Cyprus is the largest island in the eastern Mediterranean. It has a typical Mediterranean climate but its proximity to the land-mass of southwest Asia makes it one of the hottest parts of the Mediterranean in midsummer. This applies particularly to the central plain and the coastal regions. The island is mountainous and the two main mountain masses, the Kyrenia range in the north and the Troödos Mountains rising to nearly 2,000 m/over 6,000 ft, have a cooler and wetter climate which supports excellent pine forests.
Summers are hot or warm, depending on altitude, and almost completely rainless from late May to mid-September. During this period the weather is constant from day to day and almost completely cloudless. The rest of the year is more changeable, with the heaviest rainfall and greatest chance of disturbed weather in the midwinter months. Temperatures in winter are generally mild except in the mountains where, above 1,000 m/3,300 ft, snow becomes frequent and on the summit of Troödos it may lie for four to five months. During this time skiing is possible. Disturbed winter weather rarely lasts more than a few days. During spring and autumn settled weather may last for two or three weeks, with brief interruptions of stormy wet weather.
Conditions around the coast are represented by the table for Kyrenia. In summer the high daytime temperatures on the coast are tempered by cooling sea breezes but the nights may feel rather warm and sultry. The table for Nicosia is representative of conditions at low levels inland where daytime temperatures are very high in midsummer. The evenings and nights, however, feel cooler than on the coast. In the higher parts of the mountains summer conditions feel delightfully cool and fresh after the heat of the lowlands. There are numerous hill resorts for tourists.
Cyprus is a very sunny island even in winter. The average number of daily hours of sunshine ranges from six in midwinter to twelve or thirteen in midsummer. For those who find high temperatures unpleasant, the best time to visit Cyprus is in the spring, when the weather is generally sunny and warm and the island is colourful with flowering plants. In late summer and autumn the island appears scorched and dry after the long summer drought. Although hardy northerners may be tempted to swim on a sunny day in winter, they will find the sea around Cyprus to be rather chilly from December until early May.
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