Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area
Cyprus’ past is full of stories of colonisers, raiders and armies generally coveting the small island’s strategic position. So when Cyprus finally and belatedly received its independence from colonial administration in 1960, Britain negotiated terms that saw the newly formed Republic of Cyprus ceding 158 sq km (99 sq miles) of its territory to its former colonial master.
One of the main reasons for visiting the village of Episkopi, 14km west of Lemesos, is the Kourion Museum. The collection mainly comprises terracotta objects from Ancient Kourion and the Sanctuary of Apollon Ylatis, and is housed in what used to be the private residence of archaeologist George McFadden.
Lady’s Mile Beach
This 7km stretch of hard-packed sand and pebbles is a popular weekend beach. Named after a horse owned by a colonial governor who exercised his mare here, it runs south beyond Lemesos’ New Port along the eastern side of the British-controlled Akrotiri Peninsula. Keep driving away from the blight of cranes at the port, as the beach and the view improve the further south you go.
This is a lovely beach of sand and small pebbles; the area is windy and attracts windsurfers and kite-boarders, as well as those who just want to chill out amid the unspoilt setting and backdrop of white cliffs. The beach is around 17km west of Lemesos, within Great Britain’s Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area (SBA), which is the reason for the lack of development.
This lovely stretch of beach is home to Zias Beach Club with its dining area and classy wooden sun-loungers. You can rent a sunbed and parasol and they will throw in a main course meal for €15 – or bring a picnic and pay just €3.20. For something a little more traditional head to the adjacent long-standing Kyrenia Beach Restaurant, which serves up some superb seafood dishes.
Aphrodite’s Rock & Beach
Possibly the most famous beach in Cyprus, Aphrodite’s Beach is distinctive for its two upright rocks, which are easy to spot, particularly as swimmers are generally perched somewhat precariously on top of them. To get here, take the old B6 road from Lemesos to Pafos (a recommended scenic journey).
Some of the prettiest Cypriot villages are located north of Lemesos in the mountainous Mandaria region. Vouni, Silikou and Lofou are all worth visiting and within easy distance of each other, but the most photogenic village here is arguably Laneia, signposted off the B8 road, just beyond Doros (another gem).
This is one of the best beaches in the region: an arc of fine pebbles and sand sheltered by low white cliffs and backed by olive trees. It’s signposted off the B6; the approach road is fairly rough, but still accessible, and passes by vines and lush agricultural land. Melanda Beach Restaurant has a terrace on the beach, and rents sunbeds and parasols for €4.