WHERE TO STAY, WHAT TO BUY
Where to Stay
There are many fine hotels with high standards, from large and luxurious to small and simple; from the grandeur of the international chain to the convenience of hotel apartments with cooklng facilities. There are youth hostels too and camping sites with good facilities. There are many good websites where you can find information on accommodation in Cyprus and most of these provide an online booking facility too. Alternatively, many local travel agents can help with finding accommodation.
What to See
Cyprus history presents an unlimited choice of places to see and things to do. Neolithic settlements, ancient Greek temples and theatres, Byzantine churches and monasteries, tombs, museums and castles - or just a glimpse of the simple life of yesteryear in remote villages, unchanged and steeped in tradition.
With its wonderful climate, Cyprus offers a variety of sports to choose from all year round, and an opportunity to embark on something exciting and different. Her unpolluted waters offer every type of watersport possible and the chance to experience the exhilarating speed of parascending, or even explore the mysteries of the deep by scuba diving, under the expert guidance of several professional schools recognised by the British Sub Aqua Club.
Cycling or hiking take on a new dimension in the safe unspoilt and beautiful countryside where superb views, wild birds, flowers and exotic plants can be studied at leisure. And in the winter there's enough snow for a short skiing season in the Troodos Mountains.
Religion plays an important part in Cyprus life. This is evidenced in the predominance of impressive monasteries, churches, chapels and roadside shrines on the island. The country has known Christianity since Roman times, when St Paul arrived in Pafos and converted the Roman Proconsul Sergius Paulus in 45 AD. Whilst Greek Orthodox is the national denomination, all other faiths are completely accepted and many practised at their own places of worship, such as Anglican and Catholic churches.
Religion and celebration are deeply entwined, and the most important event in the church calendar is Easter. Another popular religious festival and one which is unique to Cyprus is Kataklysmos, meaning the Flood which coincides with Pentecost, and is celebrated at seaside towns - especially Larnaca.
But festive excuses are not hard to find. Every village has its panagyri or fair usually at harvest time. On a larger scale, the island celebrates its grapes at the annual Limassol Wine Festival and its flowers at various town festivities. The Carnival, chiefly in Limassol (but recently in Larnaka and Pafos too) is celebrated with parades, parties and masked balls, and there are cultural festivals in summer including the ancient Greek Drama Festival.
What to Buy
There's so much choice that the problem in Cyprus is not what to buy but what not to buy. Pottery is always popular for the items are small, distinctive and inexpensive. The famous handmade embroidery known as Lefkaritika, after its village of origin, can be found all over Cyprus and makes another enviable gift. Legend has it that Leonardo Da Vinci found this work so beautiful that he took a tablecloth back with him to place on the 'Ayia Trapeza', altar of Milan Cathedral. Also attractive are the local silver or copper work, the baskets and tapestries. Shoes are a good buy, being stylish but extremely reasonably priced and leather, in the form of jackets, bags or cases, or made to measure for visitors, is a bargain that's hard to resist. And so are textiles.