14 Best Things to Do in Cyprus

Written by Jess Lee
Jul 21, 2022

The island of Cyprus is a summer hot spot and one of the Mediterranean's best places to visit for easygoing beach vacations. If you're looking for things to do beyond the sand, though, Cyprus offers plenty of opportunities.

Whether you want to dive, hike, paraglide, or bike, Cyprus provides plenty of scope for more active travelers, while the wide variety of boat tours available at coastal resort towns such as Paphos combine scenic sightseeing as you skim the coast, with swimming and sunbathing.

Check out what to add to your itinerary with our list of the top things to do in Cyprus.

1. Hit the Beach in the Ammochostos Region

Nissi Beach
Nissi Beach

For most visitors, Cyprus is all about the beach.

There are plentiful beaches surrounding all the coastal towns, but the Ammochostos Region, which covers Agia Napa and the coast east from town, is where you'll find some of the best sandy beaches in Cyprus, noted for their clear, calm water and white sand.

Just three kilometers from Agia Napa town, the island's most famous strip of sand is Nissi Beach, with its curve of soft, white sand lapped by shallow, turquoise water and a sandbar trailing out to the rock of Nissi Island just offshore.

Heading east from Agia Napa are the beaches of Protaras and Paralimni, including family favorite Fig Tree Bay right in Protaras town and the sheltered cove of Konnas Beach, backed by a dramatic sheer cliff at the northern end of Cape Greco.

2. Dive Larnaca's Zenobia Wreck

Diving the Zenobia
Diving the Zenobia

The most popular thing to do for underwater enthusiasts in Cyprus is dive the Zenobia wreck, one of the world's top 10 wreck dives.

Sunk in 1980, this shipwreck lies just off the coast in Larnaca Bay and is one of the top things to do in Larnaca.

Experienced divers can enter the innards of the ship to explore the car decks and engine room, but even beginner divers can dive the site to see the exterior starboard side of the ship.

Dive companies across the island run trips here (not just the dive operators in Larnaca), so even if you're based in Paphos or Protaras, it's easy to arrange a Zenobia dive trip.

3. Tandem Paraglide at Kyrenia (Girne)

North Cyprus coastline view
North Cyprus coastline view

Anyone who enjoys both a good view and the buzz of an adrenaline rush shouldn't miss the chance to tandem paraglide in Cyprus.

There are only a few operators on the island, but the best experience, which makes the most of the dramatic aerial panoramas, is Highline Tandem based in Kyrenia (Girne) in northern Cyprus.

The paragliding ride offers views that extend across the island's densely forested inland mountain spine and over the flat sweep of northern coastal plateau, out to the Mediterranean beyond.

Visitors holidaying in the Republic of Cyprus can easily make a day trip to Kyrenia to tandem paraglide here.

Official site: http://www.highlineparagliding.com/

4. Hike in the Troodos Mountains

Atalanti Nature Trail in the Troodos Mountains
Atalanti Nature Trail in the Troodos Mountains

North of Limassol, the Troodos Mountains region is the island's best day-hiking destination, with a series of way-marked trails threading across dense pine-tree-forested mountain slopes to scenic viewpoints with soaring views across the hills below, and down into deep, shady valleys.

Many of the trails are perfectly suitable to casual walkers, with the mostly flat route of the seven-kilometer Artemis Trail, which loops around the slopes of Mt. Olympus, a particularly good choice.

The short (and steep in parts) three-kilometer-long Caledonia Trail, which leads to the Caledonia waterfall, is another good choice for visitors who want a taste of this region's natural landscapes.

In and around the village of Troodos, located right in the heart of the region, is the starting point for most of the trails here.

5. Cast Off on a Boat from Paphos

Cruise boat swimming stop near Paphos
Cruise boat swimming stop near Paphos

Heading out on the sea for a sightseeing day cruise along the coast, is a major activity for visitors to all the island's resort towns. But it's one of the top things to do in Paphos, on the island's western coast, which also offers the most variety of boat tour operators.

