A destination for winter sun with a great value package and just four hours from the UK.
MANY lists of ways to save money have been written over the years, but 2023 is definitely the first time one of the suggestions could be. . . go on vacation.
With inflation rising here and the cost of heating our houses hitting record levels, it’s getting to the point where it could soon become a viable plan.
And if you were looking for places where it could work, you would find Cyprus at the top of the list.
The winter sun in Europe is second only to places like the Canary Islands and Madeira, which are actually not in Europe at all in any geographical sense, but are located off the coast of West Africa.
Residents of Cyprus do not even think about touching the heating until Christmas comes.
They still eat outdoors at the end of November.
So, we were happy to find that just a few hours after leaving the rain-drenched Gatwick, we were drinking wine and looking down at the birthplace of one of the great characters of Greek mythology, the sun-drenched goddess of love Aphrodite.
This is a cluster of rocks on the coast between the two largest cities of the island, Paphos, where we flew, and Limassol, where we booked accommodation.
In addition to the favorable climate, Cyprus is also quite CHEAP, especially if you go to the right places.
Even at a tourist destination like Aphrodite’s Rocks, we enjoyed a lunch of fried fish and homemade fries for less than a full English at Wetherspoons, Gatwick, and a little more than two glasses of wine would get us back there. .
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And if at home people scurried around under umbrellas, then here they swam and sunbathed.
Because, despite being part of Greece, Cyprus is much further south and east than any of the country’s many islands, and much closer to Egypt and Israel than to Athens.
You will see many things that you associate with the tropics, such as palm trees and banana plantations.
But for all its exotic notes, it is also very British.
We first invaded here in 1191 when Richard the Lionheart got a little pissed off about being held captive, and until 1960 he was pretty much part of the British Empire.
The most obvious legacy of this is that, unlike the rest of Greece, they still drive on the left hand side and road signs have the same font and color scheme as ours.
When you’re on the dual carriageway to Limassol, if you look closely, it might be the A127 to Southend.
And there are still British military bases with streets called Isle of Wight Road and Worcestershire Lane.
When we arrived in Limassol, after our lunch break, we checked into our hotel, the fabulous adults-only hotel Atlantica Bay.
Its hilltop location right on the coast means spectacular sea views as well as two pools, three restaurants and three bars.
Even though there are shops and restaurants near the hotel, on the outskirts of Limassol, it is definitely worth taking a taxi and making the 20-minute ride to the center.
The old town is charming, with its castle, cathedral, modernized harbor and numerous restaurants and bars.
There is another British aspect here – unlike most of the rest of Greece, it has an international food scene that you would expect at home: Indian, Chinese, Thai, as well as the usual souvlaki and Greek salad.
Sid James sitcom
Two days later we returned to Paphos and to the Athena Beach Hotel.
Like Atlantic Bay, it offers views of the Mediterranean Sea – with spectacular evening sunsets, many pools and beaches.
But it was tempting to just recharge and soak up the sun, we wanted to see something of the history and culture of the island.
This goes back to the time of Greek myth. By all accounts, Cyprus was first settled by Greek soldiers returning from the Trojan Wars.
Must-see sights in Paphos include the Tombs of the Kings – eerie underground burial chambers dating from the Roman period 2,000 years ago – and the incredible mosaics from the same period at the House of Dionysus, discovered by a farmer in 1960 and preserved in stunning condition. detail.
I especially liked the Bless This House section, which anticipated the 1970s Sid James sitcom by two millennia.
In the mountains that run right through the island, there are plenty of small, family-run museums that are great for wine tasting and learning about traditional crafts like making halloumi.
However, for complete relaxation, take a boat trip to the Blue Lagoon – in fact, it is more of a picturesque bay, where swimming in the sea was amazing.
Of course, you won’t be able to save much money compared to returning home if you just take a five-day break.
For this you will have to stay for a few weeks in winter.
But this is what an increasing number of Britons are already doing, especially those of Cypriot origin, and there are no rules preventing them from staying here all year round.
But for now, a holiday would be enough for us – and at least I never touched the heating regulator.
TO REACH/STAY THERE: Seven nights all inclusive at the 4H Atlantica Bay hotel starts at £597 per person, including Gatwick flights on 19 April and transfers.
A seven-night stay at the 4H Athena Beach Hotel starts at £855 per person, including flights to Gatwick on 16 May and transfers.
For booking go to tui.co.uk or download the app.
MORE INFORMATION: See visitcyprus.com or call 020 7321 4170.