I’ve always been intrigued by Ayia Napa. From social media, we see the notoriously favoured town as a place reserved for rowdy teens, ready to rule-break. The type of scene you’re convinced has an age limit or requires a stomach of steel for endless drinking.
For this reason, I’m probably not Ayia Napa’s usual target audience. For starters, I don’t drink. I’m also closer to my thirties than my twenties and avoid hot climates like no tomorrow.
Yet curiosity caught up to me. When dates coincided with a friend’s trip I knew this was my chance to see what Ayia Napa was really like. If not now, then when? Whilst I spill the inside scoop on my experience in one of the liveliest party locations as a sober human, I’ll walk you through suggestions for emerging yourself into Ayia Napa nightlife.
For travel visuals, I’ll link my socials as you’ll find vlogs from Cyprus.
With an impressive amount of outfits squished into hand luggage, and my tripod occupying the entire dimensions of a duty-free bag, I set off to Luton airport with excitement. Not for Luton airport, mind you, but for the evening ahead. I didn’t know what to expect, but I wasn’t worried. You see, I felt like I already had key attributes that would align with the lifestyle I’d be joining.
My ability to jump up and down all night without sleep counts, right?
All Things Ayia Napa:
Undeniably, the two most recognizable airports in Cyprus are Larnaca and Paphos. Of the two, Larnaca is significantly closer to Ayia Napa. It’s a mere 45-minute taxi ride.
When Is The Best Month To Visit Ayia Napa?
In short, it depends on the reason for your trip. Whilst life doesn’t stop for locals, the majority of international visitors tend to head over during summer. My travels took place in September, where I still experienced blazing heat, but avoided the chaotic months of July and August. A win in my books.
The majority of hotels and clubs do tend to close from November, though, so keep that in mind. Coincidentally, November is when tickets are the most affordable.
Airlines take advantage of destinations like Ayia Napa. One quick Google search for flights in 2023 will humble you real quick. Although, I urge you to find a package deal. Hotel and flights in one. I made the costly error of booking separately, but lesson learnt! See, even travel bloggers F up.
Accommodation In Ayia Napa: Nestor Hotel
Nestor Hotel was home for 7 days, a 4-star offering surrounded by restaurants, shops and a convenient taxi rank. Whilst the standard rooms were small and somewhat basic, the warmth of the staff, physical proximity to nightlife and aesthetically-pleasing pool were major selling points.
Nestor hotel isn’t overly fancy the way other 4-star hotels might be, but you don’t need fancy in Ayia Napa. You’ll either be dancing the night away, chilling by the pool or running around the cobbled streets searching for your 3rd ice cream of the hour. Having said that, you still want a nice balcony view. On the second day, I was ready to see if I could swap rooms. There are only so many butt cheeks you can see when you open curtains each morning.
Reception moved me from the ground floor to the top floor. It felt like an upgrade, as the room now overlooked the neon lights of town. The inclusive breakfast was also pretty decent – A particular shout out to ‘Stella’, for being attentive to gluten-free diets. Stella would routinely bring out enough gluten-free cakes to keep 3 of us girls fed all night. Small details like this make the hotel a memorable one.
Do you know what else was memorable? The stress of getting a sun lounger each morning. As in, I had my first proper experience of the drama that goes behind getting seating. Is it not insanity that some people reserve beds with a towel the night before? I definitely rolled my eyes at some guests. However, by Wednesday I caught myself participating in the foolishness of laying a towel before breakfast. If you can’t beat ’em…
Nestor Hotel Address: 8. 1 October Ayia Napa, 5342, Cyprus.
Is A Party Destination Worth Visiting If You Don’t Drink?
To answer this question sincerely, I think it all comes down to your personality. If you’re outgoing to the extent you naturally replicate the confidence of a tipsy person without the drink, you’ll be fine. Otherwise, you might struggle with the antics that generally occur around you. You might also find the ‘what, you don’t drink?’ conversations a bit repetitive, as the ordering of soft drinks raises a few eyebrows. It’s the apple juice at 1 in the morning that gets everyone laughing the most haha.
I’m aware people probably thought I had liquid courage in my system, given my bubbly nature from morning until night. Popcorn was thrown, tables were being stood on, songs were sung from the top of my lungs and multiple strangers were danced with. But it just felt right. I was hooked on the natural buzz of everyone singing along to classics, the evening breeze sweeping over my skin and the fits of laughter my group had on multiple occasions. Not to mention, admiring epic sunsets before you officially drift outside to start your night.
Ayia Napa is run down, there’s no question about it, but there’s something loveable about the town. Many locals admitted they tend to return to seasonal work year after year, for the atmosphere alone. When I asked why, one replied with ‘why not, another year in bliss’. Fair enough.
Ayia Napa Nightlife Suggestions?
One thing I loved about Ayia Napa is how you could find any type of music, any type of dress code, and any type of cocktail all along the same road. My knowledge of drinks is going to be irrelevant, but I can definitely push you towards places I vibed the hardest.
Bars + Clubs:
If you’re looking for somewhere sensually cool and sophisticated in the heart of commotion, go to ‘Seasons Venue + Bar’. A 90’s hip-hop fan? You’ll rate ‘Ambassaden’ for the music. Each song was absolute nostalgia, and if you’re sat outside then you’ve got the energy of club promoters to join in with your head bops. One bouncer, who went by the name Alex, really added to the venue. He was constantly checking to make sure my group felt safe. Top tier treatment.
Need non-pretentious pre-drinks beforehand? ‘Tommy’s Pub’ is fun. Make no mistakes, the venue is just a handful of garden chairs on a patio. However, the vibe is sensational. Nothing screams ‘I’m on holiday’ louder. Waiters are playfully cheeky, staff are hilariously encouraging of karaoke, and every 5 minutes you’ll hear tunes being belted out at the highest volume possible.