From Paphos harbor, a typical boat tour cruises north up the coast and is all about an easygoing day or half-day of soaking up the sun while admiring the coastal views, with swimming stops at Coral Bay's beach included.

Make sure to check out what style of boat tour is being offered. Some are set up as party boats, so won't be to every traveler's taste. Others include extra stops for kayaking and swimming, usually around the area of sea caves near Paphos. These are great for people who want more than a relaxing day onboard.

Paphos Sea Cruises offers a wide range of different boating tours.

For a cruise centered round spotting sea life, head out on an Atlantis Turtle Watching Cruise, which runs shorter (two-hour) cruises on a boat with underwater-viewing windows, so that you can spy the Cypriot coast's endemic green turtles. There's also a stop for swimming on this tour.

Almost all the tours include lunch in the price.

6. Road Trip to the Historic Ruins of North Cyprus

St. Hilarion Castle
St. Hilarion Castle

The northern slopes and hills of the Kyrenia Mountain Range, which scythes through north Cyprus, are home to a handful of the island's most picturesque historic ruins.

Start off bright and early on a road trip and, even from the Republic of Cyprus, you can squeeze in the fairy-tale towers and ramparts of St. Hilarion Castle, the Gothic arches of Bellapais Abbey, and the high eyrie of Buffavento Castle all in one day.

Head to St. Hilarion Castle first, as this is northern Cyprus' major sight and attracts busloads of tour groups. If you can get here at the 8am opening time, you'll manage to escape most of the crowds.

It would make sense to visit Bellapais Abbey next, as it's only 16 kilometers east using the shortest minor mountain road (and 25 kilometers using the main highway), except that Bellapais is the north's second most popular historic tourist attraction, and by the time you've finished exploring St. Hilarion (bank on two hours) it will probably be busy with fellow visitors.

To miss the crowds, instead take the Beşparmak Pass east for 25 winding kilometers to the remnants of Buffavento Castle, with its sprawling views across the plains below.

After Buffavento, retrace your way west to Bellapais to visit this hillside village in the soft afternoon light. First take a wander through the steep cobblestone alleys, which twist up the slope, and then explore the medieval Augustine abbey below, with its Gothic arched, 14th-century cloister; 13th-century church; and views of the Mediterranean from the roof.

7. Explore the Caves of Cape Greco

Cape Greco sea caves
Cape Greco sea caves

The rocky headland of Cape Greco is a national park and a haven for nature lovers, with turtles often spotted in the surrounding sea and raptors such as honey buzzards and common kestrels regularly soaring in the skies above.

Hire a kayak at Konnos Beach, located at the cape's northern entrance point, and explore the cape from the sea with its dramatic natural arches and caves.

High above, a series of nature trails threads across the headland leading to natural rock arches, lookout points with Mediterranean views, and steep trails down to the sea caves below for those who need to cool off with a swim mid-point on a hike.

8. Turtle Watch at Alagadı Beach

Baby sea turtle in northern Cyprus
Baby sea turtle in northern Cyprus

From approximately late May to early September, sea turtles head to the sand of Alagadı Beach in northern Cyprus to nest.

Organized small-group tours to watch the sea turtles are run throughout the summer by the Society for the Protection of Turtles, which runs the Alagadı Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Center on the beach.

All night tour visits need to be pre-booked through the society's website, as tour numbers are capped at 17 people per tour. This is a great nature introduction for older kids and anyone interested in conservation.

You'll need your own transport to get to the beach, so this is an excellent add-on to a self-drive itinerary in northern Cyprus.

Alagadı Beach is 19 kilometers east of Kyrenia (Girne) and 40 kilometers northeast from central North Nicosia.

9. Feast on Meze at a Taverna

Cypriot meze spread
Cypriot meze spread

Cypriot cuisine is full of the fresh flavors of the Mediterranean, with major influences from both Greece and Turkey, as well as the Arab world. The best way to sample it is to feast on meze (small-plate dishes made for sharing).

