In the middle of the Mediterranean, nestled between Turkey and Egypt, lies Cyprus, one of the region’s most underrated destinations.
Thanks to year-round warm weather and a coastline that features nothing but bright blue ocean views, Cyprus is a beloved vacation destination among Europeans. Its excellent location not only makes it the perfect add-on to any trip around Southern Europe, but it also gives it a unique culture that mixes the culture and traditions of both Turkey and Egypt.
Cyprus beaches range from resort-ready stretches of white sand to remote beaches accessed only via cliffside hikes. Here are some of the best.
Aphrodite’s Beach is one of the top Cyprus beaches for a day of leisurely swimming and sun, but it’s one of the best beaches for history buffs. Legend has it this is the spot where Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, rose from the ocean in a clamshell after her birth. It was the scene that inspired Sandro Botticelli’s famous 15th-century painting “The Birth of Venus,” often referred to as “Venus on the Halfshell.”
Here at Aphrodite’s Beach, there’s a small swimming area protected by sea barriers that stop most of the swells. The beach is made up of tiny pebbles rather than sand, which might be an issue if you’re hoping to lay in the sun for hours.
Still, it’s a highly recommended beach to take photos, especially if you can climb up on the area’s boulders, where you’ll witness a fantastic viewpoint of Aphrodite’s rock, which is the exact point where the Goddess of Love first graced humanity. It also has exceptionally vivid turquoise water, which glows in the background of any photo.
A golden-sand beach surrounded by towering cliffs, Coral Bay has a similar feel to the Mediterranean beaches in Italy or Greece. There are plenty of hotels, bars, nearby shops, and a handful of rental shops offering colorful umbrellas and loungers. Calm water and a shallow drop-off make this a popular swimming spot and you can rent everything from jet skis to kayaks and snorkel gear across the street.
However, one of the reasons this is considered one of the best Cyprus beaches is because of its convenient location near several local attractions. On the northern part of the beach are two historical sites: the Maa Palaiokastro Archaeological Site and its accompanying museum. This important site is where the early Greeks (or the Mycenaeans) first arrived in Cyprus back in the 12th century B.C.
The fascinating museum is situated underground to reduce the impact on the landscape (the only thing you can see from above the surface is the museum’s modern gold dome) and features relics and artifacts that were unearthed at the site. If you have time on the way there, consider stopping in the ancient town of Paphos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can walk more archeological ruins including catacombs, cathedrals, and castles.
Coral Bay is one of the best beaches in Cyprus if you’re looking for a day that blends water sports, relaxation, culture, and fantastic Cypriot food, as the nearby restaurants are some of the most popular in the country.
If you’re looking for a quieter stretch of sand, head to Zapalo Beach, located at the halfway point of Episkopi Bay. The beach is about 2,500 feet long with soft sand that covers nearly all of the shoreline, making it an excellent place to lay your towel on the sand for an hour or two.
It’s also called Apollo Beach as it sits a few hundred feet below the first-century C.E. ruins of The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates, where believers once worshiped Apollo, the god of the woods and forest.
To get to Zapalo Beach, you’ll have to walk down from the sanctuary, which is one of the reasons it tends to attract fewer crowds. You’ll descend about 400 feet as you make your way down the dirt road across the street from the ruins towards the shore.
Though the beach is plenty sandy and soft, you’ll want to bring good hiking shoes for the walk back up and perhaps a backpack for your beach gear so you can have your hands free while walking.
Bring everything you need as there are no amenities at Zapalo Beach. The walk to the beach from the ruins takes around 20 minutes, but for most visitors, the trek is well worth it for the reward at the end.
For an effortlessly relaxing day in Cyprus, plan to spend the day at Kourion Beach. It’s a perfect complement to a morning spent at the ruins of the ancient Kourion Theatre, a 3,500-person amphitheater built in the second century B.C.E. but expanded in the 3rd century C.E. to host fights between warriors and exotic animals.
Kourion Beach has plenty of amenities for modern-day visitors. The water is shallow and some of the clearest on the island—it’s a Blue Flag beach, which means it’s certified by the International Foundation for Environmental Education as having some of the highest environmental standards of any beach in the world. As with most Cyprus beaches, the water is that perfect shade of Mediterranean blue, especially when the wind and waves are extra-calm.
