - beyond the beach with Travel Editions
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With a long season extending from early
Spring right through to late Autumn, Cyprus is a great choice if you are
craving some heat. Even through winter, the temperature on the coast rarely
drops much below 15°C. But it’s not just about the sun, the island has always
been popular with Brits not least because of its strong British connections -
they drive on the left, the sockets are of the 3-pin variety and English is
widely spoken. It’s a nice easy destination with a wealth of things to see and
do, catering for all sorts of interests.
Travel Editions’ new 'Cyprus Uncovered'
tour is based at the 4-star Athena Beach Hotel, one of four hotels in the quiet
Kato Paphos area run by renowned Cypriot hoteliers, the Constantinou Brothers.
It’s a slick operation across all four hotels which, between them, provide a
staggering array of facilities for groups including competition level bowls
greens and impressive ballrooms with sprung dance floors for social dancing or
more formal instruction.
The Athena Beach centres around a
particularly impressive outdoor pool, surrounded by comfy sun loungers and with
gardens leading down to a narrow stretch of beach and the gently shelving bay
which is perfect for swimming. I was there in late November and the sea was
still a very pleasant 25C. There's also an indoor heated pool, well equipped
gym and the Elixir Spa offering a wide range of reasonably priced treatments.
All the hotels are linked by a flat promenade walk, perfect for sunset strolls.
For me, Paphos is the best area to be based
and even more so since the city benefited from a major boost when it was
designated a Capital of Culture in 2017. When I last visited in 2016, they were
in the midst of construction projects in anticipation of that honour and
frankly, the city was in a state of chaos. This time I was pleased to see, with
all the work complete, the legacy is that the city centre is much improved and
a very pleasant place to wander around. The long stretch of seafront promenade
lined with restaurants, bars and shops is the main hub provides a lovely stroll
down to the colourful fishing harbour and castle. As you walk around, look out
for the dozen bronze sculptures that were installed as part of the cultural
programme. The one by the castle, a serene looking woman leaning in to a rock entitled
’Sol Alter’ by Yiota Ioannidou is especially striking.
Just around the
headland from the castle is the UNESCO World Heritage listed Archaeological
Park. Covering a large area, the park is still under excavation. You need a good
couple of hours here to fully explore the wonderfully preserved mosaics of the
House of Dionysos and Aion as well as wander amongst the ruins, take in the
views from the lighthouse and explore the Theatre dating back to the 4th
A full day trip to
Nicosia is another interesting city excursion. From Paphos it’s a pleasant 90-minute
drive to get there including an interesting detour through one of the two
British military bases on the island. Nicosia of course has the unenviable
distinction of being the only remaining capital city in the world split by a
border. Our guide provided not only the all important historical context that
led to the Turkish invasion of 1974 but also shared some of the poignant human
stories, the misery it has caused and the reasons (from the Cypriot
perspective) why a settlement is unlikely to be forthcoming any time soon.
A less sombre side of
an excursion to Nicosia is to wander through the cobbled side streets lined
with souvenir stalls en route to a delicious mezze style lunch. The city's
undoubted cultural highlight though is the Agios Ioannis Cathedral. Its a
modest building from the outside but the interior will take your breath away
with its amazing wall and ceiling paintings. And right next door is the
Byzantine Museum packed with the most beautiful religious icons.
Two other full day
scenic excursions are included in this Cyprus Uncovered tour. The first a drive
up in to the Troodos Mountains and lunch in the lovely village of Omodos and
time afterwards to wander through the narrow streets, explore the many craft
and local speciality shops and absorb the contrasts of traditional island life
versus the coastal tourist resorts.
Another outing takes
in the spectacular west coast of the island with its many vineyards and the
Akamas peninsula, famously home to Aphrodite's Baths (marginally more exciting
than Aphrodite's birthplace but both essentially rocks with myths attached!)
The landscapes and views of the turquoise blue seas though are lovely and the
fishing village of Latchi is a very pleasant spot for lunch.
These four included
full day trips give an insight in to the many different faces of Cyprus, an
island steeped in mythology and tradition. Balanced with 3 days at leisure to
relax and enjoy the warm weather and hotel facilities, I'd say it’s a pretty
perfect choice for a wintersun getaway.
Cathy travelled as a
guest of Travel Editions and filmed the video below.
The Cyprus Uncovered
7 nights escorted tour departs 1 November 2020 and costs £1,195 per person
including flights from London Gatwick, 4-star half board hotel accommodation,
transfers and 4 full day excursions with lunch. For full details visit www.traveleditions.co.uk/tour/cyprus-uncovered#itinerary
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Travel Editions.
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