Paralimni… a beautiful town!
Paralimni is the largest town on the south-eastern coast and you can find just about anything here. The word Paralimni means "by the lake". Historically, Paralimni was built on the shores of a shallow lake, which filled with water only in the winter. At the beginning of the 20th century, the whole lakebed was reclaimed for agricultural purposes. The countryside surrounding Paralimni has rich red soil and is famous for growing Cyprus potatoes, as well as its picturesque windmills, which are used to draw water from underground aquifers to irrigate the surrounding land. Many of these windmills are now derelict, having been replaced by electric or diesel-powered pumps. Before the rise of tourism, the rich agricultural land surrounding Paralimni was the source of its wealth, and is still of great importance today.
At the heart of Paralimni lies a shopping center where modern shops and offices rub shoulders with traditional coffee shops and old stores, main thoroughfares with traffic lights are crossed by narrow streets towered over by old, venetian-style houses. Watch the old women wearing traditional black clothes working, gossiping or simply resting in the sun while the men sit outside the local coffee shops playing backgammon. Admire the style of the younger generation as they go by in the latest fashions.
Take all this and add beautifully constructed modern churches overlooking the crumbling architecture of the older places of worship, standing proudly beside their mellowed stone and fading mosaics. While you savour this rich mixture of ancient and modern, enjoy your coffee in a modern café while listening to the afternoon church service and the harmony of the church bells as they ring out across the old square. If you have all this, then you have Paralimni.
This is a place where the old and the new seem to work in harmony. It’s a town where you can enjoy the advantages of a traditional village and the conveniences of a contemporary town. Paralimni is only minutes away from the busy resorts of Protaras and Ayia Napa.
Protaras… Popular holiday resort!
Protaras is well-known as the land of windmills, going back to the days when this was a farming area. Nowadays it has expanded into a modern holiday resort in, a horseshoe shape, of considerable size with tens of high capacity hotels, hotel apartments, villas, pubs, cafes, restaurants and associated facilities. Being a small and quiet tourist area, it has the reputation of catering more for family and Cypriot tourism.
However, it is most famous for its beaches, the most well-known of which is Fig Tree Bay. The sparkling turquoise waters are ideal for kids to splash about in and perfect if you would like a paddle too. Along the way you may be tempted to try the wide range of water sports on offer. It’s the perfect location for parasailing, to banana boats and jet skiing, scuba diving; whether you want something beautiful like sunfish reef or something a bit more historic like the WW1 shipwreck, there are many secluded lagoons to explore. Protaras most famous dive site for Technical Diving and Commercial Diver training is the Cyclops bay located on the border with Ayia Napa.
On the outskirts of Protaras is a small attractive stone church set atop a rocky crag - the Church of Prophet Elias. Climbing over 150 steps to visit a church might sound pretty strenuous; we can assure you that it is well worth every step for the views of the Protaras and its surroundings. Take that experience of enjoying the panoramic view from the church situated on a top of a hill particularly at night-time when the church is lit up it is even more breathtaking in its beauty. A visit to Prophet Elias Church will allow you to experience the spiritual as well as historical side of Protaras.
Cape Greco (Cavo Greco)
About 4km to the south of Protaras, the rocky coast of Cape Greco marks lands’ end at the southeast tip of the island. Patrolled by a lighthouse and military installations, the furthest limits of the cape are strictly out of bounds. Further inland however, the cape’s idyllic clear waters are a perfect retreat for snorkelers or swimmers who want to avoid the busy beaches of nearby Protaras.
Cape Greco was designated as a National Forest Park in 1993. It is a relatively unspoilt area with great natural beauty which changes and offers something different each season. Covering an area of 385 hectares, Cape Greco was originally covered by a dense juniper forest. During a short period of time, mainly between 1910 and 1920, the trees were rapidly cut down and burned to power the steam flour mills which were in abundance in the Paralimni area. Since then the slow growing juniper has never been able to recover. Today, although juniper and varieties of pine can still be found, trees and shrubs are mostly limited to sparse low level growth, including 14 species endemic to Cyprus. Various flowers including orchids and other rare plant species are also found here and during the springtime there are many flowers in bloom.
The park is also a game reserve with hunting prohibited. Foxes, hares and hedgehogs are common and over 80 species of birds, including many migratory species have been spotted. Visitors are also likely to see Lizards and a large variety of butterflies.
A small chapel dedicated to Agioi Anargyroi is one of the few buildings in the park. This small white chapel is a popular spot for wedding photos. Below it is a hermit’s sea cave which is mentioned in several local legends. Another spectacular sight is Cyclops cave further East in the park. At the headland of Cape Greco is a lighthouse and walkers can also find ruined foundations of an ancient temple devoted to Aphrodite. At the Eastern edge of the park is Konnos Bay, a breathtakingly beautiful beach with crystal clear waters fringed by pine trees.
There are several hiking trails which extend to a length of 16 kilometers. These are signposted and take in all the points of interest in the park. There are also 4 kilometers of bicycle track and a designated picnic area. The rocky seabed and underwater caves encourage a wealth of sea life making this area a hotspot for both snorkeling and scuba diving. Fishing is also a popular and peaceful way to spend time here.
