While there is certainly a wonderful family vacation scene in Ayia Napa, the majority of visitors are here for the party. By day, Nissa Beach is the place to hang out. The beach is lovely, the water is perfect for swimming and other water sports, and the sheer quantity of fit, tanned bodies provides plenty of eye candy. Open-air bars are perched right on the sand, and each afternoon many of them host bikini contests with prizes for the sexiest dancers. Nissa Avenue is lined with resort, hotels and apartments in all price ranges, offering an incredibly convenient location for travellers seeking proximity to the liveliest beach.
Join a game of beach volleyball, enjoy parasailing, jet-skiing, snorkelling or other sports, or just work on your tan. Grecian Bay is the perfect place to mix with other travellers without quite so much in-your-face drinking and partying. With its blindingly white sand, dazzling blue waters and seemingly endless sunshine, this kilometre-long beach at the edge of Ayia Napa Town is the perfect place to shake off the worries of life. Also known as Harbour Beach, this location sees colourful boats anchor here, providing an extra element to the vista.
The more tranquil side to this traditional fishing village is found in the old quarter, with its narrow, cobblestone streets and small, shady squares that pop up unexpectedly. Ayia Napa is big enough to explore, but not so big that one can get lost. The locals live in these streets, as they have for centuries, and many of the old buildings have been converted into little cafés and shops. This is where some of the most intimate and interesting accommodation can be found.
Just minutes from the core of Ayia Napa are a couple of other fantastic resort areas at Cape Greco and Protaras. Cape Greco is the home of Ayia Napa’s national park, sea caves and daring cliff diving. The Cape is one of the best places to escape the fervour of beaches like Nissa and unwind in a more nature-centred manner on its inspiring, rocky landscape. A handful of nice resorts sit above the Cape, providing shelter and sustenance.
Protaras is a complete holiday destination in its own right, yet it is just a few minutes east of Ayia Napa and can be easily reached by boat or car. Slightly less busy than Ayia Napa Town, this is a place to escape the crowds and soak in the stunning beaches and turquoise waters that surround the resorts at Protaras and its scenic Fig Leaf Bay. Plenty of accommodation is on hand for those who prefer its mellow charms.
During the daytime heat, it is great to duck into the monastery that was built in the 16th century by the Venetians. Its shady courtyards are just the thing for quiet relaxation. Dozens of sidewalk cafés are on hand in the town squares, offering more places to sit and rest with a cool drink and a tasty Mediterranean meal. In the evening, a traditional meze meal is a great way to experience several different local dishes. This tapas-style dining is readily available in many of the town’s nicer Cypriot restaurants.
One of the most common ways people come to Ayia Napa is with a package tour. All of the big name tour companies like Thompson Holidays, First Choice and Thomas Cook regularly feature packages that include flight, room, transportation and something extra like nightclub entrance or beach activities. Since most of the hotels here are massive resorts, a package tour is often good value for money. The big resorts are ideal for families as they all contain massive pools and other fun features like water slides and kids’ activities.
Besides the mega-resorts like Grecian Park, Aeneas Hotel and Nestor Hotel, which enjoy the best real estate and ocean views, there are lots of self-catering apartments just inland. Apartments are a good choice for travellers with a family or a group of friends who want extra amenities like a kitchenette or separate bedrooms. There are even a number of private villas dotted along the coast around Ayia Napa that offer excellent value for large groups or families who need more room to spread out or a greater touch of luxury and privacy.