Looking for a holiday of relaxation and sun-kissed beaches? Then Protaras is the place to be.
This purpose-built resort on Cyprus’ southeastern coast offers an abundance of restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels catering for every holidaymaker. Whether you are jet-setting with the family or having that much-earned week in the sun with your nearest and dearest there is plenty to see and do here.
Visit the famous ghost town of Varosha, see if you can discover the legend of the Ayia Napa sea monster from the natural park of Cape Greco or perhaps slip into your wet suit and take on some of the best diving spots in Europe. Alternatively, you could simply grab a cocktail, stake out your spot on the beach and bask in the sunshine.
A town transformed
The past few decades has seen Protaras transformed from a quiet fishing village into a thriving tourist destination welcoming holidaymakers from all over the globe. Where it was once the ancient settlement of the Athenian Demetrius Poliokrete in 306 BC as they prepared to do battle with a successor of Alexander the Great, it is now the home of luxury hotels and seaside bars and restaurants.
It may have been the scene of battles in years gone by but today Protaras is most recognised for Fig Tree Bay. Regularly named among the top beaches in Europe, this glorious stretch of golden sands and crystal clear waters is a magnet for tourists and locals alike. The beach takes its name from the one fig tree that sits at the end of the coast.
Not only is it the place to be to relax and watch the world go by, but it has also become a big favourite with surfers, water-skiing enthusiasts and anyone that’s ever wanted to try their hand at parasailing. There are also the quieter coves of Green Bay and Konnos Beach where the calm waters make it an ideal place to go snorkelling.
If exploration is your thing then there is no better place to start than the sea caves that line the Protaras coastline. These incredible rock formations and caverns can help to create some unique photo opportunities while the nearby Cape Greco natural park is a hive of luscious greenery and rugged cliffs.
One of the most fascinating sites close to Protaras is the town of Varosha – an eerie moment frozen in time. The town was completely abandoned in 1974 as Turkish troops invaded following a Cypriot coup d’état and nothing has changed since that summer’s day over 40 years ago. Houses are still furnished, shops are fully stocked but with no-one in sight – you can take a tourist trip from Protaras to Varosha and see it for yourself.
While Protaras can boast a boisterous nightlife, if you want to turn it up to 11 then the party town of Ayia Napa is only a short journey away.
Why go to Protaras?
If you want to spend a week or two lying on a golden sand beach enjoying days of interrupted sunshine then Protaras is the place for you. No matter if you’re taking the family away to an all inclusive resort or looking to enjoy a few stolen few days away enjoying a little luxury – you will find it in Protaras.
The resort is around an hour’s transfer from Larnaca International Airport allowing you to enjoy the picturesque drive along the coast before your holiday starts in earnest. There are regular flights from the UK with journey times around 4 hours 30 minutes.
The Cypriot town is situated next the beautiful Cape Greco Forest Park. Designed as a National Forest Park in 1993, this peaceful, unspoilt corner of the island makes the craziness of both Protaras and neighbour Ayia Napa seems millions of miles away.
Luscious plant life is complimented with the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean while you’ll no doubt spot one of the many species of birds flying overhead. Spending an afternoon here helps you see the amazing contrast from the tourist-populated towns to the serenity of the park. Hike, cycle and even scuba dive around this incredible natural wonder just a couple of minutes away from Protaras. You may even spot the legendary Ayia Napa sea monster, if you’re very lucky.
Situated a little outside of Protaras is the Church of Profitis Elias. From a distance it may seem like a normal Byzantine church with a small bell tower, however climb the 150 steps to reach it and you will get your rewards. From here you can enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the Mediterranean and surrounding area.
Of course, you can enjoy something a little more exhilarating like a trip to the Anastasia Aquamania water park. Kids and grown-ups alike will love the range of slides from the colourful racers to the twisting and turning tubes – they can provide hours of fun for the whole family.
Protaras is a resort where life revolves around its beach and when a shoreline as beautiful as Fig Tree Bay is on your doorstep it’s hard to argue. However, there is still plenty to do in Protaras that doesn’t have to necessarily involve the famous coastline.
Situated in Northern Cyprus, the town acts as a reminder to Cyprus’ chequered history but is also regarded as a highly important part of the island. Once a bustling tourist destination, it all changed in 1974 when Turkish troops invaded Cyprus and all the residents fled.
Since that day Varosha has become a ghost town with hotels, shops and homes left exactly as they were that day. It is a fascinating insight into the country’s past and regular excursions leave Protaras on a daily basis. Visiting Varosha is an absolute must if you’re staying nearby; when else could you see an actual ghost town?
Holidays to Protaras are all about exploration so grab your hiking boots and head out on an adventure. While you could opt for roaming the picturesque Cape Greco Forest Park, why not see the magnificent sea caves that populate the coastline? Alternatively, you can zip up your wet suit and visit some of the best scuba diving sites Europe has to offer – don’t worry if you’re a beginner as there are plenty of diving schools to help you learn the basics.
Protaras and nearby Ayia Napa are a constant buzz of activity with tourists from all over the globe visiting in their droves. However, there is a place close to the popular tourist destinations that has been untouched for decades – Varosha.
