This article aims to serve as a useful guide for holidayers in Cyprus who wish to explore the outdoors in this beautiful country. Cyprus is a popular last minute holiday destination for British travellers. Apart from the fabulous beaches, the country offers diverse choice in outdoor activities.
A wide variety of Cyprus outdoor activities are available for all ages, from hiking in beautiful, unspoilt countryside to scuba diving amongst famous shipwrecks, there is something for everyone. The climate is perfect for open-air pursuits and thanks to the tourist trade the facilities are of a high class, but remain quite inexpensive. A good way to get some fresh air and exercise and help a charity at the same time is by dog-walking at the Kyrenia Animal Rescue centre, which is recognized by the RSPCA.
They are always looking for more volunteers to help walk their rescue dogs in the beautiful five-fingered mountain range in Kyrenia, North Cyprus. A really enjoyable way to explore the Kyrenia countryside whilst doing a good deed!
Hiring a quad bike is a great way to see the sights and have some adventure! You will find the majority of quad biking tours located near Paphos as well as in mountain ranges in North Cyprus.
Paragliding is becoming a popular way to see Cyprus from the air. The most well-known flying site in the Republic is based at Kourion. If you want to paraglide in North Cyprus, head to St Hilarion Castle.
Cycling in Cyprus will appeal to ambitious cyclists, who can find remote earth and sand tracks in the Troodos Mountains and Akamas peninsula. If struggling up steep hills is not your thing, try exploring the countryside and villages off the main roads.
You can hire bikes and accessories in most major resorts and the Limassol Cycling Club holds events which tourists are welcome to join.
If this all sounds too much, you might enjoy the various spectator sports in Cyprus, such as tennis, horse-racing, football matches, the Cyprus Motor Rally or the kite-flying competition held in Paphos every year during March.
Fishing in Cyprus
Fishing in Cyprus is a popular past time for both locals and visitors. As well as the wide variety of sea life available in the Mediterranean, Cyprus has many stocked man-made dams across both the Republic and in the North.
No matter where you stay in Cyprus, you will definitely not be too far away from a place to fish! If you would like to try your hand at fishing in Cyprus, a good place to start would be one of the many boat excursions offered around the island. Be sure to bring your camera with you to capture any unusual Cyprus marine life that you may discover!
To participate in freshwater Cyprus fishing, you must obtain a licence from either the Head Office of Fisheries Department in Nicosia, or one of the District Offices of Fisheries Departments. These are located in Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos, Latsi and Paralimni.
Licences costs 17€ per reservoir, or you can buy a licence which covers all reservoirs for 34€. The licence is valid for the year in which it is issued. Group licences are also available at 8.50€ per person and are valid for 14 days.
There are several regulations that must be complied with to fish legal Cyprus fishing, for example you are only allowed to fish during daylight. There is also a catch limit per species.
Many people prefer fishing at sea, for the almost limitless species they may find. Although no licence is needed for saltwater fishing which involves angling, trolling or fishing with vertical lines, you will need a licence for any kind of commercial fishing, fishing with nets or spear fishing at night or fishing with aqua lungs.
There are many deep-sea fishing excursions available at most resorts on a half-day or full day basis.
Types of fish you may find going Cyprus Fishing
Saltwater fish include: sea bass, barracuda, tuna, bluefish, jack, blackfish, scorpion fish, mullet, jack, sea bream, parrot fish, swordfish. You may even catch a Conger eel on rare occasions.
Freshwater fish include: crayfish, catfish, trout, carp.
Fishing Venues in Cyprus
Known as Panagra Lake and set in the Panagra Wetlands. A nesting and breeding area for domestic and migratory birds. And given that we donâ€™t have many wetlands an import area of natural interest. It is about a half hour drive from Girna (Kyrenia).
Towards the east coast of the island, nearer to Famagusta. Just how easy it is get to the water and what fish live in it will be revealed when the website has completed construction. A bit of a longer drive from the main tourist spots in the north. It is always a quiet place.
Out along the ‘pan handle’. So does this dry looking lake hold big fish? You will have to come back later to find out what has been caught here in 2009.
It is about a forty five minute drive from Girne (Kyrenia).
Out on the western side of the Island and build to provide water for the many citrus orchards in the area. It’s a reservoir that has the look of a Scottish loch.
While I haven’t personally, tried drifting down the reservoir with a team of traditional wet fly, who knows what might be caught.
This reservoir is stuffed full of small fish, you can catch forty fish in a session, but there are bigger fish out there. In the height of summer the water can become low and weed beds are exposed making it difficult to fish in certain areas, but bites are always plentiful. Bread is a good bait on here, but the large shoals of fry will nibble away at it. In common with most other reservoirs sweet corn is the king of baits.
