You should note that although opening times are listed below for major attractions, they are subject to change. Cyprus is very much a seasonal destination and closing times are often extended in the summer months of June to August. A lunch hour is sometimes taken at smaller venues.
With plenty of luxury beachfront resorts, Paphos (on the south-west coast and home to one of the island's two international airports) makes an excellent base for touring. Look beyond the beach, and you'll also discover that this town - a UNESCO World Heritage site - embraces a wide sweep of Cyprus's history.
A medieval fortress (Open: daily 10h00-17h00 (18h00 in summer). Admission: EUR1.20) stands at the harbour, where brightly painted fishing boats still moor. Nearby Roman ruins at Paphos Archaeological Park (Poseidonos Rd. Open: Mon-Sat 10h00-16h00. Admission: EUR1.20) date mainly from the 2nd and 3rd centuries, with an Odeon (theatre), its accompanying agora (marketplace), and the superb mosaic floors of several villas. A ten-minute drive takes you 600 years further back in time to the Tombs of the Kings (off Tafon ton Vasileon, north of harbour area. Open: daily 08h00-17h00 (winter); 08h30-19h30 (summer). Admission: EUR1.20), where burial chambers with pillars and courtyards were carved into the rocky ground. Tel: +357 (0)26-306-295.
Petra tou Romiou
One look at this stunning stretch of coastline 25 kilometres east of Paphos, and it's easy to understand why, according to legend, Aphrodite chose this beach to come ashore after her birth in the sea foam off Cyprus.
Soaring cliffs and a smooth-pebbled beach frame a turquoise bay, in which the craggy rocks known as Petra tou Romiou stand guard. Parking is available off the B6 coastal road, which also offers several look-out points for admiring the views.
Approximately 15 kilometres further east, Pissouri Bay offers a beautiful beach, well equipped with showers, sunbeds and tavernas.
A few kilometres inland from Petra tou Romiou stands the village of Kouklia, once home to a centre of Aphrodite worship. It was a place of pilgrimage for many of the devout, with the temple that once stood here being established as early as 1200BC.
Only the foundations of her majestic temple can be seen, but the archaeological museum next to the ruins contains many interesting finds from the site, and is itself a Lusignan manor house, parts of which date to the 13th century. Elsewhere among the scattered ruins you can see tombs, mosaic floors and arches from various constructions over the centuries. A guidebook will point you in the right direction and is worth buying to identify the various objects uncovered by over a century of excavations.
Sanctuary of Aphrodite. 14km east of Paphos; follow signs to Kouklia off the motorway or B6 coastal road. Open: daily 09h00-16h00. Admission: EUR1.20
The Akamas Peninsula
The western tip of Cyprus offers a coast that's still wild - where seawater collects in rock pools, endangered sea turtles climb onto beaches to lay their eggs, and deep gorges shelter rare plants.
Lovely sea views can be enjoyed from the two nature trails that start at the Baths of Aphrodite, a small pool where the goddess reputedly bathed, beyond the village of Latchi (Latsi). Latchi has a pretty fishing harbour, and excellent watersports facilities run by local guides and tutors.
The B7 links Paphos to Polis, with a coastal road running west from Polis to Latchi and a car park near the baths.
The Troodos Mountains
Rising like rumpled pillows in the centre of the island, the Troodos Mountains guarantee cool breezes even in the strong heat of July. Villages and monasteries cling, sometimes precariously, to the slopes among the scented pines, and nature trails provide excellent walking.
The once-remote locations helped protect the Byzantine "painted" churches, many of which are now UNESCO World Heritage sites: the colourful frescoes on their walls tell the stories of the Bible. In the western reaches of the Troodos Mountains, the Cedar Valley features a wildlife preserve for the moufflon, an endangered wild sheep
Lying on the Mesaoria Plain, north of the Troodos Mountains, the capital city of Nicosia has a historic heart. Inside the "old city's" star-shaped 16th century Venetian walls narrow streets, walled in by one and two-storey houses of stone or plastered mud-brick, form a veritable maze. Many of these houses are gradually being restored, with wrought-iron wrapped balconies that hang over the streets and wooden shutters that shield against the sun.
