Cyprus

Cyprus: Why go

Cyprus - the 3rd biggest island in the Med, lying close to the Turkish coast - is a former British colony with strong Middle-Eastern and Ottoman influences. It's divided into 2 parts: the Greek-speaking south, which is more accessible and developed (this is the region we cover), and the smaller Turkish-speaking north, which you can visit on a day trip.

Its near-year-round sunshine and stunning seas have put it firmly on the tourist map, especially among the Brits, who seem to feel at home here (most Cypriots speak English, cars drive on the left, and you'll find lots of British retirees-to-the-sun). But there's more to it than that. The huddled stone villages and terraced hillsides of the interior are picturesque and charmingly sleepy; many old houses have been converted to rental cottages which make a great base for exploring. You can taste fine wines, learn local recipes (think delicious Greek-meets-Lebanese mezes), ride ponies or mountain bikes along car-free tracks, and explore Neolithic sites, Crusader castles and Byzantine churches. The lofty, forested Troodos Mountains are a great escape for keen hikers, botanists and (in winter) skiers. Back at the coast, there's all manner of watersports, diving, boat cruises and snorkelling - all among some of the warmest and clearest of seas in the Med. And golfers have over a dozen courses to choose from.

It's also a great option for families, with plenty of fun and games (water parks, donkey sanctuaries, camel rides) alongside its natural attractions. Even the archaeological sites - stunning mosaics at Paphos, grand colonnades at Salamis - are a real eye-opener for visitors of all ages. And the inhabitants are famously hospitable: you'll quickly be invited to a game of beach ball, a discussion of the Premier League, or to join in a folk dance.

10:09 | GMT +2 Hours