The Mediterranean is one of the world’s most sought-after destinations. Known for its turquoise waters and verdant nature and home to cities and civilizations that are thousands of years old, it is arguably the best spot for both beach and culture.
Not all Mediterranean countries are well known to the American public, however, who will often falter in naming countries that are not Spain, Italy, or Greece, when in fact, one of the most beautiful islands in the basin does not belong to any of these major states – and believe it or not:
It is simply the perfect fall destination, being best enjoyed in the off-season. Here are 5 reasons why Cyprus should be your next international trip:
The Gateway To Olympus
Before our European readers rush to the comment section to denounce our classification of Cyprus as a ‘lesser-known’ country, you must know it is very much so an off-path destination for a majority of Americans, who rank nowhere in Cyprus’ top-ten most frequent visitors.
To our American readers who might never have heard of Cyprus before, it is an Eastern Mediterranean island just south of Turkiye (formerly spelled Turkey) with Hellenic origins. This means Cyprus is, in essence, a Greek-speaking island, except it is not part of Greece.
Cyprus is its own country, and although the Greek language is most widely spoken, and ethnic Greek Cypriots form a majority, Turkish is also an official language at the national level due to the island’s strong cultural ties to its closest neighbor.
A bit of History, if we may: Cyprus has been an island divided since the 1970s, when Turkish forces occupied the Northern third of the island, and the self-declared, breakaway state of TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) was declared to very limited international recognition.
You can learn more about Cyprus’ division, which in no way affects tourists or their safety, here.
A Middle Eastern Island That Is Part Of Europe?
If you look at a mapa mundis, you will see Cyprus is firmly planted in the Middle East, which would make it in theory an Asian country, as it is closer to Turkiye (70 km), Syria (110 km), Lebanon (200 km), and Israel (300 km), and Syria than it is to Greece, the closest European neighbor (800 km).
Still, Cyprus is geopolitically and culturally a European nation, being a member of the European Union (EU), and having the Euro as its official currency.
Now that we have got the technicalities out of the way and given you the shortest possible introduction to Cyprus, here’s why it is perfect for an autumn getaway:
Prices Will Drop This Fall
As it is remote, being the Southeastern-most country in the EU, Cyprus is very remote and trickier to get to, especially if you’re traveling from America. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
It may not host nonstop Transatlantic flights, but it is served by several low-cost airlines operating in Europe and the wider Mediterranean region, with airfares as cheap as $39 departing from certain British hubs.
As traveling to Cyprus will inevitably require a layover in a third European country, Americans get to pick which departure point is the cheapest out of a vast continent with plenty of budget-friendly offers – and lucky for them, prices are set to drop significantly this fall.
Fall is the off-season in Europe when air passenger numbers plummet as a result of the start of the school year and end of the summer holidays, and though connectivity to Cyprus is affected – some Cyprus-bound routes are seasonal – connectivity to mainland Europe is certainly not severed.
Traveling from Paris (Beauvais) to Larnaca (LCA), the busiest airport in Cyprus in late September, Americans can find flights as cheap as $38 one-way flying WizzAir, as seen on Skyscanner, while London Luton departures start at just $27.
Cyprus is served by budget airlines from all over Europe, and you’ll certainly be spoiled for choice as long as you get to Europe first.
Maybe couple a beach break in Cyprus with these other trendy European countries, using the mainland as a starting point.
It Is Unbelievably Hot
One of the reasons why Cyprus is still so well-frequented in the off-season is its amazing weather.
As you might have guessed glancing at the map, it is essentially a Middle Eastern destination more than it is Southern European proper, which means the shoulder seasons are pretty mild.
While you do get snow in the mountainous inland of Cyprus over winter, the coast remains relatively warm, enjoying highs of 68°F even in February. If winters are that mild, you can imagine how warm autumns are.
According to TUI, a Britain-based travel agency, ‘days are usually hot with balmy evenings’, and tourists are encouraged to ‘pack light and cool clothing’ long after summer is through. The average daily maximum is 89°F in September, with a minimum of 71°F.
In October, the temperature remains high at 82°F, on average, dropping to a pleasant 73°F in November. In sum, Cyprus stays warm the entire off-season, and as it is a Mediterranean island, the seas also remain much warmer than other European swimming sites.
It Is A Year-Round Destination
This fall, Cyprus is expected to register a high occupancy, with hotels close to being sold out at least two months after the peak of summer.
Looking at its gorgeous weather, this is hardly a surprise, but it’s maybe the first time Cyprus has had such a long and successful tourist season.
In a way, it seems to have consolidated its spot as one of the top shoulder season destinations not only in Europe or the wider Eurasia but the whole world.
It seems the Tourism Ministry’s efforts for Cyprus to become an all-year-round tourist destination have paid off, with recent data pointing that ‘tourist units will have high occupancies until mid-October’.
‘Our tourism partners report that in some areas, such as Paphos, there will be an increase in tourists from November 2023 – February 2024, compared to previous years‘, he added, referring to one of the trendiest resort cities on the island.
Paphos is best known as the birthplace of Aphrodite and an ancient port home to UNESCO-listed monuments, including the landmark Tombs of the Kings, a vast necropolis with well-preserved Doric columns and frescoes.
While there has not been a ‘uniformity’ across Cyprus, with other resort regions like Famagusta reporting a drop in bookings as early as June, the overall picture looks good.
Cyprus Is Still Not As Touristy As Other Mediterranean Countries
Finally, Cyprus is less busy than Greece or Italy. That’s not to stay it is a hidden gem awaiting discovery.
It may not be the first destination Americans think of when planning an off-season beach vacation, either due to a lack of knowledge on Southeastern Europe, or the absence of nonstop flights which makes getting to Cyprus harder, but it is a hugely popular sunny getaway for Europeans.
You should expect well-frequented beaches and lively cities brimming with life and tourists, but it is still nowhere near the crazy levels of tourism seen in Italian hotspots such as Rome, Florence, and Venice, or neighboring Greece’s Santorini and Mykonos.
Visitor numbers will probably not dwindle significantly in the fall, but Cyprus will still be considerably less hectic than its European counterparts, as its all-time high for yearly figures peaked at only 4.12 million in 2019.
Last year, only 1.94 million tourists vacationed in Cyprus, a majority having arrived between the summer months.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com