Situated in the Mediterranean between Europe and the Middle East, the Republic of Cyprus is an island divided. If you’re considering your first visit to the island, and know a little of its history over the last 50 years, it’s understandable you may be a little concerned about where to stay in Cyprus. Don’t be.
Both sides of the divide welcome visitors with open arms and hopefully, by the end of this blog, you will be able to make a shortlist of the best areas to stay in Cyprus that meet all your particular holiday needs.
Around the south and east of the island you will find long sandy beaches, while in the north the shoreline is one of rugged, rocky coves and sandy bays.
The island has two low mountain ranges, the Troodos mountains in the south, and the Kyrenia range in the north.
Cyprus’s balmy Mediterranean climate and rich fertile soil provide ideal growing conditions for its many vineyards, cultivated olive groves, wheat fields, and carob trees.
The valleys are full of melon, watermelon, and Cypriot potatoes, while the hillsides are covered in pine and cypress trees, dwarf oak, and cedar.
Since the late 1970s, Cyprus has grown to become a popular tourist destination for visitors from across Europe, especially the UK, and has a growing expat community. So, with all this in mind, the following are our choice of the 12 most popular places to stay in Cyprus.
The 12 Best Areas Where to Stay in Cyprus
1. Limassol, one of the most popular areas where to stay in Cyprus
As the island’s second largest city, Limassol, or Lemesos as it’s now known, is not just a popular tourist destination. It is also the hub for Cyprus’s growing involvement in the world of international commerce.
As well as its five pretty beaches, Limassol has a local fishing fleet and harbour, an old port area undergoing refurbishment, and a large marina serving the increasing number of visiting charter and private yachts and motor cruisers.
With its selection of beaches, and numerous local attractions, Limassol is a great destination for those who enjoy a day on the beach, followed by a day exploring the area.
The seafront is always a good place to start, and you will find plenty of sunbeds and parasols available for a nominal fee, and bars and tavernas along the front.
At the end of your tanning session, you can stroll the Molos promenade through to The Old Port and Limassol Marina.
Limassol is a fabulous blend of ancient and modern, a cosmopolitan bustling city with locals going about their business, and visitors going about their visiting.
For a little window shopping, sightseeing, and souvenir hunting, head for the Old Town and take in Limassol Castle. Narrow cobbled streets, tall narrow buildings, and myriad cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants add to the delightful ambiance of this area.
For those holiday souvenirs and mementos, check out Anexartisias Street in the Old Town area, or head for Ayios Andreas Street.
Another area of narrow alleyways, they are home to some of the more well-known brands in the UK such as Lidl and Debenhams, or Cypriot brands such as Orphanidies and Sklavenitis. On the outskirts of town, you will also find some American-style shopping malls.
To keep the youngsters happy, you have the Fasouri Watermania Waterpark on the outskirts of town, and the Zoo located next to the Municipal Gardens.
In the evening you can enjoy a quiet evening meal with a glass on a taverna’s terrace, or join the party crowds.
Limassol has an excellent selection of evening entertainment from subdued and quiet, too busy and lively, with most karaoke and live music bars situated around the port/marina area.
For those who enjoy festivals, February and March are Limassol Carnival time. September is Limassol Wine Festival time, and for the petrol heads, October is the time for the popular Cyprus Rally.
Organised trips out of town to old ruins, churches, mosques, and other places of interest are available year-round.
If Limassol sounds like your best area to stay in Cyprus, it has an extensive selection of self-catering apartments and villas, mid-range hotels, and all-inclusive deals.
2. Larnaca, whether culture-vulture or beach-bum, Larnaca can hit the spot
Situated on the south side of Cyprus, the hustling, bustling port city of Larnaca is the island’s third largest city, and has Larnaca International Airport on its outskirts.
Although visitors can discover its ancient history in old castles, ruins, churches, mosques, and old town areas, they would be hard pressed to say the old blends with the new.
More likely it’s a case of ancient crashes into modern, with traditional Cypriot businesses, bars, and restaurants mixing it with high-rise concrete hotels and apartment blocks spread along the seafront.
A city with two beaches, sandy Finikoudes Beach is centrally placed, and stretches 500m along the coast. With plenty of sun-loungers and parasols, a good selection of water-sports, and shallow inshore waters, it is safe for all ages.
