For a large number of visitors to Ayia Napa only one thing counts: “Living la vida loca”.
To Europeans the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean is an island in the sun. Period. They pour in during the summer to get pink, pissed and have a good time. The premier party resort is found at the once lazy village of Ayia Napa to the east.
That is were we went for a week.
Our quite large group consisted of children, teenagers and grown-ups. Interests varied as well. Ayia Napa seemed at the outset like a place that could satisfy all needs.
This is the first of four articles from Cyprus. It was a family trip to Ayia Napa on the eastern coast, with day trips into the Troodos mountains in the middle, and across the Green Line to the Turkish side in the north.
The pebble beach in Ayia Napa
What to discover?
Beaches: There are plenty of beaches spread out all along this coastline, some with pebbles (like the city beach) so look out where you are going. You will not find a secluded place to leave your towel in this part of the island.
Shopping: Tourist junk.
Eating: There are a few decent eateries uptown (De Medici and Raphael’s), but you should seek out the fish restaurants by the marina (Markos Fish Tavern and Isaac Tavern). The fish is fresh, and they know how to prepare it. They also serve meat if that is your preference. Apart from that there are tons of mainstream tourist joints for visitors aiming at filling their bellies. and nothing more.
Here are some of the things to buy
Drinking: The wine of Cyprus is cheap, but not good. Some places have imported wine. Beer is everywhere.
Entertainment: Multiple star hotels will probably most have a varied menu of entertainment. Ours had traditional dancers and a magician, and more – in addition to aerobic in the pool during the day.
Partying: There is partying going on all over Ayia Napa, but the bulk takes place in the blocks behind the monastery. Huge clubs.
Attractions and what else to do: Have a look into the old monastery for a lovely, relaxing atmosphere. Do also look around in the marina. It has a large number of small fishing vessels which are actually in use, not only serving as a picturesque photo opportunities.
In the daytime you can vary your swimming by visiting the fun park called Waterworld on the outskirts of Ayia Napa. There is also a large amusement park right in the middle, opening in the late afternoon.
There are also several larger vessels taking tourists on trips along the coast. Some go all the way to the ghost town of Famagusta (described in a later article), some will find a sea cave and provide opportunities to swim and snorkle – or just watch the fish through the glass-bottoms.
These sea caves are found right outside to city. Take a boat for a dive and swim into them.
These small fishing vessels in the marina are not only on display. They provide fresh fish for the restaurants.
ATVs are hugely popular (and noisy) means of transportation.
Accommodation: We stayed at the Faros hotel near the marina/harbour. This is my Tripadvisor review (1 out of 6 points): “Perfect location, pool area, friendly staff, great activities and entertainment, very good cleaning and so on. This hotel has everything you wish for your stay in Ayia Napa. All but this: It is horrible to claim 25 euros for the use of an empty minibar fridge. It is stupid to refuse two key cards for entering your room. And it is intolerable in 2014 to have a Wifi which only functions on and off even in the lobby area. Conclusion: If you want Internet, stay away from Faros.”
A final word of advice: Ayia Napa is a fine place to spend your vacation and the town suits all ages. Beware though that the centre is not compact and you will likely find yourself walking a lot to and from your hotel and restaurants.
Go elsewhere too. That is what we did. We went on two day-trips. This article is the first of four from Cyprus. All articles:
(1) The easy life on the beaches of Ayia Napa
(2) A day-trip into the Troodos mountains
(3) A day-trip into Northern Cyprus
(4) Nicosia – north and south
Click to enlarge the following images from Ayia Napa (also spelled Agia Napa)