With its golden beaches and turquoise waters, Cyprus is very much your archetypal Mediterranean island. Throw a fascinating history and some ancient ruins into the mix and you have quite the cultural destination too.
As a result, holidays to Cyprus provide enough enjoyment and intrigue for both young and old. But if you want to experience its more distinctive traits, what is there to see and do?
Image by George M. Groutas used under Creative Commons license
Explore its prehistoric history
If your kids love dinosaurs then the palaeontology museum in Larnaca has got to be an essential itinerary item. Exhibits here include bones from pygmy elephants and hippopotamus from before 10,000 BC.
Children can also collect shells as they walk around the museum. At the end of the tour, they can trade them in for a special certificate.
Count as many sheep as possible
This activity might be quite tricky, as the Cyprus mouflon, which happens to be the national symbol, is a very shy sheep. This is because it was once considered vermin and in the 1930s there were only 15 left. But thanks to conservation programs, enough mouflon sheep remain for kids to try to spot.
Visit a church of cats
Legend has it that when construction of the Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas began in 327 CE, a severe drought afflicted the island, which caused snakes to appear and builders to scarper. To deal with these limbless reptiles, Saint Helena shipped in 1,000 cats from Persia and Egypt. Her plan worked and now cats are allowed to roam free around the church.
Discover traditional villages
To experience what everyday life is like for the locals in Cyprus, find the time to discover its traditional villages. Unearth more information about the carob trade and how olive oil is made in Anoyira or watch the rosewater production process in Agros.
Walk the island’s coastal paths
Cyprus boasts a number of captivating coastal walks, which the whole family will enjoy. Rocky arches and sea caves can be seen midway between Ayia Napa and Protaras. Alternatively, the Greco National Park has easy to navigate road and cycle paths as well as nature trails including “Aphrodite’s Cultural Route.”
Dine in a taverna
From afelia (slow-cooked pork in red wine and coriander) to adana (skewered minced lamb and red pepper), the tavernas in Cyprus have a number of local specialties on offer. But to please fussy eaters, order a mezedhes (also called a meze or mezze), as the serving staff will bring over 20 or more small plates of food to try.
Image by Sergey Galyonkin, used under Creative Commons license
Marvel at the mosaics
Although discovered by accident in 1962, the mosaics in Paphos are considered to be among the best examples in the world. Not only do they show artistic ability, they also tell amazing stories.
Kids will love looking at the pictures but can learn a lot about the island’s fascinating past too.
So, avoid the crowds and experience an authentic slice of Cyprus by trying out these unique activities for families.