Cyprus with your family: practical guide

24/02/2020

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    With its love and sunshine, Cyprus is a destination of choice. Nicknamed the Island of Aphrodite (Goddess of Beauty), this bewitching archipelago fully enjoys this patronage. On the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus, both Hellenic and Eastern, is at the crossroads of cultures and has a mixed heritage. It is a family destination full of promise, where sea, sunshine and a gentle way of life punctuate the year.

    Little Guest Hotels Collection Cyprus

     

    Summary

    1. Cyprus in a nutshell
    2. Postcard
    3. The musts
    4. Hotels for families
    5. Restaurants for families
    6. Family activities
    7. The most beautiful beaches
    8. Some formalities

     

    1. Cyprus in a nutshell

    • State: Republic of Cyprus in the south, Turkish Republic of Cyprus in the north. The latter is not internationally recognized. It is neither part of the Republic of Cyprus nor of the European Union.
    • Capital: Nicosia (Lefkosia).
    • Political system: Parliamentary Republic in the south (Republic of Cyprus)
    • Languages: Greek, Turkish.
    • Currency: Euro

     

    2. POstcard

    Found on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus is the gem of the Levantine Basin. Located off the coast of Lebanon and Turkey, it is today the easternmost part of Europe. With white villages clinging to the mountains, medieval castles that are home to many legends, green cypress forests, intimist coves and sea caves, fields of olive trees dotted with poppies … Cyprus showcases landscapes shaped by the Mediterranean Sea, mapped out by the sun and by the Hellenic, Roman, Persian and Turkish civilizations, who successively made it their residence. An amazing blend which gives it a completely unique colour.

    Being coveted since the dawn of time, this Island of Love has had a turbulent contemporary history. Since 1974, Cyprus is composed of two separate entities: the north of the island is occupied by the Turkish authorities while the south constitutes the Republic of Cyprus. In the centre, Nicosia, the two-faced capital, marks the border between these two opposite parts. Cut in half by the « green line », this city is called the Berlin of the Mediterranean.

    At the heart of the island, Mount Olympus unveils its 2000-meter altitude and serves as a highlight. Its slopes, on which you can ski during winter, are covered with pine forests and cedar groves during summer. It’s a hiking spot that necessitates that you include your hiking shoes in your luggage.

    Open to the sea, Cyprus is also a paradise for beach lovers. It boasts 648 km of creeks, golden cliffs and magnificent beaches bordered by unspoilt vegetation. Pebble or fine sand beaches, there is something for everyone!

     

    Cyprus landscapes

     

    3. The musts

    • Going back in time by getting lost in the maze of alleys of Paphos. Capital of culture 2017, this village has more than one string to its bow. Its archaeological park, the Palace of Paphos (Kato Paphos) is an open-air museum. Between the elegant Doric pillars, the amazed visitors will get to check out on the extremely well-preserved mosaics, some of which date as far back as the 3rd century BC. The perfect place to revise its mythology with your family!
    • Brightening your day in the Kikos monastery. Nestled on the slopes of Mount Olympus, in the heart of lush nature, this architectural treasure is full of objects and icons enhanced by the brightness of the gold leaf. A mystical place, in the calmness of the Cypriot mountains, which is worthy of a day of the excursion. Good vibes guaranteed!
    • Storming the medieval castle of Limassol (Lemesos) wherein the King of England, Richard the Lionheart, is said to have lived. The collections retrace the island’s medieval past, with a great deal of cannon and armour, which will undoubtedly appeal to little amateurs. After the visit, the old port and its colourful market shall be open to you, enabling you to end the day smoothly.
    • Cross the famous « green line » and go to North Nicosia, where the delicious scents of the Orient float. Visitors are offered a completely different world: small streets lined with souks, the 16th century Omeriye hammam, the flavour of baklava on the tip of your tongue and, to top it all off, the mosque with its proud minaret.
    • Taking a romantic getaway at Petra Tou Romiou, the beach where Aphrodite, goddess of love and patron saint of the island, was born. Its crystalline waters, strewn with rocks shaped by the waves, are delicious. One of them evokes to the Cypriots the feminine curves of the goddess. It is said that going around it three times on a full moon evening guarantees eternal love…
    • Feeling like you have entered a postcard in Ayia Napa. Sea caves and sumptuous cliffs flowing into a sea with green-blue reflections, constitute the main attraction of this former fishing village. The Lovers’ Bridge, a 6-meter-high natural arch, attracts romantic couples. One goes to Ayia Napa to enjoy its blue flag beaches, to stroll and be lulled by the festive atmosphere of this great Cypriot tourist attraction.
    • Letting yourself be startled by the quiet beauty of the Hala Sultan Tekké Mosque in Larnaca. Having a classic Ottoman style, it is covered with a dome that is worth looking at. Between cypresses and palm trees, this monument is also the holiest Muslim site in Cyprus. After strolling under its vaults and treading on its colourful carpets, head for its gardens. Being beautifully maintained, they reveal the shores of the nearby Salt Lake, where the elegant silhouette of pink flamingos stands out during winter.

