Justifiably one of the world's premier tourist destinations, Cyprus has been a hub of activity for over ten thousand years. It's quieter now, but echoes of this nation's vibrant history are never far away.
PLACES TO VISIT
A great day trip from Limassol is to take a car to one of the villages in Cyprus'interior - especially attractive are those in the Pitsilia district at the foothills of the brooding Troodos Mountains, with their brightly painted churches and terracotta tiled houses.Many of the villages here make their own delicious wines and cheeses. In Limassol, there's a folk museum and the striking Limassol Castle, built in the 14th century, housing the Cyprus Medieval Museum. Just out of town, the impressive collection of ruins known as the Temple of Kourion often stages Shakesperean plays amid the Greek and Roman remains. For thrills of a more earthly nature, Limassol's shopping won't disappoint. Handcrafts such as lace and glassware are the chief draws of the old town, while Makarios Avenue is where you'll find the glitzy shops and boutiques.
If you really can't make the Limassol Wine Festival in September (and you'll need a good excuse not to) there's still plenty to enjoy at a day's end in Limassol. Head out of town, ten or so miles, for classical plays performed in the 2,000 year old ampitheatre of Kourion and, when you've had your fill of highbrow culture, head back to the bright lights of the city. Dance clubs such as Romeo's are reliable stalwarts of a busy, friendly nightscene but, should you wish for a more authentic experience, you'll find it. Limassol is a modern, well-served city with a good cultural calendar. Try the Pattichion Municipal Theatre for traditional shows.
HISTORY & CULTURE
With 9000 years of invasion - the latest in living memory - there's no shortage of battle-scarred history to discover when you scratch the Cypriot surface. The Roman empire established a sort of peace until the 7th century, then it was open season again, with Arabian, Celtic and even English domination. Today's Cyprus, is a land sliced in two - the infamous 'Green Line' dividing Turkish North Cyprus with the Greek Cypriot south.
FOOD & DRINK
Everyone eats out in Cyprus - with delicious, fresh food and sensible prices, there's little excuse not to. Do like the locals do and grab a series of 'mezes' - Cypriot for 'many delicacies'.Why not try the entire repertoire of 20 or so dishes. Take your time. Devote the whole evening to it if you can. Main dishes include Yemista - vegetables stuffed with rice, nuts and peas, and the famous stuffed vine-leaves -Koupepia. Signature dishes should include Kleftiko - lamb or goat wrapped in foil and baked in traditional ovens. Cypriot wine has improved dramatically in the last decade, especially their ripe and juicy Cabernet Sauvignon but you should sample the island cocktail - the Brandy Sour is the heavenly union of Cypriot Brandy and lemon squash made from home grown lemons.
WALKS & SCENERY
With arguably the kindest climate in Europe, Cyprus is a hiker's paradise. Coastal walks are an obvious draw, with the sandy beach at Avmidou a favourite spot. The Troodos Mountains, Cyprus' spiky heart, rise just to the north of Limassol and offer a good range of waymarked trails for those keen on getting up close and personal with Cypriot nature. The Artemis Trail is a circular, straightforward ramble through rare Black Pine plantations in the Troodos foothills. Take your time (and take a camera) for you'll discover delicate sub-Arctic orchids and the shy Cyprus Moufflon, a rare wild sheep only found on the island. The shorter and softer Caledonia Trail snakes along the banks of the Kryo Potamo stream to the Caledonian Falls, the only waterfalls on Cyprus.