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East really does meet West in this small country located south
of Turkey. Combining European comforts with Middle Eastern culture
and cuisine is what makes this country well worth a visit.
The Greek-dominated South offers an array of five-star resorts,
miles of beaches with the accompanying watersports (scuba,
snorkeling, boating), and well-maintained hiking trails in the
mountainous region. Vacationers come here to relax and enjoy the
warm climate. This area of Cyprus has long been a tourist
destination and the infrastructure reflects this with English
signage and an English-speaking service industry (hoteliers,
The Turkish-occupied North, however, has a completely different
feel. This area was only recently opened to tourists and thus, a
strong tourist infrastructure is not yet in place. What the Turkish
North lacks in English signage and thus easy navigation it more
than makes up for with authentic cultural appeal.
Five-hundred-year-old bathhouses; Ottoman-style architecture; warm,
friendly people eager for tourists and the economic benefits they
bring; and great Turkish food can be found here.
A trip combining both ends of the island is definitely the way
to go. Since visitors must fly into the South, Larnaka airport, it
makes sense to start the journey on the Greek side of Cyprus.
Lefkara village, a picturesque small town known for its lace and
silver, is a great first stop. Mom-and-pop shops line the
cobblestone streets and an array of outdoor cafes are good for
eating and people watching. The locals are often seen in front of
their shops hand crafting beautiful lace that guarantees a steady
group of tourists year-round. All prices are negotiable and each
piece of lace, since it’s hand-made, has a unique design.
Southern Cyprus offers a variety of hotels in any budget range.
One of the nicer ones, found near Lefkara in Pissouri, is the
Columbia Beach Resort, built in December 2002. It’s located on the
water and offers a variety of watersports. Nearby are vineyards,
where many guests go for the day.
Also within driving distance, visitors can find other activities
unique to this part of the world including olive picking and
halloumi-cheese making. Both of these can be found in the Tochni
A short distance away is Pafos, a scenic mountain town, known as
the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite. One of the top attractions
in the town and one of the highlights of the trip is the mosaics at
the villa of Dionysus and House of Aion. Originally laid down as
floors for noble houses in the third century, these mosaics were
hidden in the ground until 1962 when a farmer discovered them while
tilling his field. An excavation lead to the discovery of over 100
square feet of intact mosaics; the mosaics depict the stories found
in Greek mythology. This area is considered one of the
best-preserved mosaics in the world.
The Elysium Beach Resort, located in Pafos, was built in August
of 2002 and has become popular with tourists. A full-service spa
and golf course, as well as touches like Aveda products in all
hotel rooms also make this resort a honeymoon favorite.
Perhaps one of the best hotels on the island is the Anassa
Hotel, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. This five-star
hotel was built right on the water and overlooks the Akamas
peninsula. The rooms are extremely spacious, all have balconies and
many suites have Jacuzzi bathtubs. The spa offers an array of
treatments as well as a sauna, Jacuzzi, steam room and heated
After all the pampering in the South, visitors are ready to
spend some time in the North. It’s common to spend a majority of
time in the South and just a day exploring the North. Once the
North puts a strong tourism infrastructure in place, I’m sure it
will be easier to spend more time in this region.
Nicosia is the capitol of Cyprus and it’s the only divided
capitol in the world. Visitors have to go through a checkpoint to
visit the North. After showing one’s passport, visitors can enter
the Turkish side of Cyprus.
Some visitors choose to rent a car and explore the beautiful
beaches in the North. However, because signs are not written in
English, navigation can prove to be a bit tricky. Most tourists
instead prefer to spend a day in the Turkish part of Nicosia,
wandering around the city and soaking up the culture. Stops include
500-year-old bathhouses, cafes offering the traditional Middle
Eastern pipes, and winding streets that offer great views of the
Ottoman-style architecture. The locals are very friendly, but not
all speak English. Those that do are eager to practice their skills
A trip combining the luxury of the South with the Middle Eastern
flavor of the North, is sure to go over well with clients.