     

    Ayia Napa in Cyprus

     

    4. Hotels for families

    Parklane, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa *****

    Imagine a 10-hectare estate where long alleys lined by olive groves and orange trees wind up, and where charming contemporary-style pavilions are nestled. Having the sea as a backdrop and the sun pinned in its blue sky, Parklane, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa has everything to entreat its little guests and their parents.

    Its rooms with elaborate decorations focus mainly on the colourful patterns and varied materials (upholstered seats, embossed blankets, velvet carpets and wrought-wood furniture…). They welcome families in a comfortable setting with views over the gardens or the deep blue sea.

    For children, it’s very simple: 3,000 sqm of play areas have been reserved for them. Playgrounds, sports fields and indoor room for playing or sharing of a delicious lunch… everything has been thought of for little ones’ comfort. Twice a day, your little ones will be granted privileged access to the hotel’s swimming pool, where an impressive pirate ship, water slides and water jets await them. Fun is guaranteed here!

     

    Columbia Beach Resort *****

    It is on the south coast of Aphrodite Island that Columbia Beach Resort is nested. Overlooking the delicate Pissouri Bay, this charming address with typical Cypriot architecture perfectly reflects the Mediterranean spirit. Local light-coloured stone, loggias and terraces that can make one you lose your head, Roman-decorated roofs give a real architectural unity to the resort. Diligent attention to detail can be found on the tiled floors and exposed beams of the interiors. To make it short, it is the spirit of a traditional village combined with the refinement of a 5-star hotel. You would love the terraces and local-stone walls highlighted by the bougainvillaea, the giant pool and its palm trees and the eco-friendly philosophy that sets the tone, down to the smallest details of the Columbia.

    One thing is certain, toddlers lodging at this dream establishment will not get bored, even for a second. On the program: treasure hunts, relay races, cooking workshops, and many others will punctuate their days. Children between 4 and 12years old get FREE playground amenities and direct access to the Blue Flag Beach. An open-air playground for children, a paradise reminiscent of the sweetness of life for parents!

     

    Columbia Beach Resort Little Guest Hotels Collection

     

    5. Restaurants for families

    • Mezze is the emblem of Cypriot cuisine, tasty, convivial and colourful. Hummus, tzatzíki and stuffed vine leaves accompany these flock of small dishes. Seafood, as you might have expected, also has a special place in the hearts and taste buds of Cypriots. The octopus in red wine or the grilled swordfish represent the flagship of the gastronomic culture. The sweet flavours are not to be outdone. Often inspired by the nearby Orient, baklavas, Turkish delights and shoushoukos will please sweet little mouths. The shoushoukos, being made up of almonds wrapped in a caramel made from grape juice and rose water… offer an alliance of flavours as atypical as they are delicious.
    • Seeking a nice restaurant, with fresh and healthy products, as well as options for kids? At a stone’s throw from Limassol Castle, Ousia deploys its small terrace set between low stone walls. It is generous and flavoursome. Little Guest recommends you, the marinated chicken with local herbs and lemon, the roasted sun vegetables with tahin and the essential falafels (inclusively organic, please!) A specialty that must not be missed: halloumi, Cypriot goat cheese garnished with sesame seeds. A real treat! In addition, the restaurant reserves a flawless welcome to the gourmet families and attaches great importance to food intolerances and allergies. Itinerary
    • Does eating in an old Turkish caravanserai in northern Nicosia makes you dream? Set up in a typical architectural setting, the MekHan Cafe and Restaurant is simply a unique place. On the menu, the traditional mezze, cumin tzatzíki and tasty keftas with bulgur. A wide range of cocktails completes the gourmet offer. With the honey semolina cake, a melting and suave marvel, the sweet tooth will get to discover new flavours. During weekends, the old stones of the inner courtyard of this ancestral building resonate with the sound of the concerts that are organised there. A guaranteed thrilling ambiance, under the candle-light. Itinerary
    • The concept is simple: create a gustatory odyssey inspired by marine flavours. At Cape Aspro Restaurant, in the heart of the Columbia Beach Resort, Chef Ioannis Giakoumidis, boldly recreates the street food. The result? an inventive menu that offers high-end and unique culinary masterpieces. Eggplant ravioli with basil and pepper chutney crab cakes tend to get everyone’s approval. The little ones will enjoy the Pissouri salad which combines the freshness of cucumber and the characteristic taste of halloumi cheese. As a bonus, the open kitchen allows you to watch the Chef in action! Gourmets will be fascinated by the chef’s mastered gestures… For a dinner with the sea view that stretches as far as the eye can see, don’t forget to make your reservation. Itinerary

     

    Cyprus food

     