The pedestrian area of Laiki Yeitonia boasts bustling shops and cafés, extending down Ledra Street to the United Nations buffer zone known as the "Green Line", which separates the largely Greek Cypriot southern Republic of Cyprus from the Turkish Cypriot area in the north.
The central Archbishopric offers graceful architecture, the small but colourful Cathedral of Agios Ioannis, or St John (Open: Mon-Fri 08h00-12h00 and 14h00-16h00; Sat 08h00-12h00. Admission: free), and several museums. Just to the west of the Venetian walls lies the Cyprus Museum, a must-see for archaeology buffs (1 Mouseiou St. Open: Tue, Wed & Fri 08h00-16h00; Thur 08h00-17h00; Sat 09h00-16h00; Sun 10h00-13h00
Ayia Napa is the island's foremost site for sea, sun and fun, with a well-deserved reputation for lively nightlife. Over the last decade tourists, particularly from the UK, have adopted the town as their personal playground. The proliferation of bars and clubs reached saturation point in the last few years, and recently the locals have imposed some order on the hedonism, which means the town is a lot less chaotic now than you might think. However, this is still very much a lively resort town, and the beaches remain packed through summer while the nightlife is still energetic.
The town centre's small 16th-century monastery is a rather peaceful haven if you want to get away from it all for a while, and it reveals another side to the town - which will still be here when the tourists eventually move on.
Beach lovers and watersports enthusiasts will find much to do in this eastern corner of the island: Cape Greco in particular offers walking trails, sea caves and stunning sunsets.
On the east coast, a pleasant, palm-lined seafront promenade greets visitors to Larnaca's old quarter, where the main attraction is the Church of Agios Lazaros, or Saint Lazarus (Plateia Agiou Lazarou. Open: Mon-Sun 08h00-12h30 and 15h30-18h30. Admission: free. Tel: +357 (0)24-652-498). The saint is believed to have lived in this area after being raised from the dead by Jesus.
Just south of the city, near the island's main international airport, is Larnaca Salt Lake. Often home to pink flamingos from December through July, on the edge of the lake is the elegant Hala Sultan Tekke (Open: daily 09h00-17h00 (winter); 07h30-19h30 (summer). Admission: free), a memorial mosque to Prophet Mohammed's aunt. For an excellent day trip from Larnaca, try the mountain village of Lefkara (signposted off the A1, the main Nicosia-to-Limassol motorway), which is known for lace-making (lefkaritika) and its silversmiths.
With 15 kilometres of coastline and lively events such as September's Wine Festival, the southern city of Limassol offers countless resorts and self-catering flats, and a reputation for fun.
There are also several sites of historical interest west of the city. The medieval Crusader castle of Kolossi (just off the B6 14km west of Limassol town centre. Open: daily 08h00-18h00 (09h00-17h00 winter). Admission: EUR1.71. Tel: +357 (0)25-934-907) was once home to the production of Commandaria, the sweet wine of Cyprus. Nearby, the Greco-Roman theatre of Kourion (B6 5km west of Kolossi. Open: daily 08h00-17h00 (19h30 in summer). Admission: EUR1.30. Tel: +357 (0)25-991-048) and several other remnants of ancient civilisations overlook the Mediterranean, and part of the Temple of Apollo Hylates (B6 3km west of Kourion. Open: daily 09h00-17h00 (19h30 in summer). Admission: EUR1.30. Tel: +357 (0)25-991-049) stands amid the ruins of its sanctuary.
Plenty of people come to Cyprus to enjoy the natural splendour of the island and the opportunities it affords for getting out and about. Not surprisingly for a Mediterranean island, Cyprus offers plenty of watersports, including windsurfing, snorkelling, diving (from "try" dives to certification courses), fishing, sailing and parasailing. Any of the resort towns will offer watersports from the beach, but the southeast coast is considered one of the best areas for divers. The sunken Zenobia ferry just off the coast in Lanarca Bay is very popular with experienced divers.
On land, cycling, walking and horse riding are widely available, while three golf courses are located in the Paphos area. Water parks can be found close to Paphos, Limassol and Larnaca/Ayia Napa and are perfect for expending a bit of extra energy away from the beach.