When people ask me about the best place I have ever been to or the best holiday I have ever been on they are often quite surprised with my response.
For my answer is normally Cyprus. Pound for Pound, Euro for Euro or Dollar for Dollar it is the best value holiday I have ever been on and also the most unexpectedly enjoyable too.
I first visited Cyprus on a club 18-30 holiday with some friends slap bang in peak season when UK Garage was at its most popular. Ayia Napa was quite literally bursting at the seams in those days. I will honestly admit that I drank and partied every night and did nothing but boat trips and water parks in the day. I am not ashamed to admit it was a great holiday. The company was good, the parties were great and the atmosphere electric.
Fast forward a few years and after splashing plenty of cash on some amazing trips, being in a low paying travel industry job and having been made redundant twice in the space of 5 years myself and my girlfriend were super skint.
But boy did we need to go somewhere our feet were super itchy.
I began last minute holiday shopping and found a deal to Cyprus for two weeks in June, £236pp all in.
This was an absolutely ridiculous price, it was 2009 12 months into one of the biggest recessions the UK had ever seen and companies were heavily reducing prices but still, £236?! That’s less than £17 per day for a flight accommodation and transfers too!
So I took a gamble. To be honest I wasn’t particularly keen on going back to Cyprus after my Ayia Napa party days. The apartments we were booked in were at Nissi Beach 3km from Ayia Napa and I was expecting it to be busy and a bit noisy when all I wanted to do was chill and explore.
Well the apartments turned out to be perfect for us, yes they were old and a little tired but were very clean and very large with a big balcony from both the bedroom and the lounge area. We did a fair bit of eating in and playing cards (there was no TV) and reading for the first week. We also walked the 3km into Ayia Napa a couple of times rather than pay for taxis. The money we saved allowed us to then hire a car and explore the island a bit more.
We travelled quite extensively through the eastern side of the island and also explored the Troodos Mountains and both the Cypriot and Turkish side of Nicosia. Because we had little money we found ourselves eating in local cafes and buying food from local bakeries and shops which was a real delight.
I really enjoyed exploring local life away from the tourist centres. We often found ourselves in the middle of nowhere in a little village. We even found somewhere to go strawberry picking and walked across the salt flats at sunset with no one else around.
So the point of my post?
Well to be honest I have never been the hugest fan of package holidays so it is ironic that one of my most enjoyable trips in Europe was indeed a package holiday. People these days often criticise travel agents and it is true that real travel experts are a dying breed however if you get the right package holiday at an unbeatable price then I say go for it! Im also calling out all you travel bloggers too – you are never too good for a package holiday so if you get the chance try one it might not be as bad as you are expecting.
As I have already said my trip to Cyprus was pound for pound the best value holiday I have ever had, so I thought I would give you a basic breakdown of what I spent. Cyprus often gets a bad rep for being an expensive destination and whilst it is by no means the cheapest place in Europe it’s easy to spend little if you avoid the obvious tourist traps.
14 night package holiday for 2 incl flights, accom and transfers £472
Car Hire for 5 days £80
Fuel Money £40
Spending Money for food, sightseeing, drinks and eating out £680
So in total my two week trip to Cyprus worked out at £636 per person including all spending money. Personally I think that’s a damn cheap holiday for everything I did, granted I probably only eat out at a flashy restaurant 4 or 5 times but for everything I saw and experienced it was and still is the best value holiday I have ever had.
For more useful information on Cyprus please visit the Cyprus Tourism Organisation website – http://www.visitcyprus.com
Have you ever been somewhere that was a cheap gamble but were pleasantly surprised? Please share your stories in the comments below.
For disclosure I want to make it clear that my holiday to Cyprus was paid for in full by myself from the pennies I earn working hard in a full time job