Cyprus Diving and Watersports
Want to give Cyprus diving a go? Diving enthusiasts will find some great bases around many regions of the island; such as Paphos, Larnaca and parts of North Cyprus. The sea stays warm for most of the year, and with Cyprus water there is often good visibility as deep as 40 metres below the surface, meaning there are great opportunities to spot the hundreds of species of marine life.
Scuba diving on Cyprus is fascinating and there are also some shipwrecks to discover, including the famous Zenobia ferry off Larnaca. Be sure to visit Silver Beach in Famagusta also, where you can find the underwater remains of the ancient Salamis harbour.
There are many good Cyprus diving and snorkelling companies dotted around the island’s coast, and don’t worry if you have never tried it before. Most companies offer beginners packages and will start off with a try dive in shallow water or even a swimming pool.
More Cyprus Watersports
Don’t fancy diving in Cyprus? Lots of other Cyprus watersports can be found on most beaches around the island to keep you occupied if merely sunbathing is not your thing. The most common include waterskiing, paragliding, kayaking, windsurfing, canoeing, banana boating, jet-skiing and sailing.
There is also fly-fishing (which involves lying on a rubber dinghy or ring and holding on for dear life while a speed boat pulls you along. This makes you jump the waves, hence the “flying”! It’s scary but trust me, it’s a lot of fun!) One of the best places to do fly fishing in Cyprus is at Cape Greko, as the sight of the cliffs from the sea is absolutely stunning!
In Ayia Napa, a popular new way of seeing the underwater world is on a ‘Sea Scooter’. These vehicles are available to swimmers, snorkellers and scuba-divers of all abilities. They make less noise allowing you to get closer to marine life, and are great for allowing people with disabilities to explore the deep blue sea.
Alternatively, you can still experience the wonderful marine life from the comfort of a glass bottom boat. Rides on glass bottom boats are available from almost all tourist resorts, especially Ayia Napa.
Rock Climbing Cyprus
If you want to try rock climbing Cyprus offers a great deal for both beginners and advanced climbers. As far as climbing destinations go, it is still quite unknown which is a shame because many people are missing out on the wide variety of routes and great views that are available.
On the plus side, it means that prices are still relatively quite cheap compared to other Mediterranean resorts! The diversity of the rocks also makes climbing a great way to spend some adventure time in Cyprus…
Where to go Climbing in Cyprus – the Most Popular Crags
Cape Greko is popular for climbing and has nearly 50 different routes all offering great views. The rocks here are made of soft weathered limestone. To find the routes, there is a path beginning at the west of the car park.
With 35 different routes, Droushia has great views of the Akamas Peninsular and the rocks are mostly made of sandstone.
Dhiarizos is not far from Paphos and has around 25 routes, some of which are considered to be the best on the island. The rocks are limestone and face all directions. It is the busiest climbing area on the island but still pretty quiet most of the year.
There are also indoor rock climbing walls available which are often popular on family holidays in Cyprus. The most well known is at the Get Out Rock Climbing Gym in Nicosia. They also have a shop selling climbing necessities located at One Step Further, 18A Arsinoes Avenue, 2006 Nicosia.
Birding in Cyprus
If you want to see some amazing Cyprus birds you won’t be disappointed. With around 370 species of Cyprus birds, the island is an ornithologist’s dream. It is a well-known stopover for many migrating birds as it lies on a north-south migration route and is also home to several unique, indigenous species. The migration periods are between March-May and August-October.
Bird Watching in Cyprus
If you enjoy bird watching, you can’t go far wrong in Cyprus. The spotted cuckoo, golden eagle, bee eater, crested lark, kestrel, blue rock thrush, nightingale and lapwing are just a few Cyprus birds that you might spot.
The Akamas Peninsula and mountain ranges of Troodos and Kyrenia are some of the greatest places to spot unique and unusual birds.
In the Akamas Peninsula, the hoopoe is perhaps one of the strangest and prettiest looking of our feathered friends to try and spot. You will know you have seen it by the zebra-like stripes on its wings and cranium. It also has a very distinctive beak, which kind of looks like a pair of chopsticks!
Birds of prey numbers in Cyprus have fallen thanks to the popularity of hunting among Cypriots. The Red Falcon and Griffon Vulture are two of the species that have suffered most. Unfortunately hunting animals and birds is a traditional activity for locals.
