Sapphire or emerald? The dawn or the sunset? Vision or sound? Which is the best in life? No matter your final answers, there is no easy way getting there, is it?
We seem to be in a similar position with this article. Having to compare two sites of such sublime natural beauty lies next to impossible. Maybe you can help us.
Check some of the facts associated with these popular summer destinations and let’s see if we can find an answer to this puzzling enigma.
General Characteristics & Tourist Portfolio
Well, a few introductory comments are in order, just to clear some things out and have a background picture of the two sites.
Ayia Napa has risen as Cyprus’s most famed summer tourist hub, a genuine haven for water sports enthusiasts and party-seeking youngsters. Transformed from the dawn of the 90ies from a quaint little village to a luxurious Mediterranean resort, it caters for tourists of all ages and fancies, boasting the best beach party culture in Europe and truly vibrant nightlife, with more than 80 bars and 12 clubs clustered within its relatively small realm.
Tourist interest is further boosted by the adjacent Cape Greco headland, magnetising people from all around the world with the amazing landscape and outdoor activities, like hiking, cliff jumping, bike riding etc. and ranking as one of the most widely famed spots on the island Cyprus for artistic photography.
Protaras, on the other hand, is best known for its high-quality water and sandy beaches, and as an ideal destination for families, short in nothing required for a genuinely relaxing and opulent summer escape. Excellent transportation infrastructure, high-quality seawater and an array of top-notch hotels, apartments, restaurants, pubs/bars, and associated facilities have turned it into a notable adversary for the Ayia Napa.
Obviously, “Sun & Sea” holiday holds sway as the dominant type of tourism type, and Ayia Napa and Protaras claim an ever-growing percentage of the “pie” worldwide. They both boast an excellent climate (with 300 days of sunshine per year), fantastic Mediterranean atmosphere, unusually long coastline and a great number of beaches of diverse yet beguiling charm.
Tourist Infrastructure & Number of Visitors
Tourist infrastructure has greatly improved during the last decade, far exceeding the average Mediterranean standards. Based on the official data published by the tourist regulating authorities, the number of licensed tourist accommodation keys amount to a little less than 9,400 for Ayia Napa and 8, 500 for Protaras, while those non-licensed are almost 1500 for Ayia Napa and 1,000 respectively.
Seen against the corresponding figures of much larger cities and towns across Europe and the Mediterranean, these numbers seem all the more impressive.
The corresponding number of people visiting the two places (including daily excursionists) each year is estimated to a staggering 1,000,000 for Ayia Napa and more than 750,000 for Protaras. Most visitors come from the United Kingdom (36% and 40% respectively), with Russia (14% and 24%) and Sweden (12% and 10%) coming up next. Most tourists opt for 5-star Hotels in Ayia Napa, while those spending time in Protaras prefer Hotel Apartments, Tourist Villages and 4-Star Hotels.
Undoubtedly, the most valuable traits in Ayia Napa and Protaras, serving as the magnet and core around which everything else orbits, are its majestic shores, with Nissi Bay being by far the most popular in the Ayia Napa region, and the paradisiac Fig Tree Bay in Protaras.
In this respect, Ayia Napa easily takes the lead, not so much for the level of physical beauty itself, but for the sere number of its beaches that have been awarded the famed Blue flag designation. More specifically, Ayia Napa boasts 14 Blue Flag beaches, namely (from East to West).
- Konnos Bay;
- Ammos tou Kambouri;
- Glyki Nero;
- Loukkos tou Manti;
- Vathia Gonia (also known as Sandy Bay);
- Nissi Bay;
- Agia Thekla.
Protaras, on the other hand, number 8 blue flag beaches, which are the following:
- Louma beach;
- Nissia Loumbardi beach;
- Pernera-P beach;
- Potami beach;
- Fig tree Bay;
- Vrisi A beach;
- Vrisi B beach;
- Vrisi C beach;
The Blue Flag is a certification awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and signifies that a beach meets certain predetermined and stringent standards regarding water quality and beach safety, as well as the availability of services and amenities for visitors and tourists, indicating excellent environmental and quality standards.
Still, we shouldn’t be led to haste conclusions just by this numeric difference, since Protaras has a smaller seafront and a more limited geographical shoreline than Ayia Napa. Note also that Ayia Napa and Protaras share Konnos Bay since it belongs to both municipalities (Ayia Napa and Paralimni).
Attractions, Sports Venues & Marina’s
When it comes to cultural sights and attraction, Cyprus excels, with a well-documented history that spans more than millennia, and both Ayia Napa and Protaras live up to the island’s reputation.
Ayia Napa’s most iconic attraction is probably the homonymous Monastery, a charming Medieval edifice dominating the town’s centre ever since its construction around 1500 AD. Being partially built underground and cut out of the rocky formations upon which the village was formed, the Monastery is dedicated to the deified ‘Lady of the Forests’ (“Napa” in ancient Greek).
Protaras, on the other hand, has the prophet Elias Church as its crowning cultural jewel, built on a rocky outcrop overlooking the town and offering a truly mesmerising view of the wonderful surrounding landscape. Coupling natural beauty and architecture and art of immense historical value, the Church of Prophet Elias certainly is Protaras’ most iconic sight. Still, equally fascinating are diving ventures through the underwater treasures and its amazing wealth of marine life, sea caves, reefs, and shipwrecks.
Both sites offer visitors an immense array of water sports and land sports venues. The latest addition is the Cape Greco Golf Course that is currently under study and estimated to open for the public during the next five years.
Two marinas are also under construction in both sites: The Ayia Napa Marina, scheduled to be delivered within the next year, and the Paralimni Marina that will probably be delivered in 2022.
Real Estate Interest & Vision
Naturally, real estate investors have been gunning to reap the benefits of both resorts for a considerable time now, but the interest steadily keeps its momentum, attracting property buyers mainly from Russia for both locations. Ayia Napa has also caught the eye of several Middle East property investors, while Protaras is more favoured among UK buyers.
Factors such as excellent weather all year-round, fantastic climatic conditions, and the EU membership have always played – and will continue to do so – an important role in the steady growth in the real estate value of Ayia Napa and Protaras. In fact, property marketers expect Ayia Napa to rank among Europe’s top 3 beach and clubbing holiday destinations within the next twenty years, and Protaras to be the most attractive family tourism cluster in Cyprus.
Indeed, both resorts compete hard in all key-aspects:
- Genuine hospitality, experienced by the visitor throughout his/her stay, from locals and tourism professionals alike.
- Unsurpassed Mediterranean landscape beauty and clean environment.
- Relaxing ambience and safety.
- Superb accommodation, in all dimensions and levels at reasonable rates for people of all ages and tastes.
Well, one thing is for sure: Ayia Napa and Protaras have too much in common to allow an easy pick – and even if we do select one of the two, it will mostly depend on personal whims instead of objective thinking.
Probably the best way to end up to a conclusion is to accept that, at the end of the day, your decision will likely lie on your personal taste and needs as a visitor or investor.
The best thing about selecting between the two? There is no “wrong” option.