Sweet Cyprus: Direct flights bring island within reach year-round
Cyprus for the sun holiday?
From endless sunshine to sumptuous seafood and surprises like the island's lace-making tradition, Cyprus is a Mediterranean gem.
Set the mood
You only live twice, as the song goes - and when you've already been resurrected and are looking for safe refuge from zealots, Cyprus is the place to be.
The Mediterranean island was so good that St Lazarus (yes, that Lazarus) supposedly spent his second life there and was appointed Bishop of Kition with his own church in what is now modern-day Larnaca. Lazarus reportedly only smiled once for the duration of his second life - however, Cyprus has plenty to keep other visitors happy.
With direct flights from Dublin now running year-round, you'll receive a warm welcome from the dark and chilly winter or enjoy the hotter summer weather later in the year. There's plenty to do culture-wise, too - from churches to wine tasting, museums and fishing, or even a bit of bird watching.
Mezzes are the way to go - eat your weight in fish or meat accompanied by locally-grown oranges, lemons, olives, strawberries, halloumi and soft cheeses, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. The Greek influence is strongly present at every meal, with large bowls of Greek salad the standard entrée - remember to leave room for it all!
Try a seafood lunch at Vassos Taverna in Ayia Napa (vassosfishtavern.com), sipping chilled wine and watching colours change over the water as the boats come and go. Also seek out Ploumin (facebook.com/toploumin) in the tiny village of Sotira, where you'll receive a warm welcome from hosts Fotini Lakovou and Eva Kitiazi. Barbecue-style meats are king here.
Cyprus enjoys mild winters and balmy summers and swimming in its turquoise waters is one of the island's many pleasures (the water off popular Nissi beach was 18˚C when I visited in March). There are also sea caves to explore and plenty of walks from Nissi along the coastline. Failing that, there's bird watching at the salt marshes where flamingos return to Oroklini Lake every year along with a whole host of other migratory birds. See birdlifecyprus.org/oroklini-lake for more.
For a luxurious treat try Nissi beach resort, Ayia Napa (nissi-beach.com; double rooms from €344 for two nights), or make your way to Vavla - population 22 - where hosts George and Donna Marie will welcome you to their residence 'Our House' (left). As well as tasteful rooms, the couple will cook dinner using produce from their garden (countryhousecyprus.com; double room €142 for two nights).
Lefkara village is renowned internationally for its lace-making tradition - and the lace makers use the best quality Irish linen for their designs. However, Toula and Michalis Rouvis are among the last in the village making lace and silver work as the skill is dying out and cheap imports make their way in.
Ayia Napa, while famous for its nightlife and coastline, appeared to have little to offer shoppers looking for original crafts to bring home off-season. Even the local supermarkets didn't carry much beyond necessities.
Get me there
Naomi travelled as a guest of Cobalt Air (cobalt.aero), which flies year-round from Dublin to Larnaca on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The flight time is five hours and 15 mins, and prices start at €133 each-way with a 20kg checked bag included.
For an extra €75 you can book business class, with extra legroom and baggage allowance, subject to availability.
See also visitcyprus.com and larnakaregion.com.