Although the beach area has just a couple of beach bars, the palm tree lined promenade above the beach is full of shops, bars and restaurants, as well as hotel and apartment complexes.
Mackenzie Beach is closer to the airport end of Larnaca. Popular with the younger set, the beach has the usual sun-loungers and parasols, a good selection of water-sports, a windsurfing school, and selection of bars and eateries to top up on the fluids.
During the evenings the area’s bars and restaurants get busy with families and couples. Both beaches hold the European Blue Flag for cleanliness.
Away from the beaches, located in the town centre is St. Lazarus Square, and the Church of St. Lazarus built in 900 AD, and one of the island’s most important Byzantium monuments.
St. Lazarus has a procession held in his honour every year, eight days before Easter. The church also houses the Ecclesiastical Museum of Larnaca.
Also, in the town centre, Larnaca Medieval Castle was built in the 12th century, and used by the British as a prison and place of execution until 1948.
If you enjoy nature and bird-watching, pencil in a trip to Larnaca’s Salt Lake, and its collection of waders and other bird species.
Whilst there you can take in the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque, much-revered by both Greek and Turkish Cypriot Muslims, and built between 1760 – 1817.
If Larnaca sounds like your place to stay in Cyprus, it has a large selection of all types of accommodation including hostels, B&Bs, budget, and high-end hotels and villas.
3. Paphos, one of the best areas to stay in Cyprus with beaches and history
Located on the southwest coast of Cyprus, the City of Paphos has the island’s second largest International Airport, and is a popular holiday destination where to stay in Cyprus with visitors from across Europe.
With the longest coastal stretch of any region in Cyprus, Paphos has a large number of small beaches and coves for you to explore. Many of them holding the EU blue flag for cleanliness.
From the city, the 200 metre Vrisoudia Beach, is a 10-minute stroll from the harbour. Other local beaches of interest are Petra tou Romiou Beach, said to be the beach where Aphrodite, goddess of love came ashore.
If you want to escape the crowds, Polis Beach is a secluded, quiet beach close to a campsite, and near the town of the same name. The more commercialised Coral Bay Beach is a short 10-minute drive north.
For those with a love of ancient history, myths, archaeology, and culture, Paphos is awash with them all. The city was the capital of Cyprus for over 600 years, and is now a major UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Places of interest include the Paphos Archaeological Park with a breath-taking collection of tombs and temples, and five Roman villas with a number of decorated mosaic floors.
As you move around the park, you’ll come across the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre and market, and surprisingly, a more modern Paphos lighthouse.
After visiting the gardens, enjoy a stroll around the busy harbour, and its 13th century medieval castle.
The harbour is a vibrant bustling area full of shops, cafes, coffee shops, bars, and restaurants to be browsed, before taking the weight off with a cool drink in the warm Mediterranean sunshine.
In 2017 Paphos was awarded the title European Capital of Culture. As with old town areas across the islands, they somehow generate their own special kind of ambience – and Paphos is no different.
The pedestrianised area is full of Cypriot shops and businesses, bars and tavernas, and you can spend a relaxing couple of hours hunting out those different mementoes, souvenirs, and gifts for the family.
Paphos is one of the best areas to stay in Cyprus if you have a love of Middle Eastern history and archaeology, and has an excellent selection of self-catering hostels, apartments, and villas, along with hotels to suit all budgets.
4. Coral Bay, great place to stay in Cyprus for everyone
Just 12km from the city of Paphos, and still in the Paphos area, Coral Bay is a popular destination with the 18-30s, and young families. Coral Beach is a Blue Flag, long stretch of sandy beach and shallow water, and close to most of the accommodation.
There are numerous access points along the front, and the beach is equipped with sunbeds and parasols, lifeguards during high season, beach shops, restaurants, and bars. A good selection of water-sports equipment is also available.
Coralia Beach is a few hundred metres further along the main street. A smaller sand and rock beach, with similar amenities, both it, and Coral Beach, can get very busy during high season.
The main street in the resort is Coral Bay Avenue, which leads to the beaches. Along the avenue and beach areas you will find plenty of local shops, roadside stalls, high street brands like Pandora, car hire agents, pharmacies, and a walk-in health clinic, as well as plenty of excellent local and international restaurants and bars.