Conservationists such as Birdlife Cyprus are fighting to keep bird hunting to a minimum and hold campaigns against illegal hunting. Around St Hilarion Castle in the north, several birds of prey still circle the area proudly.
The thousands of pink flamingos that arrive in Larnaca during winter are probably the most popular of all Cyprus birds. They offer some great photo opportunities thanks to their exotic colour and appearance!
The flamingoes traditionally feed from the Salt Lake in Larnaca, although their reduced population is reflective of the pollution in this area. They can also be spotted at the Akrotiri Salt Lake which suffers from the same problem. Several types of duck also migrate to the Salt Lakes in winter.
Cyprus is home to two endemic species – namely the Cyprus Warbler and the Cyprus Pied Wheatear. There are also four endemic sub-species to look out for which are: the Cyprus Scops Owl, the Coal tit Parus, the Short-Toed Treecreeper Certhia and Jay Garrulus.
Skiing in Cyprus
Skiing in Cyprus?! Because it’s so famous for being a beach resort, very few people know that it’s possible to ski here! That’s the wonderful thing about this island; it has the ability to just keep on surprising you!
In fact, the sport was actually introduced to Cyprus in the 1930s and has now become so prominent that the nation is represented in the World Championships and at the Olympics. The Cypriot team in the 2005 Special Olympic winter games in Japan won seven gold medals as well as several silver and bronze.
In 1992, the Cyprus Ski Federation was founded, which represents Cyprus in the International Ski Federation. Its members are the four ski clubs of Cyprus – Troodos, Limassol, Famagusta and Nicosia. The Troodos Ski School offers cheap group or private ski lessons to adults and beginners. There are also ski passes available to buy on a full or half day basis.
Where/when can I ski in Cyprus?
The best place for skiing in Cyprus is the Troodos Mountains, with the main trails centred around Mount Olympus. Two ski lifts are installed on Mount Olympus itself, aptly named Zeus and Hera.
There are a further two ski lifts, named after Aphrodite and Hermes, located at the Sun Valley Centre. Zeus, being the king of the Gods, leads to the highest and most advanced trail. Hermes will take you to an intermediate track, while the two goddesses lead you to beginners’ slopes.
The winter sports season in the Troodos lasts from December to April and the best snow for skiing usually falls in January. Because winters are so mild in Cyprus, it is even possible to ski and swim on the beach on the same day! Talk about having your cake and eating it too!
If you plan to ski for most of your trip it is advisable to stay in one of the lodgings within the Troodos Mountains, as the slippery mountain roads can be hazardous at this time of year.
Cyprus Ski Equipment
It is possible to rent ski equipment at the centres on Sun Valley and Mount Olympus, but it’s important to know that these are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
It’s worth arriving early, especially on busy weekends, if you are planning to rent in order to get the more up-to-date equipment. Leave it too late and you may well end up with stuff that should probably be confined to a museum!
If you want to snowboard or go skiing in Cyprus, you may also wish to visit one of the four snow equipment shops in Nicosia, such as Mavros Sports in Ledra Street, or Force 8 Sports located in Limassol on Roosevelt Avenue.
Wildlife in Cyprus
Wildlife in Cyprus is among the most varied in the Mediterranean. For the tourists who come in summer when much of the land is barren and dry, wildlife in Cyprus seems almost non-existent. You can find wildlife all over the island, from the coast to the inner capital city Nicosia.
But Cyprus is actually home to hundreds of wild flowers, including over 50 species of orchids. The best time to see wildflowers in Cyprus is during springtime. Go to the countryside and visit areas such as Paphos forest to experience greenery and see Cyprus trees.
In spring the fragrance in the air is intoxicating and the landscape is soaked in colour. Keep your eyes peeled for Pink Gladioli and the unique wild tulip in the village of Polemi in Paphos. There is a whole field dedicated to the protection of this flower.
The best places to see wild flowers though are definitely in the Troodos and Kyrenia mountain ranges, and the Akamas Peninsula.
Reptiles in Cyprus
Because of the hot dry climate there are lots of lizards in Cyprus, such as chameleons and geckos. The lizards, like this guy above who I found in my grandparent’s garden, are harmless and you can often spot them on many walls and steps trying to run away from you!
Cyprus is the only place where Loggerhead Turtles and Green Turtles lay their eggs, especially Lara Bay in the west and the beaches along the Karpaz peninsula in the North East.
Both types of turtle are endangered species and it is important to respect their breeding and nesting grounds. Nesting periods are between mid May and mid October. The turtles are a symbol of how the wildlife in Cyprus is suffering under economic growth.
