Ayia Napa is Greek for "Saint Napa", the patron saint of the town, whose Venetian-era monastery is in the centre of the town, next to the square which today is clubbing central.
It's in the far eastern end of the Cypriot Republic, adjacent to the UK Sovereign Base. Ayia Napa is synonymous with clubbing on the island, having made a transition from a popular, all-ages family holiday destination to a "dance party capital", similar to Ibiza in Spain. In particular, it is popular as the summer holiday destination for followers of London's UK Garage music scene. British tourists are still the most prevalent here, but there are a lot of Russians holidaying in the area. It is also a long-time favourite among Scandinavians.
Beyond the clubbing, however, Ayia Napa attracts tourists world-wide because of its fun-loving (some would say, totally hedonistic) outlook by night and its sandy Mediterranean beaches by day.
Most travellers arrive at Ayia Napa by flights to the island of Cyprus that land at Larnaca airport. From there, it is a 45-minute taxi ride to Ayia Napa. Total fare should be around €55.
- On foot. Ayia Napa is small enough to be considered just about walkable.
- Bicycle. Widely available, lots of bicycle lanes.
- Mopeds. Again widely available, and can be fun. However, these can be death traps if not driven with the appropriate care and responsibility. If in doubt of your driving skills and discipline, avoid them at all costs.
- Car rental. These are useful in exploring the wider area, but traffic and parking in the centre of Agia Napa can be a problem. If you are thinking of drinking don’t risk driving, as local laws are very strict.
- Taxis. Compared to most European cities these are quite affordable. Widely available. Make sure the driver turns the taxi meter on, or negotiate the total fare to your destination prior to departure.
- Ayia Napa Monastery - the one cultural site worth visiting in the town, the present building dates to around 1500.
Ayia Napa attracted its first tourists (mostly Scandinavian) on the back of its incredible beaches. There is a selection of idyllic powder white sand beaches. The water is crystal clear with a lovely blue-green colour. The water tends to be quite shallow. Even if you are a swimming pool person, visiting Agia Napa’s beaches will surely convert you. Every beach will have a water sports centre so make sure you know the boundaries of the swimming and powerboat areas. Accidents have happened. Food, drinks, umbrellas and sun beds are all available but you need to get there early to reserve yours. Bungee jumps come in and out of fashion.
- Nissi Beach: the most infamous of them all. Blond beauties and well oiled hunks flock here. In the height of the summer you need to get there early to reserve your patch. About 4 km from the central square. BBC Radio One has staged its beach parties here. Also Nissi Bay Beach bar features the club and bar DJs spinning the decks each day.
- Makronisos Beach: just as nice as (if not nicer than) Nissi Beach, a bit further away. At times less busy and more family orientated. In the past this has been the choice for MTV’s and Kandi beach parties.
- Grecian bay: the closest sandy beach to the centre of Agia Napa, this is a beautiful beach that stretches along three coves to the east of the small fishing harbour. Not so fashionable as the two above, but just as nice a beach.
- Fiji Polynesian Cuisine, Main Road, Ayia Napa. Exotic fruits, vegetables and meats with unusual herbs and spices, grilled in a traditional wood-fired oven.
Ayia Napa is famous for its nightlife. The Square should be your first choice for nightlife in the area. Although the area is a lot smaller than you might expect, there is a lot packed into the area and there are plenty of places to drink. Main bars include Bedrock, the Castle Club and Ice. Competition between various bars is phenomenally fierce and most bars employ promotional staff who will accost you on the street with offers of free shots or drinks. These people are exceptionally persistent and will even go as far as to grab you should you refuse to acknowledge them. Although they pose no threat they can be very annoying. Be particularly aware of those trying to promote Toga Toga or Moulin Rouge, the main strip clubs on the island. By all means, listen to the various PR people if you're partially interested because they can get you genuine deals in bars and clubs, but remember that their sole aim is to make you poorer and them richer, so politely tolerate but don't fall for their efforts to try and make friends with you. However, it can be amusing to distract them from their job and try to engage them in long conversation.
Clubs and bars are open until daybreak and as a result, the 'scene' doesn't really begin to pick up until around 23:00-ish. Patrons who are used to attending bars from 20:00 and heading to a club around midnight will need to reset their body clocks. The square is practically deserted until 21:30: most clubbers don't even bother going out until after 11:00, and most clubs won't open until after 01:00. Those expecting a cheap night out are also going to be slightly disappointed. Drinks prices are generally the same in most bars. Watch out in clubs. Admission fees can also be high, but canny clubbers should be able to find a good deal. Promo people can be quite helpful in this regard, and if you know where you're planning to go, you can usually pick up cheaper advance tickets. Some bars also have arrangements with clubs - one of the bars behind Castle (Red Square) offers buy-one-get-one-free on some of their drinks and will give you free entrance ticket to Castle or Starskys.
For an area that's fuelled by alcohol, Ayia Napa seems to suffer very little from anti-social behaviour. Provided you observe general bar and club etiquete you are extremely unlikely to encounter any trouble from other clubbers, locals or the police. The atmosphere in general is a very good, positive one, which offsets the fact that your night out is going to be more expensive than one in the UK.
If you are looking to get away from it all and relax with your family in privacy, then a holiday villa may be the right choice for you. By renting a private villa, you will have your own kitchen, living/dining room, bedroom and in many cases your own private swimming pool. Renting a villa provides you, not only, with more space and privacy but may also be a more economical option rather than staying at a small hotel room. A villa can usually accommodate a minimum of 4 people, and the rental price is charged per week making it more cost-effective than staying at a hotel.