Travel: It’s no myth, Cyprus is a jewel in the Med

Ruth Brindle enjoys a trip to the island where ancient history meets modern day luxury

The blue lagoon at Akamas (photo: Deputy Ministry of Tourism)
The blue lagoon at Akamas (photo: Deputy Ministry of Tourism)

After my first visit to Cyprus, the words that spring to mind about the island are romantic, friendly, unexpected, beautiful and relaxing.

My stay at two Louis hotels - in Limassol and Paphos - highlighted that there’s so much to offer on this island steeped in thousands of years of turbulent history spiced up with myth and legend.

And, indeed, this destination, a four-hour flight away, is already a firm favourite with us holiday-loving islanders.

Cocktails galore go down nicely before or after dinner

My first luxury stay was at the Royal Apollonia Hotel in Limassol. Right on the beach, it’s one of Louis Hotels’ Elegant Collection of five star offers. It’s equally a good choice for families with youngsters, couples or groups of friends. Cocktails and a cooling towel and lots of smiling faces greeted our small party of female friends when we arrived.

As if my large and stylish room was not enough to make me feel special, stepping out on a balcony with my own spa and ‘70s-style stylish basket chair was heaven. And the view? Priceless - sea, sand and sunsets.

The breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet here is award-winning, and with all the very varied international dishes catering to all tastes I can see why. With the Cypriots’ love of salads and the diverse dishes of a typical ‘meze’ meal, there was always a vast selection to choose from.

You can also choose to eat in the signature restaurants for a change and a treat - Asian and Greek-themed.

The amphitheatre at Kourion is spectacular (photo: Deputy Ministry of Tourism)

My skin was also given a treat thanks to a covering of beneficial and therapeutic mud in the Dead Sea Climatological Room in the Royal Spa. And after my skin was smoothed out, it was the turn of the knots in my shoulders with a massage. Relaxation complete.

I was sad to say goodbye to the Royal Apollonia, but Paphos beckoned and the five star, adults-only Ivi Mare.

This new hotel is right on the seafront with another gorgeous view of the Med from my balcony. The pool here is the longest in Paphos and the spa also has a lovely indoor pool.

With the hotel’s white leather furniture and stylish decor, this definitely has an upmarket feel and the Mirrors bar proved to be an alluring place for, yes, yet more cocktails. The gorgeous-looking drinks were very reasonably priced.

The carvery is a favourite at both hotels

The buffet offering was, again, delicious, but I particularly loved dining at the Japanese restaurant on site - Akakiko. We watched enthralled as the sushi chef created delicacies for us. We dined as a super smooth saxophonist serenaded us through the evening.

The bright blue and white decor in my bedroom had a very cool feel and all our party noted with glee how we could shower and slightly open a clever blind to see the sea at the same time without losing modesty.

The path along by the sea here can take you to one of the town’s favourite spots for watching the sunset or, the other way, to the harbour. But we preferred to spend most of our time at the luxury haven of the hotel.

I think Aphrodite herself, the Greek goddess of love, pleasure, and beauty, who rose from the sea off the Cyprus coast, would have lingered longer here too.

The Ivi Mare Hotel pool is the longest in Paphos

Things to do

Ancient sites

On a 45 minute trip into the impressive Troodos Mountains, visit the ruins of Amathous royal city and 13th Century Kolossi Castle, a former Crusader stronghold, before marveling at the beauty of Kourion. The Greco-Roman amphitheatre here overlooking Episkopi Bay was built in the 2nd century BC and is still used for musical and theatrical performances. Next to this are the excavations of Eustolios House with its impressive mosaics, which date back to the 10th century BC.

Pretty villages

Take the opportunity to eat at the highly authentic family-owned Lofou Tavern in Lofou village, which is home to only 40 people, and wander the quaint cobbled streets.

Wine tasting

Take an indulgent break at the Ivi Mare spa pool

A scenic drive into the mountains to the Vassiliades vineyard in Omodos is rewarded by a glass or two of the local wine, and a tour of the winery, with experts on hand to explain the process.

Boat trip

Swimming or snorkelling in the dazzling turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon greets those taking the Nafsika II trip after passing the Baths of Aphrodite, Platzi, the caves of Manolis and Fontana Amorosa along the Akamas coastline. Free local wine and music on board adds to the fun. On dry land enjoy an unforgettable and ‘couldn’t be fresher’ fish lunch at Y+P fish tavern in pretty Latchi harbour where the boat docks.

Island of cats

Brought to the island thousands of years ago to deal with pests, you’ll see them roaming around, even in the hotels, where they are well cared for.

Outdoor activities

Take your pick from four wheel drive tours to quad bikes, and every type of action on the sea. Visit Cyprus also recommends special cultural and agrotourism trails and hiking routes on the island.

Top tip

You can use your UK plugs in Cyprus, so no adapters needed!

Travel facts

Seven nights at the five star Ivi Mare – Designed For Adults on a bed and breakfast basis is £947 per person, including 23kg of luggage per person, transfers and flights from London Gatwick on September 23, 2022, www.ivimare.com

Seven nights at the five star Royal Apollonia on a half board basis for £1,075 per person, including 23kg of luggage per person, transfers and flights from London Gatwick on September 11, 2023, www.theroyalapollonia.com

Book with easyJet holidays: www.easyjet.com/en/holidays or call: 0330 365 5005.

Holiday Extras is the market leader in UK airport parking, hotels, lounges, and transfers.

Enjoy Gatwick’s North Terminal Plaza Premium Lounge available from £32pp. To book, visit HolidayExtras.com or call 0800 316 5678. More information on Cyprus at www.visitcyprus.com or contact them at: [email protected]