A network of 48 nature trails (covering about 120 miles) stretches across the southern part of the island. For a double-dip into mythology, hike to the Cyclops’ Cave (the 1.5-mile trail to a series of natural caves starts at Kannoi Beach) and then go to Akamas, the wildly beautiful westernmost point of Cyprus, where the Adonis Trail, a 5-mile loop with stunning beach views, starts at Aphrodite’s Bath. (While it might be nice to think of taking a dip in the rock pool where, tradition says, the goddess of love bathed, the “bath” is off-limits).
If you love old walled cities, with narrow streets, ornate buildings with timeworn facades and small cafes and shops, make Nicosia your first stop. The city itself if more than 1,000 years old, and a good place to start exploring the past is the Famagusta Gate, one of the original entrances to the old city. Then head to the Cyprus Museum for a collection of Roman and pre-Roman antiquities and the Agios Ioannis (St. John) Cathedral for a look at some beautifully restored frescoes. Stop for lunch in Laiki Geitonia, an atmospheric, pedestrian-only shopping area, and visit the Cyprus Handicraft Centre just off the main Lemesos road, where you’ll find examples of the traditional, handmade Lefkaritika lace. If, after a very full day, the nightlife is calling, go outside the city walls to modern Lefkosia, where a world of trendy restaurants, discos, and bars awaits.
The word to remember is mezze, the Mediterranean version of tapas. Stop in any taverna, and you’ll find plates of these “little appetizers,” from olives and dips with fresh bread to seafood (including octopus in wine and fried calimari), greens dressed with olive oil, meats (from kebabs to smoked Cypriot sausages called loukanika. Enjoy them with a bottle of the island’s fine wines, and save room for dessert – usually a syrup-drenched pastry. Baklava anyone?