MORE THAN SIMPLY SUN AND SAND

So much more than a normal beach holiday

Cyprus beach

The island is renowned for its gorgeous beaches and it is very popular with tourists looking for the ubiquitous beach holiday. However, alongside its more obvious charms, venture into the rural areas and you'll discover there's an entirely different side of the island that's equally as beautiful.

That something else

For those who enjoy getting into the great outdoors under their own steam, hiking holidays in Cyprus offer a wonderful insight into the diverse landscape.

The spectacular beauty of the Akamas Peninsula can be explored via an extensive network of trails that follow the rugged coastline, and for nature lovers the area offers abundant delights. During autumn and spring the beaches are the breeding grounds of the green and loggerhead turtles, and you'll encounter a host of migratory avian species as they make their way to Africa and Asia.

During the hotter summer months, hiking through the pine-forested trails of the Troodos Mountains provides a cool, picturesque respite with superb views across the island. The paths are well signposted with information on the many plant species and you'll encounter a host of bird species, including, if you're lucky, the rare griffon vulture eagle.

Golfing

The island has a growing reputation as a golfing holiday destination, with four excellent courses from which to choose.

Three of the courses are located near Paphos: the Cabell B Robinson designed Aphrodite Hills is an 18-hole championship golf course surrounded by forest with beautiful scenery from the fairways; Secret Valley Golf Club is the island's most prestigious club, popular with those with a taste for luxury Cyprus holidays; the Tsada course has the full 18 holes and was designed by Donald Steel. The Vikla course is 20km from Limassol, near Larnaca, and has a relaxed ambience and more casual dress code than the others.

The past

For those looking to augment their sun, sea and sand with a little ancient history, holidays to Cyprus are the perfect choice, with a number of interesting sites and ruins to visit.

Choirokoitia is a well-preserved prehistoric settlement that includes a number of reconstructed round dwellings. Those with an interest in architecture will enjoy an excursion to the famous Tombs of the Kings, with its Doric pillars carved from solid rock, or the intricate mosaics of the Roman villas.

As well as these important sites, all over the island there are museums, churches and monasteries filled with art and historical artifacts.

The present

For those who enjoy the more energetic pursuits, holidays in Cyprus offer enough to keep even the most active guest happy.

There's a great range of water sports available all year round, including snorkelling, diving, windsurfing and sailing, as well as a fun-filled waterpark. Other sports you can enjoy are tennis, fishing, parasailing and cycling.

You'll be able to choose from a great range of beaches around the island and there really is something to suit every mood. The eastern beaches are popular and quite lively, while on the western peninsula you'll be able to slip away for some quiet time in the sun.

Other activities include culinary and wine tours to experience a delicious taste of the diverse local gastronomy.

Getting around

Hiring a car will open up a world of freedom for you to explore the fantastic nature reserves, historical sites, mountains, and the coastal and rural countryside. The roads around the island are excellent and the added bonus is the Cypriots drive on the left side, so you'll feel right at home.

There's a good public bus system on the island linking all the major towns, with a frequent service operating Monday to Friday and a more limited service on weekends. There are also smaller rural services operating between villages but tourists do not often use these.

In most towns everything you need is within walking distance and taxis are widely available for a reasonable cost.

Note: The British three-pin plug can be used here.