In early September, I went on a family holiday for the week to Cyprus. We stayed in a lovely self-catered hotel in Protaras, went on a couple of excursions, enjoyed delicious food and went for sunrise walks each morning.
Prior to going Cyprus I couldn’t really find many blog posts or travel guides on Cyprus – so I’ve put together a little one about where to stay, what to eat and what to do in Cyprus!
Where to Stay in Cyprus
Golden Star Hotel in Protaras
We stayed at the Golden Star Hotel in Protaras, a short 30-minute drive from Protaras airport. The hotel is situated just meters from the beach, with two big family pools and a stylish restaurant on site. The rooms are self-catered and there are various packages available – we went for bed & breakfast for example so that if we wanted to cook our own food we could (although we spent every night trying traditional Greek restaurants on the Protaras strip!).
The hotel was extremely clean and fairly modern, and the staff were friendly and helpful. We ate breakfast in the Yianna Marie restaurant on the hotel grounds, which had beautiful views over the Mediterranean sea and the boats docked at the pier. The breakfast was incredible – with a large buffet breakfast of fresh fruit and yoghurt, cheese and ham, croissants and pastries and traditional cooked breakfast ingredients including sausages, bacon, hashbrowns and eggs.
Golden Star Hotel was the perfect hotel base for our family holiday, just a 5 minute walk from the Protaras strip with restaurants and bars, and just a minutes stroll right onto the beach. Transfers from Larnaca airport took around 30-40 minutes by coach – a service included in a Jet2 booked holiday!
Where to Eat in Cyprus
Traditional Cyprus Tavern
The first night we ate at Traditional Cyprus Tavern, a restaurant I’d found highly rated on Tripadvisor as one of the best restaurants to visit for traditional Greek & Cypriot food – so it was a no brainer that we had to try it!
It was a little hard to find at first but then my Mum noticed it tucked away up a flight of stairs. Once we got up there, we were treated to a stunning pinky-red sunset – and it was the perfect spot for people watching on the Protaras strip.
We were given hummus, pitta bread and olives to share before we perused the menu. My sister ordered a prawn cocktail for starter, my mum had hummus with warm pitta bread and I ordered grilled haloumi. For mains, Dad ordered a traditional moussaka and the rest of us had a traditional chicken kebab. The service was quick, the staff were friendly and the food all arrived piping hot. A great foodie experience to our first time in Cyprus!
We found Olympus restaurant after wandering up and down the Protaras strip. The friendly staff, tasty looking menu and cute traditional decor had certainly drawn us in! For starters, my sister ordered salmon and avocado cubes, mum had prawn cocktail, dad ordered vine leaves stuffed with lamb and rice and I had haloumi wrapped in filo pastry, served with a fig chutney. The haloumi tasted insanely good cooked this way! For mains, my sister ordered a seafood salad, mum had carbonara, dad had slow cooked traditional lamb shank and I had a chicken kebab. The staff were incredibly friendly and welcoming here and the food arrived piping hot and portioned well.
Yianna Marie Restaurant
One night we went to the Yianna Marie restaurant on our hotel site as we’d been out and about all day. We all opted for the 3-course set menu. For starters, Dad had a deconstructed prawn cocktail in a cheese basket and me and mum had cheesey garlic mushrooms. For mains, my sister ordered a seafood salad, Dad had smoked duck and me and mum had cheesy chicken pasta. For dessert, mum had banana split, dad had fudge brownie and I had a berry cheesecake. The set menu was a great deal (around €20 per person) and we thoroughly enjoyed the food – perhaps not very traditional but still very good!
We headed to Ayia Napa on our final evening for dinner. As you can imagine, the strip in Ayia Napa is rammed full with restaurants and bars, so it was hard choosing which one to visit. We settled on Costas Tavern; a traditional Greek tavern decorated in blue and white with quirky furniture and tiled floors. We were given warm pitta bread to start whilst we perused the menu to decide what to order! For starters, my mum and sister shared hummus and pitta bread, dad had a chiromeri roll (chimomeri roll stuffed with goats cheese and glazed fig) and I had halloumi. For mains, my mum and sister had a chicken kebab, dad had a mixed grill and I had traditional Cypriot meatballs. My favourite part of this experience was the restaurants decor. My main course didn’t taste great so I wish I went for the chicken kebab! The staff however were really lovely and attentive and it wasn’t too expensive a meal either.
