In recent years, Ayia Napa has developed a reputation for being a nonstop party zone, a relatively cheap destination for youngsters to experience their first taste of freedom… and alcohol by the bucket load. That’s a great shame, however. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy other sorts of holidays to Ayia Napa. If you’re planning to head this resort on the south east coast of Cyprus, don’t just think party —think tranquility, think beauty.
One such example of beauty is a hidden gem of a beach located just a mile to the east of the main resort. Of course Ayia Napa and other parts of Cyprus are renowned for their gorgeous beaches — might just be the reason why so many people flock to it — yet Konnos Bay is a secluded beach that few tourists know about. Escape the crowds, swim in the warm, inviting waters or hire a motor boat and take a tour of the Cape Greco sea caves.
Or head inland and explore some of the villages in and around the Troodos Mountains. As you might expect, the mountains provide the views that you’d expect, but you’ll also discover villages such as Prodromos, which is a two hour drive to the center of the island. This village, the highest in altitude on Cyprus, charms visitors and locals alike at 1380 meters. It’s also the center for winter sports and the best base for great skiing at Mount Olympus.
Since Cyprus is such a small island but has great transport links, you can hire a car, head west down the A6 and reach the other side of the island — again in just over two hours. A trip around the Akamas peninsula is such a memorable experience, and provides a refreshing contrast from the sunbaked beach. The peninsula is a protected nature reserve and here you can mountain bike, take a dip in the Baths of Aphrodite or swim in the crystal clear waters of the Blue Lagoon.
And if you are thinking of touring the Akamas peninsula you should make a point of stopping at the Avakas Gorge. The gorge is three kilometers long, covered in flora and home to lots of wildlife. Cool yourself in the shade provided by the limestone rocks that rise thirty meters up each side. You don’t want to miss this wonderful, natural attraction.
Finally, Ayia Napa Monastery in the center of the village is well worth a visit. Surrounded by a high wall and dedicated to “Our Lady of the Forests” (Napa is an ancient Greek word for “wooded valley”), part of the monastery is built underground and cut into the rock itself. This 16th century monastery is a welcome retreat from the heat and bikinis. They say that the sycamore tree in front of the south gate is over 600 years old.
So when you think of Ayia Napa, yes, there’s the beach, but there’s much more to see. Spending all day every day on the beach might be relaxing. You’ll catch all the rays of sun you can handle, but you’ll be missing out by not exploring the rest of the resort. Don’t be like all the other tourists. Experience the whole of Apia Napa. You won’t regret it.
Images by George M. Groutas and David Holt London, used under Creative Commons license.