Situated at the south of the Island of Cyprus, Ayia Napa is a resort famed for its beautiful sandy beaches and – more recently – notorious nightlife. A quick delve into the history of this place reveals a quaint fishing village, historically celebrated for it’s picturesque surroundings and myth has it the area was unoccupied until 1790 when a small group of Greeks settled, and so became the village of Ayia Napa.
Ayia Napa has become somewhat renowned for its nightlife. Brits flock to the resort every summer to enjoy all night parties with world-class DJs. While the wild ways of Brits abroad may grab the headlines, but put your beer down and take a look around, you’ll find there’s a lot more to this once-fishing village than meets the eye.
Take the Ayia Napa festival for starters. Located in a Venetian-style monastery in a charming location, it gives holidaymakers an insight into Cypriot folklore with theatrical performances, concerts and dancing. First held in 1985, it’s a free event and eagerly-awaited every year until it kicks off in the tourist season.
If you’re looking for something that will get your adrenaline pumping a little bit more, then you should really tap into the watersports available in Ayia Napa. Whether it’s water skiing, speed boating, canoeing, windsurfing or scuba-diving there’s something for each and every water baby. Clean, safe, well-marshalled beaches are the norm, and it’s quite likely you won’t have snorkelled in such stunning surroundings.
For those craving culture, Ayia Napa doesn’t disappoint. A number of museums aim to educate, impress and stress the importance of preserving the beautiful environment of Ayia Napa. The Tornartis – located in the Town Hall – exhibits Marine life of past and present. Exhibitions of note include at reconstruction of a sea-bed during prehistoric times, fish fossils from the Mesozoic period (up to 60 million years old) and vast aquariums of beautiful Cypriot fish species.
One can’t visit the Cypriot hotspot without sampling the wonderful food. While the town centre may be littered with fast-food joints and kebab shops to cater for the partygoer, venture a few minutes out of town to find some enchanting treats. You can probably guess the local speciality – seafood. But don’t confuse this with your generic European dish. Think fresh Red Snapper, Calamari, and Octopus combined with delicious dips such as tzatziki, taramosalata and tahini, throw in some Middle-Eastern
influence and you’re on the right lines.
For the thrill-seeking holidaymaker, take a ten-minute trip out to Cape Greco, where dwells the alleged Ayia Napa Sea Monster. Spotted only a dozen or so times and described as porpoise-dragon cross, legend has it, it’s a direct descendent from prehistoric times.
Travel to Ayia Napa is direct and frequent. Flights from the UK typically travel to the International Airport of Larnaca, just a thirty minute drive away from the centre of Ayia Napa. With the Cypriot winter months just December and January, avoid the peak British summer months for cheaper travel and more reasonable rates.
So if you’ve always dismissed Ayia Napa for it’s party-town reputation, or perhaps you’re a regular visitor guilty of not venturing out of the bar, open your eyes and see the undoubted charm on offer. Just watch out for the Sea Monster!