Big efforts are in place to protect the turtles from extinction, particularly by The Lara Turtle Conservation Project and The Environmental Protection Office of North Cyprus. You can also volunteer at the Lara Beach Turtle Station during your travels.
There are a few species of native Cyprus snakes, most of which are harmless like the Coin Snake. Only one, the Blunt Nosed Viper, is deadly but it will not attack unless threatened. Most tourists will never see snakes in Cyprus, as they tend to hide away.
Snakes are unfortunately treated as pests in Cyprus even though they contribute much to the island. Please do your bit for the endangered snakes of Cyprus by signing this petition.
Cyprus Marine Life
When you visit beaches in Cyprus, look out for crabs of all colours, such as the one in the picture above who we spotted whilst sunbathing! Some crabs are almost transparent making them hard to spot as they blend in with the sand!
A wide array of sea animals live off the Cyprus coast and clear waters make the island a treat for scuba divers. Look out for octopus, sea urchins, barracuda, moray eels and starfish, to name a few! In addition, you may see turtles swimming during the day although this is rare.
I’m going to also list dolphins in this section rather than under mammals, because keeping dolphins in captivity is banned in Cyprus so you won’t see any inland. However it is possible to see dolphins on boat trips around the island.
Cyprus is home to several wild mammals. These include mountain sheep (including the rare moufflon), bats, goats, foxes, squirrels, rabbits, hares, and in the less developed areas, donkeys. Dogs are often kept as domestic pets but most cats are feral.
Sadly unless something is done soon, the monk seal which lives along the coast will face extinction. Mammals on the island are quite limited in species compared to other types of wildlife in Cyprus.
Animal Charities in Cyprus
The wildlife in Cyprus can’t always look after itself. Several animal welfare charities are in place to look after the sick and mistreated animals on the island. Many also aim to educate Cypriots about treatment of animals (something that is unfortunately very backwards compared to many other European countries). When on the island, please do your bit to help preserve the wildlife in Cyprus!
Unfortunately it seems that many Cypriot police officers are very laid back when it comes to reports of animal cruelty. In addition to reporting any cases to the police, it is highly recommended that you also contact one of the animal sanctuaries on the island.
Below are some of the biggest:
• The Donkey Sanctuary (located at 4772 Vouni Village in Limassol at the foothills of the Troodos Mountains). If you see a sick or mistreated donkey please inform the Donkey Sanctuary. Locals and expats should also stay vigilant for cases of abandoned donkeys whose owners can no longer afford to keep them.
Tourists can also visit the sanctuary between 10am and 4am free of charge. If you would like to visit and walk or groom one of the donkeys, it is asked that you call a day in advance. If you wish, you can make a donation or adopt a rescue donkey. (Tel – 00 357 259 44151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org).
• The British Forces Animal Welfare Society (BFAWS) provides a refuge for dogs and cats on the island and aim to re-home them. Funded through donations fundraisers, the BFAWS is located at Waterloo Road in Larnaca. (Tel – 24 744 432).
• The Cyprus Association for the Protection and Care of Animals (CAPCA) is a charity with links to the RSPCA and WSPA. They run their own dog shelter and welcome donations of pet food. You can find a map of their location on their website. (Tel – 99 683 775).
• The Malcolm Cat Protection Society is a charity run cat sanctuary. Cats are available for adoption and the charity has an active calendar of fundraising events. They are located in Limassol. (Tel – 2595 2622).
• The Kyrenia Animal Rescue Centre is recognised by the RSPCA. As well as finding new homes for unwanted animals, the charity neuters feral cats and dogs and treats them for fleas and other irritations. They also run several animal welfare campaigns. The centre is in the Besparmak (Pentytaklos) mountains. (Tel – 533 8694 098).
Hiking in Cyprus
Hiking in Cyprus offers everything from demanding uphill climbs to effortless descents, and while there are trails for all abilities, no on has to compromise on views!
The best time to go hiking in Cyprus is in springtime, when flowers are in full bloom and the countryside is colourful and fragrant, with the smell of pine trees in the Troodos stronger than ever! Be sure to look out for the endemic flowers of Cyprus too!
Always take bottled water with you when you go Cyprus hiking, and it is advisable to bring sun cream, wear comfortable shoes, and in the Akamas, to wear a hat.
Hiking in North Cyprus is mostly run by the Mountain Climbing Sport Association, and walks are available for the all levels. Be aware of hunting season in the North between October and December. You can get maps of hunting areas from Post Offices.
Since entering the EU, the Republic of Cyprus have also added their contribution to the European Long Distance Path – the E4. The E4 in Cyprus is 640 km long and runs between Paphos and Larnaca airports via some of the best scenery on the island.