Approximately 5km north of Protaras, Kapparis is a growing locality on the borders of Turkish controlled Cyprus. A quiet location increasingly popular with holiday home buyers and retirees, visitors will most likely come to relax at nearby Fireman’s beach or to sneak a glimpse of Varosha, the cross-border ‘ghost town’ abandoned and uninhabited since the 1974 Turkish military invasion.
While Kapparis has a smattering of restaurants and bars, the area is nowhere near as lively as Protaras, making car hire a necessity for many holidaymakers. Visitors to the area can however participate in a variety of water sports at Kapparis bay.
Situated on the northern outskirts of Protaras, Pernera is a small coastal resort popular with couples and families seeking a holiday destination away from the hustle and bustle of Ayia Napa and Protaras. Ideal for beach holidays, Pernera is less than 1km from three small sandy beaches that are quieter and less crowded than their shoreline counterparts in Protaras.
The center of Pernera has a selection of shops, cafés, bars and restaurants to visit as well as a small but active harbour from where boat trips can be taken. Regular bus services are also available from the center of the resort, offering transport to the livelier Protaras strip and Paralimni’s wide assortment of shops.
Ayia Napa… the small Ibiza!
Ayia Napa is located on the south eastern coast of Cyprus, south of Famagusta town near Cape Greco. It takes its name from a Venetian-era monastery of the same name, located in the center of the town. The word "Ayia" means "holy" in Greek. "Napa" is archaic and means "wooded valley" or dell. Ayia Napa Monastery is "the only building of historical interest" in the Ayia Napa area.
Ayia Napa is about 8 km from Protaras, a town that has recently seen similar development which is more favourable for singles, couples and families. Attracting thousands of tourists every year, mostly from Western and Northern Europe, Ayia Napa displays the culture that the Cypriots are proud of. Through the traditional folk dancing that takes place next to the monastery during summer and the street festival in September you will discover why the Cypriot people are so proud of their heritage. The festivities reflect the historic, cultural and agricultural traditions of Ayia Napa.
During the long summer season Ayia Napa attracts mainly young singles that are attracted by the Ayia Napa’s reputation of nightlife. The other type of tourists is couples and families who are visiting the resort mainly because of the perfect weather and golden sandy beaches. Among them the most famous beaches are Nissi Beach, Limanaki Beach and Macronissos Beach. With its more than seventy bars and fifteen nightclubs Ayia Napa deservedly is named party capital of Europe along with Ibiza. However, contrary to its reputation, you will be surprised by how wonderful Ayia Napa is for romantic strolls along the beautiful beaches watching the sun set over the crystal clear water. The resort is suitable also for winter tourism, because of the relevantly high temperature amplitudes, which are almost never below +10 C. Winter visitors, are mostly from the Scandinavian countries, also European football teams are practicing on the football fields.
In the east side of Ayia Napa, is located the Ayia Napa Sculpture Park, which was inaugurated in May 2014, with the aim of creating a completely new tourist experience. The open air sculpture museum features both large and small works of art created by more than 20 sculptors from around
the world. The rocky landscape slopes down to the sea and provides a serene and peaceful backdrop to this visually exciting display of modern artwork.
The replica Kyrenia II in the Thalassa MuseumThe town contains two municipal marine museums: the Tornaritis - Pierides Museum of Marine Life, and the Thalassa Ayia Napa Municipal Museum. The former, founded in 1992, displays marine fossils, specimens, and dioramas. The latter, founded in 2005, displays the "marine heritage of Cyprus, from prehistoric times to the present", and features a full-scale replica of a c300BC merchant ship which was salvaged during the 1960s.
The Paralimni, Protaras, Ayia Napa and many other villages are known to Greek Cypriots as the “Free Famagusta District”, a reference to the fact that a large part of the area, including most of the town of Famagusta, has been under Turkish occupation since 1974. During the second phase of the Turkish invasion (14 August 1974), the town was completely evacuated by its population. Unlike other parts of occupied Cyprus, the Turkish army sealed off the town of Famagusta immediately after its capture and no-one has been allowed to enter since then. Forty-three years on, and despite international resolutions that call for the return of the rightful owners to their homes and properties.
Famagusta remains a ghost town. There are several “viewing points’ at Dherynia from where you can see into the deserted town with the aid of binoculars and telescopes.
The surprise relaxation of restrictions on Greek Cypriots visiting the occupied areas in April 2003 means that the people of Famagusta can get a little closer to the closed town but, at the time of writing, this area is still out of bounds for visitors of any nationality.
Famagusta viewpoints: there are 3 separate places at Dherynia from which to view Famagusta. They provide pretty much the same thing.
1. Annita’s View Point: tel.23823003
2. Cultural Centre of Occupied Famagusta: tel.23740860
3. Famagusta Beach View: tel.23730433
NOTE: If using a UK mobile number please use 00 357 before any of the above numbers.