Cyprus, the birthplace of Aphrodite, is a beautiful island full of charming and historic towns, magnificent ancient sites, and, of course, stunning beaches. To help you make the most of your Cyprus holiday, we’ve come up with a week-long itinerary that covers all the main highlights, from mountain villages to picturesque seaside towns. Don’t miss a thing with this essential guide on how to spend 7 days in Cyprus!
Day one: Larnaca
Spend the day exploring Larnaca, now a vibrant modern city and seaside resort, but which preserves a charming historic heart. You can amble around the sleepy, whitewashed lanes of the Turkish quarter, admire the beautiful collection of ancient artefacts at the Pierides Archaeological Foundation, and sit out on the seafront soaking up the views. If you’re a fan of scuba diving, you might want to book an excursion to the Zenobia wreck, regarded as one of the world’s best diving sites. And if you’re just in the mood to soak up the sun, then head to Mackenzy beach, which has everything you need from sun loungers to water sports for a perfect afternoon.
Day two: Limassol
Limassol pairs another characterful old town with a glamorous marina, and makes a great base for exploring some of the top sights in Cyprus, including ancient Kourion and the Troodos mountains. Admire the medieval castle by the old harbour, and wind your way around the old quarter’s picturesque lanes, which are dotted with enticing boutiques and cafés. There’s plenty of nightlife here, if you want a few drinks when the sun goes down, plus the beaches are some of the best on the island.
Day three: Kourion and Kilossi Castle
Ancient Kourion, spectacularly set on a hillside overlooking the sea, was settled in the 13th century BC by the Myceneans but is probably even older. Although badly damaged in an earthquake in the 4th century AD, it still preserves a restored Roman theatre (now used for outdoor concerts), two early Christian basilicas, and some fascinating mosaics in the House of the Gladiators. It will take a couple of hours to explore the ruins, but you might want to avoid coming at midday when the sun is at its fiercest. You could also visit Kilossi Castle, which is on the way back to Limassol: perched high on a rocky outcrop, it belonged first to the Knights Templar and then to the Knights of St John, and offers tremendous views.
Day four: Troodos mountains and the Painted Churches
The painted churches of Cyprus are collectively inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Set among the forested peaks of the Troodos mountains, the churches are remarkable for their breathtaking Byzantine murals and icons. There are also some fantastic hikes in these mountains (many departing from Troodos Junction) and the picturesque village of Omalos is a great base and the perfect spot for lunch.
Day four: Aphrodite’s rock and beach
A short drive west of Limassol you’ll find Aphrodite’s Rock, the mythical birthplace of the goddess of Love. She is said to have been born from the sea foam, and brought to shore in a shell. According to local legend, swimming around the rock three times guarantees true love and eternal youth! You can happily spend the day lazing on the unspoilt (shingle) beach here, which is one of the loveliest on the island. Bring a picnic or tuck into some fresh seafood at the cliff-top restaurant.
Days five and six: Paphos
Paphos is a big, lively resort town nowadays, but it’s also home to some of the most spectacular ancient ruins (collectively designated a World Heritage Site) in Cyprus. There’s so much to see and do that you’ll need two days here: you can also check out our guide to 48 hours in Paphos here. Highlights include the magnificent Tomb of the Kings, an ancient necropolis with intricately carved chambers and some of the world’s best-preserved and most beautiful mosaics. You can also stroll through the romantic old hilltop quarter of Ktima, or investigate the shops and cafés scattered around the old harbour. If you’re looking for beaches, head to Coral Bay for fine white sand and crystal clear waters, or drive up the coast to remote and unspoilt Lara Beach.
Day seven: Nicosia
The ancient and endlessly fascinating city of Nicosia is the capital of both Cyprus and of the disputed territory of Northern Cyprus. Its enchanting Old City is wrapped in Venetian walls, and you can enjoy panoramic views over the rooftops from the Ledra Street Observatory. This is the island’s main cultural centre, with lots of excellent museums and galleries, including the Byzantine Museum. It’s also got a buzzing nightlife, and the streets get packed on warm summer evenings.