Things to do in Cyprus away from the beach

For most holidaymakers Cyprus is synonymous with the simpler things in life - it's a classic sun, sea and sand destination. But aside from pure R&R there are a host of interesting and unique activities you can do on the island - here's a selection of not-so-obvious things to do in Cyprus.

The Akamas Peninsula, Cyprus
The Akamas Peninsula, Cyprus © Sébastien Closs -

1. Go wine tasting in the Troodos mountains

Cypriot Kommandaria wine was the tipple of choice for guests at Richard the Lionheart's wedding, written about by Homer and exported to the European courts by the Knights Templar. So it's no surprise that you can find some fantastic viticulture as well as some ancient history in Cyprus's Troodos wine villages, known locally as the 'Krassochoria'.

Tip: If olde worlde isn't your bag why not try a stylish and modern winery such as the Dafermou Winery located between Limassol and Larnaca.

2. Explore ancient archaeological sites

A stroll away from the restaurants and bars of the Paphos waterfront is the city's real jewel, the original ancient 4th century city of Paphos - now preserved as a sprawling site which will keep you enthralled for hours.

Walk around admiring beautifully restored original mosaics in full view of the sea - but remember to bring a hat and protection from the sun as there's no shade.

Tip: Entry costs just 3.40 euro but keep your ticket and you can leave for lunch or a respite from the heat and return again free of charge later in the day.

3. Get off the island (and onto the sea)

Once you're ready to swap relaxation for action, head to the nearest harbour (from Cyprus's main tourist resort at Paphos this will be Latchi harbour) and rent a speedboat.

You can spend the day indulging in water-skiing, tube rides and snorkelling, or zipping between lagoons - including the truly breath-taking turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon. If you're not quite that adventurous simply pack a picnic and enjoy lunch out on the tranquil waters.

Tip: If you are indulging in watersports remember that the cost of fuel isn't included in the boat rental, so going full throttle will come at a price!

4. Shop 'til you drop in Limassol

You're bound to do the usual souvenir shopping in Cyprus, but you can also treat yourself to some new threads too- and not just those of the traditional hand-made lace variety.

Limassol (also known as Lemesos) has been undergoing a 300-million euro transformation over the last few years including a swish new marina which is about to open, as well as an outdoor sculpture park along the seafront.

There's a great shopping scene here; head to Anexartisias Street which is the trendiest shopping street in Limassol with branches of Zara, Starbucks, Charles & Keith and Stradivarius as well as a fashionable cafe/bar called Lab which is perfect for a post-shopping pick-me-up.

Tip: Avoid Wednesdays as in Cyprus most shops close early on a Wednesday, at around 3pm.

5. Spend a day at the spa

Cyprus has a well-developed luxury hotel scene - and you don't have to be staying at a palace to enjoy a bit of 5-Star pampering. Instead book yourself in for a treatment at one of Cyprus's hotel spas.

There are a selection of hotels overlooking the water in Cyprus including the Almyra hotel which has modern contemporary décor and a full on-site spa area, complete with infinity pool. It is the perfect spot to seek out an Ibiza vibe in Cyprus.

Tip: If you are having a spa treatment many hotels will allow you complimentary use of their other facilities, such as the pool, before and after your treatment.

6. Visit a European Capital of Culture

Paphos recently won its bid to be European Capital of Culture 2017, and the city itself has a fair amount to offer in the culture stakes. Home to a good selection of shops and restaurants, the seafront promenade is the perfect place for a saunter and you can take in some real day-to-day Cypriot culture by stopping for a frappe during the day.

As well as the main archaeological site at Nea Paphos, there is the Paphos castle and the Tomb of the Kings to explore by day and more edible culture in the form of dinner at a the local tavern come evening.

So, next time you're thinking about a holiday to Cyprus, don't dismiss the destination as just sun, sea and sand, there are plenty of exciting things to do in Cyprus - you just have to know where to look. Let us know your top tips for Cyprus below and join in the conversation.

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Jaillan Yehia

Jaillan Yehia

Article updated on Saturday 19th January 2013 in: Culture Europe Excursions

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