Cyprus: Add a Drop of Culture to Your Next Beach Break

by Asako Maruoka /
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Sep 13, 2012 / 0 comments

Many know Cyprus for its resorts and ‘party’ spots such as Ayia Napa, but there is a lot more to the Mediterranean island than this reputation suggests. Cyprus boasts a rich cultural heritage and colourful history – one in which its beaches have played a big part, but which goes so much deeper than pale blue sea and whitened sand. Larnaca and Paphos – sitting on opposite sides of the island – are two destinations definitely worth consideration if you’re looking to mix a bit of culture into your beach break this year. Here’s a quick overview of both to whet the appetite.


For those interested in the history behind their holiday destination, Larnaca, on the eastern coast of Cyprus, has a lot to take in. As one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, there’s centuries-old intrigue around every corner.


Its rich archaeological heritage can be discovered in the city’s brilliantly dedicated museums, but a more active adventure would be to get out on foot and explore the well-preserved architecture and ruins of bygone Cyprus. The Church of Agios Lazaros (Saint Lazarus) dates back to the late 9th century and remains one of only three surviving Byzantine churches on the island.

The city’s medieval castle is also worth a visit, whether it’s for the historical points of interest or to attend one of the many cultural events held there in the summer. The site also affords a terrific view of the city and is a great place to grab a mid afternoon drink and chill out.


The mythical birthplace of the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, Paphos is protected as a UNESCO world heritage spot, giving those travelling to Paphos some indication of its cultural and historical worth.

The reasons for the UNESCO seal are not hard to understand upon a visit to the Tombs of the Kings. These ancient structures were large, underground chambers used during Hellenistic and Roman times to house the dead. The incredible architecture of the tombs, modelled on Egyptian designs, makes the site a unique and fascinating destination to visit.


Alongside the Tombs, another of Paphos’ cultural claims to fame is its mosaics. These large, colourful, intricate designs – depicting mythical tales on the floor of what was a large wealthy Roman residence – were only discovered by accident in 1962, and the preserved site is one of Paphos’ must visit attractions.