Although not as well endowed as Paphos for its archaeological sites, Coral Bay does have two of interest at the end of the main beach. The Maa Palaiokastro Archaeological Site, and the Maa Palaiokastro Museum are well worth a visit if you want a little time away from the heat of the midday sun.
Evenings are generally busy, lively affairs. Coral Bay has an excellent selection of classical Cypriot restaurants, many of which include traditional Greek music for their guests.
International eateries include both Italian and Chinese restaurants, and a lot of the bars put on live music and karaoke.
Most of the bars around the beach area are late night/early morning venues, and through the summer months, all night beach parties are popular.
If you’re wondering where to stay in Cyprus for a lively party atmosphere, Coral Bay should fit the bill, and has an excellent selection of all types of self-catering accommodation, low and mid-range hotels, and villas.
5. Pissouri, a traditional Cypriot resort for older families and couples
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Cyprus, that offers all the attractions of traditional Cypriot village life, with minimum invasion by tourists, then Pissouri village, and the beach it overlooks of the same name, could be right up your street.
Pissouri village sits 500 metres above sea level on the Cape Aspro Ridge. Three kilometres from the beach, and mid-way between Paphos and Limassol, the village is a step back in time to the 1950s.
Yes, there has been a little adapting, with a few carefully monitored hotels and complexes going up, but the local council is fiercely protective of its traditional lifestyle. Out of season, the resident population is a mix of Cypriots and a few British expats.
Most of the locals still make the majority of their money from farming and cultivating grapes. Pissouri village is made up of pretty, windy, narrow alleyways, and pots of geraniums can be seen everywhere around the village and the village square.
Nonetheless, if your preference is self-catering, the village has plenty of local shops for all your day-to-day needs including grocers, bakery, mini-marts, banks, and hire-car agents as well as a good variety of restaurants and bars.
As the hub of the evening entertainment, the village square comes alive with locals and visitors wining and dining on the terraces, as they enjoy the view out to sea, and join in with the many festivals and traditional Cypriot nights of dining, dancing, music – and drinking.
There are also some fabulous nature trails which can be walked, or covered on bicycles.
If your type of laid-back holiday is to be up with the sun, and on your sunbed before breakfast, then maybe Pissouri Beach is the better option.
The sand and shingle beach is 1500 metres long, and 90 metres wide with the tide out. A selection of water-sports is available including wind-surfing, water-skiing, and paragliding.
As with the village, Pissouri Beach has managed to keep much of the commercialisation at bay, with the exception of a couple of all-inclusive complexes at either end.
There are a few beach shacks and bars, toilets and showers along the front, and lifeguards are on duty through high season. The beach is also well equipped for disabled visitors.
If either Pissouri Village, or Pissouri Beach sound like your favourite place to stay in Cyprus, a selection of all-inclusive hotels, private lets, and tour operator hotels and apartments are available.
If you decide to stay at the beach, try to have at least one evening spent in the village.
6. Kyrenia, a chance to explore the north of Cyprus
Situated in the north of Cyprus, and under Turkish Cypriot control, the pretty harbour town of Kyrenia has been an increasingly popular tourist destination since the dust settled after the Turkish invasion of 1974.
With the picturesque harbour to the fore, and the Kyrenia Mountain Range to the rear, the town is a favourite with visiting photographers. Stroll round the old harbour, and the narrow streets of the old town.
Old town areas have been meticulously refurbished to blend with the original architecture, and you will find many old stores and turrets occupied by artisan traders selling craft goods to fill your suitcase.
In the Venetian tower, close to the castle and now a veritable market, you can buy anything from a Turkish carpet to lace and good luck charms.
Of course, Kyrenia Castle is a must-tour. It has stood sentinel over the harbour and town for over 450 years virtually unchanged, while its history dates back to the Roman era.
Around the harbour and town area you will find shops, bars, and restaurants. The Turkish lira is the official currency of north Cyprus although everyone will accept the euro (and other currencies). However, it’s always a good idea to check the exchange rate, so you know exactly what you’re paying.
