Wondering where to take your family on holiday? Look no further than Cyprus. Sunny bright blue skies and crystal clear seas sweep over golden sand or multi-coloured rocks/stones. With the best tasting SOUVLAKIA in the world!!!!
We spent 2 weeks in Cyprus this past August. Tthe first week we stayed with family near Limassol and travelled the West Coast and the Troodes mountains. We spent our second week in a hotel in Protaras and went to nearly every beach on the east side.
This review may be a little bias because I am a Greek Cypriot. But look at it as a positive, you’ll see things like a local and find out about the best spots for adults and families with kids. Plus I vlogged it too so you can see it all for yourself before you make any decisions click here to watch the video.
WHERE IS CYPRUS LOCATED
Cyprus is an island located in the Eastern Mediterranean sea. If you are travelling from the UK your flight will be around 4 hours 40 minutes.
WHAT IS CYPRUS LIKE IN AUGUST
Cyprus, in August = walking straight into a hot oven.
The days are scorching hot and the nights are humid, with the background sounds of the ziziro (cicada) and his family + his extended family x 500,000.
We travelled all over Cyprus this past summer, plus I’ve been going to Cyprus every year since I was young so I know a thing or two about the beaches in Cyprus. I also like to chill in places that are aesthetically pleasing, so I will only give a beach a good rating if it looks nice, has clear water, clean sand and not a lot of people.
Kourion beach is located in the greater Lemesos area of Episkopi Bay, with a 1 km long coast.
Facilities on the beach include toilets, showers, changing rooms, sun beds, umbrellas, several fish taverns and life guards on duty.
Access is easy by foot, bus, bike or car, with car-parking facilities available. The beach also offers disabled access.
On our first day we went to Kourion, because it was near and the beach I used to go to as a child. I used to love going to this beach riding the waves with my body board and just having fun jumping over them.
But…. going there now with two kids who can’t swim wasn’t the best idea.
There were rocks and stones scattered across the sand and sea. Which I don’t particularly like, but that’s down to preference. The waves are sometimes huge and that’s when you will see quite a few windsurfers out, which is nice to watch. Keep in mind, big waves = big winds = sand everywhere and also it’s cold when you get out of the sea.
The surrounding white hills are a beautiful backdrop and one of the island’s most famous archaeological sites – that of ancient Kourion – is close by (read more about it below).
PETRA TOU ROMIOU – APHRODITE’S ROCK
LIMASSOL TO PETRA TOU ROMIOU – APHRODITE’S ROCK
According to Greek legend Aphrodite’s rock is the birth place of the goddess of love Aphrodite. Knowing the history I thought this would be a great little teaching moment for the girls whilst having fun at the beach.
So of we went following the signs directing us to Paphos because from Limassol there are no signs for Petra tou Romiou or Aphrodites Rock. Just drive as if you are going to Paphos pass Pissouri and then the signs for Petra tou Romiou will start popping up.
GETTING TO THE BEACH
We parked at the shop and I started to think, how are we going to get all 4 of us down the cliff safely. I remember I came here when I was 11 and we went down some steep stairs and I wasn’t looking forward to it in this 40’c heat, carry the girls and our stuff.
Well…. to my surprise there was a sign saying pedestrian access.
OOOOooooooo….. that sounded good and so we followed. The steps took us down between some ancient walls and then my favourite bit, an ancient long dark narrow passage way that hinted the brightest blue sky and deep blue sea in the distant.
I got really excited! I whipped out my camera taking shot after shot of this beautiful artistic view beyond the dark ancient ruins. People kept coming and going interrupting us, but with a little patience we got the shots and video we wanted.
The beach is very pebbly, and the sea is a little rough with a lot of seaweed, which we didn’t particularly like, but we did have a lot of fun looking at the beautiful different stones being washed up on the shore.
My youngest loved trying to pack Daddy’s pockets with as many pebbles as possible to the point his swimming trunks nearly fell off lol.
As we walked back to the car buckets full of rainbow coloured stones I was left with some niggling questions,
Why did I have to walk down the side of this cliff over 20 years ago?
Did my parents, aunt and uncle not know about the safer route?
Was this passage way newly built? Nah who am I kidding this passage way looks ancient, you know they just didn’t know ha ha ha ha.
7 km / 4 miles of flat sand that stretches down the east coast of the Akrotiri Peninsular from Limassol port to the RAF base.
