Recently we spent 10 days relaxing in Ayia Napa, Cyprus and it was heaven. It was exactly what we’d hoped for and we left sunkissed, happy and 100% relaxed. It’s amazing what 30 degree days, salt water and sunshine can do for your soul!
This said, we barely scratched the surface of everything Cyprus has to offer as there are so many areas to explore and towns to visit but for us, this trip was about taking some time out to relax, so we stuck mainly to the area of Ayia Napa and Protaras, aside from one long day trip.
Here’s our travel guide to Ayia Napa, Cyprus listing the top things to do, the best restaurants, how to get around and where to stay.
Ayia Napa is one of the most visited areas in Cyprus. It is located on the far eastern end of the southern coast and has one heck of a reputation for nightlife as well as an abundance of stunning beaches. If there were 2 cities it reminded us of, it would be a cross between Phuket, Thailand and Cancun, Mexico.
The main street of Ayia Napa is lined with restaurants and it won’t take long before you notice a reoccurring theme of elaborately decorated/themed restaurants with enough room to sit the entire population of Cyprus. Don’t worry, we recommend some more tasteful restaurants below.
On top of the restaurants, you have many bars, clubs, a marina with 2 adjoining beaches, shops, grocery stores, public transport and a luna park. There is something to keep everyone entertained in Ayia Napa. Even if you don’t want the nightlife, Ayia Napa is a great place to base yourself for a relaxed, beach holiday.
Below is an interactive map of the highlights of Ayia Napa, plus the restaurants we mention below.
Nissi Beach is the most well-known beach in Ayia Napa and therefore is the most visited. With its white sand and turquoise shallow blue waters, you can understand why so many people love to spend a summer’s day here. Aside from one of the nicest places to swim, you also have a large resort, numerous restaurants and bars, water sports & plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas for rent (€2.50). During the summer (May – October), Nissi Bay Beach Bar holds many beach parties with famous DJ’s, guests artists and even the occasional foam party.
If you wish to stay right on Nissi Beach, consider spending your vacation at Nissi Beach Resort. You won’t have to go very far to dip into those bright blue waters each day. Is there a better way to start your day than a dip in the ocean?
Head away from the hustle and bustle of Ayia Napa and down the dirt roads to the gorgeous, unspoilt natural beauty that surrounds Cape Greco. Cape Greco can be found on a headland in the southeastern part of Cyprus. Perhaps the most famous parts of Cape Greco are the incredible sea caves that surround the sea of intense colours. If you’re feeling game, which a lot of people do, then you can jump into the water from the cave’s edge. It’s a little difficult to get back up so be careful on the rocks.
As well as swimming, you explore Cape Greco on one of the many walking trails or head off the beaten path with a bike. Visit the Kamara tou Koraka bridge, a natural occurring bridge similar to that of the fallen Azure Window in Malta and the Ayii Anargyri Chapel, where many people choose to take wedding photos. Lastly, stop for an ice cream (essential) and take 100’s of photographs.
Tip: If you wish to see the sea caves from sea level but don’t want to jump, consider taking a boat cruise.
Konnos Bay, which can be found in Protaras (15 minutes from Ayia Napa) was by far our favourite beach in Cyprus. Secluded and beautiful, this beach was considerably less busy than that of Nissi Beach or Fig Tree Bay. There are no waves, the shallow water is sparkling & extremely clean (it’s a Blue Flag beach) making it the perfect place to take in all the glory, swim or relax in a pool float. There are also plenty of water sports available as well as public bathrooms, a kiosk and a restaurant.
Konnos Bay may have been our favourite but other notable beaches worth mentioning are:
Stepping away from the beach we decided to rent a car and venture out on a day trip to Troodos Mountain Range, the largest mountain range in Cyprus located in the centre of the island.
It’s roughly a 2-hour drive from Ayia Napa, however, we took the opportunity to stop in a few places along the way such as Larnaca, Zygi (great fresh seafood on the water), Lissamol and the very traditional, 1000-year-old village of Lefkara which is known for its production of handmade linen embroidery and silverware.
Once you reach the mountains there are a ton of self-guided walks, viewpoints, extremely old pine trees, monasteries and churches nestled amongst the mountains. The highest peak is Mount Olympus which hosts 4 ski slopes for the winter months. Troodos Square has a small selection of shops, restaurants, and hotels. It was a welcoming change from the heat of Ayia Napa.
Tip: En route to the mountains, we suggest stopping at Monagri Grape Farm. (shown below). Follow the barrels and you can’t miss it! You can sample, for free, a ton of local wines, cheeses, desserts and honey. The owners are knowledgeable and friendly and the vineyards are beautiful.
Note: You’ll have to rent a car or go with a tour company to get to the mountains. Public transport isn’t recommended.
Ok, so if there’s one thing that being pregnant hasn’t allowed me to do it’s spending the day running around a water park like a kid before Christmas. We’re such suckers for water parks and it had been some time since our last fun at the Atlantis in Dubai, but to keep our little bub safe, we gave this one a miss. But if you’re anything like us and love a good water slide. Pay Waterworld a visit!
Can you? Just for me 🙂 After all, it’s one of the top water parks Europe has to offer. The water park is open daily from April – October and buses run directly from the centre of the town to the park. Entry €38 for adults and €24 for children (3-12 years).
Would it really be a blog post if we didn’t discuss food at some point? Cypriot cuisine resembles a combination of Greek & Turkish but has also been influenced by Middle Eastern cuisines such as Lebanese and Syrian. Summary? It’s delicious, fresh and one of our favourites. There are endless restaurants in Ayia Napa from small family run tavernas to extremely over the top themed restaurants which we avoided eating at.
Here are a few of our favourite restaurants in Ayia Napa.
Calling all cheese lovers. Did you know Halloumi originated from Cyprus?! That means, it can be found everywhere. Mmm. Yes, please!
The public transport system in Cyprus is extremely efficient (& cheap). Tickets can be bought on the bus for €1.50 during the day and €2.50 in the evening after 9:00 pm. For routes inside of Ayia Napa, buses run every 20 minutes along the main road. Aside from the bus system, there are a plethora of options for getting around Ayia Napa such as a bicycle, motorbike, scooter, ATV, car or buggy.
Prices range from €7 for a bicycle to €70 for a buggy. You’ll find many stores located in and around the main area of Ayia Napa or you can ask your hotel to help arrange a pickup. As you can see from the photo below, all of the main sights are quite close together and can be done in a day or two.
Note: Scooters, ATV’s and Buggies cannot be taken onto the freeway and must stay in and around the area of Ayia Napa/Protaras.
You’re spoilt for choice with accommodation in Ayia Napa. There are plenty of large resorts, hotels & villas, as well as smaller apartments both self-contained and serviced. As we planned to stay for over a week, we wanted something a little quieter than a large resort and with facilities that allowed us to cook.
Source: Just Globetrotting