Greece Or Cyprus? | Cyprus Inform
About Cyprus

Greece or Cyprus?

Древний город Куриум

These two legendary lands, both of which gave birth to the great Olympian gods, are doomed to be compared by travellers. Greece or Cyprus? Cyprus or Greece? This topic comes up regularly on travel forums.  Whom to visit – the Greeks or Cypriots?

Since you probably do not have the ability to be in two places at the same time, you will have to choose the place of your future vacation, like the philosopher Buridan. But the donkey had a choice between two bundles of hay, however you face a much more complex and multifactorial choice between two extremely rich in the experience of pleasure and tourism countries.

Visa regulations

Greece's flagCyprus' flagGreece and Cyprus are members of the European Union. However, only Greece is part of the Schengen zone. For this reason, tourists get to Cyprus is easier, because via the Internet you can issue provisions for one-time entry of up to 90 days.

To visit Greece however you will have to issue a full-fledged “Schengen” permit.

The climate

GreeceCyprus is located in the south-east of the Mediterranean, just 380 kilometers from Egypt, so the climate here is warmer than in Greece. The swimming season begins in late April and lasts until the end of October (depending on the weather, you can often bathe comfortably in November as well).

In Greece, swimming starts in May. The beach season lasts until the middle, and on the southern islands – until the end of October.

Summer in Greece and in Cyprus is dry, with the humidity comparatively low. The heat is softened by the sea breeze. Cyprus is hot in August at about 30ºC – 35ºC  and the sea at about 28ºC. In Greece, the thermometer often passes the thirty plus mark in summer as well, but in general there is less heat than in Cyprus, especially in the northern part of the country.

autumn in CyprusThe velvet season in Greece and Cyprus is autumn: the fall is delightfully warm, but not hot. September and October, are considered by many tourists as the best time for holidays. Cyprus’s Indian summer lasts longer due to the fact that it is located to the south, while at many resorts in Greece it ends in mid-October.

Cyprus has an amazing winter. The sea is often stormy,  but brief rains and the burgeoning nature rule the winter scenery: it’s real spring for the inhabitants of central Russia! In February,  fresh grass begins to grow, flowers bloom, and the almond trees blossom. It’s a romantic time for walking! It is no wonder that the tourist season in Cyprus lasts all year round, although in winter, of course, the tourist traffic falls, and with it so do the prices for vacation. Daytime temperatures at the coast are about 13ºC – 17ºC, whereas in the mountainsfrom zero to 5ºC.

In Greece, although there is also a mild winter, it is cooler and a third of the days are rainy.

The beaches and the sea

Both Cyprus and Greece are located in the Mediterranean.

However, Greece is bordered by eight seas belonging to the Mediterranean basin: the Ionian, Libyan, Aegean, Balearic, Tyrrhenian, Ligurian, the Alboran and the actual Mediterranean. The sea differs from place to place, so going on holiday to Greece is necessary to take into account the local features of the resort you are visiting. For example, the warmest sea is considered to be the Libyan, and the most peaceful and clean the Ionian. The Aegean is pretty cool; even in the hottest summer months it is heated only up to 23ºC. The beaches in Greece are sandy and pebbly.

Going on holiday, it is an imperative to find out exactly what conditions await you. Even on an island, holiday conditions can vary dramatically. For example, in Rhodes, part of the coast is washed by the Aegean Sea: there are pebbly beaches, turbulent waves and wind, but perfect conditions for windsurfing. And the other part of the coast is washed by the quiet Ionian Sea: there are warm and sandy beaches.

And so every Greek island, the sea, the beaches, the weather – everything is different.

Selecting a resort in Cyprus is easier: the whole island is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, the water in any of the bays is blue and transparent, the conditions for windsurfing, sailing and diving are excellent, the climatic conditions are almost identical (except in Limassol, which a bit warmer, but Paphos is cooler).

 

Aphrodite's birthplacea beach in Cyprusthe sea

Beaches in Cyprus are mainly sandy with a gentle – comfortable – entrance to the sea. The exceptions are some beaches in Paphos with uncomfortable rocky entrances.

For the purists, it is necessary to clarify the color of the sand on the beach of the selected destinations. Some tourists are disappointed with gray sand, a characteristic, for example, of the beaches in Limassol. The lovers of white sand are better to choose Ayia Napa or Protaras.

Rocky beaches exist in both Greece and Cyprus. In Cyprus, the best rocky beach is Cape Greco (Κάβο Γκρέκο); it is appreciated by fans of diving and snorkeling due to the exceptionally clear waters.

Nature

A crucial question: which of the countries – Greece and Cyprus – is located in the shadow of Mount Olympus? The correct answer is – both.  Greece and Cyprus have their own Olympus. the one mentioned in the myths is located in Greece, in the north-east of Thessaly. It’s height – 2917 meters above sea level. But Cyprus has a mount Olympus as well – this is the main peak of the Troodos mountain range, whose height reaches 1952 meters.

The mountains and the rocky coast are a common feature of Greece and Cyprus. To argue which has the most picturesque landscapes  is meaningless: it’s like comparing two great poets and geniuses.

 

Omodos village in Cyprusa Greek island

Lovers of natural beauty will find caves in Greece, underwater lakes, waterfalls, lagoons, gorges … On the number of natural attractions Greece exceeds Cyprus, because the territory  is much bigger. The only pity is that during your holidays you cannot possibly see everything: you will have to confine to landscapes surrounding the resort. And they are very diverse: a few dozen of geological and ecological micro-watersheds are located in the territory of Greece’s mainland and on the islands.

