Legend says Cyprus is Aphrodite’s birthplace – and the island is easy to fall in love with
I want to explore…
The southern half of Cyprus with its glorious golden beaches is where all the action is at and to squeeze in as much as you can into a four-day Eid break, Larnaca is your best starting point. The ancient port town is a pleasing assortment of ancient ruins and urban coastal promenade lined by palm trees and cozy cafes, such as Finikoudes. Cyprus is first and foremost about beaches and Mackenzie beach, strewn with sunbeds, stretches of golden sand and watersports operators, epitomises the ‘fly and flop’ holiday culture. For a cool vacation tale to tell, go scuba diving around the MS Zenobia shipwreck, a ferry that capsized off the coast of Larnaca in 1980 and is one of the world’s top 10 dive sites. The beach is dotted with PADI-certified dive shops.
Further inland the 6,000-year-old past creeps up on Larnaca – all the must-see relics and Byzantine marvels are pooled in its central Old Town. The medieval Larnaca Castle, Saint Lazarus’ Church, 8th century Catacomb of Phaneromeni Church and the Kamares Aqueduct can all be covered in a single day’s walking tour.
Stay at the Lokal Hotel. This heritage listed family home in the Old Town has been converted into a stylish 17-room boutique hotel. Standard double rooms start from Dh800. Visit lokalcyprus.com.
I want to unwind…
A dip in Aphrodite’s Baths in the northern city of Latchi might be tough to squeeze into over the Eid break.
You’ll have to skip the pools of eternal youth this time but the city of Paphos, an hour’s drive away from Larnaca and the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, makes up for it with its luxurious spa resorts focused on wellbeing – pick from thalassotherapy, spring water treatments or GrecoRoman massages. The best tactic to explore Paphos is to set up shop at a resort of your choice and once you’ve rebooted, fan out and explore this Unesco World Heritage-listed city’s most breath-taking sight – Aphrodite’s Rock, the foamy spot in the churning milky sea where Aphrodite is said to have risen. The rocky beach, while spectacular, is closed to swimmers because of how rough it is. Further off, by the harbour, the beaches are calmer, with opportunities to enjoy lazy catamaran rides, bobbing across waters that mirror the cloudless blue skies Cyprus is known for at this time of year. Paphos Cruises organise half and full-day trips (paphosseacruises. com). The magic of history, art and architecture all come together at the Paphos Archeaological Park that’s just by the harbour. The magnum opuses here are elaborate mosaic floors of four Roman villas – the Houses of Dionysus, Orpheus, Aion and Theseus. For a blissful spa break stay at the Almyra Hotel. The seafront resort with its serene whitewashed villas, offers spa packages, day trips to villages in the Troodos Mountains or guided tours of Paphos. Inland view rooms start from Dh814 per night including breakfast. Visit almyra.com.
Take a lazy cruise from the port of Paphos, or tour the nearby archaeology