Cypriot food is some of the most delicious you are likely taste and the best way to experience it is with a meze. This selection of dishes is the Greek-Cypriot version of tapas with a series of varying delicacies just waiting to be tried. Tuck into kleftiko (slow cooked lamb), stifado (beef stew) and potatoes, Greek salad, olives and an accompaniment of tzatziki, houmous and tahini dips. Of course, don’t forget to sample some refreshing Cypriot wine.
Head to Protaras Avenue and you’ll find a host of restaurants ready to serve you some of this authentic local cuisine. Andama Restaurant, Da Sonia Restaurant, Island Affair Restaurant, Mykonos Greek Tavern, Nicholas Tavern and Olympus Restaurant are all situated along this street and specialise in Greek-Cypriot food.
However, if you’re looking for something a little different for your evening then why not check out some of the international restaurants? Experience Asian-inspired dishes at China House, indulge in a little French cuisine at The Corner Restaurant while you can say ‘Hola!’ to a taste of Mexico at Chichi’s Restaurant or El Chico Restaurant.
There are also a number of eateries providing food from every corner of the globe such as Hippocampus Restaurant and Promessa & Promises Restaurant. Whether you’re hungry for a curry or ready to devour an amazing seafood meal, you will not be disappointed with meal time options in Protaras.
There is an incredible amount of choice when it comes to dining in Protaras. From the traditional Greek-Cypriot dishes the region is famed for its international cuisine to home comforts – whatever you have a hankering for you will find it here.
Admittedly, there is a much more relaxed vibe in Protaras compared to its noisy neighbour but you can stay long into the night with a few drinks as you watch the world go by. Swing by the Stonehenge Bar close to Fig Tree Bay for a few beers or a cocktail while you watch the live sports of the day. By night, this place is transformed into a disco where the party goes on long into the night.
One of the oldest, and most-loved, establishments in Protaras is Knight’s Bar. This restaurant-by-day, bar-by-night haunt has been entertaining the masses since 1988 with a delicious range of cocktails and a host of domestic and imported beer options. Live sport during the day is replaced with live music and karaoke in the evening – a must for all holidaymakers.
Check into Ghetto Cocktail Bar and work your way through the list of innovative and intriguing drinks combinations. While it is family-friendly during the day, at night it is transformed into a venue with a DJ spinning the latest dance music. Don’t forget to try their legendary strawberry daiquiri.
Of course, if the allure of Ayia Napa becomes a little too much to resist then there are plenty of taxis that will take you to and from its legendary nightclubs.
The glow of Ayia Napa in the distance may be the siren song that lures many holidaymakers over; but why head into the busy party town when Protaras’ nightlife is just as thriving? Each evening the resort is alive to the sound of music with the range of bars and pubs along the shore going into party mode as soon as the sunsets.
Cyprus is famed for its leather clothing and accessories. Each piece is painstakingly detailed to help to create the latest masterpiece. Pick from shoes, suitcases, and handbags from the numerous boutiques and speciality shops that are dotted around the area.
There are a number of designer shops in Protaras such as London Clothing Company and Armyra Boutique. However, if you are looking to splurge a little more on retail therapy then nearby Paralimni provides more choice than Protaras.
Staying in a purpose-built resort like Protaras, you won’t be short of places to pick up a souvenir. The beach front promenade is lined shops where you can grab that memento of your holiday; whether it’s a novelty fridge magnet, beautifully embroidered tablecloths, napkins and bed linen or any of the multitude handmade leather goods.
Named after the solitary fig tree which, according to local legend, was brought to the area by eastern invaders during the 17th century, it is one of the most beautiful spots in the resort. Boasting a promenade lined with bars, restaurants and hotels, it is the go-to place for anyone visiting. While it can get a little busy during the peak season there is a pleasant atmosphere with tourists from all over the globe mingling together.
It may seem a little ironic that you’ll find one of the quieter beaches on the journey from Protaras to the party town of Ayia Napa but Green Bay provides just that. The perfect contrast to the busier Fig Tree Bay, it is a great destination for families and couples looking for a break from the relative craziness of the two popular resorts.
Head north of Protaras and do as the locals do and relax on Kapparis Beach a secluded, unspoilt cove with calm blue waters to take a dip in. If you’re looking for something picturesque, then head to Konnos Beach and enjoy views of Cape Greco from your sun lounger. The steep hills protect the cove from the strong winds making the allure of swimming in the Mediterranean irresistible.
Both Louma Beach and the namesake of Protaras Beach are big favourites with tourists so understandably fill up pretty quickly during the peak of the summer season. Both have access to a host of watersports should you feel the urge of being adventurous and try out jet skiing or surfing. You can also hop onboard boat trips from Protaras Beach that tour the Famagusta coast.
When it comes to beach holidays in Protaras there are three little words that most people instinctively think of – Fig Tree Bay. This glorious stretch of shoreline is regularly named among the very best beaches in Europe and is one of the main reasons Protaras has grown exponentially as a tourist destination in recent years.