    6. Family activities

    • Head inland, in the District of Larnaca, to enjoy its incredible landscapes and sea views. The Golden Donkey Farm is situated in the middle of the countryside. This donkey sanctuary is a paradise for toddlers and animal lovers. Here, you will get to learn numerous anecdotes about the life of each of its four-legged residents and the history of donkeys in Cyprus over several centuries. They are part of the Cyprus heritage! For everyone’s happiness, the visit ends with a moment of sharing which allows you to pamper, caress and feed these cute equines with big ears! The farm shop also offers a host of good things for the body: quality olive oil or high-end cosmetics from jenny milk … Itinerary
    • In the northern part of Cyprus, the Kyrénia Museum, also known as the Wreck Museum, tells us a sacred piece of history. This history is built around the wreck of a Greek merchant ship dating far back as in… 300 BC!! The Cypriots proudly refer to it as the oldest ship in the world. Young and old will be impressed by this real treasure, which is the pride of the island. So much so that it appears on the 50-euro cent coins! Itinerary
    • To complete this archaeological excursion, why not entreat yourself to a family diving session to check out the Zenobia ship? Located on the south coast and nicknamed the Titanic of the Mediterranean, this 1980 wreck, today, shelters an incredible fauna and flora. For a more than unusual underwater outing but reserved for experienced divers (level 2 and 3)! Itinerary
    • Do you want to have fun in a fun and family-friendly setting? Freshwater sailors and thrill-seekers can meet at Water World. Inspired by the immaculate architecture of the Greek temples, this water park seduces the entire family with its toboggan and pools. You can easily spend the entire day in the sweetness of the Aphrodite Baths, the Appolon dive, the Minotaur’s water maze and its jets, or in the impressive « Fall of Icarus » toboggan. The entire family will be able to revise the Greek mythology while having fun!! Itinerary

     

    Cyprus house and boy jumping from the cliff

     

    7. The most beautiful beaches

    With its 340 days of sunshine per year and its 648km of coastline, Cyprus is the queen of swimming destinations. Scoop: the sea is so good here that you can get soaked in it until November! Here is our selection of favourite beaches.

    • The wildest: On the heights of Akamas, the access to Lara Beach is worth it. It is at the end of a long dirt road that crosses the scrubland, where this little gem of fine sand hides itself, away from the mass tourism. This place is admired for its calmness and its environment.
    • The most family-friendly: Harbor Beach is the longest beach in Ayia Napa, while also being the most family-friendly, thanks to its shallow waters. It presents possibilities of nautical activities and family excursions, has changing cabins, as well as showers. What then is stopping you from planning a day at sea?
    • The most surprising: Zapalo Beach, in the district of Limassol, presents an exceptional gradation of colours, ranging from the blue of the sea to the white of its limestone cliffs passing by the brown of the fine sand which adorns it. On the horizon, a few typical boats, give a picturesque tone to this sumptuous beach.

     

    8. Some formalities

    We told you earlier that the island of Aphrodite is divided in 2 parts. Part of the island is occupied by the Turkish army north of the demarcation line, known as the « Green Line ». The part is still under the surveillance of a UN buffer force but has been partially open and can be crossed since 2003. Note that only the Republic of Cyprus, which controls the southern part, is recognized by the international community and is part of the ‘European Union. As a national of the European Union member-state, this does not prevent you from accessing the northern part, upon presentation of a valid identity document. It is also possible to walk around there, or to even spend a few days there. Simply put, you must be well informed and take some precautions beforehand. Little Guest will assist you on this aspect.

     

    Is it dangerous to visit the northern part of Cyprus?

    The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs classifies the whole island as « normal vigilance » while the Belgian Ministry recounts that « most of the visits to Cyprus are carried out without any particular difficulty »: there is therefore nothing to worry about. You just need to be well informed about the situation on site before setting off for it. However, due to the de facto partition and the illegal status of the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC), the French Embassy cannot guarantee the enforcement of consular protection in the northern part of the island.

    In addition, NEVER venture to cross the « buffer zone » outside the authorized crossing points. Armed sentries protect it and certain areas of the green line are minefields. In addition, it is imperative to respect the shooting bans in the vicinity of the protected Turkish military zones, which can be recognised by signs bearing the words « prohibited area », failure of which could lead to arrest.

    More information on the official website of your country, as the one of the UK Government, for instance.

     

    Cyprus landscapes

     

    How does one get to the northern part of Cyprus?

    You can cross the « green line » at 9 specific points, some by car, others only on foot or by bicycle. There are two in the west (Limnitis / Yesilirmak; Astromeritis / Zodeia); three in Nicosia (Ayios Dometios / Metehan; Ledra Palace and Ledra / Lokmaci), the last two being reserved for pedestrians and cyclists; one in the northwest in the district of Nicosia (Apliki-Lefka) and three in the east (Pergamos / Pyla, Ayios Nicolaos / Strovilia and Derynia).

    Please note: if you will be renting a rental car in Cyprus and travelling north, consider purchasing additional insurance on-site at the rental agency.

    If you are travelling alone with your minor child, make sure you have the authorization to leave the territory, from the other parent. For more information.

     

    Can one lodge in the northern part of the island?

    Once again, it is very possible to lodge for a few days in the northern part of the island. Just keep in mind that the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus consider that staying in a hotel which belonged to Greek Cypriot owners before the Turkish intervention of 1974, or which is built on land whose ownership is disputed, can expose you to legal proceedings. Find out more before setting off for your choice hotel!

     

    Have a good trip!

     

    Mylene Mylène

    Mylène, 28 years old, art and travel lover, from Strasbourg, France

     

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