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Travel: Swept away by Mediterranean heaven on Cyprus, the real love island

Aphrodite’s Rock on the shores of Paphos
Aphrodite’s Rock on the shores of Paphos

If there’s one thing I love doing on holiday, it’s sampling the local food and wine. So you can imagine my delight when, on my first day in Cyprus, I realised my holiday was pretty much ­centred around eating and drinking; long mezze-style wine-sloshed lunches and ­dinners are par for the course.

Dubbed the island of love ever since the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, rose from the waves surrounding Paphos, holidaymakers have been flocking to the country.

I stayed at five-star Annabelle, a hotel offering unrivalled views of the Mediterranean.

Annabelle has been welcoming guests for 30 years and has had a recent €11million upgrade, with the addition of a rooftop pool, bar and restaurant, wellness centre and luxury suites.

As I slide open my patio doors on my first morning, I’m greeted with a pink-sorbet sunrise across the beach, which is just a few steps away.

On the lowest level of the hotel, the room has a small terrace with whirlpool Jacuzzi, decked out in a classical Greek style, and a working fireplace for those chillier months.

The hotel itself is a beautiful oasis; every corner turned reveals a snaking pool, cascading waterfall, or a shady hideaway sheltered by lofty palm trees. It has a signature style… colonial charm with a modern twist.

Venturing out to explore is a must. It’s worth taking a trip to upper Paphos, home to a large covered market selling trinkets, fresh fruit and holiday souvenirs.

The old town is undergoing modernisation, with pockets already completed, and the walls are adorned with huge murals of interesting street art.

The real draw is restaurant Koutourou Ouzeri next to the renovated town square.

The restaurant is filled with a mish-mash of interesting memorabilia – old typewriters and vintage punchbowls, classic Coca-Cola bottles and antiques – but the food is a little less fussy: village salad with feta and tomatoes, freshly baked bread buns, baked carrots with yoghurt and coriander, pork loin with mustard and a sweet revelation; halloumi baked with honey. Pair delicious meze with beautiful local wines, and you can while away hours.

The Archaelogical Park of Kato Pafos, one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, gives access to mosaics that were in the houses of the four Roman noblemen, depicting scenes from Greek mythology.

For those looking to uncover the romance of the island, you can make the trip to the coast to marvel at Aphrodite’s Rock. It was believed Aphrodite was born here, rising from the sea.

Theatre of Kourion

Travel a little further through the mountains to Limassol and you’ll come to the hilltop archaeological ruins of the Theatre of Kourion. Constructed in the 2nd Century BC, this has the most amazing acoustics. Stand in the middle and speak; it sounds like you have a microphone in your hand.

There’s so much more to see here, including mosaic floors and the remains of a Roman villa.

If historic sites aren’t quite what you’re after, then a trip to Vasilikon Winery might be more your glass of vino. Cypriot wines are beautiful, and my favourite of my trip, the dry white wine, was produced at that very winery.

Visit Paphos early in March to see the Grand Carnival Parade. I was there for it this year and it was such good fun.

For golfers, Paphos offers fantastic facilities at Aphrodite Hills Resort in Kouklia, where you can take in the 18-hole championship golf course. If you’d rather do more relaxing, then the resort is well equipped with multiple pools, restaurants, bars and a spa.

There really is something for everyone in Paphos.


Factfile

Flights to Paphos are available from Glasgow and Edinburgh from TUI, Jet2, Ryanair and easyJet from £116pp return, based on seven days.

Rates at Annabelle start from €131 per night, B&B based on two adults sharing (annabelle.com.cy)

For more information, try visitcyprus.com