The Mediterranean in miniature, Cyprus blends the laid-back charm of Greece with the exotic flavours of Turkey. Indeed, Cyprus is split into Greek and Turkish enclaves, offering two different perspectives on the Mediterranean island experience.
When you take a short break to Cyprus from Glasgow Airport, sunshine is almost guaranteed. This sun-kissed Mediterranean island basks under cloudless skies for 300 days a year. And where better to soak up the rays than a perfect strip of sand? The resort beaches of Paphos, Ayia Napa and Protaras are famous across the Med, but those who know trade the crowds for sand, sea and silence on the wild beaches of the Akamas and Karpas peninsulas, where green sea turtles have nested for centuries.
Home of romance
According to legend, the goddess Aphrodite burst from the sea at Petra tou Romiou, a rocky outcrop on the seashore near Paphos. The western corner of the island is still one of the Mediterranean’s best-kept secrets, with a sprinkling of low-key resorts and walking trails that snake through thyme-scented hills to the natural pool where Adonis first caught sight of the bathing Goddess of Love. For modern-day romance, it’s hard to top the stone harbour at Girne (Kyrenia), guarded by a fairytale Venetian castle.
United by history
Divided into Turkish and Greek nations, Cyprus straddles the boundary between Europe and the East. In the southern Republic of Cyprus, Greek culture prevails: ancient churches overflow with Byzantine icons and menus are dominated by moussaka and meze. In Turkish North Cyprus, minarets rise over sleepy stone streets and the lamb kebab is king. But history spills from the landscape on both sides of the island. Greek and Roman ruins look out over the shoreline at Salamis, Paphos and Kourion, while atmospheric medieval churches dot the streets of Famagusta and the divided capital, Lefkosia.