If you prefer to let professionals do the singing, ‘Square Bar’ has pretty good live music. It’s sort of like cheesy throwback songs, but in a way that’s really inviting. Within ten minutes, I made a beeline for the stage to dance with a bunch of strangers during a performance of ‘Mr. Brightside’. I couldn’t help it, and neither could the audience after they’d had a few drinks.
For when you don’t feel like dancing, ‘Parko Paliatso Fair’ is tempting to wander. The sweet scent of candyfloss will lure you in, where you’ll gasp as adrenaline junkies plunge from the sky via the ‘slingshot’ ride.
Where To Go In Ayia Napa During The Day?
Even if you catch up on much-needed sleep from the night before, by afternoon you’ll want to venture out. What better way to regain your energy levels than a visit to ‘Water World Ayia Napa’? The waterpark features rides which feel almost too intense to be safe. Whirlpool I’m looking directly at you. Not to mention flumes which are straight drops into the water.
Oh, and the wave pool? Let’s just say you don’t want to fall behind in that. The moment you lose your rhythm, you’re out swallowing mouthfuls of water between two waves. Despite this, you leave each attraction grinning from ear to ear. Keen to do the same? Whole-day tickets go for 45 euros.
Sticking with the water theme, for something a bit tamer try ‘Nissi Beach’. Without a doubt, Nissi is one of the most picturesque offerings on the island. Thousands flock to this beach every summer for booming DJ sets and crystal clear waters.
As you can imagine, coastal towns largely rely on entertainment through the forms of water-based activities. However, I spoke to residents on my way to the supermarket to discuss Ayia Napa’s overlooked culture. ‘Nobody ever asks us this’, one lady chuckled, before giving me the lowdown on history.
Ayia Napa Monastery:
You may want to stumble across the Ayia Napa Monastery, a nod to the prominent Christian religion observed in southern Cyprus. Interestingly, the site is located within the heart of nightlife. Although, this adds to the fact culture seeps through the town when you look deeper.
After all, Napa wasn’t always a party location, one local reminded me, as he reminisced about life before the influx of parties and the island’s medieval history.
Another resident told me the story of ‘Love Bridge’. A romantic arch located by the coast, celebrated for being the place where vows of lifelong commitment are made under glistening beams of light. I was told that catching a sunset here makes for one of life’s greatest encounters, which I fully believed. Sheer amazement took over my body when photos were passed around on the resident’s phone.
Given the climate, you’ll likely crave refreshing beverages and a bite to eat after a few hours of sightseeing.
I’d point you towards ‘Sale e Pepe’ and ‘Abacus Restaurant and Lounge Bar’ as personal favourites. One is an Italian restaurant with insanely good-quality ingredients, and the only place I’ve found authentic carbonara outside Italy, whilst the latter boasts street views ideal for people watching, and large TV screens for unwinding over Mediterranean dishes.
Anything with Tzatziki sauce had me sold, FYI, I slathered it over anything lol.
Is Ayia Napa Safe For A Solo Female Traveller?
Ayia Napa wouldn’t be the first destination that springs to mind, for a solo traveller. Arguably, few solo travellers are known for willingly wanting to visit a packed club by themselves. That being said, a solo experience isn’t impossible. I think if you take the route of daytime exploring, followed by an evening of live music, you’ll be okay. As long as you go with a taxi to get back home, rather than walking.
In a group, I never felt unsafe. Although, when I saw younger girls walking around alone I couldn’t help but feel concerned for their safety. By no means am I attempting to generalise, however it seemed male locals were constantly lurking down popular routes. I didn’t notice anything dodgy, but I can see how it might be perceived as uncomfortable. One night, I insisted I would be fine to walk 3 minutes back to the hotel alone, but my friends rejected this proposal. The correct move, now that I look back.
You just never know, no matter how experienced you might be with travelling alone. Generally speaking though, I had absolutely no concerns during the day.
Is Ayia Napa Expensive To Visit?
As a woman, I didn’t think so. You get free entry virtually everywhere, through coupons handed out by promoters, and staff keep drinks coming all night. Even with evening meals, you’re given shots on the house or local delicacies in the form of unique desserts. Daily lunch and dinner never really went more than 30 euros combined.
My total costs, excluding hotel + flights, were just under 300 euros for a week of food and drink, taxi rides, water park entry, snacks and souvenirs. This is an accurate summary of spending as I strictly took 300 cash, with intention of putting additional charges on a card if needed. I could have saved a few tens though, if I didn’t slurp my way through multiple ice lollies at the hotel each day…
Overall Thoughts On Ayia Napa:
7 days of soaking up new perspectives led me to conclude certain locations need to be trialled, as I can now challenge assumptions which were prematurely formed.
The main one ingrained into my brain was that Ayia Napa is a place only visited by teens. Yet, after observing everything 24/7, I can confidently say there is no age limit. The internet only shows us a fraction of what I actually ended up experiencing. I came back refreshed, despite being out each night. You’d think I just spent time in an all-inclusive retreat in Bali, rather than a week in one of Europe’s biggest clubbing hotspots.
The combination of relaxing by the pool, gathering content for the blog, speaking to locals about culture, and getting 1 hour of sleep from partying blended so well I started to think this lifestyle was sustainable. So much so, that when the hotel entertainer greeted me with ‘another day in paradise’ one morning, I nodded my head in agreement. Who would have thought?
Sure, Napa appeals to a certain type of holiday-maker on the surface, but the experience is truly what you make it. Sign me up for next year.
Want more travel visuals? I’ll see you over on socials…