Destination guide: Cyprus
The third largest island in the Mediterranean, lying east of Greece and south of Turkey, Cyprus is steeped in history and culture. Beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, exceptionally hospitable people, good weather from April to October and only a short flight from the UK, all make it a great vacation destination.
Scott Dunn have a range of resorts in Cyprus, catering for all tastes. The Anassa is a luxury spa hotel on the northwest coast and the Almyra is right on the seafront with views of the harbor in Paphos - both benefit from an Explorers kids' club run by Scott Dunn. These kids' clubs look after children from four months, as well as having faciities for teenagers. Good water sports, golf, tennis and a number of other activities are all available at each resort or nearby. Keen golfers are spoiled for choice, with four 18 hole golf courses within easy reach of each other, including the challenging 18 hole championship course at Aphrodite Hills.
Exploring the beaches and the stunning interior of the island, is highly recommended, and is best done with a hire car. Walk the gorgeous Troödos and Kyrenia mountain ranges; discover the north coast with its aromatic citrus groves, or climb to the medieval castles with their island views stretching into the distance. The capital Nicosia, has a wealth of history, preserved Venetian walls surrounding the city and some wonderful bars and restaurants within the old walls of the city and of course the 'green line' - the dividing line with the Turkish part of Cyprus, which cuts through the center. Why not try a relaxing and rejuvanating hammam at the Hamam Omerye in Nicosia - a 14th century building that has been beautifully restored. There are also many archaeological sites scattered around the island, dating from the Stone Age through to the Roman Empire, which are definitely worth visiting.
Cyprus has a subtropical climate - one of the most agreeable climates in the Mediterranean with 11 out of 12 months having sunshine. It is semi-arid in the north-eastern part of island, with very mild winters on the coast and warm to hot summers. The rainy season is from November to March, with most of the rain falling between December and February, with the spring being mild. Early May can be windy, although by the middle of the month the temperature is starting to rise. During July and August the temperature can be well above 30 degrees centigrade and 10 degrees hotter inland.
There is much to discover on the culinary front too in Cyprus. With heavy Middle Eastern and Greek influences, the food is varied and full of flavor. Cypriot meze are an art form, and some restaurants serve nothing else. Meze can be meat, fish or vegetables and often come as a mixed plate. Halloumi is a uniquely Cypriot cheese, made from a mix of cow's and sheep's milk. It is hard and salty when raw, but mellows and softens when cooked and is hence often served grilled.
Taramasalata is traditionally made out of taramas, the salted roe of the cod or carp. The roe is either mixed with bread crumbs or potatoes, parsley, onion, lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar and is seasoned with salt and pepper.
With human activity traced back to Neolithic times, Cyprus has, over the millennia, been occupied by Mycenean Greeks, Assyrians, Egyptians, and Persians, from whom the island was seized in 333 BC by Alexander the Great. Subsequently it was ruled by the Roman Empire, the Byzantines, the French, the Venetians, followed by the Ottoman conquest in 1571. Three hundred years later, Cyprus was placed under British administration in 1878 until it was granted independence in 1960. The constitution agreed a degree of power-sharing between the Greek Cypriot majority and the Turkish Cypriot minority, however, the two populations clashed in 1974, resulting in the partitioning of the island. Since Cyprus joined the EU, and with Turkey keen to follow suit, this difference has no effect on visitors. Cyprus remains one of the jewels of the Mediterranean, offering travelers a wealth of experiences, from beautiful beaches and historical sites, to fabulous cuisine and warm hospitality.