What to Do in Cyprus
Traditional Greek Night in Cyprus
One of our excursions during our time in Cyprus was a traditional greek night, booked through Jet2Holidays. I can’t find the location at all but we were picked up in a traditional chicken bus and driven down Protaras strip, with music played SUPER loud and we were given bells to ring – it was an experience to say the least! The drive took around 40 minutes where we were taken to a local tavern in Agios Theodoros for an evening of unlimited wine, a Cypriot buffet and traditional Greek and Cypriot dances.
I think Cypriot people are amongst some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met! The food was delicious and the staff were extremely attentive, currently topping up the water and wine. After the buffet, we watched traditional Greek and Cypriot dances, which included one dance where at one point, a girl was balancing 12 cups on her head and one man had a chair, table and bottles of wine balancing on his head!
It was an eventful evening and certainly something I’ve never experienced before, but it’s well worth doing if you find yourself in Cyprus.
San Antonio II Sunset Boat Cruise
My favourite excursion in Cyprus has to be the San Antonio II sunset boat cruise. I have to admit I’m not the biggest fan of boats, but I enjoyed this trip so so much. We got a coach to the pick up point and then made our way onto the boat where we were welcomed with fresh fruit and drinks. Soft music played throughout the 4-hour excursion and there was comfy seating on the boat deck and on the top, which could be accessed by a ladder at the back of the boat.
The 4-hour excursion consisted of a boat trip along the Cyrpiot coast from Protaras to Ayia Napa, sailing to the section of the Cypriot coast that is patrolled by the UN and then to the blue lagoon. The section patrolled by the UN was invaded by Turkey and they gained ownership of the area; which now cannot be accessed by anyone. We were treated to a traditional Mediterranean buffet on board and chocolate cake for dessert, with unlimited drinks and cocktails available too. We stopped off for two swimming spots, where we were handed snorkelling gear so we could have a paddle around the boat. The water is a beautiful crystal blue here and it was just amazing to swim around in such a beautiful area.
We got back on the boat after our swim and sailed a little further into the blue lagoon, where we watched the sun set behind the cliffs. It was just the most magical trip!
The sunset cruise, which included transfers, buffet lunch and unlimited drinks, cost just €45 per person which is a fantastic price considering everything that’s included.
Coca Cola boat cruise
Dad, my sister and I went on a short coca cola boat cruise from Protaras one day for another trip and opportunity to swim in the blue lagoon. This trip was much shorter as it lasted around an hour or 2, and cost around €20 per person. The boat sailed to UN patrolled section and then back down to the blue lagoon. We were able to stop off and swim for 15 minutes or so but the current was incredibly strong that day as it had been stormy in the morning so the trip didn’t last as long. We jumped off the boat into the water and it was probably the scariest thing I’ve done to date, but I’m proud that I did it. Snacks and drinks are available to purchase on this trip, and there’s a glass bottom feature down a staircase in the boat to check out too!
Day trip to Ayia Napa
Ayia Napa was just around the bay from where we were staying in Protaras, so we visited for a day trip to see what the strip was like. We went on Sunday morning expecting to find a local market but unfortunately we couldn’t find it. Instead, we wondered around a few gift shops and checked out the restaurants on the strip to visit later in the week. We got a taxi to Ayia Napa which took around 15 minutes and cost around €30 euros, and got a bus back to our resort in Protaras for around €3 euros each! The bus is a much cheaper option and it took around half an hour, zipping through a really scenic route.
We visited again on our final evening and it was much busier. Restaurants were rammed with people, bars playing loud music and gift shops a plenty. It was fun to walk through but I dread to think how busy it would get during high season!
I had such a fun week in Cyprus and I can’t wait to visit again one day.
Have you been to Cyprus before? Or are you planning on going on holiday there soon?