We spent the morning shopping for food with my uncle in Ypsonas and when we had finished it was early afternoon so we decided to go to lady’s mile beach as it was the nearest. We drove to Limassol port and parked up at the first restaurant.
The view wasn’t anything to shout about the sand was grey and with scattered pebbles. Migratory birds walk along the pebbles and sand leaving little foot prints for us to marvel at and follow. Big shipping boats were to the left and the sea stretched out for miles to the right.
We had fun skimming stones sitting on rocks whilst waves came crashing in, and Hubby and I had fun seeing who could hold tree pose on a rock in the ocean longest. I thought I was going to win because I do yoga, but NO! Hubby won! I don’t know how, because he has the worse balance ever! he he he he…. I found it so hard to balance whilst the wind blew from my left pushing me to the right and the waves coming from in front of me pushing me backwards so with all this airy commotion he got the 1st point. I’m still baffled!
We saw family later that evening and told them we weren’t really impressed with Lady’s Mile and everyone told us the same thing,
“You should of kept driving all the way down to where you see a restaurant and loads of inflatable apparatus in the sea”
Ha Ha…. you know what!
My cousin sent me photos of the games in the sea before we left, it looked like something from the TV show ‘wipe out’ and I told her hubby would love it. She said it cost 3 euros per person and the restaurant there was nice.
But hey, it was really hot! That’s my excuse for not remembering (“,)
We didn’t plan to go to Latchi, we wanted to go Akamas, preferably Lara beach.
A few of my cousins recommended it on different occasions and even the guys we rented the car from rated Lara beach as one of the best in Cyprus.
One of my cousins had gone a few days before and said he rented buggies to get him over the rocky terrain. He also said there were specific transfers that took you over to the beach too.
We were told to follow the signs to Paphos. When we would get to the first roundabout in Paphos we should follow the signs to Polis.
Only 1 problem.
There were 2 signs pointing in 2 different directions to Polis.
The only difference between them was either 1 or 2km. 34 or 35km total. Hubby chose the shorter scenic route which was over the mountains and very beautiful.
After about 2 hours we came to a beach and we all decided to stop where we were.
It wasn’t Lara beach. It wasn’t a sandy beach. But the sea was calm, crystal clear and the stones around glistened in the sun and sparkled under sea. We had a lot of fun and one thing we’ll never forget was when hubby chose to rinse the figs in the sea and then ate them.
The look on his face was PRICELESS (you can see it in the video below) Lets just say warm salty fruit is not the one he he hehe he.
We spent our 2nd week in Protaras. We chose Protaras specifically for the beautiful turquoise seas and golden sandy beaches
We arrived at our hotel late afternoon, checked in, then went to find Konnos Bay so we would know the route for the next day. We wanted to get there early in the morning so we could save some sun beds and umbrellas for family who were coming to visit us. The next day was 15th August a public holiday for Cypriots so the beach was going to be jam packed.
We got to the beach around 9:30am and the first row of beds were already taken but we still got decent sun loungers.
The sea was AMAZING! Warm, calm, crystal clear and great for snorkelling. It was a beautiful gradient of baby blue to turquoise and ours for the taking.
The girls were in Love and Konnos Bay became their favourite beach. We made sandcastles, bridge, dug holes so deep we struck water and the reason why my oldest says it is her favourite beach, the sea goes deep then shallow.
A funny thing happened, when we were at Konnos Bay. Hubby was digging holes and making sand castles when an English born Greek Cypriot started talking to him. The next day we went to Fig Tree Bay and the day after that we went to Mc Kenzie beach in Larnaca. Whilst we were their Hubby was getting up to his old tricks digging and making sand castles when the same dude we saw at Konnos Bay came and started talking to us and said he saw us yesterday at fig tree bay too.
A very common thing in Cyprus is seeing the same people everywhere you go no matter what part of the Island you are visiting. Well the point of this long paragraph is that he also told us that we should have driven all the way down at Lady’s Mile to the inflatables on the sea. So I’m writing what many others have told me just in case you are interested.
FIG TREE BAY
My FAVOURITE beach!
As a kid when I used to go to Cyprus we’d stay with family in Limassol or Larnaca and didn’t really venture up to Protaras. But, I can still remember the first time I saw fig Tree Bays golden sand and crystal clear water. I thought I was in another world. I always used to say the sand at Fig Tree Bay was like semolina grains. It wasn’t powdery like the other beaches which made it unique and special.
