Famed for its Mediterranean weather, long stretches of beach and lively nightlife, Cyprus is a popular tourist destination. “Having the warmest climate in Europe and a wealth of beaches to choose from, you are bound to find one that suits your taste anytime. There are fine white sandy beaches with shallow turquoise waters, or deep water bays with rocky outcrops, perfect for snorkeling or diving,” asserts Antonios Vanezis at Pascal English Schools in Larnaca. But Cyprus is not all about beaches, says Gaurav Dubey, Marketing Manager at Cyprus International Institute of Management, which has schools in Nicosia and Limassol. “It is possible to ski in the morning on the Troodos mountain range in February and swim in the same afternoon.”
Cyprus is also a country with its own distinct character. “As Cyprus’s history goes back more than 10,000 years, it has been influenced by different empires,” explains Dubey. Vanezis adds, “Cyprus is like a large open-air museum where you can see evidence of its chequered past, creating a charismatic mosaic of different civilisations and periods. Here you can wonder at Greek temples where the cult of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of beauty and love, flourished, or discover the forest-hidden painted Byzantine churches with their colourful frescoes.”
In recent years, Cyprus has been putting itself on the map as an English language learning destination. “[Cyprus] is a country where English is very much a language in universal use, in shops and at visitor attractions,” reports Alexandra Waugh, Head of English at Xenion Education in Paralimni. “English permeates daily life here, making it a superb location in which to study English.”
Elena Roginsky, from Malvern House Cyprus, agrees. “Cyprus, with its British roots, has been making a name for itself as an English language learning destination. As well as the natural beauty of the island and over 320 days of sunshine, there is the high level of English language learning that we provide.”
The great mix of beachside vacation experience and English learning is ideal, says Claire Baker at English Sunny School of Cyprus in Limassol. “Students come here for the sea and the sun, and are able to enjoy the very best of a summer holiday with learning English. Since most of the people speak English and all signs and menus are in English, it is a great place to learn and have fun while doing so.”
One place where students can practise English outside the classroom is at the English Study Centre, Limassol. Krini Askanis, Director, gives details about the English for photographers course: “We take the students to a professional photographer’s studio and carry out one or two lessons there utilising the setting, procedure, equipment, displays etc. in English. This will lead to visiting photographic exhibitions and cafés where other photographers meet and provide the opportunity for students to become more involved with the community.”
Cyprus’s capital city Nicosia - the world’s last divided city, with Turkey controlling the northern areas - effortlessly blends old with new. Its centre is made up of the old quarter, surrounded by a Venetian sandstone fortress wall, complete with a moat and heart-shaped bastions, while wrapped around this is a modern cosmopolitan city. Dubey reports that there is much to see and do here. “There are abundant museums and cultural sites to choose from, from the Cyprus Museum [which houses the best collection of archaeological artefacts in Cyprus], Classic Bike museum, Ledra Border crossing [and] Cyprus Library, amongst many others.”
Historical sites, tradition and legend are abundant in Cyprus, and due to the small size of the island, everything is accessible within a two-hour drive. Baker recommends Petra tou Romiou, a sea stack said to mark Aphrodite’s birthplace, as the most beautiful site in Cyprus. The waters around the stack are generally quite rough and not suitable for swimming, but legend has it that anyone who swims around the Aphrodite Rock will be blessed with eternal beauty. Then, in the centre of Limassol is the Medieval Fort, which is said to be where Richard the Lionheart, a past King of England, married Berengaria of Navarre in 1191.
Today, the fort is home to the Cyprus Medieval Museum, and just next-door is the Plurilingua Language Centre. “Our institute is situated in the old town, next to the medieval castle. In their free time, students can just stroll around, have a coffee [and] explore the old city of Limassol,” says Ruth Veh-Ioannou. “For those interested in cultural events, we are situated next to the newly founded Technical University of Limassol, which offers a wide variety of cultural events.”
The Limassol of today has grown into Cyprus’s second-largest city, famed for its annual spring carnival and its fun-loving population. Baker reports, “The atmosphere at this and other festivals sums up the character of the town as the place where people can relax and enjoy themselves. Tourists and locals alike have a lot of fun taking part in these traditional events.”
Roginsky agrees, “The recent film festival in Limassol proved to be popular among our students. The most popular and colourful event of the year takes place in February the Cyprus Carnival in Limassol.” However, if students are not so interested in the arts, year round there are plenty of other activities too, she adds, saying, “For the keen sportsperson, it offers a variety of water sports, climbing, horse riding, cycling, hiking, water polo, football, tennis and many other sports.”
Cyprus’s third-largest city, situated on the island’s southern coast, is Larnaca. “This is where east meets west, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world and a fascinating blend of the many civilisations that shaped its history,” asserts Vanezis. “The quiet sea front city of Larnaca is a perfect starting point from which to explore Cyprus - beautiful beaches, sports and recreation options, cultural events, religious tourism and authentic Cyprus taverns are just some of the choices in and around town.” Vanezis recommends tasting Commandaria, one of the oldest wines in the world, and savouring the fresh Mediterranean flavours at the city’s numerous restaurants. “You can always leave all this behind though and dance the night away to the latest sounds, or join in a more traditional Greek Sirtaki dance,” he adds.
For a location slightly more away from the tourists, Waugh recommends the Paralimni area, which includes the main tourist part of Protaras, but also extends to small villages. “The area can be both lively and quiet, depending on where you go, and this mixture gives a sense of not being somewhere which is just a tourist trap.”
Paralimni itself is, according to Waugh, compact enough to be easily explored but big enough to offer all the services and facilities you might want. “Since it is slightly away from the tourist areas, it has developed as a residential, commercial and business centre for the district. At the same time, gorgeous beaches, sun, sand and surf are just a short trip away.” Just outside Paralimni are remains of the Roman aqueduct that brought water down from the mountains in the first century, and at Macronissos there is a first century burial ground and an ancient quarry.
Aside from the island’s deep history and natural beauty, another superb draw of Cyprus is the hospitality of the Cypriots themselves, as Waugh explains. “Householders will offer a glass of cool water to someone standing at a bus stop on a hot day and make a gift of fruit to passers-by if they have too much on their trees. Shops hold parties on the pavement to celebrate opening and banks offer their customers food and drink at Christmas. No place of business is complete without a dish of sweets on the counter and you will often be offered coffee as you shop.” email@example.com
“Students love Cyprus for its unique combination of great weather, fantastic scenery, mouth-watering food and good quality English language classes.It offers a safe and friendly environment. We send students to Limassol, between two airports, Larnaca and Pafos, offering easy access to any city on the island. We also send students to Episkopiana a small village close to Limassol offering a safe and friendly environment. Students are surprised by the quality of English classes. Also the people are always willing to help something you don’t find in busy towns. Cyprus has a warm and welcoming Mediterranean culture. We haven’t had a student complaint about the island yet!”
Tatiana Detochenko, Needle Point Education, Russia
“Cyprus is similar to Malta, except Cyprus is bigger and there is more to do! It is the perfect ELT destination for students who want to learn English, enjoying the sunshine and have fun at the same time. Most language schools in the country have swimming pools and great activities! At night, older students can enjoy discos, and at the school we work with, students can get to the club by foot. I travel to Cyprus three or four times a year, and I really like the people. I also enjoy driving around the country in my car and discovering new places. The food is great too Cypriot people also like to eat!”
Iwona Kostecka, Lingwista, Poland