As the birthplace of the legendary Aphrodite, Cyprus is everything you would hope for in a Mediterranean destination… great sandy beaches, ancient sites, classical ruins, thyme scented rugged mountains and great resorts for all those beach/party goers.
As an island sitting at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, a succession of empires fought over its seaports and mountain fortresses, which would give control over the Eastern Mediterranean. All left their mark here, with ancient Greek and Roman ruins, crusader castles, Venetian city walls and mosques with towering minarets left behind by the Ottoman Turks.
Up until the 1970’s Cyprus was marred in a civil war, and sat as a “no go” country… the island spilt into Greek Cypriot and Turkish states. While the south, Greek side feels a lot more European, the northern Turkish half is more isolated…as it is recognized only by Turkey.
With the split, came an amazing influx of tourism on the Greek half of the island, with Ayia Napa, Protaras and Limassol… along with holiday resorts strung along the beach. This is the new Cyprus. Venture inland, and old Cyprus awaits, with beautiful villages with UNESCO listed churches, great mountain trails and vineyards that have been making wine for centuries. The capital Leftkosi (Nicosia), with its quite streets, Turkish mosques and Byzantine churches have sat still at the Green Zone… the make-do border.
The north is very Turkish, filled with great crusader castles and ancient ruins. As development here has been slow… although piking up steam now in Famagusta (Gazimagusa) and Kyrenia (Girne). Venture to more remote places like the Karpas Peninsula for a trip back in time, where ancient ruins flow out on to some stunning beaches.