The sea, oooohhhh yes the sea, It’s picture perfect! No filters needed. It’s the Caribbean in the Mediterranean. I just sat there and stared out into the ocean and noticed the colours, they were beautiful. I said to my husband,
“Look at this view we look like we are in a filter”,
He totally agreed.
We all wanted to soak in all this beauty that I didn’t get any pics of us at the beach in the day. I did however take some video which you can see in the video above, and I did take some pics on the beach at sunset though (“,)
We found this beautiful secluded bay by chance. We chose to just drive and go to whatever beach we liked the sound. If it sounded good the rules were, we would follow that sign.
The sea was calm but because there are no buildings or cliffs around it got a bit windy and the girls got cold and had to wear their swimming t shirts. This didn’t stop them from having fun, they enjoyed themselves for hours trying to catch the tiny sparkly silver fish swimming around them with their buckets.
We were so excited to go to Nissi beach because we wanted to walk on the sand between two seas. (google it so you’ll understand what I mean).
When we got there all we could see was one beautiful bright blue sea. I asked around and a local said because of climate change the sea rises too high and you can only see the divide in June or late September.
We were a little disappointed but that wasn’t the main thing.
The beach was ram! Like sardines. There was no where to walk and the music was so loud it was like being at a rave rather than on a relaxing family holiday. So we got back in the car and travelled to Larnaca to Mackenzie beach.
Now Mackenzie beach isn’t anything to shout about but when I used to stay with my cousin in Larnaca Mackenzie used to be our local. The sand is dark and the sea is shallow for a long time. The thing that makes this beach special is you can see the planes coming in to land and take off because the airport is next to the beach with only a fence separating the two.
Malama beach was recommended to us by the lady at our hotel reception. When we got there we parked at the cliff top and took in the scenery. One olive tree stood at the edge of the cliff and represented Cyprus perfectly.
Hubby climbed down the rocks to pose for a few pics with my diy beach mats. The girls had fun playing in a dry bush trying to catch butterflies lol.
We walked down to the beach which was a lovely little cove with caves on the left. The sand was powdery and the sea was crystal clear with tones of turquoise. The girls decided to name the sand earths glitter!
We all really enjoyed this calm, quiet and picturesque beach and the girls especially enjoyed having water fights.
We soon came to realise that each turning off of the main road of Protaras lead to a different beach. Hubby has heard from loads of my family that the beaches in Famagusta are the best in Cyprus, but because they are under Turkish occupation we have no chance in seeing them.
Not letting that stop him, he came up with the idea. To go as close to the boarder as we could and take that turn. This last right turn took us to Kapparis beach.
Nestled in its own cove but bigger than Malama beach. The beach was quite similar to Malama as they both had powdery sands and calm crystal clear waters.
There were a lot of Cypriots at the beach and I overheard a few saying they were on holiday that week. Most locals are on holiday the week of the 15th August because it’s a national holiday.
I think if you choose to go the first or last week of August or any other time in the year the beach would be less crammed.
If you would like to read more info about the beaches in Cyprus you may find our 2nd family beach review guide click here.
WHAT FOOD TO EAT IN CYPRUS
Foodie, foodie, food!
One of the main reasons people go to Cyprus is for the food. Now I could write page after page about food in Cyprus but I’m going to give you just the necessary ‘you got to try and can’t leave without trying food’. But if you would like to see an indepth food review of what you should and shouldn’t eat when you go to Cyprus watch my Cyprus food review video by clicking here.
SOUVALKI – SOUVLAKIA
From the day we booked our holiday my girls were looking forward to eating souvlakia.
Soft succulent chunks of pork with the aroma of charcoal. Snuggled up in a fluffy toasted pitta with crisp white cabbage, sweet juicy tomatoes, refreshing cucumber and fragrant parsley.
We had souvlakia about 5 out of 14 nights. If you like pork, you’re going to love a pitta full of souvlakia.
Hubby, loving to have as much meat as possible always ordered a mix. This is a combination of pork chunks and sheftalia a Cypriot style sausage. Sheftalia is minced meat encased in caul fat, the membrane that surrounds the stomach of a pig or lamb. Don’t be put of by it trust me the skin of the sausage is the best bit especially with a squeeze of lemon (“,)
We are lucky because my uncle has a traditional village clay oven in his garden so we got to eat kleftiko true Cypriot style with all the trimmings.
Soft tender lamb with buttery sweet potatoes, carrots and zuccini, pickled sides, salty olives and a fresh crisp salad. Eaten al fresco of course.
