It was good enough for Aphrodite, so chances are you and your family will fall in love with Cyprus during family holidays or breaks on this island of myths and legends, where artefacts and ruins – Cyprus was the Spaghetti Junction of Crusader times and all those passing through left a lot of history behind – rub shoulders with some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean and other stunning scenery and to-die-for food.
A bit of an enigma – westernised but with heavy African influences, and, of course, a line down the middle of it, with the Turks on one side and the Greeks on the other – Cyprus can also be reassuringly familiar, with lots of family-friendly accommodation for all budgets and driving on the left-hand side!
|Flying Time||4.5 hours|
|Carbon Footprint||2.8 tonnes CO2|
Though parts of Cyprus heave with tourists, it’s in these heavily built up resorts that you’ll find all the obviously touristy things without which family holidays here aren't complete – snorkelling, diving, swimming, paddling, paragliding, whizzing around in a banana boat, and boat-trips that include the chance to snorkel.
With a zillion beaches to choose from, it’s easy to do nothing but laze, although if packed sands are your family’s idea of hell and you head off the beaten track, make sure you know what the tides and currents are doing as often there are no flag systems or lifeguards. Coral Bay in Paphos is calm and child friendly, with a lovely harbour with cute coloured fishing boats and boat-trips and a fun covered market. Bribe the kids with ice creams to walk up to Paphos Castle, with brilliant views. A short walk from the harbour you’ll also see ancient mosaics (the site at Kato) from Roman times.
Soak up the atmosphere at the mysterious Tombs of the Kings and the catacombs at Agia Solomoni – fun if somewhat gloomy. This is where persecuted Christians hid.
Head for Phinikoudes Beach, one of Cyprus’s most famous, with plenty of cafés and bars. In June it hosts the two-week (Larnaca) Kataklysmos Fair.
Add the Pafos Bird Park to your itinerary, with bird shows, a children’s farm and face-painting, and the Aphrodite Waterpark, with plenty of rides and pleasant landscaped gardens to walk around.
Take a trip up to the Troodos Mountains, where you’ll find surprisingly green and forested land and Kykkos, Cyprus’s main monastery.
Explore Lefkosia, the largest town on Cyprus, with enough historical sites and museums to fill a day, plus good shopping. If you take your passports, you can cross the border into the Turkish part of town in North Cyprus.
In the east of the island, visit Curium, with the best amphitheatre on the island – the Magic Dancing Show will amaze younger kids.
Head for the camel park at Mazdos, just outside Larnaca, or the donkey sanctuary in Viouni Village just outside Limassol.
Go roaming in search of beautiful and interesting inland villages that will show you a bit of the real Cyprus – once there, have a wander then sit in the shade of a veranda to watch the world, and your children, go by.
And make sure you visit the Baths of Aphrodite, a pretty spot where the goddess used to take to the waters.
No matter how picky your kids are, you’ll find something for everyone on family holidays in Cyprus, whether it's familiar fast-food names or Greek classics such as houmous and taramasalata. Barbecues are very popular here, with souvla (skewered lamb or chicken) and shiftalies (small sausages) a highlight. Meze is a way of life and means your kids get to try a little bit of everything, although this isn’t the meal to have if you’re in a rush. There’s plenty of fresh fish but it isn't always listed on the menu so ask the waiter what the catch of the day is.
For treats, try the sticky little pastries called dhaktyla. Bottled water is recommended, but there’s a wide choice of fruit juices and fizzy drinks.By Rachelle Keyes
Cyprus is in the southern Mediterrean so schedule family holidays here for quite early or late in the year and you can still enjoy decent weather. Indeed, the heat of summer may be too much for young children.
Cyprus has two international airports, Larnaca in the south-east and Paphos in the south-west, both served by scheduled and charter airlines from numerous British airports. Flights take about 4hr 30mins, with Cyprus 2hrs ahead of GMT. British Airways flies regularly to both Larnaca and Paphos.
Cyprus offers family holidays for all budgets, with package deals starting at less than £200pp and rising beyond £1000 each. The competition means you should be able to secure great deals, particularly if you can travel outside school holidays.
Cyprus is an extremely popular destination for family holidays, especially with Brits and Germans, and the south coast is highly developed. Paphos and the west coast are not developed to quite to the same extent.
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