This is a guest post.
Typically thought of as an island ringed with sunny seaside resorts occupied by expats flicking the channels for football games back home, Cyprus actually has much more to offer the adventurous traveller. This is particularly true in the less touristy places like its capital, Nicosia, which has a thriving local culture of its own and a great deal of delicious food; to really get the most out of Cyprus you have to get out and about, beyond the expat hotspots.
There’s no need to dismiss the holiday areas completely – in fact, they offer some benefits. Hotels are fairly cheap and easy to find, especially during mid and low season. Head away from the tourist drag for dinner, though – authentic treats are more likely elsewhere, with burgers and chips still the norm in many resorts – and be prepared to travel inland for some of the more surprising sites and sights.
Civilisation on Cyprus goes back a long, long way, with hunter-gatherers active on the island since 10,000 BC. The UNESCO-protected Neolithic village of Khirokitia dates back to 6800 BC and is astonishingly well preserved – some of its drum-shaped dwellings have even retained their roofs. Occupied for 3,000 years, the site represents the earliest known culture in Cyprus, and is most certainly worth a visit.
A little more recently (just 1400 BC!) the Greeks entered the Cyprus picture – or should we say stepped onto its stage – and eventually settled on the island to found communities like the city of Kourion, known for its fabulous in-tact amphitheatre. Much of the city’s remains are preserved – you’ll also find the ruined but nonetheless impressive Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates, some spectacular mosaic floors, and an early Christian basilica. The views over the nearby coastline are wonderful, and the area is also used for a much more modern activity – paragliding – with flights (which give a breathtaking birds eye view of the ruined city) available throughout the year.
Cyprus has been the subject of invasion, occupation and conflict for millennia, the most recent being the hostilities between Greece and Turkey for ownership of the island. During the conflict, a wall was built to define the “buffer zone” between the two opposing sides; this barricade not only divided the city, but a main thoroughfare within it – Nicosia’s Ledra Street, which became a hotspot for clashes and remains symbolic of the conflict, despite, or perhaps thanks to, the wall’s demolition in 2008. Nicosia is also very much worth some time exploring.
Yes, the famed home of the Greek gods is a real place! The highest point in Cyprus at 1,952 metres, the peak is located in the centre of the island, and – surprisingly, for an island known for its sunny holidays – boasts its own ski resort with slopes suitable for beginners through to advanced. Other resorts can be found elsewhere in the Troodos mountain range, along with places of historic interest, including Byzantine monasteries and churches, which – in their craggy elevated position – protected the Byzantine culture while it was besieged elsewhere. You can also find excellent trekking and gorgeous scenery in this region.
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Author Bio: Suzie Saw is an independent writer who loves wandering, being outdoors, gazing at maps (especially railway maps), & looking forward to her next expedition.