Incidentally, the whole of Cyprus cannot be explored not on a week’s vacation or even for a month- so rich in its nature, so numerous romantic cove surrounded by cliffs, mountain trails, mysterious caves, which makes it impossible for the traveller to see everything and go everywhere.

a stream in TroodosIn the Troodos mountains there are rustling cypresses, oaks, aleppo pine and cedar trees and on the foothills of the vineyards in the flowering valleys tamarisks and oleanders grow. Perhaps, during a walk on the mountains, you will see a mouflon. Be sure to visit the nature reserve of the Mediterranean green turtles in the Akamas Peninsula – a local endemic, one of the very rare species. If you are fond of diving – do not forget to plan and go to the pirate caves in the bay of Ayia Napa or dive to the modern “Titanic” – the sunken Greek ferry “Zinobiya.”

Orthodox pilgrims will find many ancient Christian holy sites in Greece and Cyprus. This topic deserves a separate article.

Hotel service

Elias hotel in Limassola hotel in SantoriniOne subject which causes regular debates on tourist forums is a dispute about the quality of the Greek and Cypriot hotels.

The parties come to an agreement with great difficulty because of the subjective judgment and because hotels in Cyprus are compared with hotels in different areas in Greece.

The quality of hotel service in Greece is very heterogeneous. Wherever hoteliers are guided by the British, the quality of service is high. But the quality of service of the resorts of the middle class has fallen sharply in recent years. This is partly due to problems in the Greek economy.

Most resorts in Cyprus focus on tourists of specific countries but not only; also Cyprus hotels definitely offer better quality services than in Turkey or Egypt – European service.

Cuisine, dining and entertainment

mezeA vacation is not complete without tasting new dishes! If we had the opportunity to relax in Greece or in Cyprus, one of the mandatory activities of the tourist route would have to be to enter the local taverns.

It is not necessary to reserve a table at locations in the center of the tourist zone. Moreover, a small restaurant in the mountains or on the coast is the best place to get acquainted with the local culinary traditions.

Incidentally, the Greek and Cypriot cuisine is not the same thing. Surely, they have a lot in common: it is the love for olive oil, an abundance of fresh vegetables, the traditional black and green olives, feta (Greek Cypriots, by the way, say that this cheese originates from them although the trade name in the European Union is reserved for the Greek cheese production).

But there are important differences. Meat is cooked more in Cyprus. There are many who cook pork and mutton, and rabbit is often served for dinner. In Greece, fish and seafood are ore common.

It is a true meal-feast when they serve a variety of small meals – meze – popular in Greece and Cyprus. But Cyprus’ meze is a very special experience! For dinner, up to thirty plates with hot and cold hors d’oeuvres can be served!

Another difference in the Cypriot cuisine is the influence of Eastern cultures. Spices, garlic, parsley, yogurt, honey sweetness. Connoisseurs will find the island’s cuisine and the Italian tradition in complementing the dishes they taste with notes of mint, basil, arugula, cinnamon, coriander and so many other!

As for entertainment, then Cyprus is considered a “rave” vacation spot rather than Greece. Especially at the numerous bars and discos in Ayia Napa. In Greece, Mikonos, Ios, Kallithea are considered to be the youth resorts.

Shopping and Souvenirs

umbrellas at OmodosThey don’t produce furs in Cyprus, while they actively sell them. For fur coats of course, Greece is the place. For cheap branded clothes – somewhere in the Canary Islands or the United Arab Emirates, in the zone of free trade.

A true lover of shopping, however, will not be stopped by prices, but in fact Cyprus is not the place to go to fill your suitcases in boutiques and shopping centers. Similarly, in Greece – except for fur, there is hardly anything worth buying from the industrial goods.

Another thing is souvenirs. From Greece and Cyprus you can purchase a lot of great things.

From Greece, it is required to buy the famous “Metaxa” brandy and the anisette “Ouzo”,  real feta and high-quality olive oil. Choosing gifts is closely linked with the region of the country: in Crete you should buy local leather shoes, in Ioannina and Athens – gold jewellery, in Zakynthos – items made of wood, covered with carvings. On many islands of Greece wonderful things are made out of leather and traditional Greek embroidery can also be purchased.

In Cyprus, you should buy the famous lace embroidery ”lefkaritika”, porcelain, pottery, carved wood, wickerwork items from the vines. As for alcohol – zivania (this is a local grape vodka), the sweet and quite strong wine Commandaria, the orange liqueur Filfar and ”Five Kings” brandy.

Probably, we should recommend more the products of local jewellers. In Cyprus, this craft has a preferential tax system, so that the price of silver 925-carat and 18-carat gold (equivalent to 750-th speciment) is not high. No other than Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, has advised the local authorities on this inspiring tax policy!

 Excursions

donkey toursTo discuss all the excursions offered in Greece and Cyprus would be useless. Even if you are taking a long holiday, it is difficult to explore all of the nearest monuments of nature and history. But you will likely be offered something like riding a donkey on mountain trails or sea fishing (even sharks). So do not fret about the choice of this year, check the attractions in one place and in the following year – in another.

Resorts in Greece and Cyprus are a lot, you can come every year – and discover something new; however, and we have made our choice since a long time ago, which is why this site is devoted to Cyprus, where Greeks live!

 

Photo: Ioanna Markidou, Alena Doronina

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