Welcome to Cyprus! After a short flight of only 2,45 hours from Vienna we arrive on the most southern island of the Mediterranean sea. The island which embraces 225 km² ist full of stunning landscapes, heartly people, lots of traditions and: sun!

After a long winter in Austria we are more than ready to escape into the sun. We are in love with summer, the beach, the sea and the mediterranean climate. Because of that we are ready to enjoy a short time-out on Cyprus.

After landing in Larnaca, one of many Cyprian cities, we take a rental car {of course it had to be a cabriolet} and drive in direction of Ayia Napa. The old fishing village which is known as a hotspot for tourists today is full of golden beaches, numerous restaurants, cafes and tavernas. The island is the ideal place to be for families – due to the more than friendly and heartly cyprian people who are known to be a very familly-friendly nation. Family is the centre of life on Cyprus which we experience from the second we reach the Hotel Napa Mermaid in Ayia Napa. The employees welcome us and especially Matteo really friendly and heartfelt. {It is Matteo’s first flight and he is so happy to accompany us to Cyprus.}

Hotel Napa Mermaid

When talking to the hotel manager Christos at dinner we realize how friendly and generous cyprian people are. On our first evening in the hotel the theme is fish – local and international. We can literally taste the island! A generous buffet full of starters and local dishes is followed by salad and typical cyprian grilled fish dishes. The highlight is definitely the selection of desserts! Cakes, chocolate and creams come along with delicious domestic wine and lovely talks with Christos. He was born on Cyprus – after many international „stops“ and 12 years, he came home again. Christos tells us about the island, the inhabitants and the “places to be” on Cyprus.

The Hotel Napa Mermaid is located on the coastline, only the street seperates is from the beach. A generous swimming pool in the middle of a sun terrace is Matteo’s favourite spot. Breakfast on the terrace! Besides colourful juices, coffee, tea and fresh fruit we can choose between sweet pastries, granolas, yoghurts and savoury dishes: eggs, english breakfast classics and halloumi-specialities – the „national cheese“ which is served all day long. We love the fresh and warm croissants and the homemade waffles {for Matteo with chocolate sauce}.

The hotel includes a SPA area with a gym and an on-site hairdresser which we, unfortunately, can’t visit because we want to seize every hour of sunshine – but I am indulging in a „Deep Elemis Massage“. After trips to beaches, villages and bays we let the day end in the beautiful family hotel with a sundowner on the poolbar.

Must See next to the sea: Beaches, bays and cliffs

Nissi Beach

The double beach not far from the hotel is one of the hot spots for bathing and swimming on the island. The bay which lies behind a mini-island offers great beach bars and azure water. The hotel Nissi Beach Ressort wins us over with its lush gardens, odorant herbal gardens and the Nissi Beach Club. For everyone who travels without kids: it’s the perfect place for clebrating! We are enjoying the day on the beach with some cocktails.

Blue Lagoon

After a day at the beach we are ready to go exploring in the rented cabriolet. We pass the sculpture park in Ayia Napa {five minutes away from the hotel Napa Mermaid} and drive in direction of the blue lagoon – a special part of the coast on the cape point with azure and crystal clear water and impressive cliffs. That colours!

Aphrodites cliffs

…the place, where Aphrodites climbed out of the water! The impressive rock is named after the greek goddess. The legend says that Aphrodites climbed out of the ocean here – today the rock in the middle of crystal clear water is full of sagas and myths. Cyprian people say that, if you circle the rock three times at night, you will be blessed with everlasting love. It is not a surprise that on full moon nights the place is packed with lovers and couples.

Must See: Historical villages & botany

Village Lefkara

Another must see on Cyprus it the mountain village Lefkara which is divided into two parts: Pano {the upper part} and Kato {the lower part}. The village is known worldwide for its lace and jewellery. We have to do a little bit of shopping! Carletto gave me the most beautiful ring with a topal – no, we are not engaged now! – for reasons of Matteo. When looking at the handmade silver ring with the jewel, I am overwhelmed with loads of positive emotions. We find the ring in a small store in Lefkara kato where the owner {who is half english and half cyprian} tells us interesting stories about the village – did you know that women are manufacturing the lace and men are producing the jewellery? Also, we learned that the village is famous for the visit of Leonardo Da Vinci in 1482, where he commissioned embroidered linen for the cathedral of Milan. Today you can still see the women producing lace by hand.

Matteo’s unique present!

After talking elaborately with the jewellery store owner, she gave Matteo a mall elephant figure made of silver. Since then he doesn’t let go of his lovely present. We thanked the woman multiple times and realized one more time how heartly and family-friendly cyprian people are. I will think of this special place everytime I take a look at my hand and at the beautiful ring.

After this visit we take a walk through narrow alleys and enjoy a snack in upper Lefkara: sandwiches and a typical cyprian coffee – and a short stay at the candy factory {which is in family property since the 1920ies} where we do a little sweet haul.

Back to cyprian coffee which is typical for the local eating culture. For the very strong espresso-kind-of coffee one teaspoon ground coffee is scalded with hot water which results in a fine cream. The cyprian coffee can be enjoyed medium or with two tablespoons of sugar – but never with milk.

Botanical Gardens: Avgorou

After the short journey from Ayia Napa we reach the botanical garden in Avgorou. The family-friendly destination was established with lots of love and care by Miranda {a born dutchwoman} and her family. We are welcomed by her and lots of small lizards and „hardunes“ {small domestic lizards} which are everywhere. Ten differend themed gardens, a maze and a cypress garden invite us to stroll around and explore the botanical gardens.

