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GENERAL TOURIST INTRODUCTION

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

The Country

The third largest island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus stretches 150 miles (240 km) from the west coast to its easternmost tip and 60 mlles (96 km) from north to south.

Two imposing mountain ranges act as a dramatic backcloth to the sweeping central Mesaoria plain.

There are six major towns Nicosia, the capital situated inland in the middle of the Mesaoria plain, and the 5 coastal towns of Limassol, Larnaka, Pafos, Kyrenia and Famagusta. The latter two, in the north and east respectively, have been under Turkish occupation since 1974 and are inaccessible to visitors.

Cyprus's landscape is one of infinite contrasts, from its fertile central plain to the cool vine-clad foothills; the majesty of the cedar valley in which wild indigenous moufflon roam; mile after mile of sandy shores with secluded beaches to seek out, and hundreds of villages to explore each with its own tradition and charm.

Leafy carob and attractive olive trees abound while plantations of citrus and banana, and an endless profusion of vines add variety to an island where everything seems to flourish and blossom.

The Cyprus Seasons

The climate of Cyprus never fails to delight her visitors, and every season has a charm and beauty of its own. In summer, sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters beckon swimmers and provide the perfect conditions for sailing, skiing and all watersports under the sun. Yet a complete contrast awaits in the cool, pine covered mountains o Troodos, with delightful hill resorts and traditional hotels.

As the land mellows in autumn there s a wonderful clarity of air on those balmy days, still warmed by the brilliant Cyprus sun. The sea temperature is still high after the long hot summer, and for some this is the best season of all The Cyprus winter is short and mild, with average daytime temperatures around 16° This season brings some much-needed rain to the land, but most of its days are bright and sunny. And there is a short snow season on the mountains from January to March, with fun to be had by all ages from tobogganers to serious skiers. During winter one is able to bask on a sandy beach and within an hour embark on a skiing adventure in the Troodos mountains.

In springtime the island takes on an enchanting beauty. The countryside is set ablaze as glorious wild flowers and fragrant blossoms burst into life to delight the eye with their stunning colours. Bright poppies, yellow daisies and pastel anemonies present their myriad colours in the fields. Meanwhile prickly broom and rockroses decorate the hillsides, peonies start appearing on the mountains, and everywhere the heady scent of orange blossom pervades the air. In fact with 1500 different species of flowers, Cyprus is a paradise for nature lovers. As the days lengthen and the sun gathers strength. Cyprus enters an idyllic season for walks, leisurely picnics and the fascinating contemplation of nature, not forgetting, of course, swimming and sunbathing.

From the gentle warmth of early spring lo the golden sun-drenched days of high summer, there's a Cyprus season to suit all types, just as there is a special part in this Island of contrasts to appeal to all tastes.

Town and Village Life

The towns of Cyprus present a modern cosmopolitan atmosphere blended with historic buildings and ancient monuments. Imposing colonial and classic style buildings rub shoulders with well designed contemporary hotels, apartment blocks and attractive shopping streets, some narrow and quaint, others thoroughly modern.

By contrast, life in the villages follows a slower pace, reflecting the importance of agriculture, cottage industry and family ties. Traditional flatroofed village houses made of mudbrick are a common sight, while stone-built dwellings with tiled roofs can be seen in the mountains. Many village houses feature delightful vine-shaded court-yards and the typical local oven "fourno" for home-made baking.

Its People

The people of Cyprus are traditionally warm and wellcoming and consider a visit to their island as a compliment - one tha’s repaid with qenuine hospitaliy, summed up in the Greek word Philoxenia: Friendship towards the guest. Their naive tongue is Greek, but English is readily spoken in all the shops, restaurants and hotels - in fact just about everywhere. In a world of ever-increasing violence, Cyprus has a remarkably low crime rate, and from just one visit to the Island the visitor can understand why.

The pace is leisurely, the people kind and helpful, always ready with a smile. The Cypriots are hard workers too - resilient people who have withstood and accommodated the succession of invaders throughout their long hlstory.


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Panayiotis Zaphiris (pzaphi01@tufts.edu), (cyprus@wam.umd.edu)