A hire car is a good option as well, if you really want to find out what north Cyprus is all about. Drive along the coast and visit the many pristine beaches. Drive inland, to the local villages. Esentepe village is very traditional with a large percentage of original buildings.
For the nature lovers, around Ozankoy village you will find some rarer species of plant life including orchids.
Look around St. Hilarion Castle on the edge of the village of Karmi overlooking Kyrenia and its harbour; and drive up to Lapta town to explore the freshwater springs.
Evenings tend to be pleasant relaxed affairs, where you can dine in your hotel, or enjoy a meal dining al fresco at a table around the harbour.
After dinner drinks can be enjoyed at any number of taverns around the harbour and town, but don’t expect to be drinking into the early hours.
If you fancy a stay in Cyprus north of the border, Kyrenia is an excellent choice and has a good selection of all types and levels of accommodation.
7. Protaras, a popular destination for singles, couples, and families of all ages
Lying on the south-eastern coast of the island, Protaras is one of the favourite resorts of regular return-visitors to Cyprus.
Apartment and hotel blocks stretch along the front, overlooking the long, wide, beautiful sandy beach of Fig Tree Bay and its crystal-clear waters.
Plenty of sunbeds and parasols are spread along the beach, and it has an excellent selection of all water-sports.
Stroll the long pedestrianised promenade at the rear of the beach, and stop off for a little light refreshment at one of the many bars.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Cyprus with the family, Protaras will fill the bill. Very much a purpose-built holiday resort, you will find everything you need for your ten-day, two-week break without having to leave town, and there’s plenty to keep the kids happy.
If you like to get out and about, there are numerous other equally attractive beaches and coves to be visited along the Protaras coast. Take one of the many popular coastal walks, or hire a boat.
Follow the pathways through Cape Greco National Park to pretty Konnos Bay, and the picturesque Ayii Anargyri Chapel that overlooks it.
If you want a little time away from the busy main beach, look out for the easily missed pathway to quiet, attractive Sirena Bay on your walk.
With so many high-rise hotels around town, it’s hard to get an idea of the surrounding countryside, climb the steps to the pretty Saint Elias chapel sitting on Protaras’s highest hill, the views both inland and out to sea are magnificent.
The large Ocean Aquarium will keep the kids happy for an hour or two, and many of the hotels have play parks and clubs for the youngsters.
Night times, as you would expect from a purpose-built resort, offer an excellent range of international restaurants and eateries from burger joints to haute-cuisine. Local restaurants also offer traditional Cypriot menus for all tastes.
If you’re a newcomer to Cypriot food, ask for Meze. Similar to Spanish tapas dishes, it is a number of small tasting plates of different dishes, and a great way to begin a new gastronomic adventure.
To round the evening off you can find bars to suit all tastes, from quiet and romantic, to busy and lively.
Protaras is one of the most popular resorts where to stay in Cyprus, and has accommodation from budget studios to 5-star all-inclusive spa hotels with all the trimmings.
8. Ayia Napa, where to stay in Cyprus for nightlife
If you’re looking for places to stay in Cyprus with a party vibe, Ayia Napa will definitely fit the bill. On the south-east coast, around 8km east of Protaras sits one of the party capitals of Europe, and one of the busiest Cyprus resorts through the summer months.
Being 45km from Larnaca airport, transfer time to the resort is around 45mins.
Although recent years have seen more family and child friendly bars and restaurants opening up, it is what it is, and unless you’re happy with a 24/7 party vibe on your holiday, it’s probably not for you.
That said, Ayia Napa, has some beautiful beaches and coastline. From a small, insignificant fishing village in the 1970s, the resort now stretches over 15km along the coast and attracts young visitors from the UK and across Europe.
Encompassed within the area are mini resorts such as Ayia Thekla, 8km from Ayia Napa centre, it specialises in private villas to let.
A little further along is Potamos Liopetriou. A small fishing village with tiny sandy coves and rocky beaches, old Neolithic tombs, and a Wednesday market.
Six-kilometres from the centre of town is Macronissos, home to a selection of self-catering apartments and mid-range hotels.
A couple of beaches of note are sandy Nissa Beach, 4km from the centre, with plenty of water-sports, bars, beach shacks, and DJs on the beach. And Sandy Bay, a little more sheltered and a little quieter than Nissa Beach. But only a little.
