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Feline amazing on a family holiday to Cyprus

Feline amazing on a family holiday to Cyprus

Exploring Cyprus – and the Columbia Beach five-star resort – with our children

Leo is sauntering airily through reception like he owns the place.

“He’s the leader here,” says the receptionist.

Leo’s a cat and at Columbia Beach you share your five-star stay with a few furry friends.

We even find one stealing our sun lounger. But you can’t blame the cats – this five-star resort in Cyprus is a fantastic place to be.

Columbia Beach Resort hotel and pool in Cyprus

And the owner has helped rescue and look after the local feline population since the hotel opened 20 years ago.

A cat on the sunbed at Columbia Beach Resort in Cyprus

Indeed, this is a resort where they look after everything down to the finest detail.

Crafted into the hillside overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean Sea in Pissouri Bay – about halfway between Paphos and Limassol – Columbia Beach is an upmarket family favourite.

Pool at Columbia Beach Resort in Cyprus

There are three main pools, two outdoor ones on either side of the resort and another good size indoor pool.

There are also two toddler pools, a pair of tennis courts, swings and The Den children’s club.

If you don’t fancy a sun lounger by either pool you can get one on a quiet lawn area or on the beach itself that the hotel is set on.

Sunbeds next to the beach at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

A sunbathing area next to the beach

When the tide is high, the warm waters of the Med lap within a few metres as you relax.

(If you’d like more details and pictures of the hotel, read our article: We stay at Columbia Beach Resort – a beautiful five-star hotel in Cyprus).

The stony beach isn’t the most comfortable for children to play on but there is fun to be had skimming stones and walking along it – to the nearby village in one direction or – in the other – to the spectacular Cape Aspro hiking trail.

If you want to travel a little further, the popular Aphrodite’s Rock, reputed as the place where the Goddess emerged from the sea, is just a few miles away.

Aphrodites Rock in Cyprus

Aphrodite’s Rock

Or you could enjoy more Cypriot history at Kourion Amphitheatre and Kolossi Castle – both less than 30 minutes’ drive.

A similar journey gets you to the tourist hotspot of Paphos with the Tombs of the Kings archaeological site and the bustling harbour worth a visit.

More active families can enjoy the water park, Luna Park funfair or the zoo.

(For more details of family attractions read The best places to visit around Pafos/Paphos in Cyprus on a family holiday).

But it is hard to leave Columbia Beach Resort, especially in the evening.

We enjoyed all three restaurants on site. Fresh fish at Cape Aspro overlooking the sea, classic Cypriot meals at Apollo Taverna and fine dining at Bacchus.

Cape Aspro restaurant at Columbia Beach Hotel in Cyprus

Cape Aspro restaurant

There is a good children’s menu at all three (main courses around 10 euros) with pasta, pizza and more.

Adults are spoilt for choice – the food is divine. Similarly at breakfast with a large buffet and dishes cooked to order – we enjoyed the fresh pancakes every morning.

Despite its size, Columbia Beach doesn’t feel busy, there are only 169 suites and they are all large and spacious.

Our family suite was huge with two bathrooms, lounge, balcony and separate children’s bedroom. But even the standard rooms are a good size.

Our suite at Columbia Beach Resort in Cyprus

Our suite

We didn’t want to leave. As we enjoyed our final meal in the warm evening air, our table of four became – temporarily – a table for five.

Yes, one of the Columbia Beach cats had come to say goodbye by nudging each of our legs in turn under the table.

No wonder the cats are happy here. Even for just a few days’ stay, we felt like the cats who had got the cream.

Now watch our exclusive video of the hotel here:

 

The best places to visit around Pafos/Paphos in Cyprus on a family holiday

The best places to visit around Pafos/Paphos in Cyprus on a family holiday

Ten places to take your children around Pafos/Paphos in Cyprus

It may be slightly further on a plane than other European hotspots, but Cyprus is worth the four-and-a-half-hour flight from the UK for the year-round sunshine.

Other pluses make it easy to travel there with children – it is set up for families, English is widely spoken, the food is great and if you are nervous of driving abroad – well they drive on the left.

Once you’ve found a good base – we stayed at the sumptuous Columbia Bay Resort in Pissouri – it’s time to decide where else you want to explore.

There are waterparks, beaches, historical sites and more, including:

Tombs of the Kings

Our children loved exploring this World Heritage Site next to the sea.

Children explore Tombs of the Kings, Paphos/Pafos, Cyprus

Tombs of the Kings

There are seven excavated tombs, carved out of rock and spread out over a big site.

Despite the name, the chambers were not actually occupied by royalty but high-ranking officials and aristocracy of the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Top tip: Our children loved climbing here but there are some hidden drops so be very careful with little ones.

