I know it’s a bit odd to talk about a summer vacation when winter hasn’t even begun yet but I believe it’s never to soon to start dreaming and planning. Plus, deciding on a destination months ahead gives you the chance to find very good deals on plane tickets and accommodation.
This was tested by my friends and I when, taking advantage of the Black Friday sales, we bought plane tickets to Larnaka, Cyprus 10 months ahead at a whooping 75 € per person. Of course there are ups and downs to this method: on one hand you get everything at a lower price and have enough time to plan and make an itinerary to your liking but on the other hand, 10 months is a long time, you never know what might happen or what other travel opportunity might arise that appeals more to you. Nevertheless, I’ve been planning my vacations months ahead since I started my travels and so far the pluses overcame the minuses.
To keep to our goal of getting good prices, we booked the accommodation 7 months ahead on booking.com. The accommodation, Apart Hotel Alexia, fitted my three requirements: cleanliness, location and budget. The manager was one of the friendliest I’ve ever met: helped us with the rental car-as in asked them to bring the car to the hotel instead of going to pick it up from the rental office and at car drop off he explained to the car company how we got lost and couldn’t return the car with full tank and got us off the surcharge for gas. Plus, he gave us a lot of tips on where to go and how to get there and a complimentary bottle of frizzante on our last night. I mean, was that Cypriot hospitality or did we stumble upon the worlds best hotel manager?
Cyprus was all that I expected: delicious cheese, friendly people, hot weather, a lot of cats and beautiful blue waters. Cyprus was a British colony and the Brit elements like English breakfast, driving on the other side of the road and English pubs merge to create a colourful yet a bit odd picture.
I don’t have a story on Cyprus but a collection of ideas and tips that some of you who plan to visit Cyprus, might find useful.
Larnaka is not the place to have a wild vacation. From what I’ve seen the night life is limited to a couple of bars and lounges on the Esplanade. For partying and fun in the sun, Agya Napa is a better choice.If you do want to go out in Larnaka do not miss Old Market ST. bar in the old part of the town. It’s a really cool place with a fine selection of music and cocktails. The prices hover around 6-8€.
The one thing that is not to be missed in Larnaka is SCUBA diving at the Zenobia shipwreck. It is supposed to be the best wreck in the Mediterranean Sea and I can confirm that it is magnificent. I felt like crying when I dove and realised that I do not have an underwater camera to film everything but I found this super cool video with the shipwreck and I can confirm that live is even better. Based on the reviews on Tripadvisor I chose Alpha Divers. My diving day with two dives and full equipment cost 105 €. I must say that this was my first dive after getting my Open Water Diver certification and my first dive at 18m but I couldn’t feel more relaxed and safe with them and the equipment is top notch. Besides Alpha Divers, I’ve seen that Viking Divers are also quite popular but I do not have any information on them.
McKenzie Beach in Larnaka, in the new part is about 1,5-2kms away from the center, Finikoudes, quite a long walk but it’s worth it because it’s packed with white’n’blue terraces and beach lounges. The airport is near so you get to lie on your sunbed and see the airplanes from small distance as they prepare for landing.
A place we liked so much that we went there 4 times is To Kafe Tis Chrysanthis on a side street in Larnaka. It’s one of those cafes that have all day breakfast, a large variety of Cypriot and international dishes (nothing fancy) and fairly good prices: 3.5-7€ depending on what you order.
The famous Larnaka flamingos are not actually in Larnaka all year round. They camp at the Salt Lake only during spring and fly away in June because the Salt Lake dries out when the temperatures go up. The camel park is a fun alternative, though!
Rent a car if you want to explore the island. Cyprus did not convince me with its transportation. It’s either slow-the public buses or quite expensive-the express lines. On the other hand we paid 45€ for a car for two days and 30 € for gas for aprox. 400kms, quite a good deal.
If you want to go roadtripping from Larnaka to Limassol and Paphos choose the secondary road instead of the autoband. It’s a coastline road and the view of the blue Mediterranean makes it a spectacular drive.
Nissi Beach in Agyia Napa is definitely the no.1 must see. The turquoise water is everything that you see in pictures on Google. It’s like you’ve landed in a desktop screen saver. This is Cyprus’s most famous beach so be prepared to share it with a handful of other tourists.
Cypriot cuisine is not really vegetarian friendly. I am not a vegetarian but I am not a meat lover either so I do go for the meat free dish most of the times. My conclusion about Cyprus is: if you are a dairy eating vegetarian then you are OK. If you are 100% veggie then you might have a bit of a problem. On the other hand, Cyprus is a paradise for the ones who like fish, sea food, mousaka, feta with spices and grilled haloumi cheese. Prices vary from 3.5 € for sandwiches, 5-7€ souvlaki and mousaka, 10€ for sea food salads and up to 15-17€ for more fancy fish dishes so an affordable destination when it comes to food.
Try the local beer, Keo and let me know what you think about it. I found it one of the weirdest-tasting beers so far because of its strong corn flavour. Prices between 2-3.5 € for a pint.
September seems the best time to go to Cyprus. The temperatures are around 30-32 degrees Celsius so not excruciatingly hot. July and August ar far hotter with temperatures from 35 up to 40 degrees Celsius. No matter how much you love the heat, 40 is not a comfort zone.
This pretty much sums it up! I’ll be back with a story on one of Cyprus’s ghost towns but until then Yia soy everyone!