If you don’t know anyone in Cyprus who has a clay oven don’t worry. There are a lot of restaurants that serve kleftiko.
But….. Make sure you ask them before you order if it is baked in a clay oven or a standard oven. You are going to want the clay oven.
When it is cooked in a clay oven the meat, potatoes and veggies (if you add them) are slow cooked for around 5 hours so the meat slides off of the bone and when you put it in your mouth everything just melts into pure tasty satisfaction.
If you would like to see how to light up a traditional clay oven take a look at my video above where you’ll also see how juicy and tasty our kleftiko was. Also if you would like to make traditional lamb kleftiko at home click here for my recipe where I show you how to make it in a traditional clay pot, in a Dutch oven and a standard roasting tray. Don’t worry I have all the options covered and I guarantee you will have the tenderest lamb and the softest potatoes.
Koupes are my absolutely favourite things to eat in the world. Well,along side souvlakia, strawberries and cream, mastixa, fresh dates, caramel, figs ha ha, what can I say I have a lot of favourites.
Whenever we go to Cyprus the first place we drive to is the closest bakery, because I’m craving koupes (“,)
They are like a finger food, sort of like a meat pie with a bulgur wheat casing. They are beautiful!
A crisp savoury shell with a meaty onion spiced centre. A little drizzle of lemon and it is perfection! Whoever invented this combination is a genius.
Whilst you’re at the zaxaroplasteio (bakery) getting your koupes go into the fridge and get yourself a few koks.
Koks are balanced perfection. Half sponge, half cookie, sandwiching a thick velvety custard and topped with a silky chocolate ganache. With each mouthful you can taste each element working in unison together an amazing experience for your taste buds.
A few years ago I found out about mastic toffees and I can say they are the best sweets invented.
Every year when I was a kid and we would go to Cyprus I would always make sure we would bring back a few jars of masthia a Greek spoon sweet made from mastic and sugar that you would dip into a glass of cold water to soften it and lick it off of your spoon like a lollipop and then drink the mastic infused water (I didn’t like the sugary water though but everyone else did)
Well….. When I found these mastic toffees they made eating masthia even better. Taking the water element away and having these bite sized herbal chunks on the go is sweeties on another level.
SYGA – FIGS
Fig trees are everywhere in Cyprus. In everyone’s garden and on the side of the roads. They are either green or purplely-black.
If you are lucky enough to eat your fig straight off of the tree, you are going to be laughing. Trust me!
They taste like no other. Nothing like the ones you get from the shops. These little beauty’s melt in your mouth with their pure sweetness!
PAPOUTSOSIKA – PRICKLY PEAR
Just like the fig tree the cactus is all over Cyprus in abundance.
This exotic, fruity tasting watery fruit is phenomenal and packed with lots of healthy and nutritious goodness. If you’ve never tried it make sure you do.
There are 3 little problems though:
- You will need special thick gloves to pick them off of the tree
- If you are buying them from a shop be very careful of the needles/spikes
- There is a special technique you need to know before you attempt to clean them so the spikes/needles don’t attack you
The best way to get the skin off of the papoutsosika is with a fork and a knife
- Hold your knife in your writing hand and your fork in the other.
- Cut either end off.
- Stick your fork firmly into the centre of your prickly pear,
- Score down one side of the skin so you are just touching the fruit
- At a 45′ angle run your knife all the way around until the skin falls off
- Discard the skin and devour this tropical goodness.
(You can see how to clean them in the video above)
I must warn you there are 100s of black seeds in each paputsosiko. Don’t be alarmed and try spitting them out because it is going to take forever. Plus you are going to look like a camel spitting everywhere ha ha The seeds are edible and add to the fruits charm.
Here’s a little glimpse into Cypriot life:
Everywhere we went we were given a mountain of papoustosika and my girls, hubby and I never left 1. What can I say we love them so much (“,)
Everyone would laugh and here’s the funny bit….. Some would say,
“You’re going to be constipated tomorrow” lol or “You’re going to have diarrhoea”
Well which one is it?
We had neither and we ate at least 10 each day whilst we were there. Greek Cypriots with their openness and old wives tales hey! he he he he he.
Ice cream parlours are everywhere in Cyprus with any flavour you can think of. From your traditional strawberry, chocolate and vanilla to your fruity fig, melon, papoustosiko and apple. Also a throw back to your favourite childhood chocolate like Twix, Mars, Bounty, Snickers. This is just a snippet of the variety of flavours they have available.