Tombs of the Kings, Paphos/Pafos, Cyprus

Tombs of the Kings

Where is it: North of Pafos/Paphos harbour

Address: Tombs of the Kings Ave 63, Chloraka, Cyprus

Aphrodite’s Rock (Petra Tou Romiou)

This site on the south coast of Cyprus is, according to Greek mythology, the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

Aphrodites Rock in Cyprus

Aphrodite’s Rock

We stopped off here, where she is said to have emerged from the sea, at sunset on our way back to the airport.

It’s a pebbly beach with big rock formations coming out of the water – one of them known as Aphrodite’s Rock.

Local legend says that anyone who swims around the rock will be blessed with eternal beauty.

Top tip: If you park in the car park opposite, you don’t need to cross the road, there is a passage under the road on to the beach. There is also a shop and cafe with toilets on the car park.

Where is it: On the main coastal road between Pafos/Paphos and Limassol

Children look out to sea at Aphrodite's Rock in Cyprus

Pafos Zoo

This is the biggest zoo in Cyprus with over 500 mammals from all over the world, ranging in size from guinea pigs to giraffes.

An elephant at Pafos Zoo

Pafos Zoo

There are also a thousand birds including birds of prey, penguins and parrots along with reptiles like crocodiles, snakes and giant tortoises.

And there’s a playground, a shop and places to eat.

Top tip: Our favourite part was the parrot and owl show.

Where is it: About 20 minutes north of Pafos/Paphos past the resort of Coral Bay.

Pafos/Paphos Harbour and Port

It’s nice to have a walk around the harbour area to soak up the atmosphere, even if you are just passing through on your way to somewhere else.

There are restaurants and cafes, shops and boats to watch, a promenade to walk along and a small castle at one end.

Some boat trips leave from here too.

Water parks

The nearest water park is Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark.

Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark in Cyprus

Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark

We ran out of time to try it much to our daughter’s disappointment, but it sounds amazing and includes high speed water rides, a lazy river and a wave pool.

Where is it: In Kato Paphos on the coastal road.

Boat trip

A boat trip is a great way to see the island and there are various options available.

Paphos Sea Cruises is one of the companies who offer excursions.

They have a pirate-themed one which children might enjoy called Pirates Adventure – Jolly Roger II, which includes a pirate show, lunch, face painting and more.

Kourion Archaeological Site

We enjoyed looking around the archaeological remains of the city of Kourion, which was destroyed in an earthquake in 365 AD.

The mosaic floors at Kourion Archaeological Site in Cyprus

The mosaic floors at Kourion Archaeological Site

It includes mosaic floors and a Roman theatre which has been restored and is used over the summer for performances.

Where is it: West of Lemesos/Limassol on the road to Pafos/Paphos.

Beaches

Of course, a family holiday in Cyprus would not be complete without trying out the beaches.

And this, the third-largest Mediterranean island, has loads of Blue Flag beaches.

There are pebbly and sandy ones – one of the best being Coral Bay.

Coral Bay beach in Cyprus

Coral Bay beach

This lovely, long, white-sand beach is surrounded by cliffs so the waves don’t get too big.

There are umbrellas and sun loungers over the summer months but not when we went and we could have done with somewhere to shade from the sun.

It was also fairly busy, unlike the pebbly beach, our hotel was on.

The beach at Columbia Beach Resort

The beach at Columbia Beach Resort

Avakas Gorge

This dramatic gorge (a deep valley between hills or mountains) was created by a stream flowing over limestone for thousands of years.

Stepping stones at Avakas Gorge in Cyprus

Stepping stones at Avakas Gorge

It is quite a challenging walk better suited to older, fitter children.

We tried it on a hot day which made it harder so try to go when it’s cooler.

The mountain roads to get to it are not great – several people arrived in hired jeeps – we parked quite far away but this made for a longer walk.

Top tip: There are slippery rocks, so make sure you wear good footwear – not sandals or flip-flops – and look out for some steep drops.

Where is it: West of Pafos/Paphs

Kolossi Castle

We made a flying visit to this 700-year-old castle, birthplace of the world’s oldest wine, Commandaria , said to have been drunk by Richard the Lionheart at his wedding.

Kolossi Castle in Cyprus

Kolossi Castle

The castle was first built in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 15th century.

It only takes around half an hour to look around but the entrance fee is low and it’s worth a stop-off on your way to somewhere else.

The rooms are empty but when you climb the steps, there is a great view from the top.

Where is it: Kolossi, 14km west of Lemesos on the road towards Pafos (Paphos).

Have we missed your favourite family attraction?

We would love to know of anywhere you recommend, please comment below.

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