Hiking in the Troodos Mountains
The Troodos Mountains are much cooler than other parts of the island so they make for nice conditions for hiking in Cyprus even during the peak of summer. There are four official nature trails marked by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) named Persephone, Atalante, Kaledonia and Artemis, starting from the village of Troodos, as well as several other unmarked trails.
The Kaledonia trail is only 1 mile long so it is great for those who wont to experience hiking in Cyprus without too much exertion. This walk follows the Cold River downhill to the pretty Kaledonia Waterfalls.
If you still have energy, walking south for another 45 minutes will take you to Psilodendro, a popular restaurant with tourists, where you can enjoy some fresh fish (try the trout!) and then call a cab to take you back to Troodos if you don’t fancy walking back.
The Persephone trail is about 2 miles long and runs in a south eastern direction to some lovely viewpoints. It begins at a Café Meli in the main square of Troodos village.
The Atalante trail is 6 miles long and moves northwest before ending near a copper mine which was abandoned in 1974. After 2 miles, you will come to a spring with drinking water. The Artemis trail is a round trip through the forests which circles Mount Olympus. It is 3 miles in length. Mount Olympus is the highest point in Cyprus at nearly 6,500 feet and is known to Greek Cypriots as Chionistra after the snow that falls here in winter.
Hiking in the Akamas Peninsula
The rugged Akamas Peninsula has great hiking (and swimming) opportunities through unspoilt Cyprus countryside. There are two sign-posted hiking trails, named the Adonis and Aphrodite trails after the legendary couple who romanced in this area.
Thankfully the Akamas is still relatively undiscovered by tourists so you will be able to spend some time here and see the real Cyprus in peace.
The trails begin at the Baths of Aphrodite, and are both roughly 5 miles long. Neither is that difficult, but you will have to walk uphill in parts. The walks shouldn’t take more than three hours to complete depending on your walking pace and how hot it is.
Walking through the routes you will have unbelievable views of the rocky coastline, sleepy lagoons and limestone cliffs at Moutti ti Sotiras. On one of the bays you can also spot the washed up remains of a shipwreck. You will also pass the Fontana Amorosa (the fountain of love), which is not worth the walk in itself, but it is a great viewpoint.
There are also several nature trails which are not signposted, which leave from Lara Bay, the Baths of Aphrodite and the village of Neon Chorion. These round trips take you past Cape Arnaoutis and vary from 12-19 miles in length, so they are only recommended for experienced walkers.
Horse riding in Cyprus
Horse riding in Cyprus has become increasingly popular over the last decade and there are several competitions which take place throughout the year including children’s gymkhanas.
Most riding trails will take you through quaint villages, orchards and citrus groves, so if you want to see the real Cyprus; a great way to do it is on horseback! There are many good schools offering both lessons and rides with instructors. The schools have both ponies and horses so riding is available to all age groups.
The Best Riding Clubs in the Republic:
Ride in Cyprus
Ride in Cyprus offer a spectacular variety of rides including a week long journey known as the camel trail, as it follows the route working camels used to follow. This is a great way to see some the island’s unspoilt countryside as Paphos forest.
The trail covers Venetian bridges and amazing valleys and is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity to see unspoilt Cyprus, but it is only advised for advanced riders. Two/three day trails exclusively for couples are also available, as well as one day rides with picnics!
Elias Country Club
Elias Country Club located near the Elias Beach Hotel in Limassol is one of the most established schools for horse riding in Cyprus, and has over 250 horses in it’s stables. It offers tours through the Cypriot countryside as well as lessons for all ages and levels. The club actually rears race horses and you will also have the chance to watch them train.
Unicorn Trails offer specialised year-round riding holidays located at Drapia Farm near Kalavasos village. You will be taken on different itineraries each day, covering including canyon and forest trails. Accommodation, food and riding hats are all included and there are other activities available to halp you experience the culture of the island, including classes on making Halloumi cheese!
The Best Riding Clubs in North Cyprus:
Tunac Riding School
Tunac Riding School teaches short riding learning courses, after which you will receive a certificate. Located in Kyrenia, the school has over 40 horses and also takes visitors on riding tours of the surrounding areas with an instructor. Picnics are included.
Catalkoy Riding Club
Catalkoy Riding Club, which is also in Kyrenia, offers riding holidays in North Cyprus. The trails are mostly through the Kyrenia mountains, with chances to see historical attractions and teaching for all levels is provided.
Cyprus Gardens Holiday Village
Cyprus Gardens Holiday Village has 17 horses and offers both riding lessons and rides around the local village.