Every night we would get ice cream. I mainly got frozen yogurt, but we made sure to try as many flavours as we could whilst we were there. The girls looked forward to it everyday and recommend you do the same.
PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO IN CYPRUS
There are so many places and things to do in Cyprus. As long as you are prepared and organised there should be no limits.
If you want to get a little history in your holiday a good place to go is to Kourion for its magnificent Greco-Roman amphitheatre. Cultural events are still held there to this day.
The best time to go is late afternoon when the sun isn’t strong and there is a nice breeze whilst you explore. If you are there at sunset you are guaranteed a beautiful view of the Southern Mediterranean sea.
CALEDONIA WATERFALL TRAIL
Going on a hike. In the mountains. Through a forest and getting to relax your toe toes in icy fresh streams, is a perfect day for me.
We started our 3km trek at Platres and followed the well sign posted signs ahead. Tree after tree shaded us from the midday sun, as we climbed over one rock to be met with another. There were some steep drops at the beginning but there was enough space to walk up safely on the opposite side.
10-20 minutes into our walk and we heard the first sound of gushing water running down the rocks.
It was so exciting,
We quickly took our flip flops off, (yes all 4 of us did the whole walk in flip flops lol) and had a paddle in the fresh freezing cold water.
The trail took us from one stream to another where we would stop, relax, throw some stones, do some yoga and just take in all the natural beauty.
As you make your way to the top the streams are covered with wooden bridges which makes crossing over magical, like you are in an enchanted place.
After about 1.5-2 hours we finally reached the top. The girls were expecting the waterfall to be bigger but still found being face to face with this big force of nature amazing.
I tried to get under the gushing waters but it was hard because there are so many jagged haphazard rocks right under it and I kept loosing my balance .
- We all wore our flip flops, don’t ask me why, but we did. It didn’t seem to make a difference to us but for safety wear proper walking shoes.
- My husband and I didn’t find the walk tiring but hubby had to carry our youngest up the last 1/4 of the journey and all the way back down.
- Make sure you take a lot of water with you, it’s thirsty work walking through beautiful surroundings.
You can see our mountain hike in flip flops in the video above.
Because the days in Cyprus are so hot in the summer people wait for the sun to set before they venture out. So don’t be surprised if you decide to go for a late meal or walk to see lots of locals and tourists out.
MOLOS – PROMENADE LIMASSOL
If you are in Limassol and want to take a stroll along the beach at night or tat take the kids to the playground or skate park then Molos is the place for you. Molos is also the place for you if you like to jog or exercise or want to go somewhere for meal or for a drink at a café.
LUNA PARK – FUN FAIR
There are fun fairs all over Cyprus called Luna Park they are free to get in but you have to buy tokens to get on the rides. This is a great treat for the kids.
THE WILDLIFE IN CYPRUS
You won’t find lots of wild scary animals in Cyprus but you may be met with a few interesting insects.
ZIZIROS – CICADA
Throughout your whole holiday you will hear the ziziro buzzing all night every night GUARRANTEED!
Have some fun, look up into the trees and see how many you can find or go one step further and do what my dad did when he was a kid and see how many you can hold.
The cockroach comes out at night, up the drain pipes and through the plug holes and overflows.
Hubby had a great idea when we were at our hotel. He made sure all the plugs were in their plug holes and stuffed wet tissue in the overflows to stop any coming through.
Guess how many we saw?
Hubby’s all natural methods did the job and a great alternative if you don’t want to use harsh chemicals.
Cats roam everywhere in Cyprus.
It is said the cat population is in abundance because many years ago a man came to Cyprus and couldn’t live there because there were too many snakes. So he bought over many cats to get rid of the snakes.
The snake population has now decreased but the cat population is still on the rise.
Be aware when you go to a restaurant and see a cat or cats outside, inside or around. You are going to have to deal with them brushing past your feet, staring at you or worse start jumping onto you to try and get your food.
BATS CRICKETS PRAYING MANTIS GIANT ANTS
Other creatures you may come face to face with are bats, crickets, praying mantis and giant ants. We only saw bats flying at night when we were near the sea, and they were flying really low.
Be careful when you are eating. Try not to drop any crumbs because in seconds a whole heard of ants will surround you.
I hope u you have enjoyed a little insight into this Island’s beauty, culture and food. If you have any questions let me know in the comments below or send me an email.