Situated on the east side of the Island, Protaras covers approximately 5km of the golden Famagusta Coastline.
Protaras flourished into a charming tourist resort in the 1980s as a more sophisticated alternative to the buzzing and wild atmosphere of its neighbouring town; Agia Napa (located 5 miles west of Protaras).
Before becoming a tourist resort Protaras was essentially uninhabited; the area was mostly covered by a multitude of windmills, some of which still stand, adding to the character of the Protaras landscape. Artefacts uncovered during recent excavations dating back to the Greco-Roman era (58 BC - 395 AD) suggest the land where Protaras now exists may have been the ancient town of Lefkola, notable in those times for its hustling port.
Protaras became an idyllic holiday resort largely due to the beautiful sandy beaches in its vicinity. There are several excellent beaches, each developed to appeal to a particular type of holidaymaker. For instance, the main beach “Fig Tree Bay”, regarded as one of the most popular beaches on the island, offers a wide range of water-sports, while to the north of the coastline, the tranquil waters of Skoutari Beach, make for great snorkelling.
Protaras is particularly apt for package-holidays owing to the impressive array of hotels that have been built in the area since not many people actually reside in this town. Some hotels are enormous comprising several swimming pools and have been purpose-built to fulfil their guests’ every need. The “All-inclusive” deals at these hotels often cover the use of deluxe sports facilities such as: Tennis courts, Gymnasiums and Spas, and even offer useful services such as babysitting and hairdressing.
The sea caves along the Protaras coastline are brilliant for those who like to explore. There are unique rock formations, arches and hidden coves to appreciate and photograph. While some can only be classed as small crevices, others are ample caverns that you can actually go into. There are also little islets just off the shoreline to admire and one in particular is big enough to serve as a retreat for those who prefer to avoid crowded beaches, or enjoy swimming, as the sea by the main beaches can be packed with people taking part in water-sports.
The coastal location of Protaras lends itself to various interesting day-time activities. Boat trips to Cape Greko, the south-easternmost point on the island, or Varosha, located in the Turkish part of Cyprus, are available daily during the summer months.
Cape Greco is a protected nature park and is for this reason a popular stop-point/destination in Boat-trip routes. The town of Varosha is a regular destination for boat trips as it is deserted yet its houses, offices and shops are still fully furnished and equipped as if frozen in time. The town was evacuated in a hurry by its Cypriot citizens in 1974 due to the Turkish invasion and has been sealed off by the Turkish army ever since hence its “ghost town” reputation.
Despite the sudden commercial development of Protaras, hiking is still a popular day-time activity at this resort as the rugged coastline towards Cape Greko remains mostly untouched. There are a couple of nature trails from Protaras which are worth undertaking. The longer trail of the two, is 8.5 kilometers long, taking approximately 3 hours to complete. The trail begins at the limestone chapel of Profitis Elias, which was rebuilt in the 1980s on the foundations of an ancient church. The chapel’s lofty location on the summit of an enormous rock, offers hikers breathtaking views of the entire town of Protaras. The trail then moves south along the coast ending at Konnos beach.
The second trail is 2.3 kilometres long, taking approximately 45 minutes to complete. The trail is circular and therefore begins and ends at the chapel of Agioi Anargyroi. Exotic plants are the most memorable feature of this trail, particularly the fragrant shrubs of Phoenician Juniper, which are commonly used as incense in the Mediterranean.
Besides the in-house evening entertainment provided by the large hotels in Protaras - the restaurants, pubs and bars gathered around the main road constitute the nightlife of this holiday resort. Almost every pub and bar is equipped with wide-screen televisions showing not only sport but also popular sitcoms. Karaoke and Live entertainment are customary in pubs and bars, though the live performances tend to be tribute acts of renowned singers such as Elvis and Cher, rather than acts exhibiting traditional Cypriot culture.
Even though there are not many nightclubs in Protaras, the majority of bars and pubs stay open until the late hours of the morning. Additionally, there is an endless number of nightclubs nearby at Ayia Napa, and plenty of taxis providing regular transport there and back.
There is a diverse selection of restaurants at Protaras, ranging from regular fast-food establishments such as McDonalds to restaurants that specialise in more exotic styles of cooking like Japanese cuisine. Fewer than expected restaurants in Protaras serve authentic Greek-Cypriot food and a visit to the town of Paralimni is therefore advisable for those who wish to sample a splendid village Meze (a traditional banquet of savoury dips, bite-size kebabs, stews and casseroles).