Cyprus is ever-growing in popularity as a holiday destination, and rightly so. It boasts beautiful beaches, warm weather, a rich history and delicious local food. I was lucky enough to grow up on the island, spending 13 of my 19 years there; so I like to think I know quite a bit about the place. On my most recent visit just a couple of weeks ago, I realised just how much this little island is thriving - the new Limassol Marina featured in this photoset being just one example of that. Modernity juxtaposes tradition in the most beautiful way, making it no surprise that so many holiday-makers return year after year.
Where to stay
The island is scattered with everything from luxury 5 star resorts to budget hotels to holiday let villas and everything in between.
Probably my favourite stay on the island, the Columbia Beach comprises of two sister hotels on the same site. Though the 5 star resort offers a more luxury stay, both hotels are stunning. The service is always exquisite and so personal and guests have access to a range of amazing restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools and the spa.
Booking.com always has some great private holiday lets listed in Cyprus, including many gorgeous villas. This can work out quite cost-effective if you decide to cook for yourselves, or you find a large villa for two families or three couples to share. Pissouri is the perfect area to start your search, with a multitude of villas with private pools available.
Where to eat
The best local restaurants, cafés and treats.
My local beach restaurant when I'm at home and my favourite by far, Chris' Blue Beach at Curium has undergone massive renovations in the last 5 years; transforming it from beer and ice cream beach café to fine dining restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean. They do amazing fresh fish - local sea bream (tsipoura) and squid (kalimari) - as well as an extensive range of local and international dishes. Whether for lunch or dinner, straight off the beach or for a special occassion, Chris' Blue Beach is the perfect venue.
I order: kalimari and chips, vanilla milkshake, virgin Pinã Colada, waffle with white chocolate and strawberries.
My favourite Italian on the island, Il Gusto is a short drive from Limassol and the perfect way to spend an evening. It hosts both outdoor and indoor seating and a great selection of classic Italian dishes. If a group of us go here, we always order the Antipasto il Gusto - a huge platter of Italian meats, cheeses and salad.
I order: Antipasto il Gusto, Fungi al forno, Spaghetti alla carbonara, Creme Brulle Con Vaniglia, Souffleto Di Choccolato.
I tried this shop in the new Marina on my latest visit and honestly fell in love. With delicious dessert-inspired flavours for just a couple of euros, it has my heart.
Anyone who knows me knows my love for Cinnabon and their incredible cinnamon rolls. Though Cinnabon have outlets across Europe and a number of stores across London, it's just something I'll always associate with Cyprus. If you're within reach of a Cinnabon, definitely pop in and give them a try.
Curium Beach, Episkopi
The best soft ice cream I've ever had comes from a little van on Curium Beach. I can't quite believe I'm recommending such a hidden gem, but if you find the ice cream van with the yellow surfboard strapped to the top, ask for a 99 flake dipped in white chocolate with strawberry sauce and sprinkles. Thank me later.
White chocolate covered Oreos - available in supermarkets across mainland Europe.
Loukoumades - local doughnuts covered in syrup.
Meze - kind of like Greek tapas, lots of small traditional dishes to share.
Where to go
Whether you want to relax on the beach or party hard, there's something for everyone.
Cyprus boasts a rich history, with many castles dating back to the crusades still standing. In the heart of the old town, Limassol Castle is great to wander round, with a host of artefacts preserved inside. Slightly out of town, Kolossi Castle, Richard The Lionheart's home, is another worth seeing. If you're into your history, the Roman ruins at Curium are also worth a visit. The amphitheatre overlooking the sea is quite breath-taking.
Cyprus is full of little areas to explore, from the more modern Limassol Marina and Paphos Harbour to the winding streets of the hilltop village Omodos. A personal favourite of mine is the village of Platres, with a beautiful forest walk up the river to the Kaledonia waterfall - wear your bikini in the summer and go for a dip!
If you're looking for a party holiday, Ayia Napa is the place to stay. Get yourself a clubbing package with Pambos Napa Rocks Hotel or get yourself down to the Kandi Beach Party or Beach Cult Live Festival (Jax Jones, Chase & Status, Sigala and more) at Macronissos beach Club. For those closer to Limassol, Guaba Beach Bar and BedRoom are the most popular places to let your hair down.
There are a number of water parks on the island, Fassouri Watermania Waterpark being my personal choice. Though pricey, for a full day of rides, sunbathing and great food (think waffles, mini doughnuts, Costa Coffee, Cinnabon) this is the place to go.
I would 100% recommend hiring a car if you can as there are no trains on the island and buses can be few and far between. Many of the best attractions are slightly out of town, so unless you're looking to spend your holiday between your hotel and the beach a car will be your saviour.
Traditionally, shops are closed on Sundays, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and every day during the summer months between about 1pm and 3pm. However, many bigger shops, supermarkets and shopping centres will stay open much longer.
I hope you found this guide useful if you're planning a trip to Cyprus this summer! Please do let me know in the comments if you have any other questions and I'll try my best to answer them.