A meze spread generally consists of around 30 small dishes, starting with dips such as hummus and tzatziki, olives, grilled halloumi, and salads before moving on to the dishes of hot meats and seasonal vegetables.

In the Republic, many Cypriot tavernas (traditional restaurants) specialize in meze spreads, while others serve a meze spread option and an a la carte menu.

Some Cypriot specialities you may see on a meze spread include snails served on bulgur wheat and stuffed vine leaves baked in a tomato stew.

10. Get Active on the Water at Pissouri Bay

Jet Skis on Pissouri Bay
Jet Skis on Pissouri Bay

Pissouri Bay, 37 kilometers west of Limassol, is the active vacationer's beach choice thanks to it being one of the best places to visit in Cyprus for water sports.

There are several water sports operators on the beach, all offering equipment rental for windsurfing, as well as Jet Ski and kayak hire.

The beach here is particularly noted for its great windsurfing conditions thanks to strong winds that provide plenty of opportunities for intermediate and advanced windsurfers to practice jumps and tricks.

For travelers with children in tow, there's plenty to keep them active in the water, too, with inflatable rides and pedal boats for hire.

11. Bike the Limassol to Pano Platres Route

Views near Pano Platres
Views near Pano Platres

Road biking is a popular sport in Cyprus, and plenty of active independent cyclists tour the island.

In the Republic, the Limassol to Pano Platres is one of the most popular bike touring routes, taking you from the coast, into the heart of the Troodos Mountains.

Biking this route allows you a good snapshot of the island's natural beauty, traveling from the Mediterranean shorefront and city bustle of Limassol, up through the traditional villages that speckle the rolling hills and then into the forested Troodos Mountains.

The route is 69 kilometers in total and is fully on asphalt-surfaced roads. There is a lot of uphill, though, as you're beginning at sea level and ending at 1,200 meters.

12. Watch an Ancient Greek Drama in the Theater of Kourion

Ancient Kourion's theater
Ancient Kourion's theater

Every July, the theater of Ancient Kourion and the ancient odeon in Paphos play host to a series of Classical Greek dramas as part of the Republic's annual International Festival of Greek Drama.

Several different plays hailing from the Classical Greek period, or based on the original dramas, are performed throughout the month by both Cypriot and international theater troupes. As the plays are performed in Greek, the staging has English subtitles.

This is a great opportunity to see a piece of theater in the place it was meant to be performed in.

The festival's website provides all information on program details for the year and ticket booking for the individual plays.

Official site: https://www.greekdramafest.com/

13. Hike or Mountain Bike the Akamas Peninsula

Akamas Peninsula hiking views
Akamas Peninsula hiking views

The headland of the Akamas Peninsula, 38 kilometers north of Paphos, is a national park with a scatter of ruins and nature beaches joined by winding hiking and mountain biking trails that thread across the hills.

Pack your swimsuits, as there are opportunities to cool off after your hike with a swim at a wild beach.

The most popular trail is the seven-kilometer loop of the Aphrodite Trail, which summits the headlands highpoint (370 meters) for great vistas across the rugged, scrub-covered hills below and the Mediterranean beyond.

If you want to mountain bike in the national park, there are plenty of bike rental shops in Polis, the nearest town to the national park.

14. Ski on Mt. Olympus

Troodos ski resort
Troodos ski resort

Cyprus may not automatically jump to mind when talking about winter sports, but during the colder months, it snows in the higher altitude regions, and Mt Olympus in the Troodos Mountains is home to the island's only ski resort.

The ski center has a ski equipment rental shop, a couple of restaurants, and a ski school on-site, while four ski lifts transport skiers up to the pistes, with a range of slopes suitable for beginners through to advanced skies.

Many locals day trip from the coast (or Nicosia) for a day of skiing, as the ski center is only 46 kilometers north of Limassol. For more time on the slopes, the village of Troodos is only two kilometers from the ski center.

It's usually a short ski season, with the center usually open from late December to mid-February.

Map of Things to Do in Cyprus