Get surprised In Cyprus

Cyprus is a luminous little isle that's seen a fair share of interesting travellers and conquerors over the centuries. It was prime real estate for the ancient peoples such as the Hittites, Assyrians, Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, who all fought for its control. More recently, in 1974 the island was divided. With the northern part under Turkish rule and the southern part under Greek rule, this patchwork of cultural influences makes for a very unexpected trip, in all the right ways.

So whether you're after some ancient relic hunting, gastronomic bliss or just place to drop your weary bones in the sun – Cyprus is the place! The ideal way to see Cyprus in all of her glittering glory is by car. Cyprus car hire is easily obtained, with plenty of competitive options.

Get lost among ancient relics
In the Limassol district there is a 5th-century Kourion Episcopal Basilica, a scorching plateau of white stone that features ancient alcoves exposed to the sun. So perhaps leave this alone, in favour of the nearby Roman-era 'Complex of Eustolios' and the Gladiator houses. Importantly, this site is encased in cool shade. The intricate and beautiful floor mosaics are the real deal. Comfortably in the shadows, you can enjoy the vista of the sea crashing against the white cliffs and ancient ruins for only €1.70.

In Nicosia check out the Cyprus Museum, as there are some really stunning treasures there. It's hard not to marvel at how everyday objects and their designs never change much, even over millennia.

Get stuffed on a Cypriot banquet
If you have no idea about Cypriot food and wine – you're in for a treat. The wines are a satisfying blend of rich, velvety reds and crisp, dry white wines. These are surprisingly good and locally sourced. In terms of food – for a long time after you’ve been here, carnivores will feel romantic tenderness towards these succulent meat-based memories. Try 'shieftalies', a crispy ground pork wrapped in a pork stomach membrane, just like a giant traditional sausage, only better. Get one and a beer for only €10 at 'To Kontosouvli' in Nicosia. After that, head to 'Academy 32', a chic and affordable wine bar, and sample more premium local plonk.

Get acquainted with village life
For a downright charm assault, head to Lafkara, a tiny village that's famous across the world for its lace. This is made in a slow and patient way by local women meaning that a single bespoke item can take up to two months to complete. In case you're wondering, in the meantime the men aren't sitting around idle - they're equally as prolific and skilled as silversmiths.

For a place that will slowly reveal its secrets, and can ignite the imagination of even the most cynical of travellers, Cyprus is the surprising isle.