Barbed wire, bulletmarked buildings and decades-old cars litter the abandoned streets of Cyprus’s exclusion zone, which was established by the United Nations after the Turkish invasion in 1974. Until 2003 it was impossible for foreigners to cross the border between the southern Republic and the north.
Now though, clients can take an excursion to the beautiful northern region, where impressive coastlines, crumbling castles and picturesque beaches dominate the landscape.
Attraction World offers the Discover the North (Kyrenia and Bellapais West) day excursion (£56pp), which incorporates free time in the coastal city of Kyrenia and a visit to the Abbey of Beautiful Peace in Bellapais village.
Must-see sights in Kyrenia include The Shipwreck Museum, which claims to house the oldest trading ship in the world, dating back to the reign of Alexander the Great. In Bellapais suggest clients check out the 200-year-old Tree of Idleness.
Carla Munafo, product manager at Attraction World, says: “Clients will feel a real difference between the two cultures that govern Cyprus, with the more classical architecture of the Greek-controlled south and the stunning scenery, towns and ruins in the north.”
For clients keen to get a glimpse into Cyprus’s cultural side with its Turkish, Greek, Muslim and Christian influences, Andrew Aley, director of sales and market management, Europe, Middle East and Africa at Viator, recommends the Authentic Cyprus Historic Day Tour From Paphos (£21pp).
“Clients can visit the ninth-century, five-domed church of Saint Paraskevi and stop at traditional villages to learn about ancient craftsmanship and halloumi-making.”
The coach excursion begins with a ceramics workshop in Yeroskipou village where clients will see potters at their craft and can even try the potter’s wheel themselves.
Furthermore, customers will travel to Letymbou to try on traditional Cypriot outfits and learn how to bake bread in a clay oven.
For customers eager to explore Cyprus’s west coast and take to the water, Viator offers The Heart of Blue Lagoon Akamas from Paphos (£31pp). They will embark a boat at Latchi Harbour for a trip that includes a swim at the Blue Lagoon, a stop at the Sea Caves and a visit to the botanic gardens of Aphrodite’s Bath – a naturally formed rock pool.
“Holidaymakers will love this day trip. With coach transfers from their Paphos hotel and complimentary alcoholic drinks while they sail, there’s no better way to enjoy Cyprus’s crystal clear waters and mystical sites,” Aley says.
It’s also possible to take an excursion to the Troodos Mountains from Paphos. Here visitors have the opportunity to explore the mountains’ wine villages, take in hillside walks and, depending on the time of year, ski on Mount Olympus. Kirker Holidays has a full-day excursion to the Troodos Mountains from £290pp that can be added to stays at the Almyra Hotel in Paphos.
The package includes a private driver, an English-speaking guide and access to the Kykkos Monastery, considered the wealthiest in Cyprus. Alternatively, the team at Kirker can tailor excursions should your customers want a more personalised itinerary.
DoSomethingDifferent.com offers a Troodos 4x4 Safari (£64pp). Clients will be taken off-road to the Panagia tou Sinti Monastery, the Tzelefos Bridge archaeological site and have the chance to sample a glass of local wine and eat traditional meze. The tour departs from Paphos, Limassol, Ayia Napa, Larnaca and Protaras.
Annabel Cove, head of trade sales at DoSomethingDifferent.com, says: “Our 4x4 day is a fun and adventurous way to see some of Cyprus’s wildest landscapes reaching elevations of nearly 2,000 metres. Travelling through vineyards, pine forests and mountain villages, it is a fantastic day out.”