As you would expect from a party resort, both day and night there are beach parties, pool parties, cocktail parties, boat parties, foam parties, and every other kind of party you can think of. All have a similar theme of copious amounts of alcohol and loud music of various genres.
Quad bikes are popular with the younger set who want to get away for a few hours, but car and scooter hire is also available.
Ayia Napa is one of the best party areas to stay in Cyprus, and has a good selection of basic self-catering studios, one-bed apartments, and hotels and villas to suit all budgets.
9. Akamas Peninsula/Polis, a base for lovers of nature
Situated on the west coast of the island, The Akamas National Park is an area of over 200 square kilometres of unspoilt natural parkland.
With over 160 varieties of birds, different species of snakes, lizards, and other reptiles, a variety of mammals including hedgehogs and foxes, and an extensive range of butterflies and plant life, including cyclamen and Cyprus tulip, it is a naturalist’s heaven.
The coastal area of the park also has some of the most amazing natural sandy bays and beaches you will find on the island.
Two that stand out are the pristine Blue Lagoon and its crystal-clear waters, and Lara Bay, a major breeding ground for the Hawk’s Bill and Green turtle, both endangered species.
Although there are plenty of hiking and cycling trails available to explore this beautiful area, booking an organised tour is well worth the cost.
Two-hundred square kilometres is a lot of ground to cover, and your tour guide will know all the best areas to head for the best views, and where to go if your particular interests are flora or fauna.
For those wishing to spend more than just a couple of hours exploring the interior of Akamas Park, consider booking a stay in the Polis area. It is becoming a popular base with visitors wanting to study the natural history of the island in greater detail, as well as enjoying time on less crowded beaches.
Situated on the north-west coast, some 25km from Paphos, Polis is a town and municipality that lies in the centre of Chrysochous Bay, on the edge of Akamas Park, and encompasses a number of holiday resorts.
A pleasant 10-minute stroll from Polis town will get you to the little coastal village of Latchi, home to Polis’s harbour and its nearest sandy beach. Along the pretty promenade you will find bars, shops, and some of the best fish restaurants on the island.
A little further along the coast, as you reach the edge of Akamas Park, you will find the Baths of Aphrodite, while heading inland you can explore the charming villages of Droushia, Inia, Argaka, Pomas and Kato Pyrgos.
If Polis sounds like the best area to stay in Cyprus for your needs, the municipality has a good selection of both private and package self-catering, half-board, and all-inclusive accommodations, as well as a popular campsite.
10. Nicosia, the largest city and capital of Cyprus
Although relations have improved somewhat over the last 40+ years, the capital remains a city of two halves. Nonetheless, the mere fact it is still divided, provides an added attraction for many visitors interested in the history and cultural differences between the two sides.
While it might not be quite Harry Palmer and Checkpoint Charlie, on your travels around Nicosia you will come across green and white barrels, sandbags, and barbed-wire blocking some roads, footpaths, and alleyways, but this is only to ensure you pass south to north, or vice-versa, through one of the designated check-points.
An example of this is Ledra Street. In the old town district, and the main shopping street in Nicosia, the narrow pedestrianised road is a busy, bustling area of local shops, international brands, coffee-shops, bars and restaurants.
If you’re hunting for mementos of your stay, look out for Onasagorou Street, and Ermou Street. Full of local artisan businesses you can buy everything from locally produced olive oil, to lace doilies and shawls, to Cypriot sculptures and carvings.
While in Ledra Street, look for the Shacolas Tower, and climb to the public observation post on the 11th floor. From here there are great views across the city, including beyond the UN buffer zone into Turkish held Nicosia.
When you reach the end of the street, you’ll come to Nicosia’s busiest pedestrian check-point, where you pass through into the northern area of the town, so make sure you have your passport.
Other places of historical interest include the Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia, the Cyprus Museum, and the Byzantine Museum.
Places of worship such as the Selimiye Mosque in the Turkish part of the city, and the Sacred Temple of Virgin Mary Phaneromenis. While for architectural history look for Famagusta Gate, Büyük Han in the northern part, and The Folk Art Museum.
Although there are organised tours to Nicosia, to get an authentic feel of Cyprus and its peoples, on both sides of the divide, you need to spend a little time amongst them.