We buy some of the handmade products and homemade Bio iced tea – not only for Matteo but for all of us as a reward for the walk. Everything is BIO and handmade here – the gardens as well as the cosmetics, the tees and the perfumes. I cannot resist in buying one of the rose-scented bodylotions!

Nifty: children of all ages are presented with small tasks where they can explore the parc and the nature while having fun!

Archaeological parc Pafos

Not far from our second stay – the stunning Columbia Beach Ressort lies the city Pafos and the archaeological parc Pafos.

The parc is not only for those interested in culture a must see. The excavations and mosaics of the parc who makes up one third of the antique city are impressive and worth a visit. Excavations are still being made today and you can have a look at the archaeologists doing their work. The mosaics which are well preserved date back to the fourth century B.C, most of the artefacts date back to the roman age. Tip: visit the parc early in the morning, otherwise it can get really hot!

Cuisine: delicacies & Must „eats“

Taverna Mousikos

On our second evening we are ready to explore the inland and its typical food! After many recommandations we decide to dine at the Taverna Mousikos which is 15 km away from Ayia Napa. A generous garden, a beautiful terrace and the traditional Meze invite us to stay a little bit longer. Just shortly after taking our seats the table gets filled with bowls of hummus, tahini, tzatziki, olives, greek salads and a warm and freshly baked loaf of white bread. During eating the table is never empty! Meze – the traditional starters – won’t stop coming to our table: zucchini, grilled mushrooms, halloumi {not to be compared with our austrian „hallloumi“, but more later} and – snails. I skip them but Carletto tries the cyprian delicacy: he is not amused. 😉 The whole taverna, including the very sympathetic waiter, is laughing while Carletto tries the dish.

We are starting to get stuffed but the Meze keep coming and coming and coming… Time for fish! Octopus salad, grilled swordfish and fries made out of the domestic taro root which only grows in this region and can be used in multiple ways: fried, smashed or as baking ingredient.

The table is geting heavier and heavier but there is no end in sight – time for the main course! Vegetarian moussaka for me, diverse meat dishes for Carletto and a big stew with lamb at the end. The lamb stew is a traditional dish with its roots in times of war. The meat is cooked a couple of hours in the pot which makes is really soft and delicious.

In the end we enjoy dessert – baked dumplings filled with traditional Anari {a cream cheese} and honey, served with water melon and honeydrew melon. Matteo enjoys a chocolate nut cake. A sweet ending to a beautiful evening…

Wine tasting in the mountains: Vouni Panayia Winery

We are reaching heights! We are ready to explore the „tuscany“ of Cyprus. Up into the mountains we drive, the landscape is getting greener and greener and we are surrounded by vineyards. Yanni and his father Andreas are welcoming us in the Vouni Panayia Winery. Together with his two brothers Yanni is running on of the highest vineyards of the island on above 1000 meters altitude difference.

We are tasting the differnent wines: white, red and rosé. The family is running the vineyards since many years and over many generations. The logo shows the domestic mufflon, a kind of capricorn which lives in these mountains. You can only visit the small family-operated restaurant with a booking.

Time for Halloumi!

We are driving from Ayia Napa through the small village Athienou to Pissouri where the archaeologist and historian Lady Papoui welcomes us to produce the world-famous and traditional cyprian halloumi together. We walk into a house which is constructed like a museum where the peasant women show us how the cheese is being produced. This „real“ halloumi is far from the one we know in austria – you can really taste the difference. Halloumi is being produced on cyprus for more than 200 years. After three to four hours of heating, the cheese which is made of cow-, goat- and ewe’s milk is being brought into its tyical form. With help of salt and lab-ferment a cheese layer is faltering which is then cut into squares, packed into linen towels and cooked in the whey. By adding milk to the whey the Anari – a creamy and aromatic cheese – is produced. It can be eaten as cottage cheese. Back to the halloumi: the traditional one is rubbed with salt and dried mint after cooking, then folded and pressed into the typical form. The cyprian cheese is ideal for cooking or grilling because it can not melt away while being heated. We are enjoying the halloumi fresh after production as well as cooked, grilled, baked, as Caprese, hot and cold – is simply is a delicacy that you cannot miss while being on Cyprus. Before our flight back home I grab a Halloumi-Caprese-Sandwich and take lots of beautiful memories with it…

The last night…

Before going back home we are staying one night at the Sandy Beach Hotel in Larnaka. The welcoming and newly rennovated hotel is located directly on the sea which makes us enjoy the island-feeling to the fullest. Live music makes the hotel a nice location to enjoy evenings with great food and drinks. A couple of hours are left for us to relax at the on-site swimming pool before we have to get up in the middle of the night and make our way to the airport. We would have loved to have some more time left to enjoy the Sandy Beach Hotel.

Summarized, Cyprus is a great travel destination all year long. Even in winter you can enjoy the sunshine – at least that’s what they told us! On the airplane back to Austria we are already discussing when we will come back…

Our Cyprus-Highlights:

  • The climate {from April to October there is hardly any rain}.

  • The short flight: from Austria you can reach the dreamy island in under three hours.

  • The diversified landscape: the small island offers dream beaches, mountains, cliffs, lush greens and a well worth seeing wine area as well as airy cities.

  • The Chapels: the traditional chapels which are located near cliffs are known all over the world.

  • The heartly people: an especially beautiful travel destination for families. Children are more than welcome and will be treated with love and respect. And – if a cypriot likes you – he will kiss you.

We are thanking the Cyprian Tourism Association for the perfect organization and the amazing experience on this island trip. Thanks a lot for the invitation to the Hotel Napa Mermaid and the Columbia Beach Resort.