Along the shore, you’ll find several restaurants, beach bars, restrooms, shower facilities, and rental shops for beach chairs and snorkel gear. There are even lifeguards on duty in the summer, making it one of the best beaches in Cyprus if you’re traveling with kids or beginner swimmers. In other words, you’ll find nearly everything you need on-site—except for your swimsuit, of course.
Lady’s Mile Beach
Lady’s Mile Beach is the go-to spot for a Cyprus beach day among locals. Named after a former governor’s wife, who used to horseback ride along the shore, Lady’s Mile is three miles of shoreline, meaning there’s always plenty of room to spread out. The average water temperature is in the low 80s Fahrenheit in the middle of August, therefore expect to find crowds setting up for a full day on the sand in the peak of summer.
But don’t worry if you didn’t bring beach gear. Lady’s Mile is one of the island’s most popular beaches since you can find everything you need on-site. Sunbeds and umbrellas are readily available from beachside vendors and a few cafes, like the Oceana Beach Bar or Captain’s Cabin, offer open-air beachside dining.
As you move further south, the beach becomes sandier. Since it’s one of the country’s longest beaches, it’s the perfect spot to go for a barefoot stroll or a little one-on-one time with your travel partner. If it’s too cold to swim, rest easy knowing that this is also one of the top Cyprus beaches for beachcombing as shells often wash up on the shore.
If you’re looking for more activity than just laying out under the sun, you’ll want to head to Governor’s Beach, a picturesque spot that is well-known for its white rocks and cave formations along the shore. These natural phenomena are great for photographers.
Active travelers, meanwhile, should check out the nearby walking and hiking trails along the beachside cliffs that lead to isolated lookout points and hilly outcroppings with the occasional arching palm tree. The rocks also extend under the surface, creating a habitat for fish and a great snorkeling spot with easy access from shore.
You’ll find several on-site amenities, though it’s not a beach club-type destination. To the eastern end of the beach are small shops where you can rent chairs and grab a snack and a drink, while the western side is a bit more narrow and isolated.
You can scuba dive or head out on a fishing trip from Governor’s Beach, but make sure to book your tour in advance so that you can package it with transportation from your hotel or cruise ship.
Makronissos Beach feels like a tropical beach resort, complete with water activities like parasailing, scuba diving, and paddleboat rentals. It’s a great destination to visit at the height of the country’s tourist season, as there are two more beaches in the area including the pink sand Ziatzi Beach (which has no facilities) and Landa Beach.
The latter has more amenities than Ziatzi Beach, including restrooms and a few cafes, but it isn’t as lively as Makronissos Beach. Plan to spend the entire day there, walking from one beach to the other to figure out which one suits your needs best.
If you stay at Makronissos Beach, expect a wide and sandy beach, and crystal-clear water the color of a Caribbean lagoon. The liveliest areas of the beach are those next to the oceanfront bars. If you’re after a more relaxed experience, head to the outskirts of Makronissos to find more space and plenty of spread-out rental loungers and umbrellas.
Pissouri Bay Beach
Not far from Zapalo Beach is Pissouri, an ancient town built into a hillside. With cobblestone streets, tight stone buildings, and small restaurants with cafe tables spread around town squares, Pissouri is a destination in its own right.
It’s also a can’t-miss destination on Cyprus because of its proximity to Pissouri Beach. Spend the morning exploring the small shops in town and tasting its famous halloumi cheese, then head to the beach around noon when the day starts to warm up.
Pissouri Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Cyprus not only for its clear water and soft sand but for the sheer beauty of its coastline. The beach is surrounded by the same cliffs that cascade down the town and several nature trails lead hikers to fossil remains and secret spots hundreds of feet above the ocean, which make for the perfect vacation photo backdrop.
While there are plenty of restaurants and rental shops near the beach, you should consider buying supplies for a picnic in town and having lunch outdoors on the sand.
Read: An Insider’s Guide to Limassol, Cyprus
Don’t miss out on the chance to explore the fascinating island nation of Cyprus. There you’ll find everything including outdoor recreation, luxurious beaches, dozens of ancient cultural sites, and delicious Cypriot food.
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