Do a little shopping in the south and the north, sample the difference between Greek and Turkish cuisine, and make note of lifestyle differences.
If your idea of the best places to stay in Cyprus involves the history and culture of the island, Nicosia has an excellent range of all types of accommodation to suit all budgets.
11. Agros/Trooda Mountains, an idyllic location away from the coast
At an altitude of 1100m, on the slopes of the Troodos Mountains in the south-west of the island, Agros is a traditional Cypriot mountain village, becoming increasingly popular with visitors embracing agrotourism.
A 45 minute drive from the island’s capital, and one of a number of villages in the Troodos area, Agros sits on the site of the Monastery of Great Agros, which was burnt out in 1894.
Built in a curve, terrace style, Agros is a pretty traditional village of white buildings and red pantile roofs, nestling amongst pine, cypress, and cedar trees, and areas of cultivated land, groves, vineyards, and orchards.
All the villages in the area have their own niches of expertise. Agros, known locally as The Village of Roses, produces its own rose water, and a rose petal brandy, preserved fruit, and various meats such as spiced sausages and smoked pork fillet.
Nearby Kalopanayiotis village has its own fish farms. In Omodos the locals specialise in wine making, In Prodromos their speciality is orchards and apple growing, while Lefkara village sells its embroidery and filigree silverware products across the world.
As you tour from village to village you can find Byzantine Museums, monasteries, and churches to look round, many that date back to the 13th century.
For somewhere different to stay in Cyprus away from the busy coastal tourist areas, Agros is worth serious consideration. There are plenty of well worn biking and hiking trails as well as main roads.
Make up some packed lunches, throw in a few bottles of drink, and set off in the fresh mountain air to discover what awaits you around the next corner, or in the next village.
Pleasant evenings can be spent chatting with the locals, enjoying the local cuisine, and sampling the local wines in bars and restaurants. Or for those romantic couple-nights, dine on a terrace, watching the stars twinkling in the heavens of a cloudless sky.
If you fancy Agros for your stay in Cyprus, there are a number of private and boutique hotels in the area, or you can choose to book rooms with families, or book privately owned studios, apartments or houses.
12. Famagusta, still a pawn in the Greek/Turkish dispute over Cyprus
Prior to 1974, Famagusta was a busy thriving port city and popular tourist destination with visitors from across Europe. Clean sandy beaches, and top quality hotels had the wealthy arriving in their thousands, to enjoy the sunshine, hospitality, and facilities of this beautiful old city.
During the Turkish invasion of 1974, Famagusta was heavily bombed by the Turks, and the majority of the Greek Cypriot population fled the Varosha area of the city.
Most left with just the clothes on their backs, and what they could get into suitcases or bags, expecting, when the fighting finished, to be allowed to return home. It didn’t happen, and when the UN brokered ceasefire was declared, Famagusta was fenced off, and declared part of the Turkish Republic of Cyprus.
The Turkish Cypriot area of Famagusta is still open for business, and you can stroll the markets in the old town area for souvenirs, window shop in the malls of Salamis Road, and enjoy a Turkish or European coffee in the many coffee shops.
In the evenings, most hotels in Famagusta include entertainment for their guests, or you can enjoy a local beer or wine in the bars and restaurants.
Unfortunately, the Greek Cypriot Varosha area remains a ghost town. Fenced off, derelict and deserted for the last 40 years, shops, houses, businesses, and hotels have fallen into disrepair, and nature is slowly reclaiming her own.
Most visitors wanting to spend a day or two exploring north Cyprus generally choose hotels just south of the green line. If Famagusta is your main area of interest, the British Army Crossing Point at Pyla (Beyarmudu) is one of the most popular.
Although closer to Larnaca Airport, driving time from the crossing to Famagusta and the east coast is shorter.
Other popular options are to cross through the border-check by foot, and arrange for a taxi, or have a hire car waiting on the Turkish side of the crossing. There are also a limited number of organised tours, that will take you to the various points to view the ghost town of Varosha.
Whether you choose north of the border for your stay in Cyprus, or south of the green line, you will find a limited but adequate number of small hotels around Famagusta, or a larger selection of hotels in the towns along the southern border region.