Part of the joy of going on holiday is getting to explore new places and cultures – otherwise, you’d just keep going back to the same destination. Every location has its own charm and something new to offer you, whether that’s historical sights, a new cuisine, or vibrant cities that are waiting to be explored.
Cyprus is no different. It’s a particular favorite for individuals and families who want to make the most of the island’s geography and crave an action-packed holiday. Warm temperatures throughout the year, plenty of watersports, and ample hiking routes mean that there’s always something to do.
But there’s also a slow pace to Cyprus that needs to be embraced if you’re truly going to get an authentic experience. Read on to find out the top tips for exploring this beautiful island through the eyes of a local.
Choose local accommodation
Firstly, where you stay will influence the type of holiday that you have. Ayia Napa, Larnaca, and Paphos are all popular Cyprus places with tourists (and for good reason), but if you’re looking for something more authentic you may want to head slightly out of the city or look for a locally run hotel rather than a chain.
Alternatively, hiring a villa may also encourage you to stay in a more rural area. This will also give you the opportunity to buy your food from local restaurants or the market rather than dining in the hotel, which will help you see more of the area and enjoy some Cypriot cuisine.
Hire a car
There is so much to see in Cyprus, but some of the most beautiful spots are a little harder to get to. The Troodos mountains, home to the famous Mount Olympus, is a must-see area. Hiking is a great way to see the authentic side of a country – there are plenty of tiny villages to explore, as well as stunning landscapes and magical waterfalls.
Whilst it would usually be best to get on public transport if you want to travel like a local, the Cypriot transport system can be non-existent outside of the cities, so hiring a car is the best way to get around. Especially if you’re on a family holiday, a car will allow you to carry around all the gear that your kids need (as well as a tasty locally-sourced picnic).
Learn some phrases
There are two main languages in Cyprus – Greek and Turkish. Whilst many people do speak English, it’s polite to learn at least some basic local phrases. Not only will this be seen as a gesture of goodwill, but it can also help you get around some of the more rural areas that aren’t solely aimed at tourists.
Especially if you’re planning on walking or driving on the island, it can be helpful to recognize at least some words on the road signs, or be able to ask for help should you need directions.
Key phrases to learn include:
- Kalimera (Καλημέρα) – good morning
- Kalinichta (Καληνύχτα) – good night
- Ne (Ναί) / Ohi (Όχι) – yes/no
- Efharisto (Eυχαριστώ) – thank you
- Pou ine to…? (Που είναι το…?) – where is the…?
- Aristera (Αριστερά) / Dexia (Δεξιά) – left/right
Enjoy a mezze meal
Eating is a huge part of travel for many people, and Cyprus is the perfect place for foodies. With influences from both Greek and Turkish cuisine, you’re sure to find plenty of mouthwatering dishes on every menu.
To experience the food like a local, find a family-run taverna, and settle in. If you’re not sure what to look for, look around and see where the local residents are sitting, or ask for a recommendation. You may need to use an app or your list of phrases to understand the menu, but it will be worth it.
Cyprus is famous for favoring the ‘mezze’ approach, where lots of smaller dishes are placed on the table for communal sharing, rather than just selecting one dish. Not only does this mean you get to try multiple things, but it’s also incredibly social, and allows you to take your meal at a slower pace.
Experience authentic Cyprus
No matter how many times you visit this country, there will always be something new to explore on your next visit. By following these tips, you can get the most authentic experience on your journey to this amazing island. Be prepared to travel slowly, eat heartily, and drink in the nature around you while visiting all the unmissable spots in Cyprus.
Sarah Eval loves to explore the world and share her experiences with others through her writing. She visited 30 countries before she was 30, and feels privileged to be able to go on adventures and work at the same time.